Bernardino de Sahagún reports that Aztecan midwives ritually bathed newborn children and invoked a deity to cleanse them.

Bernardino de Sahagún

Bernardino de Sahagún, Florentine Codex: General History of the Things of New Spain (Book VI), trans. Charles E. Dibble and Arthur J. O. Anderson (Salt Lake City: The University of Utah, 1969), 175-76

Bernardino de Sahagún, University of Utah
Bernardino de Sahagún
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Thirty-second Chapter. Here it is told how the midwife, when she had cut the baby’s umbilical cord, then bathed him; and how babies were bathed; and that which the midwife said as she bathed the baby, as she prayed to the goddess to whom they ascribed the water, whose name was Chalchiuhtli.

And when the midwife had arranged the baby, when she had cut his navel cord, then she bathed the baby. [As] she continued washing him, she proceeded to address him. She said to him, if male: “Approach thy mother Chalchiuhtli, Chalchiuhtlatonac! May she receive thee! May she wash thee, may she cleanse thee! May she remove, may she transfer the filthiness which thou hast taken form thy mother, from thy father! May she cleanse thy heart; may she make it fine, good! May she give thee fine, good conduct!”

The midwife addressed the goddess Chalchiuhtli, the water. She said to her: “Lady, our lady Chalchiuhtli, Chalchiuhtlatonac, the commoner hath arrived. Our mother, our father Ome tecutli, Ome ciuatl, from [above] the nine heavens, in the place of duality, hath sent him. [It is not known] how she was arrayed, the nature of that given him in the beginning, the nature of that which he came bearing, the attributes with which he came wrapped, with which he came bound. But behold, perhaps he cometh laden with evil; who knoweth the manner in which he cometh laden with the evil burdens, what filth, what evil of the mother, of the father doth the baby come laden? He is in thy hands. Receive him, cleanse him, wash him, for he is especially entrusted to thee, for he is delivered into thy hands. Remove the blotch, the filth, the evil of his mother, of his father! And possibly he cometh laden with the vile. May that with which he cometh laden, the evil, the bad, be washed away, be destroyed. May his heart, his life be good, may they be fine, may they be purified in order that he may live on earth peacefully, calmly. May the filth be washed away! May it be washed away, may it be destroyed in the way that hath been assigned! For he is in thy hands, lady, our lady, Chalchiuhciuatl, Chalchiuhtli, Chalchiuhtlatonac, mother of the gods, sister of the gods. For in thy hands this commoner is left. And it is thy desert, thy merit, which was given thee in the beginning to wash, to cleanse this commoner who hath come into thy presence. Incline thy heart, our lady!”

Behold, here is another way in which the midwife prayed as she prayed to the goddess Chalchiuhtli. She said to her: “Our lady, Chalchiuhtli, Chalchiuhtlatonac, the tail feather, the wing feather, the commoner hath arrived! Receive him!”

Then the midwife took the water; she breathed upon it; then she made the baby taste it; she touched his chest and his head [with the water]. She proceeded addressing the baby; she said to it: “My youngest one, my beloved youth,” or she said, “My beloved maiden, approach thy mother, thy father, Chalchiuhtli, Chalchiuhtlatonac! May she take thee, for she will bear thee, she will bear thee upon her back on earth!”

Thereupon she bathe the baby; she said to him: “Enter, descend into the blue water, the yellow water. May the lord of the near, of the nigh, wash thee, cleanse thee. May he remove from thee the [evil] which was assigned thee, with which thou wert vested in the beginning. May he put to one side the evil burdens of thy mother, of thy father, an that which is the vice of thy mother, of thy father.”

And when she had prepared, when she bathed the baby, then she swaddled him; she proceeded addressing him; she said to him: “Precious necklace, precious feather, precious green stone, precious bracelet, precious turquoise, thou wert created in the place of duality, the place [above] the nine heavens. They mother, thy father, Ome tecutli, Ome ciuatl, the heavenly woman, formed thee, created thee. Thou hast come to reach the earth, the place of torment, the place of pain, where it is hot, where it is cold, where the wind bloweth. It is the place of one’s affliction, of one’s weariness, a place of thirst, a place of hunger, a place where one freezeth, a place of weeping. It is not true that it is a good place; it is a place of weeping, a place of sorrow, a place where one suffereth. Here thou wilt be burdened with weeping, tears, sorrow, weariness. My youngest one, my beloved youth, or my beloved maiden, thou hast come to arrive! Rest, settle on the ground. May our lord, the lord of the near, of the nigh, provide for thee, advise thee!”

All that which the midwife she did not shout; the only continued mumbling, only continued peaking under her breath. But when she spoke aloud, she spoke vigorously; she addressed, she shouted to the woman lately delivered. She said to her:

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