Serpent Gods in Aztec Mythology

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Aztecs had a pantheon of Serpent Gods to which they attributed the creation and workings of the natural world. One of their principle gods, Quetzalcoatl, translated as feathered serpent, had many manifestations, each holding an important role part of the Aztec myths of creation and the workings of the natural world. As Braden points out the main of the many roles designated to Quetzalcoatl is that he along with his brother Huitzilopochtli took the task of creation of humanity besides the creation of life, including gods, environments and all living substances (1930, p.120). He accomplished this task by splashing his blood on the bones and ashes of previous human beings that had existed in a previous age. Out of this auto-sacrifice of blood sprang a male and then a female child, the forbearers of all modern people. Brundage goes on to say that thus Quetzalcoatl is not only a god to be worshiped out of reverence for his powers over nature but as a father figure as well. The Aztecs saw him as a god who was benevolent and the reason for their existence (1979, p.106).

Another manifestation of Quetzalcoatl is that of the wind. The Aztec name for a tornado or thunderstorm wind was ehecacoatl or roughly translated "wind snake" . The wind that blows before the storm is traditionally associated with complex deity. The wind is a powerful force of nature and it is easy to see how a society could attribute the characteristics of a snake to the wind. The wind swirls and moves with effortless grace, just as a snake glides along the ground. Brundage goes on to say that this "shows the ease with which the Aztec mind accepted the reptilian nature of the wind" (1979, p.106-107).
However the most common account presents Quetzalcoatl in human form and as a holy priest who comes down from his heavenly abode to give the Aztec people a new religion. Brundage points out that he tries to make the Aztecs rituals more of a personal spiritual event. Before his arrival the legend says that



References: Braden, Charles S. Religious Aspects of the Conquest of Mexico. Duke University Press. Duhram, NC: 1930. Brundage, Burr Cartwright. The Fifth Sun. University of Texas Press. Austin TX: 1979.

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