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Library - Theology - Aztec


Based in the perception of the cycles of nature, time, and space, Aztec theology, an ancient polytheistic religion that is believed to have originated in c. 1,500 CE, was particularly concerned with the destructive and chaotic forces of nature, for which many rituals were practised as a means of avoiding or preventing these destructive forces by finding harmony with nature.

Deities:   Supernatural agents:   Beliefs:   Traditions:
  • Gods of culture
    • Tezcatlipoca ("smoking mirror" god of omnipotent universal power)
    • Quetzalcoatl ("feathered serpent" god of life, wind, and the morning star)
    • Tlaloc (god of water, rainy and stormy weather, and thunder)
    • Mixcoatl ("cloud serpent" tribal god of hunting, war, and sacrifice)
    • Muitzilopochtli ("left-handed hummingbird" god of war and sacrifice)
  • Gods of nature
    • Tonatiuh (god of the sun)
    • Metztli (god of the moon)
    • Tlaltecuhtli (goddess of planet Earth)
    • Chalchiuhtlicue (goddess of hot springs and fashions)
    • Centzon Huitznahua (400 southern gods of the stars)
    • Ehecatl (god of the wind, often in cooperation with Quetzalcoatl)
  • Gods of creation
    • Ometeotl (both a god and a goddess, creator of life)
    • Huehueteotl (god of origin, time, fire, and ancient age)
    • Coatlicue (ancient ancestral goddess of other gods and goddesses)
    • Toci (ancient ancestral goddess of other gods and goddesses)
    • Teteo Innan (ancient ancestral goddess of other gods and goddesses)
    • Tonantzin (ancient ancestral goddess of other gods and goddesses)
  • Gods of alcohol production (particularly in Mexico) and excess
    • Tlazolteotl (goddess of filth, guilt, and cleaning; uses guilt to cause others to clean)
    • Tepoztecatl (god of alcoholic production {worsihpped primarily at Tepoztlan})
    • Xochiquetzal (goddess of pleasure, indulgence, and sexual activity)
    • Mayahuel (goddess of fertility and drunkenness caused by drinking pulque, and of the maguey plant from which pulque is made)
    • Auiateteo (a group of five deities symbolizing excess, over-indulgence, and the related punishments and consequences therein)
      • Macuiltochtli (rabbit deity)
      • Macuilxochitl (flower prince god of the five flowers of art, beauty, dancing, flowers, and games)
      • Macuilcuetzpalin (lizard deity)
      • Macuilcozcacuauhtli (god of good counsel, longevity, mental equilibrium, and wisdom)
      • Macuilmalinalli (goddess of grass)
    • Centzon Totochtin (the "400 rabbits" god of intoxication)
      • Ometochtli (the "2 rabbit" god of intoxication and fertility)
  • Gods of maize and fertility
    • Xipe Totec ("flayed lord" god of goldsmiths, and fertility associated with spring)
    • Cinteotl (god of maize)
    • Xilonen/Chicomecoatl (goddess of tender maize)
    • Xochipilli ("flower prince" god of of fertility, flowers, and happiness/pleasure)
  • Gods of death and underworld
    • Mictlantecutli (lord of the underworld)
    • Mictlancihuatl (queen of the underworld)
    • Xolotl
  • Gods of trade
    • Yacatecutli ("nose lord" god of the merchants)
    • Patecatl (god of doctors, medicine, and medicinal compounds)
  • ancestors (emphasized as heroes)
  • 52 years signifies the end of an era that requires sacrifices to prevent massive destruction
  • farming
  • intentionally painful human sacrifice (to acknowledge deities)

Farming was highly valued by the Aztecs, and religion became extremely important because of the belief that the gods and goddesses balanced the natural world and the processes that govern the creation life, and that the will of the deities determined every person's destiny.

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