Last Updated 09-23-2016 11:50pm
Ancestors understood Ometeotl as the supreme creative (force) that is beyond our ability to encapsulate and describe. Ometeotl is also the most popular name by which most contemporary Mexicas use to refer to what many would call God. However given the negative and misinterpreted connotations we have come to associate with the Judeo-Christian dominated term “God” we would be misleading ourselves from understanding the profound beauty of our spirituality by simply referring to Ometeotl as (a) God.
Perhaps Ometeotl may be considered “a grand field (and/or process) that creates,” a profound (divine) process personified. Make no mistake though, Ometeotl should not be left to the understanding of being a mere science concept that lacks profound character. Consider the profound intelligence and creativeness that we attribute to ourselves and our fellow civilizations, to think the profound creative force that gives us all life is a mere insentient configuration is pretty arrogant.
While Ometeotl may be personified by the word Creator we must also be careful not to think “he/she/it/them” as a person or a singular entity. Although yes, it can be considered a single entity in the sense that we are acknowledging that everything is connected. Single yet multiple at the same time. Contradiction? Yes. that’s Ometeotl too. This is also probably where the idea of “Gods” or polytheism arises from or the alleged fact by critics that there is “no primary source document” referring to Ometeotl. More often the ancestors would mention Tlaloc, Ehekatl, Quetzalcoatl, Huehueteotl, etc. So if Ometeotl was mentioned it would not take place in a special way that would show that Ometeotl was the center of the “religion.”
But more importantly , rather than exhausting ourselves on anthropomorphic ideas and explanations about “God” or trying to contain the “ever-becoming” into an absolute definition, we should instead focus on the fact that we are referring to something grand, beautiful, and sacred.
Explaining Ometeotl becomes very difficult when we start trying to fit our living spiritual experience into static western conceptual forms. Western (linear) words concepts dont have the capacity to give our Indigenous (circular) words wisdom the sufficient environment it needs for true understanding. Even more trouble when you get non-spiritual people trying to explain spiritual understandings. They tend to deal only with the tangible/material knowledge whereas with the spiritual you fit the unknown/non-material experience into your knowledge. At any rate, we are relatively stuck with having to use English as our means to move our definitions and understandings into a direction for others to explore and understand for themselves.
Here are the origins & meaning of the words that compose the name Ometeotl. Important to understand that Nahuatl is a symbolic, poetic, and yet technical language.
Nahuatl words often have layers of meaning and symbolism and thus should not always be taken literally. Often many “Mexica” academics insist on single, rigid definitions and associations. Doing this we can easily choke the life and essence out of a word/concept so just a reminder to everybody that’s not how we roll here.
The following is a listing of general attributes and phrases which I feel can help grasp the sentiments and essence of the name/word Ometeotl:
As you can see, many English words are needed to convey an Indigenous word and they still barely manage to create a respectable understanding.
Ayac Oquipic: Nobody Gave Him/Her/Them Being or Form
In Tona In Tote: Our Mother, Our Father
Ipalnemohuani: The One in Whom We Live and Move and Have Our Being/ The Giver of Life
lhuicahua in Tlalticpaque: The One who Makes the Heavens and the Earth
Yocoyani: Creator of All that Exists.
Just like I refer to you by your name “Joel” (maybe even multiple names [jerk, buttface ,etc.]) and not merely as a conglomerate of biological process (which you are but yet so much more!) it is the same way we should treat these spiritual-scientific understandings. These “Gods” can be considered personifications of profound processes (technically i could be considered a profound process too i think..hmm) of the infinite universe and creation. In my simplifying I would just call them Spirits and give them names but it is also understandable how some could refer to them as “Gods”. Whatever you call them/it they do exist.
Personally I mostly use Ometeotl when I am praying or have put words or a question out to the “All-Life.” I also use the names mentioned above interchangeably. However being that the dominant nation of my family is P’urhepecha from Michoacan I may also use the sacred name Kuricueri (coo-di-ka-we-di.) Also, my wife is Hopi and the dominant deity of her clan of is Tawa (Sun Kachina.) Being that I have a good relationship with those ways as well I may also speak that sacred name as well.
From my experience in Native circles many will evoke the sacred name of Ometeotl as an affirmation. Example, I might hear an elder speak some wisdom that resonates with me and will nod in agreement and say “Ometeotl” to align myself with the words or vision that have been put into motion.
Before and after one speaks you would evoke the sacred by saying Ometeotl. Examples:
1) Before I speak: “Ometeotl, Tlazocamati..”
2) After I speak: “…Ometeotl.”
It is common to say Ometeotl before addressing people, usually in a more formal manner where you will be emphasizing the extra love and focus in your words. Saying Ometeotl after you are done expressing yourself shows that not only are you merely done expressing yourself but of course since you took time to be impeccable with your word you would affirm your words in to amplified motion.
Some haters say Ometeotl never existed and assume that all people who embrace “Ometeotl” belivee in “magical non-indigenous thinking”. However, their arguments deal more with the word “Ometeotl” itself as opposed to “the spirit” of what Ometeotl encompasses. Because the word Ometeotl cannot be “traced back to any source documents” they dismiss this beautiful understanding all together. If focused on (western) academic correctness you will be in for a never ending debate..on the origin of the word and which Eurocentric term is best to capture Indigenous concept. But as far as the qualities that we attribute to Ometeotl (duality, balance, generation) there seems to be little dispute on the existence and frequency of those concepts in Nahua/Mexica spiritual-sciences. These haters are usually one’s who dont engage in any practical application of proposed teachings or community mobilizing.
Obviously linguistics, semantics, politics and even ego-disputes can make things way more complicated but it has been advised to not waste too much energy on intellectual battles (which are mostly ego-based). Instead invest time and energy in creating– making meaningful words from the Nahuatl language to express and understand your world. Become the living experience by which we bring the power and beauty of our ancestors into our life through the way we live. Your direct experience supersedes everything else.
Most Mexican and other Brown people (so-called Latinos) have been indoctrinated into embracing the foreign Catholic-Christian religion. I feel it very important that even if people of Indigenous heritage now pertain to other cultures’ spiritual ways, it is important for them to understand and respect the spirituality of their Ancestors.
Just like your car has it’s specific “owners manual” so it is that Creator gave our Indigenous nations their own spiritual owners manual. If you were to find the owners manual of a Honda Civic in a Chevy truck you could still read it and find that it would be very useful in helping you with your vehicle. However, the Honda’s owners manual would be missing a lot of important and unique information that won’t pertain to the Chevy truck. I feel it is the same with our Indigenous Spiritual Worldview and Understandings. While other religions might help keep our “human vehicle” running, there are a lot of unique features of our spirituality that can help us access our full potential and uniqueness.
In respecting Indigenous spirituality we should be ok with understanding that there are some significant differences with our ways vs. that of European Christianity. Some quick things to note: