Character Development, Mayan Folklore, Mythological Creature Archive, Paranormal, Writing prompt

Mythological Creature; The Alux, an ancient goblin of the Maya in the Yucatán Peninsula and Guatamala

***Disclaimer*** Depending on which source you read, the pronunciation and plural spelling of this creature differ. It is also sometimes described as an inanimate object, a fairy, or a sprite…. a spirit or a goblin. The creature seemingly oscillates between being a protector and being a nuisance (or possibly worse.) Let’s assume all are true for character development purposes.

According to Mayan mythology emerged from the impactful traditions and religion of the civilization that lasted only from 2000 B.C. to 900 A.D.

The Maya emerged from a vast region called Mesoamerica: territories that are now the Mexican states of Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, and Yucatan, in addition to some parts of Central America. Even though many of the texts written by the Mayans were destroyed upon the arrival of the Spanish, some legends have survived and continue on to today. tells the story of the aluxes (pronounced ah-lu-shes,) as tiny statues, created out of clay and hidden- to protect the household. Some people believe that the aluxes exist to bring light to the world. The creatures are hardly ever seen as they are light, like the wind.

The aluxes, had a strong tie to the artisan who created them. Once they were created, they were offered prayers and offerings to coax them out of their inanimate state- to come to life. The trope of Pinocchio comes to mind here, but the alux myth permeates Mexican culture in a way that the story of Pinocchio surely doesn’t.

The aluxes were very mischievous to strangers. When the properties of their creators were passed down to others, the aluxes would come out and scare the children. To pacify them, the new owners would give them food, cigarettes, honey, and corn. The offerings continued. This puts me in mind of the Day of the Dead traditions…offerings laid upon the ofrenda all across Mexico and the southern and southwestern U.S. According to Wikipedia, the Maya themselves considered the aluxes to be the spirits of their ancestors.

Today, the aluxes continue to take care of the Mayan towns. Some original clay figurines can be found in the Dzitnup and Samula cenotes, near the city of Valladolid. A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Especially associated with the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, cenotes were sometimes used by the ancient Maya for sacrificial offerings.

According to Wikipedia, an alux, (Mayan: [aˈluʃ], plural: aluxo’ob [aluʃoˀːb]) is the name given to a type of sprite or spirit. These spirits are also called Chanekeh or Chaneque by the Nahuatl people. The Nahuatl were historically the Aztecs.

Aluxo’ob are small, only about knee-high, and in appearance resemble miniature traditionally dressed Mayan people.

According to the myth, aluxo’ob only assume physical form for purposes of communicating with and frightening humans as well as to gather and congregate. They are generally associated with the earth and nature; such as forests, caves, stones, and fields but can also be enticed to move somewhere through…you guessed it… offerings.

Stories passed down through the ortal tradition say that the aluxo’ob will occasionally stop and ask farmers or travelers for offerings. If they refuse, the aluxo’ob will often wreak havoc and spread illness. However, if their conditions are met, it is thought an alux will protect the person from thieves or even bring them good luck. If they are treated with respect, they can be very helpful.

Their description and mythological role are somewhat reminiscent of other sprite-like mythical entities in a number of other cultural traditions (such as the Celtic leprechaun), as the tricks they play are similar. The word “duende” is sometimes used interchangeably with “alux”. Duende is a Spanish word for a supernatural creature (commonly a goblin) or energetic force. In fact, because of such striking similarities, some suspect that the Maya’s belief of aluxo’ob developed through interactions with the Spanish or through interactions with pirates during the 16th century. Pirates of that era were often from the British Isles, where belief in faeries was quite common, especially amongst those of lower socio-economic class (as pirates generally would have been). However, the Maya themselves would claim that the aluxo’ob, as was stated previously; were the spirits of their ancestors, or the spirits of the land itself, preceding contact with Western civilization.

Some Maya believe that the Aluxo’ob were summoned when a farmer buildt a little house on his property, most often in a maize field (Mayan; milpa). For seven years, the alux would help the corn grow, making it rain and patrolling the fields at night. They would whistle to scare off predators or crop thieves. At the end of seven years, the farmer would close the windows and doors of the little house, sealing the alux inside. If this was not done, the alux would run wild and start playing tricks on people.

Some contemporary Maya even consider the single- and double-story shrines that dot the countryside to be kahtal alux, the “houses of the alux” (although their true origins and purpose were unknown).

***It is believed that it is not good to speak of the alux aloud, as it will summon a disgruntled alux from it’s kahtal alux.***

Writing Prompt

You are from a European country and are very excited to hear that you will be relocated to the Yucatan Peninsula through your work with an agricultural NGO. You are a private contractor and agriculturalist and are working on a corn hybrid using cutting edge nanotechnology. This is a widely sought after skill as you can imagine and so you move with your family- eager, hopeful and intoxicated with the beauty and prestige of the region.

You have studied the history of the area and know about the historical and agro-historical progression of maize as a crop…and in your studies you came across the myth of the Alux. You being a scientist above all else are not swayed by myth and legend. You don’t believe in such things, but it doesn’t take you long to realize that what may seem a primitive belief….in the unseen…suddenly can materialize into your worst nightmare. You find yourself respecting the traditions of the Maya and giving offerings day and night. The inciting incident involved one of your children. What happened?

If you find this fun and interesting and decide to expand on this story- let me know how this story continues in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!

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