Coatlicule (Co-at-li-cu-e) or ‘Serpent Skirt’ was a major deity in Aztec mythology and is regarded as the earth-mother goddess. She was the patron of childbirth, was associated with warfare, governance and agriculture, and considered the female aspect of the primordial god Ometeotl. She gave birth to the moon, stars, and Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war. The goddesses Tocih “our grandmother”, and Cihuacoatl “snake woman”, the patron of women who die in childbirth, were also seen as aspects of Coatlicue.
She is represented as a woman wearing a skirt of writhing snakes and a necklace made of human hearts, hands, and skulls. Her feet and hands are adorned with claws and her breasts are depicted as hanging flaccid from pregnancy. Her face is formed by two facing serpents.The myth is that she was sacrificed (decapitation).
Most representations of her emphasize her deadly side, because Earth, as well as loving mother, is the insatiable monster that consumes everything that lives. She represents the devouring mother, in whom both the womb and the grave exist.
According to Aztec legend, she was once magically impregnated by a ball of feathers that fell on her while she was sweeping a temple, and gave birth to the god Huitzilopochtli. Her daughter Coyolxauhqui then rallied Coatlicue’s four hundred other children together and goaded them into attacking and decapitating their mother. The instant she was killed, the god Huitzilopochtli suddenly emerged from her womb fully grown and armed for battle. He killed many of his brothers and sisters, including Coyolxauhqui, whose head he cut off and threw into the sky to become the moon.
In another myth she warned the Aztec of their future demise. Motecuhzoma II had sent a party of 60 magicians to visit Coatlicue in the mythical ancestral home Aztlan, in a quest for supreme knowledge. However, overburdened with gifts, these hapless magicians got bogged down in a sand hill and the goddess revealed that the Aztec cities would fall one by one. Then, and only then, would her son Huitzilopochtli return to her side.
She was worshipped in the spring ritual of Tozozontli in the rainy season and in the autumnal hunting festival of Quecholli, when an impersonator of the goddess was sacrificed.