Darrell J. Pursiful

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Vampire Vednesdays: Cihuatéotl

A Cihuatéotl from the Codex Borgia

Like the previously described tlahuelpocmimi, these creatures (plural cihuateteo) are female vampire-like creatures from Aztec folklore. Their name translates to “divine mother,” likely a euphemism meant to avert their attention. They range from very beautiful to hideous in appearance, with skeletal faces and skin as white as chalk, but almost always are seen in a flowing shroud-like garment.

Cihuateteo are created when a woman dies in childbirth, and they have an irrational desire to seek vengeance by stealing the life of women and children. They hunt either alone or in packs, demons of the night who haunt crossroads, cause madness, and induce men to adultery. The association with crossroads may be a European innovation, as crossroads have been associated with witches at least as far back as Hecate in Greek mythology.

These beings servants of Tlazolteotl, the goddess of evil, lust, and sorcery. They are considered minor deities and have their own feast days on the Aztec calendar. The male counterparts of the cihuateteo are the macuiltonaleque, men who died in battle and now wander battlefields as cadaverous figures dressed in the garb of ancient warriors.

In some accounts, they mate with human men and give birth to vampiric children. In any event, they are known to incite murder, lasciviousness, and drunkenness.

Finally, cihuateto tend to live in the jungle and always keep to dark places. During the day, they often take refuge in funeral caves.


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