"For as long as the world shall endure, the honor and the glory of Mexico-Tenochtitlan must never be forgotten."

~ Chimalpahin Quauhtlehuanitzin

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Top 5 Scary Things from Aztec/Mexica Folklore that will get you in your sleep

Scary, creepy, and strange things from Mesoamerican mythology... 

Niltze, everyone. I have sort of been neglecting and procrastinating on this blog, but finally I got an idea for a quality post. Every culture has scary stories. These can be used to scare children into behaving. They can also be connected to a superstition. Today I'm going to talk about my five favourite scary myths of the Mexica/Aztec people. One of my friends helped me with the research for this post. Her name is Nahuaconetl Xocoyotzin. You can stalk her Deviantart account here. She is a wonderful artist who is very interested in Mexico. 

I have arranged this list from least scariest to most scariest. None of the pictures belong to me unless I say so.  So let's begin! 

5: The Ahuitzotl 

The Ahuitzotl was a creature that came in various sizes. It resembled a dog or cat with bluish fur and had a long tail ending with a human hand. The Ahuitzotl was associated with water. It was said that this animal killed humans by swimming around in bodies of water and waiting for people to enter the water. Once the people entered, it would grab them with the hand of its tail and pull them down until they drowned. At least if you were killed by the Ahuitzotl you'd end up in Tlalocan, the land of the rain teotl/god Tlaloc, which is supposed to be an awesome and luxurious afterlife.

This screenshot is actually from the tv show My Little Pony. Who knew there were Aztecs in MLP?

Here are some drawings I did of the Ahuitzotl: 


Remember that you can stalk me on Deviantart for more Mesoamerican fanart: http://aztecatl13.deviantart.com/ 

Here is another drawing I did called 'What the Ahuitzotl dragged in'. It shows an Ahuitzotl bringing a drowned child to Tlalocan. The goddess shown is Chalchuitlicue, the wife of Tlaloc, who was associated with water bodies rather than rain. 

Here is an Aztec chimalli (shield) depicting this creature:

There was also a Mexica tlatoani (ruler) named Ahuitzotl after this creature. Here is a codex drawing of him:

There is a website which everyone who likes the Mexica/Aztecs knows about called Mexicolore. They have done a great article on the Ahuitzotl so if you would like to learn more about it, here's a link: 

4: The Mirror-Headed Bird

This next creature has a pretty self-explanatory name. The mirror-headed bird. I have no idea how the Mexica come up with such strange creatures. But to the Mexica, this bird was a terrible omen which meant something bad was going to happen. One post-Aztec story tells that emperor Moctezuma Xocoyotzin (Moctezuma the 2nd. Yes, that's the famous one) was presented with this bird, shortly before the Spaniards arrived. The mirror that this bird has instead of a face is a strange mirror, because it it you are supposed to see stars and the universe instead of your own reflection in it. 

This image is from the Florentine codex.

I drew it once, but I can't find the picture as it wasn't on my DA :P . 

So here is a Alice-in-Wonderland looking picture that looks similar: 

3: The Cipactli 

This next story shows how the mythology of the indigenous people could have huge similarities sometimes, showing how they were all related throughout the continent. According to the Aztec creation story, the world was once only water. In order to bring the earth into existence, the gods who were usually enemies, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, had to team up to slay the Cipactli, a giant caimain-ish crocodillian aquatic creature. The back of this monster became the earth. One of Tezcatlipoca's feet were bitten off while he fought Cipactli. 

By the way, the word 'cipactli' also means caiman or crocodile in Nahuatl, the language of the Mexica. 

The reason why I thought this story was similar to other indigenous tales was because it reminded me of the Iroquois and Cherokee creation story in which the earth was built on the back of a huge turtle. Some indigenous people call North America 'turtle island' for this reason. The Taino people of the Caribbean also have a similar creation story that happened on the back of a caiman.

And here is a codex illustration of the creature: 


2: The Tzitzimeme

This is getting creepier. The Tzitzimeme were she-demons who harassed people in the forest at night. (singular: Tzitzimitl). They were associated with the stars and could turn into eagles and vultures. They had long claw-like nails and starry wings. Their queen was the goddess Itzpapalotl (her name means 'obsidian butterfly'). It is said that at the end of the world, they will devour humanity. These are some of Nahuaconetl's favorites. They remind me in some ways of Dionysus' maenads in Greco-Roman mythology.

1: The Night-Axe

You are a travelling pochtecatl (merchant) who is spending the night in a forest. You are awoken by the sound of someone cutting wood. Out of curiosity, you follow the noise, only to find a HEADLESS MAN WITH AN OPENING IN HIS CHEST HOLDING AN AXE. You are decapitated and your head is put into the opening in the Night-Axe's chest. Here is a drawing by Kama-zotz on deviantart, the best mesoamerican related artist on DA.

Nahuaconetl says it looks like a sacrificial victim. I agree with her. 

The Aztecs did human sacrifices which involved slitting open a person's chest and tearing out their beating heart. You probably know this already. It's that thing about the Aztecs that everyone knows. But there is so much more to them than human sacrifices. You have to remember that many cultures all over the world did human sacrifices. You also have to remember that even the Spaniards, who were Christians, sacrificed the Aztecs by burning them alive in the name of Jesus. The Spanish may have exaggerated the number of people who the Aztecs sacrificed as well. So really, you can not say the Mexica were more bloodthirsty than anyone else. 

Anyway, there is a codex depicting the entity but I can't find it now :(  It was next to a picture of the god Tezcatlipoca in jaguar form.How terrifying. I only heard of this legend recently, while I came across a reference to it in the historical fiction book called 'Aztec Blood' by Gary Jennings. Gary Jennings writes excellent historical fiction on not just the Aztecs but other cultures from around the world as well. Check out his books. 

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for giving Wannabehistorian1491 yet another page view. Have a great day! 


  1. Lol top pic is from My Little Pony Friendship is Magic.

    1. hahaha yeah. Thanks for the comment. An MLP fan told me this shortly after I made this post. :)


Leave a comment