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Huitzilopochtli

From Academic Kids

In Aztec mythology, Huitzilopochtli, also spelled Uitzilopochtli ("Hummingbird of the South", "He of the South", "Hummingbird on the Left (South)", or "Left-Handed Humming Bird" – huitzil is the Nahuatl word for hummingbird), was a god of war and a sun god and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. He was also the national god of the Aztecs. As well as being a god of war and a sun god, he was also a god of death, young men, warriors, storms, and a guide for journeys. His mother was Coatlicue, his father a ball of feathers (or, alternatively, Mixcoatl). His sister was Malinalxochi, a beautiful sorceress, who was also his rival. His messenger or impersonator was Paynal.

In the Nahua culture, many names have an esoteric meaning, known only to some. In Nahua maps, the South is at the left, and in the South is the paradise of the sun. Also, the souls of the dead warriors return to the earth as butterflies and hummingbirds, so the name represents "the warrior soul from the paradise."

His sister, Coyolxauhqui, tried to kill their mother, Coatlicue, because she became pregnant in a shameful way (by a ball of feathers). Her fetus, Huitzilopochtli, sprang from her womb and killed Coyolxauhqui, along with many of his 400 brothers and sisters. He then tossed her head into the sky, where it became the moon, so that his mother would be comforted in seeing her daughter in the sky every night.

Another legend says that he washed his hands, touched his penis, and ejaculated onto a stone. The union of rock and semen created the first bat.

Panquetzaliztli (7 to 26 December) was the Aztec month dedicated to Huitzilopochtli. People decorated their homes and trees with paper flags; there was a ritual race, processions, and massive human sacrifices. His festival was that of a blood orgy with hearts and blood of prisoners dumped on his altar. People fasted, or ate very little; a statue of the god was made with amaranth (huatli) seeds and honey, and at the end of the month, it was cut into small pieces so everybody could eat a little piece of the god. The similarity with Christian rituals prompted the Spanish authorities to forbid the cultivation of amaranth. After the conquest, some aspects of these festivities were incorporated into the traditions of the Nativity.

The Great Temple of Tenochtitlan was dedicated to Huitzlilopochtli and Tlaloc because they were considered equals in power. Father Durn wrote, "These two gods were always meant to be together, since they were considered companions of equal power."

In art, Huitzilopochtli was represented as a hummingbird (or with just the feathers of such on his head and left leg), a black face, and holding a snake and a mirror. In the great temple his statue was decorated with cloths and feathers, gold and jewels, and was hidden behind a curtain to give it more reverence and veneration. According to legend, the statue was supposed to be destroyed by the soldier Gil Gonzlez de Benavides, but it was rescued by a man called Tlatolatl. The statue appeared some years later, during an investigation by Bishop Zummraga during the 1530s, only to be lost again. There is speculation that the statue still exists in cave somewhere in the Anahuac valley.

Huitzilopochtli was a tribal god, and a legendary wizard of the Aztecs, and originally was of little importance to the Nahuas, but after the rise of the Aztecs, Tlacaelel reformed their religion and put Huitzilopochtli at the same level as Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc, and Tezcatlipoca, making him a solar god. So he replaced Nanahuatzin, the solar god from the Nahua legend, with Huitzilopochtli. Huitzilopochtli was said to be in a constant struggle with the darkness, and he needed to replace his blood, hence the major sacrifices.

The Nahuas believed the world would end like the other previous four creations. Every fifty-two years, they feared the world would end. Under Tlacaelel, Aztecs believed that they could give strength to Huitzilopochtli with human blood and thereby postpone the end of the world, at least for another fifty-two years. Ironically, the Aztec empire fell at the end of this cycle.

In this new vision from Tlacaelel, the warriors that died in battle and women who died in childbirth would go to serve Huitzilopochtli on his palace (in the south, or left), but he was so bright that they had to use their shields to protect their eyes. They could only see the god through the arrow holes in their shields, so it was the bravest warrior who could see him best. From time to time, those warriors could return to earth as butterflies.

External links

de:Huitzilopochtli es:Huitzilopochtli fr:Huitzilopochtli it:Huitzilopochtli ja:ウィツィロポチトリ la:Vitzliputzli nl:Huitzilopochtli pl:Huitzilopochtli pt:Huitzilopochtli sv:Huitzilopochtli

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