Huitzilopochtli and the Notion of Intent
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Huitzilopochtli and the Notion of Intent

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Intent is a powerful word.  It signifies purpose and determination. Intent is fueled by passion and persistence, enabling people to achieve what they desire to do in life. Native Mexican tribes honored this notion of intent in their beliefs about Huitzilopochtli, the blue hummingbird, and its relationship to the movement of the Sun from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere. 

Huitzilopochtli represents the intent Native Mexican people had not only when they left their homeland to find a new one, as the mythical story of Aztlán informs us, but also when they set out to build a city where no one else would dare. The Mexika-Technoca, the so-called Aztecs, demonstrated their willpower by following the figure of Huitzilopochtli and establishing one of the most beautiful, productive, and well-organized agricultural cities in the world, Tenochtitlán, in the 14th and 15th centuries (of the Gregorian calendar). They created the chinampas, floating agricultural fields; organized complex economic and political systems; and adopted calendrical systems that created an intimate relationship between the world and the cosmos.

Conventional scholarship, based on colonial and Western anthropological texts, informs us  that “Huitzilopochtli…was one of the most important of the Aztec gods, the god of the Sun, warfare, military conquest and sacrifice, who according to tradition, led the Mexica people from Aztlán, their mythical homeland, into Central Mexico” (ThoughtCo.). Everything that we usually hear about this “god” is that it is vicious and combative; we hear that the Aztecs sacrificed captives to offer human hearts to the Sun, a sign of their never-ending lust for fighting and conquering other tribes. The depiction of the Aztecs in academic texts—whether in history, social sciences, religion, or other categories—always starts with their inscribed savage personality.

I know what you are thinking: What does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli anyway? 

My concern is that the conventional interpretations we typically hear about Aztecs cloud our understanding of them. These interpretations first emerged as colonial and post-colonial writings and impressions, which were then passed down through a process of citation and replication from colonial texts to current texts. These texts depict the Aztecs as people whose sole purpose was to sacrifice humans to “help the Sun” in its journey. What we read about our ancestral culture, for the most part, are recycled “truths” that ignore the purpose and the meaning of these archetypes as they were understood by people in their own social, ecological, and cosmological contexts.

Let me be clear that I am not insinuating that the Aztecs never made sacrifices or that they were a peace-loving society. No; they were not. They were a fierce society that accomplished many feats in the arts, astrology, psychology, engineering, medicine, economics, politics, formal education, and many other areas of human knowledge that in my view are ignored when we focus on depicting them as savages.

My point, ultimately, is that these civilizations possessed a profound understanding of time and space. They used advanced, complex calendrical systems to knit together the cosmos and life on earth. The archetypes they used, like Huitzilopochtli, which were not gods but rather representations of energetic forces, served as reference points so that human conditions could be understood through the movement of the Earth with respect to the Moon, Venus, and the Sun. 

So I pose the question again, what does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli?

The Aztecs celebrated the figure of Huitzilopochtli during the winter solstice. We should ask ourselves, why at the winter solstice? The Aztecs, like most people around the world, celebrated the winter solstice because it marked the position of the Sun at its southernmost point as perceived from the Earth. The Aztecs associated this position of the Sun with a hummingbird not only because they considered the hummingbird a powerful little creature, but also because they believed it exemplified the cosmic willpower that the Sun needed to have to move back to its highest point. Once in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun was considered an eagle, big and powerful, and thus the fulfillment of a vision made possible by Huitzilopochtli’s intent. So the hummingbird and the journey of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere, in Aztec cosmology, represented the intent to fulfill a vision.

Why does this matter? Understanding what these myths, stories, and archetypes mean is important because they have a story to tell us, a teaching about our own human condition and human capabilities, as well as our relationship to the Earth and cosmos. Indeed, intent is a very powerful word, not only for what it means, but for what it entails. If we can recover and use these cultural understandings about our human condition, then we can use these archetypes to teach us purpose, determination, and a collective will to find balance with the cosmos—the balance required to forge a society that preserves our natural resources for future generations to enjoy. I am sure that our ancestors thought about this as well.


Top and bottom image: "The Birth of Huitzilopochtli" ©Chicome Itzcuintli Amatlapantli.

Huitzilopochtli and the Notion of Intent

Art by

Intent is a powerful word.  It signifies purpose and determination. Intent is fueled by passion and persistence, enabling people to achieve what they desire to do in life. Native Mexican tribes honored this notion of intent in their beliefs about Huitzilopochtli, the blue hummingbird, and its relationship to the movement of the Sun from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere. 

Huitzilopochtli represents the intent Native Mexican people had not only when they left their homeland to find a new one, as the mythical story of Aztlán informs us, but also when they set out to build a city where no one else would dare. The Mexika-Technoca, the so-called Aztecs, demonstrated their willpower by following the figure of Huitzilopochtli and establishing one of the most beautiful, productive, and well-organized agricultural cities in the world, Tenochtitlán, in the 14th and 15th centuries (of the Gregorian calendar). They created the chinampas, floating agricultural fields; organized complex economic and political systems; and adopted calendrical systems that created an intimate relationship between the world and the cosmos.

Conventional scholarship, based on colonial and Western anthropological texts, informs us  that “Huitzilopochtli…was one of the most important of the Aztec gods, the god of the Sun, warfare, military conquest and sacrifice, who according to tradition, led the Mexica people from Aztlán, their mythical homeland, into Central Mexico” (ThoughtCo.). Everything that we usually hear about this “god” is that it is vicious and combative; we hear that the Aztecs sacrificed captives to offer human hearts to the Sun, a sign of their never-ending lust for fighting and conquering other tribes. The depiction of the Aztecs in academic texts—whether in history, social sciences, religion, or other categories—always starts with their inscribed savage personality.

I know what you are thinking: What does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli anyway? 

My concern is that the conventional interpretations we typically hear about Aztecs cloud our understanding of them. These interpretations first emerged as colonial and post-colonial writings and impressions, which were then passed down through a process of citation and replication from colonial texts to current texts. These texts depict the Aztecs as people whose sole purpose was to sacrifice humans to “help the Sun” in its journey. What we read about our ancestral culture, for the most part, are recycled “truths” that ignore the purpose and the meaning of these archetypes as they were understood by people in their own social, ecological, and cosmological contexts.

Let me be clear that I am not insinuating that the Aztecs never made sacrifices or that they were a peace-loving society. No; they were not. They were a fierce society that accomplished many feats in the arts, astrology, psychology, engineering, medicine, economics, politics, formal education, and many other areas of human knowledge that in my view are ignored when we focus on depicting them as savages.

My point, ultimately, is that these civilizations possessed a profound understanding of time and space. They used advanced, complex calendrical systems to knit together the cosmos and life on earth. The archetypes they used, like Huitzilopochtli, which were not gods but rather representations of energetic forces, served as reference points so that human conditions could be understood through the movement of the Earth with respect to the Moon, Venus, and the Sun. 

So I pose the question again, what does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli?

The Aztecs celebrated the figure of Huitzilopochtli during the winter solstice. We should ask ourselves, why at the winter solstice? The Aztecs, like most people around the world, celebrated the winter solstice because it marked the position of the Sun at its southernmost point as perceived from the Earth. The Aztecs associated this position of the Sun with a hummingbird not only because they considered the hummingbird a powerful little creature, but also because they believed it exemplified the cosmic willpower that the Sun needed to have to move back to its highest point. Once in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun was considered an eagle, big and powerful, and thus the fulfillment of a vision made possible by Huitzilopochtli’s intent. So the hummingbird and the journey of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere, in Aztec cosmology, represented the intent to fulfill a vision.

Why does this matter? Understanding what these myths, stories, and archetypes mean is important because they have a story to tell us, a teaching about our own human condition and human capabilities, as well as our relationship to the Earth and cosmos. Indeed, intent is a very powerful word, not only for what it means, but for what it entails. If we can recover and use these cultural understandings about our human condition, then we can use these archetypes to teach us purpose, determination, and a collective will to find balance with the cosmos—the balance required to forge a society that preserves our natural resources for future generations to enjoy. I am sure that our ancestors thought about this as well.


Top and bottom image: "The Birth of Huitzilopochtli" ©Chicome Itzcuintli Amatlapantli.

Huitzilopochtli and the Notion of Intent

Art by

Intent is a powerful word.  It signifies purpose and determination. Intent is fueled by passion and persistence, enabling people to achieve what they desire to do in life. Native Mexican tribes honored this notion of intent in their beliefs about Huitzilopochtli, the blue hummingbird, and its relationship to the movement of the Sun from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere. 

Huitzilopochtli represents the intent Native Mexican people had not only when they left their homeland to find a new one, as the mythical story of Aztlán informs us, but also when they set out to build a city where no one else would dare. The Mexika-Technoca, the so-called Aztecs, demonstrated their willpower by following the figure of Huitzilopochtli and establishing one of the most beautiful, productive, and well-organized agricultural cities in the world, Tenochtitlán, in the 14th and 15th centuries (of the Gregorian calendar). They created the chinampas, floating agricultural fields; organized complex economic and political systems; and adopted calendrical systems that created an intimate relationship between the world and the cosmos.

Conventional scholarship, based on colonial and Western anthropological texts, informs us  that “Huitzilopochtli…was one of the most important of the Aztec gods, the god of the Sun, warfare, military conquest and sacrifice, who according to tradition, led the Mexica people from Aztlán, their mythical homeland, into Central Mexico” (ThoughtCo.). Everything that we usually hear about this “god” is that it is vicious and combative; we hear that the Aztecs sacrificed captives to offer human hearts to the Sun, a sign of their never-ending lust for fighting and conquering other tribes. The depiction of the Aztecs in academic texts—whether in history, social sciences, religion, or other categories—always starts with their inscribed savage personality.

I know what you are thinking: What does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli anyway? 

My concern is that the conventional interpretations we typically hear about Aztecs cloud our understanding of them. These interpretations first emerged as colonial and post-colonial writings and impressions, which were then passed down through a process of citation and replication from colonial texts to current texts. These texts depict the Aztecs as people whose sole purpose was to sacrifice humans to “help the Sun” in its journey. What we read about our ancestral culture, for the most part, are recycled “truths” that ignore the purpose and the meaning of these archetypes as they were understood by people in their own social, ecological, and cosmological contexts.

Let me be clear that I am not insinuating that the Aztecs never made sacrifices or that they were a peace-loving society. No; they were not. They were a fierce society that accomplished many feats in the arts, astrology, psychology, engineering, medicine, economics, politics, formal education, and many other areas of human knowledge that in my view are ignored when we focus on depicting them as savages.

My point, ultimately, is that these civilizations possessed a profound understanding of time and space. They used advanced, complex calendrical systems to knit together the cosmos and life on earth. The archetypes they used, like Huitzilopochtli, which were not gods but rather representations of energetic forces, served as reference points so that human conditions could be understood through the movement of the Earth with respect to the Moon, Venus, and the Sun. 

So I pose the question again, what does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli?

The Aztecs celebrated the figure of Huitzilopochtli during the winter solstice. We should ask ourselves, why at the winter solstice? The Aztecs, like most people around the world, celebrated the winter solstice because it marked the position of the Sun at its southernmost point as perceived from the Earth. The Aztecs associated this position of the Sun with a hummingbird not only because they considered the hummingbird a powerful little creature, but also because they believed it exemplified the cosmic willpower that the Sun needed to have to move back to its highest point. Once in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun was considered an eagle, big and powerful, and thus the fulfillment of a vision made possible by Huitzilopochtli’s intent. So the hummingbird and the journey of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere, in Aztec cosmology, represented the intent to fulfill a vision.

Why does this matter? Understanding what these myths, stories, and archetypes mean is important because they have a story to tell us, a teaching about our own human condition and human capabilities, as well as our relationship to the Earth and cosmos. Indeed, intent is a very powerful word, not only for what it means, but for what it entails. If we can recover and use these cultural understandings about our human condition, then we can use these archetypes to teach us purpose, determination, and a collective will to find balance with the cosmos—the balance required to forge a society that preserves our natural resources for future generations to enjoy. I am sure that our ancestors thought about this as well.


Top and bottom image: "The Birth of Huitzilopochtli" ©Chicome Itzcuintli Amatlapantli.

Huitzilopochtli and the Notion of Intent

Art by

Intent is a powerful word.  It signifies purpose and determination. Intent is fueled by passion and persistence, enabling people to achieve what they desire to do in life. Native Mexican tribes honored this notion of intent in their beliefs about Huitzilopochtli, the blue hummingbird, and its relationship to the movement of the Sun from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere. 

Huitzilopochtli represents the intent Native Mexican people had not only when they left their homeland to find a new one, as the mythical story of Aztlán informs us, but also when they set out to build a city where no one else would dare. The Mexika-Technoca, the so-called Aztecs, demonstrated their willpower by following the figure of Huitzilopochtli and establishing one of the most beautiful, productive, and well-organized agricultural cities in the world, Tenochtitlán, in the 14th and 15th centuries (of the Gregorian calendar). They created the chinampas, floating agricultural fields; organized complex economic and political systems; and adopted calendrical systems that created an intimate relationship between the world and the cosmos.

Conventional scholarship, based on colonial and Western anthropological texts, informs us  that “Huitzilopochtli…was one of the most important of the Aztec gods, the god of the Sun, warfare, military conquest and sacrifice, who according to tradition, led the Mexica people from Aztlán, their mythical homeland, into Central Mexico” (ThoughtCo.). Everything that we usually hear about this “god” is that it is vicious and combative; we hear that the Aztecs sacrificed captives to offer human hearts to the Sun, a sign of their never-ending lust for fighting and conquering other tribes. The depiction of the Aztecs in academic texts—whether in history, social sciences, religion, or other categories—always starts with their inscribed savage personality.

I know what you are thinking: What does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli anyway? 

My concern is that the conventional interpretations we typically hear about Aztecs cloud our understanding of them. These interpretations first emerged as colonial and post-colonial writings and impressions, which were then passed down through a process of citation and replication from colonial texts to current texts. These texts depict the Aztecs as people whose sole purpose was to sacrifice humans to “help the Sun” in its journey. What we read about our ancestral culture, for the most part, are recycled “truths” that ignore the purpose and the meaning of these archetypes as they were understood by people in their own social, ecological, and cosmological contexts.

Let me be clear that I am not insinuating that the Aztecs never made sacrifices or that they were a peace-loving society. No; they were not. They were a fierce society that accomplished many feats in the arts, astrology, psychology, engineering, medicine, economics, politics, formal education, and many other areas of human knowledge that in my view are ignored when we focus on depicting them as savages.

My point, ultimately, is that these civilizations possessed a profound understanding of time and space. They used advanced, complex calendrical systems to knit together the cosmos and life on earth. The archetypes they used, like Huitzilopochtli, which were not gods but rather representations of energetic forces, served as reference points so that human conditions could be understood through the movement of the Earth with respect to the Moon, Venus, and the Sun. 

So I pose the question again, what does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli?

The Aztecs celebrated the figure of Huitzilopochtli during the winter solstice. We should ask ourselves, why at the winter solstice? The Aztecs, like most people around the world, celebrated the winter solstice because it marked the position of the Sun at its southernmost point as perceived from the Earth. The Aztecs associated this position of the Sun with a hummingbird not only because they considered the hummingbird a powerful little creature, but also because they believed it exemplified the cosmic willpower that the Sun needed to have to move back to its highest point. Once in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun was considered an eagle, big and powerful, and thus the fulfillment of a vision made possible by Huitzilopochtli’s intent. So the hummingbird and the journey of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere, in Aztec cosmology, represented the intent to fulfill a vision.

Why does this matter? Understanding what these myths, stories, and archetypes mean is important because they have a story to tell us, a teaching about our own human condition and human capabilities, as well as our relationship to the Earth and cosmos. Indeed, intent is a very powerful word, not only for what it means, but for what it entails. If we can recover and use these cultural understandings about our human condition, then we can use these archetypes to teach us purpose, determination, and a collective will to find balance with the cosmos—the balance required to forge a society that preserves our natural resources for future generations to enjoy. I am sure that our ancestors thought about this as well.


Top and bottom image: "The Birth of Huitzilopochtli" ©Chicome Itzcuintli Amatlapantli.

Huitzilopochtli and the Notion of Intent

Art by

Intent is a powerful word.  It signifies purpose and determination. Intent is fueled by passion and persistence, enabling people to achieve what they desire to do in life. Native Mexican tribes honored this notion of intent in their beliefs about Huitzilopochtli, the blue hummingbird, and its relationship to the movement of the Sun from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere. 

Huitzilopochtli represents the intent Native Mexican people had not only when they left their homeland to find a new one, as the mythical story of Aztlán informs us, but also when they set out to build a city where no one else would dare. The Mexika-Technoca, the so-called Aztecs, demonstrated their willpower by following the figure of Huitzilopochtli and establishing one of the most beautiful, productive, and well-organized agricultural cities in the world, Tenochtitlán, in the 14th and 15th centuries (of the Gregorian calendar). They created the chinampas, floating agricultural fields; organized complex economic and political systems; and adopted calendrical systems that created an intimate relationship between the world and the cosmos.

Conventional scholarship, based on colonial and Western anthropological texts, informs us  that “Huitzilopochtli…was one of the most important of the Aztec gods, the god of the Sun, warfare, military conquest and sacrifice, who according to tradition, led the Mexica people from Aztlán, their mythical homeland, into Central Mexico” (ThoughtCo.). Everything that we usually hear about this “god” is that it is vicious and combative; we hear that the Aztecs sacrificed captives to offer human hearts to the Sun, a sign of their never-ending lust for fighting and conquering other tribes. The depiction of the Aztecs in academic texts—whether in history, social sciences, religion, or other categories—always starts with their inscribed savage personality.

I know what you are thinking: What does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli anyway? 

My concern is that the conventional interpretations we typically hear about Aztecs cloud our understanding of them. These interpretations first emerged as colonial and post-colonial writings and impressions, which were then passed down through a process of citation and replication from colonial texts to current texts. These texts depict the Aztecs as people whose sole purpose was to sacrifice humans to “help the Sun” in its journey. What we read about our ancestral culture, for the most part, are recycled “truths” that ignore the purpose and the meaning of these archetypes as they were understood by people in their own social, ecological, and cosmological contexts.

Let me be clear that I am not insinuating that the Aztecs never made sacrifices or that they were a peace-loving society. No; they were not. They were a fierce society that accomplished many feats in the arts, astrology, psychology, engineering, medicine, economics, politics, formal education, and many other areas of human knowledge that in my view are ignored when we focus on depicting them as savages.

My point, ultimately, is that these civilizations possessed a profound understanding of time and space. They used advanced, complex calendrical systems to knit together the cosmos and life on earth. The archetypes they used, like Huitzilopochtli, which were not gods but rather representations of energetic forces, served as reference points so that human conditions could be understood through the movement of the Earth with respect to the Moon, Venus, and the Sun. 

So I pose the question again, what does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli?

The Aztecs celebrated the figure of Huitzilopochtli during the winter solstice. We should ask ourselves, why at the winter solstice? The Aztecs, like most people around the world, celebrated the winter solstice because it marked the position of the Sun at its southernmost point as perceived from the Earth. The Aztecs associated this position of the Sun with a hummingbird not only because they considered the hummingbird a powerful little creature, but also because they believed it exemplified the cosmic willpower that the Sun needed to have to move back to its highest point. Once in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun was considered an eagle, big and powerful, and thus the fulfillment of a vision made possible by Huitzilopochtli’s intent. So the hummingbird and the journey of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere, in Aztec cosmology, represented the intent to fulfill a vision.

Why does this matter? Understanding what these myths, stories, and archetypes mean is important because they have a story to tell us, a teaching about our own human condition and human capabilities, as well as our relationship to the Earth and cosmos. Indeed, intent is a very powerful word, not only for what it means, but for what it entails. If we can recover and use these cultural understandings about our human condition, then we can use these archetypes to teach us purpose, determination, and a collective will to find balance with the cosmos—the balance required to forge a society that preserves our natural resources for future generations to enjoy. I am sure that our ancestors thought about this as well.


Top and bottom image: "The Birth of Huitzilopochtli" ©Chicome Itzcuintli Amatlapantli.

Huitzilopochtli and the Notion of Intent

Art by

Intent is a powerful word.  It signifies purpose and determination. Intent is fueled by passion and persistence, enabling people to achieve what they desire to do in life. Native Mexican tribes honored this notion of intent in their beliefs about Huitzilopochtli, the blue hummingbird, and its relationship to the movement of the Sun from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere. 

Huitzilopochtli represents the intent Native Mexican people had not only when they left their homeland to find a new one, as the mythical story of Aztlán informs us, but also when they set out to build a city where no one else would dare. The Mexika-Technoca, the so-called Aztecs, demonstrated their willpower by following the figure of Huitzilopochtli and establishing one of the most beautiful, productive, and well-organized agricultural cities in the world, Tenochtitlán, in the 14th and 15th centuries (of the Gregorian calendar). They created the chinampas, floating agricultural fields; organized complex economic and political systems; and adopted calendrical systems that created an intimate relationship between the world and the cosmos.

Conventional scholarship, based on colonial and Western anthropological texts, informs us  that “Huitzilopochtli…was one of the most important of the Aztec gods, the god of the Sun, warfare, military conquest and sacrifice, who according to tradition, led the Mexica people from Aztlán, their mythical homeland, into Central Mexico” (ThoughtCo.). Everything that we usually hear about this “god” is that it is vicious and combative; we hear that the Aztecs sacrificed captives to offer human hearts to the Sun, a sign of their never-ending lust for fighting and conquering other tribes. The depiction of the Aztecs in academic texts—whether in history, social sciences, religion, or other categories—always starts with their inscribed savage personality.

I know what you are thinking: What does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli anyway? 

My concern is that the conventional interpretations we typically hear about Aztecs cloud our understanding of them. These interpretations first emerged as colonial and post-colonial writings and impressions, which were then passed down through a process of citation and replication from colonial texts to current texts. These texts depict the Aztecs as people whose sole purpose was to sacrifice humans to “help the Sun” in its journey. What we read about our ancestral culture, for the most part, are recycled “truths” that ignore the purpose and the meaning of these archetypes as they were understood by people in their own social, ecological, and cosmological contexts.

Let me be clear that I am not insinuating that the Aztecs never made sacrifices or that they were a peace-loving society. No; they were not. They were a fierce society that accomplished many feats in the arts, astrology, psychology, engineering, medicine, economics, politics, formal education, and many other areas of human knowledge that in my view are ignored when we focus on depicting them as savages.

My point, ultimately, is that these civilizations possessed a profound understanding of time and space. They used advanced, complex calendrical systems to knit together the cosmos and life on earth. The archetypes they used, like Huitzilopochtli, which were not gods but rather representations of energetic forces, served as reference points so that human conditions could be understood through the movement of the Earth with respect to the Moon, Venus, and the Sun. 

So I pose the question again, what does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli?

The Aztecs celebrated the figure of Huitzilopochtli during the winter solstice. We should ask ourselves, why at the winter solstice? The Aztecs, like most people around the world, celebrated the winter solstice because it marked the position of the Sun at its southernmost point as perceived from the Earth. The Aztecs associated this position of the Sun with a hummingbird not only because they considered the hummingbird a powerful little creature, but also because they believed it exemplified the cosmic willpower that the Sun needed to have to move back to its highest point. Once in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun was considered an eagle, big and powerful, and thus the fulfillment of a vision made possible by Huitzilopochtli’s intent. So the hummingbird and the journey of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere, in Aztec cosmology, represented the intent to fulfill a vision.

Why does this matter? Understanding what these myths, stories, and archetypes mean is important because they have a story to tell us, a teaching about our own human condition and human capabilities, as well as our relationship to the Earth and cosmos. Indeed, intent is a very powerful word, not only for what it means, but for what it entails. If we can recover and use these cultural understandings about our human condition, then we can use these archetypes to teach us purpose, determination, and a collective will to find balance with the cosmos—the balance required to forge a society that preserves our natural resources for future generations to enjoy. I am sure that our ancestors thought about this as well.


Top and bottom image: "The Birth of Huitzilopochtli" ©Chicome Itzcuintli Amatlapantli.

Huitzilopochtli and the Notion of Intent

Art by

Intent is a powerful word.  It signifies purpose and determination. Intent is fueled by passion and persistence, enabling people to achieve what they desire to do in life. Native Mexican tribes honored this notion of intent in their beliefs about Huitzilopochtli, the blue hummingbird, and its relationship to the movement of the Sun from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere. 

Huitzilopochtli represents the intent Native Mexican people had not only when they left their homeland to find a new one, as the mythical story of Aztlán informs us, but also when they set out to build a city where no one else would dare. The Mexika-Technoca, the so-called Aztecs, demonstrated their willpower by following the figure of Huitzilopochtli and establishing one of the most beautiful, productive, and well-organized agricultural cities in the world, Tenochtitlán, in the 14th and 15th centuries (of the Gregorian calendar). They created the chinampas, floating agricultural fields; organized complex economic and political systems; and adopted calendrical systems that created an intimate relationship between the world and the cosmos.

Conventional scholarship, based on colonial and Western anthropological texts, informs us  that “Huitzilopochtli…was one of the most important of the Aztec gods, the god of the Sun, warfare, military conquest and sacrifice, who according to tradition, led the Mexica people from Aztlán, their mythical homeland, into Central Mexico” (ThoughtCo.). Everything that we usually hear about this “god” is that it is vicious and combative; we hear that the Aztecs sacrificed captives to offer human hearts to the Sun, a sign of their never-ending lust for fighting and conquering other tribes. The depiction of the Aztecs in academic texts—whether in history, social sciences, religion, or other categories—always starts with their inscribed savage personality.

I know what you are thinking: What does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli anyway? 

My concern is that the conventional interpretations we typically hear about Aztecs cloud our understanding of them. These interpretations first emerged as colonial and post-colonial writings and impressions, which were then passed down through a process of citation and replication from colonial texts to current texts. These texts depict the Aztecs as people whose sole purpose was to sacrifice humans to “help the Sun” in its journey. What we read about our ancestral culture, for the most part, are recycled “truths” that ignore the purpose and the meaning of these archetypes as they were understood by people in their own social, ecological, and cosmological contexts.

Let me be clear that I am not insinuating that the Aztecs never made sacrifices or that they were a peace-loving society. No; they were not. They were a fierce society that accomplished many feats in the arts, astrology, psychology, engineering, medicine, economics, politics, formal education, and many other areas of human knowledge that in my view are ignored when we focus on depicting them as savages.

My point, ultimately, is that these civilizations possessed a profound understanding of time and space. They used advanced, complex calendrical systems to knit together the cosmos and life on earth. The archetypes they used, like Huitzilopochtli, which were not gods but rather representations of energetic forces, served as reference points so that human conditions could be understood through the movement of the Earth with respect to the Moon, Venus, and the Sun. 

So I pose the question again, what does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli?

The Aztecs celebrated the figure of Huitzilopochtli during the winter solstice. We should ask ourselves, why at the winter solstice? The Aztecs, like most people around the world, celebrated the winter solstice because it marked the position of the Sun at its southernmost point as perceived from the Earth. The Aztecs associated this position of the Sun with a hummingbird not only because they considered the hummingbird a powerful little creature, but also because they believed it exemplified the cosmic willpower that the Sun needed to have to move back to its highest point. Once in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun was considered an eagle, big and powerful, and thus the fulfillment of a vision made possible by Huitzilopochtli’s intent. So the hummingbird and the journey of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere, in Aztec cosmology, represented the intent to fulfill a vision.

Why does this matter? Understanding what these myths, stories, and archetypes mean is important because they have a story to tell us, a teaching about our own human condition and human capabilities, as well as our relationship to the Earth and cosmos. Indeed, intent is a very powerful word, not only for what it means, but for what it entails. If we can recover and use these cultural understandings about our human condition, then we can use these archetypes to teach us purpose, determination, and a collective will to find balance with the cosmos—the balance required to forge a society that preserves our natural resources for future generations to enjoy. I am sure that our ancestors thought about this as well.


Top and bottom image: "The Birth of Huitzilopochtli" ©Chicome Itzcuintli Amatlapantli.
Sean Guerra's art
"RELEASE + SET FREE" © Sean Guerra.

RELEASE + SET FREE

I felt a heavy weight, but also the levity of letting go the cargas that were not meant for me to hold any longer. At the same time, I heard about relatives and close friends losing loved ones dear to them. Having lost two cousins in the past three years, I could empathize with the grief from the loss of a family member and wanted to give the intention of a soulful prayer for our collective journey of healing.

Sean Guerra's art
"SEEING + GUIDING TEMPLES" © Sean Guerra.

SEEING + GUIDING TEMPLES

I felt lost but still connected, searching for guidance. On a jog, I looked up and saw sprawling branches illuminated by a street lamp. It felt as if even though the world around me was falling apart, staying in tune with the senses and looking within for guidance and ancestral wisdom could lead me out of the darkness.

Sean Guerra's art
"REVELATIONS: 20/20" © Sean Guerra.

REVELATIONS: 20/20

This piece came about after looking in the mirror, accepting the mistakes I had made, and throwing my past selves through the portal in the hopes that I could shift and leave the baggage behind by cultivating self-acceptance.

I had also learned about the mythical land of “Fusang,” which some believe is an ancient Asian depiction of Mesoamerica, with references to the maguey plant. It helped me embrace nuanced perspectives of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, shedding the tired tropes of Aztlán and European “discovery,” for in truth it is possible that tri-continental migration and cross-cultural solidarity were already happening before European colonizers came. My introduction to Mesoamerica was by way of the Mixtec Codex Zouche-Nuttall, which documents the history and royal genealogies of the pueblo de la lluvia, so I was also accepting the path of reading symbols and following the rain god, Dzahui.

Sean Guerra's art
"THIS IS MESOAMERICA: JAGUARS IN THE SKY" © Sean Guerra.

THIS IS MESOAMERICA: JAGUARS IN THE SKY

This piece was inspired by a 2017 article called “The Roar of the Rain: A Late Preclassic Jaguar Pedestal Sculpture from Southern Mesoamerica,” by Andrew D. Turner, which draws the connection between Mesoamerican rain gods and jaguars.

Turner states, “The Olmecs, who produced the earliest monumental artwork in Mesoamerica, associated the jaguar with rain and, by extension, agricultural fertility. The famed artist and scholar Miguel Covarrubias first noted that the Olmec rain god, which was the precursor to the major rain deities of ancient Mesoamerica—Chahk of the Maya, Cocijo of the Zapotecs, [Dzahui of the Mixtecs], and Tlaloc of Central Mexico—was based on a jaguar prototype.”

Since I had been aligning myself with the Mixtec codices following Dzahui, I found this to be a revelation that in turn helped me to flip the Eurocentric history of settler colonialism on its head and offer a liberated pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, symbolized by the maguey plant, in its place.

Sean Guerra's art
"BRIDGES ARE TEMPLES: WE ARE THE SKY" © Sean Guerra.

BRIDGES ARE TEMPLES: WE ARE THE SKY

This piece was inspired by a print by Leopoldo Méndez of the Taller de Gráfica Popular titled “León de La Barra, the White President” (1947), in which Zapata soldiers are in the clouds pointing their rifles and bayonets downwards like lightning bolts upon the bourgeoisie.

The symbolism and title was also inspired by the revelatory writings of “third world women of color” in This Bridge Called My Back (1981), along with the moment and movement of artistic solidarity shown between the Black Panther Party and the Zapatistas of Chiapas as described in Zapantera Negra (2017), and the mural entitled “Women Hold Up Half the Sky” in Chicano Park, San Diego. Rain has been associated with jaguars and feminine energy since the first Mesoamerican civilization of the Olmecs, and African and Indigenous resistance has been at the forefront of social justice movements.

Huitzilopochtli and the Notion of Intent

Art by

Intent is a powerful word.  It signifies purpose and determination. Intent is fueled by passion and persistence, enabling people to achieve what they desire to do in life. Native Mexican tribes honored this notion of intent in their beliefs about Huitzilopochtli, the blue hummingbird, and its relationship to the movement of the Sun from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere. 

Huitzilopochtli represents the intent Native Mexican people had not only when they left their homeland to find a new one, as the mythical story of Aztlán informs us, but also when they set out to build a city where no one else would dare. The Mexika-Technoca, the so-called Aztecs, demonstrated their willpower by following the figure of Huitzilopochtli and establishing one of the most beautiful, productive, and well-organized agricultural cities in the world, Tenochtitlán, in the 14th and 15th centuries (of the Gregorian calendar). They created the chinampas, floating agricultural fields; organized complex economic and political systems; and adopted calendrical systems that created an intimate relationship between the world and the cosmos.

Conventional scholarship, based on colonial and Western anthropological texts, informs us  that “Huitzilopochtli…was one of the most important of the Aztec gods, the god of the Sun, warfare, military conquest and sacrifice, who according to tradition, led the Mexica people from Aztlán, their mythical homeland, into Central Mexico” (ThoughtCo.). Everything that we usually hear about this “god” is that it is vicious and combative; we hear that the Aztecs sacrificed captives to offer human hearts to the Sun, a sign of their never-ending lust for fighting and conquering other tribes. The depiction of the Aztecs in academic texts—whether in history, social sciences, religion, or other categories—always starts with their inscribed savage personality.

I know what you are thinking: What does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli anyway? 

My concern is that the conventional interpretations we typically hear about Aztecs cloud our understanding of them. These interpretations first emerged as colonial and post-colonial writings and impressions, which were then passed down through a process of citation and replication from colonial texts to current texts. These texts depict the Aztecs as people whose sole purpose was to sacrifice humans to “help the Sun” in its journey. What we read about our ancestral culture, for the most part, are recycled “truths” that ignore the purpose and the meaning of these archetypes as they were understood by people in their own social, ecological, and cosmological contexts.

Let me be clear that I am not insinuating that the Aztecs never made sacrifices or that they were a peace-loving society. No; they were not. They were a fierce society that accomplished many feats in the arts, astrology, psychology, engineering, medicine, economics, politics, formal education, and many other areas of human knowledge that in my view are ignored when we focus on depicting them as savages.

My point, ultimately, is that these civilizations possessed a profound understanding of time and space. They used advanced, complex calendrical systems to knit together the cosmos and life on earth. The archetypes they used, like Huitzilopochtli, which were not gods but rather representations of energetic forces, served as reference points so that human conditions could be understood through the movement of the Earth with respect to the Moon, Venus, and the Sun. 

So I pose the question again, what does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli?

The Aztecs celebrated the figure of Huitzilopochtli during the winter solstice. We should ask ourselves, why at the winter solstice? The Aztecs, like most people around the world, celebrated the winter solstice because it marked the position of the Sun at its southernmost point as perceived from the Earth. The Aztecs associated this position of the Sun with a hummingbird not only because they considered the hummingbird a powerful little creature, but also because they believed it exemplified the cosmic willpower that the Sun needed to have to move back to its highest point. Once in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun was considered an eagle, big and powerful, and thus the fulfillment of a vision made possible by Huitzilopochtli’s intent. So the hummingbird and the journey of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere, in Aztec cosmology, represented the intent to fulfill a vision.

Why does this matter? Understanding what these myths, stories, and archetypes mean is important because they have a story to tell us, a teaching about our own human condition and human capabilities, as well as our relationship to the Earth and cosmos. Indeed, intent is a very powerful word, not only for what it means, but for what it entails. If we can recover and use these cultural understandings about our human condition, then we can use these archetypes to teach us purpose, determination, and a collective will to find balance with the cosmos—the balance required to forge a society that preserves our natural resources for future generations to enjoy. I am sure that our ancestors thought about this as well.


Top and bottom image: "The Birth of Huitzilopochtli" ©Chicome Itzcuintli Amatlapantli.

Huitzilopochtli and the Notion of Intent

Art by

Intent is a powerful word.  It signifies purpose and determination. Intent is fueled by passion and persistence, enabling people to achieve what they desire to do in life. Native Mexican tribes honored this notion of intent in their beliefs about Huitzilopochtli, the blue hummingbird, and its relationship to the movement of the Sun from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere. 

Huitzilopochtli represents the intent Native Mexican people had not only when they left their homeland to find a new one, as the mythical story of Aztlán informs us, but also when they set out to build a city where no one else would dare. The Mexika-Technoca, the so-called Aztecs, demonstrated their willpower by following the figure of Huitzilopochtli and establishing one of the most beautiful, productive, and well-organized agricultural cities in the world, Tenochtitlán, in the 14th and 15th centuries (of the Gregorian calendar). They created the chinampas, floating agricultural fields; organized complex economic and political systems; and adopted calendrical systems that created an intimate relationship between the world and the cosmos.

Conventional scholarship, based on colonial and Western anthropological texts, informs us  that “Huitzilopochtli…was one of the most important of the Aztec gods, the god of the Sun, warfare, military conquest and sacrifice, who according to tradition, led the Mexica people from Aztlán, their mythical homeland, into Central Mexico” (ThoughtCo.). Everything that we usually hear about this “god” is that it is vicious and combative; we hear that the Aztecs sacrificed captives to offer human hearts to the Sun, a sign of their never-ending lust for fighting and conquering other tribes. The depiction of the Aztecs in academic texts—whether in history, social sciences, religion, or other categories—always starts with their inscribed savage personality.

I know what you are thinking: What does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli anyway? 

My concern is that the conventional interpretations we typically hear about Aztecs cloud our understanding of them. These interpretations first emerged as colonial and post-colonial writings and impressions, which were then passed down through a process of citation and replication from colonial texts to current texts. These texts depict the Aztecs as people whose sole purpose was to sacrifice humans to “help the Sun” in its journey. What we read about our ancestral culture, for the most part, are recycled “truths” that ignore the purpose and the meaning of these archetypes as they were understood by people in their own social, ecological, and cosmological contexts.

Let me be clear that I am not insinuating that the Aztecs never made sacrifices or that they were a peace-loving society. No; they were not. They were a fierce society that accomplished many feats in the arts, astrology, psychology, engineering, medicine, economics, politics, formal education, and many other areas of human knowledge that in my view are ignored when we focus on depicting them as savages.

My point, ultimately, is that these civilizations possessed a profound understanding of time and space. They used advanced, complex calendrical systems to knit together the cosmos and life on earth. The archetypes they used, like Huitzilopochtli, which were not gods but rather representations of energetic forces, served as reference points so that human conditions could be understood through the movement of the Earth with respect to the Moon, Venus, and the Sun. 

So I pose the question again, what does intent have to do with Huitzilopochtli?

The Aztecs celebrated the figure of Huitzilopochtli during the winter solstice. We should ask ourselves, why at the winter solstice? The Aztecs, like most people around the world, celebrated the winter solstice because it marked the position of the Sun at its southernmost point as perceived from the Earth. The Aztecs associated this position of the Sun with a hummingbird not only because they considered the hummingbird a powerful little creature, but also because they believed it exemplified the cosmic willpower that the Sun needed to have to move back to its highest point. Once in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun was considered an eagle, big and powerful, and thus the fulfillment of a vision made possible by Huitzilopochtli’s intent. So the hummingbird and the journey of the Sun to the Northern Hemisphere, in Aztec cosmology, represented the intent to fulfill a vision.

Why does this matter? Understanding what these myths, stories, and archetypes mean is important because they have a story to tell us, a teaching about our own human condition and human capabilities, as well as our relationship to the Earth and cosmos. Indeed, intent is a very powerful word, not only for what it means, but for what it entails. If we can recover and use these cultural understandings about our human condition, then we can use these archetypes to teach us purpose, determination, and a collective will to find balance with the cosmos—the balance required to forge a society that preserves our natural resources for future generations to enjoy. I am sure that our ancestors thought about this as well.


Top and bottom image: "The Birth of Huitzilopochtli" ©Chicome Itzcuintli Amatlapantli.

The Practice of Intention

1

If possible, play music that inspires you to be calm. This is the time to look inward. Turn off any external distractions; silence your phone.

2

Close your eyes, taking a moment to “feel” how different and peaceful it is to have the eyes closed.

3

Take three very slow and deep breaths, trying to fill out the bottom of your lungs. Inhale and exhale slowly.

4

With either hand, take a little bit of tobacco or some dry herbs—like lavender, sage, rosemary, basil, rose petals, a combination of all of them, or imagine them, if you don’t have any. In the Curanderismo tradition, it is believed that these plants have energy that can help us communicate more deeply with the spirit realm, and focus with concentration and a sense of calm.

5

Place your hand with the herbs at the center of your chest. That is the area known as the heart chakra. Take another deep and slow breath.

6

Very slowly, start directing your attention to one or more of the emotions mentioned before: love, gratitude, happiness, and peace.

7

Then, also very slowly, start your prayer, being careful that you genuinely mean what you are saying. If you are reciting a prayer in another language, make sure you say it first in your native language and then in the other language.

8

At the end of each sentence from your prayer, add a vibration of any of the emotions. Once you feel the emotions, move them throughout your body until it is vibrating. This is a very important step because this vibration is creating electromagnetic energy that will help you manifest what you are asking for.

9

Carry on with your prayer until you are done. Remember not to rush. By the end, your body should be vibrating, and from there you are going to send gratitude to the Universe, to the spirits, to your ancestors, to everyone for hearing your prayer and making it happen.

10

If you are conducting a ceremony or ritual, empowering a place or a spiritual tool, asking for healing, or something similar, you can cup your hands and transfer all of these beautiful energies into your hands and into the mixture of herbs. Then you can offer these herbs by placing them on your altar (if you have one), placing your hands on the part of the body that you want to heal, or offering the herbs to Mother Earth.

11

Finish by staying still for a moment, just feeling this beautiful energy that you have created.

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Issue 02: Nepantla

Themes of "between," mutability, shapeshifting, boundaries and borders, springtime, changing seasons, spring equinox + your ideas. Surprise us. Share your essays, practices, art/multimedia, plantcestor profiles, and more. Submission deadline: March 7, 2021.

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