LEGENDS OF THE HUMMINGBIRD
CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICAN LEGENDS
The ancient Central American civilization of the Mayans revered the hummingbird as a magic being. They believed that the bird was really the sun in disguise appearing as a hummingbird to court a beautiful woman, who is the moon.
There is a Mayan legend about Tzuunum, a little hummingbird who was created by the great spirit with great flying ability but she was plain. When it came time for her wedding day, her friends which were other brightly colored birds donated some of their feathers of red, green, blue and gold to make her a wedding dress. She was so surprised and humble that the great spirit sent word that she could wear her wedding gown for the rest of her life.
The name of Hitzilopochti, the Aztec deity of the sun and war, actually means "hummingbird on the left." He wore a bracelet of hummingbird feathers on is left wrist. They believed that if they died in battle they would be reincarnated as a hummingbird.
The Inca believed that the hummingbird was a messenger from heaven. The condor, which has the position of "king of the skies" conceded its status as the primary spiritual messenger of the "upper world" to the hummingbird. The hummingbird is seen as the key to the next stage of development of human consciousness. Incan legend tells that there was a contest between the condor and the hummingbird to see who would be king. The condor said he could fly to the edge of the sky and the hummingbird said he could fly beyond the edge to the center of heaven. When it came time for the contest, the hummingbird didn't show up. The condor took off and flew to the edge of the sky at which point the hummingbird emerged from the condor's feathers and flew beyond to the center of the upper world where he met Wiraqocha the metaphysical god of the Andes.
This is a picture of the giant hummingbird geoglyph that I took many years ago from a private plane flying over the Nazca Lines in Peru. I took this before I became passionate about hummingbirds and long before I became passionate about photography. This was taken with a point-and-shoot camera operating with1990's technology. I absolutely can say for sure, though, that this is the very first picture I ever took of a hummingbird!
The Nazca culture is believed to have extended from 500 BCE to 800 CE. The majority of the Nazca lines were created during this time period. The hummingbird is 320 feet (98 meters) long and 216 feet (66 meters) wide. Its long and pointed beak points to the rising sun.
NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN LEGENDS
A Cherokee legend tells of a hummingbird bringing tobacco back to the people after it was stolen by the evil Dagul'ku goose. The legend has it that in ancient times all of the animals and people could speak the same language. There was only one large tobacco plant in existence for everyone to use. One day the evil and greedy Dagul'ku goose stole the plant and took it far away and guarded it. All sorts of animals went to try to retrieve it and were killed by the goose. A hummingbird convinced the others that it could get to the plant unseen because of its great speed and agility. The bird quickly flew to the plant unseen by Dagul'ku and took a piece containing leaves and seeds from the very top. He returned and everyone had tobacco again. The really interesting thing about this story is that an old woman was dying without access to the tobacco. The hummingbird saved her life with the leaves he brought back which were burned and the life-giving smoke was wafted into her nostrils. What a contract to our views on smoking today!
Another Cherokee legend tells of a beautiful woman with which both a hummingbird and a crane were in love. She first chooses the hummingbird for his good looks, but the crane convinces her she should marry whichever one of them wins a race around the world. This way the crane could prove his worth. She agrees because she thought that the hummingbird was bound to win since he would fly much faster. Unfortunately, she did not take into consideration that the crane could fly all night and the hummingbird only flew during the day. The crane won the race but she refuses to marry him anyway because she cannot marry a bird so ugly.
A Hopi legend tells of a time when the land was barren and a famine occurred. The parents of a boy and girl went off to search for food. The boy made a toy hummingbird and the girl threw it in the air bringing it to life. The hummingbird would bring corn to the boy and girl each day. In thanks for his life, the bird flew to the center of the earth to plead with the god of fertility to restore the land. The god agreed and restored the land with rain and vegetation allowing the parents to return to their children.
A Mojave legend tells of an ancient time when people all lived underground in darkness. A hummingbird was sent to look for light and found a path to the upper world where we now live.