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Aztec God

Pronounced: way-way-coh-yoh-tl (where the tl is a sibilant sound made by placing the tongue behind the upper teeth and sounding a 't').

In the mythic imagination of the native peoples of North America, the coyote was a trickster. Just as the people of Japan traditionally saw the wily fox (kitsune) with his seemingly supernatural ability to disappear into the shadows and escape almost any trap as a magical maker of mischief, the early Americans viewed the sly and solitary coyote with a mixture of reverent wariness and amusement.

When the mythology texts of modern times mention the god Huehuecoyotl ('Old Man Coyote') at all, he is usually listed as "a minor god of lust and drunkenness," but to the Aztec people of Central America, he was a trickster, a teacher, and a comic foil. The god of indulgence and over-indulgence, the old coyote took delight in parties, music, and playing pranks on anyone who forgot to watch their back. He could be particularly merciless toward the self-important and pompous—his tricks could turn cruel in an instant.

Huehuecoyotl was a member of the group of Aztec deities known as the Xiuhtecuhtli complex. This group, led by the eponymous fire god, featured into the workings of the calendar and the Aztec understanding of the cycle of the year. His worship was appropriately raucous and festive, featuring singing competitions, drumming and poetry. For obvious reasons, some modern people consider him to be the patron god of karaoke!

The god Huehuecoyotl-Coyotlinahual, with his confoundingly similar name ('Old Man Coyote-Coyote in His Disguise'), is a separate fellow entirely, even though both were part of the Xiuhtecuhtli complex. Aztec craftsmen made elaborate decorative items from the colorful feathers of the many birds found in their tropical home. Huehuecoyotl-Coyotlinahual was one of the patron gods of the feather workers. His name leads one to wonder if the craftsman god sometimes disguised himself as the trickster, or if perhaps he was another incarnation of the tricky coyote.

A shape-changing lover of song, Huehuecoyotl may be obscure, but his lessons are as important today as they were centuries ago, long before Cortez set foot on these shores.

Thanks to Saige for pointing out that this fella did not have a writeup
and a tip of the hat to maxClimb for inspiring me to get off my lazy butt and find out how it is pronounced
Jordan, Michael (no, not THAT Michael Jordan), "Encyclopedia of Gods" (Facts on File, New York, 1993).
Godchecker on line: http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/aztec-mythology.php?deity=HUEHUECOYOTL
Coyote Kiva, online: http://coyotekiva.org/huehue.html
Ancient Mesoamerica on line at: http://www.fofweb.com/Onfiles/Ancient/AncientDetail.asp?iPin=MES0126
Pronunciation guide at NYU Press online: http://www.nyupress.org/sisterstories/help/nahuatl.html

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