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History, Religion

Aztec priests, Aztec religion, Tezcatlipoca, Aztec civilization, Aztec mythology

As an agricultural society, Aztec civilization was greatly affected by the forces of nature; Aztec mythology, consequently, revolved around the worship of gods who represented the Earth, rain, and the Sun. The appeasement of such gods through human sacrifice, a practice already well established in Mesoamerica, was an indispensable part of Aztec religion. According to one Aztec belief, the Sun required daily offerings in order to ensure that it would rise again the next day.

Aztec priests typically offered the gods human hearts and blood from just-killed victims—most often male prisoners who had been captured in battle and later marched or dragged to the top of a ceremonial pyramid. The need for new sacrificial victims was one factor that pushed the warlike Aztec to continuously seek new territory and peoples to conquer.

Aztec religion also included worship of the plumed serpent Quetzalcoatl, the god of wind and learning. According to Aztec legend, Quetzalcoatl had been tricked and disgraced by another god, Tezcatlipoca, and then traveled to the east. He vowed to return and destroy those who worshiped his enemies. By the early 1500s, word of the arrival of the Spaniards in the Caribbean Sea had traveled to the Aztecs, triggering rumors that an angry Quetzalcoatl had returned to exact his revenge. While the Aztecs would soon learn that the Spanish conquerors were not gods, the prophecies of great destruction coming from the east would prove to be a reality.

Article key phrases:

Aztec priests, Aztec religion, Tezcatlipoca, Aztec civilization, Aztec mythology, god of wind, Mesoamerica, male prisoners, appeasement, human sacrifice, Aztecs, forces of nature, agricultural society, Caribbean Sea, Spaniards, new territory, gods, peoples, rumors, enemies, revenge, blood, worship, battle, Earth, factor, rain, arrival, word, reality, practice, learning, east, day, order, need


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