Aztec Gods and Goddesses: List and Descriptions
Once there was indigenous Mexican people called the Aztecs with their own wild, beautiful pantheon of gods and goddesses. At the center of their religion, they believed in powerful deities that arose from the earth – gods that brought war and goddesses that brought peace, gods that brought rain and goddesses of fire. While the Aztec civilization has sadly faded, the memory of Aztec power has survived. We will examine the following Aztec gods and Aztec goddesses and their characteristics.
Aztec Gods: List & Descriptions
1. Huitzilopochtli: The Aztec Hummingbird God
Huitzilopochtli was the patron national god of the Mexicas people before he became a god to the Aztecs. He was a god of war, mostly. All credit was given to him if a battle was won. His name means either “Hummingbird of the South” or “Left-handed Hummingbird”. In addition to being a god of war, he was also a god of the sun, of women who died in childbirth and warriors who died in battle. Huitzilopochtli was celebrated in the month of December each year and the city of Tenochtitlan was dedicated to him.
2. Mictlantecuhtli: Aztec God of the Land of Death
The Lord of the Land of Death, or the King of the Underworld, Mictlantecuhtli was one of the most feared and respected of the Aztec gods. The worship of Mictlantecuhtli was rather grisly, involving human cannibalism in many of its rituals. This isn’t too far of a stretch from other ancient cultures and the sacrifices made to gods of death and the otherworld. Mictlantecuhtli is depicted as a monkey-type man with his ribs on the exterior of his body. Often he was covered in blood splatters, a clear representation of the dead. Spiders, bats, owls and other nocturnal animals are associated with Mictlantecuhtli, as he ruled over the night.
3. Quetzalcoatl: The Feathered Serpent
Perhaps the most famous and beloved of the Aztec gods, Quetzalcoatl was the great “feathered serpent” of the Aztec people. He was the guardian between the earth and sky, between the mortal and immortal beings. Some see him as a dragon-type being. The Great Pyramid of Cholula was built to honor the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, and it is the world’s largest pyramid. Quetzalcoatl was the god of war, the four directions, prosperity, judgment, and resurrection. His influence is seen in hundreds of ancient Aztec artifacts and at various historical sites. When the Christian colonizers came, they equated Quetzalcoatl with Jesus.
4. Tlaloc: Aztec God of Rain
The Aztec god of rain and fertility, Tlaloc was a well-loved deity in ancient Mexico. He ruled over the element of water. And while he could be a forgiving, nourishing god, he could also be vengeful and use hail and thunderstorms when angered. Tlaloc is depicted with features of a jaguar, with large eyes and teeth and sometimes claws. Tlaloc was a widely-worshiped deity and there was a site in Tenochtitlan dedicated in his honor. He was a god of the heavens and presided over the souls of those who had drowned.
5. Tezcatlipoca: Shaman God and Lord of Magic
Tezcatlipoca is an Aztec god of magic, shapeshifting, shamanism, and animal-spirit connection. He uses a large obsidian mirror to see all he needs to see. Further, he’s known as the Smoking Mirror and is considered the opponent (and brother) of the beloved Quetzalcoatl. Therefore, when the colonizers came they automatically assigned Tezcatlipoca to their concept of Satan. But there’s much more to this deity than meets the Christian eye. Just like in most ancient cultures, the Aztecs believed in balance. But they also believed we all could be both good and bad. When Tezcatlipoca manifests, he frequently takes the form of a jaguar, coyote, or other animal.
6. Mizcoatl: Fire Warrior
This particular god is believed to have originated not with the Aztecs, but with the Otomi or Chichimeca peoples. Though he is considered part of the Aztec pantheon. He is the father of Coatlicue’s four hundred sons, and he is most well-known for his prowess in war. Mixcoatl is inseparably linked to fire and often manifests with red and white stripes across his body. And a mask that represents the stars and/or the Milky Way.
7. Xochipilli: The Flower Prince
What can you expect from an Aztec god that’s called the Flower Prince? FLOWERS, duh, but also all of life’s beauty and pleasures. Xochipilli is the patron of beauty, food, love, games, fun, dancing, art and basically the things that make us happy in life. He is sexually vibrant and beautiful to lay eyes on, but what’s extra interesting is he’s also a protector of warriors. More specifically, he protects the warriors who have returned as hummingbirds. And to show that shadow aspect of Xochipilli, if he is angered, he may punish with disease. So let’s not make him angry.
8. Yacatecuhtli: God of BUSINESS
Let’s get down to business. Or so says the god of commerce, Yacatecuhtli. He is the Lord of all business deals and opportunities. The Aztecs believed you could call on him to “sniff out” a good deal or even to see through someone’s lies and manipulation. He is the protector of traveling businessmen and merchants, but also guards travelers in general. A cross is held in his hand, signifying the four directions in which he travels and protects those in their travels.
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Aztec Goddesses: List and Descriptions
1. Chantico: Goddess of Fire
One of the most popular Aztec goddesses, Chantico ruled over the hearth and the element of fire. Therefore, she was also associated with volcanoes. Chantico was a passionate and angry Aztec goddess. There are many legends that tell of Chantico’s rage. She is usually depicted as a red serpent, but sometimes takes the likeness of a dog.
2. Chicomecoatl: Aztec Triple Goddess
A goddess of abundance, Chicomecoatl presides over the fields – over corn and agriculture. Chicomecoatl was a goddess of “plenty”, and was an Aztec version of the triple goddess. She was shown in maiden form carrying flowers, in mother form carrying corn, and in crone form who brought death in a subtle and loving manner. She was married to Tezcatlipoca, the Aztec god of the sky and wind.
3. Chimalma: The Great Mother
Chimalma is one of the oldest of the Aztec goddesses, and the mother of Quetzalcoatl. Historians believe Chimalma originated with the Toltec people. These gods were adapted by the Aztecs during a time of co-habitation with the Toltec tribes. Chimalma is a Great Mother Goddess, and mother of the “Absolute Being”. In Christianity, she would be compared to Mary Mother of God.
4. Coatlicue: Goddess of Life and Death
Coatlicue was seen as a creator goddess in that she gave birth to the sun and the heavens. She was a powerful Aztec goddess and presided over the life cycles of men – birth and death. The Aztec people thought of her as both beautiful and cruel, just as the Earth. She could be loving and nurturing, but cruel and destructive because the Earth is all of these things. Coatlicue wore skirts made of snakes, hence her name (coatl = snake). She was considered a primordial god and seen as an old woman. She protected and aided women who died in childbirth.
5. Xochitlicue: Aztec Goddess of Fertility
Xochitlicue was the Aztec goddess of fertility, and therefore also of life, death and rebirth. She was Queen of the Ages. Some might call her a psychopomp, she guides those who have died to the other side safely. She is the sister of Chimalma and Coatlicue, according to Aztec mythology.
6. Xochiquetzal: Goddess of Love
Xochiquetzal is the Aztec goddess of love and presides over the female reproductive cycles. She is the embodiment of youthful maiden energy and protects women of all ages. What’s fascinating about this deity is she is also a guardian of the Tree of Life in the Aztec mythos. But it also makes sense because she watches over the entire birthing process from conception to birth. She allows that door between the spirit world and this world to be opened when someone is born. This deity is also associated with menstruation and has her own story of how she first menstruated by a bat’s bite. She manifests as a young woman with long black hair and bangs, and typically has flowers or tattoos on her face.
How to Work With the Aztec Gods
Maybe you’ve come here wondering how to work with the Aztec pantheon. Maybe you descend from the Aztec people yourself. And if you don’t, might we recommend remembering proper research and respect before approaching a pantheon of indigenous origins. Putting all that first, here’s some ways in which you can begin working with these powerful deities:
- Research and study the mythology, folklore, history and culture of the Aztec peoples
- Study the history and modern culture in the areas of Mexico where the Aztecs once lived (and of their descendants today)
- Make sacred space for the deity you plan to work with
- Provide appropriate offerings
- Reach out to this deity via meditation, trance work, and dream time
- Embody the Aztec god or goddess’s energy in a positive way
- Work with the animals associated with that particular deity (i.e. Tezcatlipoca + jaguars)
- Visit the sacred places in Mexico linked to the Aztecs
Read More About Gods and Goddesses:
- Cat Goddesses and Male Cat Gods
- Isis: Egyptian Goddess of Magick
- Anansi: African Spider God in America