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Mesoamerican religion

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mesoamerican religion is grouping of the indigenous religions of Mesoamerica that were prevalent in pre-Columbian era like Aztec religion, Maya religion among others.

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  • ✪ Top 10 Gods & Goddesses of Aztec Mythology
  • ✪ 2209(1)Kingship Rings between Persia, Jomon and Olmecaペルシアとオルメカをつなぐ縄文の王権リングbyはやし浩司Hiroshi Hayashi, J


Hey YouTube, Jim here! Welcome to Top10Archive! The Aztecs may be a civilization long since gone, but the stories they left behind, their mythology, is forever ingrained in time. It may not be as widely retold as Greek or Roman mythology, but this Mesoamerican people’s religion, which focused heavily on human sacrifice, was fascinating on its own, breeding these top ten deities of Aztec mythology. Before we get started, help us out by hitting that like button, and be sure to leave us a comment because we're always looking to engage in interesting conversations with you! Also, don't forget to click the bell so you get notified every time we put out a new video! 10. Tonaituh Aztecs worshiped Tonaituh as the Sun God and the symbol of the fifth era or that of man. Prior to Tonatiuh, four ages, or Suns represented as earth, wind, fire, and water, were destroyed, leading to the current era of ollintonatiuh, or the Sun of Movement. According to the Aztec calendar, Tonaituh rules over death and, as legend goes, is forced to go through a cycle of life every day, starting with his birth at sunrise, followed by a journey across the sky and his death at nightfall. 9. Tlaloc Some may recognize the name Tlaloc from Bungie’s Destiny, but it is more commonly attached to the Aztec deity of rain, water, agriculture, and lightning. Thought to be a giver of life through new rains and a bringer of drought and destructive storms, Tlaloc ruled over the Tlaloque, a grouping of rain, mountain, and weather gods. The meteorological god was also believed to manifest as the four cardinal directions, or Tlalocs, represented by the colors black, white, blue, and red, or the elements of wind, earth, water, and fire. 8. Xipe Totec Son of Ometeotle and brother to Tezcatlipoca, Huitzilopochtli, and Quetzalcoatl, Xipe Totec was revered as the god of spring. During the Snake Festival or Tlacaxipehualiztli, the Aztecs worshiped Xipe Totec, also known as the patron god of new harvests, by skinning sacrificial victims to symbolize the shedding of husks and release of seeds. Xipe Totec was often depicted as wearing a human’s skin to represent the new layers of vegetation that grow every spring. 7. Huitzilopochtli Known as the Hummingbird of the South or Blue Hummingbird on the Left, Huitzilopochtli was worshiped as the god of war and of the sun and considered an important aspect of the Aztec pantheon. In one version of his creation myth, Huitzilopochtli was born during the murder of his mother, Coatlicue, at the hands of his 400 siblings, the Centzonhuitznahuac and Centzonmimizcoa. Rising from his mother’s corpse, the newly born Huitzilopochtli avenged her death, specifically killing his sister, Coyolxauhqui. The sibling rivalry is believed to be responsible for the day/night cycle, depicted as a daily struggle over control of the sky. 6. Huehueteotl Referred to as “The Old God,” Huehueteotl was also often associated with Xiuhtecuhtli, or The Lord of Turquoise. In some lore, the two were different parts of one deity, ruling over fire. Huehueteotl was believed to regenerate, purify, and transform the world through fire, representing the changing of seasons and natural regeneration of Earth. In the creation myth, Huehueteotl was a founder of the world and creator of the Sun. At the end of each cycle or every 52 years, the ceremony of the New Fire was held in the deity’s honor, celebrating the regeneration of the cosmos and starting of a new cycle. 5. Mictlantecuhtli In the creation myth, Miclantecuhtli, ruler of Mictlan, or the lowest level of the underworld and northern realm of the dead, attempted to stop Quetzalcoatl from using bones of the previous world to spawn mankind. Mictlantecuhtli is husband to Mictecacihuatl and overseer of Itzcuintli, the guide of the dead, and shares association with bats, spiders, and owls. Aztecs honored their Lord of the Land of the Dead through rituals at the temple of Tlalxicco, where an impersonator of the god of death would be sacrificed. 4. Tlaltecuhtli As the Aztec Earth God or Goddess, Tlaltecuhtli was believed to literally comprise the ground that we stand on. In the Aztec creation myth, the aquatic Tlaltecuhtli was sought after to create a place for man to thrive on between the sky and waters. After a battle with Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, Tlaltecuhtli was rendered no longer able to sink below the surface and, with various parts of his or her body, flora, mountains, and caverns were formed throughout the world. As the myth goes, the cries of Tlaltecuhtli’s suffering can still be heard, quelled only by blood sacrifice. 3. Ometeotl Though technically two deities, the pairing of Omecihuatl and Ometecuhtli served a singular purpose, representing the duality, or two parts, of the cosmos. Residing in Omeyocan, or Double Heaven, the sibling spouses, or Lady and Lord of Duality and Lord of Life and Goddess of Creation, are said to be responsible for creating the stars and Earth from monsters that once inhabited the heavens and birthing the first Aztec deities, Xipetotec, Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, and Huitzilopochtli. The Aztecs recognized their presence in the heavens, but the importance of Omecihuatl and Ometecuhtli was often overlooked in favor of lesser gods. 2. Coatlicue Referred to as Serpent Skirt and depicted as an old woman wearing a skirt of snakes, Coatlicue was viewed as the Earth-Mother goddess, worshiped as the patron of childbirth, and often thought to be Omecihuatl. The feared goddess was said to have given birth to the moon and stars and was a symbol of Mother Earth’s ability to be both loving and deadly. Besides the lore revolving around the birth of Huitzilopochtli, Coatlicue, also known as the governance of agriculture and warfare, was believed to prophesize to Aztec ruler Motecuhzoma II the fall of Aztec cities. 1. Quetzalcoatl The Plumed Serpent, god of the winds and the rain, creator of all mankind - to the Aztec pantheon, Quetzalcoatl was one of the most important deities to exist. The 9th Lord of the Day was responsible for the creation of man by using bones of elder beings, which he stole from the underworld despite intervention of Mictlantecuhtli and his wife Mictlancihuatl. Having deceived the duo, the Plumed Serpent was thrown into a pit, where the bones he carried were shattered. With those he recovered, Quetzalcoatl and Cihuacoatl mixed them with the deity’s blood and corn to bring man into the world. It’s said the broken bones are responsible for the varying sizes among humans. On behalf of the entire Top10Archive team, thanks for watching! If you found this video interesting, then please give it a like, and leave a comment about why. And remember to click the bell to be be automatically notified about our next new video.



Religious calendar from the Codex Féjervary-Mayer (Codex Pochteca). (Lacambalam 2014)
Religious calendar from the Codex Féjervary-Mayer (Codex Pochteca). (Lacambalam 2014)

The cosmological view in Mesoamerica is strongly connected to the Mesoamerican gods and the spiritual world. The construction and division of the universe, therefore is a kind of visual and symbolic set up for their religious beliefs. Like the many different peoples of Mesoamerica, the detailed surface of the cosmological views tends to be many. They all come together though, in the belief of a fundamental cosmic order, in which the two elements of time and space are the most important. These two elements are seen as the center of the universe and make the center of the quadruplicity, known as the Mesoamerican world tree quite close to the quincunx.

Space and Time

The importance of time is seen in the cycles of life, death and regeneration, which are something worshiped in almost everything existing. Time itself, is symbolized in the cycle of the sun, both because the sun separates night and day, and also because the death and regeneration of the sun itself is the reason for a new era.

As an expansion of quincunx, which then symbolizes space, we find two axes that combine the universe with the inclusion of both the natural and the spiritual, vertically and horizontally. It is called the axis mundi, which in the case of mesoamerican cosmology, vertically consists of three worlds and horizontally of four directions and a center.

In the vertical axis we find the world that we know on the surface of earth, in the middle a world above us where the stars are seen and then a world below our surface. These three worlds are not to be confused with the Christian division of a heaven and a hell, although the Spaniards, in trying to convert the native Mesoamerican, made the two comparable by doing so.[1]


The Mesoamerican pantheon includes dozens of gods and goddesses in addition to the major deities described below.

Tlaloc (Aztec) / Chaac (Maya) / Dzahui (Mixtec) / Cocijo (Zapotec) - Chief rain god; deity of water, fertility, rain, and storms, also with mountain associations. Recognizable by his goggle-like eyes and distinctive fangs.

Quetzalcoatl (Aztec) / Kukulkan (Yucatec Maya) / Q'uq'umatz (K'iche' Maya) - Plumed Serpent; god of wind, priests, merchants, and the link between the earth and the sky.

Tezcatlipoca (Aztec) - "Smoking Mirror"; guileful omnipresent deity of cosmic struggle, feuds, rulers, sorcerers, and warriors; the jaguar is his animal counterpart.

God K (Maya) - Some similarities with Tezcatlipoca, but also connected with lightning and agriculture, and exhibits serpentine features.

Huitzilopochtli (Aztec) - Preeminent god and tutelary deity of the Aztecs in Tenochtitlan, where his temple with adjoined Tlaloc's atop a great pyramid constituting the dual Templo Mayor. Deity of the sun, fire, war and the ruling lineage.[2]

Colonized Mesoamerica

When the Spanish first arrived in Mesoamerica, they ransacked the indigenous peoples' territory, often pillaging their temples and places of worship. Beyond this, the devoutly Catholic Spaniards found the standing Mesoamerican spiritual observances deeply offensive, and sought to either cover up or eradicate their practice. This resulted in the erasure of Mayan religious institutions, especially those centered on human sacrifice and propitiation of the multi-deistic pantheon.

Martial values and human sacrifice were a ritualistic core of Mesoamerican spirituality prior to European incursion, but quickly dissolved in the early stages of Imperial rule. Pre-Hispanic warrior culture in Mesoamerica placed high value on capturing enemies on the battlefield; killing on the battlefield therefore was not encouraged and in fact considered brutish and sloppy. This emphasis on non-lethal combat is evidenced in the fact that Aztec warriors were promoted on the basis of however many captive warriors they could bring back from the battlefield, not on sheer destructive ability to kill. Prisoner capture between rival cultures provided both sides with sacrificial victims for deity propitiation, wars even being pre-arranged by both sides, the so-called Flower wars. This practice was ultimately made impossible once Spain had subjugated the Yucatan Peninsula. The deity Huitzilopochtli in particular had a devoted blood cult, as it was believed that without his continued sustenance the cosmos would be plunged into darkness. Less violent rituals were calculatedly suppressed as well, with the Spanish authorities deeming them anathema in light of their own spiritual preconceptions.

When the Spaniards and their Tlaxcalteca allies besieged Tenochtitlan after having been forced out for preemptively massacring unarmed celebrants, the Aztecs struck back and sacrificed their Iberian captives to Huitzilopochtli, but ultimately the Aztecs could not defend the city after a devastating smallpox epidemic killed many warriors and leaders including the tlatoani himself. Even though the Aztecs continued to worship some of their own gods after the conquest, worshipping in secret and even disguising deities as nominal Catholic saints, the cult of the war god was totally suppressed. Indeed, Huitzilopochtli is still much less well understood than other major deities such as Tlaloc or Quetzalcoatl, and little was written about him in what sources survive from the decades following the conquest.[3]

The early friars in colonized Mesoamerica wrote manuals describing indigenous rituals and practices, to define precisely what was acceptable and unacceptable, and to recognize the unacceptable when they saw it. From the start, authorities recognized the subversive potential of recording the details of "idolatry" and discouraged putting anything down in writing that might preserve pre-conquest religion. If tolerated at all, the recording these observations was a very subjective project, and only few of the manuals have even survived. Things considered to be "diabolical" varied depending on the reporting friar, one manuscript justifying a practice that another manuscript might condemn.[4]

Missionaries in Mesoamerica attempted to take already existing symbols and elements in the local indigenous religions and societies, and give them Christian meaning and symbolism; e.g., the Mesoamerican world tree, which they interpreted as a cross. But at the same time they also demonized other elements, which were considered to not comply with Christian beliefs. They did this to make it easier to convert the Mesoamericans to Christianity.

Before the Spanish conquest each village had a patron deity whose idol was worshipped, presented with offerings and adorned with jewelry and fine robes. After the conquest, each village got in its place a Roman Catholic patron saint whose image was adorned and worshipped like before.[5] And destinations of pilgrimage where the indigenous peoples used to worship gods before the conquest, were adapted to Catholic saints like the Señor de Chalma (Chalma, Malinalco, Mexico State) and the Virgen de los Remedios ( Virgin of Los Remedios )[6]

The Aztecs and the Maya shared many religious elements before the Spanish conquest, but reacted very differently to the same form of Spanish Catholicism. The Aztecs abandoned their rites and merged their own religious beliefs with Catholicism, whereas the relatively autonomous Maya kept their religion as the core of their beliefs and incorporated varying degrees of Catholicism.[7] The Aztec village religion was supervised by friars, mainly Franciscan. Prestige and honor in the village were achieved by holding office within the religious organizations. It was not possible for the indigenous to enter the Orders or receive sacramental ordination as secular priests.[8] From the 17th century on, Spanish clergy had very little to do with religious development in most Mexican villages and this gave free rein to Aztec religious syncretism. )[9]

Greatly aiding the early missionaries was the image known as the Virgen de Guadalupe[citation needed].

See also

Mesoamerican mythology


  1. ^ Markman and Markman, The flayed god (page number?)
  2. ^ Miller, Mary and Karl Taube. 1993. The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya.
  3. ^ Handbook of Middle American Indians Volume 6. 1967. University of Texas Press. Pp 370-371
  4. ^ Burkhart, Louise M. 1997. Indian Women of Early Mexico. University of Oklahoma Press.
  5. ^ Handbook of Middle American Indians Volume 6. 1967. University of Texas Press. P 378
  6. ^ Handbook of Middle American Indians Volume 6. 1967. University of Texas Press. P 378
  7. ^ Handbook of Middle American Indians Volume 6. 1967. University of Texas Press. P 370
  8. ^ Handbook of Middle American Indians Volume 6. 1967. University of Texas Press. Pp 379-380
  9. ^ Handbook of Middle American Indians Volume 6. 1967. University of Texas Press. Pp 379-380

External links

This page was last edited on 16 August 2018, at 18:44
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