Religion in the Place of Reeds

The Place of Reeds is based on this historical city called Teotihuacan. The religion of Teotihuacan preceded that of the Aztecs but bore a strong similarity to their religion and others of central Mexico.

Gods, Spirits, and Culture Heroes

Teotihuacan had a range of gods some of which were predecessors of the later Aztec gods (Miller & Taube, 1993). Unlike in the Mayan pantheon, goddess’ had a significant representation in Central Mexico.


Tlaloc ended up as a the central American god of Rain and Lightning (Miller & Taube, 1993).

Spider Woman

Teotihacan had a Spider Woman goddess, who was perhaps related to the Spider Woman of the north American indians (Miller & Taube, 1993).

Netted Jaguar

Aged Fire God

The Aged Fire God was called Huehueteotl by the Aztecs (Miller & Taube, 1993). He was the god of the hearth.

Feathered Serpent

Quetzalcoatl to the Aztec, the Feathered Serpent was a god of rain and standing water at Teotihucan (Miller & Taube, 1993). He was also a symbol of rulership. In Aztec times the Feathered Serpent became a god of wind.

War Serpent

Probably an ancestral form of the later Fire Serpent of the Aztec, the War Serpent is associated with war, flame and fire (Miller & Taube, 1993).

Pulque God

Pulque – the native alcoholic drink – was produced at Teotihuacan and had its own god (Miller & Taube, 1993).

Fat God

The Fat God was the patron vice and excess (Miller & Taube, 1993).

Maize God

The earlier Olmecs had one, and the later cultures had them, so presumably Teotihuacan had a maize god.

The Flayed God

Xipe Toltec – the Flayed God – was prevalent amongst the Gulf coast and in Oaxaca when adopted by the Aztecs (Miller & Taube, 1993).


Depictions of butterflies are common at Teotihuacan, including some with a jaguar mouth (Miller & Taube, 1993). The Butterfly-Jaguar also appears in later Zapotec and Maya art, often in the context of warfare. To Post-Classic Central Mexicans butterflies symbolised both fire and the souls of dead warrior, and this is likely to have been true at Teotihuacan.


Some locations were considered junctions between the sky, earth and Underworld (Miller & Taube, 1993). Caves were believed to be entrances to the Underworld, hence powerful and magical. Similarly mountains, being the junction of earth and sky were sacred places. Those mountains with springs or cave were particularly revered as they combined earth, sky and the Underworld. Pyramids were replications of mountains hence inherited the sacred overtones.


The Ballgame was sometimes played for ritual reasons (Miller & Taube, 1993).

Mesoamericans baptised their children to purify them (Miller & Taube, 1993). Maya children were baptised at 3 years old but Aztec children were baptised soon after birth. In the Maya ritual a priest and a principle citizen sprinkled the child with water. An Aztec midwife would bathe the child in a vessel of water on a reed mat. The Aztecs also named the child at the same time and gave them tools to help them in life (for male children this might be the tools of a sculptor, feather worker, painter, goldsmith and/or warrior; for females these were tools for sweeping or spinning cotton).

Blood letting was a common form of sacrifice (Miller & Taube, 1993). Nobles and perhaps others performed auto-sacrifice by piercing their skin, capturing the blood on bark paper and burning it as an offering it to the gods. The Maya used stingray spines, jade replications of them, obsidian bloodletters, and carved bones. Maya men drew blood from their penis, and Maya women from their tongue. In Central Mexico the spins of the Maguey cactus was used. They took blood from the ear, shin, knee and elbow

Other Beliefs

Sacred Bundles

Sacred bundles were used to transport gods when a people were migrating (Miller & Taube, 1993). A deity bundle with a Teotihuacan style mask of Tlaloc appears in Maya art of the 4th century. Deity bundles are part of the Aztec origin myth, and the Aztecs removed their gods from Tenochtitlan in similar bundles once their capital had fallen to the Spaniards.

Solar Eclipses

Venus / Morning Star / Evening Star

The rays of the Morning Star (Venus) at heliacal rising were believes to be dangerous (Miller & Taube, 1993). The Classic Maya scheduled battles to coincide with the movements of Venus, particularly with the first rising of the Evening Star.


Miller, M., & Taube, K. (1993). An Illustrated Dictionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. London: Thames & Hudson.

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