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The axolotl in pre-Hispanic mythology

The spirit of this animal was recognized & nbsp; by ancient cultures that saw it as a being that defies death.

The axolotl appears linked to the oldest Mexican myths. Its name in Nahuatl (axolotl) means “water xolotl” and has been translated as “water toy”, “water monster”, “water twin” or “water dog”. It is evident that it refers to the god Xolotl , a kind of heroic Cain who is Quetzalcóatl’s twin brother or, to be precise, his double. While Quetzalcóatl is the “precious twin”, Xólotl is monstrous and misshapen.

Its story begins with the legend of the creation of the Sun and the Moon, which occurred in Teotihuacán, “The place where men become gods”, one of the most sacred places for the Nahuas, the great divine temple-city (Today San Juan Teotihuacán, near Otumba).

Teotihuacán, la ciudad de los dioses
Teotihuacán, city of Gods

“The Fifth Sun” was created here, the era in which we currently live and which, according to the Nahua worldview, will disappear due to tremors.

So at the beginning of that era, when there was still nothing, or time, the day was in absolute darkness, in the land of darkness. Then the gods, owners of the movement, met and in Teotihuacán they said to each other: “Who will create the light, who will illuminate the world?” Tecuciztécatl, “The precious, ornate and pretentious god”, a very rich that everything she offered was precious, like quetzal feathers, she came forward and said: “I’ll take care of it” . Immediately the gods wondered: “Who is the other one?” There was absolute silence.

No other god dared to volunteer. Everyone was afraid of sacrificing themselves. They did nothing but look at each other. Then the gods remembered Nanahuatzin , “The buboso, mangy god”, a very withdrawn god who did not speak. Then they asked him to be the one to shine the light. Nanahuatzin accepted willingly and without hesitation: “I will obey what they have commanded me” .

“The Fifth Sun” was created here, the era in which we currently live and which, according to the Nahua worldview, will disappear due to tremors.

So at the beginning of that era, when there was still nothing, or time, the day was in absolute darkness, in the land of darkness. Then the gods, owners of the movement, met and in Teotihuacán they said to each other: “Who will create the light, who will illuminate the world?” Tecuciztécatl, “The precious, ornate and pretentious god”, a very rich that everything she offered was precious, like quetzal feathers, she came forward and said: “I’ll take care of it” . Immediately the gods wondered: “Who is the other one?” There was absolute silence.

And then a huge bonfire was set up in the place called Teotexcalli, “The house of the rock of the gods.” For four nights they did penance in some mountains called Tzaqualli “The place of confinement”.

While Nanahuatzin offered maguey thorns with his blood, green reeds tied three by three and balls of hay, Tecuciztécatl offered thorns made of precious stones, red coral instead of blood, quetzal feathers and golden balls, delighting smell with the best copal. Instead of copal, Nanahuatzin burned the scabs of his bubas.

At the end of the offering they began to adorn Nanahuatzin and Tecuciztécatl; one was adorned with precious feathers from Aztacómitl, the other was touched on the head with a paper Maxtli. With everyone around, in the Teotexcalli the fire burned for four nights. The gods then stood in two rows beside the fire, ready to witness the spectacle. Nanahuatzin and Tecuciztécatl stood in front of the fire, in the midst of the other gods. And then the latter ordered: “Come Tecuciztécatl! Get into the fire! ”

Esta imagen tiene un atributo ALT vacío; su nombre de archivo es nanahuatzin-ajolote.png
Tecuciztécatl y Nanahuatzin in front of fire

Although he lunged against the huge pyre, his fear won out and he backed off. He tried again, up to four times, the limit allowed by the gods themselves. Then they turned to Nanahuatzin and said: “Come on Nanahuatzin! Get into the fire! ”. He closed his eyes, and immediately threw himself into the fire. It began to crack in the fire, and that’s when Tecuciztécatl also threw himself. At that moment an eagle passed so close that they say that that is why eagles have black feathers. A tiger also passed by, and as it did not burn, it only scorched a little, that is how it was half stained.

Esta imagen tiene un atributo ALT vacío; su nombre de archivo es nanahuatzin-ajolote-1.jpg
Nanahuatzin goes into fire

Then the gods waited for Nanahuatzin to come out. Suddenly everything turned reddish, as if dawn was everywhere. The gods knelt down to see Nanahuatzin appear as a star of light. It was not known where it would come out, because there was light everywhere. Then certain gods like Quetzalcóatl, “The feathered serpent”, looked to the east and said: “The Sun will rise here” . The brilliance of Nanahuatzin was such that nobody could look at him. After him and in the same place Tecuciztécatl appeared. And the gods wondered: “Is it okay for the two to go hand in hand?” “No!” , they answered. At this moment one of the gods hit Tecuciztécatl with a rabbit, thus suppressing the glow, leaving the Moon as it is now.

After a while the Sun and the Moon had appeared, the gods realized that they were immobile, so they said: “How can we live with a motionless Sun?”.

Esta imagen tiene un atributo ALT vacío; su nombre de archivo es sol-y-luna-leyenda-teotihuacan.jpg

“Let’s sacrifice ourselves and make it rise with movement through our death” And then Echécatl, god of the wind, was in charge of killing the gods. However, history says that there was a god, Xólotl, Quetzalcoátl’s twin, who refused to die.

At that moment, Xólotl said: “Oh gods, may I not die!” . This god cried so much that his eyes swelled. When Ehécatl arrived to kill him, Xólotl escaped in terror. He fled to the cornfields where he hid among the cornfields. There it became the corn stem that has two stalks, which the peasants call xolotl. When the wind discovered him, he ran and hid among the magueys, turning into a double-leafed maguey called mexólotl, when he was found again, he fled again.

Finally he submerged himself in the water, becoming an axolotl, the axolotl, where he was captured and killed to consecrate himself forever as one of the favorite delicacies of the Aztec princes.

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