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Cipactli and Aztec Creation

Cipactli and Aztec Creation

Many ancient civilizations believed that only water was present in the beginning, and that the earth came about through the direct actions of a large creature. Ancient Native Americans, Chinese, and Hindus all thought the earth was formed on, or at least rested on, the back of an enormous creature. The Aztecs of Mexico held a similar belief: that the Earth was created from the destruction of a large sea demon, created by and known to the gods as Cipactli.

According to Aztec mythology, there were initially four gods that represented the four cardinal directions: Huitzilopochtli, Tezcatlipoca, Xipe Totec, and Quetzalcoatl, who were thought to represent the North, South, East and West. These gods first created the water and other gods, as well as Cipactli.

Cipactli was described in many fashions: a crocodile with toad and fish characteristics, a sea demon or monster. Regardless of the description, the Aztecs considered this asexual sea monster the source of the cosmos. Cipactli’s appetite was insatiable, and each joint of the creature bore a mouth. As the gods began the process of creation, they soon realized that their other creations would fall into the void and be devoured by the demon, so they decided to destroy Cipactli. Tezcatlipoca lured the monster in and lost a foot to its insatiable appetite before the gods were able to defeat it. Cipactli put up a fight, but in the end the gods prevailed. They pulled Cipactli’s body in four directions and freed the universe from its body. Then Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl created the heavens and the Earth and everything therein from Cipactli’s body. The creature’s head became the thirteen heavens, its tail the underworld, its midsection the Earth, and so on.

Again, here we find another creation myth that centers on an unusual being—created by gods in the midst of nothingness—from which all life erupts. Could this be another way of narrating a struggle between foreign beings from the sky, a.k.a. extra-terrestrial? Could this struggle, possibly, have led to human invention? If so, is it possible that this intervention is ongoing, given the advances of technology and consciousness that we are currently experiencing?

By John Black

Related Links

Aztec Story of Creation

Aztec Creation Myth

Cipactli

Related Books

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