10 Important Aztec Gods and Goddesses

By: Marie Look  | 
aztec temple
Today, you can still visit the Temple of Quetzalcóatl in Teotihuacán, Mexico. Getty Images / Getty Images

The Aztec civilization may have peaked more than 500 years ago, but all the Aztec gods and goddesses remain culturally significant even today.

Once central to the Aztec religion, these deities represented different facets of people's lives, nature and the universe. In contemporary culture, they're the focus of numerous historical studies, films, books, visual works of art and other media.


It's worth learning more about these supernatural beings who influenced Mesoamerican culture so heavily. Here's a brief introduction to the Aztec gods and a list of 10 of the most important deities the Aztecs believed in.

An Overview of Aztec Religion and Mythology

Aztec religion was polytheistic, meaning there were many different gods and goddesses who played important roles in the people's belief system. These supernatural beings reflected the nuances of Aztec culture, from Tezcatlipoca, the creator god, to Chicomecoatl, the patron goddess of farmers.

At the heart of Aztec mythology was the concept of duality, wherein each god had a counterpart who represented contrasting forces. This duality was emblematic of the Aztec worldview, reflecting the balance and harmony the human beings strived to maintain in both the earthly and supernatural realms.


10 Important Aztec Gods and Goddesses

The Aztec belief system was extensive, with more than 200 gods and goddesses influencing the people's religious practices. A handful of gods, however, were particularly influential in Aztec mythology. Here are 10 of the main Aztec gods who were central to their culture.

1. Chicomecōātl

Nicole Antonio/DALL-E

People revered the Aztec goddess of maize, Chicomecoatl, as the provider of sustenance and agricultural abundance. She played a vital role in Aztec rituals and ceremonies related to planting.


Farmers and young mothers worshipped her, seeking her blessings for bountiful crops and healthy children.

2. Coatlicue

Nicole Antonio/DALL-E

The mother of gods, Coatlicue was a fertility god and the patron god of the earth who represented the cycle of life and death. People often depicted her as a fearsome figure with a serpent skirt, meant to symbolize the interconnectedness of life and the underworld.

3. Huitzilopochtli

Nicole Antonio/DALL-E

People revered Huitzilopochtli, known as the Aztec sun god and the patron god of the Aztecs, as the god of war, sun and human sacrifice.

A central deity in their religious practices, Huitzilopochtli led the Aztecs on their migrations and military campaigns. The Aztecs believed this Aztec god waged a continuous battle against darkness and an unseen evil power, symbolizing the eternal struggle between life and death.

4. Mictlantecuhtli

Nicole Antonio/DALL-E

The Aztec god of death and lord of the underworld, Mictlantecuhtli ruled over Mictlan, the realm of the dead. People often depicted him as a skeletal figure wearing a skull mask. He ruled alongside his consort, Mictecacihuatl, the lady of the dead.

5. Tezcatlipoca

Nicole Antonio/DALL-E

One of the most important Aztec gods, Tezcatlipoca was the creator god, although the people believed he was both a creator and a destroyer.

Aztec society associated this important Aztec god, also known as the Smoking Mirror, with sorcery, fate and the night sky, believing he epitomized the dualities of order and chaos.

6. Tlaloc

Nicole Antonio/DALL-E

As the rain god, Tlaloc held immense power over the Aztec people's agricultural fertility. The Aztec people showered this Aztec god with devotion and made regular offerings, both revering and fearing him for his power to bring life-sustaining rains or devastating floods.

Ancient rituals in Tlaloc's honor took place on Cerro Tlaloc, a mountain in Central Mexico that may have been a kind of solar timekeeper or Aztec calendar and is now a major archaeological site.

7. Quetzalcóatl

Nicole Antonio/DALL-E

One of the most important gods in the Aztec religion, if not the most important Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl was the feathered serpent deity associated with wind, learning and knowledge.

People also considered this Aztec god to be a symbol of fertility and creation. Quetzalcoatl played a central role in Aztec myths and often appeared as a benevolent figure.

8. Xipe Totec

Xipe Totec
Xipe Totec.
Nicole Antonio/DALL-E

The Flayed One, Xipe Totec was the Aztec god of vegetation, renewal and warfare. He was often depicted wearing the flayed skin of a sacrificial victim, symbolizing of shedding one's skin during the renewal of life, such as is the case with a snake.

9. Xochiquetzal

Nicole Antonio/DALL-E

As the Aztec goddess of love, beauty and fertility, Xochiquetzal held a central place in Aztec mythology. People associated her with flowers, pleasure and childbirth, and often depicted her adorned with floral garments and jewelry.

10. Xolotl

Nicole Antonio/DALL-E

Xolotl was the Aztec god of lightning and death, often appearing as a dog-headed deity. He was a guide for souls on their journey to the afterlife, and people associated him with the planet Venus, also known as the evening star or morning star.

The Aztecs believed him to accompany the sun during its nightly journey through the underworld. In particular, travelers considered Xolotl their protector, looking to Venus in the nocturnal sky as a symbol of his watchful eye.


Honoring the Gods With Rituals

Central to Aztec religious practices were elaborate rituals and ceremonies designed to appease the gods and maintain cosmic order. Human sacrifices, though controversial and often misunderstood, played a significant role in Aztec religion. These nourished the gods and ensured the continued stability of the universe.

At the heart of Aztec religious life stood the Great Temple, or Templo Mayor, in what is now the capital city of Mexico City. This monumental structure served as the focal point of religious activities, where priests offered sacrifices to the Aztec gods as acts of devotion, including flayed human skin and sacrificial blood.


Aztec Mythology and Creation Cycles

Aztec mythology provided a framework for understanding the origins of the universe and humanity's place within it. According to legend, the cosmos had undergone several cycles of creation and destruction, each associated with a different sun and governed by a specific Aztec god or goddess.

People believed the sacrificial blood of fallen warriors sustained the current era, known as the Fifth Sun, ensuring the sun's journey across the sky and the continuity of human life. This cyclical view of time permeated Aztec culture, influencing everything from religious rituals to agricultural practices.


The Legacies of the Aztec Gods

Despite the decline of the Aztec civilization following the Spanish conquest in the early 1500s, the legacy of their ancient deities and mythology endures to this day.

From Tlaloc's main shrine in central Mexico to Chicomecoatl's association with the maguey plant, traces of Aztec religious beliefs persist in Mexico and beyond.


We created this article created in conjunction with AI technology, then made sure it was fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.