The 10 Most Important Aztec Gods and Goddesses

The Aztec God Tezcatlipoca from the Borgia Codex
Borgia Codex

The Aztecs had a complex and diversified pantheon. Scholars studying the Aztec 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, the war and sacrifice. Often, the Aztec gods were based on those of older Mesoamerican religions or shared by other societies of the day. 

Aztec God Huitzilopochtli from the Codex Telleriano-Remensis
Codex Telleriano-Remensis

Huitzilopochtli (pronounced Weetz-ee-loh-POSHT-lee) was the patron god of the Aztecs. During the great migration from their legendary home of Aztalan, Huitzilopochtli told the Aztecs where they should establish their capital city of Tenochtitlan and urged them on their way. His name means “Hummingbird of the Left” and he was the patron of war and sacrifice. His shrine, on top of the pyramid of the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan, was decorated with skulls and painted red to represent blood.

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    Aztec God of Rain Tlaloc, from the Rios Codex
    Rios Codex

    Tlaloc (pronounced Tlá-lock), the rain god, is one of the most ancient deities in all Mesoamerica. Associated with fertility and agriculture, his origins can be traced back to Teotihuacan, the Olmec and the Maya civilizations. Tlaloc's main shrine was the second shrine after Huitzilopochtli's, located on top of the Templo Mayor, the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan. His shrine was decorated with blue bands representing rain and water. The Aztec believed that the cries and tears of newborn children were sacred to the god, and, therefore, many ceremonies for Tlaloc involved the sacrifice of children. More »

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    Aztec God Tonatiuh from the Codex Telleriano-Remensis
    Codex Telleriano-Remensis

    Tonatiuh (pronounced Toh-nah-tee-uh) was the Aztec sun god. He was a nourishing god who provided warmth and fertility to the people. In order to do so, he needed sacrificial blood. Tonatiuh was also the patron of warriors. In Aztec mythology, Tonatiuh governed the era under which the Aztec believed to live, the era of the Fifth Sun; and it is Tonatiuh's face in the center of the Aztec sun stone.  More »

    The Aztec God Tezcatlipoca from the Borgia Codex
    Borgia Codex

     Tezcatlipoca (pronounced Tez-cah-tlee-poh-ka)'s name means “Smoking Mirror” and he is often represented as an evil power, associated with death and cold. Tezcatlipoca was the patron of the night, of the north, and in many aspects represented the opposite of his brother, Quetzalcoatl. His image has black stripes on his face and he carries an obsidian mirror. More »

    Aztec God Chalchiutlicue from the Rios Codex
    Aztec God Chalchiutlicue from the Rios Codex. Rios Codex

    Chalchiuhtlicue (pronounced Tchal-chee-uh-tlee-ku-eh) was the goddess of running water and all aquatic elements. Her name means “she of the Jade Skirt”. She was the wife and/or sister of Tlaloc and was also patroness of childbirth. She is most often illustrated wearing a green/blue skirt from which flows a stream of water.  More »

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    Aztec God Centeotl from the Rios Codex
    Aztec God Centeotl from the Rios Codex. Rios Codex

    Centeotl (pronounced Cen-teh-otl) was the god of maize, and as such he was based on a pan-Mesoamerican god shared by Olmec and Maya religions. His name means “Maize cob Lord”. He was closely related to Tlaloc and is usually represented as a young man with a maize cob sprouting from his headdress. More »

    Quetzalcoatl from the Codex Borbonicus
    Quetzalcoatl from the Codex Borbonicus. Codex Borbonicus

    Quetzalcoatl (pronounced Keh-tzal-coh-atl), “the Feathered Serpent”, is probably the most famous Aztec deity and is known in many other Mesoamerican cultures such as Teotihuacan and the Maya. He represented the positive counterpart of Tezcatlipoca. He was the patron of knowledge and learning and also a creative god.

    Quetzalcoatl is also linked to the idea that the last Aztec emperor, Moctezuma, believed that the arrival of the Spanish conquistador Cortes was the fulfilling of a prophecy about the return of the god. However, many scholars now consider this myth as a creation of the Franciscan friars during the post-Conquest period. More »

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    Xipe Totec, Based on the Borgia Codex
    Xipe Totec, Based on the Borgia Codex. katepanomegas

    Xipe Totec (pronounced Shee-peh Toh-tek) is “Our Lord with the flayed skin”. Xipe Totec was the god of agricultural fertility, the east and the goldsmiths. He is usually portrayed wearing a flayed human skin representing the death of the old and the growth of the new vegetation. More »

    Aztec Goddess Mayahuel, from the Rios Codex
    Aztec Goddess Mayahuel, from the Rios Codex. Rios Codex

    Mayahuel (pronounced My-ya-whale) is the Aztec goddess of the maguey plant, the sweet sap of which, aguamiel, was considered her blood. Mayahuel is also known as "the woman of the 400 breasts" to feed her children, the Centzon Totochtin or “400 rabbits”. More »

    Monolithic Statue of Tlaltecuhtli from the Aztec Templo Mayor, Mexico City
    Monolithic Statue of Tlaltecuhtli from the Aztec Templo Mayor, Mexico City. Tristan Higbee

    Tlaltechutli (Tlal-teh-koo-tlee) is the monstrous earth goddess. Her name means "The one who give and devours life" and she required many human sacrifices to sustain her. Tlaltechutli represents the surface of the earth, who angrily devours the sun every evening to give it back the next day.   More »

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    Maestri, Nicoletta. "The 10 Most Important Aztec Gods and Goddesses." ThoughtCo, Jul. 10, 2017, thoughtco.com/deities-of-mexica-mythology-170042. Maestri, Nicoletta. (2017, July 10). The 10 Most Important Aztec Gods and Goddesses. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/deities-of-mexica-mythology-170042 Maestri, Nicoletta. "The 10 Most Important Aztec Gods and Goddesses." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/deities-of-mexica-mythology-170042 (accessed November 22, 2017).