Thursday, September 24, 2015

Quotes from _The Flower and the Scorpion_ #14

"I note the close association between scorpions and other "animals of the dirt" with the tlazolli complex. The "dirty" animals played a major role in ritual discourse, at least when that discourse invoked tlazolli. In an image from a preconquest codex (see figure 2), a feared cihuateotl (plural, cihuateteo), a woman who has died in childbirth, has a centipede emanating from her mouth. Nahuas [sic] feared her for her ability to spill tlazolli out into the social sphere, thus killing people, particularly children.
. . .
Finally, she wears both a loincloth and a skirt. Only Nahua men wore loincloths, and the images always picture Nahua commoner men in loincloths, while women wore and were pictured in skirts. This signified the cihuateteo as in-between figures, ambiguous entities that always skirted around the edges of life and death, human and god, man and woman. This liminality is the key component of the entire tlazolli complex, and indeed of Nahua sexuality itself.
Tlazolli first relates to trash. Second, it forms excrement, waste. Third, it creates life through its use in fertility (fertilizing the crops). Fourth, it takes life, allowing a gateway to death. Fifth, it is specifically gendered: the Nahuas link tlazolli to women and femininity, but also to an indeterminate, in-between notion, perhaps moving femininity beyond gender. Finally, as Burkhart points out, tlazolli signifies chaos."

That last paragraph, though, should be tremendously useful to me as a way to explain to folk what tlazolli is (and thus who Tlazolteotl is).  It's a thing I understand implicitly, but which other people seem to have trouble clicking with, and this paragraph succinctly and quickly hits six important and seemingly different elements of the concept!  Thank you, Pete!

Also, "perhaps moving femininity beyond gender"?  As a coercively-assigned-male-at-birth transfeminine nonbinary genderqueer (who is not a woman), these five words have excited me more than almost anything in this book has!

Alsoalso, this section has left me wondering how I can bring the cihuateteo into my practice more.  Are there good rituals, prayers, places, stories for them?  I will need to do more research!

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