Monster Month: Cipactli


Definitely a scary looking sea monster.  Cipactli comes from Aztec mythology and is connected to the crocodile.  In fact, it seems the name means crocodile or caiman.  So, what does this guy look like?

In Aztec mythology, Cipactli is an ancient sea monster that is always hungry.  It was a combination of a crocodile, fish and toad, which you can kind of see in the picture.  Every joint of its body has a mouth because it was that hungry and impossible to satisfy.  This posed a problem for the 4 gods (Huitzilopochtli, Tezcatlipoca, Xipe Totec, and Quetzalcoatl) when they set about creating more life.  Either they feared everything would get eaten by Cipactli or this actually happened.  Makes you wonder why they created it in the first place, but we all know first drafts always have problems.

This brings us into the Aztec creation myth where the gods set out to destroy Cipactli in a similar fashion to Mesopotamia’s Tiamat.  Tezcatlipoca lost a foot used as bait to draw Cipactli in, but they killed it and used the body to make the universe.  The head became the 13 heavens and the tail became the underworld.  The middle was turned into the Earth and everything else.  Creating the world out of a dead monster is fairly popular in mythology for some reason.

Is that the end of it?  No because Cipactli’s mind was still alive even after the body was torn apart and repurposed.  As promised, it gets regular blood sacrifices (this why humans keep going to war?) to keep it under control.  If it doesn’t get what it wants, it throws a tantrum in the form of earthquakes and volcanos.  Makes perfect sense to me.

That’s really it for Cipactli.  No connection to mental illness or changes made throughout the years.  This may be because creation myths are so old and foundational to their cultures that you can’t alter it much.  If you do then you could change the entire culture or at least all of the preceding stories.  This is another reason why prequels are so risky.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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18 Responses to Monster Month: Cipactli

  1. noelleg44 says:

    Another beast linked to the foundation of the earth and sky, but you have to wonder where the idea of it came from!


  2. L. Marie says:

    Now I have to wonder if the Trench in the Aquaman movie were patterned after this creature.


  3. L. Marie says:

    I’m also thinking about the creature in The Creature from the Black Lagoon.


  4. Great line, Charles. “We all know first drafts always have problems.” Enjoyed this post.


  5. First drafts always have problems, LOL.


  6. I don’t know how I ever missed this one, but it’s amazing.


  7. V.M.Sang says:

    There do seem to have been more earthquakes in recent years while there have been not so many wars. Perhaps they’ll become fewer now there is so much violence around the world.
    This looks a really scary monster, though.

    Liked by 1 person

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