Lady Maguey; The Woman of Four Hundred Breasts

Also known as: Xochitl

Origin: Aztec

Mayahuel is the spirit of the maguey plant (Agave americana), also known as the century plant, among the most sacred botanicals of preconquest Mexico. The maguey’s gifts (and thus Mayahuel’s) include food, shelter, drink, medicine, soap, cloth, thread, needle, baskets, blankets, and paper. Maguey thorns were used as ritual bloodletting instruments. Last but not least, maguey is made into the alcoholic beverages pulque and mescal. (Tequila is made from a different type of agave.) Pulque was the most common alcoholic beverage in preconquest Mexico.

Different legends connect Mayahuel to maguey. She may have always been a plant goddess or she may have been a mortal peasant woman who discovered maguey and offered it to the spirits. They were so delighted that they instantly transformed her into a spirit, too. The essence of vitality, libido, and fertility, Mayahuel has dominion over Earth, the night sky, intoxication, drunkenness, and hallucinations.

• Mayahuel can correct female reproductive rhythms and is invoked for fertility.

• She is a spirit of healing and sacred ecstasy.

Manifestations: Mayahuel is a beautiful woman or a maguey plant.

Iconography: Her main icon is a blooming maguey, but she is also depicted as a birthing woman with big breasts and open legs, seated on a turtle. In the Borgia Codex manuscript, she nurses a fish. She is sometimes envisioned with four hundred breasts, a reference to maguey’s aguamiel, the milky sap from which pulque is made.

Attributes: Two cups, presumably containing pulque

Elements: Earth, water

Consort: Xochipilli

Creatures: Snail, rabbit

Time: Mayahuel is linked to the Aztec rabbit day.

Offerings: Maguey plants or any products of maguey, including pulque and mescal. Mescal is sometimes sold in ornate, handcrafted artisanal bottles fit for a goddess.

See also: Xochipilli; Xochitl

From the Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

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