As a boy, your father was the emperor. In your early adult life, you become one of the most fearsome and respected generals in your army, while your uncle was emperor. By the age of 35, you ascend the throne to become the most powerful leader of any civilization in the Americas.
This is the story of how Obsidian had the power to create the most powerful Aztec of all time. It’s also a story of how success should not lead to arrogance or complacency.
Power, Wisdom, Confidence and Respect
Half a millennium ago the Aztec were the fast-growing, conquer all, fearsome warriors of the western hemisphere.
Montezuma was a boy born into great privilege; his father ruled an ever-expanding empire and Montezuma was always destined to follow the same path.
A young Montezuma was very interested in the idea of total rule. The ability to marry the physical power of the real world and the mystical power of the underworld. From a young age, it was clear that Montezuma would be one of the most feared fighters around.
However, Montezuma knew that real and insurmountable power is found in the mystical. The leader of Aztec culture (Tlatoani) was also the high priest, so Montezuma spent as much free time with his father and the other senior priests to learn.
The obsidian mirror was the chief tool to connect with the gods and the underworld. A large piece of polished black obsidian measuring 3 feet in diameter made up the grand mirror of the high priest. Obsidian is what the gave the Aztec rulers their real power. The Gods command their wills through the mirror, and the leaders were the only ones capable of deciphering the message.
An Aztec leader was not only the most powerful and fearsome warrior; he was head of both the sovereign and the spiritual.
Montezuma ascended the Aztec throne in 1502 and with his life dedicated to fighting and wisdom, he grew the empire to its widest reaching point.
Montezuma could speak to the gods like no one before him, this was his greatest asset and in the end his fatal flaw.
Almost exactly 500 years ago. Montezuma consulted his immense obsidian mirror - “What was next for his great empire? Where should he go next?”
That morning, the mirror informed him that the mighty god, Quetzalcoatl, would return from the east. This omen coincided with the birthday of Quetzalcoatl in the 52-year Aztec calendar, so it must have been correct. This is where divine power and the all-seeing knowledge of Montezuma caused the downfall of a whole civilization.
One year later strange men arrived to the east and he believed it was the God, Quetzalcoatl, so sent gifts of gold and silver. But, his close allies warned him his life was in danger, he believed he knew more than anyone. Within two years his arrogance had wiped out the Aztec civilization.
Obsidian gave Montezuma power, wisdom, confidence and respect. However, it should also be a lesson that all of these are nothing without humility.