Deviant Art: Aztec gods

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I haven’t done one of these in a while, so here we go! Today I’m featuring some cool art of Aztec gods/goddesses. If you like the art, be sure to click on over to Deviant Art, to check out the other work these fabulous artists have made. One of these was an illustration for one of my short stories, published in Space & Time Magazine. I’ve also included some brief discussion of the mythology behind each god.


Coyolxauhqui Moon Godess by Cangrejo-Volador on deviantART

Coyolxauhqui is the sorceress sister of the war god Huitzilopochtli. The story goes that when her mother became pregnant with Huitzilopochtli, she sent her brothers to kill her, but Huitzilopochtli sprang from his mother’s womb fully-grown and slew his brothers. He then chased his sister into the mountains, and when he finally caught her, he chopped her into pieces and tossed her head into the sky to create the moon.


Tezcatlipoca by doingwell on deviantART

Tezcatlipoca, also known as the Smoking Mirror, is the god of darkness and deceit, of sorcery and war. He’s credited with helping Quetzalcoatl create the earth by tearing the earth monster Cipactli in half, and during that task, he lost his foot, which he replaced with a magic obsidian mirror. It is also said that he and Quetzalcoatl constantly battled each other for supremacy in the Heavens where they would knock each other from the sky, causing the end of the world each time (the Aztecs believed the world had ended four times, and a fifth time was not that far off).


Jade Bones by MartinHanford1974 on deviantART

Mictlantecuhtli was the god of death and the ruler of the Aztec underworld, Mictlan. All those who didn’t die at the sacrifice would have to walk the road into Mictlan once they died, and to buy their eternal rest, they had to cut out their own hearts and give them to Mictlantecuhtli. The god of the dead wasn’t considered a very smart god; in the old tales, the god Quetzalcoatl traveled into the underworld to steal some bones to make the new generation of humans, but Mictlantecuhtli wouldn’t let him have them unless he could play a rock like a flute. Quetzalcoatl convinced some worms to eat holes in the rock, making it into a flute, and foiled Mictlantecuhtli’s plans.


Our Lord the Flayed One by DougDougmann on deviantART

Xipe Totec was the god of agriculture. He was known as the Flayed One because it was said that he had flayed himself to make the crops grown, and so every year the priests would flay a sacrificial victim and wear the skin, to honor this sacrifice.


Huitzilopochtli by AdriansWall on deviantART

Huitzilopochtli is the Aztec god of war, and in addition to his origin story already told above, he is also credited with leading the Mexica (the Aztecs) out of slavery in Aztlan, and told them that they should build their capital where they found an eagle perched on a cactus, eating a snake. Said eagle was eventually discovered on the island where Tenochtitlan was built out on Lake Texcoco. He and the rain god Tlaloc were the highest gods in Tenochtitlan, each having a temple atop the Temple Mayor in the heart of the city.


Tlaloc by DougDougmann on deviantART

Tlaloc the rain god was perhaps the most important and oldest deity in the pantheon. He poured rain from jars in the clouds and oversaw Tlalocan, the paradise where those who drowned went after they died.


Yo tambien Desaparecere by LiamSkitso on deviantART

Quetzalcoatl, also known as the Feathered Serpent or Precious Twin, was the god of civilization; he gave humanity life with his own blood, and he gave them the arts of writing and calendar-keeping. He was the light to Tezcatlipoca’s darkness, which was why they were always at odds. He was the founder of the priesthood, and the highest priests took his name for their title. He was also believed to be the father of the royal bloodline through Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, the legendary priest-king of the Toltecs.

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