This painting for my next book depicts the patroness of the Americas, the Virgin of Guadalupe, surrounded by echoes of the goddess worship in Central America which became absorbed into her cult. The native converts, new to Catholicism called her ‘Tonantzin’, an epithet meaning ‘Our Precious Mother’ (Rather than, as some people believe, a proper name of a particular goddess) as they recognised elements of their mother goddesses in her. The statues around her are, clockwise from the top:

Coatlicue – snake goddess and mother to the conquering sun god Huitzilopochtli;

Xochiquetzal – the butterfly maiden goddess associated with fertility;

rather than the usual cherub supporting the moon beneath Guadalupe’s feet we have the moon goddess Coyolxauhqui – the daughter of Coatlicue who wished to prevent the birth of her war-like brother but was slain by him and torn limb from limb, her head becoming the moon;

and finally Toci, Grandmother, riding a broomstick and grasping a snake. She is sometimes conflated with Tlazlteotl, the sin eater.

In a simplistic way we can see these as maiden/mother/crone/dark goddess aspects, although there is no evidence that the Aztecs worshipped them in this way.

Guadalupe is referred to as a kind of Black Madonna, or rather ‘Brown Madonna’ La Morenita, and is meant to represent the new Mexican mestiza (mixed race) people who arose from the joining of the native Nahuatl people with the Spanish conquerors. Her face turned out more native looking than expected in this painting which is unsurprising considering her setting! (Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 20 inch) Copyright Nic Phillips 2017

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