Aztec Calendar – Rain Trecena

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.


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.


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 Look for the Kawak (Storm) 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.


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.

Aztec Calendar – Rain trecena – Tonalamatl Balthazar


TONALAMATL BORGIA (re-created by Richard Balthazar from Codex Borgia)

Aztec Calendar – Rain trecena – Tonalamatl 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)

Aztec Calendar – Rain trecena – Tonalamatl Yoal

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.



Tonalamatl Aubin patron panel for Rain trecena

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?


Codex Borbonicus patron panel for Rain trecena

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.


Codex Vaticanus patron panel for Rain 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.


Icon #20 – TLALOC, God of Storms

Usually creating these boggling icons for the coloring book YE GODS! has felt like giving birth, and this latest one, Icon #20 – TLALOC, God of Storms, felt rather like dropping sextuplets! I prematurely squeezed out two fully formed sections that I posted for the world’s delectation:  the historical delirium of Tlalocan and the phantasmagorical Earth Monster. With the thundering central figure and his four wet vignettes, delivering myself of the Storm God himself was like birthing quintuplets. I guess that makes septuplets. Whatever…

TLALOC, God of Storms

I apologize for the dazzling intricacy of this icon and the fact that the curious mural of Tlalocan doesn’t much lend itself to coloring. I mean, look at that minuscule detail of heavenly frolic. However, since it’s in 300 dpi, you could blow it up three or four times to color in. This icon is the story of the Storm God, so lots of detail needs to be explained. The first is that the deity hovers between two root images from his deep past, at the bottom the wild mural from Teotihuacan of the eighth heaven he rules, and at top center his stylized face as Chac from an ancient Mayan temple, both from a thousand years before the Aztecs.

More immediately, the four vignettes are significant in two ways. The figures in squares at the top corners represent specific seasons in the growth of the all-important maize. They’re drawn from Codex Borgia, but I don’t know which is what. Two of Borgia’s pages have five each of similar Tlalocs, and that quinqunx format is respectfully reflected in this icon. The figures in the circles are symbols of just two of the several solar months “ruled” by Tlaloc, Atlcualco (left—“Water Abandoned,” roughly in February) and Atemoztli (right—“Water Downward Falling,” roughly in December). So much for the solar calendar lesson.

Now we come to the central image I call the thundering Tlaloc. It’s drawn from a series of stylistically consistent Tlalocs in Codex Vaticanus. I see a strong relationship with the Codex Borgia vignettes, for whatever that obvious insight’s worth. While this guy wears the royal jaguar headdress, others in the Vaticanus series wear heads of heron, crocodile, or odd conical caps and sport distinctive regalia. One is even nude. Our fellow’s respectably robed and, like the Borgia figures, has raised his conventional goggle-eyed and fanged face to the sky in a thunderous roar.

The thunder also comes with the lightning emanating from his huge serpent. (The Borgia figures hold only puny little snakes.) The lightning bolts from its head suggest traditional horned snakes like those from Teotihuacan or the American Southwest. The lightnings swerving behind the vignettes define a nanosecond’s reality for this image—an eternal NOW between the bolt on the left striking the Earth Monster under Tlaloc’s tread and that sneaky bolt on the right about to strike under the god’s next footfall. I love this kind of visual legerdemain.

There are more tricks of that sort cued by the lightning passing behind the vignettes. The top Chac frieze and weird lightning-filled sky is even behind that, and the water curtains down the sides are probably way back there too. Meanwhile, Tlaloc very subtly stands in front of the vignettes, as shown by overlapping hand with axe, headdress feathers, and the fire serpent. Along with clues to perspective in Tlaloc’s posture and costume, these tiny details create a depth in the composition that’s very unusual for Aztec art, maybe even iconoclastic. I won’t apologize.

Once again, finishing the long haul on an icon, I hesitate to jump right into another one, but I’m already thinking about breaking alphabetical order yet again and tackling Tonatiuh, the deity of the Fifth Sun, to complete the Mesoamerican set of cosmological worlds. He’d be cutting in ahead of Tlazolteotl, Goddess of Filth, but I’ve already been tempted to insert the Lord of the House of the Dawn, Tlahuizcalpaltecuhtli (the Morning Star) ahead of her. With such a wealth of ethnographic and iconographic material to work on, I guess I can wait a little while to decide. In the meantime, I really should start writing on Chapter 9 of my memoir GAY GEISHA and recall my exciting life in 1975 when I stumbled on two impressive gigs for my Russian language skills.


Tlalocan II – The Drawing

After showing you my reconfiguration of the Teotihuacan mural of Tlalocan in early July, it took me these past three months to turn it into a black-and-white drawing. As such, it will become the lower register in Icon #20 for my digital coloring book YE GODS!

For several centuries the enormous city-state of Teotihuacan “ruled” central Mexico (and parts of the Maya world as well). Painted about 1,500 years ago, the tremendously ornate mural is a fascinating window into that vanished metropolis, a panorama of its people enjoying afterlife in the paradise of their water (storm) god—whom a thousand years later the Aztecs called Tlaloc. My drawing gives you an intimate look at the actual people who lived in the Place of the Gods. (It’s greatly reduced in this illustration, but you can click here to download a full-scale image—at almost three feet long and one foot high.)

Tlalocan – The Paradise of Tlaloc

Within that eye-boggling border, the first telling detail to notice is that there are no women, which may say something about a sexist society in Teotihuacan. Of course Tlaloc’s Eighth Heaven was reserved for victims of drowning and children sacrificed for life-giving rain, but one thinks maybe some women might also have drowned and girl-children been sacrificed too. In all likelihood (if the eschatology of Teotihuacan is reflected in that of the Aztecs), women may well have had their own paradise among the thirteen heavens. But there’s no mural of that one.

The Aztecs definitely inherited the concept of Tlalocan from Teotihuacan, and the iconography of the ancestral water (storm) god is also clearly reflected in that of the much later Aztecs.

Teotihuacan Water and Rain Gods

Tlaloc’s goggle-eyes and fangs crossed the centuries into the figure from Codex Borgia, as well as the head-pitcher he holds for pouring out water:

Aztec Tlaloc and Quiahuitl Day-signs

Teotihuacan’s rain-god image carries over directly into the Aztecs’ golden Four Rain sign (day-name of the Third Sun) on their Stone of the Suns. The Rain day-sign to its right is based on it—drawn thirty years ago for my book of days before I ever learned of the raindrops on the Teotihuacan image. The two lower signs are stylized versions for the calendars in the Fejervary-Mayer and Vaticanus codices; those in other calendars are similar, but often less formal.

Now let’s look into this window on the people of Teotihuacan. First, check out their quite varied fashions in clothing:

Teotihuacan Fashions

Not surprising are the loincloths or breechclouts worn by figures on the left with varying numbers of sashes. Note that children can be nude or just wear “panties.” But then the costumes get weird, like the top center fellow wearing a midriff T-shirt and toreador pants and the guy just below with a full-length T. The runner to his right may be wearing similar pants, but he also has gloves. The guy below is wearing “clam-digger” pants with breechclout; the guy with the tears (ignore those for now) only wears gloves and socks/slippers, as does the cross-legged kid below. On the far right the top figure wears shirt and pants under a loincloth, and the lower figure wears pants/leggings under a kilt with sash.

The variety of outfits may have to do with social classes—or maybe not. But I can say that the cross-legged kid in gloves and socks is remarkably unique in being presented full-face. All the other faces are done in profile—the standard view used by the Aztecs for faces and bodies as well. However, the ancient artist made free to show figures frontally and from many other realistic angles, an iconographic freedom apparently lost over the centuries.

Note also the varying hairstyles: Figures are frequently bald (or with shaved heads?), but many have hairdos of various lengths. The kilted fellow on lower right may be an elder with receding hairline and gray hair. In the mural you can’t tell if the guy at center-top has a topknot or feather headdress. Speaking of hairstyles and headdresses, there is also a wide assortment of such on other figures which again may have something to do with class or occupation—or maybe not.

Teotihuacan Headgear

Here we see several types of hats, headbands, skullcaps, and turbans. Notable is the figure on the upper left wearing an ear-flare, the only one in the whole mural—a fashion that became almost universal under the Aztecs—but there are no nose ornaments. Again, note the cross-legged kid on the lower right wearing what looks like a slightly cocked beret. The flirtatious fellow to his left possibly sports a half-Mohawk crest—or a feathered hat?

So now we know what (at least male) Teotihuacanos looked like! Here are a couple vignettes of their playful activities:

                    Teotihuacan Dancers

  Teotihuacan Toss

 Both of these group activities well illustrate the ancient artist’s stylistic freedom, as well as elements of perspective that the Aztecs would never have attempted. (The curlicues are shouts or songs of joy—a convention that totally carried over into Aztec iconography.) The scene of the tossing is probably celebratory—as happens in many cultures—and not a punishment like that undergone by Sancho Panza in “Don Quixote.”

Now we come to some distinctly odd images that I have a hard time parsing:

             Teotihuacan Oddities

This guy with the tears (in gloves and socks) seems to be singing loudly or shouting, but why is he crying and waving a branch, and what’s he got flowing from his chest? In the mural the flow doesn’t seem to be blood, and why should it be? The guy with the long stuff flowing from his head (hair?) seems to be chewing on a stick (sugarcane?). The four fellows holding each other’s wrists maybe are playing some game? Since this is in Tlalocan, whatever’s going on must surely be joyful fun.

I hope my little drawing has given you some visual notion of the lost and almost forgotten world of Teotihuacan.


Aztec Lords of the Night

After finishing Icon #19 for my coloring book, and before jumping on the next one, I’ve been plugging along on another Aztec project, this one in color! Some time ago I decided to “re-create” the calendar from 16th-century Codex Rios, apparently a slightly later Italian copy of the Codex Telleriano-Remensis. Both of them offer fairly crude versions of deities and day-signs, with Rios tending to be at least a little more “artistic,” and both present the ceremonial count of days in disjointed pieces. So my re-creation will also be a re-construction.

In Codices Borgia and Vaticanus, the 13-day week (trecena) is laid out simply with ruling deities and the day-count. In Codex Borbonicus and Tonalamatl Aubin, the Lords of the Day and Night are included, but hard to differentiate, as well as their totem birds, mostly of dubious species.

Codices Rios and Telleriano-Remensis accompany the day-count and patron deities only with the nine Lords of the Night in a super-cycle that takes some centuries to complete. In sequence, the Lords of the Night preside over the nights of each calendar day and at the same time, in sequence, they preside over each of the nine hours of those nights.

Forgive me for saying this, but in these two related calendars, the images of the Lords are really sloppy, even slap-dash, though the deities are drawn with consistent, if careless, motifs. It would be rude to show you the original images of those abused Lords of the Night. Instead, refining their iconographic details, I’ve re-created them with more realistic faces in the style of Codices Fejervary-Mayer and/or Laud.

You can check them all out in greater detail in my Aztec pantheon, but here are some artist’s notes on these Lords of the Night.

1st Lord: Xiuhtecuhtli—Lord of the Turquoise/(Fire). Perhaps he has a red mouth from eating fire? The peaked headdress and red ribbon are standard emblems.

2nd Lord: Itztli—Obsidian. He’s a nagual (manifestation) of Tezcatlipoca, the Smoking Mirror. Again, I don’t know what the standard black markings on his face signify, but those things in his “hat” are sacrificial flint knives.

3rd Lord: Pilzintecuhtli—Young Lord. God of the planet Mercury, he is also a “sun-lord” as shown by the sun in his headdress. I can’t explain his golden hair, but all the Lords’ hair-colors are inexplicably the same as these in the earlier, purely Mexican codex.

4th Lord: Centeotl—God of Maize. Check out the cobs of maize in his headdress.

5th Lord: Mictlantecuhtli—Lord of the Land of the Dead. In this most appealing image I’ve ever found of the death-god, the black lower face is standard. (The pointy thing in the headdress is reminiscent of the regalia of the god Itztlacoliuhqui.)

6th Lord: Chalchiuhtlicue—Jade Skirt. She’s the ancestral Great Goddess from ancient Teotihuacan.

7th Lord: Tlazolteotl—Goddess of Filth. Her mouth is black from eating people’s filth/sins. I can’t identify the tasseled objects in her headdress.

8th Lord: Tepeyollotl—Heart of the Mountain. His tri-color face (and yellow hair) are standard features for this god in these calendars.

9th Lord: Tlaloc—God of Storms. His goggle-eyed, long-toothed visage is emblematic in most codex contexts.