God of the week – Huitzilopochtli

Huitzilopochtli_VIt 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
 
 

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16 thoughts on “God of the week – Huitzilopochtli

  1. I agree with your final point. That’s a sacrific that I for one am simply not prepared to make. I always think it’s funny, though, that so many of these great and mighty deities behave like four-year-old kids. From what I remember in high school, the Greek and Roman ones were much the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Is it blasphemy to suggest gods are all simply human inventions? At the risk of getting stoned to death, I’d say they were invented by some crazy old dudes with wild imaginations who got stoned quite a lot..

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think maybe Richard Dawkins offers the answer?

        A great way to fulfil the will of our ‘selfish genes’ is to gain great power and authority. What better way to obtain authority than to say that yours comes from God.

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      • I agree the ‘god on my side’ idea has been extremely useful to dictators, religious leaders and pretty much anyone seeking unlimited power and control of their people. As Seneca put it: “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.”

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      • I wonder if you’ve read any Terry Pratchett? He has a whole series of books in a whimsical place called Discworld, complete with a pantheon of gods that spring into being and gain or lose power simply by being believed in (or not believed in). He’s also quite funny.

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      • I haven’t read any of his work, something that I shall have to remedy soon. I wish science would hurry up and invent a perfect cloning system, so I can send mine to work, giving me unlimited time for more important stuff. Like tackling the ever-growing mountain of books that is threatening to engulf me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I know about that mountain of books problem, I have it too. And I don’t even punch a clock any more. But I suspect your sense of humor and Pratchett would get along quite well.

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