The Yucatan Peninsula, home to ancient Mayan ruins and stunning water filled caves called “cenotes” is filled with hidden secrets. Most people think the Maya people disappeared. That is not entirely true.
I have lived on the Yucatan and studied with a Mayan shaman for the past 12 years. The magic and the people are still here, quietly living in the small pueblos surrounded by dense jungle. Yes, their ancient cities were deserted long ago and no one (except some of the Maya) knows why. The rulers, architects, and astronomers have long gone. But the healers, the ones deeply connected to nature spirits, still exist.
In my years of study here among palm-roofed homes and the wild strangler figs and tamarind trees, I have unearthed many stories of powerful magic. The people are intrinsically connected to Mother Nature and understand her mystical side. They know of many elemental and otherworldly beings. But today I would like to introduce you to one in particular. It is a guardian, both ancient and modern. It can be both caring and dangerous. And it is the spirit of nature come alive.
It is known as an alux (aloosh)
Nearly everyone who lives in the small towns of the Yucatan believes in aluxes. And for good reason. Many have had personal experiences with them. Including me!
Now, as I begin to tell you details about these elemental beings, you may find yourself doubting the veracity of my story. And I don’t blame you. Some of it seems too fantastic to be true. But then again, powerful magic still does live in the jungles of Mexico. Perhaps it has just gone unnoticed by those in the outside world. And perhaps, that is a good thing.
So, what is an alux? An alux is air. I have asked many local people if an alux is a spirit and the answer is, “No, it is nature.” It took me a while to get to the bottom of what that means. It is the element of air, a bit like a fairy. It is air come to life, with consciousness. And it is created by a shaman.
I know this because I have one in my house.
For centuries, people have been going to shamans and asking them to create these magical beings. People with farm fields, and corn, and animals, and stick homes with palm roofs need someone to guard their property from both hungry animals and hungry neighbors. And so, they go to the local shaman and ask him to make an alux and bond it to the owner of the land.
The shaman can create the alux from clay, wood, or stone. Clay makes the most powerful aluxes. It takes weeks to make the alux and the work must only be done on Tuesdays and Fridays. When the figurine has been formed, the shaman brings it to life in a sacred and very secret ceremony that can last for up to 2 weeks. During that ceremony, the alux is blood bonded to the owner and assigned a specific job to do. It is then the responsibility of the owner to care for the alux, feeding it on a regular basis and giving it offerings.
If the owner forgets or dies. The alux gets hungry. And that is when the trouble starts.
I moved into a home near the beach on land close to some small Maya ruins. It wasn’t long before strange things began to happen in the house. I heard my name being called (loudly) and small appliances started going on by themselves in the middle of the night. This was all before I knew anything about these elemental guardians. I asked a local about what might be going on and he said I had an alux in my house. I wasn’t sure what to think, but I am pretty open minded, so I just waited to see what happened next.
Not long after, I was up early in the morning and found tiny wet human-looking footprints going all the way down the hall. There were no small children or animals in my home to make these footprints. So, I called a friend who is native Maya and owns a scuba shop. When I asked him if he knew anything about aluxes, he responded, “Oh Yes! They leave their little wet footprints on the boats in the mornings!”
So, I had an alux. But I didn’t know what to do about it. I had no idea it was hungry and needed to be fed.
Not long after, I would be walking down that same hallway, and something would slap me hard on my leg below the knee. It hurt! Things were getting more intense. I moved out of the house without ever figuring out what to do about it. But, as time went by, I kept learning about these beings and soon I met the shaman who would eventually become my good friend and teacher.
When I told him about my experience in the house he asked, “Were you the owner of the house?” When I told him I was not, he explained that the alux was just doing its job protecting its home… from me! He also said it was probably hungry because no one was taking care of it.
It has been years since that first exposure to an alux and I have learned so much since then. I even have an alux (a real one) of my own and yes, it needs to be fed. I have collected literally hundreds of stories from local people about these mystical beings. I have stories of people having stones thrown at them, hearing laughter, hearing children playing, having small toys thrown at them, and even getting suddenly sick with a high fever that cannot be cured and dying!
My shaman knows how to calm an alux. He also knows how to bring them to life and care for them. I am carefully following the instructions I have been given to feed my little guardian with two bowls of atole and a candle every year and to occasionally give him offerings of water, oranges, tobacco, tequila, rum, or sweets. I have also been instructed not to give him too much or he will become spoiled and can get a bit unruly.
Of course, I still have much to learn. But for now, I do believe in the powerful magic that exists here among the ancient ruins and steamy jungles of the Mayalands. I believe because I have experienced it.
Caring for my alux,