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THE OLD GODS

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All ancient peoples of the world created a religious structure to understand life and give meaning to their existence, after the primordial need of food, shelter and clothing was satisfied. Humanity, in all levels of life, seeks to find a relation between the cosmic and nature through ideas and conjectures of how the world and human beings were created. Then, through either complicated or simple religious beliefs, a society tries to understand and explain what happens after death. The majority of the world’s cultures believe that death is not the final step because there is a link between an unseen supreme force and the people. Our own Old Grandparents believed in a pantheon of ancient gods known by different names in various cultures, but the deities served for the same purpose: to explain the belief of creation by unseen minor and major holy gods.

 

TLOQUE NAHUAQUE - FOR WHOM WE LIVE

 

Our Old Grandparents recognized the existence of an all-powerful god that was the creator of heaven and earth and all there is in both. They believed in this omnipotent god and because they were mere insignificant mortals, they could neither give him a name nor build an image to represent him. The people refer to this supreme god by three names: the first was "One for Whom We Live." The name given to the god was because the entire life of an individual was consecrated to him from birth to death. The god was also known as "Night Wind," because the people said he could not be seen and was invisible as night itself. The third name was "Lord of Near and Far," because his power allowed him to be present with them and at the same time in any other part of the world.

 

OMETEOTL – DIVINE DUALITY

 

Another form to refer to the supreme deity was to call him Ometeotl – Divine Duality, because the Old Grandparents believed the god was so powerful that he could be both, male and female. His power was seen in everything found in the world because every thing in his creation had negative and positive qualities: Day and night, cold and hot, above and below. Therefore, the name Ometeotl was derive from the word Ometecuhtli – Of The Two: Lord; while Ometecihuatl was Of The Two: Lady.

 

TLALOC - THE GIVER OF MATERIAL LIFE

 

The people believed that the world was made up of two realms: material and spiritual. The material realm, life, was symbolical represented by water. They understood that when there is no water, there is no life. Therefore, Tlaloc became the god of water. The god was known by other names in different Mesoamerican cultures, The cult, however, had the same basis in theology and philosophy. Tlaloc represented water in all forms: in lightening and thundering and rain. The Mexica call him Tlaloc, the Zapotec called him Cocijo, Chac to the Maya and Tajin to the Totonac. Though known by different names to different cultures, his image always retained the large discs around the eyes and a tongue like a serpent.

 

QUETZALCOATL – GOD OF WIND

 

Quetzalcoatl – Feathered Serpent – was represented as the divine breath of the one who gives consciousness to human beings. He is the protector of humanity, the giver of consciousness and wisdom. The one who teaches us how to live virtuous and purposeful lives. That is why, the third level of education we explained before, called the Calmecac, was consecrated to this deity. The Maya called him Kukulcan, the Mexica called him Quetzalcoatl and the Zapotec called him Belaguetza. To these cultures, he represented the spiritual, the wisdom and virtues in all human beings.

 

HUEHUETEOTL – GRANDFATHER OF THE GODS

 

The old god Huehueteotl, was known as the grandfather of the gods. He was associated with the fire that transforms and liberates the essence in matter. He was the symbolic energy of life, the vital force that runs along the spine chord. The knowledge and use of fire was the main achievement of ancient peoples. Fire protects, destroys, provides warmth, and a necessary element to cook meals. It was around fire, that people gathered at first for warmth. Later on, they learned to use fire to cook their meals. They also learned to use it for protection against beasts and other human beings, but they also sought answers to problems, deliberated on theological matters and attached mystical powers to this element.

 

TONATZIN – OUR BELOVED MOTHER

 

Tonatzin is the goddess representing earth and birth. She stands for generosity and kindness. The earth gives us our sustenance. The earth gives us shelter and protection. Its love is like a mother’s, infinite and maternal. Human beings turn to her for help, for food, for protection and liberation. Like in all worldly religions, religious figures are metaphors of complex and profound truth. Tonatzin, like all the gods of ancient Mexico, she has many representations and patronages. One of this was incorporated in the Catholic faith as the Virgen of Guadalupe.

 

MICTLANTECUTLI – LORD OF DEATH

 

Our Old Grandparents believed human beings went after death to four different places, according to the way they had lived. The first place, Ilhuicatltonatiuh, was destined for the Warriors of the Flowery Battle who accompanied the Sun with music, song and dance, from sunrise to sunset. The second place called Chichihuacuahco, was reserved for infants. In that place, there was a large tree that fed the infants by exuding milk drop by drop. The infants would return to the world at the end of the cycle of the Fifth Sun. Tlalocan was the mansion of the Moon and of Tlaloc. It was a paradise for those who had encountered death in relation to water. The last place, Mictlan, was governed by Mictlantecutly and Mictlanciuahtl , the Lord and Lady of Death. This was destined for those who have lived unproductive lives. Because of this grave sin, they were forced to make a trip, four years long, full of hardships and sorrows before they could attain entrance to the underworld. When they arrived at their final destination, the souls dissolved into nothing; thus leaving no evidence of their existence.

 

TEZCATLIPOCA – SMOKING MIRROR

 

Tezcatlipoca is the counterpart of Quetzalcoatl, He represents the night and he is associated with the Moon. This god, eternally young, was the patron of the Telpochcalli, that is, the school for the Warriors of the Flowery Battle. Tezcatlipoca was the intercessor for those who have fallen into the dark side of life. He is represented in the figure of a jaguar. The name Tezcatlipoca means Smoking Mirror because through him, the image of man and his conscience can be seen. Lord of darkness and of shadows, he knows the human heart. He represents the untruthful inner spirit. His presence meant immediate danger. In the temple of the warriors, he represented the interior battle against darkness.

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