Lady Precious Green, wife of Tlaloc. Goddess of storms and water. Personification of youthful beauty, vitality and violence. In some illustrations she is shown holding the head of Tlazolteotl, the goddess of the witches, between her legs. Chalchihuitlcue is the whirlpool, the wind on the waters, all young and growing things, the beginning of life and creation.
The corn god, the giver of food, god of fertility and regeneration. Cinteotl is protected by the rain gods Tlaloc and Chalchihuitlcue.
Earth monster. In the darkness and chaos before the Creation, the female Earth Monster swam in the waters of the earth devouring all that she saw. When the gods Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca decided to impose form upon the Earth, they changed themselves into serpents and struggled with the Earth Monster until they broke her in two. Coatlicue's lower part then rose to form the heavens and her upper part descended to form the earth. Coatlicue has an endless, ravenous appetite for human hearts and will not bear fruit unless given human blood.
("she who wears copper bells on her face") sister of Huitzilpotchli.. The earth and moon-goddess of the Aztecs. She is related to the four hundred star-deities Huitznauna, who are under her control. She possesses magical powers which with she can do great harm. Coyolxauhqui decapitated her own mother Coatlicue when she became pregnant in what her children deemed unseemly circumstances. Immediately the sun-god Huitzilopochtli sprang fully armed from Coatlicue's womb and slew Coyalxauhqui and many of her kin on the hill of Coatepec (snake hill). According to one tradition, Huitzilopochtli tossed Coyalxauhqui's head into the sky where it became the moon. He hoped that his mother would find comfort at night by seeing the face of her daughter in the sky.
The Old, Old Coyote. Associated with gaiety and sex. A god of spontaneity, of ostentatious ornament, of unexpected pleasure and sorrow. A trickster and troublemaker. Considered unlucky.
God of war, son of Coatlicue. Principal god of the Aztecs. When Coatlicue became pregnant with Huitzilopochtli, her daughter Coyolxauhqui incited her brothers, the Centzon Huitznahua (the Four Hundred Stars) to destroy Coatlicue, because her pregnancy brought disgrace on the family. Still in the womb, Huitzilopochtli swore to defend his mother and immediately on being born put on battle armor and war paint. After defeating the Four Hundred Stars, Huitzilopochtli slew his sister and cast her down the hill at Templo Mayor where her body broke to pieces on striking the bottom. Priests at Templo Mayor killed prisoners in the same way, these sacrifices being replicas of mythical events designed to keep the daily battle between day and night and the birth of the God of War ever in the minds of the people. Often considered synonomous with QUETZALCOATL.
The Twisted Obsidian One, the God of the Curved Obsidian Blade. God of darkness and destruction. Blinded and cast down from the heavens, Itzcoliuhqui strikes out randomly at his victims.
Obsidian Butterfly. Beautiful, demonic, armed with the claws of a jaguar. The female counterpart of Itzcoliuhqui.
Below the world of living men there are nine underworlds, the lowest of which is Mictlan, the Land of the Dead ruled by Mictlantechupi and his consort Mictlancihuntl. Souls who win no merit in life come here after death, but they do not suffer as in the Christian hell. Instead they merely endure a rather drab and colorless existence before passing again into the world of the living. As a man disappears into the West, the direction of the dead, the seeds of his rebirth are sown.
"God of the Near and Close," "He Who Is at the Center," the god above all, the being both male and female who created all life and existence. Ometeotl is dualistic, embodying both male and female, light and dark, positive and negative, yes and no. Ometoetol occupies Omeyocan, the highest of the Aztecs' thirteen heavens, and the four heavens immediately below Omeyocan are a mystery about which no one knows very much. Below the five highest heavens is a region of strife and tempest, where Ometeotl breaks into his many facets or aspects.
The Feathered Serpent. The Precious Twin who lifts the sun out of darkness, god of the winds and the breath of life, First Lord of the Toltecs. Lawgiver, civilizer, creator of the calender. Demons tempted Quetzalcoatl constantly to commit murder and human sacrifice, but his love was too great for him to succumb. To atone for great sins, Quetzcoatl threw himself on into a funeral pyre, where his ashes rose to the heavens as a flock of birds carrying his heart to the star Venus. A frieze in the palace at Teotihuacan shows his first entry into the world in the shape of a chrysalis, from which he struggles to emerge as a butterfly, the symbol of perfection. Quetzalcoatl is by far the most compassionate of the Azec gods -- he only demands one human sacrifice a year. Often considered synonomous with HUITZILOPOTCHLI.
The Prince of This World, the Mirror that Smokes, the One Always at the Shoulder, the Shadow. A trickster, revered particularly by soldiers and magicians. The name refers to the black obsidian mirrors used by magicians which become cloudy when scrying. A god of wealth and power, Tezcatlopoca's favors can only be won by those willing to face his terrors. Ruler over the early years of a man's life.
Lord of all sources of water, clouds, rain, lightening, mountain springs, and weather.
Kingdom of Tlaloc, a heaven of sensual delights, of rainbows, butterflies and flowers, of simple-minded and shallow pleasures. Souls spend only four years here before returning to the land of the living. Unless it strives for higher and nobler things while living, a soul is destined for this endless round of mortal life and Tlalocan. When a life had been particularly evil, a soul might journey instead to Mictlan.
The land of the fleshless. The Land of the Black and Red, the colors signifying wisdom. A paradise for those who successfully follow the teachings of Quetzalcoatl. Those souls who come to Tlillan-Tlapallan have learned to live without fleshly bodies, a state greatly to be desired.
Eater of filth, devourer of sins, goddess of witches and witchcraft. Tlazolteotl has power over all forms of unclean behavior, usually sexual. Confessing sins to Tlazolteotl, one is cleansed. The goddess has four forms or aspects, corresponding to the phases of the moon: a young and carefree temptress, the lover of Quetzalcoatl; the Goddess of gambling and uncertainty; the Great Priestess who consumes and destroys the sins of mankind; and frightful old crone, persecutor and destroyer of youth.
God of the Sun. Poor and ill, Tonatiuh cast himself into the flames, and being burnt up, was resurrected. Daily Tonatiuh repeats his passage across the heavens, down into darkness, and back again into the sky. With him Tonatiuh carries all brave warriors who have died in battle and all brave women who have died in childbirth. The greatest heroes Tonatiuh carries with him to the greatest heights. In Tonatiuhican, the House of the Sun, dwell those who have won even greater enlightenment than those who dwell in Tlillan-Tlapallan.
Lord of the Spring, god of newly planted seed and of pentitential torture. A pockmarked saviour who tears out his eyes and flays himself in penance to the gods, thus persuading the gods to give maize to men. Giving up his pockmarked skin, Xipe Totec is then clad in robes of gold.
Lord of fire, Lord of the Pole Star, pivot of the universe, one of the forms of the Supreme Deity. The lord of every flame, from those which burn in the temples to those which burn in the lowliest huts.
The god with backward feet who brought Man as well as Fire from the underworlds. Bringer of misfortune. The evil aspect of the star Venus. Quetzalcoatl's deformed twin.
Return to Glossary Index.