The seventh trecena (13-day “week”) of the Aztec Tonalpohualli (ceremonial count of days) is called Rain for its first numbered day, which is also the 19th day of the vientena (20-day “month”). In the Nahuatl language Rain is Quiahuitl, and it’s known as Kawak in Yucatec Maya and Kawoq in Quiché Maya.
For the Aztecs, the day Rain signified quiet plenty and peace and was connected anatomically with the left eye. The patron of the day is Chantico, the Lady of the House, goddess of fire in the family hearth and fire of the spirit, as well as fire in the earth (volcanoes). Patron of cooking, eating, domesticity, and weaving, she represents the feminine side of life, fertility, and the waters of birth. She is also the goddess of precious things, the lady wealth and jewels.
PATRON DEITY RULING THE TRECENA
Without exception, the principal patron of the Rain trecena is Tlaloc (God of Storms), bringer of rain, lightning, thunder, and general weather and responsible for both floods and droughts. (See my Icon #20.) He was an important deity of unknown name in ancient Teotihuacan and revered by the Maya as Chac. A beneficent god of fertility, vegetation, and sustenance, he’s associated with springs and caves, and his worship involved child sacrifice. Tlaloc ruled over the Third Sun (Four Rain—which he destroyed in a rain of volcanic fire), and the joyful Eighth Heaven of Tlalocan. He’s 9th lord of the night and 8th lord of the day with the Eagle as his totem bird.
In some codices other deities appear as apparent secondary patrons of the trecena, possibly regional variants, but I’ll discuss them in their specific contexts below.
AUGURIES OF RAIN TRECENA
By Marguerite Paquin, author of “Manual for the Soul: A Guide to the Energies of Life: How Sacred Mesoamerican Calendrics Reveal Patterns of Destiny”
Generally aligned with energies that bring abundance, this trecena was traditionally associated with fertility, particularly as it related to agriculture. Since Tlaloc and Nahui Ehecatl (4 Wind) serve as patrons, with their emphasis on rain and wind, there is the suggestion (with evidence) that highly volatile, changeable, and often intense, weather-related events can occur during this period (such as Hurricane Katrina). As much as these energies were seen as beneficent catalysts for agriculture, they can often trigger great turbulence, and the events that they foment can also trigger great compassion. Ancient records indicate that individuals born under this influence traditionally could have a penchant for “sorcery.”
Further to how these energies connect with world events, see the Maya Count of Days Horoscope blog at whitepuppress.ca/horoscope/. Look for the Kawak (Storm) trecena.
THE 13 NUMBERED DAYS IN THE RAIN TRECENA
The Aztec Tonalpohualli, like the ancestral Maya calendar, is counted through the sequence of 20 named days of the agricultural “month” (vientena), of which there are 18 in the solar year. Starting with the 19th day of the current vientena, Rain, this trecena proceeds through 2 Flower, 3 Crocodile, 4 Wind, 5 House, 6 Lizard, 7 Snake, 8 Death, 9 Deer, 10 Rabbit, 11 Water, 12 Dog, and 13 Monkey.
There are several important days in the Rain trecena:
One Rain (in Nahuatl Ce Quiahuitl), according to some scholars, is “the day on which sacrifices were made to increase the king’s strength.” Ce Quiahuitl is also the day-name of one of the Cihuateteo goddesses who accordingly should represent peace and plenty.
Two Flower (in Nahuatl Ome Xochitl) and Three Crocodile (in Nahuatl Yeyi Cipactli) are the day-names of two goddesses who celebrate the intoxicating drink pulque.
Four Wind (in Nahuatl Nahui Ehecatl) is the day-name of the Second Sun ruled by Ehecatl, which was destroyed by wind (hurricane), its people turned into monkeys. See the discussion of Tonalamatl Yoal below for an anomalous deity of this name.
Seven Snake (in Nahuatl Chicome Coatl) is the day-name of the goddess of maize (and food in general). See the discussion of the Borbonicus tonalamatl below for more on this goddess.
THE TONALAMATL (BOOK OF DAYS)
Several of the surviving so-called Aztec codices (some originating from other cultures like the Mixtec) have Tonalamatl sections laying out the trecenas of the Tonalpohualli on separate pages. In Codex Borbonicus and Tonalamatl Aubin, the first two pages are missing; Codex Telleriano-Remensis and Codex Rios are each lacking various pages (fortunately not the same ones); and in Codex Borgia and Codex Vaticanus all 20 pages are extant. (The Tonalpohualli is also presented in a spread-sheet fashion in Codex Borgia, Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Cospi, but that format apparently serves other purposes.)
As described in my earlier blog The Aztec Calendar – My Obsession, some thirty years ago—on the basis of very limited ethnographic information and iconographic models —I presumed to create my own version of a Tonalamatl, publishing it in 1993 as Celebrate Native America!
For my old tonalamatl, I used the complicated glyphs from the lobes of Four Earthquake on the Stone of the Suns as the day-signs for Rain and Wind. Meanwhile, knowing only that Tlaloc was supposed to have a black face, curious curving mask, goggle eyes, and fangs, I concocted an image of the Storm god based on one in the familiar Codex Nuttall that looked like an eagle, a surreal but unwittingly appropriate motif, with decorative raindrops. Though quite inauthentic, this image has been viewed frequently on my website, perhaps because it’s far more attractive than his authentic, fairly gruesome representations in the ancient codices.
TONALAMATL BORGIA (re-created by Richard Balthazar from Codex Borgia)
Talk about gruesome, check out this Rain trecena page from the Codex Borgia with its imposing figure of Tlaloc with black face, goggle eyes, and bodacious fangs. For some reason he’s missing the symbolic curving mask, but there’s no mistaking his identity. A question is begged by the warding gesture of his right hand that overlaps the incense bag and ritual objects—as though rejecting them. Another is why the stream of water runs toward the god (as opposed to that flowing away from Chalchiuhtlicue in the Reed trecena).
The little human figures can scarcely be construed as additional patrons of this trecena, and their significance is mysterious. Other questions also abound. 1) What are the two footprints on the ‘riverbank?’ 2) What is the strange ‘haystack’ encasing a starry night sky? (In the Deer trecena we’ve seen Tepeyollotl seated on one just like it.) 3) What is that odd packet of red and blue ‘boards?’ And 4) why does the white-faced double-headed serpent bear watery waves on its back? Your guesses are probably at least as good as mine.
TONALAMATL YOAL (compiled and re-created by Richard Balthazar on the basis of
Codex Telleriano-Remensis and Codex Rios)
The much gentler Tlaloc in the Tonalamatl Yoal (on the right) is perhaps the most widely known image of the god; it’s based solely on the Rios version because that page in Telleriano-Remensis is missing. His primacy as patron of the trecena is possibly indicated by being on the right side because, as posited by David Stuart in his 2021 book “King and Cosmos,” the right half of symmetry was more important than the left. This bears out in many Borgia trecenas, but not all, and only occasionally in other tonalamatls, so it can hardly be considered a rule of thumb.
On the left and supposedly secondary side of the panel is a puzzling image of an anomalous deity which the Spanish and Italian annotations in the two codices identify as “Nahui Ehecatl,” Four Wind, who to my knowledge doesn’t appear in any other context. Perhaps it’s a reflection of the special Second Sun day-name in the trecena, but its iconographic paraphernalia suggests various deities. 1) The snake it grasps could be Tlaloc’s lightning serpent, but for some reason it ambiguously has a blooming tail. 2) The mask and oversized goggles suggest that this could be Quiahuitl, god of rain, but it lacks that god’s standard fangs. (See the One Rain day-sign above.) And 3) the top-heavy headdress is just like that of Quetzalcoatl/Ehecatl in the Jaguar trecena (as well as the basket on its back). The images in both codices are so nearly identical that they offer no clues. I have to wonder if the knobbed circle in the headband (a symbol of the planet Venus) might also include Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, Lord of the House of the Dawn, in this amalgam. In any case, this Four Wind deity as secondary patron of the trecena is of little use as an augury and would seem simply to be a religious fantasy/hallucination.
The patrons of the Rain trecena in Tonalamatl Aubin are also unorthodox. While the primary Tlaloc is shown in more or less standard detail, he’s on the left (supposedly secondary) side and slightly smaller than the other figure. Somewhere I’ve seen the larger deity on the right identified as Xilonen, goddess of flowering maize, but I don’t believe that for a moment. The two black stripes on her cheek are specific emblems of Chalchiuhtlicue, as is the water streaming from her skirt. The image is strongly reminiscent of that in the panel for the Reed trecena. In addition, the goddess isn’t holding ears of maize but, for some psychedelic reason, mushrooms. Perhaps the Aubin artist had a special reverence for Chalchiuhtlicue and included her in the panel because she was the spouse of Tlaloc, and the streaming water (seen in the Borgia panel) made more sense issuing from her eponymous skirt. Artistic license?
This panel in Codex Borbonicus is nicely laid out with highlights of the special blue and a prominent, ornate figure of Tlaloc (again on the left). Here the water streams away from him, endangering the figure of an apparent nobleman instead of the common human in the Borgia panel. On the upper right is a slightly smaller secondary patron deity who could easily be the god of rain, Quiahuitl, judging by the fanged mask and snake in his grasp with its tail of rain-drop strips. Why they’re both speaking/singing must remain a mystery. Among the well-organized extraneous items, in the lower left is the small (blurry) image of Chicomecoatl, the principal goddess of maize, indicating that she’s perhaps a tertiary patron, but her image is more likely just a celebration of her day-sign occurring in the trecena.
The Codex Vaticanus panel is an unsurprising mash-up of familiar elements. Its most notable feature is the prominently central ‘little guy’ perched on Borgia’s ‘haystack,’ which has become something of a muddy-water swirl—and his holding a bunch of magic mushrooms. Feel free to make what you will of these odd details for divination.
This review of the Rain trecena impresses me only with the fact that its patron is indisputably the Storm god Tlaloc. Apart from the evident connection to weather and water, Aztec dogma about this time period seems rather diffuse, confused, and fantastical—maybe from doing so many entheogenic shrooms?
The calendar’s eighth trecena will be that of Grass, the principal patron of which is the ultimate party girl Mayauel, goddess of pulque. Stay tuned.