Since religion encompassed the entire life of the Aztecs, individually as well as collectively, we can assume that every Mexican performed, in some way or another, certain priestly functions, since he was obliged to execute certain rites of the cult.

Even the highest functionaries of the Aztec city had a dual capacity, one priestly and one military, a common trait in the social organization of the Mexicans. Thus the Tlacatecuhtli, or Tlatoani, whom the Spaniards called the emperor, and the Cihuacoatl, next in rank, were charged with important priestly functions.

There existed, however, a large class of priests and priestesses, specialists in the cult of the gods and in the multiple duties originating from such worship.

At the apex of the hierarchy stood two major priests. They were the Quetzalcoatl-Totec tlamacazqui and the Quetzalcoatl-ТШос tla-macazqui. The former was the representative of the patron god of the city, Huitzilopochtli; the second, of Tlaloc, the rain god. These two gods were the only ones whose sanctuaries were on the highest pyramid of the Great Temple. The name Quetzalcoatl was given to both priests, commemorating the god whom the Mexicans looked upon as the prototype priest.

It is interesting to note that not only in Mexico but also in other places, such as Cholula and Cempoala, these two priests held the supreme rank. This indicates perhaps that, as in the case of Tenochtitlan, there were two gods who shared equally the veneration of the people. It does not, however, seem to be an original Aztec idea, for there was in Tenayuca a temple with two sanctuaries on the highest platform.

Immediately below the two priests of Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc in rank was the so-called Mexicatl Teohuatzin, who was in charge of the religious affairs of Tenochtitlan and the conquered provinces. He was likewise the immediate superior of the other priests.

His assistants were the Huitzndhuac Teohuatzin and the Tepanteohuatzin, or Tecpanteohuatzin (?), who seems to have been a priest with local jurisdiction, charged principally with supervising the education given in the schools. Subordinate to these two assistants was the Ometochtzin, priest of the god of pulque and the chief of singers.

Priests subordinate to these representatives of a special god were generally called Tlanamdcac. There were others of lower rank called Tlamacazqui, and finally there were the young men called Tlamacazton, who served in the temples as novitiates.

There were also major priestesses who were in charge of special cults of the goddess of earth, such as the Cihuacuacuilli, and there were still others who served as mother superiors in the convents. Since the migration period of the Aztecs, even before they settled in Tenochtitlan, one of the four leaders of the tribe was a woman called Chimalma. Even though she always occupied the lowest rank among the priest-guides, this is proof enough of the importance of priestesses in religious affairs.

In a special building called Cuicacalli, sacred music was taught. Two principal priests were in charge of this school of music and of providing everything necessary for this very important part of worship. One was the Ometochtli, representative of the god of pulque, and the other, the Tlapitzcaltzin, meaning literally "the lord of the house of flutes."

In addition to their ritual functions in connection with the worship of the gods, the priests also had many other duties. The spiritual power that they exercised over Aztec society was enormous, for they were the interpreters of the divinity, and with their rites and ceremonies they could either call down calamity upon the people or bring them prosperity. They also represented the highest culture that an Aztec man could attain, for it can be said that in their possession was all the knowledge that the Mexicans possessed. To be sure, since the planets were gods, the study of astronomy was a sacred subject to which only the representatives of the gods should devote themselves. Hence among the various priestly duties was observation of the celestial movements, not only for scientific-religious ends, but for practical purposes as well, since they must sound the hours on their conch shell trumpets.

Therefore, the calendar with its multiple series and combinations, as well as the prediction of the future, was in their hands. The complicated operations necessary to interpret the tonaldmatl, the book in which the combinations of the tonalpohualli were painted, were the charge of those who were exceptionally skillful, the priests of the goddess Tlazolteotl.

History and mythology were handed down by word of mouth, aided by the codices, which were, properly speaking, more than simple writing as we now understand it. The codices were a means of recalling events known by memory. It was therefore logical that hieroglyphic writing and its interpretation should also be in the hands of the priests.

Although laws and their enforcement were the province of secular officials, they, too, had all studied in the Calmecac, the religious school. War itself was in part a priestly activity, for many of the "satraps," as the chroniclers of the sixteenth century called them, went to war and were given rewards and rank for capturing prisoners.

On the other hand, in medicine, the regular or legally constituted clergy was in sharp competition with the diviners, who, as a result of their ancient practices in magic and their important empirical knowledge of the curative properties of certain plants, could pass themselves off as being endowed with supernatural powers.

The people had great faith in these diviners, more for the unintelligible formulae which they mouthed than for their real knowledge, since these incantations were never pronounced in the common language but rather in "disguised words" (nahuatlatolli), the speech peculiar to diviners, or nahuales.

Thus it happened that things were not known by their common names. Chicomoztoc, which means literally "the seven caves," was the diviner's name for the mouth or the womb. Perhaps this explains why the traditions dealing with the migrations of so many tribes of Meso-america say that these tribes came from Chicomoztoc, that is, from the womb.

Copper was called the "red chichimec," blood was "the red woman," and wood had the calendar name "i Water." Some expressions, however, are so mysterious that we cannot even venture to guess their meanings. For example, tobacco was called "beaten nine times." Pains were called "serpents" and were of four colors to relate them to the four cardinal points of the compass. There were the blue serpent, the yellow serpent, the red, and the white.

To relieve pains in the shoulder blades, the skin was pricked with a fang of a viper, since like cures like, and then the diviner chanted this conjuration: "Oh thou, blue serpent, yellow serpent, red serpent, or white serpent, cease, for the white and strong pricker has arrived, and he will drive it all off over the mountains and hills; and woe to the one who finds it, for it will destroy him and it will swallow him up."

If one was bitten by a scorpion, it was necessary to invoke the three goddesses—Citlalcueitl, "the lady of the starry skirt"; Chalchiuhtlicue, "the lady of the jade skirt"; and Xochiquetzal—who had conspired to send Xochiquetzal to tempt the penitent Yappan and force him to sin. As punishment for this sin, Yappan was transformed into a scorpion by the gods. After Tezcatlipoca cut off his head, he was transformed into a cricket, given the name of Tzontecomama, "he who bears the head," and sentenced to carry forever and ever the head of Yappan.

Up to the present time, this very important aspect of witchcraft among the ancient Mexicans has had little study. Not only would knowledge of it explain their myths and legends and their concepts of diseases and methods of curing them, but also, of much greater importance, it would give us a better understanding of the indigenous soul than we have at present.

Education was controlled by strict religious principles and was, therefore, imparted by the priests.

The most important school was the Calmecac ("row of houses"). Here the children of the nobility were prepared to study the arts and the known sciences. Although the instruction was primarily religious, not all the students in the Calmecac were preparing for the priesthood. Many received the type of education which fitted them to occupy other high positions, open only to those who had studied in the Calmecac. Education in this school, which was a part of the Great Temple, was extremely rigorous because of the severe discipline to which the students were subjected. It might be said that at the Calmecac they underwent a course of training more like that of a monastery than of a school. Not the least important part of this education was training for suffering the privations of war and priestly fasts. Even the sons of great lords had to sleep on the floor, and arise during the night to perform their sacrifices and say their prayers after purifying themselves in any kind of weather in a ritual bath in the pools of the school. They were constantly busy cutting and bringing wood for the sacred fires, gathering maguey leaves, carrying water, sweeping the temples, and making long expeditions at night, wearing no other clothing than the mdxtlatl, or loin cloth, to reach some far-off corner of the forest where they would deposit in a ball of grass maguey spines stained with their blood and dedicated to the honor of one particular god.

In addition to this school for the nobility, there existed in each district of Tenochtitlan a public school whose primary object was to prepare young men for war. There, discipline was not so severe and the curriculum not so extensive. Nevertheless, a good part of the education consisted of religious practices and acts of penitence and self-sacrifice. These schools were called Telpochcalli, "the house of the young men," and in them the majority of the population of Tenochtitlan were educated.

Parents dedicated their children at birth to become priests or warriors. If they wanted the child to be a priest, they would invite the chiefs of the Calmecac to a banquet and offer their son to them. The child, if accepted, was taken to the Calmecac, where he was painted black and a string of wooden beads called tlacopatli hung around his neck. It was thought that the soul of the child was joined to these beads; therefore, before returning the child to his parents, the priests removed the necklace and left it in the monastery as a pledge.

A candidate for the priesthood was enrolled in the Calmecac at the age of fifteen and became known as a tlamacazton. He was then initiated into the harsh routine of work, discipline, and abstinence. It was necessary for him to be very careful, for if he broke or stained any object entrusted to his care, a fine was imposed which the parents had to pay. If they failed to pay the fine at the proper time, he was punished by being thrown into the lagoon and beaten until he was senseless. If he committed a grave mistake, he was expelled from the Calmecac.

Later, the youth, now trained, helped the priest in the rites of the cult. He carried the sacrificial instruments, he played the teponaztli or wooden drum, and he watched the stars in order to sound the hour. He was taught songs dedicated to the gods, along with writing and sacerdotal painting, astrology, history, the calculation of the days and the years, and the interpretation of dreams.

During his novitiate he must remain celibate, and he was severely punished if any violation of this rule was discovered. He could, however, marry as soon as he left the Calmecac, even though he was to be a priest.

When the army went to war, it was accompanied by armed priests, and the young men of the Calmecac carried their gear. Both the priests and the tlamacazton fought the enemy and took prisoners, receiving thereby medals and compensation. By this time the novice could paint on his face a red semicircle, reaching from his temples to his chin, which was a distinctive sacerdotal marking.

After having distinguished himself in war or in religious practices, the youth entered upon a career in the army or the priesthood, the judiciary or the government, according to his inclination, and was promoted on his merits or according to his lineage.

There were other special schools, as has been said, which taught dancing, singing, and playing musical instruments, but all this instruction had primarily a religious purpose.

Naturally, to carry out the complex duties assigned and to attend to the complicated rituals of the many gods, a large number of priests, teachers, singers, and novices was necessary. Torquemada [ Juan de Torquemada (?-1625), a Franciscan friar of Spanish origin, who came to Mexico as a child. He took the habit of St. Francis and later served as provincial of his order. In 1609 he was ordered by the Commissioner General of the Indies to write his Monarquia Indiana. The work was finished in 1613. In three parts, it deals with the antiquities of New Spain, Cortes' expedition, religion and customs of the Indians, and the evangelization of the natives ] says that five thousand persons were employed in the service of the Great Temple alone, and that each calpulli, or district of the city, also had temples dedicated to its local deities.

Although some of the services that these priests performed were without doubt of prime importance to the community, their enormous number must have been a great burden on the food-producing part of the population, for it was impossible for the latter to do any work not related to maintaining the worship of the gods or the waging of war for religious or political purposes.