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Fall of the Toltecs

"Now on the inside of Toltec society, Tezcatlipoca used His sorcery to trick the idle Toltecs. He played a mystical drum which mesmerized those who heard it and caused them to dance so wildly that they eventually threw themselves off of a cliff."

from "The Fall of the Toltecs"

The Toltecs were ruled in their last days by an incarnation of Quetzalcoatl. Under the name Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl (One Reed Our Dear Prince Feathered Serpent), the god held the highest dominion over the Toltecs in their capital of Tollan. Ruling under him was Huemac, a man who was the military leader of the Toltec people.

Under the rule of Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, the Toltecs entered what some consider their finest age ever. The Valley of Mexico was said to have been filled with tropical birds, cotton did not need to be dyed, but grew naturally in all the colors of the rainbow. The Toltecs enjoyed wealth and prosperity under the guidance of the Feathered Serpent.

The Toltec religion was much like that of the Aztecs, and their two main gods were Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca. Several of the other Toltec gods were to be shared in the future Aztec pantheon, and sacrifice was a common method of honoring them. But Quetzalcoatl did not like this. He himself did not like many sacrifices being given to him, and so he encouraged the people to sacrifice only birds, butterflies, and their own blood. The worship of the other gods began to wane in many as Quetzalcoatl began to monopolize the Toltec’s reverence.

The Toltecs began to get lazy and arrogant. Quetzalcoatl made their world a paradise, and they were the most powerful people in all of Mexico! Not only had the Toltec’s attitude towards worship declined, but now their humbleness was tossed aside and they spent their time in leisure. They didn’t have to work for anything; everything was being provided for them by Quetzalcoatl. Tezcatlipoca watched the Toltecs take all their benefits for granted, while they began to forget about Him and worship only His brother. Clearly, the Toltecs needed some discipline.

Tezcatlipoca came to the Toltecs, first under the guise of a Huaxtec, selling green chiles. In the Huaxtec culture, the men wore mantels, but no loincloths underneath. When Huemac’s daughter saw Tezcatlipoca in the marketplace, she saw His manhood and was overcome with such desire for him that she became sick with it.

Huemac was forced to call Huaxtec into his palace, as his daughter told him that she would die if she could not marry him. When told that He had caused the ruler’s daughter such sickness, the crafty Tezcatlipoca told Huemac to kill him. Not knowing that he was being tricked by a god, Huemac instead ordered Tezcatlipoca to marry his daughter. Having been offered exactly what He wanted, Tezcatlipoca complied.

Now on the inside of Toltec society, Tezcatlipoca used His sorcery to trick the idle Toltecs. He played a mystical drum which mesmerized those who heard it and caused them to dance so wildly that they eventually threw themselves off of a cliff.

He caused such disorder that Huemac tried to plot His demise. He sent Tezcatlipoca to fight against the Chichimecs, accompanied only with an army of hunchbacks and dwarfs. When He returned victorious, Huemac sank deeper into despair.

Tezcatlipoca again enchanted the Toltecs by making an infant dance in His hand. The infant was really Huitzilopochtli in disguise. Some of the observers realized this and rose up against Tezcatlipoca and killed Him, but Tezcatlipoca was a god and merely assumed another body, and caused His old dead one to continuously reappear in the streets of Tollan, tormenting the Toltecs with its smell as it rotted. No matter how many times the people of the city tried to get rid of Tezcatlipoca's old body, it would always reappear.

All this time, Quetzalcoatl had been lamenting the troubles that had beset his people. He sat in his palace engaged in his normal spiritual activities, but all that he did wasn’t helping his people. He became sick with despair, sitting on his throne and taking no visitors into his palace.

Now that He had caused chaos among the Toltec people and tormented their military commander, Tezcatlipoca set forth to trick His brother. He came to Quetzalcoatl’s palace disguised as an old man. He told the guards that He knew their ruler was sick, and that He had medicine which could cure him. The guards let Him in.

Inside Quetzalcoatl’s chambers, Tezcatlipoca produced an obsidian mirror and showed the ruler his reflection. Quetzalcoatl was immediately shocked by how old and frail he looked. Tezcatlipoca told him that He had medicine that could cure his sickness and make him look young once again. Eagerly, Quetzalcoatl drank up the potion that Tezcatlipoca gave to him. What he did not realize, however, was that the potion was actually alcoholic octli. Quetzalcoatl had never tasted alcohol, and so drank it quickly, believing it to be medicine. He became extremely inebriated and demanded that his own sister, Quetzalpetlatl, be brought into his room. As soon as she entered, Quetzalcoatl told her that she must try the fine potion that the disguised Tezcatlipoca had brought for him. As soon as she did, the drunken Feathered Serpent started to flirt with his own sister.

The next morning, Quetzalcoatl awoke next to Quetzalpetlatl, realizing not only that he had broken his vow of celibacy, but that he had slept with his own sister in doing so! He felt so shamed that he decided that he was unworthy of ruling over his people anymore.

Quetzalcoatl decided to leave Tollan with an entourage of followers, traveling towards the divine waters in the East. Once he got there, some say that he sailed across the sea on a raft made of live serpents. Others say that he built a great pyre and threw himself in it and that upon his death his heart rose into the sky as the morning star. The later is the story of how Quetzalcoatl also came to be also known as Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, the Lord of the Dawn.

Some have interpretted this story as evil prevailing over good, but it is not so. The Aztecs didn’t see Tezcatlipoca’s actions as evil, but simply as the continuation of His eternal rivalry with His brother, Quetzalcoatl, and as a lesson why, even when rich and powerful, a people should never become lazy and forgetful of the gods.



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