Monthly Columns


Meet the Gods: Iztlacoliuhqui

In Aztec mythology, Itztlacoliuhqui (its•lack•a•lyle•key) is the god of frost. He is the lord of the thirteen days from 1 Lizard to 13 Vulture in the Aztec calendar.

At the time Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli was the god of dawn and the planet Venus, Tonatiuh, the sun god, demanded sacrifice and obedience from the other gods before he would move. Angered at the sun’s arrogance, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli shot an arrow at him. Although it missed, the sun retaliated and threw his own arrow back at the morning star, piercing the Lord of Dawn through the head. At this moment, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli was transformed into Itztlacoliuhqui, the god of obsidian stone, coldness, and matter in its lifeless state. That’s why the coldest time is at dawn.

He is also the god of winter, ice, sin, punishment and human misery, holding the place of death in a holy trinity along with birth and life, while offering objectivity and blind-folded justice. He was also revered as the god of cold.

Many interpret his name to mean “curved obsidian blade,” and images show him no facial features and a curved, serrated black obsidian blade protruding from his head. Nahuatl scholar J. Richard Andrews contends the correct translation is “everything has become bent by means of coldness,” or “plant-killer frost.” Either way, the god is frosty cold and as sharp as an obsidian blade.

In his hand he holds a decorated straw broom called tlachpanoni – a symbol of sweeping clean. Every day during the cold season, Aztecs swept clean floors, streets, and even hills.

Sources indicate Itztlacoliuhqui was worshipped in accordance with certain maize rites and public rituals.

It is cold and dark this is the time of year – Itztlacoliuhqui’s time. You may choose to petition him for snow or for no snow, to keep frost from killing crops, whenever his obsidian’s blade would help you cut something from your life, or sweep away the old to make room for the new.

While Aztecs were famous for their human and blood sacrifices, gods were also appeased through offerings, rituals, festivals, gifts of flowers, food, precious objects, and the burins of incense and tobacco. Fasting, dancing, and use of psychoactive drugs were commonly a feature of these religious ceremonies.


About the Author:

Lynn Woike

All my life I have known magic was real. As a child, I played with the fae, established relationships with trees and “just knew things.” In my maiden years I discovered witchcraft and dabbled in the black-candles-and-cemeteries-at-midnight-on-a-fullmoon magick just enough to realize I did not understand its power. I went on to explore many practices including Zen, astrology, color therapy, native traditions, tarot, herbs, candle magic, gems, and, as I moved into my mother years, Buddhism, the Kabbalah and Reiki. The first man I dated after my divorce was a witch who reintroduced me to the Craft, this time by way of the Goddess. For 11 years I was in a coven, but with retirement, I have returned to an eclectic solitary practice. When accepting the mantle of crone, I pledged to serve and teach. This is what I do from my skoolie – a 30-year-old school bus converted into a tiny house on wheels that I am driving around the country, following 72-degree weather, emerging myself into nature, and sharing magic with those I meet. Find me at, Facebook and Instagram.