The name Quetzalcóatl is composed of two words of Nahuatl origin: quetzal, which is a bird of beautiful plumage that inhabits the jungle of southeastern Mexico and part of Central America, and cóatl, which means “serpent”, translated or interpreted by the Spaniards as “feathered serpent”.
Quetzalcóatl, or the Feathered Serpent, is one of the main deities of the Pantheon of the Indians of Mesoamerica. This deity is a voluminous formula, which incorporates the force of the Earth (represented by the totem coatl) and the force of Heaven (represented by the totem Quetzal). The image of the Feathered Serpent became a symbol of transformation in the Maya, Zapotec, Toltec and Aztec traditions. In the Aztec tradition it represented more the form of God than of man, in the same way as in the first Mayan tribes.
Origins and Myth
The figure of the Serpent is part of the mythological accounts of a large number of ancestral cultures. In many cases, although with a different name, it represents the same central character with the role of creator of the world, maker of humanity and giver of knowledge, among other attributions and achievements.
The precious serpent is almost exclusively identified with the Toltec god Quetzalcoatl, who was revered by multiple cultures of the Valley of Mexico such as Teotihuacan, the Toltec themselves and even the Tenochca (Mexica or Aztec), as we can see in the art of any of these people.
The term “quetzalli”, in the case of Quetzalcoatl, means precious due to the shining plumage of the dragon. Let us remember that the feathers were used by the American people as jewels and the feathers of the quetzal were the most precious of all. Hence the term has gone from ‘feathered serpent’ to ‘precious serpent’ or ‘beautiful flying serpent’, which is a more conceptual term and not a mere literal translation.
Legend has it that when the creation of the world was over, the gods and humans lived in harmony, all were happy, except for the god Quetzalcoatl who watched with anger as humans were subjugated by other gods.
So he decided to adopt the human condition to share the knowledge and art possessed by the deities.
Upon arriving at the world of humans wandered through many lands to reach Tollan, place that is said to be in Mexico today within the State of Hidalgo.
Upon his arrival, a sacrifice was being offered in honor of his brother Tezcatlipoca, and, enraged by this barbarity, he stopped the execution.
The priest who made the sacrifice shouted furiously, while the sky turned gray with clouds announcing a great storm, lightning and thunder. Quetzalcoalt calmed them down and told them that while he was in Tollan the city would flourish like no other.
Then he raised his hands to the sky and the winds began to blow, clearing the clouds.
Since then, men wanted to worship him as a deity. He rejected any kind of luxury and invited them to live with humility and to learn with the purity of the soul.
The oldest remaining exhibition of Quetzalcoatl is of Olmec education with a carving in La Venta of a beaked snake with a feathered crest flanked by two quetzal birds and a celestial band. The oldest representation in Mexico is in Teotihuacan, where there are 3rd century CE representations of feathered snakes and where a six-level pyramid was built in honor of the god. We could easily say that the Quetzalcoatl is a mixture of bird and rattlesnake.
As a mere animal, Quetzalcoatl didn’t have a particular place to live since it was a god more than it was an animal and could be wherever it pleases.
The nest of Quetzalcoatl is an irregular terrain of 5,000m2, with a very rugged topography because a gorge with oaks crosses the place longitudinally.
The caves collapsed due to the fractionator due to the insecurity of the same, generating depressions on each side of the canyon and in one of them a kind of crater.
Of all the caves, only one was preserved (the most reliable), which measures approximately 50 meters long by 6 meters wide.
As we know from the stories of yesteryear, Quetzalcoatl’s physical powers and intelligence knew no limits. But what were his abilities to kill monsters, raise the sky and form stars in front of his cunning brother Tezcatlipoca? Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca were brothers in the divine myths, where they worked together as creators, and one against the other in acts of destruction.
In the Legend of the Suns, their battles saw them collapse as regents of individual worlds. As humans, Tezcatlipoca’s deception frustrated the priest Quetzalcoatl (myth of Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl). The cosmic battle between the two brothers has been interpreted as a dualistic opposition between creative and destructive forces.