I love finding sacred places, unexpected magical places, places where nature spirits dwell. One would think they would live in the deep jungle or hidden away in the watery caves beneath the earth, and they do. But here on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, you can find magical creatures almost anywhere!
So, when I discovered an alux house complete with offerings in the parking lot of the local Home Depot (yes, we have Home Depot in Mexico) I was delighted, but not all that surprised. After all, why not find a magical alux at Home Depot?
Of course, just because this nature spirit’s home was in a parking lot, did not mean that is wasn’t at the mouth of a cave! The land here is riddled with caverns, most of them filled with water. In Fact, it is the longest water-filled cave system on the planet! The limestone passageways meander beneath jungles and cities alike. Last year we even had new portals to the cave system open in two places ON our major highway! Traffic had to be diverted permanently because one cannot fight with Mother Nature and win. So now we have roads that are a bit more winding, and we also have new magical portals next to the main throughfare that takes travelers from Cancun to Belize.
The alux is a nature spirit that is created by a shaman to guard sacred places, land, corn fields, and homes. They are small beings that begin as a carved doll and are then animated or brought to life through a lengthy and elaborate ceremony. Once the alux is brought to life, the life-bringer builds it a little home where offerings can be left for it; tequila, sweets, water, fruit, tobacco, and coins. As long as the alux is fed on a regular basis, it does its job of guarding whatever it was created to guard. But if it starts getting hungry, it gets a bit naughty. And if it isn’t fed for a long time it can get down right hangry (hungry and angry!)
If they alux is happy, it can sometimes be heard giggling like a small child at play. It might also leave behind small toys or pebbles. It might even playfully throw tiny stones at you, call your name, or take your keys and hide them when you least expect it. If it gets really hungry, it can be much more sinister.
But no worries, the alux in the hardware store parking lot seems to be happy. After all, the locals tell me that the guards who spend the night on duty often hear the happy sounds of children playing in the vicinity of the alux house, which just happens to be at the mouth of a small cave—in the parking lot of course.
Sometimes small toys like matchbox cars or plastic action figures are found in this green space that is cared for and has a nice little low stone wall around it. And yes, occasionally a night watchman gets pegged with a tiny pebble from the darkness near the cave entrance, usually around midnight.
Are they afraid, these nightwatchmen? No, of course not. They are familiar with the alux and make sure it is happy and well fed. It is just being an alux. It has probably been there, near the portal to the underworld, for centuries. These guardians of the Home Depot are not the first to care for this guardian of the land, and probably of the vast underground cavern that links the day to the night, and this world to the next!