Aztec Mythology

2015 April 2015 History Kirby Vickery

By Kirby Vickery from the April 2015 Edition

I believe that Aztec mythology would be easier understood by modern people if we could get our minds wrapped around the concept that sacrifice and bloodletting were paramount in Aztec culture and that those killed for religious reasons were not looked upon as victims of anything but during their transition from life to death they actually become messengers to the gods. In its simplest terms, sacrifices were actually a pay-back to the gods for what they (the gods) did for the people. In some instances these soon to be messengers were selected from warriors captured from other tribes and they went to their gods without choice. In other instances the people would vie for a shot at having their hearts torn out while still beating and held high over the priests head to a cheering crowd.

The Aztecs likened their lives to that of the corn plant which lasts one year picked of its fruit or not. Thinking about it they likened men’s lives to that of the corn and figured that men were born to die. In their games of hoop ball it was the winners who were taken up the side of the pyramid not the losers. The losers hung around to try another day or they might just be put to death to satisfy a need in some other corner of hell.

Let me put it to you in another way. In our world if a priest, minister or pastor who has dedicated his life to God and is subsequently a little closer to his God yelled out, “DUCK!” We would all hit the dirt with a feeling of relief that we had missed what was coming our way. An Aztec priest yelling the same thing would get the same reaction except the duckers would be scouring in the ground looking real hard to see what they figured they missed the first time over that piece of ground that the gods had left for him.

The other concept modern people can’t seem to get their mitts around is that the major Aztec gods had a duality. This concept isn’t even close to the Holy trinity held by believers of the New Testament. The Aztec duality of their gods was a total thing complete to having different sexes.

The Aztecs believe it took the gods five tries until they could have a world with mankind’s life on it. Usually their mythology reads off in context similarly to that of most other cultural mythologies. What I mean is that the creation of something in our world was generated because a god mixed it up with another god or human and after great devastation. It occurred to me that most gods in most mythologies had extreme emotional problems manifested by the fact that they never could reign them in during their angry fits and – men died or worlds or animals. Let me tell you the story:

Ometecuhtli and Omecuhuatl were the first Lord and Lady of Duality. They had four sons. One of them named Black Tezcatlipoca got ambitious and turned himself into the sun which provided light and heat to all the acorn, berry, and root eating giants that lived at the time. Tezcatlipoca had a rival named Quetzalcoatl who went into a rage over the fact that Tezcatlipoca was the ruler of the universe and. Quetzalcoatl knocked Tezcatlipoca right out of the hot spot. When Tezcatlipoca woke up he got so mad that her turned himself into a jaguar and proceeded to destroy the earth.

With Tezcatlipoca tearing up the earth Quetzalcoatl took over the heavens as the new sun god. He bided his time and when Tezcatlipoca finished he rebuilt the earth and created a people on it that loved pine nuts. No sooner did he finish when Tezcatlipoca conjured up a great wind and destroyed the earth again. There were a few people left and they were changed to be monkeys.

All these goings on brought about a great deal of attention from the other gods. The god of rain, Tlaloc decided to take a shot at it and was the next (3rd) god to create the earth. Quetzalcoatl was still on a rampage and flooded the earth this time. He killed almost all the people. Those that didn’t get drowned became birds.

The water goddess Chalehiuhtlicue decided it was her turn to be the sun and to take over the responsibilities and thus became the heroine behind the fourth attempt of earth’s creation. Her first job was to dry the earth out after all that rain from the third attempt. However, she moved too slowly and almost all the people were drowned. Those that survived, however, were turned into fish.

All of this fighting back and forth got the attention of all the rest of the gods. They decided that having an earth and people in it was a good idea but they needed a sacrifice to be the sun.

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