Aztec Cosmology and World View.

While no genuine native account of the Aztec Cosmology and World View remains, it may be understood from remaining texts and images.

To summarise the studies of the Nahua [Aztec] world view, we find that there is a center, or navel that marks the principal point where the horizontal and vertical planes cross. In this centre, on all levels, is the concept of Ometeotl (Two Lord). It is the dual principal, govenor of the structure of the Universe, father of the gods or cosmic forces, the same that is found in the celestial levels as in the center and lower world."(Moctezuma 1984:186)

This concept is best described diagramatically whereby the Templo Mayor is at the centre of the Aztec world view, or universe. On the horizontal plane are the four compass points; north, east, south and west. These are also integral to the world view as they not only symbolised actual directions, but also those of the universe. Each direction is made distinct by different colours, gods and symbols. Hence, "North corresponds to the black Tezcatlipoca, which is the direction or place of Mictlampa, the region of the Dead, and symbolised by flint. To the south belongs the blue Tezcatlipoca, related to Huitzilopochtli, whose symbol is the rabbit. The east corresponds to the red Tezcatlipoca, Tlapalan, symbolised by a reed, and the west to Quetzalcoatl, god of the wind, whose colour is white and whose symbol is house, Calli."(Moctezuma 1984:187)

These directions were surounded by the CEM-ANAHUAC, or wheel of water. Conversely, on the vertical plane, which consists of three levels. The centre, that is, where the horizontal and vertical axis meet, is the earthly level. Upwards from the earthly level is the upper level which consists of thirteen heavens or CIELOS.

Finally, there is the underworld which heads downwards from the earthly level, and consists of nine levels which lead to Mictlan, or the place of the dead.

Moctezuma concludes that the Templo Mayor is at the centre of this universe, the point of intersection of the horizontal and vertical planes, of the upper and lower plane, and of the four directions of the universe. "Moreover, the structure itself represents the totality of the vision the Mexica had of the universe. It not only subsumes this worldview, but it is at the same time the living, real prescence of some of the Aztecs principal myths."(Moctezuma 1983:189)


Aztec cosmogony is the theory of the origin of the universe and comprises of ten major sequential episodes:
the original genesis;
the creation of present mankind;
the acquisition of mans sustenance;
the creation of the present sun and moon;
the death(autosacrifice) of the gods;
the institution of terrestrial war and human sacrifice to feed the gods and sustain the universe;
and the quasi-historical legends of the Chichimec and the Toltec.

Myth The Aztec Templo Mayor Religion.