Updated: Jul 12
A yui chivo (pronounced why chibo) is a shape shifter. I am still gathering information/stories about them, but so far, here is my basic understanding of what they are and what they do.
A yui (My Maya friend Don Miguel uses this shortened version) is a person/magician who had turned themselves into the form of an animal. Usually the animal is something familiar, a dog, cat, goat, or something similar. They do this most often because they want to cause some kind of mischief.
How can you tell it is a shape shifter and not just an animal?
1. It has a very particular and bad smell
2. It does things that are mischievous and sometimes downright nasty
Here is a translation from a voice recording (original was in Spanish with a bit of Mayan thrown in). The speaker is the village story keeper, Don Miguel.
We call it yui (yui is pronounced “why”), yui chivo. In Mexico they call it... I forget. Here we call it yui (why). Yui is when a person becomes... It’s a myth in the small towns. (Note: A myth is something real and supernatural in this use of the word) There are people that do studies maybe white magic, black magic, red magic. I don’t know. They have a custom (practice) of witchcraft. It exists. So then, for example in times of full moon. They do their Sunday the 7th (excess or run wild) they come out. There are people that have that wisdom or gift.
For example, you at your home, with your family, you cooked a steak and the neighbor asks for some of your food. He tells you he knows you have food, and you say no. You have denied him the food. He can become a cat or a dog and smells your food, because you did not give him any. He then transforms himself into a yui chi. It can be a cat a dog a bird. In Mexico they call him nahual. Here we call them yui chi.
Sometimes you see a goat, or a pig and it has a very different smell. They transform themselves.
Over time, I have heard several stories of people encountering yui. In one, my dear friend, Francisco, who is the village shaman, was called on to deal with one that was causing problems. Here is the link for that story if you would like to read about it.
Notice that Miguel said the yui is called a nahual in “Mexico” (by “Mexico” he means Mexico City). When I was in Puerto Vallerta I heard another tale about this not-so-nice shape shifter. It was told by a history professor who had a run-in with one that transformed into a giant, horse-size dog with red eyes. You can read more about that story here. Shape Shifting in Puerto Vallerta
All that being said, something very cool is happening.
I have been going through ancient artifacts with painting and carving on them and lifting pictures of these supernatural creatures from the dust and cobwebs of time! It has been absolutely fascinating to discover these depictions of yui chivo (nahual) in ancient paintings and carvings! When I first started this art restoration project, I had NO idea I would find these amazing and whimsical images!
Here are some yui chivo in ancient Maya art! I am including both the originals of several images found on ancient vases along with the black and white images I created from them that show you all the detail. Oh, and by the way, soon these will be included in a coloring book along with images of gods and goddesses, monsters, magical cosmic canoes, vision serpents, and other supernatural Maya art!
Enjoy these images and try to imagine what it must feel like to see a shape shifiting creature in modern day here and now! Who knows, perhaps you have already seen one!
Hugs and butterflies,