Relationship between the aztec religion and society

Aztec religion - Wikipedia

relationship between the aztec religion and society

The Aztec religion is the Mesoamerican religion of the Aztecs. Like other Mesoamerican religions, it had elements of human sacrifice in connection with a large number of religious . Religion was part of all levels of Aztec society. On the state. Discover the basic beliefs of the ancient Aztec religion, and how the Mexica people might have thought about the world and the gods. Religion was important in Aztec society, the Aztec people lived by a strict set of religious rituals. Religion was so key that the position of priest was almost.

Complex ritual strategies on all societal levels had to safeguard life in all its forms from the lurking dangers of chaos and destruction - dangers which, obviously, had already ruined the grand city-states of the past Teotihuacan, Tollan. Therefore, one finds a strong notion of omnipresent peril, sometimes even pessimism, in Aztec poetry, and a strong sense that the life cycle of this sun and of the rich center of power and life in Tenochtitlan might also come to an end in the near future.

Therefore, divination, astrology and the general interpretation of "frightening omens" tetzauitl were important means to be warned of possible imminent perils. Before the start of any important enterprise, one would consult the "counters of days" tonalpuhquespecial priests with sound knowledge of calendars and astrology.

With reference to the vigesimal based on the number twenty system of the tonalpohualli "day count" calendar, one had to be careful, for example, that the baptismal ritual of a newborn child would not fall into one of the "bad" days: And at the end of every such "age", it was always possible that this world might now arrive at its termination and annihilation: Life is perceived as continuously endangered in the Aztec cosmos, but as a guidance for coping with the hassles, challenges and dangers of life and nature, the Mexica developed a differentiated, cumulative "way of life" or "religious tradition" verbal nouns of "to live" and "to be", like nemilitztli or tlamanitiliztli, are used to denote the normative tradition of "culture-religion-law".

And their huge pantheon of numina, divine powers or gods teotl indeed covers all aspects of cosmic forces and powers of nature with its polymorphic and often overlapping hierophanies. Some of the numina have a special, prominent status - like Huitzilopochtli and the important rain-god Tlaloc, worshipped together on Tenochtitlan's huge double-pyramid "Templo Mayor".

Others serve specific functions - like Yacatecutli, "Lord in front", revered almost exclusively by the wandering merchants. In some cases, the highest source of life seems to transcend the polytheistic pantheon, and it can be addressed with singular or dual names: One striking name is Ipalnemoa ni" the one through whom one is living" Live Giveror Tloque Nauaque, "omnipresent one". In dual form, one can speak of Ometecutli Omeciuatl "Lord and Lady of Duality"denoting the ultimate ground of life and growth, as well as the great celestial source of the human 'soul': A binary aspect of the divine source of being and of natural sustenance is "Lord and Lady of our flesh" Tonacatecutli Tonacaciuatlbringing forth corn and all life-sustaining food.

But it is also important to note that the "borders" of the Aztec numina are often permeable, as well as the borders between divine and human nature - i. This so-called "nagualism" from azt. This becomes apparent in the mythic accounts of the Aztec wanderings under the leadership of the 'first' Huitzilopochtli, where human and divine aspects obviously merge, or in the narrations around the famous originally Toltec numen and priest-king Quetzalcoatl of Tollan, who had a strong impact on Maya traditions as well.

But in the case of captives who were to serve as human sacrifices, it is also reported that they did in fact represent the numen as "true" and "living god" until their ritual death. This becomes most evident in the case of the Toxcatl-ritual: A captive served as living ixiptlatli for Tezcatlipoca for a full year; he was actually venerated and adored as "Lord" and living Tezcatlipoca during this time, but with the end of the year he was ritually killed and immediately replaced by a "new image" of god.

Since the cosmic order is "shaky", according to the Aztec cosmovision, man has to preserve and safeguard this cosmos and its life-sustaining forces by continuous ritual practice.

An obvious, world-wide representation of the natural forces of life is blood, and this view is very dominant and consequential in the Aztec case. As in their paradigmatic myth, when the old gods had to sacrifice themselves in the darkness of Teotihuacan, when they had to shed their own blood in order to get the fifth sun moving, in the same way it is necessary for the Mexica to keep "sun" Tonatiuh moving by a repetitive and ceaseless supply with the so-called "precious liquid" chalchiuatl of human blood.

Likewise, several individual rituals of repentance or protection implied ritual woundings for the drawing of blood e. This level involved the large monthly festivals and a number of specific rituals centered around the ruler dynasty and attempting to stabilize both the political and cosmic systems, these rituals were the ones that involved a sacrifice of humans.

"Aztec Religion and Nature" (Precolumbian!)

For example, on the feast of Huey Tozoztlithe ruler himself ascended Mount Tlaloc and engaged in autosacrifice in order to petition the rains. Throughout society, each level had their own rituals and deities and played their part in the larger rituals of the community. For example, the class of Pochteca merchants were involved in the feast Tlaxochimaco where the merchant deity would be celebrated and slaves bought on specific slave markets by long-distance traders would be sacrificed. On the feast of Ochpaniztliall commoners participated in sweeping the streets, and they also undertook ritual bathing.

relationship between the aztec religion and society

The most spectacular ritual was the New Fire ceremony which took place every 52 years and involved every citizen of the Aztec realm, during this commoners would destroy house utensils, quench all fires and receive new fire from the bonfire on top of Mt. Huixachtlan, lit on the chest of a sacrificed person by the high priests.

Priests and temples[ edit ] In the Nahuatl language, the word for priest was tlamacazqui meaning "giver of things"—the main responsibility of the priesthood was to make sure that the gods were given their due in the form of offerings, ceremonies and sacrifices.

relationship between the aztec religion and society

The Tlatoani of Tenochtitlan was the head of the cult of Huitzilopochtli and thus of the state religion of the Aztec empire. He had special priestly duties in different rituals on the state level. However, the Aztec religious organization was not entirely under his authority.

Aztec religion

Sahagun and Duran describe the pairs of high priests Quetzalcoatls who were in charge of the major pilgrimage centres Cholula and Tenochtitlan as enjoying immense respect from all levels of Aztec society — akin to archbishops — and a level of authority that partly transcended national boundaries.

Under these religious heads were many tiers of priests, priestesses, novices, 'nuns' and 'monks' some part-time who ran the cults of the various gods and goddesses. Sahagun reports that the priests had a very strict training, and had to live very austere and ethical lives involving prolonged vigils, fasts and penances.

For instance, they often had to bleed themselves and undertake prescribed self-mortifications in the buildup to sacrificial rites.

relationship between the aztec religion and society

Additionally, Sahagun refers to classes of religious specialists not affiliated with the established priesthood. This included wandering curers, black magicians and other occultists of which the Aztecs identified many types, most of which they feared and hermits.

Aztec religion

Finally, the military orders, professions e. The heads of these lodges, although not full-time religious specialists, had some ritual and moral duties.

Aztec Religion

Duran also describes lodge members as having the responsibility of raising sufficient goods to host the festivals of their specific patron deity.

This included annually obtaining and training a suitable slave or captive to represent and die as the 'image' of their deity in that festival. Aztec temples were basically offering mounds: Buildings around the base of the pyramid, and sometimes a small chamber under the pyramid, stored ritual items and provided lodgings and staging for priests, dancers and temple orchestras.

The pyramids were buried under a new surface every several years especially every 52 years — the Aztec century.

relationship between the aztec religion and society

Thus the pyramid-temples of important deities constantly grew in size. These figures were the black magicians, people who belong to occults, witchdoctors and the like. The Aztec temples and religion Aztec temples were basically large pyramids with flat tops, constructed by the Aztecs to offer up sacrifices to the gods and they were a very important part of the Aztec religion.

The temples had small stone tables upon which sacrifices, mostly human, were made and offered. The base of the pyramid housed offerings or rooms for priests or sacrifices to stay. An ancient Aztec religious temple Modern excavations have revealed that the Aztecs built more and more lavish temples to honour the gods, and the common practice was to build on top of the old templates and extend them. Discoveries were made that showed that the Aztecs would build up to 6 layers on top of one original temple, with their obvious goal to be closer to the gods.

The most important of the Aztec temples was found in the centre of Tenochtitlan and is known as the Great Temple. It was a double pyramid dedicated to 2 different gods. One was built for the god Huitzilopochtli and was led by the high priest Quetzalcoatl Totec Tlamacazqui, this temple was called Coatepetl which means snake mountain. The second temple was constructed for the god Tlaloc led by the high priest Quetzalcoatl Tllaloc Tlamacazqui. Aztec Religious Beliefs According to Aztec cosmology, the world is divided into three parts, heaven, the world they live in and the Land of the Dead.