Monday, July 9, 2012

Creature of the Week - Quetzalcoatl

It's been far to long sincce I've done a creature post! Time to bring back this feature.
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Today's creature is the Quetzalcoatl, which means feathered serpent. Quetzalcoatl dates back to 200 BCE. In human form, he looks like a warrior adorned with feathers. He was the god of vegetation, rain, and wind and is linked to the morning star (Venus). He was also the patron god of the Aztec priesthood, of learning and knowledge.
Credit for Picture
In addition to being the name of a god, the founder of the city of Tula, the capital of the Toltec culture, appointed himself as king and called himself Quetzalcoatl. There were two fractions within the city: those who followed Quetzalcoatl (who sacrificed serpents, birds, and butterflies) and those who followed Tercatlipoca (a Jaguar shaman who sacrificed humans). Tercatlipoca tricked Quetzalcoatl into getting drunk on fermented cactus juice. While drunk, Quetzalcoatl committed incest. Once he realized what he had done, Quetzalcoatl exiled himself from Tula with some of his followers.
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 Accounts differ as to what happens next. Quetzalcoatl journeyed to the Gulf of Mexico. He wore feather garments and a turquoise mask, set himself on fire, and rose from the funeral pyre as the morning star. Another version has him sailing on a raft of woven serpents. Yet another says that Quetzalcoatl thought his face ugly so he grew a beard and wore a white mask. This made people think that the Aztec king Moctezumas open his city to the Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes because he thought him (a bearded white man) was Quetzalcoatl coming back from the raft, but this theory has now been discredited.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's a cool creature. The movie "Q," not so much.

Johanna Garth said...

I've heard of this creature before but didn't know the history. It's fascinating!

Erin Kane Spock said...

Is your font black on a black background or is that just my computer?
Neat post.
Next, do the chupacabra. :)

Sandra Nachlinger said...

Fermented cactus juice can make a person (or a god!) do weird things. Thanks for sharing Quetzalcoatl's story. I agree with Erin: I'd like to know more about chupacabra. He was a major boogie-man when I lived in Miami.

Angela Brown said...

We read about interesting creatures but sometimes forget that many of them have even more intriguing histories and legends surrounding them. Plus, awareness of their history can play well into the plotline of a story. Thanks for sharing.