Aztec Creation Myths


Mesoamerican creation myths are the collection of creation myths attributed to, or documented for, the various cultures and civilizations of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The Maya gods included Kukulkan (also known by the K'iche' name Gukumatz and the Aztec name Quetzalcoatl) and Tepeu. The two were referred to as the Creators, the Forefathers or the Makers. According to the story, the two gods decided to preserve their legacy by creating an Earth-bound species looking like them.

The first attempt was man made from mud, but Tepeu and Kukulkan found that the mud crumbled. The two gods summoned the other gods, and together they decided to make man from wood. However, since these men had no soul and soon lost loyalty to the creators, the gods destroyed them by rain. Finally, man was constructed from maize, the Mayans staple and sacred food. The deity Itzamna is credited as being the creator of the calendar along with creating writing.




Myth 3

Quetzalcoatl, the light one, and Tezcatlipoca, the dark one, looked down from their place in the sky and saw only water below.

A gigantic goddess floated upon the waters, eating everything with her many mouths. The two gods saw that whatever they created was eaten by this monster. They knew they must stop her, so they transformed themselves into two huge serpents and descended into the water. One of them grabbed the goddess by the arms while the other grabbed her around the legs, and before she could resist they pulled until she broke apart.

Her head and shoulders became the earth and the lower part of her body the sky. The other gods were angry at what the two had done and decided, as compensation for her dismemberment, to allow her to provide the necessities for people to survive; so from her hair they created trees, grass, and flowers; caves, fountains, and wells from her eyes; rivers from her mouth; hills and valleys from her nose; and mountains from her shoulders.

Still the goddess was often unhappy and the people could hear her crying in the night. They knew she wept because of her thirst for human blood, and that she would not provide food from the soil until she drank. So the gift of human hearts is given her. She who provides sustenance for human lives demands human lives for her own sustenance. So it has always been; so it will ever be.




Myth 3

The mother of the Aztec creation story was called "Coatlique", the Lady of the Skirt of Snakes.

Coatlicue was created in the image of the unknown, decorated with skulls, snakes, and lacerated hands. There are no cracks in her body and she is a perfect monolith (a totality of intensity and self-containment, yet her features were sqaure and decapitated).

Coatlique was first impregnated by an obsidian knife and gave birth to Coyolxanuhqui, goddess of the moon, and to a group of male offspring, who became the stars.

Then one day Coatlique found a ball of feathers, which she tucked into her bosom. Whe she looked for it later, it was gone, at which time she realized that she was again pregnant. Her children, the moon and stars did not believe her story. Ashamed of their mother, they resolved to kill her.

A goddess could only give birth once, to the original litter of divinity and no more. During the time that they were plotting her demise, Coatlicue gave birth to the fiery god of war, Huitzilopochtli.

With the help of a fire serpent, he destroyed his brothers and sister, murdering them in a rage. He beheaded Coyolxauhqui and threw her body into a deep gorge in a mountain, where it lies dismembered forever.

The natural cosmos of the Indians was born of catastrophe. The heavens literally crumbled to pieces. The earth mother fell and was fertilized, while her children were torn apart by fratricide and them scattered and disjointed throughout the universe.

Ometecuhlti and his wife Omecihuatl created all life in the world. Their children were:

  • Xipe Totec - The Lord of the Springtime
  • Huitzilopochtli - the Sun god
  • Quetzalcoatl - the Plumed Serpent
  • Tezcatlipoca - the god of Night and Sorcery
  • Coatlicue - She of the Serpent Skirt




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