(C)1997-2005 (Thomas H. Frederiksen)
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NOTE: 1/05 This section is a cut and paste from the larger work to better organize the study of the handful of major deities. While all deities had a function in the daily life of the Mexica, those presented here dominated. Visual representations of these deities can be found throughout Mexico today. From calendars in gas stations, to artwork on buildings. There are those today, both in Mexico and here in the U.S., that long to return to the Old Ways....TF

TEZCATLIPOCA- "The Mirror That Smokes" "One Death"

Other Aztec related links:
  • Aztec Life
  • Mexica Culture
  • Mexica Medicine
  • Religion of the Modern Aztlan Movement
  • Religion of the Mexica & Bibliography
  • Minor Deitites of the Mexica
  • Aztec Cannibalism: An Ecological Necessity?
  • The Aztec Account of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico
  • The creator God - The God of the Hunt - Patron of Princes - God of Providence. The Lord of the Here and Now - The Enemy on Both Sides. The true invisible god who walked over the heavens and surface of the earth and hell. Where ever this god went wars, anxiety, and trouble were sure to follow. Tezcatlipoca was thought to incite wars against one another and was called Necocyautl, which means "sower of discord on both sides".

    Also metaphorically referred to as Moyocoyatzin, (Capricious Creator), Titlacahuan, (He Whose Slaves we Are), Moquequeloa, (The Mocker) (*3), Moyocoyani, (Maker of Himself), Ipalnermoani, (Lord of the Near and the Nigh), Nahuaque, (Night Wind). His cruel hand was felt to be at fault when a rich man was brought to mis fortune. When Tezcatlipoca chose to appear on the earth he brought destruction, and only rarely did he provide good fortune to an individual, after all why should he? The ruler of the Mexica was said to be "The Flute of Tezcatlipoca" in his title of Great Speaker.

    Tezcatlipoca was also worshiped under the name Titlacahuan, "He Whose Slaves We Are", who was the master of human destiny. In some ways like Huitzilopochtli who represented the blue sky, or day sky, Tezcatlipoca represented the night sky. He was the warrior of the North while Huitzilopochtli was the warrior of the South. He was the god of sin and misery and had a fetish for the obsidian knife. A young god, legend has him carrying off the wife of aging Tlaloc, "Xochiquetzal", goddess of flowers and love.
    His name was derived from the painting of his image with soot containing shining metal flakes which the Indians called "Tezcapoctli" or "shining smoke". He can be identified in codices by a smoking mirror and a mirror drawn in place of a foot torn off by the earth monster, a representation of myth why at Southern latitudes one of the stars of the Ursa Major is missing form the night heavens. Tezcatlipoca is nocturnal and represented by black coloring and his hair and is often represented cut in two different lengths characteristic of warrior classes.

    Tezcatlipoca is the patron of sorcerers and related to the stellar gods, the moon and to those that represent death, evil, and destruction. His "Nahual(*4)", or disguise, is that of the Jaguar. Master of men's destinies.

    In Toltec mythology he was the adversary of his brother Quetzalcoatl, the Mexica borrowed much of this legend adding and deleting where it suit the purpose of the Mexica. Sahagun relates that the ill or afflicted would pray to Tezcatlipoca in his name of Titlacaoan in the hope of getting well by his mercy. On all road and street crossings a stone seat, called Momuztli, adorned with flowers was placed for this most revered god, the flowers were replaced every five days.

    The Mexica knew that intercourse was necessary to help in the birthing process, but the child was "seated" in the womb by Tezcatlipoca where it would receive it's fate. Family characteristics were explained as the whim or fancy of Tezcatlipoca, not a matter of genetics.

    An obsidian highly polished black idol of Tezcatliopoca was the common veneration to this god, in some smaller towns a wooden idol painted black from the temples down was used. The forehead, nose, and mouth were painted in a human Indian color. An intricate lip plug of crystalline beryl with a green or blue feather complimented the image. Around his neck would be placed a huge golden Jewell(*5) and on his arm golden bracelets. In his left hand was placed a fan of blue, green and yellow feathers, surrounding a round plate of gold, polished like a mirror. His mirror was called Itlachiayaque, "Place from Which He Watches", as Tezcatliopoca could see all by looking into the mirror. In his right hand the idol would carry four arrows signifying punishment for sin he would inflict on the evils of man. On his ankles he wore twenty golden bells. Tied to his right foot was a deer hoof, which represented his swiftness and agility. His main temple in Tenochtitlan was a dark and mysterious place where the idol was kept behind a curtain with only special priests allowed to view and serve the image. In the chamber of this god was an altar approximately 6 feet tall upon which rested a wooden pedestal, on this pedestal stood the idol.

    His name spelled properly is Tezcatl Ipoca, "Mirror that Smokes"(6). An early Mexica prince "Texcatlpopocatzin", bore his name. Tezcapoctli, is the Mexica name for the black obsidian with a reflecting surface used in the making of mirrors. Tezcatlipoca was left handed and also known as Opoche, "He Who Has Left Handedness", one of his priests was known as "His Left Hand". Also known as Itzcaque, "He Who Has Obsidian Sandals".

    Also known as "Ixquimilli, "A Blindfold" and is represented as a spirit of darkness in codex Cospi, pl. 12, Codex Borgia, pl. 15, Codex Laud, pl. 13, and in the Dresden Codex pp. 15, 35, and 69. Tezcatliopoca was possibly seen as a form of the planet Venus(*7).

    Tezcatliopoca has also been associated with a type of Cupid and as a seducer, Codex Vaticanus pls. 40, 52, and the Codex Telleriano-Remensis I, pl 9. Numerous references in legend to his use of seduction to gain his ends, he was a master of trickery.

    In the most noted sacrifice to him, his impersonator was given four wives before he was to be killed, they were called, Xochiquetzal, Xilonen, Atlatonan, and Huixtocihuatl, representing in order, sexual pleasure(*8), food, drink, and salt. His ritual Ixiptla and geographical sacrificial area is curiously in the territory considered sacred to Huitzilopochtli, the south shore of the lake.

    May have been worshiped as Tepeyollotl, or "Heart of the Mountain". References to him are in the Codex Vaticanus, pl. 19, and is seen as a sitting jaguar on a hill that is hollow and full of stars as evidenced in the Codex Borgia, pl. 63. Signification of the animals perfection of stealth. Also may have been worshiped as Monenequi or Macuiltotec as a god of weaponry.

    Tezcatliopoca was associated with the Mexica days of "Two Reed", and "One Death", the enemy. Known in Tula as Huemac, He Who Is in a Big Hand, and credited with leading the Toltecs during their own wandering years.

    Also known as Tezcatlanextia, "He Who Causes Things to Be Seen in the Mirror" Tezcatlipoca was also said to have worn a ring into which he could look into the hearts of men, like an eye. The mirror, ring and his ability to predict seem to be unique as no other references of this type of "seer" ability are credited to other gods. Seer ability among the Mexica appears to only be practiced by Mexica medical practitioners.

    Tezcatlipoca lives by no law, he is invisible, a mocker, a giver of disease, a player of men's destinies and fortunes. Tezcatlipoca was said not to hate or love, he held total power, the Mexica were his slaves and playthings. Also known as "Night Ax", a ghost(*9) which lived in the night and could be heard as the sound of a woodsman's ax. He was described as a headless corpse with a large wound in the chest which rhythmically opened and closed. This could be a representation of the decapitated sacrificial victim returning to haunt the Mexica.

    Tezcatlipoca was a "withholder" of rain when needed and known as evil and as a sorcerer. He was also seen as a virgin and young with seductive powers. He held the knowledge of everything and everywhere and was considered malicious and at the same time forgiving. He was perceived as invisible. He lived in caves, the night sky, and rural areas as well as in the main city. He ruled with total authority. His power over the Mexica was as a living presence, where as some of the other more important deities were removed and considered as abstract. Much has been written as to no formal head of the Mexica deity order, however, you would have a hard time finding one more worshiped that Tezcatlipoca, "He Who Through We Live". The earth was thought to be held in the hand of Tezcatlipoca and thought of as a place of exile and danger for mere humans.

    The Florentine Codex, as related in Clendennan's book, lists the following lament to Tezcatlipoca:

    O master, O our lord, O master of the necessities of life, who has sweetness, fragrance, riches, wealth: show mercy, have compassion for the common folk. May thou honor them, show them a little of thy freshness, thy tenderness, thy sweetness, thy fragrance...May they through thy grace know repose for a little time... If perhaps they should become arrogant, if perhaps they should become presumptuous...should keep for themselves thy property, thy possessions; if perchance because of it they should become perverse, heedless, thou wilt give it to the truly tearful... the truly sighing one...the truly poverty stricken one...the meek, those who prostrate themselves, who go saddened on earth(*10).

    Tezcatlipoca is depicted in the Codex Fejervary-Mayer as tempting the Earth Monster to come to the surface of the water by using his foot as bait. The Monster ate his foot but in the engagement lost her lower jaw. Crippled, the earth monster was unable to sink into the depths of the seas and the earth as the Mexica knew it was created from her body.

    His heavenly constellation was what we call the Great Bear, his single footprint in the night sky. Tezcatlipoca was not seen as a spirit of goodness and as such could not approach the Pole Star, the symbol of the divine duality. He hopped about the north star on his one foot, or the visible circumpolar track of the Great Bear in the night sky.

    This was a complex god associated in many ways but most of all with the surface of the earth. In the east his color was yellow in honor of the new sun, the Blue Huitzilopochtli represented him in the southern sky, in the west his main association was red and was a symbol of the blood of sacrifice, in the north a black Tezcatlipoca consumed with witchcraft and magic. Also known as "he who is closest to the shoulder", as he was thought to be ever present and resting on all shoulders, placing thoughts and ideas of trickery and violence into the minds of the Mexica. In the Codex Cospi two contrasting representations of this god are depicted. In one he is red and in the form of Xipe Totec, God of the Sunset and sacrificial pain, the other represents the black Tezcatlipoca and his association with death, magic and the north. Both figures are dressed in robes and as warriors.

    The Mexica did not think of this god as evil, but rather a contrast between his representation of darkness or the dark side of humanity with the light of Quetzalcoatl. The whole concept of good and evil was not seen to the average Mexica in the same sense as our teachings, they resigned themselves to fate and belief in one's destiny.

    May have been worshipped as Moquehqueloatzin, meaning "Self Derider", or "Self Tickler". From the Nahuatl verb Queh-quel-oa, meaning "to tickle oneself"(*11).

    May have been worshipped under the names Tlalticpaqueh, meaning "World Owner", and as Yaotl. Yaotl is mentioned as a mythical person in the creation of the scorpion myth(*12).

    Also known as "The Prince of this World" and thought to have whispered directly into the minds of the Mexica most often those whispers were savage thoughts.
    3 Tezcatlipoca seems to have had many names. I have run across several names and spellings associated with him. It seems that as the newer books come out some of the spellings change with them leaving you with a "Who do you trust the most" formula for inclusion and spelling. Sahagun relates in his accounts many stories of the cunning and trickery associated with this most revered and worshiped deity. A lament to his mockery is as follows: He is arbitrary, he is capricious, he mocks. He wills in the manner he desires. He is placing us in the palm of his hand; he is making us round. We roll; we become as pellets. He is casting us from side to side. We make him laugh; he is making a mockery of us. Brundage p. 186-187 from his translation of Sahagun.

    4 From Nahualli, "A Thing Like a Mask or Disguise", from the verb nahua? Brundage p. 245-246, gives an account of recent beliefs in a village near Huamanguillo, Tabasco, of modern beliefs in the nahualli.

    5 The Mexica made jewelry by using what has been called "the lost wax process". The form of the object was carved and engraved in a piece of charcoal which held the melted gold as a mold. Another method of working gold was to mold it around clay and then scrape out the unwanted clay. The Mixtecs were credited with supplying much of the fine jewelry to the Mexica.

    6 Brundage, notes p. 232.

    7 Of interest Sahagun considered the name Nezahualpilli as being another name for Tezcatlipoca. Nezahualpilli translated to be "Fasting Prince".

    8 Tlaltipacayotl in the Mexica tongue was meant "to have known the filth".

    9 The Mexica warrior would often sing a "ghost song" to summon the ghost of an ancestor to swell the ranks of the army. These summoned ghosts would often be led by "ghost kings" and come "raining", "Scattering", "flying", or "whirling" to the earth in the form of flowers or birds. Lockhart p. 144.

    10 I have a hard time believing the Mexica talked this way and suspect that the good Friar Sahagun translated this into a more acceptable and recognizable prayer format.

    11 Alacaron notes p. 231.

    12 For additional information on the creation of the scorpion as known to the Mexica see Alcaron's book. See also goddess Tlazoteotl. Yappan, meaning "Flag having the color of black maize", was a metaphorical name for the black scorpion.

    TLALOC- "He who makes things grow"

    The Rain God-God of Vegetation-Ruler of the South. In ancient Chichimec times may have been worshipped under the name of Tlalocateuctli, meaning "Land-lier-Lord". Tlalocateuctli was considered by Alcaron to be a metaphor for the owner of a sown field.

    Known to the Olmec as "Epcoatl", meaning Seashell Serpent. There is speculation that this deity originated with the Olmec. Known to the Maya as Chac, to the Totonacs as Tajin, to the Mixtecs as Tzahui, to the Zapotecs as Cocijo and throughout Mesoamerica.

    A water god probably one of the oldest gods worshiped as a result of the importance of rain for crop production. Called Choc by the Maya and Cocijo by the Mixtecs, the principal worship god of the Olmec culture. Tlaloc was not a creator God but one created by other Gods. His first wife Xochiquetzal, Goddess of flowers and love (*16), was stolen from him by Tezcatlipoca. His second wife was the Goddess Matlolcueitl, "The Lady of the Green Skirts", an ancient name for the mountain known as Malinche, located in Tlaxcala.

    Although a beneficent god Tlaloc certainly had the power to unleash floods, lightning and drought when angry. To please him children were sacrificed to him as well as prisoners dressed in his image. It is said that the more the babies and children cried the more Tlaloc was pleased. During the sacrifice the tears of the screaming children were seen as representations of falling rain, the more the children cried, the better the rain season.

    Tlaloc is easily identified by his characteristic mask giving the impression of eyeglasses and a mustache. Blue is his dominant color and of his mask. His body and face are often painted black, and water is often depicted dripping from his hands. The name Tlaloc, derives from the term "tlalli", meaning earth, with the suffix "oc", meaning something that is on the surface. Townsend alludes to the fight of clouds welling up in canyons and hovering around mountaintop in the rainy season to explain this metaphor(*17).

    Those who died from drowning, lightning or things thought to be associated with water went to Tlacocan, the paradise of Tlaloc located in the South and was known as the place of fertility.

    His home in Tenochtitlan was next to the same temple of the venerated Huitzilopochtli, where a special chamber was built. His statue was made of stone in the shape of a horrible monster. The image was dressed in red with a green feather headdress. A string of green beads called chalchihuitl, "jade", hung from his neck. His ears, arms, and ankles were adorned with bracelets of precious stones. Apparently no other idols in the Mexica city were adorned with as many precious jewels at Tlaloc. In his right hand was a representation of a purple wooden thunderbolt, in his left hand was a leather bag filled with copal. The idol was placed upon a green cloth draped over a dais. His body was sculpted as a man and the face like a monster.

    Known as Epcoatl, (Seashell Serpent), to the Olmec, and his religious themes were associated with children with that culture as well.

    Also known as Tlalteuctli, (Earth Lord). May have been known as Oztoteotl, (The God of Caves), who was principally worshipped in the Chalma area. In the codex Vaticanus, Tlaloc is depicted as living inside of a mountain.

    Known by the Olmec as "Epcoatl", or Seashell Serpent.

    An interesting ceremony to Tlaloc by his priests was for the priests to throw themselves into frigid lake waters at midnight and imitate the sound and splashing of water birds to the point of exhaustion. This was apparently done just to please Tlaloc. In another ritual a priest would climb a mountain naked(*18) and painted black, carrying fir boughs and a conch trumpet. He would chew tobacco and periodically blow the horn. After piercing his ears and thighs with spines(*19) to let blood(*20), he would retrace his steps stumbling.

    The direction of the rains Tlaloc sent were also of importance. The western rain was red colored from the sunset. This rain represented the richness of autumn. The southern rain was a rich blend of rain and summer fertility and considered a
    , Tlaloc's color. The eastern rain was a golden rain which fell lightly over the crops making the crops grow, a promise of life. The north rain was a hail and thunder message from Tlaloc often bringing destruction. Snow and hail were thought of as representations of the bones of the past dead.

    The temple to Tlaloc, on Mt. Tlaloc, is approximately at the 4000 meter level with views of the twin volcanoes Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl and the entire valleys of Pueblo and Mexico. Mt. Tlaloc was located approximately twenty-five miles due east of Tenochtitlan and directly north of the twin volcanoes. In the Spring, at the height of the dry season, the leaders of Tenochtitlan, Tetzcoco, Tlacopan, and Xochimilco would make a pilgrimage to the shrine to call for rain from within the mountain(*21).

    While the Mexica leaders were conducting their ceremony, a large tree called "Father", or Tota, was erected near the great shrine to Tlaloc in Tenochtitlan and surrounded with small trees to symbolize a forest. An impersonator of Chalchiuhtlicue, Goddess of the sea and lakes, was selected to sit in the forest and symbolize the lake. As the leaders were returning, the great tree was felled and rafted out to the Pantitlan shrine, located in the center of the lake, where a great fleet of canoes met the returning leaders. The impersonator was then sacrificed, her blood poured into the water of the lake, jewelry given to the water of the lake, and the tree symbolically planted to indicate a renewal of life and growth. The tree was left to stand with the remains of trees planted in past years ceremonies.
    16 Whether or not this wife stealing actually happened or the Mexica were trying to prop up the image of Tezcatlipoca is a matter of debate. Tlaloc is an old god and has been worshiped by other Mesoamerican cultures long before the arrival of the Mexica, it would be interesting to review other cultures legends and compare. The Mexica were famous for manipulating and re-writing history to further their own ends.

    17 Townsend, p. 114.

    18 There are several references to being naked before the gods. The ruler elect of the Mexica is said to have spent a night naked before the image of Tezcatlipoca. In addition a common practice was to wear a cape with a large knot tied in it. When sitting the know would be placed over the back of the neck exposing genitals, when standing the knot would be placed at the shoulder. Clendinnen p. 319.

    19 The blood would often be flicked towards the sun or allowed to drip onto special paper or to paint their faces.

    20 The Mexica referred to blood as "Our Most Precious Water"

    TLALOQUE or TEPICTOTON- "Attendants of Tlaloc"

    Resided in the mountains, where rain and clouds are formed. Not deities themselves but close enough. May be likened to devilish imps who served the rain god Tlaloc. The Tlaloque were worshiped in special ceremonies during the sixteenth month of the Aztec calendar, (Dec. 11-Dec. 30), known as Atemoztli, meaning "The Descent of Water".

    The Tlaloque were the bearers of the rattlestaff (chicahualilizti), "That Which Makes Things Strong". A signification of a male erect penis(*22) or a type of digging stick(*23).

    The Tlaloque numbered four(?) and lived in the halls of the great palace of Tlaloc, Tlalocan, the terrestrial paradise, and represented the four directions. On Tlaloc's orders one of the Tlaloque would take a particular jug and pour it over the world, thunder was thought to be the sound of the jugs breaking. The Mexica considered the Tlaloque to be brothers to the goddess of corn.

    21 Townsend, pp. 133-140, details this importand center of worship to the Mexica and provides photographs and results and findings from his own archaeological mapping of the area in 1989.

    22 Mexica referred to the male penis as "xipitl or xipittl", "xipintli", may have referred to foreskin.

    23 When beaten on the ground, this stick was thought to produce rain and thunder. The gods of fertility, Xipe Totec and Cinteotl, were also known to carry this rattlestaff. Correlation have been made between the staff and the tree called Chicahuazteotl, "The God of Vigor" ripeness?, which was worshiped by Quetzalcoatl.

    XIPE(*37) TOTEC- "Our Lord of the Flayed One"

    Note Winter 2005 - this Deity is making a strong come back and is quite popular with the new AZTLAN activists here in the U.S, both in illustrations and for lack of a better term "name dropping". One wonders if they have bothered to research the daily rites practiced to this deity....TF

    God of suffering. God of Spring-God of Jewelers-Ruler of the East- The Red Tezcatlipoca. Also known as "The Red Mirror" and his disguise was that of the Eagle.

    May have been worshiped by the name Tlatlauhqui Tezcatlipoca, meaning the red Tezcatlipoca.

    According to Sahagun this god was originally from Zapotlan, a town in the state of Xalisco and was well honored by all those living near the seashore. Itching, diseases(*38) of the eyes, and tumors were attributed to this well worshiped god. His cult was greatly enhanced by Tlacaelel, half brother to Moctezuma I.

    Also called Yopi and is found in the Teotihuacan culture as the "God With A Mask". His cult is centered around flaying a slave and covering a priest with the skin of his victim. The rite signified that with the arrival of spring the earth must cover itself with a new skin or coat of vegetation and swap old skin for new.

    Represented in codices as a red Tezcatlipoca and all clothes and adornments are red and his face is colored red with yellow stripes. His Nahual or disguise is the Tlauhquechol or "spoon bird". He ruled over the East, the region of light, therefore fertility and life. Would afflict those who did not worship him with boils, blisters, and festering sores.

    Those chosen to wear the flayed skin of the victim dedicated to this god would wear the skin bloody side out with the victims hands left to hang flapping as the priest celebrated this rite.

    Another well practiced sacrificial rite to Xipe required a victim to be tied to a framework and then riddled with arrows(*39) until death. The victim's blood dripping was thought to make the ground fettle and to simulate the falling of rain.

    He was the God of Goldsmiths as when the skin of a victim aged it turned gold colored, representation of the gold the workers used.

    Was also called Xipe-Totec-Tllatlauhquitezcatl. Totec meaning "awesome and terrible lord who fills one with dread", Xipe meaning "man who has been flayed and ill-treated", Tlatlauhquitezcatl, meaning "Mirror of fiery brightness". Xipe was worshipped through out Mesoamerica with references to his worship even being found in Teotihuacan II culture. His festivals had more sacrifices than any of the other gods because the common people found it a popular ceremony and had more fun.

    The image of this idol was that of a man with mouth open and dressed in the skin of a sacrificed man. On his wrists hung the hands of the victim. In his right hand was placed a staff with rattles attached at the ends. In his left hand was a shield adorned with yellow and red feathers. A red ribbon tied in a fancy bow was placed on his forehead and in the middle of the bow was placed a golden object. A well worked breechcloth, (human skin?), completed his look. His image was always kept in this manor. Skins worn and decomposed by warriors in reverence to this god were collected and stored in a special vault under his special temple.

    In old times may have been known as Moyohualihtoatzin, Meaning "Night Volunteer", in more modern eras Moyohualihtoatzin became a metaphor for sleeping and was linked with the land of the dead, or Mictlan(*40). Also may have been worshipped at Tlatlauhqui Texcatl, meaning "Red Smoking Mirror", obvious connection with Tezcatliopoca. See Mixcoatl.

    His name is derived from Xipe, meaning "Flayed ones", and Totec or ToTeuc, meaning "Our Lord".

    Also known as Yohuallahuantzin, meaning "inebriated in the night", or "one who has become inebriated in the night". This term was an ancient term used in the worship of Xipe Totec.

    37 Xipe may mean "He With the Penis".

    38 Diseases in general were thought to be caused by small insect- like spirits that were sent out by the gods. These insects would fasten themselves on the victim and suck blood or steal away the soul.

    39 The aspect of the falling blood was to signify rain and fertility of the earth, the blood representing semen falling on the Earth mother to impregnate her. This sacrifice was called "Tlacacaliztli", the sacrifice by arrows.

    40 Alacaron notes p. 231.


    XOCHIQUETZAL- "Flower Quetzal-or Plumage"

    "Patroness of Erotic Love" "Goddess of the Flowering Earth". Celebrated during the "Farewell to the Flowers" festival signifying the coming of frost. This was a solemn festival. People would make merry and smell flowers knowing they were about to dry up and wither for the season. A feast in honor of the flowers would occur.

    Xochiquetzal was also the divinity of painters, embroiders, weavers, silversmiths and sculptors.

    The image of this deity was of wood in the shape of a young woman. A gold ornament was placed over her mouth and a crown of red leather in the form of a braid was placed on her head. Green bright feathered decorated this headband in the shape of horns.

    She was dressed in a blue tunic adorned with woven flowers made from delicate feather work. Her arms were open as in the form of a woman dancing. Her idol was placed on a tall alter and her attendants were the same as those who tended Huitzilopochtli as her temple was small and had no specially assigned priests.

    This is one of the exceptions the Aztec made and were fond of sacrificing virgins(*45) to this goddess. The victim's legs were crossed after cutting out their hearts and then sent rolling down the steps(*46) of the temple. At the foot of the temple special priests took the bodies of the sacrificed virgins to the Ayauhcalli, "the house of the mist", which was a sort of cellar built especially for this sacrifice, where the bodies were kept.

    A woman in the guise of Xochiquetzal was ritually killed and flayed and a priest wearing her skin would sit at the foot of the temple while area craftsmen dressed as monkeys(*47), ocelots, dogs, coyotes, and jaguars would dance about her while she pretended to weave cloth. Each of the dancing craftsmen would carry in their hands a symbol of their craft, a painter his brush, etc.

    Also refereed to as Precious Feather Flower-Goddess of Song, Dance, and Sexual Pleasure. Patron of prostitutes. Goddess of Artistry and Delight. In Duality she was also Macuilxochitl, a male representation.

    God associated with maize and vegetation. Goddess of flowers, grains, and patroness of weavers. God of sculptors and embroiders. Quail(*48) and incense(*49) were often offered to this god and depending on the devotion fasting of from 20 - 80 days was common. People who were born on One Flower or Seven Flower were pre-destined to become good at these crafts and worship this god. Said to have afflicted those who displeased her with boils.

    in legend she was taken to the underworld by Xolotl and ravaged. She also is said to have eaten forbidden fruit from an aphrodisiac tree and became the first female to submit to sexual temptation. She was expelled from paradise and the tree split into two. She transformed into Ixnextli, "Ashes in Eyes", a metaphor for being blinded by crying. Her pain at not being able to look into the sky that she once lived in is why men can not look directly into the sun.

    Goddess of flowers(*50) and romantic love depicted with flowers in her head-dress and as a young married woman with a wrap around skirt and a Quechquimitl, or highly decorated type of poncho. Xochiquetzal's flower was the marigold. Today in early November Mexico celebrates the day of the dead, or "All Souls", in which the ground is strewn with marigolds, combining old and new customs.

    May have been worshipped under the name Tonacacihuatl, meaning "Sustenance-Woman".(*51)

    In Alcaron's book when the speaker of an incantation is impersonating a god, the speaker's wife assumes the role of Xochiquetzal.

    Worshipped during the festivals of Matlalcueyeh, Huei Pachtli, and Macuilxochiquetzal.

    44 Butterflies were regarded as an emblem of richness and well watered vegetation. They were treated as the returning spirits of the dead. These visits from butterflies were thought to be happy visits from the dead assuring the living relatives that they were fine and much joy would be felt seeing the butterflies fly around the ever-present bouquet of flowers in the home. Of note it was considered impolite to smell a bouquet of flowers from the top. The proper way was from the side as the top was reserved for the dead souls that may return. The blood of butterflies is reported in Gillmor's book, p. 114 to have been mixed with the blood of snakes and birds during pre-human sacrifice rites in ancient Tula.

    45 Virginity was taken quite seriously in everyday life. During a wedding night if a young bride was found not to be a virgin, the husband would deliver baskets with no bottoms to his guests, which told of the shame and deception he had suffered, and the girl's family was disgraced and forced to pay compensation.

    46 In Aztec legend when Huitzilopochtli defeated his sister Coyolxauhqui, he decapitated her and rolled her body down the mountain, this may have some bearing on the significance of the sending the victim down the temple steps.

    47 The Mexica saw monkeys as mischievous creatures. A stone representation of a Mexica monkey shows a sitting monkey with fruit in one hand and a symbol representing the female sex organs, "Oyoualli", on his chest. Burland p. 91.

    48 Quail were often sacrificed as they generated a quick spurt of blood and were thought to represent the quickness of the warrior, as anyone who has seen a quail could relate to. Quil were often sacrificed in the home by the common family. As the head was quickly removed the continuation of the bird's wings beatings would scatter the pulsing blood over the room and especially over the hearth fire.

    49 A few words about incense. On the day One Dog offerings were made to the Fire God with baskets of "clean white pure incense", common people were using mere handfuls of "course common incense", and very poor people were using aromatic herbs. Florentine Codex 4:25:88, Clendinnen p. 351.

    50 For an interesting legend concerning Xochiquetzal and her association with flowers see the Quetzalcoatl listing.

    51 See the description of the thirteenth level of heaven AZTEC RELIGION section of this work.

    52 Brundage in his notes, p. 38, references that Xolotl probably means either "beast" or "monster".

    QUETZALCOATL(*68)- "The God of Wind"

    The Creator God-The Feathered Serpent-The Founder of Agriculture- Precious Feather Snake- The Road Sweeper

    Often portrayed with a black beard to represent age or as an old man. Covering his mouth there is often a red mask in the form of a bird's beak. His mask identifies him as the god of wind and he was worshiped under the name of Ehecatl, or wind. One of the greatest gods, god of wind, light, and Venus(*69).

    God of twins and monsters. Legend has Quetzalcoatl and his twin brother Xolotl, descending to hell and retrieving human bones. By dripping his blood onto the bones, human resurrection began(*70). Men therefore, are the children of Quetzalcoatl. He is always presented as benevolent. He wears about his neck a "Wind Jewell" made from a conch and his head was adorned with a jaguar(*71) bonnet or sometimes a small cap. A sharp bone protrudes from the headgear which flows the blood that nourishes his nahualli, the Quetzal bird(*72) .

    He taught men science and the calendar and devised ceremonies. He discovered corn, and all good aspects of civilization. Quetzalcoatl is a perfect representation of saintliness. His cult transformed into a type of nobility cult and only special sacrifices selected from the Nobel classes were made to him, and then only in secret.

    Quetzalcoatl (*73) is a very ancient god known to the Mayas and ancient Teotihuacan ruins. Quetzalcoatl was said to be the son of Camaxtli and Chimalma and he was born in Michatlauhco, "Fish Deeps". His mother died during his birth and he was raised by his grandfathers. The multiplicity of Quetzalcoatl's roles attest to the antiquity of his cult following and his adoration. He is credited with allowing the Spanish and Cortes to march into the Aztec lands. The Aztec people thought Cortes was an incarnation of Quetzalcoatl returning from the East to retake his lands as told in legend. It was not uncommon for a hundred years after the conquest for merchants in smaller towns to work and save for twenty years just to throw a large banquet to this most revered god. Before the conquest slaves would have been bathed and sacrificed for this feast.

    The "Ehecailacacozcatl" or the winds that proceed a rain downpour were associated with Quetzalcoatl. Lightning as it contains a serpentine shape was also associated with this god in the name xonecuilli.

    Also considered to be worshiped under the names Tlilpotonqui, "Feathered in Black", and possibly as Ecacouayo Mixtli, "A Twister", in association with his capacity as God of the Wind. In the Codex Magliabechiano, pl. 34, Quetzalcoatl was refered to as Tlaloc(*74).

    The Codex Cospi pls. 9-11 contain references to his association with the planet Venus and it's destructive powers as well as the Codex Borgia, pl. 53f.

    In the Vienna Codex this god is depicted as an alert youth sitting at the feet of the "Old Ones", The dual divinity. Could also appear as "Yacateuctli, Lord of the Vanguard, or one who goes forth, Yacacoliuhqui, "He with the Aquiline Nose", and as Yacapitzahuac, "Pointed Nose"(*75). May have been worshiped under the name of "Our Reverend Prince", and Ocelocoatl in his black or night form.

    In Boone's translation of the Magliabechiano Codex(*76), Quetzalcoatl is mentioned as being the son of Miclantecutli, Lord of the Place of the Dead. Boone relates in her translation an interesting story concerning Quetzalcoatl as having washed his hands and then touched his penis and caused semen to drop on a rock(*77). A bat grew from this union of semen and rock who other gods sent to bite the flower goddess Xochiquetzal. This bat bit off a piece of her vagina while she was sleeping and took it to the gods. They then washed it and from the water that was spilled came forth flowers that smelled bad. This same bat took the flesh to Mictlantecuhtli where he washed the piece of flesh and the water that he used brought forth sweet smelling flowers the Indians called xochitrls.

    Often depicted holding a thorn used to let blood. He created auto-sacrifice(*78), a forerunner to human sacrifice. He is said to have let blood in honor to Camaxtli (Mixcoatl), who the Aztec believed to be Quetzalcoatl's father(*79).

    Quetzalcoatl's priests(*80) would bang a drum in the morning and in the evening in reverence to Quetzalcoatl. At that time merchants could leave the city and visitors could enter Tenochtitlan. The drum of Quetzalcoatl may be compared with the flute of Tezcatlipoca. The drum separated night from day. The flute was heard at night. The sound of the flute was shrill and anxiety followed it's music.

    According to Sahagun, Quetzalcoatl's temple was high with a narrow staircase with steps so narrow that feet had a hard time holding. The image was covered with tapestries with an ugly and bearded face.

    This deity is depicted on a statue, currently in the British Museum, with ocelot claw ear-rings. The roar of this animal(*81) was believed to help bring the sun into the sky. This statue also holds a studded club in the right hand and in the left a skull, the sign of his twin brother Xolotl. The statue venerates the rising from the jaws of the feathered serpent as the morning star Venus rises to announce the sunrise. The statue further bears a collar symbol of the sun. According to Burland's book, this statue commemorates a transit of Venus in the year 1508.

    Lord of Healing and magical herbs, known as a symbol of thought and learning, of the arts, poetry, and all things good and beautiful. Lord of Hope and Lord of the Morning Star. He has been likened to England's King Arthur, both a real person and myth. According to the Vienna Codex a series of nine different Toltec kings succeeded the original man/god all calling themselves Quetzalcoatl. In the Codex Laud, Quetzalcoatl is seen as wind blowing in the waters. Sitting on the water, displaying her genitals, was a tempting Tlazoteotl. The wind of Quetzalcoatl is the breath of life and will fertilize her. Quetzalcoatl was the god of life and gave penitence, love, and exemption from rituals of sacrifice and Auto sacrifice.

    His association with the feathered serpent is an interesting story. The quetzal bird, native to the western area of Guatemala and Mexico, was regarded as the most beautiful bird and called Quetzaltotolin, meaning "most precious". The symbol of the feathered serpent was Quetzalcoatl, meaning not just feathered serpent, but "most precious serpent". Quetzalcoatl is not the feathered serpent but the one who emerges from the serpent as Venus rises from the morning horizon.

    He has been depicted occasionally on statues showing him as a great priest, the Lord of Penitence, with a painted black stripe beside the eyes and a red ring surrounding the mouth and blue areas on the forehead. As Ehecatl, Lord of the Winds, he is depicted wearing a mask with a pointed snout covering his lower face. This is known as his "wind mask", and is usually painted bright red. According to Burland this was derived from the Mexican whistling toad, Rhinophryne dorsalis. It's shape suggested the earth monster, a cross between an alligator and a toad. Temples to Ehecatl were circular as the god of wind could blow or breath in any direction.

    In the Vienna Codex, Quetzalcoatl is depicted holding the heavens with his hands, symbolic of holding the rain clouds and sky in place.

    The Spanish missionaries early adopted the myth of Quetzalcoatl and thought that he was actually St. Thomas the Apostle, who had come to Mexico to help convert the Aztec Indians to Christianity and that the spirit of St. Thomas was in Cortes(*82). Today the figure of Quetzalcoatl can be seen in department store windows in Mexico City replacing a traditional Santa Claws figure. This figure wears a garland of feathers and a representational mask of the old venerated god and symbolizes the bringing of life and gifts.

    According to the Treatise by Alarcon(*83), Quetzalcoatl was also known as "Matl", which meant "hand" in Nahuatl(*84).

    Often depicted as a white skinned god with a black beard. Recent scholarly theories suggest that the man-god may have been a wandering Viking who had lost his way. See also TLOQUE NAHUAQUE listing with accompanying footnote for further information on this subject. See also TLILPOTONQUI.

    66 Flowers in general were thought to have been made by honey sucking bats descending into Mictlan, the land of the dead. Brundage, p. 243.

    67 Brundage p. 243.

    68 Quetzalcoatl translates to plumed serpent. The word quetzalli eventually came to mean "treasure, or precious". The word coatl came to mean "dragon" as well as "snake" and occasionally "twin", hence it could mean "Precious Twin". The Quetzal bird provided the beautiful green tail feathers for the plumes of this god.

    69 Venus was an important astrological symbol for the Mexica and was called "Tlauixcalpantecuhtli", which means - Lord of the House of Dawn. The planet had two aspects and was shown and revered as two gods. One, as Morning Star, was kind, and was the Precious Twin, Quetzalcoatl. He held the sun in the sky in the morning. His dark twin Xolotl ruled Venus in the Evening and during the night. Xolotl pushed the sun into darkness. Of interest the only sacrifices to Quetzalcoatl was during the time that Xolotl ruled over Venus. The Mexica regarded travel under the night stars as dangerous where as to be under the morning star was good fortune.

    70 This act probably begins the association and credited invention of auto-sacrifice, or self-letting of blood, to the Mexica.

    71 The jaguar symbol was especially important to the priests, who carried an insence bag made form jaguar skin. This pouch may have carried their drugs and tobacco. Common drugs used by the priests were Obsidian-knife-water and "yauhtli", (powered Tagetes lucida?) which gave a sedative effect probably used in controlling captives on their way to the killing stones. Duran was convinced that Obsidian-knife-water was water used to wash the sacrificial killing knife mixed with chocolatl, which bewitched the user into a state of euphoria.

    Some say this mysterious water was nothing more than pulque. The priests were also known to have experimented with hallucinogens. For more information consult the Florentine Codex in the "Book of Earthly Things". Related in detail are "ololiuqui", the morning glory whose seeds would derange the taker and "peyotl", which grows only in Mictlan, the land of the dead. There are many others listed.

    72 Maslow's book describes a scene of a soaring Quetzal bird that may appear to look like a feathered serpent in flight as it soars over a man's head.

    73 For a well written account of the Quetzalcoatl man/legend and his influence on the entire Mesoamerican region read THE LORD OF THE DAWN: THE LEGEND OF QUETZALCOATL, By Rudolfo A. Anaya.

    74 There is a legend that when the man/god Quetzalcoatl left Tula he entered a mountain, which closed behind him. See Duran's works for some of the many legends of Quetzalcoatl.

    75 See the God YACATECUHTLI as these names suggest his relationship with merchants.

    76 p. 206.

    77 This is the only reference to deities masturbating I have found.

    78 Autosacrifice took many forms: Piercing lips, ears, legs or arms with maguey spines and putting the blood on paper which was then taken to a god. After use, the maguay spines were put in a special place to be seen by the gods. Drilling a hole through your tongue was considered a good Autosacrifice into which a cord with spines was pulled through. The Mexica thought of Autosacrifice as a service to the group rather than just for the individual letting blood and was revered for his service to his group.

    79 In Aztec legend Iztacmixcoatl with his sacred knife engaged Chimalma, Shield Hand, "The Naked Goddess", and impregnated her. Her son was to become Quetzalcoatl, who later was ruler in Tula. Mercatante, p. 38 relates the spellings of these parents as "Chimamatl and Iztacmixcoatl".

    80 C.A. Burland's book Moctezuma, p.45, references that the high priest to Quetzalcoatl wore a high helmet and a red, black, and blue costume.

    81 Animals in general were looked to by the Mexica for delivering signs or omens. An owl hooting would signify sickness or death was approaching. A home that was entered by a rabbit would mean the house would suffer calamity. The chafer, a larger form of beetle , may cause shame to enter into the home. A wild weasel that crossed in front of a Mexica citizen could often bring bad fortune.

    82 Mercatante, p. 38.

    83 P. 230.

    84 The Mexica revered a medicinal tree referred to as "macpalxochiquauhitl", meaning -hand flower. Known scientifically as Chiranthodendron pentadactylon. Emboden, pp. 16-18.

    HUITZILOPOCHTLI- "Left Handed Hummingbird(*37)"

    God of War-Lord of the South-The Young Warrior-Lord of the Day- The Blue Tezcatliopoca of the South-Patron God of the Mexica. Known metaphorically as "The Blue Heron Bird", "The Lucid Macaw", and "The Eagle".

    The derivation of his name may have come from the ancient Chichimeca "Tetzauhteotl", possibly meaning "Omen-God"

    He is considered an incarnation of the sun and struggles with the forces of night to keep mankind alive. Only to have found a place of major worship among the Aztec peoples. Huitzilopochtli is credited with inducing the Aztecs to migrate from their homeland in "Aztlan" and begin the long wanderings which brought their tribe to the Mexico Valley.

    According to Aztec legend, Coatlicue, goddess of the earth had given birth to the moon and stars. The moon, Coyolxauhqui, and the stars called, Centzonhuitznahuac, became jealous of Coatlicue's pregnancy with Huitzilopochtli(*38). During his birth, Huitzilopochtli used the "serpent of fire" and the sun's rays to defeat the moon and stars. Every day the battle continues between day and night. The Mexica saw the sunrise as a daily victory for this deity over the forces of darkness.

    Huitzilopochtli can only be fed by Chalchihuatl, or the blood of sacrifice, to sustain him in his daily battle. He resides in the seventh heaven of Aztec mythology. The seventh heaven is represented as blue. His temple on the great Pyramid in Tenochtitlan was called Lihuicatl Xoxouqui, or "Blue Heaven". Over 20,000 victims are thought to have been ritually killed at the opening of his great temple in Tenochtitlan during a four day period(*39).

    Duran relates that the great temple contained a wooden statue carved to look like a man sitting on a blue wood bench. A serpent pole extended from each corner to give the appearance of the bench as a litter. On his head was placed a headdress in the shape of a bird's beak. A curtain was always hung in front of the image to indicate reverence.

    Tlacaelel(*40), the Aztec power broker, is thought to have propelled this god into the place of importance that Huitzilopochtli held, some suggest even re-writing Mexica(*41) history.
    Huitzilopochtli's creation may have come from the ancient Mexica god "Opochtli", the Left Handed One, and a leading old Chichimec god of weapons and water. He was called "He Who Divides the Waters", and was principal in worship in the Huitzilopochco area and it's famous waters. Opochtli is thought to have been worshipped in ancient Aztlan(*42).

    Huitzilopochtli is said to be a representation of Tezcatlipoca in midsummer as the high sun in the southern sky. His name may have derived with his association with the color blue as when staring at the sun, spots of blue are seen by the eyes after looking away.
    His association with "on the left", was because when facing in the direction of the sun's path, east to west, the sun passed on the left.

    Huitzilopochtli was certainly the most celebrated of the Mexica deities and came to embody the aspirations and accomplishments of the Aztec. His cult could have been considered the "state cult" and was a focus of the powerful economic and political system. Also known as "The Portentous One", as he directed the Mexica on their nomadic trek into the Valley of Mexico through a series of signs and omens. It was Huitzilopochtli who sent the eagle(*43) to perch on the nopal cactus to indicate the site of the Mexica's final resting place. His elevation to the rank of a major deity coincided with the formation of the triple alliance between Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan. At this formation of the alliance his recognition as the god of war was complete and total.

    As the power of Tenochtitlan grew his image was incorporated into the new lands and regions coming under Mexica control and he assumed new prominence and attributes even to the point of usurping the more traditional sun god, Tonatiuh. His main temple in the great temple of Tenochtitlan, (the Temple Mayor), was set alongside Tlaloc, god of rain, the symbolism of these two deities elevated above all others was a reflection of the economic status of the Mexica empire, (agriculture and war-tribute).

    Of interest many pictures and statues have survived of Tlaloc and other major deities but relatively few of Huitzilopochtli(*44).

    Images of Huitzilopochtli may be found in the Codex Borbonicus in which he is depicted standing in front of a small temple in his honor, in the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, in his capacity as symbol of the month of Panquetzaliztli, and in a dual painting with Paynal, (messenger god), in Sahagun's Primeros Memoriales. His image further adorns the Codex Boturini in his guidance of the Mexica on their wanderings. In the Codex Azcatitlan he is represented as a combination hummingbird and serpent tail being carried in what might be thought of as a backpack. In the Codex Florentine his birth is recorded as well as his famous battle with the stars. In all painted images his adornments are different, some with a shield of turquoise mosaic, others with a shield of white eagle feathers. The central image in all drawings is that of a warrior and a leader. He is often depicted as a seed dough(*45) image or "teixiptla" which was often made and prized during feasts.

    Although Huitzilopochtli was worshipped greatly during the entire Mexica year he was of particular importance during the feast of Toxcatl, Dry Thing, Tlaxochimaco, Giving of Flowers, Teotleco, Arrival of Gods, and Panquetzaliztli, Raising of Banners. The feast honoring the raising of banners is generally thought to be his major yearly feast.

    Nowhere was Huitzilopochtli more honored than in his main temple atop the great pyramid in Tenochtitlan in the Temple Mayor. His main cult statue stood in the southernmost corner of the twin shrines to him and Tlaloc. The shrine to this deity is described in detail by Duran as well as accounts by several of the soldiers with Cortes, namely Andres de Tapia and Bernal Diaz as well as Cortes himself. Duran claims to describe the statue based on reports from native informants and from direct interviews with surviving conquistadors. He describes the image as a wooden statue carved to look like a man seated on a blue wooden bench in the form of a liter. The liter poles contained images of serpents long enough to be carried on the shoulder of men. The bench was in the traditional Huitzilopochtli "sky blue" color. The image itself had a blue forehead with a blue band reaching from ear to ear also blue.

    The image had a headdress shaped like a hummingbird beak made of gold. The feathers adorning the headdress were a beautiful green. In his left hand he held a shield, white, with five bunches of white feathers in the form of a cross. Four arrows extended from the handle of the shield. In his right hand he held a staff in the image of a serpent which was also blue. Gold bracelets were on his wrists and he wore blue foot sandals. This image was covered from view with a type of curtain adorned with jewels and gold. Bernal Diaz also relates an account and it is certainly worth reading.

    Huitzilopochtli shared the top of the great temple with Tlaloc in Texcoco as well as in Tenochtitlan and is described in detail in Pomar's book. Pomar's Huitzilopochtli was an image of a standing young man, made from wood adorned with a cloak of rich feathers and wearing an ornate necklace of jade and turquoise surrounded by golden bells. His body paint was blue with a blue striped face. His hair was of eagle feathers and had a headdress of quetzal(*46) feathers.

    Oh his shoulder was a form of a hummingbird's head. His legs were adorned and decorated with gold bells. In his hand was held a large spear, a spearthrower, and a feathered shield covered with a lattice work of gold stripes.

    There was no greater worshipped image to the Mexica and the stone idol that was atop the pyramid in Tenochtitlan that was removed under the eyes of Cortes. The idol was entrusted to a man called Tlatolatl. Tlatolatl successfully was able to hide this image of Huitzilopochtli as was uncovered during an investigation by the Bishop Zummaraga during the 1530's. The statue has never been found and is probably resting and waiting today in a cave somewhere in northern Mexico.

    Listed in the Codex Boturini, the sacred bundle of Huitzilopochtli carried during the wandering years was born by four "bearers", named Tezacoatl, (Mirror Serpent), Chimalma, (Shield Hand), Apanecatl, (Water Headdress), and Cuauhcoatl, (Eagle Serpent). The Codex Azcatitlan shows only two god bearers. Duran agrees that there were four bearers but does not name them. Juan de Torquemada(*47) in his "Monarquia indiana also confers the four god bearers. Hernando Alvarado Tezozomoc(*48) keeps the bearer Cuauhcoatl but replaces the other three with Quauhtlonquetzque, Axoloa, and Ococaltzin. To further confuse this issue the Cronica Mexicayotl(*49) replaces Cuauhcoatl, (Eagle Serpent), with Iztamixcoatzin, (White Cloud Serpent)(*50).

    37 The editors of Alarcon's book, notes p. 228, give a strong argument that his name, Huitzilopochtli, did not mean Hummingbird on the Left, but contained the phrases "small bell", and "thorn".

    38 A parthenogenetic birth of Huitzilopochtli occurred with the mother's conceiving this deity. This birth was a common practice in Mesoamerican mythology.

    39 There is some debate as to the accuracy of the 20,000 victim legend. Some say priests exaggerated the figure, others say the figure may be even higher.

    40 For further information on this colorful character in Mexica history refer to the AZTEC RULERS section elsewhere on this web site.

    41 The name "Mexica" derives from the word Mecitin, to Mexitin and then to Mexica. This change occurred during the wandering years. The name derives from an ancient Mexica deity called "Mecitli", who insisted that the people be named in his honor. Mecitli is credited with the famous "Broken Tree" incident during the wandering years when the Mexica broke away from the other wandering tribes on the direction of Mecitli. Some sources claim that Mecitli is nothing but another name for Huitzilopochtli, or it could mean "Maguay Grandmother", indicating a female goddess.

    42 Brundage, p.144.

    43 In 1950 a young Mestizo boy, Bulmaro Gomez Lopez, who was hunting with his father in the forests of Chiapas, wounded an Eagle. They carted the wounded Eagle forty miles to the small zoo on the outskirts of the regional capital. The residents were amazed as no one had seen a harpy eagle in years. The large black and white bird with a gray hood had a six-foot wingspan and legs the size of a man's arm. The harpy was fond of nesting in the giant ceiba, (silk-cotton), tree. This tree was also refereed to as the "tree of life" in many Mesoamerican cultures.

    The eagle needs approximately 25,000 to 720,000 acres to forage for the monkeys and other prey it needs. Harpies may still be alive in two rainforests in southern Mexico, the Chimalapas and the Lancandona. There have been reports of sightings in recent years. The Peregrine Fund, at the World Center for Birds of Prey, is trying to create a stable breeding herd from captive harpies. The outlook is bleak.

    This lack of surviving records may be due to the sheer hatred of Huitzilopochtli by the conquering Spaniards. Boone's book p. 3- 4, gives accounts of how difficult it was for post conquest historians to accurately re-construct a painted image of Huitzilopochtli and many of the drawings we see today were drawn to represent his functions as the artist saw fit, and not from actual historical models.

    44 According to Boone p. 10, there is but one surviving statue of Huitzilopochtli and is a small jade figure in the possession of the Musee de LHomme in Paris. There is some debate that the statue is actually a statue of Tezcatlipoca, however the picture in Boone's book leads me to conclude it is of Huitzilopochtli. This book contains many pottery images as well as other pictures of Huitzilopochtli that are worth the effort to see. The Bishop Zarramunga partly traced the main temple idol of Huitzilopochtli and the image is believed to be hidden in a cave somewhere in Northern Mexico today. Bernal Diaz related the account of the removal of the image in his book.

    45 These seed dough images were prevalent even after the conquest to the point that the Spanish were forbidding the cultivation of amaranth, the main grain crop used in the construction of these eatable idol images. Reports in 1570 by the Spanish administration recorded the grinding of amaranth into dough images. Reports in 1900 revealed a transition into animal formation of the dough as well as a transition into modern Christian rituals as the dough was being made into Catholic rosaries.

    Today on the streets of Mexico City "alegria", which is a small cake mixed with homey can be purchased, some in the image of more modern Mexican heroes such as Hildago or Benito Juarez, I suspect it would not be too hard to find one in the image of a deity.

    46 The Quetzal bird, (Pharomachrus mocinno, The Resplendent Quetzal), belongs to the Trogon family with green or blue plumage of iridescent color that appears to change color due to the changes of light. The male displays the brilliant colors and prized tail feathers while the female is drab. The bird lives in subtropical and humid regions of southern Mexico through western Panama in elevations from 4000 to 10000 feet. From February through April the Quetzal searches for an old tree trunk to nest. The hen will lay one or two eggs for an 18 day incubation period. Both the male and female tend the nest. Worms, forest fruit, and wild avocados, (aguacatillo), are the preferred food for the bird. If a Quetzal is captured and confined in a cage, it dies, smashing itself against the cage. For this reason it is looked upon as a symbol of freedom.

    The feathers were considered as a form of monetary exchange and the bird was revered for it's beauty. There are reports of the feathers of this bird being used as far north as New Mexico by the Zuni Indians, and as far south as tribes of the Inca empire. Today the bird is almost extinct and expected to be gone by the year 2000. In Guatemala the Quetzal had originally been living in over 30,000 square kilometers, by 1981 the area had been reduced to less that 2,500 square kilometers.

    47 Monarquia indiana (1975-79), vol 1, p. 114.

    48 Cronica mexicana (1975), p. 225.

    49 1949 #26.

    50 This discrepancy of what should be a simple historical matter to document, is typical of the study of the Mexica. It is also the reason why I tend to be more concerned with general themes and not as interested in specific spellings or attributes. In a general sense I tend to believe these contradictions are due to several main influences. The most important being, the Mexica had a tendency to re-write their history to suit a particular purpose. For sixty eight years the power broker Talaellel was a master of this craft. See AZTEC RULERS section of this work.)

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    Religion of the Modern Aztlan Movement

    Religion of the Mexica & Bibliography

    Minor Deitites of the Mexica

    Mexica Culture

    Mexica Medicine

    Aztec Life

    Aztec Cannibalism: An Ecological Necessity?

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