American demons

Hun Came & Vucub Came

Hun Came and Vucub Came (One Death and Seven Death) are the principle death gods of the Mayan underworld, Xibalba.

According to the Popol Vuh, one day, the twins, Hun Humahpu and Vucub Hunahpu, were playing ball with Hun Humahpu's sons, Hun Batz and Hun Chouen. The ball court is on earth, but also led to the underworld. Hun Came and Vucub Came, the death gods, became enraged with the noise the ball game was causing & summoned all the gods and demons of Xibalba together to come up with a plan to kill Hun Humahpu and Vucub Hunahpu. They finally decide to send four messenger owls up to earth to invite them down to Xibalba to play a ball game with the death gods. The two agreed and began their journey into Xibalba, which involved passing obstacles such as fierce rapids, thorny spikes and a river of blood, all of which they overcame successfully.

Finally, they reached a crossroads with four paths, each a different color. They chose the black path, which led them to wooden dummies dressed as the death gods. As they greeted what they thought were the death gods, all the inhabitants of Xibalba laughed at them sure of their victory. The death gods then invited the twins to sit on a bench, which was actually a hot slab of stone that ended up burning them. Finally, the death gods gave them cigars and torches and told the twins to keep the torches lit throughout the night. They again failed the task, and the death gods sacrificed the twins & placed the head of Hun Hunapuh in a barren tree, which instantly began to grow calabash gourds.

News of this tree spread throughout Xibalba, and the underworld maiden, Xquic, became curious and went to see it for herself. The head of Hun Hunahpu spit into her hand as she reached for a piece of fruit and impregnated her. When the father of Xquic discovers her pregnancy, he demanded to know who the father was. She adamantly denied ever having known man, but he didn't believe her & condemned her to be killed. Messenger owls then took her away, but she convinced them to let her live, substituting a thick mass of resin, the blood of trees, for her own heart. The death gods became entranced by the burning resin and didn't notice Xquic had left.

Xquic then traveled to Hun Hunahpu's mother, Xmucane's house and declared herself his wife. Xmucane, however, was convinced her sons were dead decided to test her. She sent Xquic to gather a netful of maize from a field that contained only a single maize plant. When Xquic returned, she had filled her net, thus proving she was the wife of Hun Hunahpu. She then gave birth to the hero twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, who would eventually defeat the death gods.

Mictlantecuhtli
 

In Aztec mythology, Mictlantecuhtli was the skeletal god of death who ruled over Mictlan, the underworld, with his wife, Mictlancihuatl.

After the restoration of the sky and earth by Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl, the two gods decide to create people to inhabit the new world. In order to do this, Quetzalcoatl travels to the underworld to retrieve the human bones of the last creation. After a conversation with Michlantechutli, the Lord of Mictlan agrees to give up the bones if Quetzalcoatl will complete a task that involved Quetzalcoatl travelling around the underworld four times while sounding a trumpet made out of a conch shell. Michlantechutli, however, not wanting to give up the bones so easily, makes the apparently simple task challenging by not drilling holes in the conch shell. Quetzalcoatl, nevertheless, is able to complete the task by calling upon worms to drill holes in the shell and by having bees enter the trumpet.

When Michlantechutli hears the conch sounding, he at first allows Quetzalcoatl to take the bones, then quickly changes his mind, but his efforts are in vain as Quetzalcoatl is able to escape the underworld with the bones. Angry at the fiasco, Michlantechutli orders his minions to dig a deep pit, and as Quetzalcoatl runs towards it, a quail pops out and frightens him. Quetzalcoatl falls in the pit dead, and the bones are broken and scattered - the reason why people are different sizes today.

Quetzalcoatl eventually revives and retrieves the bones, and gives them to the goddess Cihuacoatl (Woman Serpent) who grinds the bones into a flour-like mixture and puts it into a special container. The gods are then able to gather around this container, shed drops of their own blood, & from the combination, spawn the peoples of today.

Tezcatlipoca

Tezcatlipoca ("smoking mirror") represents conflict and change in Aztec mythology. As his name suggests, he is often portrayed with a smoking obsidian mirror at the back of his head & with another replacing one of his feet.

Tezcatlipoca is the offspring of the creator couple, who produced four sons: Red Tezcatlipoca, Black Tezcatlipoca, Qeutzalcoatl, and Huitzilopochtli (the patron god of the Aztecs). It is the black Tezcatlipoca that most Aztec myths refer to. He is sometimes the adversary of the god Quetzalcoatl and sometimes the ally.

During the first world, the sun of earth, Tezcatlipoca ruled over a race of powerful giants who could pull up trees with their bare hands. Quetzalcoatl, however, struck Tezcatlipoca into the sea. When he arose from the sea, he transformed into a jaguar (seen today as Ursa Major) and the race of giants was devoured by a horde of jaguars.

The next creation, the sun of wind, was ruled by Quetzalcoatl. Tezcatlipoca, destroys this creation by kicking Quetzalcoatl down, and the result is that fierce winds carry him off with his people.

Tlaloc rules over the third creation, the sun of rain, but this is destroyed by Quetzalcoatl in a rain of fire. Finally, the fourth creation, the sun of water, is ruled by Tlaloc's wife, Chalchiuhtlicue. This world is destroyed by a great flood, the people are transformed into fishes, the mountains are washed away, and the heavens crash down upon the earth.

According to the Leyenda de los soles, Tata and his wife, Nene, survive the flood by hiding in a hollow tree and Tezcatlipoca cares for them. He tells the couple to only eat one ear of maize apiece, and as they do so, the waters gradually recede. Once the waters recede far enough for them to come out of their tree, they catch sight of a fish, & tempted, they capture & cook it. When the star gods notice the smoke, they ask who has created a fire. Tezcatlipoca immediately descends, & reprimands them by cutting of their heads & placing them on their buttocks, thus creating the first dogs.

Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl then work together to restore creation by transforming themselves into two enormous trees. Tonacatecuhtli rewards them by making them lords of the heavens and stars.

Tlaltecuhtli

Tlaltecuhtli ("Earth Lord") was a large earth monster in Aztec mythology described as female, who desires flesh and has mouths at her elbows, knees, and other joints.

According to the Histoyre du Mechique, Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl agree that they can't continue with their re-creation of the world with her around, so they decide to destroy her. Transforming into two great serpents, one snake seizes her left hand and right foot while the other seizes her right hand and left foot. They then rip the monster apart - her upper body becoming the earth and her lower half is thrown into the sky to create the heavens.

This act of violence angers the other gods, and in order to console the earth, it is decided that all plants needed for human life will be created out of her body. The trees, flowers, & herbs come from her hair. The grasses and smaller flowers come form her skin. The mountain ridges and valleys are made from her nose. Her eyes become the source of wells, springs and small caves, while her mouth becomes the source for great rivers and caverns. It is said she still screams for blood during the night & can only be soothed with sacrificial flesh and blood.

Tzitzimime

The tzitzimime ("Monsters descending from above") were celestial demons in Aztec mythology that continuously threaten to destroy the world. They are said to be the stars that battle the sun each dusk and dawn.

One story from the Histoyre du Mechique describes the wraith of the tzitzimime. Mayahuel was the goddess of maguey who lived with her grandmother, a tzitzimime, in the sky. One time, Quetzalcoatl convinced her to descend to earth with him and join with him into a forked tree with Quetzalcoatl as one branch and Mayahuel as the other. When Mayahuel's grandmother awakens and finds her missing, she summons other tzitzimime to find her granddaughter. They descend to earth, and just as they arrive, the tree that Quetzalcoatl and Mayahuel had hidden as splits in two. Recognizing her grandmother as one of the branches, she tears it apart and passes the remains of Mayahuel to the other tzitzimime to devour, leaving the branch that Quetzalcoatl disguised himself as fully intact. After they had left, Quetzalcoatl gathered up the Mayahuel's bones and buried them, & from that grave, the first maguey plant grew. (Maguery was the source of an alcoholic beverage that was important in Aztec ceremonies as both a ritual drink and a sacrificial offering.)

Vucub Caquix

In Mayan mythology, Vucub Caquix, Seven Macaw, was a large bird that dwelled on the surface of the world after the flood. He was very vain and proclaimed himself the sun and moon, the lord over everything. The hero twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, were angered by this and decided to slay the monster.

In order to accomplish this, the twins hid under the bird's favorite tree and waited with their blow-guns for him to arrive. When he did, Hunahpu shot him in the face. Vucub Caquix became enraged, ripped off Hunahpu's arm, & escaped. The hero twins then convinced an old couple to pose as healers and visit the bird, offering to cure his eyes and teeth. The old couple tricked the bird by telling him that in order to cure him, they needed to replace his eyes and teeth. When he agreed, they substituted grains of corn for his teeth and eyes. After that, Vucub Caquix lost his power and quickly died.