Legends of Belize: Paranormal, Cryptid, and Ghost Stories!
Two Dead Explorer fans invited me to discover the cryptozoologial, paranormal, supernatural, and unexplained creatures and stories that haunt Belize! They sent me an autographed copy of their new book Legends of Belize. In Belize, Central America, there are terrifying stories about strange creatures such as the jungle gnome called Tata Duende who has backwards feet, rips thumbs off, and has magical powers or the beautiful but deadly seductress named Xtabai who steals souls and shape-shifts into animals, people, and even someone you know. Stories of these creatures and many more are so terrifying, they are past down from generation to generation as folklore and legends. The ancient legends are captured, documented, and preserved by Belizean Artists and Animators, GrissyG and Dismas, in a comprehensive series and book with images of fine art, information about the creatures, a compare and contrast of Belizean myths with other myths around the world, description of the art process, and Belizean cultural iconography that inspired the series. This a great book about the mythical creatures that dwell in the jungles and water of Belize! I am grateful for the gift. Please support them if you can!
As Belizeans, we are very superstitious people, and so is the rest of the Caribbean. All areas of Mesoamerica have their own traditional folktales and legends, and within the Maya territory, there are numerous characters and stories. Xtabai is what many would consider to be the most malevolent of them all. The very mention of her name is enough to bring chills to someone’s entire body. The character is not fully understood, which brings even more mystery to its motives and is best described as a demon.
It was never alive. It was never a person that lived her life and after death failed to find her path to the afterlife. This is a demon that takes the form of a beautiful woman and manifests itself near the mouth of a cave at the base of the Ceiba tree, the sacred tree of the Ancient Maya. This woman is described having long beautiful hair, and wears a traditional white maya dress that is long enough to cover her feet. This entity appears only to men and may take the form of one’s wife or girlfriend, or simply someone that the man knows. Doing this puts the man into a spell. The man will try to catch up with her, but the entity will always be a few steps ahead. It will eventually lead the man to a cave, and if he enters, he will never be heard of again. The only way to break the spell is to look at her feet as she has giant bird feet that she tries to hide with her gown. Seeing that will snap the man out of the spell and he will be able to run away.
Maya women traditionally wear a huipil. They have been wearing this garment from before the Spanish arrival. It is worn by groups living in the Yucatan and Campeche states. The Maya living in highland Guatemala also wear their own traditional huipil. The huipil worn today is a variation that incorporates design features from other Mexican regions, and even from Europe. In all stories of Xtabai, the white dress plays a main role, and so is the act of hiding her feet. There are many styles of huipils throughout Mesoamerica, but there is only one style that actually covers the feet and is worn by the Mestizo from Yucatan. We know that during the Castle War of 1840, many people fled Yucatan and came south, into Belize and Guatemala. There is a very high chance that then is when the folktales made it into this area. If that is so, then Xtabai is of Mestizo origin and the character is wearing a Yucatan huipil.
When the ancient Maya first accessed caves, they were afraid of going inside. Caving archaeologists find the oldest pots at the mouth of the cave and the newer pots are found deeper into it, giving us reason to believe that the Maya became braver as time progressed. They described the cave entrance as the entrance to the afterlife, a place of eternal rest and a place of fright. The Popul Vuh is a mythological story about two boys that descended into the underworld and described a place where many death gods reside.
Xtabai is a mixture between Yucatec culture and ancient Maya belief. She is a demon that manifests itself in front of a cave, a place that also has connections with an evil underworld. She appears at the base of a Ceiba tree, thus desecrating a sacred symbol and giving us an insight that this character has no respect for this world’s ideology and is altogether evil. Today the tradtion lives on people gathered around a camp fire or around in their homes telling scary stories to scare children and adults alike.
Cayo Tour Guide Association
Our maya culture has influence the Belizean culture not just in food ,or maya words but also with our folklore like El Alux,xtabia,Huay Keken and Nukux Tat.
Nukux Tat or The Tata Duende is a mythical goblin of folklore of Belize. The Tata Duende is a famous folklore common to the Yucatec Maya( Maya Mestizo) culture . In Maya(Yucatec Maya) is known as 'Nukux Tat' , The name Tata is a maya word meaning "grandfather" and Duende is spanish for"Goblin" also known as "el Dueno del monte" considered as a powerful spirit that protects animals and the jungle. Many Yucatec Maya in Belize ask permission to the Nukux Tat before entering the Bush or before entering to hunt. Some Yucatec Maya still give offerings to the Nukux Tat.
The Tata Duende is generally described as being of small stature that has a size of about 1.2 m high, has a beard, is wrinkled, lacks thumbs, has his feet backwards, and wears a large brimmed hat.
He is characterized as a very short but very strong man with his feet pointing backwards.
Xtabai is a well-known myth created by the Maya ancestors. She is said to be a beautiful young girl who has long straight black hair. The Xtabai, according to the ancestors, has her feet like that of a bird. She only appears to people that wonder in dark places near the bush and late at night. The Xtabai only calls to men, usually drunk men. She takes them to the bush and sometimes kills them or only hurts them and leaves them with pain in the midst of the bush. The Xtabai then turns herself into a tree of prickles or into a snake. Following is a story of the said Xtabai
Alux (singular),ALuxo'ob (Plural):
An alux or "Aluxo'ob " in plural is the name given to a type of spirit in the mythological tradition of certain Maya peoples from the Yucatán Peninsula and Belize. Aluxo'ob are good spirits, conceived of as being small, only about knee-high, and in appearance resembling miniature traditionally dressed Maya people. Tradition holds that aluxob are generally invisible but are able to assume physical form for purposes of communicating with and frightening humans as well as to congregate.
They are generally associated with natural features such as forests, caves, stones, and fields but can also be enticed to move somewhere through offerings. Many Mayas make offerings to the Aluxo'ob to protect their milpas .Some Maya believe that the Aluxob are called into being when a farmer builds a little house on his property, most often in a maize field (milpa). For seven years, the alux will help the corn grow, summon rain and patrol the fields at night, whistling to scare off predators or crop thieves. At the end of seven years, the farmer must close the windows and doors of the little house, sealing the alux inside. If this is not done, the alux will 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 are unknown).
Stories say that they will occasionally stop and ask farmers or travellers for an offering. If they refuse, the aluxes will often wreak havoc and spread illness. However, if their conditions are met, it is thought the alux will protect a person from thieves or even bring them good luck. If they are treated with respect, they can be very helpful.
It is believed that it is not good to name them aloud, as it will summon a disgruntled alux from its home.
Huay K'ek'een is the Bruja/brujo who transform him/herself into a huge pig,who violently chase People and dogs and to do mischievous acts. The Huay K'ek'een is a story many of us especially in the villages of northern Belize grew hearing from our Grand parents and parents.
The Hauy K'ek'een is a common legand between the Yucatec Mayas of Northern Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula.
The Huay Peek' is the Brujo who transform him/herself into a huge dog . It is known that Huay Peek' is a large black dog who may appear in houses to scare people , destroy property and even profanate tombs in the cementary . Also known to attack domestic animals . When the Huay Peek' roam in the streets the dogs bark in a disperate manner . The word Huay in Yucatec Maya means "Brujo" and Peek' means Dog . The stories of the Huay Peek' are heard in Northern Belize but not as common as the Xtabai,Huay K'eek'en,Alux and Nukux Tat(Tata Duende) .