Campaign of the Month: February 2017
The Teotl god of the Underworld
The Lord of Mictlan is the king of the underworld, a terrifying ghoul who watches over his kingdom with an unyielding eye, accompanied by his equally terrible wife, Mictecacihuatl. No one enters Mictlan but the dead, and no one ever leaves it; these are the laws of his hall, and the dead themselves are so terrified of him that they are as quiet and unobtrusive as possible, desperate to avoid catching the attention of their fearsome master. Despite his horrible appearance and iron-clad laws, Mictlantecuhtli was viewed by the Aztecs as an absolute necessity; without his careful watch, the dead would escape Mictlan, a terrible, dark place, and return to the earth to plague the living, something they feared even more than the god himself. Mictlantecuhtli’s bony visage, terrifying to behold, was symbolic for the Aztecs, who believed that bones were like seeds, portending new life; as long as he kept them buried in the underworld, new life could flourish on earth.
Mictlantecuhtli and the Bat
It happened one day that Quetzalcoatl carelessly masturbated and threw away his seed, from which arose the newly-created bat. Realizing that it had no home and craftily determining to win itself one, the bat stealthily flew into the chambers of the goddess Xochiquetzal while she was sleeping and tore several large plants from the flesh of her vulva, fleeing before she had time to do more than scream in surprise. Rushing down to the underworld, the bat presented the plants to Mictlantecuhtli; pleased by the gift and the bat’s ingenuity, he allowed it to live in his domain and run his errands. The stolen plants he kept, and they grew into the putrescent and terrible fruits and flowers of the Underworld.
Mictlantecuhtli and Mictecacihuatl
The lord of Mictlan desired a wife, so he sent certain signs and portents to the people to inform them of this. Hoping to please him, they took an infant girl, newborn that day, and carefully flayed her of all her skin before sacrificing her to the god. The baby thus arrived in the underworld pure and untainted by life among the living, and Mictlantecuhtli raised and married her, his perfect bride and complement in every way. The Lady of the Dead is more than just her husband’s bosom companion; she is the guardian of the bones and, possibly more importantly, the central figure of the cult of Santa Muerte, a mysterious underground worship that continues to this day in Mexico and neighboring countries, feeding the two gods sorely-needed power.