Essay Title: 

sacred feminine in Latin America

March 21, 2016 | Author: | Posted in history, latin-american studies

THE DARK SKINNED MADONNA OF THE NEW WORLD

When explorers and colonists from Catholic Spain and Portugal came to South America , they encountered natives with long-standing religious traditions and myths that paired male and female divinities . The available documents indicate that the Aztecs understood gods as existing in a many-level sacred cosmos , which is basic to most religions of that era . The Ultimate divinity dwelled in the thirteenth or highest cosmos This divinity was never seen by humans but acted through assorted deities that came from it who were visible to humans [banner_entry_middle]

. The Aztecs understood the Ultimate deity as both unity and dual , male and female The ultimate giver of life was a god named Ometeotl . In native mythology a dual male-female deity emerged from Ometeotl , the ruler over the visible world . The deities who emerged were a male (smoking mirror , who represented night , and his female counterpart (illuminating mirror , who represented day

Historically , Aztec society was strongly separated by sexuality , with men dominating the powerful public military , priesthood , and political roles , while women took the domestic roles . They believed , however that the women ‘s work of cooking and weaving , going to market , herbal healings , and priestly functions , were vital for family and community life (Reuther , 2005 , ps . 190-200 ) In addition , the Aztecs expected unmarried girls to be virgins . They were closely chaperoned . Loss of virginity was a catastrophe leading to future marital unhappiness . All native Americans believed that marriage was the ideal state for women beyond the age of puberty . Aztec society did not recognize divorce Men of high status could have more than one wife . Women were to be monogamous . Gender also determined one ‘s rights to own or inherit property . The Aztecs permitted houses , land , and movable property to be owned by males and females . Domestic objects and weaving equipment were considered women ‘s property (Socolow , 2000 , ps . 19-24

The Aztecs saw the cosmos as having thirteen upper heavens and nine levels of underworld , with the earth ‘s surface lying between the two Male and female gods lived at every level of this cosmos or world People descended to the lowest level of the underworld on death . Male and female deities also represented fertility , rain , fire , and other cosmic forces

The main Aztec festival was the harvest festival , celebrating the gathering of the harvest and the return of the dead stalks to the earth as fertilizer for the spring crops . A woman was always chosen to represent Toci , the harvest goddess . This woman was dressed , named , and treated with great honor and veneration in her role . She danced and rejoiced so all could see and worship her . However , when the festival was over , the woman was sacrificed and skinned and her skin was donned by a man then worshipped as the harvest goddess . In this gruesome manner , the role of the goddess of fertility was taken by both a male and a female . There is no clue why the female was skinned and not the male . The… [banner_entry_footer]

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