Aztec Creation myths

Aztec Creation myths


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The Aztecs civilization flourished in Central America a few hundred years after the Mayans.

The creation myth according to the Aztecs is a continuous story of creations and destructions, called suns. The myth which tells the story of the creation is called the Legend of the Fifth Sun.

At the beginning of the world there was only darkness, void. Creation began when the dual Ometecuhtli (Lord of Duality) / Omecihuatl (Lady of Duality) created itself. This first god was good and bad, male and female, and gave birth to four other gods: Huizilopochtli, Quetzalcoatl, Tezcatlipoca and Xipe Totec . These gods created the world.

The first things created by Quetzalcoatl and Huitzilopochtli were fire and a half sun. They then undertook the creation of humanity by sacrificing a god whose blood drops on a mass of ground-up bones produced the first man and woman, named Oxomoco and Cipactonal respectively. The birth of each took 4 days.

After the creation of man, the gods continued creating the lords of the underworld, the heavens and waters, a crocodile-like water creature named Cipactli, and the rain god Tlaloc and his wife Chalchiuhtlicue.

When the initial creation was completed, a cycle of 5 suns followed which corresponded to 5 world ages, each one ending in destruction. According to the Aztecs, we are currently on the 5 th sun of the creation.

First Sun: The element of this first age is earth. Tezcatlipoca was chosen to be sacrificed to create an energy source for the planet, though he only managed to become a half sun.

During this age, a fight transpired between Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca. Quetzalcoatl was the victor, but Tezcatlipoca takes revenge by sending jaguars on Earth to destroy the giants. Thus came an end to the first sun.

Second sun: The element of this second age is air. Quetzalcoatl is in control in this era. Humans were created according to our current likeness but became corrupt. As a result, Tezcatlipoca transformed them into monkeys, and Quetzalcoatl sent hurricanes to wipe the monkeys out. There were survivors who, according to the legend, are current day monkeys.

Third Sun: The element of this age is fire and the god responsible for this era is Tlaloc, the god of rain and water. A fight ensued between Tezcatlipoca and Tlaloc when Tezcatlipoca stole Tlaloc’s wife. Out of revenge, Tlaloc transformed all of humanity into turkeys, dogs and butterflies. Quetzalcoatl rained fire and ash down on the atrocities, causing the destruction of humanity for the third time.

Fourth Sun: The element related to this world age is water, and god chosen to reign is Tlaloc’s sister, Calchiuhtlicue. During this sun, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca were filled with jealousy and brought the sun down. The population were turned into fish, and this age was ultimately terminated by a great flood.

Fifth Sun: This is said to be the age that we are currently in, and the god Nanahuatzin is responsible for it. The legend foretells that this era will end with earthquakes.

A representation of one version of the creation myth, along with the five suns, is thought to be inscribed on the Aztec Calendar Stone.

It is interesting to note that in Aztec legends, multiple Gods again play a prominent role in creation, and quarrels between gods determine the course of humanity in much the same way as in the Egyptian texts, Sumerian texts, Greek mythology, and the major religions.

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Important Aztec Gods and Goddesses

The Aztecs, the Late Postclassic civilization that the Spanish conquistadors met in Mexico in the 16h century, believed in a complex and diversified pantheon of gods and goddesses. Scholars studying the Aztec (or Mexica) religion have identified no fewer than 200 gods and goddesses, divided into three groups. Each group supervises one aspect of the universe: the heaven or the sky the rain, fertility and agriculture and, finally, war and sacrifice.

Often, the origins of the Aztec gods can be traced back to those from earlier Mesoamerican religions or shared by other societies of the day. Such deities are known as pan-Mesoamerican gods and goddesses. The following are the most important of the 200 deities of the Aztec religion.


Teachers find it confusing to see the Maya and the Mexica (Aztecs) so often mixed in together in books and on the internet. Just how did their belief systems differ? We look here at a key element in their outlook on the world - creation, and its links to calendar cycles. We&rsquore indebted to Panel of Experts members Mark Van Stone, Professor of Art History, Southwestern College, Kansas (USA), for his guidance and generous assistance with this article, based on material in his book 2012: Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya *, and Mary Miller, Sterling Professor of History of Art, Yale University. The deliberate simplification (we hope the bullet points style will help) and any ensuing errors are entirely our own responsibility! (Compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

Pic 1: Palenque&rsquos Temple of Inscriptions, funerary temple of K&rsquoinich Janaab Pakal, records a date far forward of December 21, 2012, indicating the Maya did not expect an end of time (Click on image to enlarge)

GENERAL POINTS
&bull Information on both Maya and Aztec creation accounts is fragmentary, contradictory (different versions exist!), has been misunderstood and even manipulated in the past (eg by the 15th century Aztec &lsquoprime minister&rsquo Tlacaélel), and contains errors (found on many many Maya monuments)
&bull There was/is NO mention of any impending destruction/end-of-the-world in 2012 (surprise, surprise) indeed there are many Maya monumental texts (see pic 1) implying that they expected life and the calendar to continue without interruption far beyond 2012
&bull Whilst the concept of cyclical time was all-important in ancient Mesoamerica, it shouldn&rsquot be taken to extremes: to both Maya and Aztecs each creation/era was an improvement on the previous one.

Pic 2: &lsquoMiddle America swarms with lost cities&rsquo: the view from Tikal Temple IV of Temples I and II (Click on image to enlarge)

PAST COLLAPSES
&bull &lsquoCultures worldwide suffer cycles of Rise and Fall, but those in Mesoamerica apparently lived in a more fragile environment when they fell, they fell hard. Unlike Rome, Baghdad, and other Old World cities who rebuilt after a collapse, most of the great Mesoamerican capitals were completely abandoned after their respective Falls. Middle America swarms with lost cities.&rsquo
&bull The Maya Popol Vuh myth describes 4 creations, whilst the Aztec Leyenda de los Soles (Legend of the Suns), though possibly based on the Maya account, has 5. No-one&rsquos quite sure why, but one possibility is that the Aztecs acknowledged, in their account, the devastating Maya Collapse (around 900 CE/AD). (Another is that they were referring to the burning and destruction of the ancient city of Teotihuacan, birth place for the Aztecs of the 5th Sun). Europe&rsquos ecology can withstand human abuse much more readily than a rainforest can. Exploding populations based in and around so many new cities denuded hundreds of square miles of forest and pushed the soil beyond its capacity. On top of this, a series of sustained droughts &lsquotipped the precarious, overstressed ecology into a human disaster&rsquo. Professor Van Stone believes the Creation-Destruction Myth Cycle peculiar to Mesoamerica reflects this history and was to become the Cycle of the Suns.

Pic 3: The original Aztec Sunstone, housed in Mexico&rsquos National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City (Click on image to enlarge)

WHY DO SCHOLARS USE THE AZTEC MYTH TO EXPLAIN MAYA CREATIONS?
&bull Surviving accounts of the Maya Creation Myth are literally just fragments. Though it&rsquos clear the Maya conceived a dizzying, intricately connected cosmology, working out its details is painfully difficult.
&bull We know the Aztecs adapted their Five Creations stories (called the &rsquoFive Suns&rsquo ) from Maya and other accounts, and in general we know far more about Aztec myths, because they&rsquore the most recent and were written down by their own scribes and by Spanish chroniclers, albeit in different versions
&bull Visually the best place to &lsquoread&rsquo the Aztec account is in the central section of the famous Sunstone (also known as Calendar Stone or Stone of the Suns) (pic 3). This account tallies well with one of the oldest and most coherent documents, the Leyenda de los Soles .

Pic 4: The centre &lsquopiece&rsquo of the Sunstone with first four &lsquoSuns&rsquo or world eras marked illustration by Miguel Covarrubias (Click on image to enlarge)

THE AZTEC SEQUENCE OF &lsquoSUNS&rsquo
( NB As noted above, not all sources agree the following is based on the Leyenda de los Soles and the Sunstone. )
&bull The first Sun is called and dated 4-Jaguar. According to the Leyenda de los Soles it lasted exactly 13 cycles of 52 years (the all-important ancient Mesoamerican Calendar Round, something like our &lsquocentury&rsquo) - ie 676 years. Its inhabitants (giants) were eaten by jaguars
&bull After an interval of unknown length, the second Sun was created, 4-Wind. This lasted 7 52-year cycles (364 years) its inhabitants (monkeys) were destroyed by hurricanes
&bull After another interval, the third Sun started, and ended, on 4-Rain. Lasting 6 52-year cycles (312 years), its inhabitants (turkeys) died in a rain of (volcanic) fire
&bull The fourth Sun, 4-Water, began with a 52-year flood, then lasted 13 more 52-year cycles (676 years) its inhabitants (fish) were washed away in a giant flood
&bull Each of these four previous creations (pic 4) was inherently unstable, ruled by gods in constant conflict
&bull Ours, 4-Movement, the last Sun, is based on duality, symmetry, stability and balance and COULD last forever, provided that balance is maintained IF it ends, it will be through cataclysmic earthquakes.

(You can study the Sunstone, and the details of the 4 previous &lsquoSuns&rsquo in our &lsquoInteractive Sunstone Experience&rsquo - link below. )

Pic 5: Artist&rsquos impression of the creation of humans from maize, inspired by the Popol Vuh (Click on image to enlarge)

COMMON FEATURES
&bull Both Aztec and Maya creation-cycle myths shared a common source
&bull Some of the dates are similar (eg 4-Movement, 4-Jaguar, 4- Ajaw . )
&bull Similar rhetorical structure
&bull Both accounts include (in the making of our present world) a descent to the underworld to retrieve the precious remains of humankind from the previous creation/the maize god
&bull Both describe each creation as improving on the previous one
&bull Both acknowledge the central role of maize/corn in giving life to the human inhabitants of our present world (pic 5)
&bull Both accounts clearly state this our present creation is the LAST
&bull Motivation for the Maya Popol Vuh destructions: gods displeased with their creation. Motivation for Aztec destructions: divine power struggles (though note that Quetzalcóatl and Tezcatlipoca agreed to cooperate in the creation of the present Fifth Sun)
&bull The Aztec account is much more complete and clear than the surviving Maya one
&bull Both are based on the existence of 5 directions - North, South, East, West and Centre ( axis mundi ). For the Aztecs each direction is associated with a particular &lsquoSun&rsquo or creation. For both Maya and Aztecs each direction is also associated with a particular deity, sacred colour, sacred tree, sacred bird.
&bull Both cultures also conceived the earth as flat (perhaps woven in some way - follow the third link below), as the back of a giant monster floating in water, and - for the present creation - with four giant trees (each a god) at the cardinal points holding up the sky, and a central &lsquoworld&rsquo tree providing the axis mundi and a path to the 13 heavens and 9 underworlds.

Pic 6: Plates 75-76 of the Madrid Codex, showing the 260-day ritual/divinatory calendar: each dot is a day, and footprints represent travel (Click on image to enlarge)

IMAGERY
&bull The Aztec Sunstone, despite its visual appeal, is NOT really an appropriate symbol of the Maya calendars. Using it is a bit like pointing to the Coliseum in Rome to illustrate Classical Greek architecture. A more appropriate Maya calendar symbol would be the ritual/divinatory calendar drawn in the Codex Madrid (see pic 6), in which each dot is a day (260 in total, corresponding to the days of the Maya Tzolk&rsquoin , the most important of the Maya calendars), footprints represent travel, the five sacred directions are shown, and a ring of 20 daysigns is also depicted.

START DATE
&bull For the Maya our present creation began on 13.0.0.0.0, which correlates to our 3114 BC(E). This date, written by the Maya as 4 Ajaw 8 Kumk&rsquou , is depicted on Stela C at Quirigua, Guatemala
&bull The Aztecs carved the start date of our Fifth Sun at the very top of the Sunstone. The date says 13-Reed and could have multiple &lsquoreadings&rsquo. It refers to the year the Stone was built (possibly 1479 CE, possibly early 16th century) and, according to some scholars (eg Gordon Brotherston) it is a number cipher for the start date of the last (just-finished-in-2012) &lsquoLong Count&rsquo (a calendar cycle of 5,125 years used extensively by the Maya ), ie 3114 BCE. According to the Leyenda de los Soles though, our Sun only began in the 12th century. Confusing!

Pic 7: The Creation of Man [from mud], Popol Vuh, watercolour by Diego Rivera (Click on image to enlarge)

THE MAYA SEQUENCE OF CREATIONS
Michael Coe provides a lovely, succinct summary of this in his book The Maya :-
&bull &lsquoThe Popol Vuh, the great epic of the K&rsquoiche&rsquo Maya , recounts that the forefather gods, Tepew and Q&rsquoukumatz, brought forth the earth from a watery void, and endowed it with animals and plants. Anxious for praise and veneration after the creation, the divine progenitors fashioned human-like figures from [1] mud (pic 7), but to mud they returned
&bull Next, a race of [2] wooden figures appeared, but the mindless manikins were destroyed by the gods, to be replaced by men made from [3] flesh
&bull These, however, turned to wickedness and were annihilated as black rains fell and a great flood swept the earth.
&bull Finally true men, the ancestors of the K&rsquoiche&rsquo, were created from [4] maize dough.

WORD OF CAUTION
from Mary Miller, Sterling Professor of History of Art, Yale University, and member of our Panel of Experts:-
Supernatural narratives taught to school children need to be candid in that, as the Mixtec once asked one another, &ldquoWhat was creation like in your valley?&rdquo, alluding to the fact that just because your origin story is different it is not necessarily incorrect. That is to say that there was no central religious authority that yielded orthodoxy. Perhaps that is one of the most interesting features [of these accounts].

Image sources:-
&bull Main picture (L) and pic 6: image downloaded from http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/madrid-codex.htm
&bull Main picture (R): original line drawing by and thanks to Tomás Filsinger colour graphic overlay by Phillip Mursell
&bull Pix 1 & 2: Photos by and thanks to Paul Johnson graphic by and courtesy of Mark Van Stone
&bull Pic 3: Photos by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore
&bull Pic 4: Illustration by Miguel Covarrubias, scanned from The Aztecs People of the Sun by Alfonso Caso, Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1958 (numbers added by Mexicolore)
&bull Pic 5: Illustration by, courtesy of and thanks to Luis Garay/Mexicolore
&bull Pic 7: Original picture by Diego Rivera, downloaded from http://www.diego-rivera-foundation.org/The-Creation-of-Man,-Popol-Vuh.html image courtesy of www.diego-rivera-foundation.org.

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Jan 12th 2016


Contents

From the void that was the rest of the universe, the first god, Ometeotl, created itself. [ citation needed ] Ometeotl was both male and female, good and evil, light and darkness, fire and water, judgment and forgiveness, the god of duality. [ citation needed ] Ometeotl gave birth to four children, the four Tezcatlipocas, who each preside over one of the four cardinal directions. [ citation needed ] Over the West presides the White Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, the god of light, mercy and wind. Over the South presides the Blue Tezcatlipoca, Huitzilopochtli, the god of war. Over the East presides the Red Tezcatlipoca, Xipe Totec, the god of gold, farming and Spring time. And over the North presides the Black Tezcatlipoca, also called simply Tezcatlipoca, the god of judgment, night, deceit, sorcery and the Earth. [1]

First sun Edit

It was four gods who eventually created all the other gods and the world we know today, but before they could create they had to destroy, for every time they attempted to create something, it would fall into the water beneath them and be eaten by Cipactli, the giant earth crocodile, who swam through the water with mouths at every one of her joints. The four Tezcatlipocas descended the first people who were giants. They created the other gods, the most important of whom were the water gods: Tlaloc, the god of rain and fertility and Chalchiuhtlicue, the goddess of lakes, rivers and oceans, also the goddess of beauty. To give light, they needed a god to become the sun and the Black Tezcatlipoca was chosen, but either because he had lost a leg or because he was god of the night, he only managed to become half a sun. The world continued on in this way for some time, but a sibling rivalry grew between Quetzalcoatl and his brother the mighty sun, who Quetzalcoatl knocked from the sky with a stone club. With no sun, the world was totally black and in his anger, Tezcatlipoca commanded his jaguars to eat all the people. [2]

Second sun Edit

The gods created a new group of people to inhabit the Earth, this time they were of normal size. Quetzalcoatl became the new sun and as the years passed, the people of the Earth grew less and less civilized and stopped showing proper honor to the gods. As a result, Tezcatlipoca demonstrated his power and authority as god of sorcery and judgment by turning the animalistic people into monkeys. Quetzalcoatl, who had loved the flawed people as they were, became upset and blew all of the monkeys from the face of the Earth with a mighty hurricane. He then stepped down as the sun to create a new people.

Third sun Edit

Tlaloc became the next sun, but Tezcatlipoca seduced and stole his wife Xochiquetzal, the goddess of sex, flowers and corn. Tlaloc then refused to do anything other than wallow in his own grief, so a great drought swept the world. The people's prayers for rain annoyed the grieving sun and he refused to allow it to rain, but the people continued to beg him. Then, in a fit of rage he answered their prayers with a great downpour of fire. It continued to rain fire until the entire Earth had burned away. The gods then had to construct a whole new Earth from the ashes.

Fourth sun Edit

The next sun and also Tlaloc's new wife, was Chalchiuhtlicue. She was very loving towards the people, but Tezcatlipoca was not. Both the people and Chalchiuhtlicue felt his judgment when he told the water goddess that she was not truly loving and only faked kindness out of selfishness to gain the people's praise. Chalchiuhtlicue was so crushed by these words that she cried blood for the next fifty-two years, causing a horrific flood that drowned everyone on Earth. Humans became fish in order to survive.

Fifth sun Edit

Quetzalcoatl would not accept the destruction of his people and went to the underworld where he stole their bones from the god Mictlantecuhtli. He dipped these bones in his own blood to resurrect his people, who reopened their eyes to a sky illuminated by the current sun, Huitzilopochtli. [1]

The Tzitzimimeh, or stars, became jealous of their brighter, more important brother Huitzilopochtli. Their leader, Coyolxauhqui, goddess of the moon, lead them in an assault on the sun and every night they come close to victory when they shine throughout the sky, but are beaten back by the mighty Huitzilopochtli who rules the daytime sky. To aid this all-important god in his continuing war, the Aztecs offer him the nourishment of human sacrifices. They also offer human sacrifices to Tezcatlipoca in fear of his judgment, offer their own blood to Quetzalcoatl, who opposes fatal sacrifices, in thanks of his blood sacrifice for them and give offerings to many other gods for many purposes. Should these sacrifices cease, or should mankind fail to please the gods for any other reason, this fifth sun will go black, the world will be shattered by a catastrophic earthquake, and the Tzitzimitl will slay Huitzilopochtli and all of humanity.

Most of what is known about the ancient Aztecs comes from the few codices to survive the Spanish conquest. Their myths can be confusing not only because of the lack of documentation, but also because there are many popular myths that seem to contradict one another because they were originally passed down by word of mouth and because the Aztecs adopted many of their gods from other tribes, both assigning their own new aspects to these gods and endowing them with aspects of similar gods from various other cultures. Older myths can be very similar to newer myths while contradicting one another by claiming that a different god performed the same action, probably because myths changed in correlation to the popularity of each of the gods at a given time.

Other variations on this myth state that Coatlicue, the earth goddess, was the mother of the four Tezcatlipocas and the Tzitzimitl. Some versions say that Quetzalcoatl was born to her first, while she was still a virgin, often mentioning his twin brother Xolotl, the guide of the dead and god of fire. Tezcatlipoca was then born to her by an obsidian knife, followed by the Tzitzimitl and then Huitzilopochtli. The most popular variation including Coatlicue depicts her giving birth first to the Tzitzimitl. Much later she gave birth to Huitzilopochtli when a mysterious ball of feathers appeared to her. The Tzitzimitl then decapitated the pregnant Coatlicue, believing it to be insulting that she had given birth to another child. Huitzilopochtli then sprang forth from her womb wielding a serpent of fire and began his epic war with the Tzitzimitl, who were also referred to as the Centzon Huitznahuas. Sometimes he is said to have decapitated Coyolxauhqui and either used her head to make the moon or thrown it into a canyon. Further variations depict the ball of feathers as being the father of Huitzilopochtli or the father of Quetzalcoatl and sometimes Xolotl.

Other variations of this myth claim that only Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca were born to Ometeotl, who was replaced by Coatlicue in this myth probably because it had absolutely no worshipers or temples by the time the Spanish arrived. It is sometimes said that the male characteristic of Ometeotl is named Ometecuhtli and that the female characteristic is named Omecihualt. Further variations on this myth state that it was only Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca who pulled apart Cipactli, also known as Tlaltecuhtli [ citation needed ] , and that Xipe Totec and Huitzilopochtli then constructed the world from her body. Some versions claim that Tezcatlipoca actually used his leg as bait for Cipactli, before dismembering her.

The order of the first four suns varies as well, though the above version is the most common. Each world's end correlates consistently to the god that was the sun at the time throughout all variations of the myth, though the loss of Xochiquetzal is not always identified as Tlaloc's reason for the rain of fire, which is not otherwise given and it is sometimes said that Chalchiuhtlicue flooded the world on purpose, without the involvement of Tezcatlipoca. It is also said that Tezcatlipoca created half a sun, which his jaguars then ate before eating the giants.

The fifth sun however is sometimes said to be a god named Nanauatzin. In this version of the myth, the gods convened in darkness to choose a new sun, who was to sacrifice himself by jumping into a gigantic bonfire. The two volunteers were the young son of Tlaloc and Chalchiuhtlicue, Tecuciztecatl, and the old Nanauatzin. It was believed that Nanauatzin was too old to make a good sun, but both were given the opportunity to jump into the bonfire. Tecuciztecatl tried first but was not brave enough to walk through the heat near the flames and turned around. Nanauatzin then walked slowly towards and then into the flames and was consumed. Tecuciztecatl then followed. The braver Nanauatzin became what is now the sun and Tecuciztecatl became the much less spectacular moon. A god that bridges the gap between Nanauatzin and Huitzilopochtli is Tonatiuh, who was sick, but rejuvenated himself by burning himself alive and then became the warrior sun and wandered through the heavens with the souls of those who died in battle, refusing to move if not offered enough sacrifices.


Growing a Home in the Basin

The city grew rapidly, filling up with palaces and well-organized residential areas and aqueducts providing fresh water to the city from the mountains. At the center of the city stood the sacred precinct with ball courts, schools for nobles, and priests' quarters. The ceremonial heart of the city and of the whole empire was the Great Temple of Mexico-Tenochtitlán, known as the Templo Mayor or Huey Teocalli (the Great House of the Gods). This was a stepped pyramid with a double temple on top dedicated to Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc, the main deities of the Aztecs.

The temple, decorated with bright colors, was rebuilt many times during Aztec history. The seventh and final version was seen and described by Hernán Cortés and the conquistadors. When Cortés and his soldiers entered the Aztec capital on November 8, 1519, they found one of the largest cities in the world.


How the World Will End, According to the Aztecs

The Aztecs were a Mesoamerican civilization that existed from the 13th to the 15th centuries. They dominated central Mexico and united numerous city-states by the 15th century. Their language of Nahuatl was the dominant language of central Mexico by the mid-13th century, and many words from their language were incorporated into Spanish and English, including chili, avocado, coyote, and chocolate.

The Aztecs had a creation myth known as the Five Suns which referred to the five worlds that existed. According to the Aztecs, there had been four worlds before the current world, and that the current world or sun was the final one. Each of the worlds that the Aztecs focused on had ended in very specific ways large based upon the anger of the Gods.

The Aztec creation myth began with one god, Ometeotl, who emerged from the void of the universe. Ometeotl was both male and female and ended up giving birth to four children, known as the four Tezcatlipocas. Each Tezcatlipoca presided over one of the four cardinal directions. The White Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl, presided over the West as the god of light, mercy, and wind. The Blue Tezcatlipoca, Huitzilopochtli, presided over the South as the god of war. The Red Tezcatlipoca, Xipe Totec, presided over the East as the god of gold, farming, and Spring. Finally, the Black Tezcatlipoca, Tezcatlipoca, presided over the North as the god of judgement, night, deceit, sorcery, and the Earth itself.

Huitzilopochtli. Mythopedia

These four gods created the world and all other gods. They created Chalchiuhtlicue for the bodies of water, and Tlaloc to be the god of rain. But there was no light, so Black Tezcatlipoca was chosen to be the sun, but for some reason he only managed to become half a sun. Then they created the people who were giants. This world flourished for a period until Quetzalcoatl became jealous of his brother Tezcatlipoca and knocked him out of the sky, plunging the world in darkness. Tezcatlipoca retaliated by having jaguars eat all the people of the world.

The gods created a new people to inhabit the Earth and this time they were of average size. Quetzalcoatl became the new sun and again the world flourished for a time. Eventually the people became less civilized and stopped showing the gods the honor that they deserved. Tezcatlipoca decided that the humans needed to be punished and turned them all in to monkeys. This angered Quetzalcoatl, who had loved the people regardless of their flaws, so he sent a hurricane to Earth to blow all the monkeys away.

Then the gods decided once again to create a new world and this time it was Tlaloc that would be the next sun. Once again, for a period the world flourished until Tezcatlipoca seduced the wife of Tlaloc. The rain god became distraught and would do nothing but wallow in grief over the loss of his wife. The world suffered a severe drought which led to the people constantly praying for rain. Tlaloc became angry at their prayers and rained fire down on the people. All of them were destroyed except for the birds and those people who managed to become birds.

What was the final end to the world, and how do the Aztecs believe our current world will end? Read on to find out.


According to Aztec mythology the present world is a product of four cycles of birth, death, and reincarnation. When each world is destroyed it is reborn through the sacrifice of a god. The god’s sacrifice creates a new sun, which creates a new world. The myth is sometimes referred to as the “Legend of Five Suns.” [2]

Jaguars, a hurricane, fire rain, and a flood destroyed the first four suns. [3] After the fourth sun was destroyed the gods gathered to choose a god to become the new sun. Tecuciztecatl , a boastful and proud god, offered himself up for sacrifice. However, the rest of gods favored Nanahuatzin , the smallest and humblest god. The gods built a grand fire, but at the last second Tecuciztecatl refused to jump into the fire because he was too afraid of the pain. Instead, Nanahuatzin jumped in the fire. Embarrassed by Nanahuatzin ’s sacrifice, Tecuciztecatl followed him into the fire. The two suns rose in the sky, but they were too bright. The gods threw a rabbit at Tecuciztecatl to dim his light, and he turned into the moon. This is the reason why the Aztec people say there is a rabbit that lives on the moon. [3]

Still however, the sun remained motionless in the sky, burning the ground below. The gods then recognized they all must be sacrificed so that the people could survive. The god Ehecatl helped offering them up. The sacrifices made the sun move through the sky, energizing earth instead of burning it.

Human sacrifice Edit

In the Aztec tradition, the Fifth World is the last one and after this one the earth will not be recreated. [2] This is why the Aztecs practised human sacrifice. The gods would only keep the sun alive as long as the Aztecs continued providing them with blood. [4] Their worldview held a deep sense of indebtedness. Blood sacrifice was an often-used form of nextlahualli or debt-payment. Franciscan Friar Bernardino de Sahagún wrote in his ethnography of Mesoamerica that the victim was someone who "gave his service.” [5]

The Navajo, who were neighbors of the Hopi in the southwest, borrow elements of the Pueblo people’s emergence myths in their creation stories. [6] The Navajo creation story has parallels to the Biblical book of Genesis. The early Judaic-Christian concept of the world is similar to the Navajo concept of the world. This world is one where the earth is an area of land floating in an ocean covered by a domed heaven. The domed heaven fits the land and ocean like a lid with its edges on the horizon. The Navajo creation story traces the evolution of life through four previous worlds until the people reach the fifth and present world. As the people passed through each of the previous four worlds, they went through evolution. They started out as insects and various animals until they became human in the Fourth World. [7]

Upon arriving in the Fourth World the First Man was not satisfied. The land was barren. He planted a reed and it grew to the roof of the Fourth World. First Man sent the badger up the reed, but water began to drip before he could reach top so he returned. Next a locust climbed the reed. The locust made a headband with two crossed arrows on his forehead. With the help of all the gods the locust reached the Fifth World. When he pushed through mud he reached water and saw a black water bird swimming towards him. [8] The bird told the locust that he could only stay if he could make magic. The locust took the arrows from his headband and pulled them through his body, between his shell and his heart. The black bird was convinced that the locust possessed great medicine, and he swam away taking the water with him. The locust returned to the lower world.

Now two days had passed and there was no sun. First Man sent the badger up to the Fifth World again. The badger returned covered with mud from a flood. First Man collected turquoise chips to offer to the five Chiefs of the Winds. They were satisfied with the gift, and they dried the Fifth World. When the badger returned he said that he had come out on dry earth. So First Man led the rest of people to the upper world. So with the explicit help of the gods the people reached the Fifth World similar to the Aztec creation story.

Now after all the people had arrived from the lower worlds First Man and First Woman placed the mountain lion on one side and the wolf on the other. They divided the people into two groups. The first group chose the wolf for their chief. The mountain lion was the chief for the other side. The people who had the mountain lion chief turned were to be the people of the Earth. The people with the wolf chief became the animals. [6]

Navajo medicine men say there are two worlds above the Fifth World. The first is the World of the Spirits of Living Things and the second is the Place of Melting into One. [9]

The Navajo legends are an oral account that is passed down from generation to generation. There are various versions of the story — as there are in any oral account — but the variations are slight. [7]

The Hopi’s creation myth is slightly different than the creation myths of the Aztecs and Navajo. The Hopi believe we are currently living in the Fourth World, but are on the threshold of the Fifth World. [ citation needed ]

In each of the three previous worlds, humanity was destroyed by destructive practices and wars. In the most common version of the story the Spider Grandmother (Kookyangso'wuuti) caused a reed to grow into the sky, and it emerged in the Fourth World at the sipapu, a small tunnel or inter-dimensional passage. As the end of one world draws near the sipapu appears to lead the Hopi into the next phase of the world. [10]


Aztec Gods

The Aztecs named and worshipped nearly 1000 Aztec gods. However, the most prominent god to the Aztecs was the sun god. One of the most celebrated religious days was the O'Nothing Days. During this time, priests would get dressed up like gods and go to an extinct volcano to perform human sacrifices. These sacrifices would occur when the evening star rose high in the sky. The captive would be placed over either a stone chosen just for this purpose or an altar. The victims' hearts would be set on fire and torn out of their chests. Once removed from their bodies, it would be lifted toward the sun and placed in a dish that was believed to be sacred. The bodies of the sacrificed would be pushed down the stairs of the temple. It may be surprising to learn that many of the sacrificed were happy to give up their bodies, as they believed that it was their instant ticket to heaven.


The Aztec Flood Stories

There are several accounts of Aztec Flood stories, but authors argue that the most famous of them all is that of Nota, the Aztec version of Noah.

When the Sun Age came, there had passed 400 years. Then came 200 years, then 76. Then all mankind was lost and drowned and turned to fishes. The water and the sky drew near each other. In a single day, all was lost. But before the Flood began, Titlachahuan had warned the man Nota and his wife Nena, saying, ‘Make no more pulque, but hollow a great cypress, into which you shall enter the month Tozoztli. The waters shall near the sky.’ They entered, and when Titlachahuan had shut them in he said to the man, ‘Thou shalt eat but a single ear of maize, and thy wife but one also.’ And when they had each eaten one ear of maize, they prepared to go forth, for the water was tranquil. (source)

— Ancient Aztec document Codex Chimalpopoca, translated by Abbé Charles Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg.

IF we take a look at the Five Suns, the doctrine of the Aztec and other Nahua peoples we will find the following eras, creations, and destructions:

  • Nahui-Ocelotl(Jaguar Sun) – Inhabitants were giants who were devoured by jaguars. The world was destroyed.
  • Nahui-Ehécatl(Wind Sun) – Inhabitants were transformed into monkeys. This world was destroyed by hurricanes.
  • Nahui-Quiahuitl(Rain Sun) – Inhabitants were destroyed by a rain of fire. Only birds survived (or inhabitants survived by becoming birds).
  • Nahui-Atl(Water Sun) – This world was flooded turning the inhabitants into fish. A couple escaped but were transformed into dogs.
  • Nahui-Ollin(Earthquake Sun) – We are the inhabitants of this world. This world will be destroyed by earthquakes (or one large earthquake).

The fourth one, Nahui-Atl describes what many believe is a great flood: This world was flooded turning the inhabitants into fish. A couple escaped but were transformed into dogs.

“The fourth sun, Nahui-Atl, “Four-Water,” ended in a gigantic flood that lasted for 52 years. Only one man and one woman are said to have survived, sheltered in a huge cypress. But they were turned into dogs by Tezcatlipoca, whose orders they had disobeyed,”—Britannica.

After the Nahui-Atl comes the Nahui-Ollin, the world we live in today, which, according to Aztec mythology, will be destroyed by one large earthquake.

Different versions of Mesoamerican floods, especially those by the Aztec people tell that after the great flood, there were no survivors, and creation had to start from the beginning, while other accounts describe how current humans are descended from a small number of survivors.

Before the great Flood which occurred around 4,800 years after the creation of our world, the country of Anahuac was inhabited by giants, all of whom either perished in the inundation or were transformed into fishes, save seven who fled into caverns.

When the waters receded, one of the giants, Xelhua, surnamed the ‘Architect,’ traveled to Cholula, where, as a memorial of the Tlaloc which had served for asylum to himself and his six brethren, he built an artificial hill in the form of a pyramid.

He ordered bricks to be made in the province of Tlalmanalco, at the foot of the Sierra of Cecotl, and in order to convey them to Cholula, he placed a file of men who passed them from hand to hand.

The gods beheld, with wrath, an edifice the top of which was to reach the clouds. Irritated at the daring attempt of Xelhua, they hurled fire on the pyramid.

Numbers of the workmen perished.

The work was discontinued, and the monument was afterward dedicated to Quetzalcoatl.

Giants lived on Earth before the flood, and Xelhua was one of the seven giants in Aztec mythology who escaped the flood by ascending the mountain of Tlaloc in the terrestrial paradise and afterwards built the Great Pyramid of Cholula.

A Dominican monk wrote this account:

Xelhua was a giant of the “time of the universal deluge.” He was one of the seven giants in the Aztec culture. Before the pyramid in Mesoamerica was complete, “fire fell upon it, causing the death of its builders and the abandonment of the work.”


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