Since October is National Hispanic Heritage Month,I couldn’t think of a better mythological tradition to commemorate in October than the Aztecs. Of course, the Aztecs we know actually consisted of a bunch of ethnic groups that dominated much of Mesoamerica who spoke the Nahuatl language that dominated large parts of Mexico and Central America between the 14th to 16th centuries. Still, while you may wonder why I may discuss Aztec mythology for October to commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month while there are a lot of Hispanics who aren’t Mexican, I list my reasons here:
1. A lot of Aztec culture was adopted by a lot of from the surrounding civilizations or descended from older ones like the Toltec. In other words, they adopted and combined several traditions with their own earlier ones, which explains why they have several creation myths. And many of while many of the deities I list in this post may have been gods worshiped in other Pre-Columbian civilizations like Quetzalcoatl, we know most of them by their Aztec names.
2. While the Aztecs obviously don’t have the only mythological tradition, their mythology is better known to us than that of any civilization in Pre-Columbian (even the Mayas). This is because the Aztecs were a dominant power in the Americas until the arrival of Hernando Cortez, had a written language, and an educated populace (they were the most literate civilization in Pre-Columbian America at the time due to having a compulsory education system), and had a mythological tradition most people would’ve remembered to write down.By contrast, there’s not so much we know about Mayan and Incan mythology.
Still, Aztec mythology can be rather confusing.The Aztecs had over 100 specific deities and supernatural creatures in their myths. And like the Egyptian gods, many of them tend to have different names as well as different incarnations (either as humanoid, beast, or somewhere in between). It also doesn’t help that Aztec mythology is not known for its consistency and many of them have a lot of different origin stories. Not only that, but many tend to have names which are very hard to pronounce or spell. Still, the Aztecs really didn’t consider their deities as “gods” in the European sense since their their word for one was “teotl” which indicated a force of nature that didn’t necessarily have an Anthropomorphic Personification. And then you have the whole human sacrifice thing the Aztecs were notorious, which they practiced with creativity previously unseen by humanity (mostly to stave off a possible cosmic apocalypse), as well as their deities possessing a notion of duality with their gods being both good and evil. Still, human sacrifice victims were treated similar to Hunger Games contestants than anything, though they were mostly exempted from a fight to the death and guaranteed a place in heavenly paradise. Some would even be seen as representatives to the gods. There are also deities who tend to be the gods of the same thing and its very unclear on who’s in charge of this pantheon. Many of them could die and be reborn many times. Not to mention, their ideas on good and evil were pretty strange. For instance, your afterlife wasn’t based on how you lived, but how you died (and even if you didn’t get into Aztec heaven, the alternatives weren’t exactly hellish). Oh, and for a culture that practiced a lot of human sacrifice and war, every Aztec child was subject to compulsory education while their treatment of slaves was said to be amazing (and more like indentured servitude). So without further adieu, here are some of the major gods you’d find in the Aztec pantheon (or at least the major ones I could find pictures for).
Quetzalcoatl is perhaps one of the nicer gods of the pantheon who didn’t demand a lot of sacrifices as well as the one most of us know. He’s known as a creator and friend to humanity as well as associated with death and resurrection. Still, despite his parallels with Jesus, he is no saint.
AKA: “The Feathered Serpent” and “Precious Twin”
Origin: If we go by the iconography, he’s one of the oldest gods in the pantheon with a strong Mesoamerican presence. Though he may be referred by a different name in other civilizations, his feathered serpent image has been depicted in Mesoamerican art and religion at least since 900 BCE starting with the Olmec in La Venta (or as it’s popularly believed). Still, his first documented was in the first century BCE or CE in Teotihuacan which was in the Late Preclassic or Early Classic period.
Domain: God of wisdom, life, knowledge, crafts, arts, morning star, fertility, patron of the winds, dawn and the light, and lord of the West. Patron of the Aztec priesthood, merchants, and learning. Said to be a creator deity having contributed essentially to the creation of Mankind and gave them maize. Also said to invent books and the calendar as well as taught humans crafts, farming, medicine, and astronomy. Sometimes seen as a symbol of death and the resurrection. Of course, this doesn’t stop some Mormons from believing that he’s Jesus Christ (well, they’re both said to be born by a virgin in some stories). Was once said to be the mythical king of Tula (or Teotihuacan) in human form.
Pro: Well, he’s just about the only god who either opposed human sacrifice or didn’t require it (again owing to the inconsistencies). Said to create a fifth world by journeying to the Aztec underworld Mictlán, stealing the bones of the previous races from under Mictlanteuctli’s and grinding them to mix with corn (with the help of Cihuacoatl), and using his own blood from the wounds he inflicted on his ear lobes, calves, tongue, and penis it imbue the bones with new life. Said to be able to fly, very smart, and a rather tough fighter. Not to mention, he’s the Aztec god who’s the most familiar to us and whose name isn’t a nightmare to spell. Also, unlike a lot of gods in mythology, he’s able to keep it in his pants (unlike Zeus) at least when he’s sober (though he’s sometimes said to sire royal lineages or married to Ītzpāpālōtl). Still, he’s considered one of the nicest gods in the pantheon (though that’s not saying much yet the Spanish did depict him as a benevolent figure, but this was out of ignorance though). Said to be a wise and peaceful ruler of Tula who ushered in a golden age.
Con: Spends a lot of time in the mythos fighting his brother Tezcatlipoca (though neither of them were said to be explicitly good or evil or necessarily “better,” they just really hate each other and only teamed up to slay Cipatli. Still, their rivalry caused them to destroy each other’s worlds they ruled and created). Oh, and as king of Tula, he was such a hit there that none of the other gods were receiving tribute. This led to Tezcatlipoca coming to earth, worming his way through his brother’s court and getting him rip-roaringly drunk that he ended up sleeping with his sister Quetzalpetlatl (or a priestess in some stories). Ashamed, he went into self-imposed exile, burned himself to death on a funeral pyre, came back to life, and sailed to the east on a snake raft, promising to return (but probably not as Cortes, since that is more likely Spanish propaganda). He’s also capable of jealousy (I mean he and Tezcatlipoca basically overthrew Chalchiuhtlicue and ended the fourth world in a massive flood just out of envy). Also, introduced humans to alcohol and is associated with ceremonial drunkedness. Not to mention, it’s said that Tezcatlipoca has to keep him from returning to full power or everything would be destroyed. So to say that Quetzalcoatl is the Aztec equivalent to Jesus is quite of a stretch.
Symbols and Motifs: Commonly depicted as a gigantic, coiling, feathered serpent or dragon (but many artists put wings on him which he doesn’t have in Pre-Columbian iconography though legend say he’s capable of flight). His symbols are resplendent quetzels, rattlesnakes (coatl means snake in Nahuatl), crows, and macaws. In his form as the morning star (Venus), he’s depicted as a harpy eagle. As Ehecatl, he’s the wind and is represented by spider monkeys, ducks, and the wind itself. In human form, he’s seen as an old man (explaining why he’s seen as light skinned with light hair). His insignia is a beak like mask.
City: Cholula where the world’s largest pyramid was dedicated to his worship. You could also say his other notable cities were Tula, Chichen Itza, Xochicalco, and Teotihuacan.
Offerings: He usually is perfectly fine without a human sacrifice (or outright condemn it. Still, his reasons are understandable. After all, he’s said to create humanity). He was usually offered birds, snakes, and butterflies as well other animals.
Tezcatlipoca was Quetzalcoatl’s rival and archenemy as well as a trickster deity and the closest thing to an Aztec Loki. Still, on his festival a young man would be chosen in his likeness and would live the life of Riley for a year before he’d sacrificed to this deity.
AKA: “Smoking Mirror,” “The Mocker,” “Enemy of Both Sides,” “Lord of the Near and the Nigh,” “The Young Man,” “Mountainheart,” “Night, Wind,” “We are his Slaves,” “Possessor of the Sky and Earth,” “Two Reed,” and “He by whom we live”
Origin: If we go by the iconography, his figure worship may date back to as early as the Olmec or Maya. If not, then Toltec.
Domain: God of providence, magic, matter and the invisible, ruler of the night, Great Bear, impalpable, ubiquity and the twilight, and the lord of the North. God of rulers, sorcerers, slaves, nobles, and warriors as well as death, discord, temptation, and change. Associated with night sky, mischief, malice, the night winds, hurricanes, the earth, obsidian, enmity, rulership, divination, jaguars, beauty, war, and strife.He’s basically a trickster deity as well as the closest thing the Aztecs had to Loki with all its implications. Said he could be invisible, omnipresent, and could see everything. Is very much one magnificent bastard. Had 4 wives.
Pro: He’s a badass and lost a right leg battling the Cipatli with Quetzalcoatl as well as won seemingly unwinnable battles in Tula. Also, since he’s the god of slaves, he’s very nice to work for and willing to punish those who mistreated theirs. He’s also easily appeasable and generous. Not to mention, he’s said to be rather good looking and one of the more powerful gods in the pantheon. Charged with keeping Quetzalcoatl from returning to full power.
Con: He’s an eternal enemy and rival of his brother Quetzalcoatl (or alter-ego if you want to think that). Basically when upset that no offerings were made to him while his brother was king of Tula that he infiltrated his court and managed to make the Feathered Serpent so drunk that he banged their sister (or priestess) and had him basically burn himself and heading to the east. Still, he’s a smooth manipulative bastard and philandering cad. Not to mention, running off with Thaloc’s first wife Xochiquetzal (which may have been against her will) resulting in the third world’s drought and destruction through fire. Not to mention, suffers from epic mood swings and always looking for a reason to cause trouble.
Symbols and Motifs: Often depicted as a jaguar or a young man. His symbol was a disk worn as a chest pectoral though he’s associated with smoke, mirrors, and obsidian. As a human, he’s usually portrayed with a black and yellow stripe on his face and a right foot missing (though what it’s replaced with depends on the story). May sometimes have a smoking mirror on his chest or carry smoking knife. Associated with the color black.
City: His festival was the Toxcatl which took place in May. His main temple was located in Tenochtitlan. Also worshiped in Texcoco, Tlaxcala, and Chalco.
Offerings: It was Aztec tradition for the new king to stand naked in front of his likeness while emphasizing his utter unworthiness. He’d also fast for this god as well. At his temples copal incense was burned 4 times a day. Still, during Toxcatl, the Aztec priests would choose a young man to impersonate the god and he would spend a year living like a deity, wearing jewelry, partying, marrying 4 women, and being waited on by 8 attendants. Yet, when his time was up the young man would be sacrificed at Tezcatlipoca’s temple and the priests would eat his body later. The 4 ladies would be sacrificed, too. Then a new candidate would be chosen for the following year.
Thaloc may be one of the more unpleasant gods in the Aztec pantheon yet since he’s the rain god, he’s one of the more essential. Still, his abode in the heavens is said to be an earthly paradise. Nevertheless, he’s not the best looking despite having 2 gorgeous wives.
AKA: “He who is the embodiment of Earth,” “Giver,” and “Green One”
Origin: His cult is one of the oldest and most universal in Mexico. Was likely adopted by the Aztecs from the Mayan god Chaac which they may have got from Teotihuacan. Was worshiped in Mesoamerican at least 800 years before the Aztecs.
Domain: God of rain, fertility, and lightning. Lord of water. Associated with storms and mountaintops. Also said to be the lord of the heavens which was a place for for those who died violently from phenomena associated with water, such as by lightning, drowning, and water-borne diseases. Not to mention, his place also took child sacrifice victims and those who died from leprosy, venereal disease, sores, dropsy, scabies, and gout.
Pro: Seen as a beneficial god who gave life and sustenance. Also his name isn’t a spelling nightmare. Not to mention, his home is known as a place of eternal springtime and plenty. Seemed to love his wives (despite one leaving him for Tezcatlipoca, which he handled badly but you could understand why he didn’t try to get her back).
Con: He was feared since he could send hail, thunder, and lightning. Also denied water to humanity that when Quetzalcoatl asked him to make it rain, he made it rain fire destroying the third world. Required child sacrifices and it didn’t help that he was an essential god to the Aztecs. Not to mention, adult sacrifices offered to him were flayed alive.
Symbols and Motifs: His planet form is Venus while his animal forms are herons, amphibians, snails, and possibly sea creatures. Associated with turquoise, jade, green, and blue. Usually depicted with goggle eyes, a cleft lip, and jaguar fangs (though he’s said to have 2 hot wives).
City: Mount Tlaloc was his most important shrine and had 2 shrines at Tenochtitlan and possibly the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán. Shared the Great Temple with Huitzilopochtli. His festivals were Atlcahualo in Februrary, Tozoztontli in March and April, and Atemoztli in December.
Offerings: He was offered human hearts from a bowl. Sacrifice victims were buried in blue paint and with seeds. Received offerings of jade, shells, vegetables, and sand. Still, he’s best known for requiring children sacrificed to him from mountain tops and they had to die crying. 7 kiddies would be sacrificed to him in and around Lake Texcoco. Also adult victims offered to him were flayed alive or drowned and their skins worn by the priests.
Though Tonatiuh is said to be a rather benevolent god who provides people warmth and nourishment through his rays, he demands a lot of sacrifices. Still, he did get the job rather fairly before letting it all go to his head.
AKA: “Movement of the Sun”
Origin: Well, he was a sun god who may have came from the Mayas (with the similar calendar design) since there’s a myth of Huitzilopochtli being the fifth sun as well, and he comes from the Mexica and Aztecs themselves.
Domain: God of the sun and leader of Tollan and heaven. Patron of jaguar and eagle warriors.
Pro: Well, he’s the fifth guy to be the sun after Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, Thaloc, and Chalchiuhtlicue (well, in some versions at least). Oh, and when he applied for a job, he was a poor, crippled god Nanahuatzin but beat favorite Tecciztecatl for the post through courage, selflessness, and luck. Also said to bring warmth and nourishment to the Aztec people through his cosmic rays.
Con: Since becoming the sun, he demands a huge amount of sacrifices as tribute (though he did sacrifice himself to become the fifth sun). If he doesn’t get them, then he’d refuse to move through the sky unless the gods give themselves up to him. Also, turned the dawn god Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli just for insulting him (then again the dawn god isn’t very nice but still).
Symbols and Motifs: Usually depicted as a sun disk or the center of the Aztec calendar.
Offerings: Requires a lot of human sacrifices each morning to revitalize but apparently may not be as much as Huitzilopochtli.
Xochiquetzal was an Aztec goddess of love and perhaps one of the best looking gods in the pantheon. Still, though one of the nicer deities to humans, she’s as forgiving as long as the Aztecs would sacrifice at least one virgin to her every 8 years.
AKA: “Flower Quetzel,” “Maiden,” and “Precious Feather”
Origin: Well, she may have origins in Teotihuacan or be the Virgin of Ocotlan as well as Maya Goddess I, but the jury’s still out.
Domain: Goddess of flowers, dancing, fertility, female sexuality, love, and beauty. Protector of young mothers and patroness to pregnancy, childbirth, prostitutes, and women’s crafts like weaving and embroidery. Associated with creators of luxury items, painters, and sculptors. Representative of human desire, pleasure, vegetation, and excess. Twin sister of Xochipilli and first wife of Tlaloc.
Pro: Well, unlike many of the gods in this pantheon, she’s actually quite nice to look at according to humans and the gods themselves. Also said to be a rather forgiving goddess for human crimes despite demanding virgin sacrifices.
Con: She was Thaloc’s first wife and he took their break up hard when Tezcatlipoca snatched her up and forced her to marry him (then again, she’s been linked to other gods as well as one of the goddesses said to be Quetzalcoatl’s mom). Also said to seduce a priest and turn him into a scorpion. Still, she’s said to have a reputation as having many husbands and lovers (including her brother).
Symbols and Motifs: Usually depicted as an alluring and youthful woman. Her symbols are flowers, particularly marigolds. Sacred animals are birds and butterflies.
City: Tenochtitlan. Had a festival held in her honor every 8 years called Atamalqualiztli where worshipers wore animal masks in her honor. There was also Tepeílhuitl and Xochíhuitl.
Offerings: Had a virgin sacrificed to her every 8 years in which she was flayed alive with her skin being put on a loom before being worn. Worshipers would then engage in a ritual bloodletting and bath.
Xochipilli is Xochiquetzal and one of the more friendly gods in the Aztec pantheon in that he’s somewhat of a hippie. Still, it’s kind of a relief to people in the 21st century that he’s the god of gays though he’s married and would do it with anyone.
AKA: “Flower Prince,” “Five-Flower,” and “Flower Child”
Origin: His worship at least dates to the Pre-Classic Teotihuacán or the Toltecs.
Domain: God of art, games, beauty, dance, flowers, song, feasting, creativity, soul, love, fertility, and homosexuality. Patron of gay men and male prostitutes as well as painting and writing. Twin brother (or husband) of Xochiquetzal. Associated with butterflies, excess, and poetry.
Pro: Well, being the god of gays sort of reveals that Aztec society was a rather LGBT friendly one as far as I could tell. Still, he’s said to be the closest thing in the Aztec pantheon to a hippie (which means he doesn’t demand a lot of human sacrifices). Said to turn dead warriors into hummingbirds.
Con: Despite being the god of homosexuality, he’s said to actually be bi in the mythos and married to a human girl Mayahuel (who’s said to be the goddess of booze though) and is sometimes said to be romantically linked to his sister Xochiquetzel. Also associated with tobacco and psychoactive drugs. Nevertheless, he’s reputed to be a hedonist with a playful mischievous streak.
Symbols and Motifs: Hallucinogenic plants are said to be sacred to him as well as mushrooms. Usually depicted as a youthful man though rather skinless. Other symbols are flowers and tobacco.
Offerings: His offerings usually tend to be hallucinogenic plants, mushrooms, and flowers as well as butterflies and animal skins.
Huehuecoyotl was one of the more popular gods of the Aztec pantheon and its resident trickster deity. Still, whether he helps humanity or causes genocide usually depends on his mood. He’d also hump anything.
AKA: “Old Man Coyote”
Origin: We’re not sure where the Aztecs got this god from. Then again, they were said to be from Arizona where their Indians did have a coyote trickster deity.
Domain: God of dance, song, trickery, music, old age, mischief, and male sexuality. Associated with indulgence, good luck, balance, and storytelling.He’s also a trickster deity who can change gender and go both ways. As a shapeshifter, he takes any form he wants.
Pro: Well, he’s said to be rather family friendly and laid back as well as very wise. Also rather protective and beneficial mortals when other gods try to harm them as well as even interact with them directly more than Quetzalcoatl. He was one of the more popular gods in the pantheon. Was the only friend to Xolotl (in some sources).
Con: Whether he helps or harms humans usually depends on his mood. He’s also an amoral and sadistic god who was famous for causing genocide on a whim or provoke human wars for fun. Also has many of his pranks blow up in his face if they’re against other gods. Not to mention, he has the biggest sexual appetite in the pantheon and would hump anything.
Symbols and Motifs: Often depicted as an anthropomorphic coyote sometimes with black and yellow feathers. The coyote is his animal and is often seen followed by a human drummer as his attendant.
City: None but he was seen as rather an accessible god to the Aztecs though, explaining why he was so popular.
Offerings: If he needs a human sacrificed, he just starts a war.
Chalchiuhtlicue is the goddess of water who was dedicated at weddings and the births of children. Yet, she also caused a flood lasting for 52 years and is married to Tlaloc who has kiddies sacrificed to him.
AKA: “She of the Jade Skirt,” “Sad Waters,” “Woman Who Makes the Waves Swell,” “To and Fro,” “Woman Who Lives in the Sea,” “Sea Storm,” “She Who Dwells on the Back of the Tortoise,” and “She Who Shines in the Waters”
Origin: May have been a derivative from the Early Classic Teotihuacan with the Pyramid of the Moon supposedly dedicated to her. Domain: Goddess of love, beauty, fertility, youth, lakes, rivers, seas, streams, oceans, storms, and baptism. Patroness of childbirth, marriage, and water as well as protector of children and fishermen. Consort (and sometimes sister) of Tlaloc (or Xiuhtecuhtli) and co-ruler of the heavenly Tlalocan and mother of moon god Tecciztecatl.
Pro: Well, she was a better wife to Tlaloc and a protector of women and kids. Oh, and she only staged a flood to purify humanity but built a bridge linking heaven and earth for those in her good graces and turned the other residents into fish so they wouldn’t drown. And she’s quite nice to look at.
Con: You wouldn’t want to hear her name at a spelling bee. Caused a giant flood that lasted for 52 years which destroyed the fourth world. Also, don’t expect her to protect any kiddies sacrificed to her husband Tlaloc.
Symbols and Motifs: To her people, she’s seen as a river but usually depicted as a beautiful woman in a blue green skirt carrying a cross. Associated with serpents, maize, jade, shells, birds, jaguars, and green.
City: Possibly the Pyramid of the Moon in Teotihuacán. Still, there were about five annual Aztec celebrations dedicated to her and her husband like Atlcahualo in February.
Offerings: Her sacrificial victims were drowned yet they were mostly adults and only in June. Still, offerings consisted of birds, cougars, wolves, jaguars, and snakes.
Mictlantecuhtli is the god of the dead and Lord of Mictlan (the deepest place in the Aztec underworld which takes 4 years to get to). Though not necessarily evil, he’s not particularly nice and actually tried to stop Quetzalcoatl from creating humanity. Also is as creepy as hell but well suited for Halloween parties.
AKA: “Lord of Mictlan” Origin: Well, if we go by iconography, he was adopted by the Aztecs from other Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Maya and Zapotec.
Domain: God of the dead and lord of Mictlan, the Aztec Underworld.
Pro: Like a lot of death deities, he’s not technically evil and Mictlan isn’t really a bad place to be in (though not ideal and took 4 years to get there through a grueling and perilous journey). It’s said he could also grant life as well.
Con: Name is a spelling nightmare and is rather horrendous to look at (though he has a wife named Mictecacihuatl and would certainly fit right in at a Halloween party). Basically told Quetzalcoatl to not touch the bones in Mictlan and gave him an impossible task by having him play a conch shell with no holes in it (the Feathered Serpent pulled it off anyway, thanks to worms). Forced Quetzalcoatl to drop the bones which caused them to break and scatter as well as forced the Feathered Serpent to move on to plan B. Also tried to trick him into staying at Mictlan forever. Still, he’s also feared and portrayed negatively in myths. Said to take pleasure in human death and suffering. Is a bit too in love with his job.
Symbols and Motifs: Depicted as a skeleton in kingly regalia with a toothy skull and eye balls in his sockets (as well as sported an eyeball necklace and earrings fashioned from human bones). Sometimes portrayed as covered in blood. His animals are owl, bats, dogs, and spiders. His symbols are the 11th hour, knives, and the northern compass direction.
Offerings: His offerings consisted of human sacrifice and ritualized cannibalism in his temples. Also, offerings to him were usually found in people’s tombs.
Huitzilopochtli is one of the newer gods of the Aztec pantheon who’s best known for helping them founding the city of Tenochtitlan. However, he’s one of the most bloody since it’s said there were over 20,000 human sacrifices conducted in his honor for 4 days.
AKA: “The Left Hand Side,” “The Dart Hurler,” and “The Divine Hurler”
Origin: He’s actually one of the Aztecs’ original deities and was brought south with them. Some say he may have been a historical figure (probably a warrior priest king) who was deified after his death.
Domain: God of war, the will, human sacrifice, and the sun. Patron of fire and lord of the South. National god of the Aztec Empire and people. Though he’s not necessarily the chief god, he’s often referred to as such and the closest the Aztecs got. Mythical founder of Tenochtitlan and told the Aztecs to change their name to Mexica. Associated with rules and gold.
Pro: He’s a badass who can use a lot of improbable weapons like a turquoise spear. Said to help guide the Aztec people into founding the city of Tenochtitlan which was the Pre-Columbian Venice in Lake Texcoco (according to legend). Allowed those who died in battle or killed by enemies as captives as well as women who died in childbirth to accompany him to the heavens. Was said to either avenge or save his mother’s life.
Con: When he was born he killed 400 of his older siblings (yet he’d kill other relatives later like putting another sister to sleep and his nephew). Not to mention, had a nasty fight with his sister that resulted in her getting dismembered and becoming a moon goddess. He’s so bright that soldiers needed their shields to protect their eyes from his sight (though he transformed them into hummingbirds and butterflies). Still, he’s best known as the god with the highest demand for sacrifices and heartburgers with hundreds of prisoners having their chests ripped out in his name.
Symbols and Motifs: Could be depicted as a hummingbird, snake, eagle, a soul of a dead warrior, or as a anthropomorphic figure with feathers on his head and left leg, black face, and holding a scepter shaped like a snake or mirror. Associated with light blue and yellow.The sun eagle that devoured a snake on a cactus is supposed to be him. Aramanth was his plant.
City: Tenochtitlan, of course since he was worship at its Great Temple. Also had a whole month in December dedicated to his worship (called Panquetzaliztli). Festivals include Atamalqualiztli and Toxcatl.
Offerings: Usually consisted of a bunch of POWs having their hearts ripped out at his temple before their bodies were flayed, decapitated, dismembered, and thrown down the stairs. Priests would devour the hearts. 20,000 were said to be sacrificed to him over 4 days. Also had flowers and quail eggs bestowed on him.
Tlazolteotl is the goddess of sin, lust, and purification. Though one may be absolved of all sin and untouched by the law. But unlike the Catholic sacrament of reconciliation, confession to her was only a one time Get Out of Jail Free Card. Still, best to confess to her after you’ve been caught cheating. Oh, and she’s depicted eating shit.
AKA: “Goddess of Dirt,” “She Who Eats Dirt,” “She of Two Faces,” “Sin Eater,” and “Death Caused by Lust”
Origin: May have been adopted by the Aztecs from a Huxtec goddess on the Gulf Coast.
Domain: Goddess of sin and absolution, lust, carnality, purification, steam baths, midwives, filth, vice, forbidden love, and sexual misdeeds. Patroness of adulterers, protector of midwives and doctor women, and mother of Centeōtl. Associated with earth.
Pro: Usually forgave diseases and sins caused by misdeeds, particularly sexual indiscretions. One was purified if they confessed their misdeeds to her and the law wouldn’t touch them.
Con: Yet, confession to her was only a once in a lifetime deal and you didn’t want to cheat on your spouse after you’ve done so (since adultery was punishable by death in the Aztec world). She also inspired vicious desires and was thought to cause disease, especially in those who engage in forbidden love. Also shown to eat poo or give birth.
Symbols and Motifs: Usually depicted as a woman eating the shit of humanity’s sins and sometimes nude. Sometimes portrayed giving birth. Associated with black.
City: Her festival was the Ochpaniztli in September to celebrate the harvest and pertained to sweeping, ritual cleaning, and repairs as well as casting corn seed and military ceremonies.
Offerings: People would usually give her offerings of urine and excrement.
Xiuhtecuhtli was the god of fire and time who was associated with the Aztec New Fire Ceremony held every 52 years. Yet, other than his role in ceremonies, he doesn’t seem to appear much in myths.
AKA: “Lord of Fire,” “Lord of Turquoise,” and “Old God”
Origin: Worship and iconography at least dates back to the Post-Classic Toltecs.
Domain: God of fire, day, light, year, time, and heat. Lord of volcanoes. Personified life after death, warmth in cold, light in darkness, and food during famine. Considered father and mother of the gods as well as sometimes married to Chalchiuhtlicue. Dwelt in the turquoise enclosure in the earth’s center. Patron god of Aztec emperors who were said to be the living embodiment of his enthroned as well as merchants. Associated with rulership and youthful warriors. May actually be the chief deity of the Aztec pantheon.
Pro: Well, he’s said to be associated with being the light of the world and he’s pretty essential to the Aztecs.
Con: Despite his importance in the Aztec world, he doesn’t appear in myths much, at least in the ones we know. Still, his legends may be lost due to the Spanish burning codices during the Conquest.
Symbols and Motifs: Depicted as a young man in a red or yellow face with censer in hand (or arms crossed). Turquoise was sacred to him. His symbols are flint, birds, and butterflies. Sometimes depicted as an old man.
City: Tenochtitlan. His festival was the New Fire Ceremony which took place every 52 years. Also had an annual festival as well lasting for 10 days where kids had their ears pierced and their godparents selected. Also, during the last New Fire Ceremony, the chest cavity didn’t light.
Offerings: First mouthful of food was flung to the hearth from each meal and his temples contained an ever burning sacred fire. During the New Fire Ceremony, in which a fire was lit in a sacrificial victim’s chest cavity. Humans sacrificed to him were usually burned after their hearts were removed, naturally. Also had animal offerings as well which were thrown in the fire every year on his festival.
13. Xipe Totec
Xipe Totec was the god of spring and renewal whose festival marked the coming of spring. However, guys sacrificed to him were killed in a lot of nasty ways which made the spring celebration gorier than a Quentin Tarantino movie.
AKA: “The Flayed Lord”
Origin: Was widely worshiped in Mesoamerica during the Early Post Classic period and was probably adopted by the Aztecs.
Domain: God of force, war, agriculture, vegetation, diseases, seasons, rebirth, hunting, trades, spring, liberation and lord of the East. Patron of goldsmiths and silversmiths.
Pro: Well, he symbolizes spring and renewal. Also, his name is easy to spell and pronounce as well as likes shiny things. Not to mention, his golden skin makes him not so bad looking for a flayed lord. Helped make the transition from winter to spring as well as guided young men into manhood. Said to cure sickness, especially eye ailments.
Con: He’s said to invent war and his sacrificial victims were killed in very nasty ways since he’s not just known as “The Flayed Lord” for nothing. Also depicted with wearing rotting human skin from a dead person.
Symbols and Motifs: Usually depicted as yellow and tan as well as wearing flayed skin and carrying a rattle staff. Sometimes seen carrying a shield and a container of seeds. Without his skin, he’s a golden god.
City: Tenochtitlan and Azcapotzalco. Had an annual festival on the Spring Equinox called Tlacaxipehualiztli.
Offerings: Well, victims were usually young men (soldiers, POWs, slaves, or thieves) who were forced to fight in a fixed gladiatorial match, had their hearts cut out of chests before being flayed with skin worn by warriors and priests, shot full of arrows like Boromir, had their throats slit, or were burned.
Coyolxauhqui was a powerful magician and head of the 400 Southern Stars. Yet, when her mother fell pregnant, she sought to kill but got dismembered and became the moon by a newborn Huitzilopochtli.
AKA: “Face Painted with Bells” and “Golden Bells”
Origin: She was probably an original Aztec goddess based on the story with her.
Domain:Goddess of the moon and leader of the Centzon Huitznauhtin. Possibly associated with the Milky Way.
Pro: She was a powerful magician and head of the 400 Southern Stars.
Con: Basically tried to murder her mom when she became pregnant with Huitzilopochtli (perhaps alleging that Coatlicue had been having an affair, which was punishable by death in Aztec society). Was dismembered and sent to the sky when Huitzilopochtli sprang from Coatlicue’s womb. Also, her name is a spelling bee nightmare.
Symbols and Motifs: Usually depicted dismembered with a bells in her hair and skulls near her waist.
City: None as far as I know.
Offerings: I don’t think get gets any offerings or is even worshiped since she’s Huitzilopochtli’s adversary.
Metztli the moon deity can be depicted either gender in the Aztec mythos but most contemporary artists have him/her as female. Still, I used Metzli for the moon deity since I couldn’t find a painting for Tecciztecatl and Metzli may be a female manifestation (or nickname) of the lunar deity.
AKA: “Queen of Night” and “Old Mother”
Origin: May have been worshiped in Mesoamerica by the Otomi people before being added to the Aztec pantheon.
Domain: God/Goddess of the moon, night, and farmers. She/he could either be the same deity as Yohualticetl, Coyolxauhqui, or Tecciztecatl or possibly a combination of the 3. Sometimes said to be a lowly god of worms.
Pro: At least his/her name is simple to spell. The Otomi believed he/she sacrificed him/herself so darkness would end.
Con: Though he/she wanted to become the sun but feared its fire. Also, unlike Tonatiuh. he/she failed to sacrifice, him/herself to become the sun turned into the moon instead with face darkened by a rabbit.
Symbols and Motifs: Well, can be depicted as a man or woman and is associated with rabbits, snails, and worms. Said to carry the moon on his/her seashell.
City: None outside the Otomi.
Offerings: Probably doesn’t get any offerings except from the Otomi who saw her as a much more benevolent figure.
Xolotl is the Aztec psychopomp and Quetzalcoatl’s brother who aided in his descent to Mictlan to steal the bones to create humanity. Still, despite his monstrous appearance, he’s actually quite friendly.
AKA: “The Twin”
Origin: Well, dog motifs have been seen a lot in Mesoamerican iconography so it would be no surprised if he predates the Aztecs in the region.
Domain: God of sunset, death, fire, lightning, sickness, darkness, bad luck, and deformities. Brother of Quetzalcoatl. Not a psychopomp in the Western sense but he did serve as the guide of the dead in their journey to Mictlan. The Mexican Hairless dog is named after him and so is the Mexican water salamander. Patron of the Mesoamerican ballgame. Dark personification of Venus the Evening Star.
Pro: Let’s just say he’s a lot nicer than his boss Mictlantecuhtli and his name is much easier to spell. He’s known to guard the sun when it goes into the Underworld at night as well as aid dead souls on their journey to Mictlan. He also assisted his brother Quetzalcoatl (though whether they’re twins or not depends on the story) in helping to create mankind at a considerable price.
Con: Still, if you were going for a dog headed psychopomp, he’d surely be beaten by Anubis in the looks department. Also constantly gets himself in trouble in which he gets scarred by his own lightning and beset by his own sickness. Not to mention, he may not be well liked by the gods in his own pantheon.
Symbols and Motifs: His forms are the Mexican Hairless dog and the water salamander. Usually depicted as an anthropomorphic Mexican Hairless with ragged ears and sometimes crippled. Sometimes portrayed as a skeleton or a monster animal with reversed feet.
City: None since he was the god of bad luck. Then again, he was the patron of the ball game. His festival was celebrated with a pole in August.
Offerings: Let me guess, he was usually honored with Mexican Hairless dog offerings. Not to mention, Aztec dead were usually buried with this dog for their 4 year journey to Mictlan. As for human sacrifices, I suppose he got a cut from the ball game though we’re not sure from which team.
Centeōtl was one of the more important gods in the Aztec pantheon since he was the maize deity. Of course, despite being explicitly a man in Aztec myth (or sort of), he tends to be portrayed as a woman in contemporary art. This is one of the few paintings he isn’t and is wearing his corn headdress.
AKA: “Dried Maize Still on the Cob,” “Maize Cob Lord,” and “Dried Ear of Maize”
Origin: May have started as a Post Classic Mayan maize god before adopted by the Aztecs. Actually he may have been worshiped earlier than that, possibly by the Olmecs.
Domain: God of maize, sustenance, and agriculture. Son of Tlazolteotl and Piltzintecuhtli (sometimes Xochiquetzal). Husband of Chicomecōātl.
Pro: Well, he was a very important deity since maize was a staple Aztec crop. Also, was one of the few fertility gods who didn’t require people being sacrificed in his name.
Con: There’s not much known about him and he doesn’t appear in many myths. Not to mention, he didn’t introduce maize to humans (that honor would go to Quetzalcoatl).
Symbols and Motifs: Usually portrayed as a young man (though the jury’s still out and some artists show him as a woman) with a yellow body. Sometimes portrayed with a maize headdress. His symbol is maize, naturally.
City: Had a maize planting festival in February sometimes consisting of naked women dancing and massive fights would break out.
Offerings: Usually had maize offerings to him as well as human sacrifice through bloodletting rituals.
Coatlicue was a mother goddess best known to have Huitzilopochtli conceived through a ball of feathers to her other children’s chagrin. Though seen as a loving mother, she tends to consume everything that lives explaining her hideous choice of fashion.
AKA: “One with Serpent Skirt,” “The Mother of Gods,” “Goddess of Fire and Fertility, “Goddess of Life, Death and Rebirth”, and “Mother of the Southern Stars.”
Origin: She’s an original goddess in the Aztec pantheon since she’s usually listed as Huitzilopochtli’s mother.
Domain: Goddess of fertility, life, death, and rebirth. Patron of women who die in childbirth. Mother of the Southern Stars, Coyolxauhqui, and Huitzilopochtli (sometimes Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl). Associated with earth, fire, agriculture, governance, and warfare. Possibly inspired the image of Our Lady of Guadelupe after the Spanish Conquest as a Mexican figure.
Pro: Well, she was one of the few of Huitzilopochtli who wasn’t killed by him (or he actually cared about). Said to sacrifice herself in the beginning of present creation in some stories. Usually seen as a loving mother who told her son to make Coyolxauhqui the moon so she could see her every night.
Con: Let’s just say she had a hard time to explain herself when she got impregnated with Huitzilopochtli via a ball of feathers while sweeping a temple. She’s also an insatiable monster consuming everything that lives and a rather fearsome figure in Aztec art. Said to consume and rip human corpses.
Symbols and Motifs: Usually depicted as a woman with a snake skirt and a necklace made of human hearts, hands, and skulls. Her hands are typically covered in claws and exhibits hanging breasts. Sometimes portrayed as a ferocious ugly monster.
City: Mount Coatepec but has a statue in Tenochtitlan.
Offerings: Sacrificial victims to her were usually bludgeoned to death, decapitated, and had their hearts ripped out.
Chicomecōātl is the goddess of agriculture who presides over maize growth and harvest. Still, every September she does request for a young girl sacrificed as a thank you gift.
AKA: “Seven Snakes” “Princess of the Unripe Maize,” and “The Hairy One”
Origin: She may have been a Mayan maize goddess but we’re not exactly sure.
Domain: Goddess of agriculture, nourishment, and plenty during the Middle Culture period and wife of Centeōtl (sometimes Tezcatlipoca). Associated with energy, community, and strength. Presides over maize during the harvest.
Pro: Well, being the goddess of maize so she probably has an important job in the Aztec pantheon. Not to mention, her association with snakes is a rather positive one for the often vilified reptiles (since snakes tended to eat pests).
Con: We don’t know much about her other than being a maize goddess. Some say that she may the same deity as Centeōtl (though with the dual natures thing her presence may make more sense). Also demands a young girl sacrificed every September.
Symbols and Motifs: Usually depicted as a woman and her symbol was an ear of corn. Can be sometimes portrayed carrying corn, flowers, death, or the sun as a shield. Also associated with snakes.
City: Had a festival every September. Also tends to share festivals with her husband Centeōtl.
Offerings: Had a young girl representing her sacrificed every September. Her skin would be flayed and worn by a priest.
Itzpapalotl is the goddess of flint knives associated with darkness and death. Though her home may be a paradise for dead babies, she’s a rather vicious goddess who’s reputedly queen of the notorious Tzitzimitl.
AKA: “Obsidian Butterfly” “Bat Woman,” “Feminine Warrior,” “Dark Mother,” and “Clawed Butterfly”
Origin: She may have originated as the Goddess 2J from the Zapotec iconography.
Domain: Goddess of stone and flint knives and ruler of Tamoanchan, a paradise for dead babies and where humans were created. Associated with bats, birds, night, deaths, disasters, human sacrifice, war, and fire. Occasionally said to be the mother of Mixcoatl and sometimes the wife of Quetzalcoatl (in his Ehecatl manifestation). Patron of mothers who died in childbirth and dead infants. Said to stand for purification and rejuvenation of what is precious. Could possibly be the Queen of the Tzitzimitl.
Pro: Her abode is an earthly paradise for dead babies. Also seen as a warrior princess figure who has an invisibility cloak. Also said to be a Cihuateteo who may guide soldiers in battle as well as a Tzitzimitl known to protect women. Not to mention, she’s said to know how to dress.
Con: She’s also said to be one of the star demons, Tzitzimitl who are said to descend and eat people during a solar eclipse and attack young men at crossroads. And as a Cihuateteo, she may be said to kidnap children, cause sickness, and seduce men into sexual misbehavior. Once reputed to break the limbs of a sacred tree in paradise causing everything to wither and said to cause storms and drought. Said to be involved in the creation of Aztec booze and isn’t very pleasant at all. Could be seen as a beautiful seductive man eater in both sexual and gastronomical aspects.
Symbols and Motifs: Usually depicted as a beautiful pale woman in black but sometimes portrayed as a bat, a two headed deer, or skeleton with butterfly knife blade wings and jaguar claws. Associated with flint, eagles, bats, butterflies, knives, obsidian, vultures, and black.
Offerings: I’m sure she had humans sacrificed to her because she’s the goddess of flint and knives used to perform them, especially during a solar eclipse.
Cihuacoatl was the Aztec goddess who presided over battles and childbirth as well head of the Cihuateteo and helped Quetzalcoatl create humanity. However, she’s also known to abandon her son Mixcoatl and later regret it as a possibly inspiration for La Lllorona.
AKA: “Snake Woman”
Origin: She may have been a Toltec goddess before being adopted in the Aztec pantheon.
Domain: Goddess of motherhood, fertility, midwives, and sweat baths. Patroness of Culhuacan and protectoress of the Chalmeca people. Sometimes mother of Mixcoatl and linked with La Llorona. Patroness of women who died in childbirth and queen of the Cihuateteo.
Pro: Helped Quetzalcoatl create the current race of humanity by grinding the bones of the previous ones. Said to predict disasters as well as presided over births and battles.
Con: Said to abandon her son Mixcoatl at a crossroads at Lake Xochimilco and was said to weep for him only to find a sacrificial knife. Was also known to haunt crossroads at night and abduct children, cause sickness, and seduce men.
Symbols and Motifs: Usually depicted as an old woman carrying spears and a warrior’s shield though sometimes portrayed as a young woman carrying flowers or a skeleton. Associated with maize, brooms, and snakes.
City: Culhuacan, Tenochtitlan, and Lake Xochimilco.
Offerings: Human sacrifice victims were women offered to her usually had their hearts ripped from chests and were beheaded.
Mixcoatl is the god of the hunt who created fire with a clever cosmic feat of engineering that has never been repeated. However, his family tree is a real tangled mess.
AKA: “Deer Sandal” and “Cloud Serpent”
Origin: Patron deity of the Otomi and Chichimecs as well as other Mesoamerican cultures. May have originally been a Toltec warrior who was deified or possibly a Mixtec god.
Domain: God of war, the Milky Way, fire, stars, heavens, North Star, and the hunt. Sometimes a manifestation of Tezcatlipoca or Xipe Totec, son of Cihuacoatl or Ītzpāpālōtl
Pro: Name is easy to spell. Said to create fire for the Aztec people with a clever bit of cosmic engineering no one has managed to duplicate called the Cosmic Fire Drill.
Con: Said to have killed 400 of this Northern Stars siblings and his sister with 3 of his brothers. Did nothing to prevent his 400 Southern Star sons with from being killed (though that might’ve been out of not wanting to mess with Huitzilopochtli). As Quetzalcoatl’s father, he was killed by his 3 brothers. Oh, and how he knocked up Chimalma involved shooting an arrow between her legs while she was naked and consent appeared questionable. Not to mention, his manifestations and relations are relatively confusing so you might want to avoid doing his family tree.
Symbols and Motifs: Usually depicted in a black mask with candy cane stripes on his body and long hair. Equipped with a bow and arrow as well as a net or basket.
City: Had a festival in October. Also worshiped in Huejotzingo and Tlaxcala.
Offerings: Well, his honoring had hunters bleed themselves, offer their game during his festival, and have someone sacrificed in his temple.
Though Chimalma is best known for guiding the Aztecs from Aztlan, being Huitzilopochtli’s shield bearer, and mother of Quetzelcoatl, she’s little known for much else. Still, she either conceived the Feathered Serpent through swallowing a jade or sleeping with Mixcoatl after he shot an arrow between her legs.
AKA: “Shield Hand”
Origin: She may have been a Toltec goddess or a deity of the Chichimeca.
Domain: Goddess of fertility, life, death, and rebirth. Best known as the mother of Quetzalcoatl (though stories of his conception are a bit crazy).
Pro: Accompanied the Aztecs from their homeland of Atzlan as well as served as shield bearer to Huitzilopochtli.
Con: There’s not much about her and she’s really not known for much else besides being the mother to Quetzalcoatl.
Symbols and Motifs: Usually depicted as a woman. Her symbols are an arrow, shield, and jade.
Offerings: I’m not sure she had any offerings.
Toci was the goddess of cleanliness, health, and midwives. Still, on her special time, a woman would be sacrificed by being beheaded and flayed.
AKA: “Our Grandmother,” “Mother of the Gods,” “Woman of Discord,” and “Heart of the Earth”
Origin: She’s most likely an original Aztec deity as far as I could tell.
Domain: Goddess of healing, sweat baths, hygiene, and midwives. May be an aspect of Tlazolteotl. Was once a princess of Culhuacan before she was ordered to be flayed and sacrificed instead of offered in marriage to an Aztec nobleman, thanks to Huitzilopochtli. Associated with war.
Pro: Name is easy to spell and pronounce. Also, she’s a healer who emphasizes hygiene and cleanliness.
Con: Let’s just say she has a demand for women to be sacrificed in her honor and not screaming, despite going through the process herself.
Symbols and Motifs: Usually depicted as a woman with cotton spools on her headdress and a black mark on her cheek. Though said to be old she’s not usually portrayed as such. Her symbol is a broom, shield, and arrows.
City: Ochpaniztli was her festival time that precipitated a sweeping frenzy.
Offerings: In her honor, a woman was either beheaded or had her heart cut out then flayed. Usually she’d be lured through a deception that she was about to see the ruler.