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Teotihuacan – History and Mythology

As with many other sacred spots around the world, Teotihuacan (Teo) combines unique geographic features, sources of spiritual energy, and a tradition of esoteric work by thousands of people over thousands of years. Visitors from all spiritual traditions gain inspiration and feel powerful energy from the pyramids and centers of spiritual study located throughout the huge site. Some use the symbolism of specific locations around the site to facilitate their process of transformation.

Here is a brief look at the history and mythology of Teotihuacan.


Location, Geography, and Climate
Teo is located about 30 miles northeast of Mexico City in the central valley of Mexico. Unlike other valleys, Mexico’s central valley is found at a relatively high altitude – 7,000 feet and above. The region was once dominated by a huge lake which weather change and human “reengineering” has reduced to a few good-sized lakes and some swampy areas.

Teo itself is bisected by the San Juan River, which once drained into the lake.

At its peak, ancient Teo would have been found several miles east of the northern lobe of the lake. Mexico City was constructed somewhat later on marshy areas and floating islands in the south-central area of the lake.The climate at Teo is dry most of the year with frequent afternoon rainstorms during the summer rainy season. The air is thin and sun intense. In the

winter, it’s often quite cool during the days and cold at night. In the summer, hot days are tempered by cool nights. The average annual temperature is 59° F (15° C). The air at Teo is generally fresh and pollution-free.

History and Culture
The historical details of Mesoamerica are still emerging. The area has probably been settled for more than 10,000 years. The culture was dominated by the Nahua and their language, Nahuatl, is still widely spoken. Although marked by the rise and fall of numerous groups, the largest and most influential civilizations were the Teotihuacanos, the Toltecs, and the Aztecs. Along with a common base language, they shared many similarities in customs and religious practice.

The Teotihuacanos thrived at the site of Teotihuacan from before zero CE (Common Era) to 650 CE. The Toltec state arose in the area around Tula (north and east of Teo) and was active from 650 ce to around 1200 ce. The Aztecs (also known as “The Triple Alliance”) established themselves at Tenochtitlan (site of today’s Mexico City), but actually dominated most of Mesoamerica from the 1300s to the mid-1400s.

Teotihuacan At Its Zenith
At its height, the city of Teotihuacan covered more than 20 square kilometers and had a population that may have numbered as high as 200,000. The current archeological site is surrounded by many communities built on the ruins of the former city. The landscape is dominated by the Pyramid of the Moon, the Pyramid of the Sun, and the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl. The Avenue of the Dead bisects the city running south to north and ends at the Pyramid of the Moon.

There is evidence that the city was divided into residential areas, governance areas, business areas, and of course areas of religious practice. Many farms surrounded the city proper for kilometer upon kilometer. The areas devoted to ritual and ceremony still attract many visitors and are the primary focus for most guests at The Dreaming House.

The Mythology of Teotihuacan
“Toltec” means “artist” – artist of word, music, form and color, and most of all, Life. The Toltecs of Teotihuacan were priests, scientists, and teachers of the Art of Life. In “Teo times,” they were not so much a tribe as a society of advanced spiritual practitioners. These masters lived and worked in Teo, refining themselves and their practices for hundreds of years. The beautiful murals and awe-inspiring pyramids are testaments to the heights of their attainment. Teo was built to careful specifications to create a place where “men and women become as God.”   Today,

Toltec masters still move among us, teaching mastery of awareness, transformation, and intent. Teachings about sacred areas in and around Teo have never been forgotten, but passed along from generation to generation in the oral tradition. These teachings have been supplemented by many generations of continued study and practice at Teo and other sacred sites. Much of what you read here has been given to us by don Miguel Ruiz and his family.

We offer our deepest gratitude to don Miguel and the generations of masters who came before and who will come after. These are the mythologies or stories we have to tell.

For more information about don Miguel's books and teachings, visit our Resources page or click on the picture to the right.

don Miguel Ruiz
don Miguel at Teo

Avenue of the Dead
Avenue of the Dead looking north

The Grand Design of Teo
The main grounds of Teo can be viewed as the body of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent. Quetzalcoatl is the bringer of light and a profound vehicle for personal growth and transformation. He is often depicted as having two heads. A picture of Quetzalcoatl is at the bottom of this page.

Traditionally, one starts the journey of purification and redemption by entering the head of Quetzalcoatl near the pyramid of the same name in the Ciudadela. Leaving the Ciudadela, a right turn takes you onto the Avenue of the Dead, looking north toward the beautiful Pyramid of the Moon, over a mile away.

Pyramid of the Moon
Thousands of people ascend the Pyramid
of the Moon on the vernal equinox

Traveling up the Avenue of the Dead, over the bridge of Rio San Juan, you encounter a number of plazas, each offering a different opportunity for leaving behind beliefs and stories which no longer serve you. After several days of meditation, ritual, and ceremony, you emerge from the other head of Quetzalcoatl into the plaza before the Pyramid of the Moon.

The final celebration and ascension typically happens at the Pyramid of the Sun, which dominates the Avenue of the Dead (and

Pyramid of the Sun
Pyramid of the Sun

indeed, the entire area) part way back along the Avenue. Although the top of the pyramid was once graced by a temple structure, it is now bare. However, lovely butterflies are frequently seen, gently bobbing in the air above the pyramid.

The Place of the Women
The Place of the Women is a complex to the west of the Avenue of the Dead, just north of the San Juan River. Within its dark, warm, interior is a powerful feminine energy. Here is a place of release, a place of nurturing and peace. Here you may be cleansed and refreshed.

The Palaces of the Butterflies and Jaguars
The Palace of the Butterflies and the Palace of the Jaguars may be found in the area west of the Pyramid of the Moon. This is where the most transcended artists and teachers made their homes before
their final merging with the Sun. Here you will find many of the most powerful, sacred areas of the entire site, among them the Portal of the Masters and an opening into the heart of Teo.

Tetitla, Zacuala, La Ventilla, Atetelco, Tepantitla
Although once part of the city itself, these sites are now outside the boundaries of the main archeological site. Murals at these sites are the most beautiful and well-preserved of the entire area. These sites were also special quarters for Toltec masters and their families. Since these areas are “off the beaten track,” visiting them may require directions from a knowledgeable teacher. Don’t miss them!

Experiencing Teo In a Power Journey
Knowing the transformational power of Teo is best done with an experienced teacher – many of the deepest and most powerful
myths of Teo are transmitted though your teacher, not through writings. A teacher will guide you with loving support as you move through sacred areas here at Teo. You may participate in a variety
of meditations, ritual, and ceremonies, depending on the teacher,
the group, and even the time of year – truly, no two trips to Teo
are the same!

History or Myth: It's all a story...

Some would say that myths are “made up” tales of imaginary people or places. Toltecs often use the terms “myths” or “mythologies” to simply mean “stories,” with no judgment about their truth or validity. A story may be fact or fiction – the difference between the two is sometimes nothing more than your point of view.

Consider… Many people believe that the biblical story of Creation is literal, with God creating the Universe in seven days. Other people believe that this biblical account is an allegorical description of many eons of gradual evolution. For both, their story is true, because they believe it.

What about belief in Santa Claus? Belief in miracles of healing? These beliefs are real and to trivialize them with labels of truth or falsehood has no real value to either the believer or the person who claims such beliefs are false. We tend to rely on documentation and corroboration, as if two accounts which agree hold some kind of magic legitimacy. Is this not just another belief?

Any collection of words or thoughts (a myth or story) is the reflection of a human mind. Thus, when Toltecs speak of mythology, we use the term in a very broad, non-judgmental, impermanent sense – not right or wrong, neither true nor false – it is what it is and no more.

Want to Know More?
If you have never been to Teo or if you have been, but not experienced its powerful spiritual dimension, we recommend that you find a group that's headed for Teo and talk directly with that group's leader. Our Calendar page shows groups coming to The Dreaming House and you can visit the Toltec Calendar website to find a list of teachers.

Also, we invite you to explore our Resources page for much, much more.

Our friend, Quetzalcoatl


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