The new Fire Ceremony, additionally known as the Binding of the years Ceremony, to be a ritual held every 52 year in the month that November top top the perfect of a complete cycle of the Aztec solar year (xiuhmopilli). The objective of it to be none various other than come renew the sun and ensure one more 52-year cycle. The brand-new Fire Ceremony, or Toxhiuhmolpilia, as the Aztecs themselves referred to as it, to be by far the most essential event in the spiritual calendar because, rather simply, if the consciousness failed, climate the Aztec people would end.

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The Solar Calendar

The timing of the ceremony and the number 52 were far-reaching as this was the precise coinciding point of the very first days that the 2 Aztec calendars which were climate in simultaneously use: the old Mesoamerican and also sacred tonalpohualli 260-day cycle and also the xiuhpohualli, the Aztec 365-day solar and ceremonial calendar. In addition, every 2nd cycle (104 years) was given even much more significance together on that an exact date the tonalpohualli corresponded with the 52-year cycle. The Aztecs experienced such time cycles as a winter of the old cosmic cycles which, in Aztec mythology, had produced the world. The chronicler Jacques Soustelle describes well the factor a ritual choose the brand-new Fire Ceremony was of such problem to the Aztecs,


At bottom the ancient Mexicans had no actual confidence in the future, your fragile world was perpetually at the mercy of some disaster: there to be not only the organic cataclysms and the famines, but much more than that, on details nights the monstrous divinities the the west showed up at the crossroads, and also there to be the wizards, those dark envoys native a secret world, and every fifty-two years there to be the an excellent fear that dropped upon every the countries of the realm when the sun set on the last day that the "century" and also no man can tell whether it would ever rise again (114).

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Xiuhtecuhtli God of Fire

The ceremony was overseen by Xiuhtecuhtli, additionally known as the "Turquoise Lord", the Aztec god the fire. His surname reveals not just his association through turquoise but additionally with Time, together xiuhitl in Nahuatl, the language that the Aztecs, intended both "turquoise" and also "year". Fire, similar to many other old cultures, was thought about a basic element of the universe, present in all things. Xiuhtecuhtli"s obelisk of fire was thought to run appropriate through the cosmos from Mictlan, the Underworld, to Topan, the Heavens. The association between the sun and also fire is make in Aztec mythology v the self-sacrifice the the god Nanahuatzin and also Tecuciztecatl that threw themselves into a fire in ~ Teotihuacan in bespeak to develop the Sun and also Moon respectively. Together we chandelier see, in the new Fire consciousness one certain fire was essential to the success of ensuring the return of the life-giving sun.

Preparation because that The Ceremony

Preparation because that the ceremony began with the extinguishing of every fires of any kind, from temples to household hearths - the last being especially connected with Xiuhtecuhtli. Next, a thorough cleaning procedure was undertaken through the highways being swept, old hearth stones to be thrown away along with old cooking utensils, old apparel too, and also even idols to be ceremoniously washed and also cleansed. Another ritual was to tie bundles of 52 reeds together, creating a symbolic xiuhmopilli. Pregnant females were locked in granaries and also their deals with were painted blue in the belief that they would not climate turn into monsters during the night. Children likewise had their deals with painted and were maintained from resting to protect against them turning into mice. Finally, together darkness fell, the populace quit all activities, climbed the roofs of your homes and also waited through a hushed silence and also baited breath for what was to come.


If the fire shed brightly climate Xiuhtecuhtli had blessed the world with another sun. If not, the human being would end.

The Ceremony

Then, just exterior the Aztec resources of Tenochtitlan, high priests gathered in ~ the summit the the sacred volcanic mountain south-east of Lake Tetzcoco, Mt. Uixachtecatl (also described as Huixachtlan or Citlaltepec and an interpretation "thorn tree place", also if the is now dubbed "Hill that the Star"). The clergymans were magnificently dressed as the gods v fine cloaks, masks, and feather headdresses and led through the figure of Quetzalcoatl. Here, top top a platform clearly shows to the totality city below, the priests waited until midnight and a precise alignment that the stars which would signal the ceremony can begin. When the Tianquiztli (the Pleiades) reached their zenith and the Yohualtecuhtli star shone brightly in the very centre that the night sky, this to be the moment a human sacrifice to be made. The High Priest, probably dressed together Xuihtecuhtli and wearing a turquoise mask, cut out the love from the living victim and a fire was kindled in the north chest cavity making use of the sacred firestick drill, the tlequauitl. If the fire shed brightly, then every was well and Xiuhtecuhtli had actually blessed the people with one more sun. If the fire did not catch, climate the Tzitzimime would come there is no pity. These destructive monsters, armed with wickedly spicy knives, would roam the dark and also sunless planet slashing and eating all humankind without exception. The world would end.

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Fortunately, this devastating tragedy never occurred, and also after every ceremony, once the fire burned well within the victim"s chest, the fire was provided to light a vast pyre so the all could see the success of the consciousness in the city below. Climate the flames were moved to Tenochtitlan whereby they were provided to light the fire in ~ the temple of Huitzilopochtli on optimal of the Templo mayor pyramid. Next, the fire at the city"s Fire temple was lit and also from there, runners ensured that all the fires of the city were, as soon as again, lit.