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Aztec Religion, Gods

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.mythology,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.newage,alt.satanism
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: Aztec Religion, Gods
Date: 16 Jun 1998 12:46:43 -0700

[from private email: "Mr. Scratch" ]

While there is some linguistic/metaphorical relation to Burning Water
("teoatl tlachinolli" or more precisely translated as "Divine Liquid and
Burning Things"), the latter has nothing to do with pre-dawn mist or
bodies of water.  It is a reference to sacred warfare, performed at least
as a pretext, for feeding the sun/war god Huitzilopochtli.  The metaphor
extends from the typical Aztec ritual of obscuring a battlefield just
prior to battle by building huge bonfires upwind, and loading them with
mountains of incense.  While the battle raged, the precious blood
"offering" would be spilled on the field.  The Aztec fixation on dualism
gave the contrast between flame/smoke and liquid a particular spiritual
bent (it's more complex than this, but that's the short version of it).

The metaphor of Tezcatlipoca ("Smoking Mirror") can be extended to a lot
of things, to include mist on lakes, the Milky Way on a moonless night, as
well as an extended version of Burning Water (Tezcatlipoca is the god who
introduced war to mankind, and continues to inspire its occurrence -- their
glyphs are very similar).  It is generally recognized, however, that the
name most specifically refers to the obsidian scrying mirrors that were
considered the god's idol (in fact, such mirrors were said to be literally
connected to him, via the mirror he wore as a prosthetic in place of his
right foot).  The word "Tezcat" means both "standing pool of water" and
"mirror".  The "smoke" is said to refer to the hazy curtain that Priests
would claim rose from the surface of the mirror during their scrying
sessions.  And again, it was a play on the union of opposites that the
Toltecs and Aztecs liked to incorporate.

RE Quetzalcoatl's name being a metaphor for a hummingbird:
Not that I've ever heard.  Hummingbirds were very specifically identified
with the sun/war god Huitzilopochtli (literally "The Blue Hummingbird from
the South"), whose emphasis on violence and sacrifice were rather at odds
with Quetzalcoatl's pacifism.  Living hummingbirds were said to be the
beloved of Huitzilopochtli, the returned spirits of soldiers killed in

"Feathered Serpent" is not supposed to be taken as a literal
anthropomorphic image.  He was /not/ supposed to be thought of as a
feathery snake -- he is only portrayed as such in symbolic sense, the way
early Christians represented Jesus as a fish, via a Greek acronym.  The
name is intended to be a sophisticated Nahuatl pun, meaning "Precious
Twin," that relies on two double meanings.  Quetzal means both "feather" 
and "precious", in light of the extraordinary value the Nahuatl people
placed on the green feathers of the quetzal bird.  "Coatl" means both
"snake" and "twin", thanks to some strange identification of the two ends
of a snake resembling one another (a more graphic illustration can be seen
in the famous Aztec turquoise carving of a double-ended snake).  The
intention of this sophisticated bit of linguistic trickery is to identify
him as the kinder and more pleasant half of a whole, of which the dark,
dangerous Tezcatlipoca was the other.

Mr. Scratch

-- (emailed replies may be posted); 408/2-666-SLUG
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