Aluxes (ah-loosh-es) are beings that secretly exist in our environment, carrying out an important function, according to the Maya worldview: to protect, until the end of time, nature and everything that’s born from it. Perhaps you’re wondering what they look like; in Maya mythology they are described as short, wise, mischievous beings. Their behavior, however, goes beyond being good or evil; it all depends on how the human treats Mother Earth.
Where to find Aluxes
Aluxes tend to be invisible, but it is said that one can feel their presence in the wind when you’re in contact with nature, at cenotes, in caves, or at farm plots. At some archeological sites, such as Uxmal, you will find them represented in stone, but they’re most commonly represented in clay pieces. Clay Aluxes are usually placed in special locations, especially in people’s homes for protection and to scare away anyone who approaches with bad intentions.
When you see a statue somewhere, you might notice offerings around it: by farmers who are looking for a connection with the Aluxes to protect their crops, for example, or from members of a family who seek protection. You can also ask the Aluxes to protect your home, but you’ll need to know how to do it, and we’re here to tell you.
Aluxes at Najil K’at
The community of Uayma is one of the places in Yucatán where these beliefs are still held and shared, for example at the Najil K’at workshop, a space that is completely dedicated to the creation of clay objects. The Espadas family, proprietors of Najil K’at, have worked with clay for generations, and talked to us about the astonishing connection that they have with the Aluxes and the devotion with which they create their clay representations. Each piece is made only on Tuesday or Friday, as these are believed to be the most energy-rich days, which allows for stronger bond between the Aluxes, the center of the earth, and human beings.
For years, the Espadas family has considered the Aluxes to be the guardians of their home. For this very reason, this year they “consecrated” the altar they keep at the workshop through what they call an Alux Ritual, as an offer of gratitude to the Aluxes and to ask for continued protection.
This ritual took place over approximately two days, and was led by a Maya priest who asked them for the elements they would need to bring the Alux home. These included, of course, a clay Alux. It is believed that Aluxes are born from the earth, and therefore, their effigies should not be baked in a kiln or they would lose all their energy. The altar also included a clay dog to drive away all the bad vibes, a clay frog to ask for rain, and several other elements that you will have to visit to see.
At the end of the ritual, the Alux was taken to its new stone home, the one you will see when you visit Najil K’at. When you are visiting please be respectful and do not take pictures.
If you are curious and want to know more about the ritual of the Aluxes in Najil K’at, you can check it out on their social media pages, as the family wanted to document the ceremony for posterity. Sadly, many of these traditions are being lost, disappearing and dying; this is an effort on the Espadas family’s part to conserve a part of our culture. We can all chip in by sharing and promoting what we learn, but, especially, by being respectful of these beliefs.
Clay Workshop in Uayma
Besides offering workshops so that you can learn about clay and create your own pieces, Najil K’at offers quite a selection of clay Alux figurines that you can use to protect your home or work space; worry not, when you choose yours, they’ll tell you what you need to do to hold your own ritual.
So there you have it: visit Uayma, see their impressive viceroyalty church and make a visit to Najil K’at.
By Fernanda Pacheco
Yucatecan tourismologist, starting in the fascinating world of writers and content creation. Ready to show the world Yucatán’s purity.
Photography by Alicia Navarrete and Najil K’at for use in Yucatán Today.
Esta entrada también está disponible en: ES