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Tlalocan (Tlaloc's Domain)


Tlālōcān ("place of Tlaloc") is described as a paradise in Aztec mythology, ruled over by the rain deity Tlāloc and his consort Chalchiuhtlicue.


It absorbs those who died through drowning or lightning, or as a consequence of diseases associated with the rain deity. Among modern Nahua-speaking peoples of the Gulf Coast, Tlalocan survives as an all-encompassing concept embracing the subterranean world and its denizens.


Tlalocan is depicted as a realm of unending Springtime, with an abundance of green foliage and edible plants of the region. Tlalocan is also the first level of the upper worlds, or the Aztecs' Thirteen Heavens, that has four compartments. To the Aztec there were thirteen levels of the Upper Worlds, and nine of the Underworld; in the conception of the Afterlife the manner of a person's death determined which of these layers would be their destination after dying. As the place of Tlaloc, 9th Lord of the Night, Tlalocan was also reckoned as the 9th level of the Underworld, which was the uppermost underworld in the east.

As a destination in the Afterlife, the levels of heaven were reserved mostly for those who had died violent deaths, and Tlalocan was reserved for those who had drowned or had otherwise been killed by manifestations of water, such as by flood, by diseases associated with water, or in storms by strikes of lightning. It was also the destination after death for others considered to be in Tlaloc's charge, most notably the physically deformed.

Levels of Tlālōcān[]

Here is a description of the sections of Tlalocan, as arranged in cardinal directions

  • In the North "are the ehecatagat, the lord of the winds, and the miquitagat, the lord of death. They are the ones that care for souls for the first year after death. Both of the lords live in great caves. ... there are two caves, one on top of the other, and ... death lives in the lowest realm. The dead enter the underworld from the cemetery, where the lord death and his minions keep their souls. The role of the lord of the winds is to seek out more souls on the surface of the earth with which to populate the regions of the dead."
  • "From the cave of the winds in the northern reaches of tlalocan issue the mal aires or evil winds, the feared ahmo cualli ehecatl, the sombra de muerte or shadow of death, the miquicihual, and the miquiehecatl, the nortes, 'the winds of death'." "The cave of the winds ... is where the lord of the winds resides with his various assistants who guard the cooking pots (According to numerous tales, the assistants are toads who keep the pots.) where the ingredients for storms are kept, the winds, mists, rains, thunder, and lightning. Other assistants of the lord of winds are the quautiomeh or lightning bolts, the thunderclaps or popocameh, and the smoke ones, who make the miquipopoca or smoke of death that issues forth onto the surface of the earth, in tlalticpac, along with the winds of death."
  • In the South "is a spring of boiling water shrouded in mist and clouds. This spring is found in the depths of a cave illuminated by the fires of the popocameh. In the depths of this boiling spring, ... lives ... a giant worm, the cuiluhuexi. The cuiluhuexi eats the earth and fashions the caverns ... Its fiery breath and boiling saliva eat away the earth as it crawls beneath the surface."
  • In the East "is the place known as apan, the waters ... . Apan is a great lake or sea in the underworld that is united in its depths with all the waters of the surface of the world. In its depths live atagat and acihuat[l], the lord and lady of the waters. The acihuatl is often identified with the llorona or weeping woman {"in the Telleriano-Remensis and the Tonalamatl Aubin, her eyes are filled with tears"} of folklore, who ... is always found near sources of water weeping”. ... In the depths of apan are cities ..., and ... souls – once they have passed out of the north at the end of the first year of death – seek out ... this region."
  • In the West "is actually a cave inhabited only by truly dangerous women such as miquicihuauh, 'death woman,' and the ehecacihuauh, 'wind woman.' " "the women from this side of the underworld ... went in search of the souls of men, especially lascivious men who couple with various women. They would also take the souls of women waiting on the paths, in the gardens, or in the fields for their illicit lovers."