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Aztec Creation Myth

Page history last edited by lindsay.peifer@... 13 years, 2 months ago

The Death of the Four Suns

 

The Aztecs believed they were the chosen people of the sun.  To them, the sun was a young warrior.  It was born each morning from the womb of the earth and died each evening.  Before it could live the next day, the sun had to battle its brothers, the stars, and its sister, the moon.  Its victory meant a new day of life for man.

 

The sun had to be very strong to fight against the unnumbered stars of the north and the south and to frighten them away with its arrows of light.  To continue its fight, the sun needed nourishment.  Because it was a god, it could only be kept alive by life itself, by the precious blood of man.

 

As the people of the sun, the Aztecs believed it was their duty to supply the sun with food.  They carried out wars against other people, not to conquer, but to take prisoners as gifts for the sun.  Above everything else, an Aztec had to be a good warrior and be prepared to undertake the sacred responsibility of self-sacrifice.

 

Sun, sacrifice, war, warriors--these four things mean life for the Aztecs.  They lived their lives in terror that one day the sun would not be strong enough and would fail to rise.  Then life would end.

 

According to Aztec mythology, mankind and the sun had been destroyed four times in the past.  Each of these former worlds was given the name of a different sun.  The first was clled the Four-Water sun, the second was the Four-Wind sun, the third was the Four-Fire sun, and the fourth was the Four-Jaguar sun.  Whenever the gods became dissatisfied with the world as it was, they destroyed it and created a new sun.  This is the story of the destruction of the first world under the Four-Water sun.

 

The first desctruction was by water.  Disgusted with mankind, the gods charged Emerald Skirt, Goddess of WAter, to punish them. 

 

Emereld Skirt was beautiful.  Her lovely hair was crowned with a blue diadem, banded with red, and surrounded with waving green plumes.  Her earrings were turquoise. About her neck a gold medallion hung from a collar of precious stones.  Her blouse and her skirt were banded with wavelike blue, like a lake rippled by the wind.  One her swift feet were white, open sandals adorned with red bows.

 

Here eyes shone with terrible brilliance.  Seizing a banner, on whose folds were depicted the symbols of rain, storm, and lightning, she hurled herself through space and planted it upon the summit of a high mountain.  Immediately, menacing clouds gathereed.

 

She went down to the valley and entered a small house where lived an honorable married couple.  The man was named Pheasant and the woman was called Precious-Flower-Feather.  The man and the woman gazed upon their beautiful visitor in admiration.

 

To them, Emerald Skirt apparently said: "Look up at that mountain, from there will come a great flood that will overwhelm the earth.  Cut down this hollow tree and get inside it.  Take with you the fire from your hearth.  Each of you must eat only one ear of corn a day."

 

Hastening back to the cloud-crowned montain, she looked sternly in the four cardinal directions, then waved her banner with both hands and all her strength.  Lightning flashed, thunder crackled, cataracts fell from the sky.  Rain and hail pounded the earth and mighty torrents swept over everything--fileds, towns and cities.

 

The terrorized people sought salvation in trees and on the hills.  Weeping and full of fear, they begged for mercy.  "Oh gods, let us become fish." 

 

"Fish you shall be," responded the gods, according to one account, and the people, as they sank into the raging flood of water, turned into fish. 

 

But the priviledged couple floated safely in the trunk of the holy tree.  Their charcoal hearth-fire sparkled cheerfully. 

 

The waters finally subsided.  The earth dried out, and just when the survivors had finished their last ear of corn, their improvised boat grounded on the side of Mount Culhuacan, the sacred hill of the gods.  With great reverence, they carried their precious fire to their new hoe.  The gods instantly provided them with food, and the couple gave thanks to divine providence.

 

They were blessed with many children, but all were dumb, till finally a bird taught them various langauges.

 

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