Tezcatlipoca was primarily worshipped by the Aztec peoples, though at the time they called themselves the Mexica. The rough timeframe of his worship was from around 1300 to about 1521. His name spelled properly is Tezcatl Ipoca, "Smoking Mirror", though he has many names that he is known by. An early Mexica prince, Texcatlpopocatzin, bore his name. Tezcapoctli, is the Mexica name for the black obsidian with a reflecting surface used in the making of mirrors. Tezcatlipoca was left handed and also known as Opoche, "He Who Has Left Handedness", one of his priests was known as "His Left Hand". Also known as Itzcaque, "He Who Has Obsidian Sandals". Also known as Ixquimilli, "A Blindfold". Titlacahuan, (He Whose Slaves we Are). However, he is not to be confused with Tlatlauhqui Tezcatlipoca, which is actually a reference to Xipe Totec, "The Skinless One", a seperate deity entirely.

He was considered the prime deity in the Aztec Pantheon, represented by the sun, not Quetzalcoatl. His domains are those of deception, pain, war, honor, and destiny. It was believed that at birth Tezcatlipoca would determine the fate of a child. Tezcatlipoca is not a deity for worshiping, he is a deity for laying down and avoiding. Unfortunately for the Aztec Nation and the rest of the meso-americans, they didn't realize this. In point of fact, Tezcatlipoca was quite possibly the most cruel and vicious of deities ever to be so enthusiastically worshipped as the Primary God by any culture on Earth. Not even Kali or Shiva came close to his atrocities, and horrific demands of his followers. The mildest duty he required of his followers was a hallucinogenic enema. Ritual sacrifice and pain were his meat and drink. There were generally three ways to be sacrificed to Tezcatlipoca: the voluntary route, the involuntary route, or becoming a priest. There wasn't any particular way to avoid the fate, however and in point of fact it is a wonder there were any Aztecs left once they had sacrificed everyone else.

The first method, voluntary sacrifice, was considered the most honorable method to go and was open only to slaves and the top-ranking local officer of their military. The slaves were dressed in a huipl, or soft garment of flax (I think), and given a blunt stick with some feathers at the tip. They were then led atop the pyramid to await their competition; the highest-ranking local officer of the militia (we'll just call him Captain for convenience sake). The Captain would be wearing bone armor (usually made from his previous opponants), and wielding an obsidian sword known as a maquahuital. The two would of course fight to the death, winner ate the heart and recieved the bones of the loser. The act of killing in this ritualistic manner was thought to be nourishing to Tezcatlipoca. Should the rare occasion happen when the slave actually win, he was given the officer's rank, position, and the responsibility of fighting any new volunteers.

The second method, and least honorable was to be dragged to the top of the temple pyramid and have the heart removed after a rather excruciating flaying process, though there were various methods used, one was cutting through the victim's belly, tearing the diaphragm, and cutting the heart ligaments from the inside, then pulling it out. Children were often sacrificed in this manner.

The third method was only reserved for two people a year. On the festival of Toxcatl in the fifth month of their eighteen month year. A young captive, chosen for his beauty, grace, and self-control impersonated Tezcatlipoca for an entire year, from one Toxcatl to the beginning of the next. During this time, he was honored and lived a life of luxury and privilege. He was expected to wander the streets at night with his entourage, playing flutes and generally being congenial. Twenty days before the festival he was given four beautiful wives. At the beginning of the festival, he was taken quietly to a temple on a small island where, at a time of his own choosing, his heart was cut out and offered to Tezcatlipoca.

The total amount of people sacrificed to Tezcatlipoca is quite impossible to discern. However there is strong evidence to suggest that between 80,000 to 100,000 were sacrificed for a dedication ceremony for The Great Temple in Tenochtitlan. (almost double the total number of Native Americans and Anglos killed during the Indian Wars from 1775-1890 according to US Census). Keep in mind this is only one of the deities, one of their temples, and one of their occasions. The actual number of total people sacrificed in the years of Aztec power could very well be in excess of half a million.

For more information on how in the name of all that is good and nice someone would ever end up worshiping this diety, please see How Quetzalcoatl Got His Groove Back and human sacrifice and the Aztecs. It will explain how the Aztecs even got enough power to make such things possible, and their rationale for the sacrifices. In general, this was one of those gods from the wrong side of the tracks.

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