It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Apart from sounding a little like somebody clearing their throat first thing in the morning, what do we know about this colourful Aztec war god? Apparently the name is the subject of much disagreement, but has something to do with hummingbirds.
According to Wikipedia:
“There are a handful of origin mythologies describing the deity’s beginnings. One story tells of the cosmic creation and Huitzilopochtli’s role. According to this legend, he was the smallest son of four—his parents being the creator couple Tonacatecutli and Tonacacihuatl while his brothers were Quetzalcoatl and the two Tezcatlipocas. His mother and father instructed both him and Quetzalcoatl to bring order to the world. And so, together they made fire, the first male and female humans, created the Earth, and manufactured a sun.”
That’s quite a story! I’ve heard of pushy parents, but telling your kids to ‘bring order to the world’ is quite a tall order. And boy the kids certainly didn’t disappoint.
There is more:
“Another origin story tells of a fierce goddess, Coatlicue, being impregnated as she was sweeping by a ball of feathers on Mount Coatepec. Her other children, who were already fully grown, were the four hundred male Centzonuitznaua and the female deity Coyolxauhqui. These children, angered by the manner by which their mother became impregnated, conspired to kill her. Huitzilopochtli burst forth from his mother’s womb in full armor and fully grown. He attacked his older brothers and sister, defending his mother by beheading his sister and casting her body from the mountain top. He also chased after his brothers, who fled from him and became scattered all over the sky.”
Wow! That’s quite an entrance for a newborn. I wonder what he did for an encore?
“Huitzilopochtli is seen as the sun in mythology, while his many male siblings are perceived as the stars and his sister as the moon. In the Aztec worldview, this is the reason why the Sun is constantly chasing the Moon and stars.”
So how did the Aztecs honour this high-achieving creative dude?
“Panquetzaliztli (7 December to 26 December) was the Aztec month dedicated to Huitzilopochtli. People decorated their homes and trees with paper flags; there were ritual races, processions, dances, songs, prayers, and finally human sacrifices.”
Ah it was all looking very festive and jolly, until we got to that last part. I know they say we all have to make sacrifices, but that’s one tradition probably best left to ancient history.
Here’s to you Huitzilopochtli. Now where did I put the sun-lotion?
© Copyright Jason Lennick 2016. All rights reserved.
Text and image source: Wikipedia