Tezcatlipoca
   Aztec prince of the Underworld, sorcerer, and king of the witches. The name Tezcatlipoca means “smoking mirror,” in reference to the obsidian mirror that he uses to foretell the future and spy on others. He is also known as Yaomauitl, which means “dreaded one.” According to the Popul Vuh, Tezcatlipoca wears a star on his forehead as a sign that he is the ruler of darkness. He wears a jaguar skin around his hip, the body of a dead bird on his ear, and a snake’s head fixed to one nostril. As a scepter, he carries the amputated arm of a woman who died in childbirth, which he uses in necromantic rites. Tezcatlipoca and his brothers, the tzitzimime, created the world. They were thrown out of paradise, Tamoanchan, when Tezcatlipoca made the mistake of picking the sacred roses of Tamoanchan. Tezcatlipoca entered the underworld by climbing down a giant spider web. There are many stories about this demon god and his activities. He sentences the newly arrived souls of the dead, who stand before him dressed in ocelot skins with yokes around their necks. He makes them run an obstacle course through Mictlan, a region of hell.
   According to lore, the practice of human sacrifice in Mexico began with Tezcatlipoca. He assumed the shape of a rooster to seduce the first woman ever created. Then he killed her, cut out her heart, and offered it to the Sun. Tezcatlipoca is blamed for the disappearance of the Toltecs, a mythical race of beings. The demon summoned them to a great feast where they danced and sang. A sudden panic gripped them, and they fled across a stone bridge over the river Texcaltlauhco. Tezcatlipoca caused the bridge to collapse, and most of the Toltecs fell into the river and became stones. A few survived but were rendered senseless.
   Tezcatlipoca spreads disease and pestilence. He assumes the form of a blob and rolls like a tumbleweed, spreading sickness as he goes. Sometimes, he takes the form of a cock or a coyote and lurks at crossroads in order to ambush travelers. He rides howling winds, especially at night.
   FURTHER READING:
   - Hyatt, Victoria, and Joseph W. Charles. The Book of Demons. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1974.

Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology. . 2009.

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