In Aztec cosmology, the soul’s journey to the Underworld after death leaves them with four destinations: the Sacred Orchard of the Gods, the Place of Darkness, the Kingdom of the Sun, and a paradise called the Mansion of the Moon. The most common deaths end up on their way to Mictlán with its nine levels, crashing mountains and rushing rivers, and four years of struggle. This pantheon of gods and goddesses and the expanse of the 13 Heavens provides the cultural basis for the Day of the Dead customs and celebrations.
Tag: Aztec Mythology
In San Francisco, the Mission District has celebrated Day of the Dead every year in since the early 70’s with altars in Garfield Park, serving as a community graveyard for the night and through art, music, other live performances and a walking procession. With the neighborhood in transition from rapid gentrification, will this vibrant culture rite continue? Yes, for now… Photos by Jack Eidt from 2015.
Part of the Mesoamerican myth of the origin of people, where Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent, descends into the Land of the Dead, Mictlán, to rescue the bones of humanity and bring them back to life.
In the pre-Hispanic era, skulls were kept as trophies and displayed during the rituals to symbolize death and rebirth. These ancestors passed down the knowledge that souls exist after death, resting in Mictlan, the land of the dead, not for judgment or resurrection, but for the day each year when they could return home to visit their loved ones.
Part II of the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe, part of the Spanish colonial appropriation of the Aztec Earth Mother Tonantzin: The future St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin explained to the Bishop of Mexico City how the Virgin appeared to request a temple be built at Tepeyac in her honor.
A Mexican Indian Catholic convert experiences visions of an obscure Aztec goddess, Tonantzin, challenging his faith. Thereafter the goddess becomes associated with the Virgin Mary in post-Spanish-conquest church.
In pre-Hispanic Nahua culture (Aztec and the many other peoples of Central Mexico), life was seen as a dream, and only in dying could a human truly awaken. Death would set free the soul.