About the Author

Andrea Arzaba
Student / Blogger (Mexico City)

Andrea Arzaba defines herself as a “journalist, peace activist, indigenous cultures lover and an eager world traveller”. Currently, blogger for Global Voices Online and for Adopt A Negotiator Project. Andrea is studying her BA in Communications at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. She studied last year at Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain.

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The Gods of Water!

Published 18th January 2011 - 25 comments - 9519 views -

Let's go back in time! Imagine you are located in Mexico, around the 14th century. And you belong to a Prehispanic Culture (either Mayan or Aztec). Water was an extremely important resource for your community and you gave it such an invaluable significance, that your culture had one unique God representing the resource!

Now, let me tell you more about these magical entities: 


CHAAC

This is how Mayans called the water/rain deity. It’s importance comes from the main nourishment source for Mayans: Corn. As they wrote on their sacred narratives of the Popol Vuh, they believed that human beings were made out of maize. And in order to do so, they needed water.

Chaac entity is believed to be the oldest continually worshipped god in Mesoamerica, as there are some rural areas where Mayan farmers still pray for him during times of drought.

I personally find it fascinating how some of the Mayan traditions still exist! And the offering for the good of rain consists in this ritual:

The chachaac is an ancient ritual that is intended to invoke or cause rain to fall during periods of drought from March to May. The ceremony is celebrated by a  Mayan shaman. It is performed under a leafy tree in the cornfield. Place an altar on which offerings are placed, such as chickens, honey, corn meal, pumpkin seeds, etc.
Tables can represent the Holy Trinity, and beside the altar, there are placed three pots balché (sacred liquor). Prayers are made in  Mayan language. There is also a representation when four children imitate the croak of frogs when it rains.
After the ritual, the participants await the arrival of the rain.
 

If you would like to see a video of the ceremony taking place in Mexico, click here (sadly I could find it only with an explanation in Spanish, but the images are very descriptive as well)


TLALOC 

As Codex Borgia describes him "Tlaloc is commonly depicted as a goggle-eyed blue being with jaguar fangs. Often he is presented wearing a net of clouds, a crown of heron feather and foam sandals. He carries rattles to make thunder."

Can you imagine this mystical entity with a crown of heron feathers? And carrying rattles to make thunder! 

This God, as benevolent as he could be, was also feared for all the floods, drought and fling lightening he could cause throughout the land.

Water's importance was so valued for the Aztecs, that in order to tranquilize and appease Tlaloc, they would offer up HUMAN SACRIFICES! (But remember these acts were an honor).

An interesting myth of why it rains is explained: "Aztecs believed that Tlaloc kept water in a clay jar and when it broke it, this caused the rain. Aztecs also believed that he had three other jugs. The second would cause disease, the third frost, and the fourth would bring complete destruction if he emptied it or if it broke."


And it is not only Mayan and Aztec cultures those who represented Rain and Water with different entities. Also the Egyptians had Tefnut, the Japanese had Taki-Tsi-Hiko and the Indians had Varuna.

Water has been a basic element for LIFE, but also for CULTURAL and MYTHOLOGICAL representations! TH!NK ABOUT IT!!!


(Andrea Arzaba, January 2011)


Category: Environment | Tags:


Comments

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 19th January 2011:

    Good take on water Andrea! Interesting. This is really what it means to be “thinking about it.” Keep it up!


  • Andrea Arzaba on 19th January 2011:

    @ Iris: Thank you! Do you know if any of the ethnic groups in your culture praised a “water entity”? :)


  • Andrea Arzaba on 19th January 2011:

    @ Karen: How could a sacrifice help us solve our problems? In a mental way? Thank you!


  • Andrea Arzaba on 20th January 2011:

    That is a good comment, and question at the same time. Do we still feel grateful for our natural resources?

    We might just take them for granted…


  • Andrea Arzaba on 22nd January 2011:

    @ Rina: Thank you, this was my first post in the platform ;) I must admit that I feel very passionate about how these local and native traditions still exist, and even in the city I live, there are some other rituals towards water and rain in order to make the crops grow! A collective movement :)

    Thank you for the blog examples dear!

    @ Michelle: :) Gracias!


  • Maria E.R. Mannucci on 25th January 2011:

    Andrea, it’s very interesting this article. It’s so important the relations by water resource and when is started the humanity. Makes you think how important it was the water for the past, how necessary it is for the present and it will be essential for the future.
    Muchas gracias :)


  • Radka Lankasova on 25th January 2011:

    Hi Andrea,

    your passion for indiginous art is great. I love the way you put your story.

    I wonder how many other water-related gods there are in other cultures.

    Looking forward to your stories to come.


  • Andrea Arzaba on 25th January 2011:

    @ Dario: You are very right when you use the word “understand” :)

    @ Elliot: You can see the mayan prayers on the video in the post


  • Andrea Arzaba on 25th January 2011:

    @ Maria: I agree with you, a resource that was (and IS) fundamental for human development. I actually admire how some cultures gave such a tribute to WATER! And so much respect (something we have forgotten in these days)

    @ Radka: Thank you very much. I do love and feel amazed with indigenous cultures, and in the different ways we can relate it our natural resources.In this webpage you can find more GODS OF WATER from different cultures:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_deity

    THANK YOU


  • Andrea Arzaba on 28th January 2011:

    Valeria: But we could use (and are using) tech for water improvement and development as well! is not always bad (tho I get your point) thank you!


  • Andrea Arzaba on 03rd March 2011:

    We should not forget what is left from our indigenous cultures around the world


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