Sunday, 23 February 2014

Yumil Kaxob

I am creating this blog in follow up to my other website about Mayan culture.
I am just beginning, and will add gods, but I wish to begin with my favorite of the Mayan gods.

Imagine the ancient Mayan people wondering how a dry, lifeless seed could grow into a large green plant.  Surely there was a god at work making that happen.  That god was Yumil Paxil.

Yumil Kaxob is perhaps the most interesting of all the Mayan gods.
Yumil means "Owner"
Kaxob is a word referring to vegetation.
A fair translation of his name would be "Owner of the Crop".

However, Yumil Kaxob was more than a mere owner in the way we might think of it, today.  The Mayans believed that everything had divine power within it.  Rocks, mountains, the sun, the moon, and even plants and seeds.  Yumil Kaxob not only owned the crop, he was IN the crop.  There was no separating Yumil Kaxob from the corn or maize that he was the master over.

Yumil Kaxob and his father, the rain god Chac, worked together to provide food for the people.  Chac would provide the rain.  Yumil Kaxob would use his power to allow the seeds to make use of that water.  Yumil Kaxob would cause the seeds to take in the rain and he would use his magic to cause the seeds to go from small dead seeds to living growing plants, soaking in the water provided by Chac.  Yumil Kaxob and Chac were separate gods, but without both gods, there could be no crop.

The Mayans believed there were 22 gods.  13 of these were Upper World Gods, including Yumil Kaxob and Chac.  However, there were also 9 Under World gods.  The most terrifying of these was the Death God, Yum Cimil.

When there was a drought (caused by the Death God) the crop suffered and died, and so did Yumil Kaxob.  Many think of Yumil Kaxob as a weak and powerless god because he could not defend himself.  He relied on his father, the rain god Chac, to protect him.

However, Yumil Kaxob was powerful indeed.  He had a different kind of power.  He had the power of rejuvenation.  Even when the crops were completely destroyed by drought, and it seemed that the Death God had killed Yumil Kaxob, he could later come back to life through seeds.  No matter how badly he was defeated, he would simply grow again the next year.  This is why he is always shown as being youthful.  The Death God's power over Yumil Kaxob was short lived.

In this way, Yumil Kaxob (who seems powerless at first) is actually more powerful than even the Death God.  With Yumil Kaxob's provision of corn to eat, human beings are also given great power.  The Death God can cause terrible hardship and destruction, but the next generation of people will grow and fill the land, just as Yumil Kaxob would regrow.  By feeding the people, Yumil Kaxob makes possible the rejuvenation of the next generation of people.

An ancient Mayan might ask, "Why does food give me strength when I eat it?".  The answer to this is the amazing power of Yumil Kaxob.  When the people would eat corn, they were eating the renewing power of this rejuvenating god.