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Coatl: Exploring the Sacred Serpent Day in the Aztec Calendar

Coatl, meaning snake, is the first day of a 13-day period in the Aztec calendar, represented by the image of a stylized snake. It was an auspicious day which the Aztecs regarded to be sacred, and they believed that acting selflessly on this day would bring them the blessings of the gods. 

Symbolism of Coatl

The Aztec calendar (also called the Mexica calendar) consisted of a 260-day ritual cycle known as tonalpohualli, and a 365-day calendar cycle which was called xiuhpohualliTonalpohualli was considered the sacred calendar and the 260 days were broken into separate units, each with thirteen days. These units were called trecenas and each day of a trecena had a symbol closely associated with it. 

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Coatl, also known as Chicchan in Maya, is the first day of the fifth trecena. This day is a day of selflessness and humility. Therefore, it’s believed that acting selfishly on day Coatl would incur the wrath of the gods. 

The symbol for Coatl is a serpent, which was a sacred creature to the Aztecs. Serpents symbolized Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent deity, who was regarded as the god of life, wisdom, day, and winds. Coatl was regarded as a symbol of the earth and also represents Coatlicue, the personification of the earth. 

Governing Deity of Coatl

The day Coatl is ruled by Chalchihuitlicue, the goddess of rivers, running water, and oceans. She’s also associated with labor and childbirth, and her role was to watch over newborns as well as sick people. 

Chalchihuitlicue was one of the most highly revered deities in the Aztec culture and not only was she the protector of the fifth day, but she also governed the fifth trecena.  

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Chalchiuhtlicue, unknown Aztec artist
Chalchiuhtlicue, unknown Aztec artist, public domain

Importance of Coatl

Not much is known about the day Coatl, but it is considered a sacred day in the Aztec calendar. The Coatl is an important symbol that continues to be used in various ways in Mexico, where the Aztecs were said to have originated. 

Coatl (the rattlesnake) can be seen featured in the center of the Mexican flag, being devoured by an eagle. To the Aztecs who viewed such an incident, it was a signal that told them where to found the city of Tenochtitlan (modern-day Mexico City).

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Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.