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Huitzilopochtli was the Mexica ("Aztec") god of war. His name means "Hummingbird's South" or "Hemmingburd's Left." He was the smallest of the 4 sons (the directions) of the creator couple Tonacatecutli and Tonacacihuatl, who resided in Omeyocan, the 13th and highest heaven, from which human souls descended to earth. With his brother Quetzalcoatl (the god of wind, air, light, justice, mercy, and learning), Huitzilopochtli created fire, the 1st male and female humans, the Earth, and the sun. In other accounts he was the son of Coatlicue (“skirt of snakes”), whose other offspring were Coyolxauhqui ("Painted with Bells") and her brothers the 400 Huiztnaua. As Coatlicue was sweeping her shrine, a ball of hummingbird feathers fell from the sky, which she placed at her waist and became pregnant. Her miraculous pregnancy embarrassed her children, who decided to kill her. As they prepared for battle and gathered at the base of Coatepec ("Snake Hill") and prepared for battle, Huitzilophochtli, in utero, was warned of the attack by Quauitlicac, one of the Huitznahua, who sprang from his mother's womb when she was decapitated (her blood spurt from her neck in the form of 2 gigantic serpents). Wielding a shield, darts, and dart thrower, he killed and decapitated Coyolxauhqui and threw her head into the sky where it became the moon, and scattered his brothers, who became the southern stars. Afterwards, he was in constant struggle with the darkness and required nourishment in the form of human sacrifices to postpone the end of the world. The weapon with which he killed his sister was the spirit form of the fire god Xiuhtecuhtli, which took the form of a serpent; it then guided the sun god Tonatiuh, who wielded it against his enemies the moon and the stars. He ordered his people to leave Aztlān, call themselves the Mexica, and find a new home. He put his sister Malinalxochitl ("grass" + "flower," the goddess of snakes, scorpions, and desert insects) in charge, and she led them to Malinalco, 115 km (71 mi) southwest of the Ciudad de Mexico, but they asked Huitzilopochtli to free them from her rule. Her son Copil sought vengeance but Huitzilopochtli killed him and threw his heart in Texcoco lake. Later he ordered the Mexica to locate Copi's heart and build there new home over it, telling them they would find it at a place where an eagle on a cactus was eating a snake. After a century of wandering they found the eagle on an island and, ca. 1325, created an artificial island which became Tenochtitlan, within the modern Ciudad de Mexico. By the time the Spaniards arrived a200 years later it was the largest city in the western hemisphere and among the largest in the world.
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