Huehueteotl, God of Life in Aztec Religion, Mythology

Huehueteotl. De Agostini Picture Library/Getty

Name and Etymology

  • Huehueteotl, "the Old One"
  • Ueueteotl
  • Otontecuhtli
  • Xiuhtecuhtli
  • Xiutechuhtli
  • Xocotl

Religion and Culture of Huehueteotl

Aztec, Mesoamerica

Symbols, Iconography, and Art of Huehueteotl

Aztec art usually portrays Huehueteotl as a very old man, hunched over with a wrinkled face and a toothless mouth. Huehueteotl is one of very few gods depicted is such an aged state, but it represented his great wisdom. Huehueteotl also tends to wear a large brazier marked with symbols of fire and which may itself have held incense.

Huehueteotl is God of...

  • Hearth
  • Fire of Life
  • North

Equivalents in Other Cultures

Possibly descended from one of the primary Olmec gods.

Story and Origin of Huehueteotl

Huehueteotl may be the oldest of the Aztec gods and representations of him can be found all over Mesoamerica going back centuries. Huehueteotl represents light, warmth, and life against darkness, cold, and death.

Family Tree and Relationships of Huehueteotl

Husband of Chalchiuhtlicue, fertility and vegetation goddess

Temples, Worship and Rituals of Huehueteotl

Most Aztec gods were worshiped at public rituals and had social/public rules; Huehueteotl, however, appears to have been a household deity responsible for the maintenance of the hearth and perhaps preservation of family harmony. Aztec priests were responsible for keeping a fire burning at all times in honor of Huehueteotl.

One public ritual dedicated to Huehueteotl was the Hueymiccailhuitl, "great feast of the dead," which occurred every 52 years (the Aztec century). In order to ensure that the Aztec covenant with the gods would be renewed, victims were drugged, roasted alive, and had their hearts cut out.

This sort of celebration was also held at times when hostilities between groups were ended.

Mythology and Legends of Huehueteotl

Toxiuhmolpilia, "the tying of the years," was ritual performed every 52 years over which Huehueteotl presided. During this ceremony, the sacrificial victim not only had their still-beating heart torn from their body, but a piece of wood was then placed in its place and set on fire. Only if the fire caught would there be fire through the rest of the land for the next 52 years. Huehueteotl's role in this was due to the Aztec belief that, as an ancient pillar of the universe, Huehueteotl's fire ran throughout the entire world, linking the fires in every Aztec home and every Aztec temple.

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Your Citation
Cline, Austin. "Huehueteotl, God of Life in Aztec Religion, Mythology." Learn Religions, Sep. 10, 2021, Cline, Austin. (2021, September 10). Huehueteotl, God of Life in Aztec Religion, Mythology. Retrieved from Cline, Austin. "Huehueteotl, God of Life in Aztec Religion, Mythology." Learn Religions. (accessed March 25, 2023).

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