Religion was a major part of the daily Aztec life. Aztecs worshipped hundreds of gods and goddesses, each one was believed to control one or more human activity or aspect of nature. They believed in many agricultural gods because agriculture was the backbone of Aztec life. They believed that everything was dependent on the will of these gods. The Aztecs thought that the gods should be worshipped and given thanks, so as to avoid the gods' anger and destructive temperment. They tried to please the gods by building temples, and by sacrificing the most valuable human possession, life. Believers would intentionally endure intense physical pain and suffering in hopes of going to a promised land after death.
Huehueteotl, also called Xiuhtecuhtli ("old
god"), is the senior-deity of the Aztec pantheon. He is the god of
light in the darkness, warmth in coldness, and life in death. A god of
light and fire, he is often depicted with a red or yellow face, with a
censer on his head. At the end an Aztec century (52 years)
it was feared that the gods would discontinue their contract with mankind.
To appease them, they hold feasts at the end of each cycle, in their honor,
where Huehueteotl as the god of fire was the center of their attention.
Victims were placed on burning coals, after their hearts had been removed
from their bodies.
Huitzilopochtl is the god of war and the god of the sun. Huitzilopochtl is considered to be the special guardian of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital. His temple, which was located on the main pyramid, was the center of many fearsome sacrifices, where Aztecs would sacrifice enemy prisoners, and string their heads as trophies on "the great rack". Many consider him to be the very incarnation of the sun, and he constantly struggles with the night, in hopes of keeping mankind alive. Huitzilopochtl feeds only on "Chalchihuatl", (the blood of sacrifice) which is said to keep him alive so that he may live to fight another day.
Quetzalcoatl is the divine teacher, the god of learning. He is also the god of civilization, and as we all know, the Aztecs had technology well beyond their time. The symbol that people use when in reference to him is a serpent rising from the earth bearing water on its tail. In the Nahuatl language, this represents the rise of a powerful thunderstorm sweeping down, with wind raising dust before bringing rain. Quetzalcoatl is often potrayed as an old man with a black beard.
Tezcatlipoca is characterized as the most powerful diety, the god of night, sorcery, and destiny. He is considered to be the creator of god, the god of the hunt, patron of princes, god of providence, the lord of the here and the now, the enemy on both sides. Whenever Tezcatlipoca went to war, axiety and trouble was sure to arise. He is thought to be the god that causes wars, the one who has no real ally. He is often referred to Necocyautl, or "Sower of discord on both sides".
The god of suffering, spring, jewelers, and ruler of the East. He is alternatively referred to as "The Red Mirror", or as Tlatlauhqui Tezcatlipoca, meaning "red Tezcatlipoca". It is said that if one would not worship him, they would suffer from disease, boils, blisters, sores, and tumors. To signify the beginning of spring, a priest would skin a victim, and cover himself in the victims skin, signifying that Earth must shed its old skin of vegetation for a new. He is also the god of gold, because of the fact that an aged skin turns gold over time.
Xochipilli, goddess of feasting, goddess of young Maize (corn). She is the "Patroness of Exotic Love" and "Goddess of the Flowering Earth". She is worshipped in the "Coming of Frost" festival, also known as the "Farewell to the Flowers". This festival celebrates the beauty of flowers, just before they are to be swept away by the cold frost of winter. People would make merry and dry flowers for the coming of the next season.
Tonatiuh is Aztec for "The Sun" The Sun was thought to be the primary source of life. The Aztec warriors believed that the Sun was what gave them their strength in battle. The warriors would charge into battle in hopes of killing victims as sacrifice to the Sun. There was a special Sun alter, where they would sacrifice prisoners of battle. The Sun is the most important divine symbol that is not a god.
©2004 Group Brancama