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Aluxes: the Goblins of the Mayan Folklore

4 min read

We are in Mexico.
La Quinta Avenida is the main touristic street of the resort city of Playa del Carmen.
As a result, walking along it, you will find many regular sights such as fast food restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops.
However, looking into the gardened courtyard of the San Pedro Hotel, you can find a very unexpected sight: a small wooden structure, similar to a doghouse, painted in bright colors.
Above its entrance, the word “ALUX” is spelled out in big letters, as if the house had been built for something with this name.

Actually Aluxes are spirits in Maya mythology, usually not downright evil or good.
The ancient Mayans based their beliefs on the existence of three large planes, balanced related: the sky, the earth and the underworld.
In these planes, a special type of entity exists, called “aluxes”, or “aluxo’ob” in Maya language.
Throughout the years, researchers have found its images in many archaeological sites, ancient offerings made to these small beings, represented by clay figures, a few centimeters in height.
According to an old legend, the aluxes are older than the Mayan people themselves, they are the primal men, those who built the big cities. They worked very quickly in the dark, because the sun had not yet appeared, and when this happened, they all turned to stone.
Still today aluxes protect plantations, cornfields and properties.
To obtain its favors, a farmer makes a request to the shaman, who uses mud from the land, and a few drops of the land owner´s blood to generate a strong connection between them.
The creation process takes seven weeks.
Once the process is over, the shaman indicates the name of the master and brings the Alux to life through offerings and prayers, and then places him in a strategic place to become the guardian.
If the master dies, these mischievous pixies go to the service of the god of corn, “Yum K’aax” and if the property they cared for is occupied by a new owner, the aluxes will become mischievous until the new owner, tired of their acts, offeres them food and prayers, until they are accepted.
Either way, sometimes mischievous, they play tricks on those unlucky enough to come across them, even if the unlucky one is unaware of their existence.
Normally depicted as humanoids but much smaller, their mischievous nature and appearance make them roughly similar to other cultures’ mythological creatures, such as imps and elves.
Despite major cultural trends such as Christianity and globalization, genuine belief in aluxes is still commonplace in the Maya homeland.

Either way alux houses like the one at San Pedro Hotel are not uncommon in small towns and neighborhoods, but the presence of this in such a cosmopolitan area is fairly unique.
And It represents as more than decoration, since people will often leave coins, painted rocks, and treats for the alux inside.
It is believed that placating aluxes is important for good luck and prosperity, and an alux house was built also for the completion of a bridge leading to the Cancún airport.
The alux has become one of the best-known elements of Maya folklore, with an animated series called La Gruta del Alux (The Alux’s Grotto) often credited with these creatures’ revival in modern Yucatán pop culture.
One way or another, aluxes in Yucatan, are deeply linked to the local culture, since they are always present in the Mayan folklore, its legends and its history, or even in daily conversations.
So be careful if you are out in the Mayan jungle or the fields, since these mischievous beings still roam after sunset, protecting farms, foothills and fields, scaring and throwing stones to those who trespass and those who commit unlawful acts in the land under their protection.

Images from web – Google Research

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