Content Booklet Origins of the Universe Origins of the Universe The Aztecs believed that it took the Gods five tries to create the world as it is today. Each of these worlds coincided with a sun and a sun God. It took this many attempts as the Gods always ended up fighting. This is how each world is destroyed and then born again. The fifth sun and its world is the one we live in and with today. This First Sun creation was the Jaguar Sun Ocelotl.
Its world was ruled by Tezcatlipoca (Smoking Mirror). In the world lived giants. This world was destroyed because Tezcatlipoca’s brother, Quetzalcoatl (Plumed Serpent) had the Giants eaten by Jaguars.
The Second Sun was the Sun of Air-Ehecatl. Its world was ruled by Quetzalcoatl and was destroyed by winds. The inhabitants of the world were human people. At the destruction of the world, the people who lived there were turned into monkeys. The Third Sun Creation was Quiahuitl.
The world was ruled by the Rain God Tlaloc. Its end came from a rain of fire and the people were turned into birds. The fourth sun was the water sun. It was called Atl. The fourth world was ruled by Tlaloc’s sister, Chalchiutlicue. The world destruction came about with floods and all the survivors were turned into fish. The fifth and final sun is Ollin.
It is ruled by the sun god Tonatiuh and it is the world that we currently live in. It is believed that this is the last world which will end in cataclysmic earthquakes.
This was the fifth try of the Gods creating Earth and now it is as they wanted it. Principal Beliefs The ancient Aztec religion was highly focused on keeping nature in balance. The Aztecs had many principal beliefs. Most of their beliefs were either built upon the beliefs of the Five suns and Worlds or of how the Gods, Humans and nature were unified. They had a strong belief in the layers of the universe(13 heavens, 9 hells and Earth).
Another principal belief was the belief of human sacrifice. They also had a belief that every 52 years, the world would end. Another belief was that the sun wrestled with darkness each night. They also had strong beliefs in their Gods and also in the Afterlife. The world in ancient Aztec religion was divided up into 4 quadrants, and at the centre was their city Tenochtitlan. The heavens were divided into 13 ascending layers, and the underworlds(hells) 9 descending layers. The temple in Tenochtitlan was also the place where the forces of heaven and earth intersected.
The Aztecs believed that hell was a place of darkness, fear and misfortune. Heaven was an ‘exclusive’ place and only a few people were bound for the happy realms. The key factor that determined where one was bound in their afterlife was not how they lived, but how they died. People who died a natural death were sent to one of the hells. Warriors killed in battle, women who died during childbirth and those who took their own lives were sent to a heaven, along with those who were sacrificed. The Aztecs had a strong belief in human sacrifice. It was also seen as a religious ritual.
The Aztecs held ceremonies of sacrifice in temples or mountain tops. To the Aztecs, sacrifice was widespread and frequent. There were many victims, men, women, children and sometimes animals. Most sacrifices were done by the removal of the heart. This was done in order to appease the gods so that cosmic order remained. It was also seen as a continual repayment of the sgergenjlgdebt that humans owed to the gods. Supernatural Powers & Deities The Aztec worshipped hundreds of Gods and Goddesses. They believed that giving human hearts and blood gave the Gods strength and appeased them when they were angry.
This was part of human sacrifices. There were gods that represented the powerful forces of nature. They appeared as supernatural characters in the codices, shaping the world through epic battles, and giving life to every feature of the earth and heavens. There were gods of wind, fire and water, of childbirth, disease and misfortune, as well as of the sun, moon and stars. Religion was extremely important in Aztec life. They worshipped hundreds of Gods and Goddesses, each of whom ruled one or more human activities or as aspects of nature e. g. sun, rain.
They believe that everything in life is controlled by the Gods, they bring good things, such as rain to make the crops grow, but also bad things like disease, drought and bad luck. The Aztecs thought that the power of the Gods should be acknowledged and to avoid the catastrophes that their rage could cause. For these reason monuments, temples and statues were built and sacrifices performed as gifts to the Gods. Here are some supernatural creatures worshipped by the Aztecs: Huitzilopochtli is the God of war, the rising sun and special guardian of Tenochtitlan. He battled the forces of darkness each night and was reborn each morning.
There was no guarantee the sun would win, so human sacrifices were made. He is always shown as a warrior. He wears a warrior’s cotton over suit and carries a shield and a snake of fire. His body and clothes are painted blue. Quetzalcoatl the wind God was a former white skinned and bearded priest. He came from the east and promised to return. The God of civilisation and learning wears the mask of a serpent and a hat decorated with the feathers of a quetzal bird. Tlaloc is the main agricultural rain God. The rain he brings allows crops to grow. Tlaloc controls storms, thunder and lightning.
He is shown holding lightening in the form of a snake in one hand. In the other hand he holds an axe which makes thunderbolts. The jaguar he sometimes has coming from his mouth is the roar of thunder. Tlaloc is always shown with goggle eyes and long teeth. Tezcatlipoca was the Aztec God of night and all material things. He carried a magic mirror that gave off smoke and killed enemies, and so he was called “God of smoking mirror”. Punishing evil and rewarding goodness, he tested men’s minds with temptations, rather than trying to lead them into wickedness. He was God of the north.
Also was the God of beauty and war, the lord of heroes and lovely girls. Yet he appeared most frequently as a magician, a shape shifter and a God of mysterious powers. Rituals The Aztec religion was quite illustrious for their stipulate gods and goddesses, and their lust for human blood. The Aztecs believed that their gods had often sacrificed themselves in order to provide them with all the necessities of life as well as life itself. As a result, the gods had sought human blood in return. Thus, although there were various forms of Aztec rituals, none other was as prominent as human sacrifices.
The Aztecs traditionalized body skinning, heart removal and even Aztec human sacrifice itself. They believed that through these rituals, the gods’ thirst for blood was quenched. Consequently, the gods would continue to provide the Aztecs with blessings in return for human blood. Body Skinning Xipe Totec was an Aztec god who had cut off his own skin for the prosperity of corn. The Aztecs believed that without corn, they would certainly cease to exist. As a result, captive warriors were given to Xipe Totec’s priests each year during the Spring Equinox in order to be sacrificed.
The god had asked for human skin in return and hence, “body skinning” was performed on the captive warriors by the priests. It involved the removal of skin in one piece. Priests would then wear the ‘skinned skin’ for at least 20 days as a “celebration of life”. The Aztecs believed that Xipe Totec was an embodiment of fertility and rebirth, therefore, the act of wearing the skin was a reflection of this notion. After the 20 day period, priests would then destroy the skin, often through burning as the “crackling” and loud sounds produced during this process imitated the sound of corn germinating its seeds.
Heart Removal Huitzilopochtli was the name of the sun God who provided the Aztecs with heat, light and fertilizing energy. They believed that blood was the best gift to offer back to the sun; however, not just the usual form of human blood. The Aztecs offered beating human hearts in exchange for the Sun’s hallows. On top of Aztec pyramids, priests performed the ritual of “heart removal”. They used a special instrument made out of volcanic flint; similar in form to a knife, yet sharper than the blade of a scalpel.
A captive was laid on the altars soaked in blood and with the “knife”, priests would rip out the heart from the chest and offer it to Huitzilopochtli while it was actively still beating. Aztecs believed that all hearts were good, yet the most nourishing to the gods were those of the bravest captives. Because of this, warring took place in order to discover captives worthy for sacrifice. Those who practiced the Aztec religion sometimes sacrificed just one person. But more often than not, hundreds and sometimes even thousands of captives were sacrificed all at one time.
Each of these sacrifices was done every so often that they eventually became recognized as rituals. Each sacrifice however, was performed in a comparable approach. A captive or captives were taken to a pyramid or temple and placed on an altar on which rituals took place; hence why these altars were often covered in blood. At the conclusion of each ritual, corpses were pushed down the steps of the pyramid or temple. There were exceptions for those captives who were particularly noble or brave who were carried down instead. Influence in the Society
The Aztecs absorbed deities, stories, and beliefs from these earlier peoples and from the Maya of southern Mexico. As a result, Aztec mythology contained religious and mythological traditions that many groups in Mexico and Central America shared. However, under the Aztecs certain aspects of the religion, notably human sacrifice, came to the forefront. Aztec religion is the Mesoamerican religion practiced by the Aztec empire. Like other Mesoamerican religions, it had elements of human sacrifice in connection with a large number of religious festivals which were held according to patterns of the Aztec calendar.
It had a large and ever increasing pantheon; the Aztecs would often adopt deities of other geographic regions or peoples into their own religious practice. Each of these gods had their own temples within the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan–Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli were both worshipped at the Templo Mayor. A common Aztec religious practice was the recreation of the divine, mythological events would be ritually recreated and living persons would impersonate specific deities and be revered as a god and often ritually sacrificed. The religious rituals and ceremonies where related to the various aspects and influences of Aztec life.
Worship was done through offerings, prayers, performing symbolic acts, games, sacrifices. Daily rituals were associated with food and thanksgiving. The ceremonies were performed in the temples that could be round or pyramidal. Attached to the temples there were courts for the ball game, sacrificial stones and other special areas for the different kinds of rituals and ceremonies. Though the rituals differed from place to place they followed a basic structure that consisted for preparation, fasting, purification and offerings after which came blood sacrifice that was an act of major importance for the Aztec.
For them there could be no new life without death. The Aztecs developed complex social, religious, artistic, and scientific systems in their empire. Aztec society was divided by roles and by class. The Aztec religion required human sacrifice to keep the gods happy and they had many achievements in science, art, and language. The legacy of Aztec mythology remains strong within Mexico. Aztec images and themes have influenced the arts and public life. Also, the theme of fate was also reflected in the Aztecs’ use of the calendar.
Both the Aztecs and the Maya developed elaborate systems of recording dates with two calendars such as a 365-day solar calendar based on the position of the sun, and a 260-day ritual calendar used for divination. Each day of the ritual calendar was influenced by a unique combination of gods and goddesses. Divination involved interpreting the positive or negative meanings of these influences, which determined an individual’s fate. Priests also used the ritual calendar to choose the most favourable days for such activities as erecting buildings, planting crops, and waging war.