CoyolXauhqui The Aztec moon goddess; daughter of Coatlicue and sister of Huitzilopochtli. Coyolxauhqui plays a strong role in many Aztec myths. Some of these myths imply that she is the goddess of the Milky Way.

In one version of an important myth, Coyolxauhqui’s 400 brothers wanted to kill their mother, Coatlicue, when she became pregnant by a ball of feathers. Coyolxauhqui opposed her brothers and went to Coatlicue to warn her of their plan. (In other versions of this myth, Coyolxauhqui led the attack on Coatlicue.) But the newborn Huitzilopochtli, thinking Coyolxauhqui was a threat, killed Coyolxauhqui before she could speak.

Afterward, when Coatlicue told him that Coyolxauhqui was good, Huitzilopochtli chopped off his sister’s head and threw it into the heavens to be the Moon. Thus Coatlicue could always look to the heavens to see her loyal daughter.

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Another story tells about the Aztec’s 200-year migration from their legendary homeland of Aztlan to the Valley of Mexico: Coyolxauhqui (who, in this story, was still alive) wanted to remain in one of the places where the Aztec had temporarily settled. Huitzilopochtli, however, said it was time to move on. She was so insistent and he so adamant that he killed her. Then he broke down the irrigated gardens, which forced the people to leave because the land became too dry. Both stories show Coyolxauhqui as a woman who was strong and stood up for what she wanted. These were warrior qualities that the Aztec admired; they made Coyolxauhqui an eagle warrior woman. The Nahua tradition of using the phrase “fallen warrior women” to describe a conquered city came from this story.

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Coyolxauhqui is still respected. In 1978, when a large, carved stone honoring Coyolxauhqui was discovered at an archaeological site in Mexico City, the workers at the site stopped and sang a hymn to honor her.