The Aztecs had a complex and diverse group of Gods and Goddesses. Scholars that studied the Aztec deities established more than 200 gods and separated them into three categories. Each of these groups supervised one aspect of the universe such as heaven or the sky, agriculture and the war and sacrifice. Whenever they took over a new tribe or culture, they often take up the conquered tribe’s gods as well.
The Aztecs had three main gods, four sub-gods and an infinite amount of gods underneath the sub gods. Here are just some of the most important deities in the Aztec culture.
Huitzilopochtli was the most fearsome and powerful of the Aztec gods. He was the god of war, the sun and sacrifice. During the migration of the Aztecs, he was the god that pointed them to the place Tenochtitlan, the capital city of the Aztecs which Huitzilopohctli is the patron god of. He also has a temple built in honor of him at the center of the city. Huitzilopochtli required blood sacrifice to help him win the battle against darkness. Humans were sacrificed for him as it was thought that the sacrificed warriors were to rise and fight with Huitzilopochtli. But blood sacrifice was not always in the form of human sacrifice. Sometimes there was ritual blood letting used instead of human sacrifice. Huitzilopochtli means Hummingbird to the Left. He was often drawn with feathers and holding a scepter made from a snake.
Tlaloc was the god of rain and water as well as one of the most ancient deities in all of Mesoamerica. His origans can be traced back to the Maya, the Olmec and Teotilhuacan. He was associated with life giving, fertility, agricultre as well as springs, mountains and caves. He was worshipped at the Great Temple in Tenochtitlan. He had a shrine decorated with blue bands representing rain and water. Tlaloc helped the Aztecs most of the time by sending rain and causing plants to grow. However, Tlaloc could also get angry and send thunder storms and hail. The Aztecs believed that in order to keep the god happy and for rain to come down, they must sacrifice their children as the cries and tears of newborn children were sacred to the god. Children were expected to weep in order to bring the rain. Another kind of less gruesome sacrifice to him was having little statues in the shaped children made of dough and offered to him. They were eaten at banquets. He is also worshiped at the top of a tall mountain named Mount Tlaloc where the sacrifices of the children were made to him. He is often drawed with fangs and goggle-like eyes.
Quetzalcoatl was the god of life and wind. He was known as “the Feathered Serpent” and is probably the most famous Aztec deity. He is also known in many other Mesoamerican cultures such as the Teotihuacan and the Mayas. He was a very creative god and he was the patron god of knowledge and learning. He is the twin of Tezcatlipoca and is also often known as White Tezcatlipoca due to the contrast between Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca as he is the complete opposite of Tezcatlipoca. After the Fourth sun was destroyed, Quetzalcoatl went to the land of death, Mictlan and created our current world and the Fifth sun by using his own blood to give life to bones. He is also the giver of maize to mankind. Quetzalcoatl is known as a hero to the Aztecs because he made their city flourish and prosper. But due to being tricked by his twin brother into breaking Quetzalcoatl’s vow of celibacy, Quetzalcoatl fled the place but not before promising to return. Quetzalcoatl is described as a white, bearded god who came from the sky therefore leading some Mormon scholars to believe that Quetzalcoatl was actually Jesus Christ. The Aztecs mistakened Hernan Cortez for Quetzalcoatl which led to the downfall of the great civilisation
Tezcatlipoca was a very powerful god associated with many things such as magic, the night and the earth. Tezcatlipoca was the god of the nocturnal sky, the god of ancestral memory and also the god of time. He is also known as the Lord of the North and the twin brother of Quetzalcoatl who was also his arch rival. Tezcatlipoca was the first god to create the sun and earth, however he was defeated by Quetzalcoatl and turned into a jaguar. He had a large temple built for worshipping him in the city of Tenochtitlan. His name means “Smoking Mirror”. He often represents an evil power and is the counterpart of Quetzalcoatl. He is also known as “Black Tezcatlipoca”. Tezcatlipoca could also transform into a jaguar called Tepeyollotl “Heart of the Mountain” and also into a turkey, Chalchihuihtotolin “The Jewelled Fowl.” Chalchihuihtotolin is a symbol of powerful sorcery. Tezctalipoca can tempt humans into destroying themselves but when he takes his turkey form, he can cleanse them from contamination, free them from guilt and help them overcome their fate.
Chicomecoatl was the Aztec goddess of agriculture, nourishment and maize thus making her one of the most ancient as well as important goddess in the Valley of Mexico. Her name means seven snakes and the number 7 in her name is associated with luck and abundance. She was often portrayed as the wife of the corn god, Cenetéotl. She is often drawn as a young girl or a woman using the sun as a shield with her body and face painted red, wearing a distinctive rectangular headdress or pleated fan of red paper. In sculpture, she is also often holding a double ear of corn in each hand. Every harvest season, a young girl representing Chicomecoatl would be sacrificed. Her head would be cut of and her blood would be poured over a statue of Chicomecoatl. Her skin would then be worn by a priest of Chicomecoatl.