The Goddess of Mexico

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  December 12, 2006 — 4 Comments

“…the Virgin of Guadalupe is the rubber band that binds this disparate nation into a whole. She is the common denominator of this land, it is she giving Mexicans a sense of Nationalism, and Patriotism. Their brotherhood comes from the strength of intense faith rooted in indigenous attributes, images, symbols, magic and myth. The focus of this intense faith revolves around Our Lady, La Virgen Maria de Guadalupe, the mother of God who appeared in Mexico in 1531.”Judy King

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is said that on this day the Mother of God appeared to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (the first indigenous American saint in the Catholic Church) at the Hill of Tepeyac and told him to build an abbey. Since then, Our Lady of Guadalupe has become the “Empress of the Americas” and her feast day is one of the largest religious celebrations in the world, millions gather at the place of her appearance do devotions, pray, and celebrate their goddess.

Etching of St. Juan Diego by Jose Guadalupe Posada.

No doubt some devout Catholics may object to my use of the term “goddess”, but many believe that Our Lady of Guadalupe is merely a Christianized version of the Aztec moon goddess Tonantzin. This view is shared by scholars, curanderos/eras, and even Franciscan missionary to the Aztecs Bernardino de Sahagun who was concerned over how the natives called the virgin the by the goddess’s name. The abbey that was built for Our Lady of Guadalupe (now the Basilica of Guadalupe) sits on the former site of Tonantzin’s pyramid.

“Her appearance was seen as a sign of acceptance, telling the newly-converted Christians how to worship her in her own way; a fusion of the two cultures.”Andy Anderson

“[I]t is important to remember the semiotic richness of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexican/Catholic culture, productive of both religious and nationalist meanings. In her syncretic fusion of the Catholic Virgin Mother and the preconquest fertility deity Tonantzin, Guadalupe signifies the racial construction of Mexican national identity as the mestizo or hybrid product of the sexual union of Indian woman and male Spaniard.”Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano

But perhaps the most telling evidence is how Our Lady of Guadalupe dominates the religious psyche of Mexico and its many peoples. A vision and figure more stirring than the male redeemer of Christianity or his faceless father.

“A nation hit by historic catastrophes, such as the one occurred to the indigenous in the 16th Century – the weapons, the persecution of their culture as a Diabolic thing, the slavery, the hard labor and epidemics -, begins the great heroic feat of survival. It invents, with a prodigious recover of its collective culture, a way of saving the past, the millenary, the persecuted, the forbidden, through a new form, accepted by the new religion. It invents a mother, a goddess, a place in the Universe, a promise of redemption, a hopes and love system: behind the saint, the idol; under the Christian temple, the pyramid; behind the gentleness of the Child Virgin, the radical strength of the antique millenary mothers. Not in vain, during the indigenous oppression centuries, and precisely in the places where people suffer the most, several helping Virgins and Christs began to appear, in Chiapas or in Tlaxcala, in what today we know the State of Hidalgo or Mexico.”Jose Joaquin Blanco

“The Mexican people, after more than two centuries of experiments, have faith only in the Virgin of Guadalupe and the National Lottery”Octavio Paz

So today I give all honor to the patron goddess of Mexico, the moon goddess who survived to help her people and bind a nation together. Certainly she is the goddess who receives the most praise and devotion in the Americas.

Jason Pitzl-Waters