Aztec mythology and culture is the result of a migration from the north of the Anahuac valley ― the heart of Mexico City. There are different stories about their origin. One myth states that they came from a place called Aztlan and this is probably why the name Azteca or Aztec stuck. Another legend has it that, they came from Chicomostoc ― the land of seven caves.
The Aztecs believed that they were guided by their god ― the 'Left-handed Hummingbird from the South'. They arrived at an island, when they saw an eagle perched on a cactus full of fruit. This was read as the fulfillment of a prophecy. They believed that they had reached their new home and so they built the city of Tenochtitlan and an artificial island.
Legend has it that when they arrived in the Anahuac valley, they were the least civilized of all the other tribes. However, their passion to learn and complement the environment, helped them to soak in the best from other people. They believed the Toltecs to be the originators of all culture. They generated several creation myths. One of the creation theories states that, there were five suns and one of them, the one that lights up our planet today, is the last one. While the earlier four perished, the last one evaded catastrophe due to the sacrifice of a god. Another myth speaks of the twin gods Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl who created the Earth. Representations of Tezcatlipoca show him without a foot, which he is said to have lost while creating the Earth.
These people worshiped a number of interesting gods. Many of the unpronounceable names lead us to believe that, they must have developed dexterous tongues. The pantheon of deities dictated the belief system in the mighty Aztec Empire. Their festivals comprised celebrations that involved the use of a lot of color, feathers, and sacrifices. Most of the festivals were believed to be held to please and coax the Sun god to keep shining brightly.
They believed that their gods must be fed with fresh blood. They also believed that they would wither and die, if not supplied with the fuel regularly. Hence, their entire culture propagated human sacrifice. People not only queued up to give up their lives at alters, but even played charity matches on any such occasion. Many of their deities belonged to a number of regions, tribes, and cultures.
Some of the many Aztec idols include: Acolmiztli - the god of the underworld, Atlacamani - the goddess of hurricanes, Atlacoya - the goddess of drought, Atlaua - the god of water, Camaxtli - the god of hunting and fire, and Chalchiuhtecolotl - the night owl. They venerated a number of serpent gods like Chicomecoatl, Coatlicue, and Xiuhcoatl. They also worshiped groups of gods such as Ahuiateteo - the five gods of excess, Centzon Huitznahua - the southern stars, Skybearers who are associated with the four cardinal directions, and Tzitzimime - the star demons of darkness.
In addition to the various gods mentioned, they also worshiped a number of supernatural creatures like Ahuitzotl - the dog-monkey, Cihuateteo - the spirits of women who die during childbirth, a vegetable spirit called Nagual, and even Tlaltecuhtli - the toad goddess. Their mythology led to worshiping of the legendary hero Popocatepetl and even a number of places. Among the places that they revered as holy were Apanoayan - the first of Mictlan's nine levels, Aztlán - the land of the herons, Mictlan - the underworld, Tlalocan - the original paradise, and Tehuantepec - the hill of the sacred jaguar.
The rich culture found complete expression in their art forms and architecture. The Aztecs left behind a construction style that is unique and as colorful as themselves.