Malinalxochitl : Beautiful Wildflower

The Aztecs spent centuries wandering, searching for their promised land, initially led by the warrior deity Huitzilopochtli and his sisters. Tension developed between Huitzilopochtli and one sister, Malinalxochitl, an exceptionally beautiful, powerful spirit of witchcraft and magic. He accused her of talking too much, asking too many questions, and sowing seeds of doubt. Huitzilopochtli persuaded the Aztecs to leave her. Following his directions, they abandoned her with her attendants as they slept, just like Ariadne abandoned on the isle of Naxos, slipping away to continue their migrations without her.

The name Malinalxochitl literally means “grass flower” or “wildflower,” but it derives from two words, Malinal and Xochitl, describing two types of spiritual forces:

• Malinal is short for Malinalli, a force of untamed nature: it is what stands outside civilization. Malinalli names plants (technically a type of wild grass but also wildflowers) that will not be domesticated. Malinalli, considered a female (yin) force, is associated with death. The Cihuateteo and spirits of death are described and portrayed as wearing skirts made of malinalli.

• Xochitl, on the other hand, is a force of beauty and purity, a dynamic, sexual, creative force. (See Also: Xochitl.)

Malinalxochitl is the crossroads where these forces meet. Even after her abandonment, the Aztecs remained conscious of her as a formidable power hovering outside their civilization. She developed a reputation as a fierce sorceress.

Her son, Copil, a shaman, raised to despise Huitzilopochtli, vowed to avenge his mother. He rallied neighbours to destroy the Aztecs. Instead, the Aztecs, under Huitzilopochtli’s command, captured Copil. His still-beating heart was ripped from his chest and flung into the middle of marshy Lake Texcoco. A nopal, or prickly pear cactus, grew from his heart, nourished by Copil’s blood. Huitzilopochtli revealed that the sign that marked their sacred destination was an eagle sitting on a cactus with a snake in its mouth. When the Aztecs saw their sign, it was on the nopal growing from Copil’s heart. The name of their capital city Tenochtitlan means “Place of the Prickly Pear Cactus.”

In the meantime, Malinalxochitl collected devotees, too. Because Aztec authorities considered her an enemy, she evolved into a secret goddess. Devotees set up secret societies in Coatepec, Malinalco, and Michoacan, areas still renowned for magic, witchcraft, sorcery, and shamanism. She is invoked for magical power and knowledge.

Malinalxochitl has power over venomous creatures like snakes, spiders, and scorpions.


Malinal Xochitl




Magical practitioners


Malinalxochitl is envisioned as a beautiful young girl, a teenager.

Sacred site:

The place where Malinalxochitl was abandoned is now called Malinalco, approximately twenty-five kilometers southwest of Mexico City.


The Aztecs traditionally considered Malinalli, the twelfth day of their calendar, with ambivalence at best. On one hand, those born on this day are allegedly fated to be rebellious, difficult, or unlucky people—and to have their children torn away from them. On the other, the day indicates the tenacious power of weeds, that which can never be completely uprooted or eradicated. It is considered a positive day for the suppressed but not for those who suppress them.


  • Ariadne
  • Cihuateteo;
  • Coatlique
  • Coyolxauhqui
  • Guadalupe
  • Huitzilopochtli
  • La Llorona
  • Malinche
  • Xochitl


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

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