The Aztecs were a pretty bloodthirsty culture. And their myths included many bloodthirsty deities who were very similar to vampires. One lord of the underworld was similar to a vampire, as he fulfilled his hunger by devouring the souls of the dead.
The cihuateteo of Aztec lore were the creatures who were most similar to the vampires of today. In the Aztec culture, women who died in childbirth were held to warrior status and were honored as fallen soldiers. (Isn’t that awesome? Childbirth is a battlefield.) But these women would sometimes become cihuateteo in death.
But the Aztecs had many bloodthirsty gods with an insatiable appetite for slaughter. The Aztecs would go to war for the sole purpose of finding people to sacrifice to their gods. They would choose the most perfect people to sacrifice. Those who were disabled, scarred, or otherwise “damaged” in some way were unworthy to be sacrificed, and would become slaves. Estimates have placed the number of slaughters at the rate of eight hundred lives every hour. And it was a very gruesome method of slaughter. The Aztec priest would rip out the victim’s still-beating heart.
The gods give us life, and give us food and plenty. The Aztecs believed that it was important to appease the gods, and to give back to them. And blood is the most precious gift, and so sacrifices would be made. It was seen as a gift, to give back to the gods, and to keep on their good side. It was a culture drenched in blood. And what is a larger part of the vampire myth than blood?
Many of the goddesses in the culture were similar to vampires. Tlalteuctli was one goddess, who was portrayed as an enormous toad with blood covered jaws. And there are many gods and goddesses in this culture who thirst for blood. There are also myths of the gods and goddesses who shed their blood in the creation of the world, and so require blood in return for it.
Bloodletting was also practiced by the Aztec nobility, as their blood was worth a great deal. So they would draw blood from different parts of their body in order to appease the gods.