Ehecatl is the second sacred day in the Aztec calendar, associated with the primordial creator, the Feathered Serpent god Quetzalcoatl. The day is also associated with vanity and inconsistency and was believed to be a day to renounce bad habits.
What is Ehecatl?
The Aztecs had a sacred calendar which they used for religious rituals. This calendar consisted of 260 days which we were divided into 20 units, known as trecenas. A single trecena had thirteen days in it, and each day of a trecena had its own symbol or ‘day sign’. Some signs featured animals, mythological creatures, and deities, while others featured the elements such as wind and rain.
Ehecatl, the Nahuatl word for wind (also known as Ik in Maya), is represented by the image of the Aztec deity of wind wearing a duckbill mask. The first day in the 2nd trecena of the sacred Aztec calendar, it was considered as a good day to rid oneself of one’s bad habits. The Aztecs believed that day Ehecatl was associated with vanity and inconsistency and considered it a bad day for working closely with others.
Who Was Ehecatl?
The day Ehecatl was named after the Mesoamerican god of winds and air. He was a highly significant deity in Mesoamerican cultures and featured in several important myths, including the Aztec Creation mythology. As a wind deity, Ehecatl was associated with all the cardinal directions, because wind blows in all directions.
Ehecatl is often portrayed wearing a duckbill mask and a conical hat. In some depictions, the corners of the duckbill have fangs, which is a highly common feature seen in the rain gods. He wears a conch shell as a pectoral and it was said that he could use this shell to whistle his way out of the Underworld when necessary.
Ehecatl was sometimes regarded as a manifestation of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god. Due to this, he was sometimes called Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl. It was in this guise that he featured in the Aztec creation myth, helping to create humanity.
There have been several temples dedicated to Ehecatl, each of which had a unique form. They were pyramids, just like other Aztec temples, but instead of having quadrilateral platforms, they had circular platforms instead. The result was a conical-shaped structure. It’s said that this form was intended to represent the deity as a fearsome aspect of the wind such as a whirlwind or a tornado.
The Myth of Ehecatl and Mayahuel
According to a myth, it was Ehecatl who gave the gift of the maguey plant to humankind. The maguey plant (Agave Americana) is a type of cactus that was used to make the alcohol drink known as pulque. According to the myth, Ehecatle fell in love with a young, beautiful goddess named Mayahuel, and tried persuading her to become his lover.
The god and goddess came down to earth and embraced each other disguised as intertwining trees. However, Mayahuel’s guardian, Tzitzmitl, discovered them and split Mayahuel’s tree into two and fed the pieces to the Tzitzimime, her demon followers.
Ehecatl was a far more powerful deity than Mayahuel, and he remained unharmed. Mourning the death of Mayahuel, he gathered the remnants of her tree, which he planted in a field. These grew into the maguey plant.
Aside from the maguey plant, Ehecatl was also credited with gifting maize and music to humanity.
The Governing Deity of Day Ehecatl
Although the day Ehecatl is named after the god of wind, it’s governed by Quetzalcoatl, the god of self-reflection and intelligence. Not only does Quetzalcoatl rule the day Ehecatl, but he also rules the second trecena (jaguar).
Also known as White Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl was a primordial god of creation who, according to the myth, created the current world after the last world (the Fourth Son) had been destroyed. He did this by journeying to Mictlan, the Underworld, and using his own blood to bring life to bones.
The governing deity of day Ehecatl was Quetzalcoatl, the primordial god of intelligence and self-reflection.
The symbol for day Ehecatl is the image of Ehecatl, the Aztec god of wind and air. He is portrayed wearing a conical hat and a duckbill m
Aztec gods were super important to the Aztec people. They worshiped and feared their gods. Aztecs built temples and made sacrifices to their gods to thank them for everything the gods had provided. They made sacrifices before and after wars and sometimes included human sacrifices to appease their gods. There were gods of war, water, the harvest, and more. The Aztecs based a big part of their lives worshiping their gods.
Symbol of fertility, creation, duality, fire
This dual god and goddess was the creator of the world. Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl was a dual god and goddess. He/she represented duality in the natural world and life such as male and female, good and evil, love and hate, chaos, and order. He/she created themselves out of the void and then had children, four children. Their children created the directions North, South, East, and West and then went on to create the world. He/she is usually represented with ears of corn adorning him/her to represent the Earth’s fertility. Corn was one of the main crops in Aztec culture.
There were many different sun gods in the Aztec culture. Here are some of them.
Symbol of fire, night, discord, rulership, divination, war, temptation, beauty, strife
Tezcatlipoca was one of Ometecuhtli/Omecihuatl’s sons. His spirit animal is the jaguar, and his symbol is obsidian. He is sometimes called the Smoking Mirror. Obsidian is a dark stone that Mesoamericans used to make mirrors for prophecies. Tezcatlipoca was often depicted with an obsidian stone in place of his foot or an obsidian mirror on his chest. He also has a black and a yellow stripe on his face. He was the god of the North. Tezcatlipoca’s main rival was Quetzalcoatl. After they created the world together, Tezcatlipoca decided he would be the sun god. Quetzalcoatl did not like this because he thought Tezcatlipoca was a depiction of the night due to Tezcatlipoca’s obsidian foot. Quetzalcoatl knocked Tezcatlipoca out of the sky and Tezcatlipoca transformed into a jaguar and destroyed the world.
Symbol of learning, wind, air, justice, mercy
Another son of Ometecuhtli/Omecihual, Zuetzalcoati took over as Lord of the Sun when he knocked Tezcatlipoca out of the sky. His name means feathered serpent or dragon. His symbol is a conch shell that was cut in half and worn on the chest. The design of the conch shell represents the wind. A powerful wind blows in a spiral motion in hurricanes or tornadoes. Quetzalcoatl was represented by rattlesnakes, resplendent quetzals, crows, and macaws. He is also represented by ducks, spider monkeys, and the harpy eagle. He created the boundary between sky and Earth. He created a new civilization after Tezcatlipoca destroyed the first one. This civilization did not honor the gods, so Tezcatlipoca turned them into monkeys. Quetzalcoatl blew all the monkeys off of the Earth. He then gave up being the Sun God in order to repopulate Earth.
Symbol of fertility
The third sun was Tialoc, who was the god of fertility, rain, and water. He could be benevolent or unmerciful. He either gave life or took it away by blessing the Earth with rain or hurtling thunderbolts or hail down from the sky. Tlaloc’s animal forms were shellfish, amphibians, snails, and herons. He lived in an active volcano now known as Mount Tlaloc. Tlaloc is depicted with fangs and protruding eyes. He is usually holding water, lighting, or corn. The four Tlalocs mark the four corners of the universe and control time. Tlaloc was married to Xochiquetzal, who was the goddess of corn, sex, and flowers. Tezcatlipoca seduced her away from Tlaloc, and Tlaloc was depressed. He refused to make it rain, and there was a drought on Earth. The people prayed to him, but he did not listen to their prayers. Finally, he had enough of the people begging him to help them. Tlaloc made it rain fire and destroyed the Earth.
Symbol of childbirth, fertility, protection.
Chalchiuhtlicue was the goddess of baptisms, streams, water, rivers, storms, and seas. She protected women and children and made the crops fertile. She was Tlaloc’s second wife. She was the fourth sun, and she was a benevolent ruler who loved the Earth and the people. Tezcatlipoca spread the rumor that Chalchiuhtlicue was faking her kindness and loyalty to her people. He said that she just wanted the people to worship her, and she did not care about them. This broke Chalchiuhtlicue’s heart, and she wept for 52 years. Her tears caused a flood that wiped out the life on the Earth.
Symbol of humility.
Nanahuatl was a god that was covered in sores. He was a humble God who cared for everyone. Nanahuatl is usually depicted as a god emerging from flames. When the gods needed to pick a fifth sun they chose Nanahuatl and Tonatiuh to become the moon and the sun. Because Nanahuatl actually gave a blood sacrifice to the gods and practiced penance before sacrificing himself to the flame to become the moon, the gods made him the sun.
Symbol of the present, war.
Tonatiuh was the son of Chalchiuhtlicue and Tlaloc. He was chosen to be the fifth sun, but when it came time for him to jump into the fire, he could not. Nanahuatl jumped into the flames, which embarrassed Tonatiuh. He quickly followed, and they created two suns. However, the gods were angry with Tonatiuh, and they threw a rabbit at him, causing him to lose his luster. He then became the moon forever chasing Nanahuatl across the sky. In other cultures, he becomes a sun god who was fierce and waged war on the underworld each night.
Symbol of sacrifice, fire, and war
Huitzilopochtli was a son of Ometecuhtli/Omecihuatl and was considered the primary god of war in the Aztec culture. He carried the fire serpent, which made him a symbol of fire. Because he was so powerful and strong, he became the fifth sun. The stars, or Tzizimimeh, were jealous of Huitzilopochtli and chased him across the night sky, thus creating the days and nights. The Aztecs would offer him blood sacrifices to help him in his continuous battle to keep the Earth intact. The Aztecs believed that if they did not appease their gods with sacrifices, the fifth sun would turn black and the world would be destroyed.
Other Gods and Goddesses
Symbol of renewal, rebirth.
Xipe Totec would flay his skin to produce food for his people. This was symbolic of snakes shedding their skin or a corn seed losing its outer skin. He was usually depicted with a rattle staff and pointed hat as the Mexican emperor was commonly attired. Xipe Totec invented war and had a golden body when he was done flaying his skin. He was said to cure diseases such as smallpox, eye diseases, and the plague. His worshipers would make sacrifices to him in order to get well. The Aztecs would hold a festival around the spring equinox that was dedicated to Xipe Totec. They would flay a person, and the priests would wear the skins for twenty days. The skins were believed to have healing powers. After the twenty days, the skins would be placed in an airtight container and stored beneath the temple.
Symbol of sustenance, good fortune.
Centeotl was the god of maize. He is depicted with ears of corn and a dark line from his eyebrows to his jawline. His mother was the goddess of childbirth and fertility, and his wife was the first woman to give birth. According to Aztec legend, Centeotl journeyed to the underworld and brought back sweet potatoes and cotton for the people. There was a festival for the maize god where women wore ears of corn and seeds were placed on an altar in everyone’s home. Blood sacrifices were made to Centeotl during this time.
Symbol of purification, fertility, birth.
Tlazolteotl was the goddess of purification, sin, fertility, and birth. She is the mother of Centeotl. Tlazolteotl would give sinners diseases that could be cured by steam baths and sacrifices to her. She was also a deity of dirt and purification. The duality of her nature was seen in depictions of her eating dirt. She would eat the dirt and then purify it like a sin eater. Tlazolteotl was the goddess of compost dirt which generated new life. Cleansing rituals were held in her honor during the harvest season. She was the guardian of the Tree of the West – a tree of life in the Aztec culture.
Symbol of love, protection, and power.
Xochiquetzal was the daughter of Tlazolteotl. She was married to Tlaloc until Tezcatlipoca abducted her and forced her to marry him. Her depiction is of a young, beautiful woman surrounded by butterflies and birds holding flowers. She is associated with flowers and vegetation. She was the protector of women and household arts such as weaving and was associated with mothers as well as prostitutes. Xochiquetzal was one of the only fertility goddesses to encourage sex for pleasure, as opposed to procreation.
Symbol of growth, fertility, love, pleasure, and creativity.
Xochipilli was Xochiquetzal’s twin brother. He was called the flower prince and was married to a human. He is depicted wearing a mother of pearl pendant in the shape of a teardrop. He was a god of pleasure and mischief who liked practical jokes. He was not a vengeful god; in fact, he was a relaxed god who wanted everyone to prosper and be happy. There is a famous statue of Xochipilli which depicts him sitting in a trance state among hallucinogenic flowers.
Ehecatl: The Aztec Wind God was Hard to Pin Down
Ehecatl was the wind god of the Aztec pantheon. As a weather deity, he was also indirectly connected to agriculture and the fertility of the land. Additionally, Ehecatl is commonly regarded to be an aspect of Quetzalcoatl, one of the most important Aztec gods. Temples dedicated to this god have a unique architectural form, which reflects the god’s status as a wind deity. One of these temples was unearthed under a supermarket in Mexico City in 2016.
An Important Aspect of Quetzalcoatl
The name ‘Ehecatl’ may be translated simply to mean ‘wind’. He was regarded to be an important aspect of Quetzalcoatl, and the two gods are often combined as Quetzalcoatl-Ehecatl. This god was also associated with all the cardinal directions, considering the fact that wind blows in all directions. Two other important characteristics of wind were noticed by the Aztecs. Firstly, it lacks physical form, and secondly, it changes direction constantly. Therefore, the Aztecs believed that Ehecatl was god who could not be pinned down easily.
Quetzalcoatl, using the attributes of Ehecatl the wind god, thus representing the winds that bring the rain. Also known as the feathered serpent. ( Public Domain )
As a weather god, Ehecatl had an important, though perhaps indirect, role to play in agriculture as well. The rains, for instance, were brought by the god Tlaloc. It was, however, Ehecatl who blew these clouds to the fields, thus signaling the end of the dry season. Therefore, sacrifices, including the ceremonial shedding of blood, as well as human sacrifices, were made to this god to ensure that the harvest would be good.
Ehecatl in Aztec Myth
But Ehecatl had a much bigger role to play than merely blowing rain clouds. In fact, the Aztecs believed that it was this god who set both the sun and the moon in motion by blowing them along their celestial course each day. This belief is seen in the Aztec creation myth, when Ehecatl was assigned this task following the creation of the fifth world.
A modern representation of Ehecatl. (DougDougmann/ Deviant Art )
Another myth in which Ehecatl plays an important role is the one involving the creation of the maguey plant (also known as the ‘century plant’ in English), the sap of which is used to make pulque, an alcoholic beverage traditionally drunk in central Mexico. This myth begins with a goddess by the name of Itzpapalotl, who had a nasty habit of stealing daylight and holding it hostage. She would only release it if a ransom in the form of human sacrifices was paid.
Love at First Sight
Having had enough of this, Ehecatl journeyed to Tamoanchan, the Aztec version of paradise, and the home of Itzpapalotl, to have a word with the goddess. Before being able to do so, however, he came across a mortal woman by the name of Mayahuel, who, as it turns out, was the granddaughter of Itzpapalotl. The two are said to have instantly fell in love and descended to the earth. On the spot where the two lovers landed, a beautiful tree blossomed.
Mayahuel, Goddess of Agave. ( Public Domain )
Unfortunately, Ehecatl and Mayahuel were not able to enjoy their happiness for long. When Itzpapalotl returned home, she realized that here granddaughter had disappeared, and summoned the Tzitzimime, who were star deities. They were ordered to seek and destroy Mayahuel. Realizing the danger they were in, Ehecatl turned his lover and himself as branches on the tree that sprang up where they landed. This disguise, however, did not fool the Tzitzimime, who struck the tree with lightning bolts, thus killing Mayahuel. Grief-stricken, Ehecatl gathered up Mayahuel’s remains and buried them. The Aztecs believe that it was from the remains of Mayahuel that the first Maguey plant grew.
Honoring the Aztec Wind God
Finally, it is worth noting that the temples dedicated to Ehecatl had a unique form. Like other Aztec temples, these were pyramids, though instead of quadrilaterals, its platforms are circular, resulting in a conical shape. It has been suggested that this form may have been intended to represent Ehecatl as a tornado or whirlwind, which is a fearsome aspect of wind. One such temple was discovered in 2016 in Mexico City, when archaeologists carried out an excavation underneath a supermarket that had just been demolished.
Aztec wind deity
This article is about the Mesoamerican deity figure. For the Mexican unmanned aircraft, see Hydra Technologies Ehécatl. For other uses, see Ehecatl (disambiguation).
Ehecatl (Classical Nahuatl: Ehēcatl[eʔˈeːkatɬ], modern Nahuatl pronunciation (help·info)) is a pre-Columbian deity associated with the wind, who features in Aztec mythology and the mythologies of other cultures from the central Mexico region of Mesoamerica. He is most usually interpreted as the aspect of the Feathered Serpent deity (Quetzalcoatl in Aztec and other Nahua cultures) as a god of wind, and is therefore also known as Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl. Ehecatl also figures prominently as one of the creator gods and culture heroes in the mythical creation accounts documented for pre-Columbian central Mexican cultures.
Since the wind blows in all directions, Ehecatl was associated with all the cardinal directions. His temple was built as a cylinder in order to reduce the air resistance, and was sometimes portrayed with two protruding masks through which the wind blew.
- ^Miller and Taube (1993, p. 84)
- ^Miller and Taube (1993, pp. 70,84)
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Wind symbol aztec
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