The Aztec religion believed there were four previous cycles since the creation event. At the beginning of the Fifth Sun Quetzacoatl, the Feathered Serpent, descended into the underworld to gather the bones of the humans who previously existed on the Earth in order to make the new population of humans which continues to populate the world today. As he returned to the world he tripped, breaking the bones he carried. This accounts for the different sizes of humans in the world. By adding his own blood to the bones of the previous men Quetzacoatl brought the people of the world to life.
Other names which Quetzacoatl is known are ‘Gucumatz’ among the Quiche Maya, and at Chichen Itza, which was settled by a mixture of Toltec and Mayans, he was known as ‘Kukulkan’. All names, including Quetzacoatl, translate into roughly the same phrase; ‘Plumed/Feathered Serpent’. The Feathered Serpent was a god of two natures represented by the feathers that enabled it to fly, and the serpent shape that tied it to the ground.
|by el_grimlock Deviant Art|
In remote antiquity the deity Quetzacoatl/Kukulkan sailed across the Eastern Sea to Mexico in a boat without paddles, bringing to the Maya the use of fire as well as the skill of writing, of advanced mathematics and astronomical knowledge on which they based their calendar and religion. He also brought with him the corn plant and taught the people the practice of agriculture. Quetzacoatl was described as having white skin, a strong body, broad forehead, large eyes and flowing, rounded red beard over a long, flowing white robe. He showed people how to use fire, build a house around that fire, taught couples to live together as husband and wife and taught the people of the world to live together in peace. He founded cities and gave laws to the people. After bringing these benefits to mankind, Quetzalcoatl sailed back the way he came on a raft of serpents. The Feathered Serpent was the bringer of civilization to mankind and was so concerned with human affairs that it has been postulated that he was, indeed, an actual historical character, of a combination of a dynasty of rulers whose memory lasted beyond his death, leading to his deification.
|painting by Susanne Isles|
The stories of Kukulkan are very specific, citing that his group was called the “People of the Serpent” and included twenty others, two who became gods of fish, two gods of agriculture and a god of thunder. They described them wearing long robes open in front, cut low at the neck and three-quarter length sleeves. They were said to have stayed ten years and then to have returned back across the sea after the attendants changed into ‘bright birds’. Before taking his leave, Quetzacoatl promised to return and re-establish an era where the gods stopped their quest for human blood and accepted sacrifices of flowers instead.
The historical figure of Quetzacoatl forbade the practice of human sacrifice and ushered in a Golden Age of peace and culture. In legend Quetzacoal was overcome and driven away by the malevolent god Tezcatilpoca (Smoking Mirror) who is associated with night, darkness and the sacred jaguar. Sometimes Tezcatilpoca appeared as a shadow or monster and he carried an obsidian scrying stone mirror. The victory at Tula of the dark forces over the Feathered Serpent brought back the human sacrifices in an effort to delay the impending end of the Fifth incarnation of the world.
|painting by Dan Staten|