Culture

These Are The Top 11 Gods And Goddesses Of The Aztec Empire That You Should Know About

Mexico’s Aztec community, whom the Spanish conquistadors met in Mexico during the 16th Century, believed in a complex and diverse realm of gods and goddesses. Many experts have identified at least 200 different gods/goddesses, divided into three groups: the heaven or the sky; the rain, fertility and agriculture; and, finally, war and sacrifice.

It was in 1325 that the Aztec people moved from their legendary one of Aztalan to an island in Lake Texcoco – where present-day Mexico City stands. Legend has it that the Aztecas saw an eagle holding a rattlesnake in its talons, perched on a cactus. Believing this vision was a prophesy sent by the god Huitzilopochtli, they decided to build their new home on that exact site. And so the city of Tenochtitlán was founded.

To this day, this story of their great migration from their legendary home of Aztalan is pictured on the coat of arms of Mexico. It is clear, then, that mythology and religion played a key role in Aztec culture. So we’ve rounded up eleven of the most important gods and goddesses that you should know about.

1.) Huitzilopochtli – Father Of The Aztecs

Credit: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Huitzilopochtli (pronounced Weetz-ee-loh-POSHT-lee) was the patron god of the Aztecs. During the great migration from their legendary home of Aztalan, Huitzilopochtli told the Aztecs where they should establish their capital city of Tenochtitlan and urged them on their way. His name means “Hummingbird of the Left” and he was the patron of war and sacrifice. His shrine, on top of the pyramid of the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan, was decorated with skulls and painted red to represent blood.

2.) Quetzalcoatl – God of Light and Wind

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Counted among the most important of Aztec gods (and Mesoamerican divine entities), Quetzalcoatl, regarded as the son of the primordial god Ometecuhtli, was venerated as the creator of mankind and earth.

Also known as Kukulkán to the Maya and Gucumatz to the Quiché (of Guatemala), etymologically, the very name ‘Quetzalcoatl’ comes from the combination of the Nahuatl words for the quetzal – the emerald plumed bird, and coatl or serpent. As for his aspects, often considered as the Aztec god of wind and rain, Quetzalcoatl also espoused a variety of avenues like science, agriculture, crafts, and even merchants. 

3.) Tlaloc – God of Rain and Storms

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Tlaloc (pronounced Tláh-lock), the rain god, is one of the most ancient deities in all Mesoamerica. Associated with fertility and agriculture, his origins can be traced back to Teotihuacan, the Olmec and the Maya civilizations.

Tlaloc’s main shrine was the second shrine after Huitzilopochtli’s, located on top of the Templo Mayor, the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan. His shrine was decorated with blue bands representing rain and water. The Aztec believed that the cries and tears of newborn children were sacred to the god, and, therefore, many ceremonies for Tlaloc involved the sacrifice of children.

4.) Tezcatlipoca – God of The Night

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Tezcatlipoca (pronounced Tez-cah-tlee-poh-ka)’s name means “Smoking Mirror” and he is often represented as an evil power, associated with death and cold. Tezcatlipoca was the patron of the night, of the north, and in many aspects represented the opposite of his brother, Quetzalcoatl. His image has black stripes on his face and he carries an obsidian mirror.

The Aztec god was also associated with a range of various concepts, including north, hurricanes, war, rulership, eternal youth, divination, sorcery, and jaguars.

5.) Xipe Totec – God of Fertility and Sacrifice

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A deity of agricultural renewal, vegetation, seasons, goldsmiths, and liberation, Xipe Totec was counted among one of the major Aztec gods and goddesses. And while his related concepts and powers seem fairly innocuous, the worship (and its mode) of Xipe Totec was anything but. This is somewhat discerned from his ominous name roughly meaning – ‘our lord with the flayed skin’.

The Nahuatl moniker comes from the mythical narrative where the Aztec god flayed his own skin to feed humanity, thus symbolizing how maize sheds its outer skin cover before germination (‘rebirth’).

6.) Coatlicue – The Mother Of Gods

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Credit: Museo Nacional de Antropología / UNAM

Venerated as the “mother of Aztec gods and mortals”, Coatlicue was the feminine god who gave birth to the stars and moon. Her face was made up of two fanged serpents, her skirt of interwoven snakes and she wore a necklace of hands, hearts and a skull.

Coatlicue was as feared as she was beloved, symbolising the antiquity of earth worship and of childbirth. She was also associated with warfare, governance and agriculture.

7.) Tonatiuh – God of The Sun

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Credit: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Tonatiuh (pronounced Toh-nah-tee-uh) was the Aztec sun god. He was a nourishing god who provided warmth and fertility to the people. In order to do so, he needed sacrificial blood. Tonatiuh was also the patron of warriors. In Aztec mythology, Tonatiuh governed the era under which the Aztec believed to live, the era of the Fifth Sun; and it is Tonatiuh’s face in the center of the Aztec sun stone.

8.) Centeotl – God of Maize

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Credit: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Centeotl (pronounced Cen-teh-otl) was the god of maize, and as such he was based on a pan-Mesoamerican god shared by Olmec and Maya religions. His name means “Maize cob Lord”. He was closely related to Tlaloc and is usually represented as a young man with a maize cob sprouting from his headdress.

9.) Chalchiuhtlicue – Goddess of Running Water

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Credit: @KaneLadit / Twitter

The wife (or sometimes sister) of Tlaloc, Chalchiuhtlicue was the goddess of running water and all aquatic elements. Like other water deities, Chalchiuhtlicue was often associated with serpents. She was mostly depicted wearing a green or blue skirt from which flows a stream of water.

Chalchiuhtlicue was also the patroness of childbirth and a protector of newborn babies.

10.) Mayahuel – Goddess of The Maguey

aztec gods
Credit: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Mayahuel (pronounced My-ya-whale) is the Aztec goddess of the maguey plant, the sweet sap of which (aguamiel) was considered her blood. Mayahuel is also known as “the woman of the 400 breasts” to feed her children, the Centzon Totochtin or “400 rabbits”.

11.) Mictlantecuhtli – God of The Underworld

aztec gods
Credit: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Among the major Aztec gods and goddesses, Mictlantecuhtli was the deity of death and the underworld and was usually associated with creatures like owls, spiders, and bats (along with the direction of the south).

In the mythical narrative, Mictlantecuhtli played his role in delaying the Feathered Serpent from gathering the bones of humans in his underworld realm Mictlán. And it was only after Quetzalcoatl tricked him that humanity was ‘revived’ from bones and blood of the gods.

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Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

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Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

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It’s an election year in Mexico and that means that things are heating up as candidates fight for the top spot. At the same time, Mexico is experiencing a burgeoning fight for women’s rights that demands accountability and justice. Despite all the marches and protests and civil disobedience by hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, it remains to be seen how much change will happen and when. 

Case in point: Félix Salgado, a candidate for governor of Guerrero who has been accused of rape and sexual assault but maintains the support of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). Now, after being disqualified from the race because of undisclosed campaign finances, the candidate is vowing to block any elections from taking place unless he is allowed to continue his campaign. 

A disqualified candidate is vowing to block elections unless he’s allowed to run.

Félix Salgado was running to be governor of the Mexican state of Guerrero when he was faced with allegations of rape and sexual assault. The commission that selects party candidates allowed him to remain in the race and he continues to maintain the support of President AMLO – who is of the same political party, Morena. 

However, in late March, election regulators ordered that Salgado be taken off the ballot due to a failure to report campaign spending, according to the AP. Mexico’s electoral court ordered the Federal Electoral Institute (FEI) to reconsider their decision last week. Salgado is already threatening to throw the election process into chaos.

“If we are on the ballot, there will be elections,” Salgado told supporters in Guerrero after leading a caravan of protestors to the FEI’s office in Mexico City on Sunday. “If we are not on the ballot, there will not be any elections,” Salgado said.

The AP notes that Salgado is not making an empty threat. Guerrero is an embattled state overrun with violence and drug gangs and many elections have been previously disrupted. Past governors have been forced out of office before finishing their terms. Salgado was previously filmed getting into a confrontation with police in 2000.

It was just weeks ago that the ruling party allowed Salgado’s candidacy to move forward.

In mid-March, Morena confirmed that Félix Salgado would be its candidate for governor in Guerrero after completing a new selection process in which the former senator was reportedly pitted against four women.

Morena polled citizens in Guerrero last weekend to determine levels of support for five different possible candidates, according to media reports. Among the four women who were included in the process were Acapulco Mayor Adela Román and Senator Nestora Salgado.

Félix Salgado was the clear winner of the survey, even coming out on top when those polled were asked to opine on the potential candidates’ respect for the rights of women. He also prevailed in all other categories including honesty and knowledge of the municipality in which the poll respondents lived.

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

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Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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