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Aztec Gods

Most Important Aztec Deities

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The Aztecs had a complex and diversified pantheon (which means ensemble of gods). Scholars studying Aztec religion identified no less than 200 gods and goddesses, divided into three groups, with each group supervising one aspect of the universe such as the heaven or the sky; the rain, fertility and agriculture; and finally the war and sacrifice.

Among the most important deities, we can list:

1. Huitzilopochtli

Huitzilopochtli (pronounced Weetz-ee-loh-POCHT-lee) was the patron god of the Aztecs. He was the god that, during their migration, indicated them the place to found their capital Tenochtitlan. His name means “Hummimngbird of the left” and he was the patron of war and sacrifice. His shrine, on top of the pyramid of the Templo Mayor, was decorated with skulls and colored in red for blood.

    2. Tlaloc

    Tlaloc (pronounced Tlá-loc) was the rain god and one of the most ancient deities in all Mesoamerica. His origins can be traced back to Teotihuacan, the Olmec and the Maya. He is associated with fertility and agriculture. To Tlaloc was dedicated the second shrine 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.

    3. Tonatiuh

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

    4. Tezcatlipoca

     (pronounced Tez-cah-tlee-poh-ka). His name means “Smoking Mirror” and he often represented an evil power. Tezcatlipoca was the patron of the night, of the north, and in many aspects represented the opposite of Quetzalcoatl.

    5. Chalchiuhtlicue

    Chalchiuhtlicue (pronounced Tchal-chee-uh-tlee-ku-eh) was the goddess of water and all aquatic elements. Her name means “she of the Jade Skirt”. She was the wife and/or sister of Tlaloc and was also patroness of childbirth.

    6. Centeotl

    Centeotl (pronounced Cen-teh-otl) was the god of maize. His name means “Maize cob Lord”. He was closely related to Tlaloc and is usually represented as a young man with a maize cob on his headdress.

    7. Quetzalcoatl

    Quetzalcoatl (pronounced Keh-tzal-coh-atl), “the Feathered Serpent”, is probably the most famous Aztec deity and is known in many other Mesoamerican cultures such as Teotihuacan and the Maya. He represented the positive counterpart of Tezcatlipoca. He was patron of knowledge and learning and also a creative god. The fame of Quetzalcoatl is linked to the idea that the last Aztec emperor, Moctezuma, supposedly believed that the arrival of Cortes was the fulfilling of a prophecy about the return of the god. However, many scholar now consider this myth as a creation of the Franciscan friars during the post-Conquest period.

    8. Xipe Totec

    (Pronunciation: Shee-peh Toh-tek) His name means “Our Lord with the flayed skin”. Xipe Totec was the god of agricultural fertility, the east and the goldsmiths. He is usually portrayed wearing a flayed human skin representing the death of the old and the growth of the new vegetation.

    9. Mayahuel, The Aztec Goddess of Maguey

    (Pronunciation: My-ya-whale). Mayahuel is the goddess of the maguey plant, and she is also known as "the woman of the 400 breasts" to feed her children, the Centzon Totochtin or “400 rabbits”.

    10. Tlaltecuhtli, Aztec Earth Goddess

    Tlaltechutli (Tlal-teh-koo-tlee) is the monstrous earth goddess, whose name means "The one who give and devours life".

     

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