Tlaloc Calling!

Spring is springing, and the weather was frequently alternating between bright and sunny with blue skies, or grey overcastness and sharp rain showers. I was at work, grinding the tang of a file before fitting the handle, but my mind was constantly repeating the name “Tlaloc” – I mean, repetitively, continuously, without pause.

I knew it was an Aztec god name, but that was as far as my knowledge went. A quick google later and I had this entry from Wikipedia. The first thing that struck me was how like Frey he seemed:

“As supreme god of the rain, Tlaloc was also by extension a god of earthly fertility and of water. He was widely worshipped as a beneficent giver of life and sustenance.”

… so far, so Frey… but it goes on:

“The cult of Tlaloc is one of the oldest and most universal in ancient Mexico… worshiped in Mesoamerica before the Aztecs even settled there in the 13th century AD. He was a prominent god in Teotihuacan at least 800 years before the Aztecs.”,

… which ties in with Vanir gods having been in existence long before the upstart Aesir. The next bit to catch my eye was:

“In Aztec mythology, Tlaloc was the lord of the third sun which was destroyed by fire.”

I suppose this link depends on whether you believe Ragnarok is yet to come, or was the end of a previous World-Age. Either way, the Norse myths tell us that the great Fire God Surt and Frey kill each other, before Surt’s burning sword razes the Earth (which then sinks beneath the sea) [link] – more coincidence.

“Tlaloc ruled the fourth layer of the upper world, or heavens, which is called Tlalocan (“place of Tlaloc”) in several Aztec codices, such as the Vaticanus A and Florentine codices. Described as a place of unending springtime and a paradise of green plants”.

Compare this with the following, from the Gylfaginning:

“It is said that another heaven is to the southward and upward of this one, and it is called Andlang [Andlangr ‘Endlong’] but the third heaven is yet above that, and it is called Vídbláin [Vídbláinn ‘Wide-blue’] and in that heaven we think this abode is. But we believe that none but Light-Elves inhabit these mansions now.”

When we consider that Frey was given Alfheim as a tooth-gift, it’s not so much of a reach. The next bit, however, was when it really hit me:

“The “Atlcahualo” was celebrated from the 12th of February until the 3rd of March. Dedicated to the Tlaloque, this veintena involved the sacrifice of many children on sacred mountaintops.”

… A day of bright skies and spring rains, right at the end of Tlaloc’s festival? I understand now why he was so insistent. I quietly petitioned the Powers to protect my children from death and got back to my work. I suppose I should have made a quick offering to Tlaloc/Frey, but I didn’t. Schoolboy mistake. I wonder if he’ll be so insistent next time. The article continues:

“…Sometimes described as Tlaloc’s sister, Chalchiuhtlicue was impersonated by ritual performers wearing the green skirt that identifies the deity. Like that of Tlaloc, this cult was linked to the earth, fertility and nature’s regeneration.”

So, has a fertility goddess as a sister? Clearly a parallel with Frey and Freya (not that male and female partnerships are uncommon in fertility deities worldwide). The article goes on:

“Tlaloc was first married to the goddess of flowers, Xochiquetzal, which literally translates to “Flower Quetzal.” Xochiquetzal personifies pleasure, flowers, and young female sexual power. In doing so, she is thought to oversee pregnancies and childbirths and act as a guardian figure for new mothers. Unlike many other female Aztec deities, Xochiquetzal maintains her youthful looks and is often depicted in opulent attire and gold adornments.”

Following the link to Xochiquetzal:

“Unlike several other figures in the complex of Aztec female earth deities connected with agricultural and sexual fecundity, Xochiquetzal is always depicted as an alluring and youthful woman, richly attired and symbolically associated with vegetation and in particular flowers. By connotation, Xochiquetzal is also representative of human desire, pleasure, and excess, appearing also as patroness of artisans involved in the manufacture of luxury items.”

Which all sounds very much like Freya, with her sexual allure and beautiful Dwarf-made necklace. The only point of contention is that this would translate to Frey and Freya being married. Perhaps not so contentious when you consider Loki’s Flyting of the Vanir in Lokasenna, where he accuses “the Vanir [of] incest, saying that Njörðr had Freyr with his sister. He also states that the gods discovered Freyr and Freyja having sex together.”

Which eventually begs the question: Why so similar? There are clearly parallels between Odin and Viracocha, with Tezcatlipoca echoing a kind of Odin/Loki character. In the Viracocha link you’ll find mention of the controversial theory of pre-Columbian European migration, a supposed time when bearded Vikings turned up in their longboats.

In simplistic terms, the fact that the Icy world of Niflheim lies to the north and the fiery world of Muspelheim to the south supports the idea that travellers native to northern Europe would find you got colder as you went north and warmer as you went south (the Spanish actually naming the archipelago at the southernmost tip of South America “the Land of Fire“). This, however, doesn’t prove any kind of contact between the cultures. It’s the same as saying the Vkings must have sailed to India because of the similarity between Aesir and Asura, or because Indra is so much like Thor – even down to slaying the great serpent Vritra/Jörmungandr.

What it does suggest, however, is that there was likely to have been a commonly held mythology that fragmented and adapted as humans moved out of Africa and colonised the world. A brilliant exposition of this theory is in Gordon White’s Star.Ships: A Prehistory of the Spirit, which you can find either through the publisher, or Amazon. I strongly recommend you get hold of a copy (the Kindle edition at Amazon is about as much as two coffees from BarStucks). What are you waiting for?!

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