Eighth hour of the Night Picture

soundtrack: [link]

According to Aztec religion and world view, the sacred and special role of the Aztec was to keep the sun in the heavens and thus prevent the final destruction of the world. Every day, the sun would fight off the evils of the night and arise weak in the morning. In order to provide the gods with the sustenance to prevent the total destruction of the world, the Aztec had to “feed” the gods the essence of human life each morning. With the blood and the energy from these sacrificed humans, the gods could continue to maintain the world. Rather than sacrifice their own people, the Aztec preferred to sacrifice war captives. [link]

Through what we call their myths it is possible to see how these people tried to deal with their ambivalent feelings about both the beauty and bounty of their environment and its potential to wreak havoc and cause trauma. We find their practice of human sacrifice quite horrific yet it is quite possible to see how these myths and ritualized practices may have originated as a result of the impact on the minds of the peoples being subjected to both the violent forces of nature-jaguars, hurricanes, fiery rain (possibly volcanoes), floods, earthquakes and drought as well as the beauty and bounty of nature.

One view of ritual sacrifice is that it is a way of binding tension and conflict within a community so that the anger within a community is displaced onto the sacrificial victims thereby stopping the community from tearing itself apart.

Pre-Columbian Americas

In pre-Columbian Central and South America, the jaguar has long been a symbol of power and strength. Among the Andean cultures, a jaguar cult dissemenated by the early Chavín culture became accepted over most of what is today Peru by 900 BC. The later Moche culture of Northern Peru used the jaguar as a symbol of power in many of their ceramics.

In Mesoamerica, the Olmec—an early and influential culture of the Gulf Coast region roughly contemporaneous with the Chavín—developed a distinct "were-jaguar" motif of sculptures and figurines showing stylized jaguars or humans with jaguar characteristics. In the later Maya civilization, the jaguar was believed to facilitate communication between the living and the dead and to protect the royal household. The Maya saw these powerful felines as their companions in the spiritual world, and a number of Maya rulers bore names that incorporated the Mayan word for jaguar (b'alam in many of the Mayan languages). The Aztec civilization shared this image of the jaguar as the representative of the ruler and as a warrior. The Aztecs formed an elite warrior class known as the Jaguar Knights. In Aztec mythology, the jaguar was considered to be the totem animal of the powerful deity Tezcatlipoca. [link]

Tepeyollotl - (The jaguar form of Tezcatlipoca) god of the heart of the mountain, associated with jaguars, echoes, and earthquakes

Tehuantepec place of the hill of the sacred jaguar

Tezcatlipoca (also Omacatl, Titlacauan) - omnipotent god of rulers, sorcerers and warriors; night, death, discord, conflict, temptation and change. A sinister rival to Quetzalcoatl. Can appear as a jaguar.


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