Aztec Gods and Goddesses: List and Descriptions
Once there was indigenous Mexican people called the Aztecs with a special set of gods and goddesses. At the center of their religion, they believed in great deities – gods that brought war and goddesses that brought peace, gods that brought rain and goddesses of fire. While the Aztec civilizations have faded, the memory of Aztec power has survived. We will examine the following: well-known Aztec gods and Aztec goddesses and their basic characteristics.
Aztec Gods: List & Descriptions
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.
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.
Quetzalcoatl: The Feathered Serpent
Perhaps the most famous 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.
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.
Aztec Goddesses: List and Descriptions
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.