Origins of the words Aztec and Mexico

These two words which are integral to the heart of México are inextricably intertwined. It has been posited that the root for the word México was metl, the Náhuatl root of the word maguey or metztli (the moon) and xictli (centre or navel). Others, being friars of the Franciscan or Dominican variety, thought that the Mexican peoples were of Hebrew descent (being one of the … Continue reading Origins of the words Aztec and Mexico

The Triple Alliance

How the terms Mexico and Aztec may have entered history. Who were the Aztecs? Were they an actual people like the Totonacs, the Zapoteca or the Mexica; or did the word Aztec define something else entirely? The first published use of the term “Aztec” was when Father Francisco Javier Clavijero Echegaray included it in his book La Historia Antigua de México (1780). A few decades … Continue reading The Triple Alliance

Xochipilli. The Prince of Flowers

Xochipilli (1) was considered one of the more benevolent of the Mesoamerican deities and he was popular amongst the chinampa dwellers to the south of Tenochtitlan. This statue was excavated near Tlalmanalco (2) in the shadow of the volcano Iztaccihuatl (3) and has been registered as part of the collection of the National Museum of Anthropology since 1882. Sacrifices to him generally consisted of garlands … Continue reading Xochipilli. The Prince of Flowers


Even though anthropological studies are often undertaken there are no truly accurate records of the native use of wild plants. The daily foods of indigenous peoples are usually considered a food of low social status and are often overlooked by peoples of a “developing” society, in particular those people of the society doing the developing. This was the case in Mexico where some plants were … Continue reading Quelites

What is Curanderismo?

I am asked this question every time I mention the word. Curanderismo is often described (somewhat disparagingly I feel) as “Mexican folk medicine”. I feel that the term folk medicine is used for the lack of a better term and totally undervalues this system of healing, for this is what it is. The word curandero (curandera if the practitioner is female) is derived from “curar” … Continue reading What is Curanderismo?

Huitzilopochtli, Tenochtitlan and the Opuntia Cactus

The Mesoamerican deity Huitzilopochtli  was the patron god of the Mexican people and is the primary God of War (and the Sun) in the Aztec pantheon. The legend goes that after he was betrayed by a nephew he killed him and removed his heart. This heart was left on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco and, like many creation legends involving plants, from the rocks upon … Continue reading Huitzilopochtli, Tenochtitlan and the Opuntia Cactus