The concept of ‘god’ in Aztec society is referred to as ‘Teotl’ in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztec. The Aztecs, like other Mesoamerican societies, had a wide pantheon of gods. As such they were a polytheistic society, which means they had many gods and each god represented different important parts of the world for Aztec people. Whereas a monotheistic religion, such as Christianity, only has one god. The wide variety of gods in Aztec religion is a result of several factors. First, the Aztec Empire emerged after the fall of earlier Mesoamerican societies, such as: Toltec, Olmec, Teotihuacan and Maya. As a result, the Aztec shared similar gods to these earlier societies. Second, during the rise to power of the Aztec Empire its power and authority quickly spread out from its capital city, Tenochtitlan, in the Valley of Mexico and conquered many other city-states. When the Aztec conquered a rival city-state (referred to as an altepetl) they would force the conquered people to accept the Aztec gods, but the Aztec also allowed them to keep their own original gods. As a result, over time the Aztec society adopted and built on their own system of gods and eventually included many different gods from across the empire.
As stated above, the gods in the Aztec religion represented different aspects of life and the world for the Aztec people. The aspects that the gods represented included: culture of Aztec society and Mesoamerica, nature and the natural world, creation stories, fertility, food, death and the underworld, trade and excess or entertainment. Each god had different attributes and personality traits and were usually represented in distinct ways by the Aztec. Some could take human or animal form and were celebrated in festivals and rituals. There were many gods in the Aztec religion but some of the most prominent included: Huitzilopochtli, Quetzalcoatl, Tezcatlipoca, Mictlāntēcutli, and Tlaloc. Click the links to read more about each of the gods.