The Alux, pronounced “aloosh”, is a sprite-like creature that appears in various Mayan myths from Guatemala and the Yucatan.
Description of Alux
Sometimes known as the Chanekeh or Chaneque, the Aluxo’ob (plural) are said to be only around a foot high and look like tiny humans, usually wearing traditional Maya clothes.
They are said to be invisible most of the time but can make themselves visible or take form in order to make contact with humans, often for the purpose of frightening them. They also manifest themselves in order to gather together in groups.
Typically they are associated with nature and usually said to be found near rocks, caves, streams, forests or even fields.
They are also notorious tricksters and in this and their ability to bestow a blessing or good luck they are a lot like the Irish leprechaun.
One thing you should never do is call out their name out loud, as this is said to summon an alux from their cosy home…not a good idea according to the legends.
The origins of the creature are quite hard to pin down, with some locals saying the many shrines across the area are actually houses of the alux or kahtal alux. They say that the alux are actually ancestral spirits or nature itself given form.
Maya legends say that priests find a cave where no woman has ever set foot and use the clay from the floor to craft the small figures. These are then buried in the field and rise up after a certain number of days to tend and protect the crops planted there.
However, it is worth noting that they are often called duende, which is a Spanish word for a supernatural creature or power. So some researchers think that the legend could have come across with the Spanish or form pirates. The latter were often British and had a fairly strong belief in fairies and sprites, this would also account for the similarity with the leprechaun.
There are not really any documented accounts of encounters with alux but there are numerous anecdotal ones and various fireside stories that tell similar tales.
Alux are said by some farmers to appear when a field is first planted with corn and a tiny house raised on the land. The creature is then said to bless the land for 7 years by summoning rain, making the corn grow and protecting the field from animals and thieves by whistling. At the end of the seven years the farmer has to shut up the house and trap the alux inside before it can cause mischief.
Farmers and travellers are also said to be approached by the creatures asking for offerings. If you refuse them then they can cause illness and play harmful tricks. But if you are respectful they will bring you good luck and protect you form thieves.
One story tells of a farmer ordered to leave the land by an alux. He refuses and seeks advice on how to kill the creature. He is told to buy a bolt of virgin cloth, unwashed, and use this to make a shirt covering every part of himself. Then he must load his own rifle with bullets salt smoked with burnt dried chile. He confronts the alux and it shoots him with its own rifle, but all the bullets fail to penetrate the fresh cloth. He then fires and kills the alux, but forever after the act that field remained barren and no crops would grow.
Dan Gannon 2007 Sighting in Yucatan
In 2007 Dan Gannon was working with an anthropological organization and driving through the rainforests of the Yucatan when he came across a strange sight. He reports seeing a small humanoid figure that appeared to around two-feet tall. The creature only appeared briefly in his headlights before vanishing.
Martin Segura Soberanis 2010 Sighting in Manu
Martin Segura Soberanis worked in the tourist industry in the region and had befriended an American man who visited the area every year.
In 2010 he decided to take the man to his local town of Manu to do a little bit of sightseeing and experience the real local culture close up.
All went well until they visited a local farm area where Soberanis was a little tired and let his friend explore the area alone. Soon he started to worry and began a search that lasted nearly an hour. When he found his friend he looked in shock, his face a mask of fear.
He told Soberanis that he’d encountered two small humanoids
that were about one foot tall. He initially thought they were children’s dolls until they looked at him and began running away.
Next he was targeted by small stones that were thrown with great accuracy but without the intent to seriously injure.
He then walked back towards the main house and was found by Soberanis.
http://www.theyucatantimes.com/2015/05/alux-a-close-encounter-of-the-third-kind/, “Alux: A Close Encounter of the Third Kind”, accessed July 15th 2017
http://www.calkini.net/leyendasytradiciones/duendealux.htm, “El Duende Alux”, accessed July 15th 2017
James Wray updated Alux on 15 Jul , 2017.