Let’s go back in time to the era of one of the first great ancient civilisations, the Aztecs. They lived in modern day Mexico, alongside another tribal civilisation, the Mayans, who you may well have heard of as they read the stars and, in doing so, predicted that the end of the world would take place in the year 2012 (well, technically they didn’t say the world would end but they made a calendar all the way up to 2012 then abruptly stopped). Whether they simply got bored of making calendar years ahead of time or misread the stars (which is understandable given that star reading classes aren’t all that common!) the Mayans were incorrect in the world’s end date, thankfully, but they were nevertheless an ingenious people for their time. The Aztecs learnt much from their Mayan neighbours, and perhaps the reason we hear more about the Aztecs is they were a little more vicious and not all that appreciative of their Mayan teachers!
The Aztecs (originally known as the Mexica) were somewhat ahead of their time for tribal peoples, reverting to communal farming methods instead of hunting and gathering, which was a clever move towards greater efficiency. They had greater hygiene and education than most of the European nations at the time, and some of the Aztec ‘super foods’ and ‘remedies’ are still heralded by science and doctors today such as chia seeds and Echinacea flowers. That being said, they were also particularly barbaric and believed in human sacrifices, cutting out the heart of their victims and offering it to their gods on alters atop great temples/pyramids. Now that’s all rather barbaric, but it wasn’t something the Aztecs employed to instil fear in their enemies, it was actually an honour to be chosen as a sacrifice to the gods, so just why did they do it?
Well, in Ancient Aztec lore two gods sacrificed themselves jumping into a pit of fire to create the sun and the moon, but in order for the sun to move around the earth the other gods had to also sacrifice themselves, which they did by having their hearts cut out, offering their love to the peoples and the warmth of the sun. So, naturally, hearing that story the Aztecs felt they too should cut out hearts and offer thanks to the gods for the warmth of the sun and the light of the moon. Additionally it’s important to note that it wasn’t just the story but also the great pyramids/temples that played a role here. You see, the Aztecs had no means with which to build these great structures and believed they, too, had been created by the gods with the intention of demanding sacrifice and bringing the Aztec people closer to them up in the sky.
This raises another question, though. Who did build the Aztec and Mayan temples/pyramids? Whilst not as tall or vast as the pyramids in Egypt they are nevertheless impressive structures of stone and stood towering over the Aztec’s primitive shacks of wood and straw. Some theorise that the mystical island of Atlantis was originally occupied by the Ancient Greeks before it sank (off the coast of South America), and that they had landed in the Americas years earlier and built these great structures, which is certainly possible. Either way they were heralded as godlike structures by the Aztecs!
IMAGE SOURCE: https://qz.com/374994/aztec-sacrifice-was-real-and-its-not-fetishistic-to-be-fascinated-by-it/