Aztec Gods – Names, myths, rituals and characteristics

We explain what the main Aztec gods were, the characteristics of each one, their origin, various myths and rituals.

aztec gods quetzalcoatl
The religion of the Aztecs was born from their own legacy along with the Mesoamerican tradition.

What were the main Aztec gods?

The Aztecs, also called Mexica, they constituted one of the most important Mesoamerican civilizations of the late postclassic period (1325-1521) from the central Mesoamerican region. They founded the city of Mexico-Tenochtitlán (today Mexico City) and also the most powerful state in the region at that time: the Aztec Empire, the Mexica Empire or the Tenochca Empire.

Said empire was ruled by the so-called Triple Alliance, of which the Mexica were part along with their allies from Texcoco and Tlacopán, but the former ended up ruling the alliance, and by the time the Spanish conquerors arrived in Mesoamerica, the empire it was clearly administered from Tenochtitlán.

The Aztecs politically and socially subdued neighboring Mesoamerican cultures, earning a hatred that later served the European colonists to win local allies in their war of conquest against the empire, which would end up collapsing in the year 1521.

The Mexica They were a Nahua tribe, endowed with their own identity, with their beliefs and divinities, which they took with them on their march to the Valley of Mexico, around the 13th century. Nomads of origin, in just 200 years they had built one of the most important empires in pre-Columbian America, as a result of their settlement in Tenochtitlán.

From there they came into contact with a vast Mesoamerican cultural heritage, which they knew how to integrate with their own legacy. Thus was born the polytheistic and warlike religion of the Aztecs, of which human sacrifices formed common currency.

Next we will see what and who were the main gods that the Mexica worshiped.


Aztec gods Huitzilopochtli
Huitzilopochtli guided the Aztecs to the place where they founded their city.

The main deity of the Mexica religion was Huitzilopochtli, solar god of war, whose cult reached the Valley of Mexico and the Central Mesoamerican Altiplano together with the Mexica, and due to their imposition, it became the most widespread in the region by the time of the arrival of the Spaniards.

Its name can be translated as “southern hummingbird” or “left hummingbird”, and its main temple was in Huitzilopochco (today Churubusco, south of Mexico City). The festivals in his honor were celebrated by the Aztecs once a year, with the name of panquetzaliztli.

According to the myth, Huitzilopochtli ordered the Aztecs to march towards the southern lands, towards what was later Tenochtitlán. Their indication was that they advance until they found an eagle devouring a snake on a cactus, since that would be the omen that would indicate the place to settle. This is what his followers did, and for that reason this image is found today on the shield and flag of Mexico.

The paradox is that, despite its enormous importance for the Mexica, not many representations of Huitzilopochtli survive, since it was one of their original gods.

Son of the goddess of fertility (Coatlicue) and of the young sun (Tonatiuh), he was despised by his 400 older brothers, who decided to kill him at birth to wash away family dishonor; but the newborn took the mythical weapon of the Aztec gods, the fire serpent or xiuhcóatl and easily defeated his enemies.

Later he took the decapitated head of his sister Coyolxauhqui and threw it into the sky, making her ruler of the moon, while reserving the sun for himself.


One of the great gods shared by almost all the peoples of this civilization, and one of the main gods of the Mexica pantheon. He was considered the god of light, fertility, winds, civilization and knowledge, associated with the color white.

Its name translates to “feathered serpent”, and that is the most common way it was represented: the serpent metaphorizes the earthly human body, and the feathers its intangible spiritual principles.

Quetzalcoatl He was one of the four primal gods of Nahuatl mythology, children of the original couple (a kind of Adam and Eve), and among them he occupied the place of the White Tezcatlipoca.

It also had a presence in the Toltec religion, in which its name was used to refer to the high priests, and also for the Olmecs, Mayans, Pipiles, Teotihuacans, etc. Its dragon-like forms can be found in ruins and fragments from very different regions of the Mesoamerican region.


aztec gods tlolec
Tlaloc could be both a generous and a destructive god.

Known as Chaac by the Mayans, Tlaloc He is the god of water, who the Mexica held responsible for the rains, storms and earthquakes. They honored him during the first month of each new year, along with the Toltecs, Tlaxcalans, Mayans, Nahuas and others, since it is one of the oldest deities of Mesoamerican culture.

Like many other Mesoamerican deities, Tlaloc’s nature contained contradictory conditions, and he could be both a generous and life-giving god, as well as a destructive and annihilating god. Lightning was his, for example hailstorms, floods, frosts and, of course, droughts.

He was always represented with a black or blue face, sometimes green, imitating the colors of water in nature, and their dresses used to paint drops of water as a symbol.

The festivities in honor of Tlaloc were celebrated by marching to the sacred peaks, among dancers, and carrying the sacrifice of seven beautifully adorned children, lying on stretchers strewn with flowers and feathers. Her tears, on the way, were understood as omens of lush rains.

Once at the temple at the top, the priests of Tlaloc proceeded to tear out their hearts, to offer them to the god. Generally those sacrificed in this way were slave children or second sons of the Mexican nobles.


God from Toltec mythology, shared by many Mesoamerican peoples, including the Aztecs, as the god of providence, of the invisible, of darkness. It acted as a counterpart to the luminous Quetzalcóatl, being therefore associated with the color black. Together with Huitzilopochtli, Quetzalcóatl and Xipe Tótec they made up the four creator gods, descendants of the original couple (Ometéotl).

To Tezcatlipoca He was always represented with a black stripe on his face, often wearing an obsidian mirror on his chest, in which he could see reflected human actions and thoughts, and from which a smoke could rise that killed his rivals. It was associated with the northern side of the universe, the flint knife, the night, and all material things.

He was the lord of the natural world, in opposition to the spirituality of Quetzalcóatl. To him were, at the same time, consecrated wars and beautiful girls, and the festivals in his honor were the second most important for the Aztecs, after Huitzilopochtli.

On those occasions, a slave was taken and treated like a king for a year, in preparation for his ritual sacrifice, carried out after walking the streets of the town to the rhythm of a flute. Finally, in the main temple of Tenochtitlán, the four flutes were broken and the heart was torn out.


Aztec gods Coatlicue
Coatlicue was revered as the mother of the gods.

Goddess of fertility from Mexica mythology, guide to rebirth and mother of Huitzilopochtli, was commonly revered as the mother of the gods or Tonantzin, and represented as a woman with sagging breasts, who wears a skirt of snakes and a necklace of hearts and human hands. She was betrothed to Mixcoatl, god of storms.

According to the myth, she was the mother of the four hundred southern gods (to each corresponding a star in the sky), and gave birth to Huitzilopochtli after collecting a beautiful plumage fallen from the sky and placing it in her womb, magically becoming pregnant.

This sudden pregnancy offended her children, who, instigated by their daughter Coyolxauhqui, decided to murder the newborn. Instead, they were all killed by the newborn god of war.


God shared by Mexica and other Mesoamerican mythology, associated with the wind and described as one of the manifestations of the feathered serpent, Quetzalcóatl.

It was associated with change, the cardinal points, the vital breath of living beings and the breeze that the rain brings to the fields, so that he was a fundamental god for creation. According to the Aztec religion, the movement of the sun and the moon, which were originally fixed in the sky, is due to its breath.

Another story about Ehécatl says that he fell madly in love with a human girl and, so that she could reciprocate, gave all humanity the ability to love. He was represented with a mask equipped with a red beak, with three arms and a snail on his chest; and it was worshiped in circular temples, offering the least possible resistance to the breeze.


Also known as Taras (Michoacán) and Camaxtle (Tlaxcala), it is the Mexica god of storms, hunting and war, father of Quetzalcóatl and husband in the Aztec tradition of Coatlicue.

The Aztecs believed that the Milky Way was one of its manifestations, and given its origin from the Otomíes, it was considered along with Xipe Totec as foreign gods by the Nahua peoples. For this reason, it is not easy to distinguish the cult of Mixcóatl from its very similar variants of the Tlaxcalans, Huexotzincas, who honored similar deities with other names.

Xipe Totec

aztec gods xipe totec
Xipe Tótec embodies the idea of ​​the regeneration of nature.

Deity of life, death and resurrection of the Aztec pantheon, his name can be translated as “our flayed lord”, and represents the male part of the universe: it is associated with agriculture, vegetation, diseases, youth and corn Tender, that the god made grow by invoking the rain with his chicahuaztli, a percussion musical instrument.

Xipe Tótec embodies the idea of ​​the regeneration of nature, that is, of the need to get rid of the old to give way to the new, and the passage from dry soil to fertile soil. This was represented by its lack of skin, since the Mexica associated it with the skin of hunted animals, although its traditional red color is typical of all the Mexican gods associated with corn. It was a deity that the Aztecs shared with the Zapotecs and the Yope peoples.

In the Nahuatl cosmogony Xipe Tótec was the Red Tezcatlipoca, one of the primal gods, creators of the horizontal and vertical universe, children of the primeval couple: Ometechutli and Omecíhuatl.


God of creation of Mexica mythology, it is understood as a double god: Ometecuhtli (“Two gentlemen” in Nahuatl) and Omecíhuatl (“Two ladies” in Nahuatl). At the same time lord and lady of duality, it represents the primal couple who begat the four gods of creation (white, red, blue and black tezcatlipocas), and from which absolutely everything comes.

He was also known as Tloque Nahuaque (“I love the near and far”) and how Moyocoyatzin (“The inventor of himself”).

He was the maximum deity of the mythology of the Nahua peoples, considered by the Mexica as the creator and computer of all things that exist. Being a rather metaphysical, extremely ancient god, he lacked temples in the Aztec Empire and there is no representation of him today.