Aztec names are a little like tongue twisters. Many are hard to pronounce but we’ve found a few great names and meanings for you. The most important Aztec gods include the water goddess Chalchiuhtlicue, a young girl with a cute jade skirt. Her name is really hard to pronounce. Especially if you’re a little tired and have to tell your pet off for eating something she shouldn’t have. You’d hear yourself: “come here, Chali...hui...licki... oh, never mind!” So you should think about whether an Aztec name really is the right choice.
The following list may not contain the most important gods but does contain some names that are a little easier to say (but only a little... have fun practicing!). If in doubt, you can make up your own names inspired by these - like an Aztec god nickname. Below, you’ll find out what meanings animals had for the Aztecs.
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|Camaxtli||God of the hunt, war and fire|
|Chantico||Goddess of fires in the family hearth and volcanoes|
|Cihuacoatl||Goddess of fertility|
|Cochimetl/Yacatecuhtli||God of commerce and travelers|
|Cuaxolotl||Goddess of Duality|
|Itzli||Goddess of stones and sacrifices|
|Itzpapalotl||Skeletal warrior goddess|
|Metzli||God of the moon|
|Mextli||God of war and storm|
|Mixcoatl||God of the hunt, war and stars|
|Nanauatzin||Sun god, sacrificed himself in order to shine as the sun|
|Ometeotl||God of duality and the universe|
|Oxomoco||Goddes of astrology and calendar|
|Patecatl||God of healing and fertility|
|Quetzalcoatl||God of wind, sky, war and earth|
|Xolotl||God of fire and lightning|
Gods and Spirits of Protection
Animals often had a mythical meaning for the Aztecs. Often, the Aztecs’ gods looked like animals (completely or partially). They also believed that each human had a “nagual”, a protection spirit that took either an animal or plant form.
The Prophecy, the Eagle and the Rattlesnake
Tenochtitlan was the Aztec capital, and the story of its foundation is very mysterious. The Aztecs moved from North America to South America looking for a new home. One day, they saw an eagle sitting on a cactus and holding a rattlesnake in its claws. This was “the sign” they’d been waiting for, the fulfillment of Huitzilopochtlis’ prophecy that they should settle here. Today, Tenochtitlan forms the center of Mexico City.
The Feathered Rattlesnake
The god Quetzalcoatl (pronounced: kwetsel kowatl) was the god of the wind, heaven and Earth. He looked like a feathered rattlesnake. There is also a flying dinosaur called Quetzalcoatlus, which was named after the god. It was the largest flying animal on Earth.
Hummingbirds, Coyotes, Butterflies etc.
Huitzilopochtli (pronounced: wee tsilo pochtly) was the god of war and the sun. Translated, his name means: “southern hummingbird”. Huehuecoyotl (pronounced: way way koy owtl) looked like a dancing coyote. Chalchihuihtotolin was a kind of chicken, Itzapapalotl a “clawed butterfly” and Xolotl a human with a dog’s head. Many gods also had animals as protective spirits/guides e.g. jaguars, eagles, snakes, spiders, owls and bats.
Eagle Warriors and Jaguar Warriors
The Aztecs had two armies, whose soldiers were seen as especially brave, honorable and feared. One army were “eagle warriors”, who wore impressive feathers and whose symbol was the sun and the day. The “jaguar warriors” dressed in jaguar fur and their symbol was the moon and the night.
The Aztec Language
Although the Aztec language seems difficult, we use words from this language almost every day. Chili comes from the Aztec “chilli”, ocelot from “oceltol”, chocolate from “xocolatl” and tomato from “tomatl”. And there’s even a cute, pink amphibian that carries an Aztec name: the axolotl. It’s pronounced like this: axo lottle. The name is made up of the word for “water” and an Aztec god, so its name means something like “water monster”.