88. Mictlantecuhtli Picture

Mictlantecuhtli: Aztec God of Death and the Underworld

100 Gods/Goddesses Challenge

Took me long enough! @[email protected] Sorry guys, I've been so busy with other things. I should be busy with other things right now, but I've been ridiculously tired what with this time change and not eating anything but chocolate and the odd piece of baklava... I should make supper now, hmmm.

Back in a sec.

Okay hopefully by the time I'm finished this description the oven will be preheated. I had a ridiculous amount of French toast (who knew two eggs and a cup of milk could go so far?!) this morning and forgot to eat. You know how it is...


This is Mictlantecuhtli, Lord of Mictlan (the Underworld), or as I like to call him, "Micky". :3 Those Nahuatl names are a bit tricky.

He may be the god of the underworld, but he's not the only Aztec god that's often depicted with a skull for a face! ...No, I don't know any others off the top of my head, but I'm sure I'll stumble across some. To the Aztecs, skeletons weren't something scary or even a symbol of death- quite the contrary! They were a symbol of new life and fertility. Still, the Aztecs were quite afraid of Mictlantecuhtli and were constantly trying to appease him. When Cortez landed, sacrifices to the god of death were increased a bit in anticipation of the return of Quetzalcoatl (so as you can imagine Cortez didn't get a great first impression of the Aztecs!)

Mictlan is actually the lowest layer of the Aztec Underworld, but at the moment I don't know that much about the rest of them. All souls eventually end up here (except soldiers who die in battle and women who die in childbirth) but they first have to overcome a ton of obstacles and dangerous things. I know, usually the afterlife is supposed to be pretty easy, I mean, you're already dead! XD

Mictlantecuhtli is usually associated with dogs, owls, and spiders, as well as knives. He is said to wear a necklace of human eyeballs and occasionally has a headdress decorated with sacrificial knives. His earplugs (yes, he has ears.) often have human bones in them. He is sometimes shown decorated with paper garments, a common offering to the deceased. He also wears sandals as a mark of his high rank.

The Aztecs believe that the world has ended catastrophically many times (look out for 2012, haha). The last time, Quetzalcoatl was sent to get the bones of the old gods from Mictlan in order to create the next generation of humans. Mictlantecuhtli let him take them at first, but after a while he changed his mind and sent his minions up ahead of Quetzalcoatl to dig a pit. Quetzy fell into the pit and the bones shattered, but he managed to get out with most of them. This is why humans today all have different heights!
Continue Reading: The Underworld