26. Tlazolteotl (Aztec Mythology)

In today's episode, we discuss Tlazolteotl, the Aztec goddess of vice, purification, lust, and filth. We discuss gender roles, the Aztec concept of sin, and the way colonization led to fundamental misunderstanding and narrowing of her role as a goddess.


,Tlazolteotl: The Goddess of Filth by Anne Key

,Tlazolteotl: An Ancient Patroness and Purifier for all things Filthy


,“Why give birth to enemies?” The warrior aspects of the Aztec goddess Tlazolteotl-Ixcuina by Guilhem Olivier

,“Where Children Are Born: Centipedes and Feminine Sexuality in Mesoamerica” by Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos

,“The Colonial Image of Tlazolteotl” by Catherine. R. DiCesare

Transcript below:

[intro music]

Lizzie: Hello! And welcome to Mytholadies, the podcast where we talk about women from mythology and folklore all around the world. We're your hosts,

Zoe: I'm Zoe.

Lizzie: And I'm Lizzie. So, how are you today, Zoe?

Zoe: I'm okay. It is my sister's birthday today so happy birthday, Alice.

Lizzie: Oh!

Zoe: It's not gonna be her birthday when we release this episode, but on the day we are recording. [both laugh] Happy birthday!

Lizzie: Happy birthday to her!

Zoe: Yeah! So that's fun.

Lizzie: Pisces.

Zoe: Yes! Pisces queen. Yeah, so that's the exciting thing going on. How are you doing today, Lizzie?

Lizzie: I'm fine! I learned that my parents are getting the vaccine soon! So that's exciting.

Zoe: That's so exciting, oh my gosh.

Lizzie: Very. I won't be able to get it for a while since I'm like, abroad, but. Good for them.

Zoe: Yeah. I have no idea when I'm gonna be able to get it. But like, I'm keeping an eye out. Whenever.

Lizzie: Yeah. Hopefully sometime.

Zoe: Sometime before September would be great. When I go back to school.

Lizzie: That would be nice for you. Oh! So! [Zoe laughs] You did the research this week, who are we talking about?

Zoe: So, today, we are going to be talking about Tlazolteotl, who is a goddess from Aztec mythology.

Lizzie: Ooh, she sounds fun!

Zoe: Mm hmm, she is very fun. I'm excited to talk about her. Firstly, I have a little bit of context about Aztec culture around family and gender. Because it's a little different from the like, Western European culture of family and gender. So, according to Wikipedia, Aztec society was divided by gender roles, but no roles were treated as more or less important than others. So, generally warfare was the chief aspect of men's lives, but women's work was seen as equivalent to warfare in certain ways and therefore equally as respected. So, it said basically in like, the Wikipedia article that I read, that they were distinct roles but they were treated as distinct but equal to each other. So, like, all the different aspects of work were important.

Lizzie: That's nice.

Zoe: Yeah! And women were able to own property and inheritances were passed down to both daughters and sons, so there was that equivalence as well. There were also multiple quote unquote "nonbinary" genders, and that's in quotes because the gender binary is a Western construct and of course the Aztecs as a nonwestern European society wouldn't adhere by that. But, there were genders that weren't male or female.

Lizzie: But you could view it that way now, right?

Zoe: Yes. Mm hmm. Yeah. So, I thought that was very neat. And so I bring that up because Tlazolteotl has a lot to do with the relationship between gender roles in society and female roles in society. But let's start at the beginning, who is she? So, she is the Aztec goddess of vice, purification, lust, and filth.

Lizzie: Huh. Okay.

Zoe: Yeah! So, she is the patroness of adulterers and she was associated with the thirteenth trecena, or 13 day period, of the Aztec's sacred 260-day calendar. Just a fun fact. She was referred to—

Lizzie: She's the patron of adulterers?

Zoe: Sort of, yeah. She's referred to by three different names, one of them is Tlahēlcuāni, which means who eats filthy excrescence,

Lizzie: Huh.

Zoe: Tlazōlmiquiztli, which is the death caused by lust, and then we have Ixcuina, who is the deity of cotton.

Lizzie: She sounds so interesting.

Zoe: Mm hmm. Yeah, there's a lot going on with her. And then Tlazolteotl itself means "filth deity." So, she possibly orginated as a Huastec deity, and then was assimilated into the Aztec pantheon. And the Huastec people are a group of indigenous Mexicans who live in the La Huasteca region of Central Mexico. She was actually associated as a quadripartite, being represented by four sister goddesses. And this is specifically associated with her identity as Ixcuina, as the deity of cotton. And so, the four sister goddesses that made up this quadripartite were Tiyacapan, which is the first born, Tiahco, which is the middle sister, and Tēicuih, the younger sister, Xōcotzin, who's the youngest sister. And so, each goddess in this quadripartite represented the goddess at a different stage of life. So, Xōcotzin was the youngest aspect and she was a flirtatious temptress, Tēicuih was the goddess of gambling and uncertainty as the second youngest goddess, Tiahco was her in her middle age, and that was when the had the power to absorb sins of humans, which we're gonna talk about in just a second, and Tiyacapan represents her old age, and she was a hag that preyed on children.

Lizzie: Okay, so, I know a lot of Aztec deities are represented in like their old, their older stage, does that... also the case for her?

Zoe: I'm not exactly sure. I think she was mainly, or I think one of the— probably one of the biggest aspects of her was Tiahco, and you'll see that in just a second because we're gonna be talking a lot about her power as a sin-eater or the person who absorbs the sin of humans.

Lizzie: Okay.

Zoe: And she was represented by the moon, which, so the cycle of sin and purification and I'm guessing also the cycle of her movement through different identities as she was young and then grew old and then young again. And I have a quote, which said it was “an illustration of the female capacity, throughout her life, to embody the sacred cycle of generation, death, and regeneration. And certainly lust, the drive for connection and regeneration, is seated deeply in the female purview, and here most obviously connects to lunar cycles.”

Lizzie: Oh, that reminds me of the Fates from Greek mythology because they represented, like, the different ages, right?

Zoe: Yeah, they did! They were like the, young to old and that had to do with like, their roles either measuring or cutting the strings of life.

Lizzie: Yeah.

Zoe: Absolutely. So Tlazolteotl was believed to encourage sinful desires in people, but she also purified and forgave those sins. So, she was believed to cause disease in those who sinned, particularly STIs, and this uncleanliness existed on both a physical and moral level and it could be purified by spiritual things like a rite of purification or a physical thing like a steam bath. So. She had the ability to purify the sins, but only once, and so therefore people close to death were most encouraged to undergo purification rituals via her priests. And her priests would not only listen to and pardon sins but also found adulterers who had not confessed their sins and brought them forward for public punishment. And then, in Aztec culture, adultery was punishable by death, but that sentence could be escaped by confessing sins, however, again, you could only do that once, so they put it off as long as they could, and probably until once again the sins were brought into the public eye and then they kind of had no choice.

Lizzie: Why only once?

Zoe: I think it's just like... I don't know, I'm guessing, like, it's, you know, you have one shot to purify yourself and I think again, it's just sort of like, generally supposed to be an end-of-life thing, but if you like, really mess up, then you have to do it earlier and then I guess you just have to try not to mess up again. Sort of like you get one shot.

Lizzie: Okay.

Zoe: So, the sins are symbolized by dirt and she was said to purify people by ingesting their dirt, or sin, and she was often depicted with black lips to symbolize this power. Yeah, and they were covered with bitumen, which is the byproduct of decomposed organic materials and unmarried girls would sometimes chew it in public to represent their closeness to Tlazolteotl.

Lizzie: Interesting.

Zoe: Yeah. So, I also believe that she was associated with the creation of poisonous creatures such as snakes, centipedes, and scorpions. So, various myths from across Mexico and Central America describe a story in which these creatures were born after an illicit affair between a man and a woman. And then Tlazolteotl is also shown in a cosmic diagram around the western section, where these creatures were also shown to have come from. Due to her connections with illicit sexuality, and also associations with filth, and these creatures were considered filth and dirty, I believe these associations make a lot of sense.

Lizzie: Wait, so, people sinned and then scorpions, etc. came into being?

Zoe: Yeah, so basically the story is that there was an illicit affair between a man and a woman and the woman gave birth to like centipedes and scorpions and stuff.

Lizzie: Oh, okay.

Zoe: And that's how they, like, came into existence. And since she has like this connection in like the drawings and also because she's associated with adultery and affairs, and also with filth in general, I think it makes sense. Like, I think that she was probably like the driving force behind the affair that brought those creatures into being.

Lizzie: Makes sense, yeah.

Zoe: Mm hmm. So, she was also celebrated at the Aztec purification festival of Ochpaniztli. This festival was celebrated in September in honor of the harvest season, and it featured ritual sweeping cleaning, and repairing. She was often depicted with a broom that represents this festival and ritual cleaning and she was also often depicted with a conical hat, which style is indigenous to the region. I just thought that was fun. And the festival was associated with the Aztecs’ war with the Culhua people, which was brought on by a moment when they kidnapped, and ritually sacrificed the Culhua leader’s daughter to honor Huitzilopochtli, who is the sun god, and the god of sacrifice in Aztec mythology. And this war was really important because it actually eventually led to the settling of Tenochtitlan, which is an important seat of power in the empire, it's the place that's now known as Mexico City, and it's very significant.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: And then the figure of the daughter that was sacrificed is equated with Tlazolteotl, and the events leading up to this war are reenacted every year at this festival as well. And so, through this story, Tlazolteotl is conceptualized into Aztec leadership genealogy as an important ancestor, and served as a divine role model for the leading women in Aztec society.

Lizzie: So, she served as a role model?

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: Interesting. Because, she's like the goddess of filth.

Zoe: Yeah, she's the goddess of filth but she also is the goddess of purification. She's the goddess who causes sin but she also cleans the sins.

Lizzie: That's really interesting.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: Continue.

Zoe: Yes. [laughs] And she's also connected with childbirth and new life, and considered to be the patron goddess of midwives, sometimes portrayed in art as a woman giving birth to a baby or in a squatting position like a woman about to give birth. So I have another quote, which is, "Tlazolteotl’s role as an earth goddess or fertility deity also makes sense when one interprets the filth associated with her as rotting organic matter, and that her connection to childbirth is symbolic of new life.” Sort of death and rebirth. She was also connected with women who died in childbirth.

Lizzie: Ooh, like last episode!

Zoe: Yes! Yes, I hadn't even made that connection, but yes. So those who died—

Lizzie: I mean, quite different I think, 'cause the pontianak turned into a ghost,

Zoe: Yeah, so—

Lizzie: And killed people.

Zoe: Mm hmm. Yeah, and I think as I'm about to say, you'll see they had a pretty different view of women who died in childbirth in Aztec culture.

Lizzie: Interesting, okay.

Zoe: So, those who died and were deified were known as cihuateteo, and in their graves, there were figurines of Tlazolteotl that were often buried with these women after their deaths. So, it's clear that she was like, looking out for them and sort of watching over them.

Lizzie: Aw, that's nice.

Zoe: And this connection may be linked to her common depiction as a sacrificial victim. So, women who died in childbirth were sometimes equated with warriors who had died in battle, or people who had died by sacrifice.

Lizzie: Interesting!

Zoe: So, it was a very honorable way to die. In childbirth. Because,

Lizzie: Yeah, that's quite different, yeah.

Zoe: Yeah so that's why it's very different—

Lizzie: That's very nice, though.

Zoe: Yeah. Then the pontianak is that like, it's sort of similar to how women were viewed in Sparta in Ancient Greece is that like women dying in childbirth is equivalent to men dying in battle. It was like a very noble sacrifice to make for like, the good of the empire.

Lizzie: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Zoe: Mm hmm. And Tlazolteotl was also sometimes depicted as the mother of various gods. So these included Ehecatl, who was the wind god, and she is depicted giving birth to in a portrait. Also, Centeotl, who is the god of maize, and one of the most important gods in Aztec mythology, and also again, the sun god Huitzilopochtli, is often viewed as either her sun or her husband. So she is associated with some really important gods in Aztec mythology. And, speaking of the Fates, she was also associated with cotton as well as cotton-picking and textile making. And this goes back to her, one of her names as Ixcuina, which means the deity of cotton.

Lizzie: Wait, so what's the connection with the Fates?

Zoe: Oh, well, it's textile making, so like, spinning the thread and stuff.

Lizzie: Oh, okay.

Zoe: And this was likely due to her Huastec origins as cotton was a huge part of Huastec agriculture, and dyed cotton textiles were one of their main trade goods. And the spinning of cotton and weaving of textiles was a very important tasks, often performed by women and overseen by the goddess Tlazolteotl, and her headdress often included bundles of unspun cotton. And so, this sort of ties back to what I said about women's roles being separate but important, and that like, the spinning of cotton was very important, but a specifically woman's task, generally. And, weaving also had an erotic connotation, I feel like—

Lizzie: Yeah, we saw this in the, a previous episode, I don't remember which one it was right now.

Zoe: I think you mentioned it in the Xochiquetzal episode.

Lizzie: The love goddesses one, right?

Zoe: Yeah, mm hmm. When you mentioned that—

Lizzie: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Zoe: —sex workers were often associated with weaving in Aztec society.

Lizzie: Yes. Yes.

Zoe: So, it was often viewed as a metaphor for sexuality with like, the various parts of the loom being associated with like genitalia and stuff, you know. Fun stuff like that.

Lizzie: Yup. Yup. Got it. [laughs]

Zoe: Mm hmm. And I have one more quote, which is about the glyph for the section of the Aztec sacred calendar associated with Tlazolteotl, which depicts two snakes, which, one is flesh and one is in spirit. And it says, “In this image, She is the cycle of death and life, of death feeding life, of life cycling to death. The twinned snakes encapsulate ollin, the movement of life. Tlazolteotl is the provoker and the pardoner, the active female principle in the continual cycle of death and life.” So we can see that she is a very cyclical goddess and she's definitely a goddess that's made up of a lot of different dualities, like, you know, she's the goddess that embodies sin but also purification, she embodies death in some ways but also life in a lot of ways as she's associated with childbirth and also those who died in childbirth.

And then she's associated with sexuality, which is also associated with life. And then, she's also associated with a lot of different warrior aspects. And this is all from the article, “Why give birth to enemies?” The warrior aspects of the Aztec goddess Tlazolteotl-Ixcuina by Guilhem Olivier. So, Tlazolteotl is associated with two animals that represent warriors in Aztec culture. She is the patroness of the jaguar and one of her calendrical names translates to “1 Eagle”. So, she's often portrayed in an aggressive stance, sometimes with spears or arrows, or other weapons, and she's often depicted in some artwork capturing a child, and thus could represent the Nahua belief that birth was a form of battle, and the successful birth of an infant comparable to capturing an enemy.

Lizzie: Hmm! Okay.

Zoe: It's— yeah. And so again, we see that association with birth compared to battle and giving birth as compared to being a warrior. And so—

Lizzie: Question.

Zoe: Yes.

Lizzie: She was depicted with armor but that was a metaphor, or did she actually go into battle?

Zoe: So, she wasn't really depicted with armor but sometimes she had like, weapons. Like, spears or arrows.

Lizzie: Oh. Oh, okay.

Zoe: And then sometimes she was shown like capturing a child like she was capturing an enemy.

Lizzie: So, it was more of like a visual thing, or like, did she attack people, like?

Zoe: I think it's believed to be more of a visual thing, and a metaphor.

Lizzie: Got it. Okay. That's what I was thinking.

Zoe: I mean, I think it's like not known for sure but like I think that's the guess.

Lizzie: Okay.

Zoe: And so, actually, in general, there was a close a close relationship between a captor and a captive emphasized during war, so male warriors would often refer to the warriors they captured as “their sons,” and there was also a similar relationship between the sacrificial victim and the person performing the sacrifice. So, again, that comparison between war and sacrifice to birth. And brooms that were associated with her purification rituals were also associated with war, and there were bloody fights with brooms occurred during the Ochpaniztli festival. And according to some sources, it was considered bad luck to have a broom in your house because of that association.

Lizzie: So were brooms not a common household item?

Zoe: I guess not.

Lizzie: Interesting.

Zoe: I guess they were just sort of used with the purification rituals. And she was also said to be the goddess of discord as well, the type that led to war, and rituals at the festival demonstrated her power to cause war between groups. So, she was paralleled in many ways with the god of death, life, and rebirth, who is Xipe Totec, and their main similarities were that they were often associated with wearing of flayed skins, and they represented similar groups of people. So, for example, Xipe Totec represented those who died in battle, and she represented women who died in childbirth. And they often wore similar headdresses. War was also associated with sexuality in some instances. So, when soldiers died in battle, it was said that they had, quote, “made love with Tlaltecuhtli,” who is the earth god.

Lizzie: Interesting!

Zoe: And so this unifies Tlazolteotl's associations with war and sexuality in a very literal way. And Nahua culture also associated birth with death, so the word used to describe giving birth literally translates to “time of death,” which I thought was super interesting, and to this day, Nahuas from Tzinacapan use a phrase to mean “she is dead” at the moment a mother finishes giving birth to a child. Root words for the word for pregnancy were associated with death, and the period in which a woman was pregnant was described as the child still being in the place of the dead. So, it could be said that through childbirth, pregnant women fought to capture a soul from the dead and brought it into the world. And then that also links together Tlazolteotl’s associations with both life and death, and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

Lizzie: That's really interesting.

Zoe: Yeah. Through these associations, it shows that life and death were viewed as inextricable and always connected. There were no clear lines between the two, but both were always influencing the other.

Lizzie: Did they have an underworld?

Zoe: They did have an underworld. I'm not sure exactly what it was like, but they did have a god of the underworld and they also had a goddess of the underworld which I believe we talked about in our very first themed episode, Women of the Underworld.

Lizzie: Oh! Okay! [laughs]

Zoe: All the way back in October.

Lizzie: Long time ago.

Zoe: Yeah. [laughs] So what are your thoughts on Tlazolteotl?

Lizzie: Well, I think she's fascinating. I, I can't think of an equivalent in like other cultures, except for, I mentioned the Fates but that's only kind of. Like, she's the goddess of vice, purification, lust and filth.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: I feel like, lust, that makes sense. But the other ones, I don't think I've ever seen for a deity before.

Zoe: Yeah.

Lizzie: So that's really interesting. I also think that her main thing being like sin, and like, purification, is really unique. And it's like a little bit like, 'cause she causes sin but she also purifies sin?

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: Which is really interesting. I don't quite know what to make of it. 'Cause, I mean, I kind of feel like she's creating problems only to solve them, you know?

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: Which is interesting. Also, do you know, like what, what were sins in Aztec, the Aztec world, like...?

Zoe: Um, so I don't know, so all I know is that like sexuality was generally seen as kind of like a dirty thing, like, it's seen as necessary but at a high risk of danger and pollution and there was a high level of shame associated with it. Basically, it's believed to make the body filthy and contaminated. So, like, sexuality was definitely viewed as a sort of shameful thing, although, like, not necessar- I mean, they understood it was necessary for reproduction, but like, they were like, do you really have to? You know like, what I mean? And, again—

Lizzie: They weren't, uh, into it.

Zoe: They weren't like super into it and also, like, adultery was associated with, um, well adultery was punishable by death, so that was obviously a big thing. I don't know, like, all the other details of things that would be considered sins, I think there are many things that might have been considered sins now that wouldn't have been considered sins then and vice versa. You know, probably like some sort of disloyalty in battle or whatever, but like, yeah.

Lizzie: Okay.

Zoe: Mm hmm. But I think her main stuff associated with sin was probably like sins of sexuality and stuff.

Lizzie: Yeah, that's what I was kind of thinking.

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: So... so, you mentioned that sexuality is associated with sin and also with like, life and birth and also with war. Which is really interesting. We kind of saw the association between sexuality and war in like, the Inanna episode, 'cause she was both a love goddess and a, like, warrior, right?

Zoe: Mm hmm. Yes. Definitely.

Lizzie: So that's not like a shock 'cause we've seen that before. But it's still really interesting because sexuality is associated with like, positive things and negative thing and like rebirth and like.

Zoe: Yeah, absolutely.

Lizzie: So that's interesting. Also, you mentioned the moon, but you only mentioned it briefly. So was that like, not like a huge symbol of her, or?

Zoe: Yeah, I think that, yeah I don't think it was like a huge symbol but I think it was like, cyclical like the moon. She was associated with cycles. Like, the cycle of sin and purification.

Lizzie: Mm hmm.

Zoe: And I'm guessing also like her cycle between the four different identities of the quadripartite because it was like from a young age to an old age so I believe there must have been some sort of like cycle travel through that.

Lizzie: It's interesting that she's like a... I don't remember what you called it, quadripartite?

Zoe: Mm hmm.

Lizzie: Yeah, 'cause you see a lot of groups of three, but I don't think we've seen a group of four. Or like not in a quadruple goddess like we've seen triple goddesses.

Zoe: Yeah, it's definitely interesting. Yeah. And it's interesting that she's like, there's like the young and then there's the youngest, so it's like, keeps going.

Lizzie: That is interesting! Like, what's the difference between young and youngest?

Zoe: Yeah, and I think that's just interesting like, how the Aztecs must have viewed stages of life. And like, I'm like, I don't really know, I think I didn't look into it enough to like really say anything like definitive about it but I do think it's interesting.

Lizzie: Yeah. So you mentioned that she has kids, does she also have like a husband?

Zoe: So, I think she's, so it said in one of my readings that she's sometimes said to be the wife of Huitzilopochtli.

Lizzie: Oh, I thought you mentioned that he was her son? But maybe I heard you wrong.

Zoe: He's both. He's both.

Lizzie: Oh! Okay.

Zoe: He's sometimes her son or her husband. It's sort of like, remember with Hathor, she was like either—

Lizzie: Yes.

Zoe: She was both a mother and the wife of—

Lizzie: It's all about the cycle. Yeah.

Zoe: Yeah, all about the cycle! So I think it's a similar idea. One thing you said really stuck out to me and it was about how we, she seems a little hard to pin down and there's not really sort of like another equivalent we can think of to her as like a different goddess.

Lizzie: Mm hmm. Yeah.

Zoe: And this is, that made me think of something in my notes where I talked about the colonial impact of the view of Tlazolteotl, which is from an article I read called “The Colonial Image of Tlazolteotl” by Catherine. R. DiCesare. So, basically, when Christian invaders came into the Aztec empire, they did not know what to make of Tlazolteotl. Or, actually, most of the Aztec traditions, gods and festivals. And so they often oversimplified them by trying to directly associate them with Christian festivals or figures. And so, specifically, with Tlazolteotl, they tried to disrupt the image and understanding of her through treating her various aspects as distinct separate goddesses going by her different epithets, which include Toci, which is "our grandmother", Teteoinnan, which means "mother of the gods" and then of course Tlazolteotl, who is the main aspect that we see of her. So, Toci and Teteoinnan were generally viewed as positive, but Tlazolteotl was viewed as entirely negative. And—

Lizzie: Because of the sin association?

Zoe: Yes. So, basically, Toci was viewed as a sort of grandmother figure, and then she as sort of a mother of the gods figure, she was associated with the Roman goddess Cybele and the Virgin Mary and Saint Anne who was the grandmother of Jesus. And then I think Teteoinnan was also associated with similar goddesses, meanwhile Tlazolteotl was associated with Eve and all sinful fallen women of the bible due to her associations with illicit sexual activities. And—

Lizzie: That makes sense.

Zoe: Yeah. And so, basically their attempts to separate the Toci and Teteoinnan from their perceived negative aspects of Tlazolteotl was in order to fit her better into a neat Christian black and white good vs. bad worldview. Because they didn't like to have to reconcile both the good and bad aspects of her together. But it's clear, however, from depictions in art and ritual that these three different aspects are inseparable from each other. They are not necessarily one fixed persona, but they're like a group of entities or spirits closely associated with the same figurehead and they're most easily identifiable through depictions in art. So like, in art, they're all depicted in very similar ways, it's clear that this is like the same idea and the same figure. Like, they're not separate from each other the way that Christian invaders tried to depict them as separate from.

And so due to this, so during this time, her aspects as the goddess of filth were emphasized and exaggerated beyond the reality of how she was viewed, she was only seen as the goddess of impurities and dirtiness and no other things. So like, all in all she made Christian colonizers very uncomfortable, which, good for her, and their views were of course completely contrary to the actual concepts surrounding her. In actuality, her associations with filth and impurity were exactly what gave her the power to combat corrupting forces of filth and impurity. Through her connections, she was able to balance these forces within an individual. So, like, her quote unquote "good aspects" needed her quote unquote, "bad aspects" in order to exist like they were all combined together in the same figure, they were all existing together. And I found it interesting because in our love goddesses episode, we talked about how sometimes colonizing forces would take away certain associations of goddesses and just focus on their more tame and role-fulfilling aspects as goddesses of love and fertility, ignoring the other aspects such as war and death, etc.

And we see this here but in a slightly different way. We see Tlazolteotl being severed from herself in order to fit a narrow Christian worldview. So, to call her just a goddess of love and fertility would be limiting and inaccurate, but to call her only a goddess of filth and lust and sinfulness would also be inaccurate and vilifying. She defies categorization and she's incredibly powerful. I think what's important is basically that the Aztecs existed outside of the sort of dualistic black and white good vs. evil morality that has been imposed on a lot of Western society due to Christian influence. So, and Tlazolteotl and so many figures from so many non-Christian religions exist completely outside of that simplistic categorization. And so I think that's how she's able to exist the way she is, being both the goddess of like, sinfulness, the goddess who like encourages sin but also the goddess who purifies sin. Because those things being opposite is part of a different worldview than the Aztecs probably had.

Lizzie: Mm hmm. Yeah.

Zoe: And so those are my thoughts.

Lizzie: I think she sounds very cool and really interesting and different than most of what we hear about.

Zoe: Mm hmm. Definitely.

Lizzie: So, thank you Zoe for today's episode and thank you for listening, please feel free to subscribe and listen to our other episodes and we'll see you in 2 weeks.

[outro music begins]

Zoe: Alright, thank you so much.

Lizzie: Mytholadies Podcast is produced by Elizabeth LaCroix and Zoe Koeninger. Today's episode was researched and presented by Zoe Koeninger. You can find us on Instagram and Twitter @mytholadies and visit us our website at ,mytholadies.com. Our cover art is by Helena Cailleaux. Our music was written and performed by Icarus Tyree. Thanks for listening! See you next week!