Facts on Aztec Rituals and Sacrifices

Did you know that the Aztecs had a hierarchical/ grading system for their Gods? To discover some amazing facts about the Aztec rituals and sacrifices, go through this post.
Historyplex Staff
Last Updated: Sep 13, 2018
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The Aztecs were an ethnic group of people who supposedly originated from a mythical place called Aztlan.
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The main source of our knowledge about the history and culture of the Aztecs, is through the written descriptions which date back to the 16th and 17th century, from eyewitness accounts by Spanish conquistadors, archeological discoveries, and paper codices.
The Aztecs had elaborate mythical traditions and rituals, and their knowledge about architecture and the arts was astounding.
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The Aztec mythology and Aztec Gods are vast and fascinating topics and there is a lot of written material on them.
Facts about Aztec Rituals
  • As a ritual, the Aztec priests painted themselves black, to let the other people know that they were true priests.
  • Whenever the Aztecs captured a new city, they added all the Gods of the city to their religion. Their religion kept getting new members frequently.
  • Specially elected people dressed up as, and impersonated a particular deity, and then being killed as a sacrifice to that god.
  • They believed that the Gods wanted sacrifices in return for favors that would be granted to them. So the sacrifice often depended on the favor required, including cutting off their own ears, tongues, and sometimes even their genitals!
  • A girl on birth was adorned with a pot, spindle and a washing stone, with the priest chanting, "Your role will be to be the wife and mother of future warriors", to her, and the midwife who helped her to be born would summon the goddess Yoalticitl to bless her.
  • The Aztecs followed a strange ritual of burying their dead family members inside their houses!
  • A boy on birth was adorned with a bow, arrows and a chest shield. The priest chanted, "You came into this world to give the sun, the blood of his enemies to drink, and to feed the soil with their bodies", and then the midwife raised him to the sun 4 times.
  • They believed that Gods would abandon them if they didn't get "precious water", blood from their people.
  • The three main Aztec Gods - Huitzilopochtli, Quetzalcoatl, and Tezcatlipoca sacrificed themselves and offered hearts to the sun and stopping this ritual would stop the sun shining.
  • Women were allowed to become priests if they didn't get married.
  • If a poor person dressed like the rich and affluent, his house was demolished. He was executed for repeating this.
Facts about Aztec Sacrifices
  • The Aztecs believed that people who were sacrificed to the Gods, women who died during labor, and the men who were killed in battle/ war, became companions of the sun for 5 years, after which they were reborn as hummingbirds or butterflies.
  • The priests chose people for sacrifice, after which they would eat the flesh, and also drink some of their blood.
  • The victim was chosen, taken to the pyramid alive, his flesh cut, heart removed and burnt. Dead bodies were thrown off the pyramid while the brave ones were carried down the stairs for respect.
  • During the sacrifice for Huehueteotl, the victim was first thrown into the fire, pulled out just before he died, had his heart removed and thrown back into the fire.
  • The Aztecs believed that Tlaloc, their God of Rain, loved to have children sacrificed to him in spring, and that he used the tears shed by their family and friends, to give them rain for harvesting.
  • In a unique ceremony, virgins were sacrificed to the goddess Xochipilli, where their legs were crossed before cutting their hearts out.
  • In another bizarre ritual, a woman representing Xochiquetzal was killed, after which a priest wore her skin and sat in the temple, while craftsmen dressed as animals danced around him.
  • Whenever the Aztecs ran out of food, they would eat the meat from the dead bodies of the enemies that they had killed in battle, but never their dead comrades.
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During the 5th month, the most handsome man in the land could have his way with 4 girls for 1 night which would be followed by dancing in the next morning and ultimately sacrifice for Tezcatlipoca.
Bizarre practices like these blows your mind. But the most interesting part is that a few of these strange rituals are still prevalent in some parts of Mexico!