Letter to my Petite Warrior
While I was pregnant, one of the nombres de cariño I had for Ximena as I felt her fluttering inside me was Huitzilopochtli, or Huitzil for short (I contemplated naming her this, but decided people were going to have enough fun trying to pronounce Ximena:)
I found this excerpt in my journal, dated August 25, 2015. Meaning my belly was a giant, ripe watermelon.
Dear Baby Girl,
You are due to arrive any day now. Three days from now, to be exact. I am anxious to meet you, but also worried that you won’t like being away from the warm nest that you have built for yourself inside me. Did you know that every morning, when I step outside, I am greeted by a couple of hummingbirds? Your grandma tells me that they are good luck. Their little wings flap feverishly, and their tiny eyes search me to see if my belly is still round. I swear they nod to me, as though to say ‘We will be back tomorrow to check on you!’ They visit to see if you’ve arrived. They, too, can’t wait to meet you!
Our cultura is rich with myths and legends about hummingbirds. It’s no surprise the tiny-beaked warriors are so eager to welcome you to this world. They must hear the electricity of your button-sized heart inside me, and mistake you for one of their own. I can’t wait to see your eyes light up when you see one of these powerful, petite creatures zoom by. I am sure they will slow from their journeys just to smile at you every time.
One Aztec myth tells of a brave warrior named Huitzil, who led his people to a new homeland, then helped them defend it. This famous hero's full name was Huitzilopochtli, which means "hummingbird from the left;” the "left" being a symbol for the Deep South, the location of the spirit world. He wore a beautiful helmet, shaped like a giant hummingbird. Coatlicue, an Aztec goddess known as the mother of the gods, who gave birth to the moon and the stars, also gave birth to this fearless warrior.
During an important battle, Huitzil was killed. His body vanished and a green-backed hummingbird whirred up from the spot where he had fallen. He became a god after his death.
Aztecs came to believe that every warrior slain in battle rose to the sky and orbited the sun for four years, after which they became hummingbirds. In the afterlife, these transformed heroes fed on the flowers in the gardens of paradise. Sometimes they broke away from the sweet nectar of the flowers to engage in mock battle so as to sharpen their skills. At night, the hummingbird-angels became soldiers again, and followed Huitzil, fighting off the powers of the darkness, restoring warmth and light in the world.
Yet another Aztec legend tells the story of the god of music and poetry, Xochipilli, who took the form of a hummingbird, and descended into the underworld to make love with a goddess, who then gave birth to the first flower.
My beautiful warrior-hummingbird-baby: tiny or not, it is in your blood to be a gleaming warrior, to follow the frenzied flight of the hummingbird. We are all anxiously awaiting your fiery arrival. Don’t keep us waiting much longer!
Credits // Art: Sonia Orban-Price