Xolotl,The dog God

The concept of conflict and harmony of cosmic opposites is basic in Mesoamerican thought. It is manifested in a good number of deities of opposite signs that enter into struggle to promote the dynamism of the universe, such as the Sun against the Moon and the stars; the diurnal, celestial, masculine and luminous forces against the nocturnal, infraterrestrial, feminine and dark forces. But there are two deities that combine both forces, showing more than a fight, a harmony of the opposites. One of them is Ometéotl, "god two", the supreme deity of the Nahuatl religion, and the other, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli (the planet Venus), which is made up of two twin brothers: Quetzalcóatl, god of the morning star, of the light, from heaven, from life, and Xólotl, the evening star, from darkness, the underworld and death. Mesoamerican men knew well that it was a single star with two manifestations, since the Mayans managed to fix the planet's cycle with absolute precision. And both epiphans of the deity were related to the Sun: while Quetzalcóatl announces the rising of the star, Xólotl takes care of transporting it in the afternoon and accompanying it on its daily journey through the realm of death, in the same way as the spirit of the xoloitzcuintli dog transports that of men to the Mictlan. In the P. 16 of the Bourbon Codex Xólotl appears with the solar god, Tlachitonatiuh, wearing as a breastplate the cut snail, symbol of Quetzalcóatl, to show that it is the nocturnal aspect of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli and that its function is to lead the solar god to the depths of the underworld. The Sun was drawn there as a disk about to be swallowed by the jaws of the Earth deity. The Quetzalcóatl symbol on his chest also announces that the Sun will be reborn and Xólotl, already transformed into his twin brother, will lead him. at the celestial level from the surface of the Earth.In the Mayan sources there is no evidence of a dog god like Xólotl, but in some representations in codices a meaning similar to that of Xólotl is indicated; for example, that of the Dresden Codex, p. 40b, which shows a dog detaching itself from an astral band with the sign of Venus, and carrying a torch on its front legs, as a symbol of solar fire. Furthermore, in the Popol Vuh, Venus appears first in the sky announcing the sunrise of the newly created Sun, and in a myth of the current kekchís and mopanes it is related that Venus, the brother of the Sun, is a dog that runs in front of the star.

Being Quetzalcóatl's dark twin, Xólotl was the deity of the twins, which is why he was related to everything double, such as the double-ended molcajete (texólotl). And because of his meaning of darkness and underworld, he was the patron saint of sorcerers and, as he pointed out before, one of his transfigurations was in turkey, huexólotl; That is why the meat of this bird was sacred food, like that of the xoloitzcuintli. Also due to its duality, it is the patron of the seventeenth sign of the days, ollin, movement, formed by two intertwined bands that symbolize the harmony of opposites that movement produces. And by the same sense of opposites that face each other, he is deity of the ball game, which signified the struggle of the stars in the night sky, which is also the struggle of the opposing sacred forces: Sun, day, light, life, masculine. , against Moon, stars, night, darkness, death, feminine. At the atamalcualiztli party the following stanza was sung: "Xólotl plays ball, in the magical field Xólotl plays ball", which confirms its relationship with the ball game, which was an important rite, performed by the people who rule.A mythical being who has been related to Xólotl is an abnormal and humble human figure, Nanahuatzin, who in a cosmogonic myth collected by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún is transformed into the Sun of the fifth age of the cosmos when he is thrown into a bonfire. Instead, a normal, beautiful, rich, and vain god named Tecuciztécatl cowered and threw himself after Nanahuatzin, thus becoming the Moon. This idea has a moral meaning of condemnation of false pride and vanity, which we also find in the Mayan myth of the Popol Vuh. In it, a Sun that was proud and rich is destroyed by the twin heroes who were to become the Sun and Moon of the last age of the cosmos. But the association with Xólotl in the Nahuatl myth occurs not because Nanahuatzin was abnormal, but because the ollin sign, which is that of Xólotl, as pointed out before, gives its name to the Fifth Sun: nahui ollin, Sun of motion. In this myth, Xólotl appears next to other gods who had to sacrifice themselves so that the Sun and the Moon that had just appeared in the sky began their movement. The one who was most afraid, says the myth, was Xólotl, who fled, hid among the cornfields and became the double corn called xólotl; he fled again and hid among the magueys, turning into the double maguey called mexólotl, and then he got into the water, turning into the fish called axolotl. Finally, they found him and killed him. This means that he was a dark and rare deity, and he collaborated in the sacrifice that the stars needed to move and, with it, initiate the temporality and life of the universe. But before that, the god created everything abnormal in nature and was destined to transport the Sun that dies at sunset to the underworld, a very important mission in cosmic dynamics, which expresses that darkness, abnormality and death are an essential part. of the life.



Taken from Mercedes de La garza, "The sacred character of the xoloitzcuintli between the Nahuas and the Mayans", Mexican Archeology no. 125, pp. 58-63.


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