Tag Archives: aztec

Aztec Creation Story of the Sun

Background: The informant is a 19 year old girl who is currently a college student in Chicago, Illinois. She was also born and raised in the city. Her father is Mexican-American and she also grew up with aunts and uncles to pass on traditions.

Context: The informant mentioned hearing about it when she was younger, but she relearned the myth in detail when she took a Latin American Studies class  at her college last year.


“So, from what I remember, this is the Aztec creation story of the Fifth Sun. So, with the Aztec, there’s a bunch of different gods and, like, their story involves different suns – like in the sky, not a boy. Their suns are the five different births of the world, so to speak. There’s birth, death, and that’s all I can remember as of right now but anyways, –all the gods were kinda standing around the fire that created the light of Earth, and they were trying to keep going. And this fire was dying out. These gods were like ‘what can we do?’

“And, I believe the different gods offered little things they were associated with. Like, one was associated with nature and would offer flowers. It didn’t really work in terms of the fire. They were like ‘hm, okay, this is a bit of a problem.’ Eventually, there were two gods. I forgot their names, but what’s important is what they represented. One was associated with frail and sickness. And the other was associated with richness and wealth. He was abundance and gold and luxury. 

“And, so these two very different gods were like… ‘I’m gonna go and sacrifice myself into the fire.’ For about a week of time, they prepared themselves for the fire. But, what happened was, when preparing themselves, they were thinking, well only one of them can do it.

“Then, When it came down to it to throw themselves in the fire, the god associated with luxury was like “Yeah! I’ll go” and then when he ran towards the fire, he went “Psyche!” and didn’t go into the fire. So, the other one, who was running right after him to go second, went into the fire, but there was no change in the fire. But, his courage and bravery was applauded by all the other gods who were watching. So, then, all the other gods sacrifice themselves into the fire. Which is how the sun was able to keep going.”


Informant: She finds the information particularly interesting because the Aztecs hail from Latin America, and are commonly disregarded as a great civilization. She has retained the myth in her head since taking the class, and has shared it with others, revealing how she thinks the information is worth sharing and knowing.

Mine: It’s always exciting when creation stories are retold through modern lenses because it gives a new perspective on it. Hearing the gods talk in casual terms, or the one deity yells “psych!” would never be something heard in the past, but perfectly conveys the same meaning – that the god was trying to trick the other one into sacrificing first. Finding other examples of the story online, another variation of the myth is how it created the sun and moon from the two gods who jumped in. They both deal very similarly, until the last message of how something was created, and they both have slightly indifferent tones to them. In the one performed by the informant, it holds a tragic, yet content, element in how all the Gods sacrificed themselves to keep the sun and life alive. In the second one, it seems like more a lighthearted story, where God wasn’t trying to trick the other but simply hesitated in fright. As Chicago is very far away from the Mexican border, it may reflect how the myth has changed over time to reflect a new telling.

Aztec Legend-Mexican Flag Origin

TEXT: “El pueblo Azteca recibió un mensaje de uno de sus dioses, Huitzilopochtli, que les dijo que se asentaran en las tierras donde encontraran una águila en un islote, sobre un nopal comiéndose una víbora.”


CONTEXT: This Aztec legend is incredibly integral to Mexican culture. The man told me this is something everyone knows. It is so important to the foundation of the Mexican people and state. He says it is the essence of what is Mexican even without the Aztec roots. He knew about this legend his whole life, but believes he learned it from his parents and then again in school growing up as a young boy. It is symbolic of Mexican heritage and it is what was incorporated into the creation of the Mexican flag. The flag depicts the exact setting. He says everything is symbolic, the cactus that everyone eats in Mexico, the eagle as a powerful bird and a symbol of strength, He says it is a very nationalistic emblem and it is as symbolic and important as the Queen of England he says. It is even on the coin.

TRANSLATION: The Aztec people received a message from one of their gods, Huitzilopochtli, telling them that they need to settle in the lands where they come across or find an eagle atop a small island, sitting on top of a cactus eating a snake. 

THOUGHTS: I also grew up and learned this legend as a child. I always recognized it on the flag and the story was ingrained in my mind. It is such a symbol of nationalism and is rooted in culture. 

La Leyenda de la Luna – The Legend of the Moon

Informant: Maria Burguete. 20 years old. Born and raised in Mexico City.


Informant: “Un día, el dios Quetzalcóatl se transformó en forma humana para explorar la tierra. Después de un largo día se anocheció y el dios se sentó para descansar. Un conejo lo vio preocupado y se acerco a él sin saber que era dios. El conejo le preguntó que si se sentía bien. Quetzalcóatl le dijo que se sentía cansado por caminar tanto y tenía hambre. El conejo le ofreció su comida pero el dios le dijo que él no comía plantas. Al escuchar esto, el conejo le dijo que no tenía nada más para ofrecer, pero se ofreció a si mismo como comida. El conejo dijo que aunque no sea muy grande bastaría para llenarlo. Al escuchar esto, el dios estaba muy agradecido. Envés de comérselo, el dios regresó a su forma original, recogió al conejo y lo alzó tan alto que su reflejo quedo enmarcado en la luna. Al bajar, el dios le dijo al conejo que aunque su forma física fuera pequeña su retrato quedaría enmarcado en la luz por el resto de los tiempos.


One day, the god Quetzalcóatl transformed into human form to explore the earth. After a long day of walking, the sun went down and the God sat down to rest. A bunny saw him worried and came close to him without knowing he was a god. The bunny asked him if he was feeling ok. Quetzalcóatl told him he was tired from walking and was hungry. The bunny offered his food to him, but the god said he did not eat plants. After hearing this, the bunny said he didn’t have anything else to offer, but he offered himself as food. The bunny said that although he wasn’t very big it would be enough to fill him. After hearing this, the god was very appreciative. Instead of eating the bunny, the god transformed into his original form, picked up the bunny, and carried it so high that the bunny’s reflection was engraved on the moon. After coming down, the god told the bunny that although his physical form was small, his portrait would be engraved on the light for the rest of times.

Collector: “When did you first hear this legend and what does it mean to you?”

Informant: “I learned this legend in sixth grade Mexican History class. I vividly remember the story because that same day I made the effort to look at the moon and could see the bunny’s trace on it. I was literally mind blown! I enjoy this legend because it is a creative approach to explaining why the moon has its spots. When I first heard the legend, I was really moved by the story: a little cute bunny offers himself to a god and the god is moved by the bunny’s kindness. To me, it was really a story about kindness.”


Maria was my best friend growing up. We both went to the same school in Mexico and were introduced to this legend at the same time (6th grade Mexican History class with Ms. Fernandez). To be honest, I did not remember the legend as well as she did. I only remembered that the bunny was kind, the god threw him into the moon, and his reflection was engraved on it. Truly, the message of the legend is to teach children about kindness. Ever since hearing this legend, each time I look at the moon I see a bunny engraved on it.


For another version of this legend please see: “http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/aztecs/stories/creation-of-the-moon”  or “https://chilangaexported.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/ancient-aztecs-the-rabbit-in-the-moon/”


La Mujer Dormida – “The Sleeping Woman”

Informant: Maria Burguete. 20 years old. Born and raised in Mexico City.  Maria learned this legend from her parents and in sixth grade Mexican History class. Mexican history class introduced Maria to several myths, legends, and stories of the land.


Original: “En la Ciudad de México hay dos volcanes: Popocatéptl y la Mujer Dormida. Su historia es fascinante. En Tlaxcala había una hermosa princesa llamada Iztaccíhuatl. El poderoso guerrero Popocatéptl se enamoró de ella y los dos se profesaron su amor. Desafortunadamente, el ejército Tlaxcalteca necesitaba a Popocatéptl para pelear contra los Aztecas. Popocatéptl le pidió al padre de ella por su mano, y el aceptó su propuesta pero con la única condición de que regresara victoriosamente. Popocatéptl aceptó y se fue a la guerra. Iztaccíhuatl esperó a Popocateptl por mucho tiempo pero la guerra continuaba. En Tlaxcala había otro hombre enamorado de Iztaccíhuatl. Por sus celos, inventó que Popocatéptl había sido derrotado y asesinado. Iztaccíhuatl estaba derrotada. No podía parar de llorar y murió de tristeza. Popocatéptl regresó de la guerra victoriosamente y con muchas ganas de ver a su prometida. Al ver que ella había muerto, Popocatéptl la cargo en sus brazos y la llevo hasta la cima de una montaña. Popocatéptl la acostó en el suelo y la beso. Al ver el poderoso amor, los dioses los cubrieron en nieve y los convirtieron en volcanes para que siempre estuvieran juntos y su amor estuviara conectado por el resto de los tiempos. Por eso, los volcanes se ven así ahora. Iztaccíhuatl está acostada en forma de mujer dormida y Popocatéptl es un volcán activo que tira humo y fuego por la perdida de su amada.


In Mexico City there are two volcanoes: Popocatéptl and “The Sleeping Woman” and their story is fascinating. A long time ago there was a war between Los Aztecas and Los Tlaxcaltecas. In Tlaxcala, there was a beautiful princess named Iztaccíhuatl. The powerful warrior Popocatéptl fell in love with her and they both professed their love. Unfortunately, the Tlaxcaltec army needed Popocatéptl to fight against the Aztecs. Popocatéptl asked her father for her hand, and he accepted the proposal on the only condition that he return victoriously from the battle. Popocatépt accepted and went to war. lIztaccíhuatl waited for Popocatéptl for a long time but the war continued. In Tlaxcala, there was another man in love with Iztaccíhuatl. Due to his jealousy, he invented that Popocatéptl had been defeated and assassinated. Iztaccíhuatl was heartbroken. She could not stop crying and died of sadness. Popocatéptl returned from the war victoriously and very eager to see his fiancée. After seeing that she had died, Popocatéptl took her in his arms and carried her to the summit of a mountain. Popocatéptl laid her down on the floor and kissed her. Seeing their powerful love, the gods covered them in snow and turned them into volcanoes so that they would always be together and their love would be connected for the rest of the times. That’s why the volcanoes look like that now. Iztaccíhuatl is lying in the form of a sleeping woman and Popocatéptl is an active volcano that erupts smoke and fire for the loss of her beloved.

Thoughts: Living in Mexico City, the volcanoes are prominent objects in the landscape. In my opinion, this is one of Mexico’s most beloved legends due to its symbolism of love and its accurate description of the shapes. Ever since I was little, I have only called the Iztaccíhuatl volcano “La Mujer Dormida” or “The Sleeping Woman.” I would often ask my parents why the volcano was called as such and they used to give me a similar version of the story. In our sixth grade Mexican History class, a version of this legend was told. Of course, some of the details are not exact and the story has not kept the same narrative. For example, I remember that Popocatéptl ate a torch on fire to kill himself and then the gods transformed them into volcanoes. Although at times the narrative is different, the legend keeps the same symbolism and story. The legend has truth to it because it incorporates real tribes and real people. The magical part of the legend is something the Aztecs really believed in. They believed that the gods had a powerful effect on their lives; as a consequence, it makes sense that this legend was created. By teaching it and reinforcing it in schools, I believe that the legend will not be lost.

La Malinche

Es la montaña Malintzin de un aspecto bello y hermoso que se levanta implorando lluvias de los altos cielos.  Y no es raro presenciar nubes que arrebata el viento, pero las de la Malintzin son seguros aguaceros.  Una vez consumada la conquista, los aztecas, al saber que Marina había muerto, trataron de recuperar su cuerpo.  Cuando lo tuvieron en su poder lo escondieron en muchos lugares tratando de evitar que cayera en manos de los españoles.  En una montaña descubrieron una cueva gigantesca, y en el caballo que le había regalado Cortés la montaron y la subieron al cerro y la internaron en el fondo de la cueva que sellaron con grandes rocas.  Apostaron guardias en puntos estratégicos para cuidarla.  Desde entonces los nativos de la montaña la llaman Malintzin y desde su cresta nos manda aguaceros.  Se mira una silueta que describe su cuerpo que dormido pide las lluvias del cielo.

Beautiful is the “Malintzin” mountain that rises above the clouds imploring the heavens for rain. It is not rare that the presence clouds are stirred by the wind, but the clouds of “Malintzin” are a sure sign of rain. Once the conquest had been accomplished, the Aztecs, having known that Marina had passed away, tried to recover her body. Once they had it in their possession, they hid it in many places in an attempt to avoid it from falling into the hands of the Spaniards.   In a mountain they discovered a giant cave, and on the horse that Cortes had given her, they mounted her body and they carried her up the mountain and placed her at the end of the cave and sealed it with giant rocks. They placed guards in strategic places to watch over her. Since then the natives of the mountain call her “Malintzin” and from the peak sends us rain. It is said that the silhouette that describes her body can be seen asleep beckoning the heavens for rain.

My informant learned the legend of La Malinche from his grandmother.  When he learned to speak at the age of three or four, he started asking many questions and becoming inquisitive.  He asked his grandmother where the rain came from, and she replied with the story of La Malinche.  This legend is not only known in his family though.  It is a common legend in Mexico and Central America.
My informant does not actually tell this story to others.  He usually hears it rather than share it with others.  He has no reason to tell others because in most cases, people already know about the legend.  Caleb considers this a legend that older people tell younger generations.  They use this legend to explain the reason we have rain.
My informant does not think that this legend is true.  The story of La Malinche and what happened may be true, but as far as the reason for rainfall, he does not believe it.  Even though he does not think that La Malinche is the reason for rain, he thinks it’s important.  In the future, he wants to pass it on to his children because it’s part of his culture.  To a certain extent, it’s even a part of him.  The legend identifies his people because of the struggle between early Americans and Spaniards that conquered the Aztecs.  It sets them apart from the Spanish because their beliefs are different.
I agree with what my informant said about the legend.  The legend, although it may not be the reason for rain, gives children an explanation for why we have rain.  Through this story, children from Mexico and Central America are able to learn about the hardships that the Aztecs had to endure when the Spaniards invaded their land.  Maintaining culture in a society is extremely important, especially since cultures are starting to mix and die out.  People need to know their heritage, the history of their people, and how they got to where they are today.  Culture is one of the few ways that we can still connect to the past.  These legends allow people to learn about historical figures that are important in a culture.