Religion was very important in Aztec society and culture. The Aztecs worshiped many gods and goddesses, each of whom ruled one or more human activities or aspects of nature. The people had many agricultural gods because their culture was heavily based on farming and also included natural elements they identified with their deities. Take a look at these 25 interesting things about some of the most dominant and significant Aztec gods and goddesses that will definitely stimulate your curiosity.
There were hundreds of Aztec gods
Despite the fact that your average Joe doesn’t know the names of more than a handful of Aztec gods (and even the ones he knows he has a very hard time spelling), the truth is that the pantheon of the Aztec civilization was enormous, with hundreds of gods and goddesses.
Aztec gods were two-faced literally and metaphorically
Most Aztec gods had two sides (good and bad) to their personalities as well as two faces.
The Aztec pantheon was male dominated
Over two-thirds of the Aztec gods were male and less than one-third were female. Even the Aztec world was a man’s world.
Aztec gods required a lot of blood
One sure thing concerning Aztec gods and the Aztec religion is that these required a lot of human sacrifices. Occurring in possibly greater numbers than in any other religion in history, these sacrifices were performed by Mexica priests at the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon.
Slaves hated Xipe Totec and for a good reason too
Xipe Totec was the god of suffering, diseases, and goldsmiths. The problem with this god was that his worship required the flaying of a slave and the wearing of his skin. Ouch!
Tlaloc was an Aztec water god who was widely worshiped as a giver of life and sustenance but was also feared for his ability to send hail, thunder, and lightning (especially when someone pissed him off).
Chalchiuhtlicue loved rain . . . literally
Chalchiuhtlicue was the Aztec goddess of rivers, lakes, streams, and other freshwater. She was in love with rain and no we aren’t using the term metaphorically since she was the wife of the rain god Tlaloc.
Camaxtli was the Aztec version of the Greek god of war, Ares
He might not be as famous as his European “brother” but trust us when we say Camaxtli was as badass as the famous Greek god. He was the Aztec god of war, hunting, and fate, and creator of fire. He was also one of the four gods who created the world.
Tezcatlipoca inspired Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
The main rite of Tezcatlipoca’s cult took place during Toxcatl, the fifth ritual month. Every year at that time, the priest selected a young, handsome prisoner of war. For one year he lived in princely luxury, impersonating the god. Four beautiful girls dressed as goddesses were chosen as his companions. On the appointed feast day, he climbed the steps of a small temple while breaking flutes he had played. At the top he was sacrificed by the removal of his heart. So, Mola Ram wasn’t Steven Spielberg’s pure creation after all.
Huitzilopochtli didn’t really like his siblings that much
Huitzilopochtli’s mother, Coatlicue, conceived him after having kept in her bosom a ball of hummingbird feathers that fell from the sky. Huitzilopochtli, who became the Aztec god of the obsidian knife, sprang forth from his mother’s belly to kill his siblings before they killed him. Now that’s brotherly love.
Huitzilopochtli can be found on Mexico’s flag
Huitzilopochtli’s first shrine was built on the spot where Mexica priests found an eagle that was poised upon a rock while devouring a snake, an image so important to Mexican culture that it is portrayed on the national flag of Mexico. The eagle was seen as a representation of the sun god Huitzilopochtli and was very important to the Mexicas who referred to themselves as the “People of the Sun”.
Ometecuhtli was the only Aztec god to whom no temple was erected
Despite being one of the primordial gods and lord of life, Ometecuhtli was the only Aztec god for whom no temple was erected. This happened because the Aztecs saw him as remote in the heavens and assumed he would never interact with them directly, but they were aware of his presence in every ritual act and in every rhythm of nature.
Xochiquetzal shares quite a few similarities with Aphrodite and Persephone from Greek Mythology
Xochiquetzal was the patroness of erotic love just like Aphrodite in Greek mythology. She was also the goddess of vegetation, artistry, and the protector of prostitutes. It was also believed she was taken against her will to the Underworld by Xolotl because she had eaten a forbidden fruit. Ring any bells?
And she had a “hippie” twin
Xochiquetzal’s twin, Xochipilli, was the god of flowers, maize, love, games, song, and dance. He could easily be the god of hippies now that we think about it.
Ometeotl was in reality two gods in one
Ometeotl (“Two God”) is a name sometimes used to refer to the pair of Aztec gods Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl. Ometecuhtli and his female counterpart, Omecihuatl, represented the primordial forces of nature and duality, and were considered the parents of many of the other major gods. Sometimes they are called husband and wife, but they were really considered two sides of the same dualistic god and were sometimes depicted as a half-man, half-woman figure.
Quetzalcóatl was the creator of humans
Quetzalcóatl was a very important god; it was believed he was the one who created humans. However, he wasn’t the first to create them. According to Aztec mythology, the world had been created four times before, and destroyed by infighting each time. Quetzalcóatl retrieved human bones from the underworld and added his blood to bring them to life.
But his best friend was a dog-headed god
They say that a dog is man’s best friend, but in Quetzalcóatl’s case it appears they are a god’s best friend, too. With Xolotl as his companion, a dog-headed god, Quetzalcóatl was said to have descended to the underground hell of Mictlan to gather the bones of the ancient dead. Those bones he anointed with his own blood, giving birth to the men who inhabit the present universe.
Huitzilopochtli needed human blood to fight evil
Huitzilopochtli was a warrior sun god who required blood sacrifice to help him win the battle against darkness and evil spirits. Fortunately for humans, this was not always in the form of human sacrifice and sometimes just a little bloodletting was enough.
Oxomoco and Cipactonal were the Adam and Eve of Aztec culture
The Aztecs believed that Oxomoco and Cipactonal were the first human couple, and so they were for Aztec culture and religion what Adam and Eve are for Judaism and Christianity. They bore a son named Piltzintecuhtli, who married a maiden, daughter of Xochiquetzal. Oxomoco was later upgraded to an Aztec deity: the goddess of night, astrology, and the calendar.
Few people still worship Aztec gods today
When the Spanish colonizers forced the locals to convert to Christianity, the Nahuas, who were pure descendants of the Aztecs, carried on worshiping their old sun god (Tonatiuh) in the form of Jesus. Very few still worship Tonatiuh today.
Huehueteotl was the oldest god of all
Every Aztec “household” had a little shrine to the oldest god of all, Huehueteotl, the fire god. A typical celebration in his honor consisted of feasts and a time of ceasing hostilities. The Aztecs would cut out the hearts of human sacrifices, followed by burning them on coal. As a result, the people would regain Huehueteotl’s favor through his elements—fire and blood.
Cihuateteo was the ultimate feminist Goddess
Cihuateteo embodied all female spirits and the souls of women who died in childbirth. Childbirth was considered a form of battle in Aztec culture, and its victims were honored as fallen warriors. However, Cihuateteo and her army of female souls loved to haunt crossroads at night, stealing children and causing sicknesses, especially seizures and madness, and seducing men to engage in sexual misbehavior.
Huitzilopochtli was the “boss” of the Aztecs
Despite there being a dispute between scholars who study Aztec culture, it seems as if Huitzilopochtli was the great god of the Aztecs. His worship fueled the battles and sacrifices of the people, and his temples were built in the hearts of cities. The Templo Mayor contained his temple, and his image was on Moctezuma’s throne.
The Aztec gods didn’t all come from the same source
Many different cultures made up the empire, so their gods were frequently adopted and either added to the descriptions of existing gods, or simply put into the pantheon.
Gods were mortal and could die in the Aztec religion
Aztec gods could die and be reborn more than once. For that matter, the gods would often sacrifice themselves to set the world in motion but soon after would be reborn.