Adrian Baumann
East Whittier Middle School

Similarities with the Spanish and Aztec religions

The Aztec religion, polytheistic and based on nature incorporated the main god of tribes they conquered. This, however, gave them such a large amount of gods that it became impossible to worship them all. Which led to the formation of separate cults which worshiped one god supreme and others as minor gods. This can be compared loosely to the many separate branches of Christianity such as Protestant, Catholic, Lutheran, or in particular, to Catholicism and the Saints.
Aztec legend of the creation of mankind and the origins of the Aztec tribe tie directly into reasons for human sacrifice. The main points in these legends is that the gods sacrificed for humans, thus, humans must sacrifice for the gods. Furthermore, the gods depended on humans for the precious liquid chalchihuatl, -- human blood to sustain themselves. In Catholicism Christ was crucified to pay for human sins, in turn, Catholics sacrifice during lent, but also throughout the year. There is a close parallel between the Aztec gods need for blood and Catholic communion: the Catholic priest who is the representative of god is always the first one to drink the communion wine, the symbol of blood.

Another parallel is the legend of the creation of the Aztec tribe and the creation of the god Huitzilopochtli, one of the most important Aztec gods.

Huitzilopochtli was conceived spontaneously by a ball of down touching his mother. In Catholicism the Virgin Mary was visited by an angel with feathered wings to tell her that she was to give birth to the Messiah.
Moreover, Huitzilopochtli the god of the sun made the Aztec his chosen people in the same manner that the Hebrews where God's chosen people in Judaism. Since Christ the Messiah was Jewish, the followers of Christ became the chosen people of god. Another very similar characteristic between the two religions is the fact that they both had saviors. Jesus Christ came to earth to teach humans religion and proper behavior; the god Quetzalcoatl also came to teach people this. They both said that they would come again. The Aztecs view of death was similar to the Christian view. They believed that there was a hell called Mictlán and a Heaven called Tlalocán. Mictlán was ruled by the god Mictlatecuhtli and Tlalocán was ruled by Tlaloc the rain god and Huitzilopochtli the warrior god in the same manner that Satan rules hell and Jesus and God rule heaven. The world of the dead was composed 9 levels below and 13 levels above the earth. The period in hell was not permanent but considered a 4 year journey, during this time the family of the deceased made many offering and sacrifices to make the journey easier. The remnants of this Aztec belief is the present day Mexican celebration of Día De Los Muertos where people set up altars for the deceased and make food offering. In preparation for De Los Muertos candy skeletons and skeleton bread are sold throughout Mexico, this has grounds in the fact that Mictlatecuhtli the Aztec god of the dead was a skeleton. The Aztecs' belief in how to arrive in heaven are very different from most main stream religions. They believe that entrance to heaven is based on the amount of suffering during life. For instance a new born baby would go to hell for he had not suffered enough during life. In Catholicism a baby would go to limbo if not baptized prior to death for Baptism in the catholic faith is the washing away of original sin. Limbo is a midway point between heaven, hell and earth. But if a baby is baptized before death, he is immediately guaranteed entrance in heaven. The people who had suffered such as warriors, sacrificial victims, mothers who died giving birth and slaves were to enter heaven, just like good people do in the Catholic religion. Furthermore, stealing was considered bad as where most things looked upon as sins in Catholicism. The Aztec temples were a place of worship like a church.
The Spanish priests were quick to see these parallels and made use of them. The priests used the already existing religion and made changes. For instance they might change the savior's name from Quetzalcoatl to Christ they might change the virgin from Coatlicue to Mary and the method of virgin conception from a ball of down to the speaking of a Feathered angel. These changes made it easy for the Aztecs to switch religions. One of the most important factors was that by converting to Catholicism the Aztecs were given the opportunity to place themselves on the social ladder with the Spanish. This means that Mexico started to form a new culture mixed with both the Spanish and Aztec in both blood and ideals.


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