The modern name is derived from Mexitli, one of the names of the Aztec god of war Huitzilopochtli, which name was later on applied also to the Aztecs themselves.
HUITZILOPOCHTLI, .the supreme being in the religions of ancient Mexico, and as a specialized deity, the god of war.
As a humming-bird Huitzilopochtli was alleged to have led the Aztecs to a new home.
When the first Moteuczoma was crowned king of the Aztecs, the Mexican sway extended far beyond the valley plateau of its origin, and the gods of conquered nations around had their shrines set up in Tenochtitlan in manifest inferiority to the temple of Huitzilopochtli, the war-god of the Aztec conquerors.
These deities are not easily ' One of the most important sources for the ancient Mexican traditions and myths is the so-called " Codex Chimalpopoca," a manuscript in the Mexican language discovered by the Abbe analysed, but on the other hand Tonatiuh and Metztli, the sun and moon, stand out distinctly as nature gods, and the traveller still sees in the huge adobe pyramids of Teotihuacan, with their sides oriented to the four quarters, an evidence of the importance of their worship. The war-god Huitzilopochtli was the real head of the Aztec pantheon; his idol remains in Mexico, a huge block of basalt on which is sculptured on the one side his hideous personage, adorned with the humming-bird feathers on the left hand which signify his name, while the not less frightful war-goddess Teoyaomiqui, or " divine wardeath," occupies the other side.
The great teocalli of Huitzilopochtli in the city of Mexico stood in an immense square, whence radiated the four principal thoroughfares, its courtyard being enclosed by a square, of which the stone wall, called the coatepantli or serpent-wall from its sculptured serpents, - measured nearly a quarter of a mile on each side.
Of Huitzilopochtli, the famed god, Sahagun says that he was a necromancer, loved " shapeshifting," like Odin, metamorphosed himself into animal forms, was miraculously conceived, and, among animals, is confused with the humming-bird, whose feathers adorned his statues."
Like many other gods, Huitzilopochtli slew his foes at his birth, and hence received names analogous to DeLµos and (1.6(os: Tylor (Primitive Culture, ii.
307) calls Huitzilopochtli an " inextricable compound parthenogenetic god."
His sacrament, when paste idols of him were eaten by the communicants, was at the winter solstice, whence it may, perhaps, be inferred that Huitzilopochtli was not only a war-god but a nature-god - in both respects anthropomorphic, and in both bearing traces of the time when he was but a humming-bird, as Yehl was a raven (Muller, op. cit.
As a humming-bird, Huitzilopochtli led the Aztecs to a new home, as a wolf led the Hirpini, and as a woodpecker led the Sabines.
Quetzalcoatl, the Toltec deity, is as much a sparrow (or similar small bird) as Huitzilopochtli is a humming-bird.