According to the Aztecs, there were four suns created and destroyed before the period in which we currently live. A new world was created after the destruction of the 4th sun, but the gods were only voices in an uninterrupted darkness, having no sun or moon. After 26 years of living in the dark the gods gathered together and decided that this state of affairs could not be allowed to continue, so they hatched a plan to create a new sun and a new moon.
After a testosterone-fueled evening of mescal consumption, the gods determined that the best way to create a new sun and moon was for one of them to jump into a blazing pyre. But two gods volunteered for the task: Tecuciztécatl and Nanahuatzin. Now Tecuciztécatl was a good-looking fellow with a very high opinion of himself. He got himself duded up in fabulous, jewel-encrusted robes and prepared himself by making offerings of remarkable treasures such as quetzal feathers and coral incense. For his part, Nanahuatzin was a humble, unassuming god who was not so easy on the eye, having been disfigured by severe acne throughout his life. He dressed in simple robes and prepared himself for the sacrifice by using cactus thorns to offer his own blood and the scabs from his pimples. (OK, so he was kind of a gross god too.)
When the moment for the sacrifice came, the bold, handsome, and well-heeled Tecuciztécatl rushed to throw himself into
the fire first, but reeled away in panic and fear once he felt the full heat of the flames. He tried to summon his courage and jump into the flames again, but after 4 attempts he still had not mastered his resolve. Then the modest, homely, and plainly-dressed Nanahuatzin stepped forward and, without a word or a moment of hesitation, strode straight into the flames. Just as the other gods were amazed by Nanahuatzin’s wondrous courage, so was Tecuciztécatl shamed by it and it was this shame that, at last, gave him the resolve to throw himself into to the flames as well.
Now the original plan had been for only one god to form both the sun and the moon, but with the sacrifice of two gods, the sun and the moon shone equally brightly in the sky. From a state of constant darkness the gods now found themselves in a state of constant light. To remedy this blindingly bright situation that not even the best Oakleys could alleviate, one of the gods on the ground threw a rabbit up into the moon’s face, giving the moon its distinctive markings and cooling the light of the moon to its current state. That is why, to this day, when Mexicans look at the moon they don’t see the Man in the Moon but the Conejo en la Luna, the Rabbit in the Moon.
For more Aztec, Mayan, Greek and Roman astrology and astronomy (with a certain artistic license) you can join Sergio Jáuregui, the owner of Todos Santos Eco Adventures, at his home for an evening of Champagne & Stars.
© Copyright Sergio and Bryan Jauregui, Casa Payaso S de RL de CV, 2012
This article was originally published in Wendy Rains’ Baja Tips Weekly