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Time went by and the earth continue to be unpopulated and in darkness. There was no one who would take charge. Then the gods convocated, thus says the legend:

When still there was night,

When still there was no day,

When still there was no light,

The gods convened

In Teotihuacan.


They said,

Speaking among themselves:

Come here, oh gods!

Who will take charge

Of the new day,

The new light?


All the gods agreed that two of them would have to sacrifice themselves to create the new Sun. For this purpose Tecuciztecatl, the Lord of Snails and Nanahuatzin, the Purulent, came forward. The first one was the exultation of beauty and the latter was the representation of human imperfection. Both of them wanted to be the Fifth Sun seeking the perfection of humanity. This required a week of sacrifices and purification and then jump over the cosmic fire to convert matter into energy.

Tecuciztecatl used in his sacrifice, the feathers of the quetzal bird instead of the branches of the fir tree and the balls made of pine needles needed to hold in place the maguey’s sharp needles to prick the penitents. He offered instead spines made of coral. Tecuciztecatl avoided material and spiritual self sacrifice and offered instead ostentatious offerings. Nanahuatzin, on the other hand, offered sacrifices with fervor using the required branches of the fir tree, the balls of pine and the spines of the maguey. The first one confused spiritual sacrifice with material richness; the latter understood his responsibility of total sacrifice of flesh to purify his spirit.


The big day arrived and the gods in Teotihuacan sat around the great cosmic fire where the two gods had to jump to let the fire cleanse them of impurities. The first to try was Tecuciztecatl, but intense fear froze him to the spot. It was Nanahuatzin’s turn. He jumped without hesitation into the great flames. Tecuciztecatl, ashamed of his cowardice, jumped into the fire, but he was too late.

Nanahuatzin became the Sun of the fifth era and Tecuciztecatl became the moon because at the end, he overcame his fear. As the moon, he also rose in the west, but the other gods threw a rabbit in his face so he could not be as brilliant as the Sun.


How can people live now?

How can we strengthen and keep the Sun?

We must offer in sacrifice


In this manner, the gods decided that the sun would shine. It was because of them that the earth had a new sun and movement; however, the most important thing was still missing: people; called macehuales – deserving of the sacrifice made by the gods.