Wey Tozoztli

Wey Tozoztli – “the Great Perforation”

The third Zempowaltonallapowalli is called Wey Tozoztli, which means “the Great Perforation.” It is called this because towards the end of this Zempowaltonallapowalli the skies open, and the life-bringing rains begin to fall in torrents. The skies are “perforated,” they are drilled, and the waters which are held up in the heavens throughout Tonalko fall upon a thirsty Earth below. 

During Wey Tozoztli we give thanks to the Lords of Maize. We honor Chikomekoatl, Seven Serpent, who is the grown plant, who gives Her fruit for us to eat, and we honor Chikomexochitl, Seven Flower, also called Zinteotl, Our Lord the Maize, who is the cob itself, whose flesh we grind on the metate to make the tortilla which is the staff of life. They die for our sake, and so we give them honor and sacrifice as the rains begin to fall in earnest, and ask them to return, to be reborn, and to give us the gift of their miraculous flesh once more. 

Huey tozoztli. Primeros Memoriales, f. 250v.

In the past, and in many rural communities in Mexico still, our connection to the corn and the life of the fields was much more intimate. The purpose of the ceremonies of Wey Tozoztli is to seek the blessings of the Lords of Maize, so that the corn will grow with the coming of Xopan. However, today, most of us live in cities, or, even if we live in the country, we do not raise the maize we eat ourselves. Therefore, the ceremonies of Wey Tozoztli cannot be carried out as they had been by our ancestors, and still are in many Indigenous communities. But this does not absolve us of our responsibility to give thanks to the Lords of Maize or release us from our debt. We therefore spill our blood before Chikomekoatl and Zinteotl and give thanks to them for their bounty. We dance in ceremony and burn Kopal at our tlamanallis.

The Zempowaltonallapowalli of Wey Tozoztli is also a time of naming. Young children and babies are taken to the temple or tlamanalli at night, by the light of candles or torches, and are there given their Nahua names by the elders of the community. In the past, everyone was given their name as children at this time, but today, adults are given their names at the solstices and equinoxes, if they have come to these traditions later in life. Children receive their names during Wey Tozoztli for it is the start of the rains, when the maize in the field will begin to grow. They are given their names by the smoke of incense and the sound of conch trumpets, and they are given the tiniest of cuts, so that no more than a thin line of red appears, on their earlobes, and if male on their penis as well. This is a sign of our covenant of sacrifice with the Teteoh, and a beginning of the journey of sacrifice the Teteoh have asked of us. The children shall grow like the corn, blessed by the Teteoh and the Lords of Maize, whose divine bodies they will eat throughout their lives and who will transform into their very flesh, and in the first spilling of their blood, they begin the life-long process of repaying their debt.

Florentine Codex, Book 2, illustration 13

 From the Florentine Codex (Book 2, Page 7):

“In this feast they placed reeds at the doors of the houses. They sprinkled them with the blood from their ears or from the calves of their legs. Besides these, the nobles and the rich set up in their houses some branches which they called akxoyatl. Likewise, they set up branches for their gods, and set forth flowers for [the gods] which each one had in his house.

After this, they went about the maize fields and brought stalks of the maize (which was still small), and they garnished them with flowers and went to place them before their gods, in the house called kalpulli; and they set food before them.

Having done this in the various suburbs, they went to the pyramid of the goddess whom they called Chikomekoatl, and there, before her, they enacted skirmishes in the manner of battles. And all the girls bore upon their backs ears of maize [grown] the year before. They went in procession, to present them to the goddess Chikomekoatl, and they returned them once more to their houses as blessed thing[s]; and from them they took the seed to plant next year. And also, they put it away as the heart of the grain bins, because it was blessed.

They made of dough (which they call tzoalli) the ixiptla of this teotl in the courtyard of her temple; and before her they offered all kinds of maize, and all kinds of beans, and all kinds of chía. For they said that she was the maker and giver of all those things which are the necessaries of life, that the people may live.”

Offerings are made to the amaranth Ixiptla of Chikomekoatl, Florentine Book 2, illustration 14

Modern Interpretations of Wey Tozoztli (adapted with permission from the work of micorazonmexica):

If you are a farmer who raises corn, or can grow corn in your garden, the ceremonies of Wey Tozoztli can take place much as they did for our ancestors. If you are an urban dweller, or otherwise find it impossible to grow corn, then the ceremonies will be very different for you. But in either case, this is a time to give thanks to the Lords of Maize. 

Images of Chikomekoatl and Zinteotl are placed at dawn upon the tlamanalli, and hung with paper banners and flowers, and leafy branches are hung there as well. Before the images of the Teteoh beds of spanish moss are made, upon which pots of soup are placed. For those who can, stalks of dried maize from the previous year’s harvest are collected from the field or garden with the smoke of Kopal, and are brought back to the tlamanalli, and reverently placed there, for they are the divine body of Chikomekoatl. If you cannot find dried maize plants, simply decorate it with flowers, and place paper maize plants upon your tlamanalli instead, and give thanks to the Lords of Maize for their harvest. Five cooked frogs, or clay or paper images of frogs, are placed before the Lords of Maize. Frogs are symbols of the Lords of Rain and represent life and water. Likewise, they represent Zipaktli, one of the manifestations of Our Mother the Earth. Leaves from the maize plants are inserted into their backs, or if such cannot be found, paper flags. If the frogs are made of paper, these flags are laid down upon them. The corn leaves or paper flags symbolize the corn growing from the body of Our Mother the Earth. Finally, seven cobs of dry corn are placed upon the tlamanalli, to the sound of conch trumpets and the smoke of Kopal. All the papers, flags, and offerings are painted red, the color of sacrifice and blood. These offerings remain all day upon the tlamanalli. 

At night guests are invited to the ceremony who come with their own dried corncobs to cleanse with Kopal. The soup and frogs and other offerings are eaten with joy and merriment by the party. Young women take up the cobs of corn, in groups of no more than seven, and wrap them in their mantles or rebozos. 

Their legs and arms are painted red, and an elder dips a daisy in liquid rubber or black ink and spatters it across their faces. In the past the young women led the gathered people to the temples of Chikomekoatl and Zinteotl to venerate the seeds, but today their temples no longer exist. Therefore, they take them instead to the field or garden where the maize is to grow, for this is their home, and sacred to them, and here they, with the elders of her community, seek the blessings of our Mother and Father the Maize. With the smoke of Kopal we ask that they give us the gift of Their sacred flesh. The procession to the field takes place in silence. No one may speak, and if any speak, they should be reprimanded. If there are no fields or gardens at which to bless the corn-cobs, then the maidens should walk in a circle six times, perhaps around the block on which you live or even just in your living room, while honoring the four directions, of Our Father the Sky and Our Mother the Earth, and ask all of the Teteoh to bless the seeds and to bring abundance into our lives. The corn is then wrapped in papers and spattered with rubber or ink, and if you have a granary, they are placed there, and left there throughout the year, for they are its heart, they are the representation of Chikomekoatl, in whom She dwells. If you do not have a granary, they remain in your kitchen, on a tlamanalli, where they will bring abundance into your life. 

Wey Tozoztli, Codex Tovar