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Aztec Gods & Goddesses: Names, Art, Worship, Origins of Aztec Gods

The Aztecs were a Mesoamerican tribe located in what is currently Mexico. The Aztecs believed in a wide variety of gods and goddesses. In the Aztec pantheon, gods and goddesses regularly required sacrifices of some sort, often blood or even human sacrifices. Aztec religious mythology is rich, but often bloody.

Chalchihuitlicue: Goddess of Storms in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Chalchihuitlicue was Aztec goddess of storms, birth, and beauty. The Aztecs who worshipped here typically sacrificed children to her in order to encourage her help in getting both crops and babies to grow strong. So, if you want your garden to produce plenty to eat and if you want your own children to grow up strong and health, you might want to play it safe by finding someone else's children to sacrifice to Chalchihuitlicue. The Aztecs did this by starting wars.

Chicomecoatl: Chicomecoatl, Serpent Goddess of Maize in Aztec Religion, Mytholog
Chicomecoatl was the Aztec goddess of maize, food, and fertility. If you want to play it safe, you can imitate the Aztecs who worshipped Chicomecoatl by ritually sacrificing a young girl: first they beheaded her, then they poured her blood over a statue of Chicomecoatl, then they flayed her so that a priest could wear her skin. Of course, the authorities might think that you're just imitating the Silence of the Lambs, but it's a question of religious freedom, right?

Cihuacoatl: Cihuacoatl, Goddess of Midwifery, Agriculture in Aztec Religion, Myt
Cihuacoatl was the Aztec Goddess of midwifery, motherhood, and warriors. The Aztecs believed that a woman giving birth was the equivalent of a warrior fighting in a battle, so Cihuacoatl was both mother and soldier at the same time. Male warriors would weave the hair of mothers into their shields in order to be stronger while in battle.

Cinteotl: Cinteotl, God of Maize, Corn in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Cinteotl was the Aztec god of maize. In order to get Cinteotl to help with the year's corn crop, a procession of virgins would march to the Temple of Chicomecoatl, and then an impersonator would be sacrificed to Cinteotl. If you can find a group of willing virgins, and someone who wouldn't mind having their heart cut out in a ritual human sacrifice, you can play it safe by worshipping Cinteotl in this manner.

Coatlicue: Coatlicue, Earth Goddess of Life & Death in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Coatlicue was the Aztec Earth Goddess of Life and Death who is primarily known as the mother of Huitzilopochtli, a warrior god. Coatlicue was pretty fierce in her own right, though, and a massive statue of her depicts a skirt of rattlesnakes, a necklace of skulls and hearts, and snakes coming out of her neck. You don't want to make her angry and the way to worship her is to sacrifice a young woman to her just before any major hunt.

Coyolxauhqui: Goddess of the Moon in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Coyolxauhqui was the Aztec goddess of the moon and the stars. Legen has it that she led her 400 siblings in an attack on Coatlicue, their mother, who got pregnant but claimed to still be a virgin. No one asked how she could be a virgin with more than 400 children, they just considered it shameful. Fortunately for Coatlicue, her new sun leapt from her womb full formed and fully armed.

Huehuecoyotl: Huehuecoyotl, God of Trickery in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Huehuecoyotl was the Aztec god of trickery, singing, dancing, and indulgence. Huehuecoyotl liked to play tricks on both gods and humans; tricks played on gods usually backfired while tricks played on people usually led to people getting hurt. Huehuecoyotl liked to encourage people to sing, dance, and indulge themselves at parties so you can honor him by living it up at your next party - just take care that he doesn't decide to play a trick on you after you've passed out.

Huehueteotl: Huehueteotl, God of Life in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Huehueteotl was the Aztec god of the hearth and the fire of life. As the oldest of the old gods, Huehueteotl was in charge of making sure that the covenant with the Aztecs was renewed every 52 years. The Aztecs would drug some victims, roast them alive, and then cut their hearts out. This satisfied Huehueteotl who would then renew the contract....

Huitzilopochtli: Huitzilopochtli, God of War & Supreme Deity in Aztec Religion,
Huitzilopochtli was the Aztec god of war and the Aztecs' supreme deity. Huitzilopochtli was worshipped by having slaves were killed during fake battles to commemorate the launch of a new season of military endeavors. Victims were dragged up the temple steps, stretched across the stone altar, their chests cut open with an obsidian knife, and hearts ripped out. The corpse was skinned, dismembered, and the pieces sent down to the rulers and nobility for consumption.

Itzpapalotl: Itzpapalotl, Goddess of Fire and Birds in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Itzpapalotl was the Aztec goddess of paradise, birds, and fire. Itzpapalotl was not a very pleasant goddess - although she ruled over an important paradise and was an earth mother figure, she embodied all the darker aspects of the earth. She was depicted with the wings of a butterfly, but also with the claws of a jaguar - claws that came out from all over her body. Muhammad Ali had nothing on her.

Itztlacoliuhqui-Ixquimilli: Itztlacoliuhqui-Ixquimilli, God of Stone in Aztec Re
Itztlacoliuhqui was the Aztec god of stone, justice, and the Morning Star (Venus). I don't know how people worshipped Itztlacoliuhqui-Ixquimilli, but he was associated with the stoning of criminals. Perhaps if you are being stoned for your crimes, then that's part of honoring Itztlacoliuhqui-Ixquimilli and that's probably not something you want to be involved with.

Macuilxochitl: Macuilxochitl, God of Gambling in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Macuilxochitl, also known as Xochipilli, was the Aztec god of gambling, dancing, music, and hemorrhoids. This means that in addition to encouraging fun and dancing, Macuilxochitl might also send boils, hemorrhoids, and venereal diseases to people who get out of line. Aztecs worshipped Xochipilli at the festival of Tecuilhuitontli, which occurred during the growing season. An impersonator of Xochipilli would be sacrificed during this festival then his flayed skin worn by a priest.

Mayahuel: Goddess of Alcohol, Pulque, Agave in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Mayahuel, Aztec goddess of alcohol and pulque, is the mother of Centzontotochtin. This innumerable group of rabbit gods of drunkenness whom she fed through her 400 breasts, all delivering the alcoholic drink made from agave. Each of the Centzontotochtin are responsible for a different sort of drunkenness.

Mictecacihuatl: Mictecacihuatl, Goddess of Death in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Mictecacihuatl was the Aztec goddess of death who lived in Mictlan, the Aztec underworld, with her husband Mictecacihuatl. The job which Mictecacihuatl has is to watch over the bones of the dead. Because of the bones of the dead from past worlds were used to create the first humans of this world, it's possible the bones of people form this world will at some point be needed to create the people in some future world.

Mictlantecuhtli: Mictlantecuhtli, God of Death in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Mictlantecuhtli was the Aztec god of death and the underworld. To honor Mictlantecuhtli, Aztec sacrificed an impersonator of Mictlantecuhtli at night and at a temple named Tlalxicco, which means 'navel of the world.' When Hernan Cortes landed, Aztec ruler Moctezuma II thought that it was the arrival of Quetzalcoatl, signalling the end of the world, so he stepped up human sacrifices to offer the skins of victims to Mictlantecuhtli in order to placate him.

Mixcoatl: Mixcoatl, God of War in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Mixcoatl, the Aztec god of war and hunting, is thought by some to have originally been a great Toltec warrior who was eventually deified and then eventually adopted into the Aztec pantheon. Priest sacrificed a man and a woman to Mixcoatl at his main temple in October. The woman would be slaughtered like a game animals; the man would be killed in the traditional Aztec practice of cutting out his heart, but only after he showed the woman's head to the crowd.

Ometeotl: Ometeotl, God of Duality in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Ometeotl was the Aztec god of duality and souls. As simultaneous opposites, male and female, Ometeotl represented for Aztecs the idea that the entire universe was composed of polar opposites: light and dark, night and day, order and chaos, etc. In fact, the Aztecs believed that Ometeotl was the very first god, a self-created being whose very essence and nature became the basis for the nature of the entire universe itself.

Quetzalcoatl: Quetzalcoatl, Feathered Serpent God in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Quetzalcoatl was the Aztec god of priests and rulers. Worship of Quetzalcoatl tended to involve animal rather than human sacrifice and there are traditions that Quetzalcoatl actually opposed human sacrifice - despite his importance, however, this didn't affect the sacrifices done for other gods. So, if you want to hedge your bets with Quetzalcoatl, you don't have to find a child or warrior to sacrifice like you do with so many other Aztec gods.

Tepoztecatl: Tepoztecatl, Moon God of Rabbits, Fertility, Drunkenness, Pulque
Worship of Tepoztecatl, the Aztec god of the moon, rabbits, fertility, drunkenness, and pulque, occurred primarily during autumn festivals with the consumption of large quantities of pulque, an alcoholic drink made from the agave plant. A major shrine to Tepoztecatl was located at Tepoztlan and was called Tepozteco. Tepoztecatl seems like the perfect god to honor and worship by having a large party and drinking lots of tequila.

Tezcatlipoca: Tezcatlipoca, God of Night, Discord, and Change in Aztec Religion,
The primary ritual associated with Tezcatlipoca, Aztec god of night, death, and discord, involved taking a youth captured in battle and keeping him luxury for a year. He impersonated Tezcatlipoca and became an honored member of court, having an entourage of 4 wives who were impersonating 4 goddesses. In the end, he voluntarily went to have his head was cut off and his still-beating heart cut out. At this point, a new youth was captured for the following year's ritual sacrifice.

Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli: Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, God of the Dawn in Aztec Religion,
One of the skybearers, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli is a destructive aspect of the Morning Star - according to Aztec myth, the rays of the morning star are capable of harming certain classes of people as well as maize. One myth says that Quetzalcoatl was born from the ashes of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli's funeral pyre, thus making Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli an incarnation of Quetzalcoatl.

Tlaloc: Tlaloc, God of Rain & Fertility in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain and fertility, brought both good and bad to the Aztecs: he brought life-giving rains, but also deadly lightning and hurricanes. In the 1st and 3rd months of the calendar and also during the festival of Hueytozoztli, "great watch," ( festival to encourage the growth of corn) children were sacrificed to Tlaloc by drowning; orphaned children were especially sought after. So, if you want to appease Tlaloc, you'll have to find some babies he'll like.

Tlaltecuhtli: Tlaltecuhtli, Earth Goddess in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Tlaltecuhtli, the monstrous Aztec earth goddess, was thought to swallow the sun every night and regurgitate it back out in the morning. She was also thought to swallow the hearts of victims sacrificed to her, so it was common to carve images of her on the bottom of stone boxes in which the hearts and blood of sacrificial victims where placed after being ripped from their bodies.

Tlazolteotl: Tlazolteotl, Goddess of Purification in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Tlazolteotl was the Aztec goddess of filth, childbirth, and fertility. While in training, Aztec warriors were provided with prostitutes who dedicated themselves to Tlazolteotl, but their services made them unclean so the Aztecs ritually sacrificed the women and dumped their bodies in marshes. Other Aztecs would purify themselves in front of images of Tlazolteotl by cutting themselves and offering up their blood. To be safe, you should confess your sins to Tlazolteotl after sex.

Toci: Toci, Mother of the Gods in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Toci, the Mother Earth goddess in Aztec Religion, was regarded by the Aztecs as both the mother of all creation as well as a goddess of warfare. Aztecs worshipped Toci at a major festival during harvest season, sacrificing a young girl to her by ripping out her heart and flaying her skin to be worn by a priest.

Tonacatecuhtli: Tonacatecuhtli, Creator God in Aztec Religion, Mythology
An aged Aztec creator god, Tonacatecuhtli resides in Omeyocan, the highest heaven. Aztec stories told about how Tonacatecuhtli was responsible for organizing the world into land and ocean, two separate regions of existence. Tonacatecuhtli was not, however, responsible for creating life itself — just the world in which life exists. Aztecs thought of Tonacatecuhtli as being at the "center" of existence, a place around which everything revolves but where everything is at rest.

Tonatiuh: Tonatiuh, Sun God in Toltec, Maya, and Aztec Religion, Mythology
The Aztec sun god, Tonatiuh was responsible for the sun moving through the sky, and since the sun is so important, the Aztecs wanted to keep Tonatiuh as happy as possible. Tonatiuh demanded many human sacrifices in order to keep the sun moving and the Aztecs obliged. Priests took victims to a temple where they would cut out their heart while they were still alive. The Aztecs paid close attention to the movement of the sun and their calendar is second only to the Mayan in accuracy.

Xipe Totec: Xipe Totec, God of Sprouting Vegetation in Aztec Religion, Mythology
Xipe Totec was the Aztec god of vegetation and renewal. During the festival of Tlacaxipehualiztli, Aztecs forced captured prisoners to fight each other in games performed in the name of Xipe Totec, sacrificing to him victims so that he would not send plagues. Captives were bound and placed on a stone platform where they used swords edged with feathers against warriors used swords edged with obsidian. Losers, if still alive, were flayed until dead; winners wore the skins.

Xochiquetzal: Xochiquetzal, Goddess of Female Sexuality in Aztec Religion, Mytho
Xochiquetzal, the Aztec goddess of sex, love, and prostitutes, was honored at a festival every 8 years. A young woman was chosen by artisans to impersonate the goddess; she was sacrificed, flayed, and her skin given to a man to wear while pretending to weave. Artisans would dance around the scene and then confess their sins to a statue of Xochiquetzal through bloodletting. If you're trying to hedge your bets with Xochiquetzal, you'll need a bunch of people to help you worship her.

Xolotl: Xolotl, Canine God of Twins and Sickness in Aztec Religion
Dogs were considered filthy and immoral in Mesoamerican cultures and Xolotl, the canine god in Aztec religion, embodies all the worst characteristics ascribed to dogs. Xolotl was responsible for accompanying the dead to Mictlan, their final journey after death. Xolotl also guarded the sun as it made its way through the underworld every night. Xolotl was also the god of bad luck...

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