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Writing with Writers
Myth Brainstorming Machine


Central America

Quetzalcoatl was striking to look at. He was tall and fair-skinned. His eyes were deep and his voice carried over many miles. He was the beloved, plumed serpent god, the god who had brought people learning, laws, and the ancient calendar, by which all might be revealed or ordained.

Quetzalcoatl was the spirit of love, the force of life. He was sickened by lives cut short in his honor. He rejected human sacrifice, and angered his eternal enemy Tezcatlipoca. This bloodthirsty god showed the benevolent god his magic smoking mirror. Quetzalcoatl was shocked to see his old, sagging face. Tezcatlipoca dressed Quetzalcoatl up in a bright, plumed robe and mask. The evil god then tricked the good god into getting so drunk that he slept with his own sister.

When Quetzalcoatl awoke, he was filled with remorse. He lay in a stone box for four days as penance. The god felt so unworthy, that he ordered his followers to burn his palace and abandon the city. Then Quetzalcoatl lit his own funeral pyre and leaped in. Beautiful birds flew out of his ashes. Though some say the god world bedecked himself in his feathered serpent robe and royal mask and sailed off on a raft of serpents. They await his return.

Olmecs, Maya, Aztecs, and other ancient peoples of Mexico and Central America had complex mythologies that involved world destruction and rebirth. Many of their gods and goddesses had dual natures. These divinities could have male and female aspects. Even a protective, loving god like Quetzalcoatl, had a dark, violent opposite form.