Aztec Religion

  • Category: Religion
  • Words: 658
  • Grade: 90
Life as an Aztec revolved around religion. The Aztec peoples believed gods and goddesses ruled every aspect of nature and all human activity. According to their beliefs, the Aztec civilization was the "chosen" civilization of Ometecuhlti and his wife, Omelcihuatl, the creators of all life in the world. Because of this, it was an Aztec's duty to appease the gods by worshipping and offering sacrifices as often as possible.
        The Aztec civilization was heavily dependent on agriculture as a means of survival; therefore, many important Aztec gods evolved around agriculture. Maize, one of the chief staple crops of the Aztec people, was looked over and blessed by the corn god, Centeotl. More gods included Tlaloc, a rain and fertility god; Xipe Totec, the god of springtime and regrowth; Mictlantecuhtli, god of the dead; Xiuhtecuhtle, the fire god; Huitzilopochtli, a war god and special guardian of Tenochtitlan; Quetzalcoatl, the god of civilization and learning; and Ehecatl, the god of wind. Those were only a minute number based on the thousands of gods the Aztec people worshiped.        
        The sun god of the Aztec religion was the primary source of their life giving energy. Tezcoptipcoca is well known even now for the sacrifice rituals done in his name. The Aztecs believed that everything, plant or animal, was given life by the sun god through his control over the sun. In order to appease him, they preformed ritualistic ceremonies based on returning that same energy back to the sun. The Aztecs performed human sacrifice in order to feed the sun human blood. In this way they stayed on the "good side" of Tezcoptipcoca.
During the sun god sacrifice ceremony, four priests were used to hold down the victim while another priest carved out the person's heart with an obsidian blade knife. The person was still alive and conscious while performing the removal ceremony. The sacrificed person was then thrown down the stairs of the temple, and after reaching the bottom, the sacrificed person's arms and legs were severed. These extremities were then cooked in a clay oven, and served as a tender delicacy. In eating their victims, or partaking in them, the Aztecs believed that they were honoring them, as well as honoring the sun god.
Monumental pyramids were used as holy sacrificial sites. In order to properly sacrifice to the gods, the ritual needed to be preformed above everything else that went on below. Each temple had a room on the highest area of the structure. At the entrance to this room, a marble slab about knee high was placed horizontal for sacrificial purposes. The most famous of these sacrificial temples was the Great Temple of Huitzilopochli. In the dedication of Huitzilopochli, tens of thousands of prisoners, who had been kept for years, were sacrificed. Each year Aztec priests sacrificed as many as twenty thousand people, in order to appease the sun god.
The Aztec also preformed other sacrificial ceremonies. During a ceremony generally preformed in regard to Wipe Tote, archers sacrificed others by shooting the victims with arrows. In this instance, drops of blood falling from victims represented life-giving rain. In honor of the Aztec fire god, sacrifices were made by wrapping a victim in hashish before placing them into the fire. In specific ceremonies throughout the Aztec year, people who were going to be sacrificed often dressed up as the god to which they would be sacrificed. The sacrificial victims often felt honored to be sacrificed, and society held these people up as exemplary and honorable.
Most of the Aztec religion was based around sacrificing to the most important of gods. Being that the gods controlled everything around them, it was key in life to make them happy. Appeasing the gods was important to a good life as well as a good afterlife. Although the sun god was the most important god of worship, they tried to consider each other god or goddess lesser than Tezcoptipcoca, but equally important.
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