Coatlicue is known by several other names including Teteonian, Toci, and Cihuacoti. She is referred to as the goddess of many different things, but “Goddess of Life, Death, and Rebirth” sums up most of it.

Coatlicue is usually depicted wearing apparel consisting of a skirt of squirming snakes and a necklace made of human organs and other body parts. Her bosom sags to represent her maternal side and breast-feeding. She has claws on her hands and feet. According to one myth, Coatlicue’s head was decapitated because of sacrificial reasons. To represent this myth, her face is made up of two serpents facing one another, which grew in the place of her head from her blood.

Coatlicue represents life, as well as death, and she is often depicted artistically as death. She is the mother who gives life, but also takes it away from her young.

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Coatlicue wearing her skirt of squirming snakes.
Her head is made up of two facing serpents.

Myths Surrounding Coatlicue
According to a myth, a clump of feathers fell on Coatlicue while she was cleaning and nine months later she gave birth to Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl, both gods. Coatlicue’s 400 children were gathered by her daughter, Coyolxauhqui, to murder their mother. Similar to Athena’s birth in Greek mythology, Huitzilopochtli was born fully grown and dressed in armor from his mother the moment she died. He avenged her death by taking the lives of many of his siblings. Coyolxauhqui was among those he killed, and her head became the moon when it was decapitated.

Another myth tells the story a little differently. According to this myth, the clump of feathers creates Huitzilopochtli who is born in time to save his mother from his murdering brothers and sisters.

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