Mesoamerican and South American Mythologies: Maya, Aztec, Inca

Huitzilopochtli and Quetzalcoatl

What is the myth of Huitzilopochtli?

Huitzilopochtli was the patron god of the Aztec. The great temple in the center of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, where human sacrifice took place, was dedicated to him. Huitzilopochtli is said to have told the Aztec people to call themselves “Mexica.” It was he who led them, as a culture hero, from Aztlán to Tenochtitlan. But it is a miraculous conception and birth myth that ties him archetypally to other heroes. Coatlicue, “She of the Serpent-woven Skirt,” was lying on a mountaintop when a ball of feathers landed on her and she became pregnant. Her grown children were so outraged at what they saw as their mother’s disgrace that they determined to kill her. But just before they arrived to act on their plan, Huitzilopochtli was born fully armed and adult, with blue limbs and his left leg covered in hummingbird feathers. With his blue shield and spear, he defeated his siblings and saved himself and his mother.


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