Mictlán, the Aztec underworld

According to Aztec mythology, when people died, they had to go through a journey of nine levels. The process, which lasted for four years, was full of obstacles

The mythological journey to Mictlán, the Aztec underworld
Mictlán is the Aztec underworld - Photo: Taken from Museo del Templo Mayor
English 31/10/2019 14:53 Itzel Porras Mexico City Actualizada 14:53
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How did the Aztec view dead? According to their ancient mythology, when someone died, they had to go through a journey of nine levels to arrive at Mictlán. The process, which lasted for four years, was full of obstacles.

The objective was to arrive at the underworld, with Mictlantecuhtli and Mictecacihuatl, gods of death. In this way, the soul of the departed would achieve eternal rest.



Una publicación compartida de INAH (@inahmx) el

The first stage of the way consists in crossing the Apanohuaia river with the help of a dog, either white or vermilion, called Xoloitzcuintle. Its color was the only way to see in a place full of darkness.

Have you heard about the Mexican hairless dog that will guide you to the underworld?

The next level is Tepeme Monamictlán, a place where the hills get together and the soul must wait to continue its way.

Then comes Iztépetl. For this obstacle, the souls must cross a path of obsidian.

The fourth level is called Cehueloyán, a place with a lot of snow, where the spirit remembers the saddest moments of its life. It has to go through the path to get rid of them.

In the middle of the journey is Pancuetlacalóyan, a place with so much wind that some souls cannot overcome it and are blown away.

Did you know cempasúchil is also known as "the flower of the dead"?

Next comes Timiminalóayan, where invisible hands throw arrows that must be dodged by the souls. Each arrow represents a person who had an influence on the life of the departed.

In the seventh level, there is a jaguar that deprived a soul of its heart, for in this stage the departed abandon anything worldly they still carry with them.

The next level is Apanohualóyan, a place where the departed see their life pass.

The last level is Chiconahualóyan, where the souls finally meet Mictlantecuthli and Mictecacíhuatl for their reward: eternal rest.

Have you heard about copal, the food of the gods?


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