Lifegivers, Eclipses, and Costumbres

Although today we know that an eclipse may not lead to problems in pregnancy, within our families we nevertheless enjoy keeping many of our costumbres (customs) around these celestial events. I think in large part this is because we feel the current of deep love that permeates the advice given across generations of grandmothers, mothers, and aunties….

Many of us Chicanas/Mexicanas of Indigenous ancestry are taught that both our monthly bleeding (called luna or moontime because of our connection to the phases of the moon) and pregnancy are special times in our life: ceremonies that honor our place in our home and community as life-givers. My mother and Yoeme/Mexican aunties passed on the old knowledge, the costumbre, to my generation, that women who are pregnant must take extra care of themselves during special times of the year: the full moon, lunar eclipses, and solar eclipses. This was done in order to encourage a healthy pregnancy and a happy baby. Her family made sure to: have her wear a red string or cord around her waist with a metal key attached, reminded her to stay indoors, cooked her favorite food so cravings were always satisfied, women elders give childbearing advice, and male elders encouraged the prospective father to be attentive to the mom and baby’s needs because it was known that everything the mom enjoys, her baby enjoys... Her feelings of security and of being loved are passed on to her child.***

Art by Rosa Lidia Cubur Solloy

“Eclipses, the Aztec believed, threatened pregnancy. The Tzitzimitl — astral deities [the stars] visible when the sun was in eclipse — were often benign figures, but when the sun was covered, they turned into monsters [a different interpretation could be that the word "monsters" is really an analogy for an energetic disruption that causes fear]. For their own safety, pregnant women stayed indoors during such episodes of cosmic disorder.”

—From, Call the Aztec Midwife; Childbirth in the 16th Century (NatGeo)

“...eclipses have always been capable of producing profound psychological effects. Although there are no direct physical effects involving known forces, the consequences of the induced human psychological states have indeed led to physical effects.”


“A mentor and wise confidante, the tlamatlquiticitl would prevent the future