Heavens Lessons: Ten Things I Learned About God When I Died

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The lowest layer of the sky was a verdant spring-like place with abundant water called Tlalocan "the place of Tlaloc". After death, the soul of the Aztec went to one of three places: the sun, Mictlan, or Tlalocan. Souls of fallen warriors and women that died in childbirth would transform into hummingbirds that followed the sun on its journey through the sky.


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Souls of people who died from less glorious causes would go to Mictlan. Those who drowned would go to Tlalocan. In Aztec cosmology, as in Mesoamerica in general, geographical features such as caves and mountains held symbolic value as places of crossing between the upper and nether worlds. The cardinal directions were symbolically connected to the religious layout of the world as well; each direction was associated with specific colors and gods.

To the Aztecs, death was instrumental in the perpetuation of creation, and gods and humans alike had the responsibility of sacrificing themselves in order to allow life to continue. This worldview is best described in the myth of the five suns recorded in the Codex Chimalpopoca, which recounts how Quetzalcoatl stole the bones of the previous generation in the underworld, and how later the gods created four successive worlds or "suns" for their subjects to live in, all of which were destroyed.

Then by an act of self-sacrifice , one of the gods, Nanahuatzin "the pimpled one" caused a fifth and final sun to rise where the first humans, made out of maize dough, could live thanks to his sacrifice. Humans were responsible for the sun's continued revival. Blood sacrifice in various forms were conducted. Both humans and animals were sacrificed, depending on the god to be placated and the ceremony being conducted, and priests of some gods were sometimes required to provide their own blood through self-mutilation.

Sacrificial rituals among the Aztecs and in Mesoamerica, in general, must be seen in the context of religious cosmology: sacrifice and death was necessary for the continued existence of the world. Likewise, each part of life had one or more deities associated with it and these had to be paid their dues in order to achieve success. Gods were paid with sacrificial offerings of food, flowers, effigies, and quail.

But the larger the effort required of the god, the greater the sacrifice had to be. Blood-fed the gods and kept the sun from falling. For some of the most important rites, a priest would offer his own blood, by cutting his ears, arms, tongue, thighs, chest or genitals, or offer a human life or even a god's life. The people who were sacrificed came from many segments of society, and might be a war captive, slave, or a member of Aztec society; the sacrifice might also be man or woman, adult or child, noble or commoner.

An important aspect of Aztec ritual was the impersonation of deities. As with the impersonation of gods, Aztec ritual was often a reenactment of a mythical event which at once served to remind the Aztecs of their myths but also served to perpetuate the world by repeating the important events of the creation. The Aztec religious year was connected mostly to the natural day calendar, the xiuhpohualli "yearcount" — which followed the agricultural year.

Each of the 18 twenty-day months of the religious year had its particular religious festival — most of which were connected to agricultural themes.

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The greatest festival was the Xiuhmolpilli or New Fire ceremony held every 52 years when the ritual and agricultural calendars coincided and a new cycle started. In the table below, the veintena festivals are shown, the deities with which they were associated and the kinds of rituals involved. The main deity in the Mexica religion was the sun god and war god , Huitzilopochtli. He directed the Mexicas to found a city on the site where they would see an eagle , devouring not all chronicles agree on what the eagle was devouring, one says it was a precious bird, and though Father Duran says it was a snake, this is not mentioned in any pre-Hispanic source perched on a fruit bearing nopal cactus.

Legend has it that this is the site on which the Mexicas built their capital city of Tenochtitlan.

Tenochtitlan was built on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco where modern-day Mexico City is located. This legendary vision is pictured on the Coat of Arms of Mexico.

According to their own history, when the Mexicas arrived in the Anahuac Valley around Lake Texcoco, they were considered by the other groups as the least civilized of all. The Mexicas decided to learn, and they took all they could from other peoples, especially from the ancient Toltec whom they seem to have partially confused with the more ancient civilization of Teotihuacan.

To the Mexicas, the Toltecs were the originators of all culture; "Toltecayotl" was a synonym for culture. Mexica legends identify the Toltecs and the cult of Quetzalcoatl with the mythical city of Tollan , which they also identified with the more ancient Teotihuacan. As the Mexica rose in power, they adopted the Nahua gods at equal status to their own. For instance, Tlaloc was the rain god of all the Nahuatl-speaking peoples.

They put their local god Huitzilopochtli at the same level as the ancient Nahua god, and also replaced the Nahua Sun god with their own. Human sacrifice was practiced on a grand scale throughout the Aztec empire, although the exact figures were unknown. For millennia, the practice of human sacrifice was widespread in Mesoamerican and South American cultures.

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Human sacrifice was a very complex ritual. Every sacrifice had to be meticulously planned from the type of victim to the specific ceremony needed for the god. The sacrificial victims were usually warriors but sometimes slaves, depending upon the god and needed ritual. The higher the rank of the warrior the better he is looked at as a sacrifice. The victim s would then take on the persona of the god he was to be sacrificed for. The victim s would be housed, fed, and dressed accordingly. This process could last up to a year.

When the sacrificial day arrived, the victim s would participate in the specific ceremonies of the god. These ceremonies were used to exhaust the victim so that he would not struggle during the ceremony. Then five priests, known as the Tlenamacac , performed the sacrifice usually at the top of a pyramid. The victim would be laid upon the table, held down and then have his heart cut out. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Religion of the Aztecs. This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.

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Email address. Please enter a valid email address. Exodus And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof….

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Psalm Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights…. Ephesians Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:. Romans For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,.

Colossians For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:. Ephesians Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:.