Tomicca: Our Departed on the Day of the Dead

David Bowles
4 min readNov 1, 2022

Without getting into just how much Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico is Indigenous or syncretic, I wanted to share some basic (mostly linguistic) information about similarly-named holidays among the Mexica (“Aztecs”) and other Nahuas before the Spanish invasion.

There are multiple possible destinations for a soul in Nahua belief, but the most common is Mictlān, “Land of the Dead.” Souls that travel into that realm (across a mighty river, aided by a dog) are known as “mictēcah,” literally “inhabitants of Mictlān.” They must spend four years…

David Bowles

A Mexican American author & translator from South Texas. Teaches literature & Nahuatl at UTRGV. VP of the Texas Institute of Letters.