AZTEC RELIGION 4
Theimportance of religion cannot be understated as far as the health andwellbeing of the society is concerned. It is well acknowledged thatreligions are usually aimed at guiding the conduct of individuals inthe society and nourishing them spiritually. Of particular note isthe fact that there may be some fundamental variations between thereligions of the past and those that are in the contemporary humansociety. However, every religion incorporates some distinctiveaspects that distinguish it from other religions in the society andbeyond. This is the case for the Aztec religion.
Religionwas considered a crucial component of Aztec life, with theindividuals worshipping a large number of gods and goddesses. Each ofthe gods and goddesses ruled a particular aspect of human activitiesor nature. It may be acknowledged that the individuals had a largenumber of agricultural gods as their culture was primarily based onfarming (Smith,2002).This should not undermine the fact that the Aztec religion wascomposed of immensely complicated and interesting set of beliefs thatallowed for the leaving of a legacy that can be studied.
Onecomponent of the religious Aztec legends revolves around the beliefin a hierarchy of gods and goddesses. Indeed, the Aztec mythologystated that three gods occupied the top tier including Quetzalcoatl(or the sovereign plumed serpent), Huitzilopochtili (or thehummingbird wizard) and Tezcatlipoca (or the smoking mirror). Underthese three gods, the individuals that practiced the Aztec religionheld the belief that the existed four sub-gods, as well as aninfinite number of gods below or under the four (Smith,2002).These included the gods of growth and the god of rain. It may beacknowledged that the Aztec religion allowed for the determination ofthe importance or placement of a god in the hierarchy subject totheir needs.
Inaddition, Aztec religion also had sacrifices as one of itsfundamental aspects. At the root of the Aztec rituals lay the beliefthat it was necessary for human beings to nourish the gods. It may beacknowledged that the nourishment of the gods was accomplished byhuman blood, in which case a component of the Aztec religion was totake part in bloodletting or rather the deliberate harming anddrawing of blood from human body (Aguilar-Moreno,2007).Of particular note is the fact that the individuals that occupiedhigh positions or had a higher status in the religion were expectedor required to produce the largest amount of blood for the gods. Inaddition, the goddesses and gods needed to be nourished with livinghearts of human beings (Soustelle,2002).As much as every other heart of an individual was considered good,the bravest captives were deemed to be particularly nourishing, inwhich case the Aztec society took part in widespread warring in aneffort to have captives for sacrifices (Aguilar-Moreno,2007).Human sacrifices were made in more or less the same way apart fromthe case of Huehueteotl, the god of cold, death and warmth. Thecaptive would be thrown in fire and then taken out prior to dying,after which his heart would be removed and thrown in the fire(Soustelle,2002).The bloodletting and human sacrifices were believed to bring peaceand balance in the world.
Inaddition, the Aztec religion incorporated some element of belief inafter life, particularly for the case of warriors who captured thesacrifices used in appeasing the gods. In essence, the god Camaxtliwas believed to lead the soldiers that died in battle and the humansacrifices to eastern sky where they turned into stars(Aguilar-Moreno,2007).
Aguilar-Moreno,M. (2007). Handbookto life in the Aztec world.Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Smith,M. E. (2002). TheAztecs.Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub.
Soustelle,J. (2002). Dailylife of the Aztecs: On the eve of the Spanish conquest.London: Phoenix Press.