Maya Legends Come to Life: Alux & Tzucan
Updated: Feb 26
Take a look at the photo. What do you see?
Want to know the story behind it?
This is a limestone formation in a cave near Tulum on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The photo was taken by a tour guide who was leading a tour in the water filled cave. He is certified by the government of Mexico to do historical, natural, and archaeological tours and he took people to this cave on a regular basis. In other words, he was very familiar with the formations there.
The day before he took this photo, this formation was NOT THERE!
I will repeat that: Javi, the tour guide, went into this cave many, many times. He was very familiar with it. It was his job to explain the cave formations to tourists. And the reason he took this photo was because this formation appeared that day, totally out of the blue.
Do you see the man riding the dragon? I'm sure you do because it is really easy to see.
This is amazing...because these caves have been known to be inhabited by half-natural beings revered by the Maya. They have a reputation of being tricksters. And this one did not fail to disappoint, because right after Javi took this photo, he was PUSHED INTO THE WATER. Not by a person. Not by anything he could see, but by a powerful, invisible force.
Fast forward eight years.
I am standing in front of the check-in desk at a small, unassuming hotel near the ruins of Chichen Itza, about 3 hours into the center of the Yucatan showing this photo to the guy behind the desk and asking him if he knows anything about aluxes (aluxob: plural in Mayan are elemental beings that appear in the form of tiny people, about a foot to two-feet tall. They are shape-shifters and can appear as rocks, trees, or even animals. To learn more about them, GO HERE). An elderly man from the kitchen overhears the conversation and comes to see the picture. He looks at it for just an instant and turns away, visibly upset. He walks out the room, and then walks back in and demands to know where the photo was taken.
I tell him it was taken in a cenote/cave near Tulum, but I cannot remember the name of the cenote, it has slipped my mind. But no matter, he knows. The old man KNOWS which cenote the photo was taken in and HE TELLS ME it's name. And he is right, when he tells me the name, I remember and I am able to confirm it is the same. (I am sorry, but I am not at liberty to share the name of the cenote here.)
"We are having trouble with an alux there," he explains in Spanish. And then he warns me in no uncertain terms about the dangers of a rouge alux. He tells me that, although aluxes are created by Shamans to protect farm land, they can become uncontrollable. He is not kidding around and strictly warns me that this particular alux has been causing trouble and is dangerous.
So, that explains the little man, but what about the dragon?
While I was in that little town near Chichen Itza, I heard a story about an experience a Maya man had in a remote cenote, not visited by tourists. (You can read the entire story here) It happened years ago, when he was a young man. He was working on a finca (farm) out in the jungles of Yucatan and camping out on the grounds at night. One night, he heard the sound of rushing water in the cenote and he went over and looked down in to see what was going on. As he did, a HUGE black snake with a head like a horse flew up out of the water, high into the air above his head, then turned and dove back down into the deep water. As soon as it disappeared beneath the surface, the water became completely still again.
Further research turned up a name for the "dragon" ...TZUCAN. Tzucan is another elemental being. It is a giant dragon/snake that is a servant of the rain god, Chac. It lives deep within the cenotes of the Yucatan, some of which are over 400 feet deep. You may think that these are just fairy tales, but there are reliable stories of people having strange experiences with these elemental beings that are very modern day. Two of my good friends who are both dive masters were on diving in a beautiful and remote cenote when some of their team saw an enormously long black "tentacle" come up out of the sulfur layer at a depth of about 100 feet... You can find that story here.
Now go back to the photo taken in the cenote. It is an alux riding Tzucan?
Here is what we DO know.
The limestone formation was not there previously
The photographer was pushed into the water by something invisible right after taking the photo
An old Maya man 4 hours away knew about problems with an alux at that cenote
Aluxes are shape-shifters and sometimes appear as rock formations
Tzucan is a giant elemental dragon (snake with a head like a horse)
Tzucan lives in the cenotes
Wanna go exploring?