Cihuacoatl

Appearance:
Cihuacoatl is usually depicted as an old woman with a face like a skull locked in a fierce grin. However she is sometimes depicted as a young woman, reflecting her association with childbirth, both the old and young. In both depictions she is seen carrying a spear and shield, like the warrior class in Aztec culture. There is a close connection between child birth and warfare in Aztec society, where women who died in childbirth were honored as fallen warriors.

external image cihuacoatl.jpg
A classical Aztec depiction of Cihuacoatl.

Symbolism:
She is associated with midwives and the sweat baths in which they worked. They are a key role in Aztec society as there was a heavy emphasis on childbirth and midwives. Women who died in childbirth where honored as fallen warriors as they played a large role in contributing to the society. And midwives were the medium in which women delivered their children to this world so they were honored as well. Especially during this time period where both the women and child died during birth, a good midwife was heavily valued. She is connected to other fertility goddess such as Toci and Tlazolteotl.

Stories:
Cihuacoatl contributed along with Quetzalcoatl to creating humanity. She ground up the bones of the previous ages and mixed blood from Quetzalcoatl to form humanity in Aztec religion. She is also the mother of Mixcoatl whom she abounded at a crossroad, and as such she haunts crossroads to steal unsuspecting children.

Image 1: http://www.crystalinks.com/aztecgods.html
Information: http://www.crystalinks.com/aztecgods.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cihuacoatl