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Baalbek › Origins

Definition and Origins

by Joshua J. Mark
published on 02 September 2009

Temple of Baachus, Baalbek (Jerzy Strzelecki)
Baalbek is an ancient Phoenician city located in what is now modern day Lebanon, north of Beirut, in the Beqaa Valley.Inhabited as early as 9000 BCE, Baalbek grew into an important pilgrimage site in the ancient world for the worship of the Phoenician sky-god Baal and his consort Astarte, the Queen of Heaven (the name `Baalbek' means Lord Baal of the Beqaa Valley). The center of the city was a grand temple dedicated to Astarte and Baal and the ruins of this early temple remain today beneath the later Roman Temple of Jupiter Baal.
The cornerstones of the earlier temple have been found to weigh over 100 tons and the retaining wall monoliths weigh, each, 300 tons, leaving present-day archaeologists, scientists and historians mystified as to how the stones were moved, where from, and in what way they could have been manipulated into place. These blocks, and another one mile from Baalbek which weighs over 900 tons, are known today as the Baalbek Stones and have been the subject of much debate, study and conjecture over how they were moved and arranged. Further questions arise as to why such massive stones were necessary at the site and why the columns of the temple are also larger than they needed to be.
Later builders at the site, such as the Romans, used these early stones as the foundations for their own temples but clearly did not move them in any way. The immense weight and mass of these stones has led to much speculation concerning ancient alien activity at Baalbek and even that the site was an ancient landing pad for spaceships. None of these theories are regarded as substantial by the prevailing scholarly community nor have they ever been.

Alexander the Great conquered Baalbek in 334 BCE and re-named it Heliopolis, `City of the Sun', the name still in use in 64 BCE when Pompey the Great annexed the region of Phoenicia for Rome. This was still the designation for the city in 15 BCE when the city became a colony of the Roman Empire. The Romans vastly improved the site with massive building projects, walkways, aqueducts, and roads. Under the reign of the Emperor Septimus Severus (193-211 CE) the grand temple of Jupiter Baal was built and dedicated (the largest and most ornate religious building in the entire history of the Roman Empire ) whose impressive ruins may still be seen today.

The Temple Complex at Baalbek

The Temple Complex at Baalbek

The city remained an oft-visited pilgrimage site until the legitimization of Christianity in the Roman Empire by Constantine the Great (beginning in 313 CE with the Edict of Milan) after which, avoiding the fate of some pagan sites which were neglected or destroyed, it was Christianized. The Temple of Bacchus, still extant, is larger than the Parthenon of Athens and all of the temples of the Roman complex (of Jupiter, Bacchus, Venus, and Mercury ) were spared destruction during the rise of Christianity through their use as churches; only the altar of Jupiter was torn down by Theodosius I. The temples continued in their role as Christian places of worship until the coming of the Muslims in 637 CE.
Under Muslim rule, following their victory over the Byzantine forces at the Battle of Yarmouk, the area was re-named Al-Qalaa (the fortress). Walls were strengthened for defense and the temples were fortified. A mosque was built amid the ancient Roman temples while the Christian additions were torn down and destroyed.
The Byzantine army sacked the city in 748 CE and, again, in 975 CE but could not hold it and, eventually, having survived the Mongols and further military campaigns, it passed into the Ottoman Empire which largely ignored the city and allowed the ruins to crumble. A series of earthquakes over the centuries further damaged the site and nothing was done in the area of preservation or excavation until 1898 when the German Emperor Wilhelm II visited the area and sent a team of achaeologists to begin work there. Their efforts, along with later international teams, have preserved Baalbeck for future generations.

Babylon › Origins

Definition and Origins

by Joshua J. Mark
published on 28 April 2011

Lion of Babylon ()
Babylon is the most famous city from ancient Mesopotamia whose ruins lie in modern-day Iraq 59 miles (94 kilometres) southwest of Baghdad. The name is thought to derive from bav-il or bav-ilim which, in the Akkadian language of the time, meant 'Gate of God' or `Gate of the Gods' and `Babylon' coming from Greek. The city owes its fame (or infamy) to the many references the Bible makes to it; all of which are unfavourable. In the Book of Genesis, chapter 11, Babylon is featured in the story of The Tower of Babel and the Hebrews claimed the city was named for the confusion which ensued after God caused the people to begin speaking in different languages so they would not be able to complete their great tower to the heavens (the Hebrew word bavel means `confusion').
Babylon also appears prominently in the biblical books of Daniel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah, among others, and, most notably, The Book of Revelation. It was these biblical references which sparked interest in Mesopotamian archaeology and the expedition by the German archaeologist Robert Koldewey who first excavated the ruins of Babylon in 1899 CE. Outside of the sinful reputation given it by the Bible, the city is known for its impressive walls and buildings, its reputation as a great seat of learning and culture, the formation of a code of law which pre-dates the Mosaic Law, and for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon which were man-made terraces of flora and fauna, watered by machinery, which were cited by Herodotus as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.


Babylon was founded at some point prior to the reign of Sargon of Akkad (also known as Sargon the Great ) who ruled from 2334-2279 BCE and claimed to have built temples at Babylon (other ancient sources seem to indicate that Sargon himself founded the city). At that time, Babylon seems to have been a minor city or perhaps a large port town on the Euphrates River at the point where it runs closest to the river Tigris. Whatever early role the city played in the ancient world is lost to modern-day scholars because the water level in the region has risen steadily over the centuries and the ruins of Old Babylon have become inaccessible. The ruins which were excavated by Koldewey, and are visible today, date only to well over one thousand years after the city was founded. The historian Paul Kriwaczek, among other scholars, claims it was established by the Amorites following the collapse of the Third Dynasty of Ur. This information, and any other pertaining to Old Babylon, comes to us today through artifacts which were carried away from the city after the Persian invasion or those which were created elsewhere.

The known history of Babylon, then, begins with its most famous king: Hammurabi (1792-1750 BCE). This obscure Amoriteprince ascended to the throne upon the abdication of his father, King Sin-Muballit, and fairly quickly transformed the city into one of the most powerful and influential in all of Mesopotamia. Hammurabi's law codes are well known but are only one example of the policies he implemented to maintain peace and encourage prosperity. He enlarged and heightened the walls of the city, engaged in great public works which included opulent temples and canals, and made diplomacy an integral part of his administration. So successful was he in both diplomacy and war that, by 1755 BCE, he had united all of Mesopotamia under the rule of Babylon which, at this time, was the largest city in the world, and named his realm Babylonia.


Following Hammurabi's death, his empire fell apart and Babylonia dwindled in size and scope until Babylon was easily sacked by the Hittites in 1595 BCE. The Kassites followed the Hittites and re-named the city Karanduniash. The meaning of this name is not clear. The Assyrians then followed the Kassites in dominating the region and, under the reign of the Assyrian ruler Sennacherib (reigned 705-681 BCE), Babylon revolted. Sennacherib had the city sacked, razed, and the ruins scattered as a lesson to others. His extreme measures were considered impious by the people generally and Sennacherib's court specifically and he was soon after assassinated by his sons. His successor, Esarhaddon, re-built Babylon and returned it to its former glory. The city later rose in revolt against Ashurbanipal of Nineveh who besieged and defeated the city but did not damage it to any great extent and, in fact, personally purified Babylon of the evil spirits which were thought to have led to the trouble. The reputation of the city as a center of learning and culture was already well established by this time.

Babylon at the time of Hammurabi

Babylon at the time of Hammurabi

After the fall of the Assyrian Empire, a Chaldean named Nabopolassar took the throne of Babylon and, through careful alliances, created the Neo-Babylonian Empire. His son, Nebuchadnezzar II (604-561 BCE), renovated the city so that it covered 900 hectares (2,200 acres) of land and boasted some the most beautiful and impressive structures in all of Mesopotamia. Every ancient writer to make mention of the city of Babylon, outside of those responsible for the stories in the Bible, does so with a tone of awe and reverence. Herodotus, for example, writes:
The city stands on a broad plain, and is an exact square, a hundred and twenty stadia in length each way, so that the entire circuit is four hundred and eighty stadia. While such is its size, in magnificence there is no other city that approaches to it. It is surrounded, in the first place, by a broad and deep moat, full of water, behind which rises a wall fifty royal cubits in width and two hundred in height.
Although it is generally believed that Herodotus greatly exaggerated the dimensions of the city (and may never have actually visited the place himself) his description echoes the admiration of other writers of the time who recorded the magnificence of Babylon, and especially the great walls, as a wonder of the world. It was under Nebuchadnezzar II's reign that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are said to have been constructed and the famous Ishtar Gate built. The Hanging gardens are most explicitly described in a passage from Diodorus Siculus (90-30 BCE) in his work Bibliotheca Historica Book II.10:
There was also, because the acropolis, the Hanging Garden, as it is called, which was built, not by Semiramis, but by a later Syrian king to please one of his concubines; for she, they say, being a Persian by race and longing for the meadows of her mountains, asked the king to imitate, through the artifice of a planted garden, the distinctive landscape of Persia. The park extended four plethra on each side, and since the approach to the garden sloped like a hillside and the several parts of the structure rose from one another tier on tier, the appearance of the whole resembled that of a theatre. When the ascending terraces had been built, there had been constructed beneath them galleries which carried the entire weight of the planted garden and rose little by little one above the other along the approach; and the uppermost gallery, which was fifty cubits high, bore the highest surface of the park, which was made level with the circuit wall of the battlements of the city. Furthermore, the walls, which had been constructed at great expense, were twenty-two feet thick, while the passage-way between each two walls was ten feet wide. The roofs of the galleries were covered over with beams of stone sixteen feet long, inclusive of the overlap, and four feet wide. The roof above these beams had first a layer of reeds laid in great quantities of bitumen, over this two courses of baked brick bonded by cement, and as a third layer a covering of lead, to the end that the moisture from the soil might not penetrate beneath. On all this again earth had been piled to a depth sufficient for the roots of the largest trees; and the ground, which was levelled off, was thickly planted with trees of every kind that, by their great size or any other charm, could give pleasure to beholder. And since the galleries, each projecting beyond another, all received the light, they contained many royal lodgings of every description; and there was one gallery which contained openings leading from the topmost surface and machines for supplying the garden with water, the machines raising the water in great abundance from the river, although no one outside could see it being done. Now this park, as I have said, was a later construction.
This part of Diodorus' work concerns the semi-mythical queen Semiramis (most probably based on the actual Assyrian queen Sammu-Ramat who reigned 811-806 BCE). His reference to "a later Syrian king" follows Herodotus' tendency of referring to Mesopotamia as ` Assyria '. Recent scholarship on the subject argues that the Hanging Gardens were never located at Babylon but were instead the creation Sennacherib at his capital of Nineveh. The historian Christopher Scarre writes:
Sennacherib's palace [at Nineveh] had all the usual accoutrements of a major Assyrian residence: colossal guardian figures and impressively carved stone reliefs (over 2,000 sculptured slabs in 71 rooms). Its gardens, too, were exceptional. Recent research by British Assyriologist Stephanie Dalley has suggested that these were the famous Hanging Gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Later writers placed the Hanging Gardens at Babylon, but extensive research has failed to find any trace of them. Sennacherib's proud account of the palace gardens he created at Nineveh fits that of the Hanging Gardens in several significant details (231).
This period in which the Hanging Gardens were allegedly built was also the time of the Babylonian Exile of the Jews and the period in which the Babylonian Talmud was written. The Euphrates River divided the city in two between an `old' and a `new' city with the Temple of Marduk and the great towering ziggurat in the center. Streets and avenues were widened to better accommodate the yearly processional of the statue of the great god Marduk in the journey from his home temple in the city to the New Year Festival Temple outside the Ishtar Gate.

Lion of Babylon Statue, Babylonia

Lion of Babylon Statue, Babylonia


The Neo-Babylonian Empire continued after the death of Nebuchadnezzar II and Babylon continued to play an important role in the region under the rule of Nabonidus and his successor Belshazzar (featured in the biblical Book of Daniel). In 539 BCE the empire fell to the Persians under Cyrus the Great at the Battle of Opis. Babylon's walls were impregnable and so the Persians cleverly devised a plan whereby they diverted the course of the Euphrates River so that it fell to a manageable depth.While the residents of the city were distracted by one of their great religious feast days, the Persian army waded the river and marched under the walls of Babylon unnoticed. It was claimed the city was taken without a fight although documents of the time indicate that repairs had to be made to the walls and some sections of the city and so perhaps the action was not as effortless as the Persian account maintained.
Under Persian rule, Babylon flourished as a center of art and education. Cyrus and his successors held the city in great regard and made it the administrative capital of their empire (although at one point the Persian emperor Xerxes felt obliged to lay siege to the city after another revolt). Babylonian mathematics, cosmology, and astronomy were highly respected and it is thought that Thales of Miletus (known as the first western philosopher) may have studied there and that Pythagorasdeveloped his famous mathematical theorem based upon a Babylonian model. When, after two hundred years, the Persian Empire fell to Alexander the Great in 331 BCE, he also gave great reverence to the city, ordering his men not to damage the buildings nor molest the inhabitants. The historian Stephen Bertman writes, “Before his death, Alexander the Great ordered the superstructure of Babylon's ziggurat pulled down in order that it might be rebuilt with greater splendor. But he never lived to bring his project to completion. Over the centuries, its scattered bricks have been cannibalized by peasants to fulfill humbler dreams. All that is left of the fabled Tower of Babel is the bed of a swampy pond.”

After Alexander's death at Babylon, his successors (known as `The Diadochi', Greek for `successors') fought over his empire generally and the city specifically to the point where the residents fled for their safety (or, according to one ancient report, were re-located). By the time the Parthian Empire ruled the region in 141 BCE Babylon was deserted and forgotten. The city steadily fell into ruin and, even during a brief revival under the Sassanid Persians, never approached its former greatness. In the Muslim conquest of the land in 650 CE whatever remained of Babylon was swept away and, in time, was buried beneath the sands. In the 17th and 18th centuries CE European travelers began to explore the area and return home with various artifacts.These cuneiform blocks and statues led to an increased interest in the region and, by the 19th century CE, an interest in biblical archaeology drew men like Robert Koldewey who uncovered the ruins of the once great city of the Gate of the Gods.

Aztec Pantheon › Origins

Ancient Civilizations

by Mark Cartwright
published on 20 March 2017
The gods of the Aztecs (1345-1521 CE) were many and varied and, as with many other ancient cultures, deities were closely associated with things and events important to the culture and the general welfare of the community. These include gods of maize and the rain to nourish it, fire and the hearth to cook it, and all manner of gods to represent major celestial bodies, prominent geographical features and extreme meteorological events from the Morning Star to evening frost. Many of the gods were ancient Mesoamerican deities worshipped by the cultures preceding the Aztecs but were adopted, adapted, and assimilated into the Aztec 's own unique assembly of gods and goddesses. Below is a list of the principal Aztec deities in alphabetical order.




The god of voluptuousness and one of the Ahuiateteo. Alternatively known as Macuilxochitl or considered an aspect of Xochipilli.


The five gods who embody the dangers of excess in eating, drinking, and pleasures in general. They each have a specific date in the annual calendar, all with a 5, a number associated with excess. They are Macuilxochitl (the most important; 5 Flower), Macuilcuetzpalin (5 Lizard), Macuilcozcacuauhtli (5 Vulture), Macuiltochtli (5 Rabbit), and Macuilmalinalli (5 Grass). In cases of excess, they can deliver misfortune and disease.


An earth and water goddess.


'Lord of the Chase,' a hunting god. See Mixcoatl below.


'Sacred Maize,' god of late-ripening maize. He was the son of Toci and associated with the 4th month, Hueytozoztli. He was the 4th of the nine Lords of the Night.


Also called the Octli deities. The 400 sons of Mixcoatl who were fed to the sun and who represented the southern stars. They and their sister Coyolxauhqui had attempted to kill their mother Coatlicue but were defeated by Huitzilopochtli.


The 400 northern stars, counterparts of the Centzon Huitznahua and associated with the Milky Way.


The 400 rabbit gods of pulque and drunkenness. They are the offspring of Mayahuel and Patecatl and also known as the Octli deities.


'Precious Owl,' god of the night and the black aspect of Tezcatlipoca.



'Jade Her Skirt,' goddess of the sea, rivers, lakes, and springs. Associated with the day Serpent and trecena 1 Reed. She is 3rd of the 13 Lords of the Day and 6th of the nine Lords of the Night. The Gulf of Mexico was known as Chalchiuhcueyecatl or 'Waters of Chalchiuhtlicue'.


'Precious Turkey,' an aspect of Tezcatlipoca and deity of the night and mystery. He was patron of the day Tecpatl, Flint Knife.


'In the House,' the goddess of the hearth fire and patron of metalworkers, especially goldsmiths. Also known as Cuaxolotl.


'Seven Serpents,' the goddess of food and especially seed corn. She was associated with the 4th month, Hueytozoztli.Celebrated on the day 7 Coatl with a feast and in the harvest festival in the 11th month, Ochpanitzli.


'Woman Serpent,' an earth goddess associated with fertility, childbirth, midwives, and the direction west.


'Star-Skirted,' goddess of the heavens and one of the several names for the Milky Way. She rules the 3rd of the 13 levels of the Aztec cosmos.


'Serpent Skirt,' an earth-mother goddess associated with fertility, warfare, governance, agriculture, and patron of childbirth.She was considered the female aspect of the primordial god Ometeotl. The goddess was worshipped in the spring ritual of Tozozontli in the rainy season and in the autumnal hunting festival of Quecholli when an impersonator of the goddess was sacrificed. She is the mother of Huitzilopochtli and Coyolxauhqui.




'Painted With Bells,' the goddess of the Moon or Milky Way who was famously butchered by her brother Huitzilopochtli after she led the Centzon Huitznaua (the 'Four Hundred Huiztnaua' who represented the stars of the southern sky) in a bid to kill her mother, the goddess Coatlicue.


'Wind and Air,' an ancient Mesoamerican god of winds, especially those which bring rain. Sometimes known as Ehecatl- Quetzalcoatl and considered the wind aspect of Quetzalcoatl. For the Aztecs, he was born on the day 9 Wind and was patron of the second day, Ehecatl. He was a creator god, and by rescuing the bones of the dead from the Underworld, he created mankind. He is sometimes credited, too, with discovering maize, pulque, and music.


'Old Coyote,' the ancient Mesoamerican god of dance, music, sex, cleverness, and trickery. Patron of feather workers, he was associated with the trecena 1 Flower and patron of the day Cuetzpallin.


'Old, Old Deity,' The old Fire god, often associated and represented by Xiuhtecuhtli. He was the 1st of the nine Aztec Lords of the Night and 13 Lords of the Day. He was linked to the 10th month, Xocotlhuetzi/Hueymiccailhuitl.


'Blue Hummingbird on the Left' or 'Hummingbird of the South,' who for the Mexica was the supreme being and son of the two primordial gods Omecίhuatl and Ometecuhtli. In an alternative version, he is the offspring of Coatlicue and brother of Quetzalcoatl, Tezcatlipoca, and Xipe Totec. He is the god of war and the sun, and patron of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, where he had led his people to and instructed them to settle. He was associated with gold, warriors and rulers. His calendar name was Ce Técpatl (1 Flint) and his nagual or animal spirit was the eagle. The god had a temple dedicated to him on top of the Templo Mayor at Tenochtitlan. Huitzilopochtli was worshipped in the ceremony of Panquetzaliztli in the month of the same name when the god's birth on Mt. Coatepec was commemorated, and he was also celebrated during the month of Toxcatl when a bread effigy was taken to the god's temple in a great procession and then eaten.




'Huixtotin Woman,' goddess of salt. She was associated with the 7th month, Tecuilhuitontli.


'Old Lady,' an earth goddess associated with fertility, death and the Milky Way. She was 13th of the 13 Lords of the Day and associated with the 17th month, Tititl when a festival was held in her honour.


'Obsidian Blade,' right-hand man of Tezcatlipoca. He was 2nd of the nine Lords of the Night.


'Obsidian-Bladed Butterfly,' an earth goddess associated with fertility. Mother of Mixcoatl, she is patron of the day Cozcacuauhtli and the trecena 1 House.


'Obsidian Curl,' the god of snow, mountain peaks, frost and the cold. An aspect of the black Tezcatlipoca. He is patron of the day Acatl.


God of health and medicine who was the brother of Xochipilli and Macuilxochitl.


'White Woman,' goddess of the sacred mountain which bears her name.


See Tonalteuctin.


See Yohualteuctin.


'Five Flower,' a god of flowers, plants, music, and dancing. Associated with the specific date 5 Flower. The patron god of the royal household, games (especially patolli and the ballgame) and gambling. He is the leader of the Ahuiateteo gods who represent excess pleasure and punishment.


'Green Skirt,' goddess of rain and second wife of Tlaloc.


'Blue Skirt,' the goddess of the sacred mountain of that name.


'Maguey,' the goddess of the Maguey plant, used to make the alcoholic drink pulque. The goddess was usually depicted as a beautiful young woman and was associated with fertility. Sometimes she is referred to as 'the woman of 400 breasts,' no doubt in reference to the milk-like sap of the plant. She is the mother of the 400 Octli Deities, consort of Patecatl, and patron of the day Tochtli (Rabbit).


The Moon goddess.


'Mictlan Woman,' female equivalent or consort of Mictlantecuhtli.


'Lord of the land of the Dead,' god of death, darkness and the Underworld (Mictlan). His wife is Mictlantecacihuatl. He was associated with owls, spiders, bats, and the direction south. The god was the ruler of the 10th day Itzcuintli (Dog), the 5th Lord of the Night and the 6th (or 11th) Lord of the Day. Mictlantecuhtli was particularly worshipped in the Aztec month of Tititl when, at the temple of Tlalxicco, an impersonator of the god was sacrificed and incense was burned in his honour.




'Cloud Serpent,' an ancient god of hunting, also known as Camaxtli, and associated with the stars, especially the Milky Way.He is the father of the Centzon Huitznahua and Quetzalcoatl. He was associated with the 14th month Quecholli when feasts and hunts were held in his honour.


God of twins and deformities. He and his brother Tecuciztecatl sacrificed themselves to create the sun and moon of the 5th and last epoch of the Aztec cosmos.


One of the four directional Tlalocs gods and patron of reed mat weavers.


The gods of pulque, the alcoholic beer made from the fermented juice of the maguey plant. They were also known as the Centzon Totochtin (400 Rabbits) as it was believed a rabbit had first discovered the juice of the maguey by nibbling on a leaf.They are the offspring of Mayahuel and Patecatl. Many were associated with specific towns, days, and time periods. They were also representative of drunkenness and sexual lust and so wore half-moon nose rings, a symbol of Tlazolteotl.




'Two Lady,' a primordial creator goddess. Another name for Tonacacihuatl.


'Two Lord,' a primordial creator god. Another name for Tonacatecuhtli. He rules the 13th and highest level of the Aztec cosmos. Patron of the day Cipactli (Crocodile).


'Two God,' the androgynous primordial god whose male and female aspects are Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl.


'Left-handed,' one of the Tlalocs gods and protector of those who lived near water. Credited with inventing equipment for fishing such as nets and harpoons.


Father of the Octli Deities and god of drunkenness. His consort is Mayahuel and was also associated with medicine, herbs, and mushrooms. Patron of the day Malinalli (Grass).


Messenger of Huitzilopochtli.


The young sun god who was a manifestation of Tonatiuh, the supreme sun god of Mesoamerica. His most frequent manifestation was Xochipilli, god of summer and flowers. He is the 3rd of the nine Lords of the Night.


The god of the sacred Smoke Mountain.


'Split at the Top,' an earth goddess associated with duality.


'Quetzal Feathered-Serpent,' the god of winds, rains and storms who is half snake and half quetzal bird. He is the son of the primordial god Ometeotl and brother of Huitzilopochtli, Xipe Totec, and Tezcatlipoca. An ancient Mesoamerican god, he was considered the creator of the world and mankind, the discoverer of maize, and inventor of agriculture, science, the arts, and the calendar. He is the 9th of the 13 Lords of the Day. His name was adopted as part of an Aztec ruler's titles.




An aspect of Cihuacoatl associated with pregnancy and childbirth.


A moon god and brother of Nanahuatzin. The pair sacrificed themselves to create the sun and moon of the 5th and last epoch of the Aztec cosmos. Patron of the day Miquiztli (Death).


The god who honoured warriors who fell in the 'Flower Wars' which gathered sacrificial victims. He was, with Mictlantecuhtli, the 6th of the 13 Lords of the Day.


'Mountain Heart,' a jaguar god of the earth's regenerative powers.


'Little Old Hills,' the little Tlalocs, gods associated with mountain rain and water.


'Deities-Their-Mother,' an earth goddess associated with fertility.


'Bald Rock Honourable Place,' god of the sacred mountain of that name.


'Smoking Mirror,' the omnipotent and all-seeing god responsible for all things which happen. Also known as Ipalnemoani ('Lord of the Near'), Moyocoyani ('Maker of Himself'), Titlacauan ('We His Slaves'), Tloque Nahuaque ('Night-Wind'), and Yaotl ('Enemy'). Tezcatlipoca could be a bringer of happiness but also took on more sinister connotations when he was known as the lord of the shadows or night, a sorcerer of black magic and the bringer of evil, death, and destruction as Chalchiuhtecólotl, 'Precious Owl,' or Chalchiuhtotolin, 'Precious Turkey'. The god, being the supreme deity, was closely linked with Aztec rulers and so was a major feature of coronation ceremonies. He was especially revered at Texcoco. Tezcatlipoca was the 10th of the 13 Lords of the Day, was associated with day 1 Death, and especially worshipped during Toxcatl, the 5th month of the 18-month solar year. He was associated with the horned owl in the Mesoamerican calendar, whilst his nagual or animal spirit was the jaguar.




The gods representing the Pleiades constellation.


The Aztec version of the Mesoamerican Bat-god who represented maize and fertility.


'Dawn Lord,' representing an aspect of Venus, the Morning Star, whose rays could damage both people and crops. He is 12th of the 13 Lords of the Day.


'He Who is the Embodiment of Earth,' the god of rain, water, lightning, floods, droughts, and agriculture. In the Aztec Creation myth, Tlaloc was ruler of the 3rd Sun, he was linked to Mazatl (Deer), the 7th day, his calendar equivalent was 9 Ocelotl - the Jaguar, he was number 8 of the 13 Lords of the Day and 9th Lord of the Night, and his animal sign was the eagle. Tlaloc had four particular manifestations as the four colours and the four cardinal directions, collectively known as the Tlalocs. His sister is Chalchiuhtlicue (or in some versions his wife or mother), herself a goddess of rivers, oceans, and floods. Tlaloc had two wives: first Xochiquetzal, the flower and fertility goddess, but when she was abducted by Tezcatlipoca, he took a second, Matlalcueitl, another rain deity. Associated with mountains, Tlaloc was considered the ruler of the Tlaloque - a motley group of rain, weather, and mountain gods (Little Tlalocs). Tlaloc had a temple dedicated to him on top of the Templo Mayor at Tenochtitlan.The god was especially worshipped in the months of Atlcahualo (the 1st in the Aztec solar calendar), Tozoztontli (3rd) and Atemoztli (the 16th).




'Place of Tlaloc,' Mt. Tlaloc, dwelling place of Tlaloc the rain god and the otherworldly paradise where victims of floods, storms, and diseases such as leprosy were received after death.


'Little Tlalocs,' a group of mountain gods associated with rain and water who were ruled by Tlaloc. They represent the four cardinal directions.


'Earth Lady' (although the name has a male suffix), an earth goddess associated with fertility. In mythology, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, in the form of snakes, ripped her body in two. From one half came the sky, and the other became the earth. She is the 2nd of the 13 Lords of the Day. She swallows the sun every evening and regurgitates it the next morning.


'Sacred Filth,' goddess of filth and lust but also purification and cures of diseases. She was associated with the 11th month Ochpaniztli. She was patron of the day Ocelotl (Jaguar), 5th of the 13 Lords of the Day and 7th of the nine Lords of the Night.


'Grandmother,' an important earth goddess associated with fertility, warfare, cures, and the patron of midwives. She was also known as Teteo Innan ('Mother of the Gods') and Tlalli Iyollo ('Heart of the Earth'). Toci was honoured by a major harvest festival in the 11th month, Ochpaniztli.


'Our Flesh Woman,' a primordial creator goddess. Another name for Omecihuatl.


'Our Flesh Lord,' another name for Ometecuhtli, he was a primordial creator god closely linked to procreation. He was patron of the first day Cipactli and the trecena 1 Cipactli.


The 13 Lords of the Day and their associated 'bird':
  1. Xiuhtecuhtli / Huehueteotl (blue hummingbird)
  2. Tlaltecuhtli (green hummingbird)
  3. Chalchiutlicue (hawk)
  4. Tonatiuh (quail)
  5. Tlazolteotl (eagle)
  6. Teoyaomiqui / Mictlantecuhtli (screech owl)
  7. Centeotl-Xochipilli (butterfly)
  8. Tlaloc (eagle)
  9. Quetzalcoatl (turkey)
  10. Tezcatlipoca (horned owl)
  11. Mictlantecuhtli / Chalmecatecuhtli (macaw)
  12. Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli (quetzal)
  13. Ilamatecuhtli (parrot)


'Honoured Mother,' an earth goddess associated with fertility. A benevolent manifestation of Cihuacoatl.


'Ascending Eagle,' the Mesoamerican Sun god who, for the Aztecs, was seen as a fierce war god.


Fierce female star demons who roamed during particular calendar and celestial events such as eclipses (when they could be seen in the sky). They devoured the unwary and, for the Aztecs, if the sun did not rise after the 52-year cycle and New Fire Ceremony, then the Tzitzimime would destroy the world.


The 'grandmother' goddess in the sky whose demon servants are the Tzitzimime.


'Tender Maize,' god of the first maize and associated with the 8th month Hueytecuihuitl.


'Flayed Lord,' the god of spring, and patron god of seeds, planting, and metalworkers (especially goldsmiths) and gemstone workers. Xipe Totec was the son of the primordial androgynous god Ometeotl and the brother of Tezcatlipoca, Huitzilopochtli and Quetzalcoatl. Considered the source of diseases amongst mankind, he, nevertheless, received many offerings from worshippers calling for him to cure illnesses, especially eye ailments. He was associated with the unfavourable 15th Aztec day-name and was represented by the date 1 Ocelotl. Every spring in the second month of the solar year the festival of Tlacaxipehualiztli (aka Coailhuitl or the Snake Festival) was held in honour when war captives were skinned in symbolic imitation of the regeneration of plants and seeds which shed their husks and thereby provide new seeds.

Xipe Totec

Xipe Totec


The fiery snake which helps Huitzilopochtli kill Coyolxauhqui and the Centzon Huitznahua. He was associated with turquoise, grass, and the solar year, and is the emblem of the Fire god Xiuhtecuhtli.


'Turquoise Lord,' god of fire, the hearth, and time. He was closely associated with young warriors and rulers. Xiuhtecuhtli was the patron of the day Atl (water) and the trecena period 1 Coatl (Snake) and associated with the month Izcalli. He was the 1st Aztec Lord of the Night and 1st of the Lords of the Day. His nagual or animal spirit was Xiuhcoatl or the Fire Serpent, and his special number was three because in traditional Mesoamerican homes there were three hearths. One of Xiuhtecuhtli's most important roles was as overseer of the Toxiuhmolpilia festival or New Fire Ceremony. Held once every 52 years on the completion of one full cycle of the Aztec calendar, the primary function of the festival was to ensure the successful renewal of the sun.


'Flower Prince,' god of summer, flowers, pleasure, love, dancing, painting, feasting, creativity, and souls. Closely associated with the corn (maize) god Centeotl, he was sometimes referred to as the 'Corn-flower Prince' or Centeotl-Xochipilli, the 7th Lord of the Day. He could also appear as Ahuiateotl, the god of voluptuousness, as something of a youthful and carefree pleasure-seeker, perhaps with a playfully mischievous streak. He has a sister (or female counterpart), Xochiquetzal. The god was associated with butterflies and poetry and the 11th of the 20 Aztec days: Ozomatli (Monkey). He was especially worshipped at Xochimilco.


'Flower Quetzal,' a goddess of flowers, grain, pleasure, and weavers. She also protected childbirth and young mothers and was the patron of the arts in general. She was associated with the 13th month Hueypachtli (aka Tepeilhuitl) and patron of the day Xochitl (Flower) and trecena 1 Xochitl.


Canine god and companion of Quetzalcoatl who was associated with illness and deformity. He is patron of the day Ollin (Earthquake).


'Nose Lord,' god of traders and merchants.


'Lord of the Night,' god of the night sun as it descended into the Underworld.


The nine Lords of the Night and their associated augury:
  1. Xiuhtecuhtli / Huehueteotl (unfavourable)
  2. Itztli (unfavourable)
  3. Piltzintecuhtli-Tonatiuh (excellent)
  4. Centeotl (excellent)
  5. Mictlantecuhtli (favourable)
  6. Chalchiutlicue (favourable)
  7. Tlazolteotl (unfavourable)
  8. Tepeyolohtli-Tezcatlipoca (favourable)
  9. Tlaloc (favourable)


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