Before the Conquest, the native people of Yucatan attributed to several species of fauna a mythical character; during the Colonial era, the animals became part of legends, some of which are narrated even now.
The dove, the cardinal, the deer and the dog appear as protagonists of these stories, and the magical evil animals included the “huay” goat, bull and cat.
The huay “is a witch who took the form of that animal through magical rituals,” explains the anthropologist Indalecio Cardeña Vazquez, president of the Circle of Humanistic Studies of Yucatan. “Through that way you can go and do what you want, from causing a bad time for the family to evil things.”
“People blame those witches when they have abnormal behavior,” she continued.
“For the contemporary Mayan, especially in the twentieth century, the dog was the faithful companion for hunting and working in the fields. There are many legends of how the dog rescues his devil master. “
An animal that in the Colonial times maintained the extraordinary qualities with which the pre-Hispanic Maya saw it was the deer, which is said to carry a magic stone in the womb. “The hunter who finds that magic stone will not stop collecting any piece, but only for a certain time, at the end of which he must return it, go to the field and throw it away. If he does not return it, misfortunes will happen, he can even kill his companions. “
In addition to the deer, for the original inhabitants of this land spider monkey, rattlesnake, jaguar, turtle and crocodile were mythical animals.
Also, the macaw. “In Izamal it is said that it was the deity that came down at noon and burned the offerings that were given; hence the name of the pyramid Kinich Kakmó”: the ‘solar face of the fire macaw'”.
Indalecio Cardeña Vazquez recalls that from the studies of José Díaz Bolio it is now known that the rattlesnake — Kukulcan, the Feathered Serpent — was a solar deity.
It was thought that two great snakes lived in the firmament and that the Sun was their head and the Pleiades, their tail.
The spider monkey has an important presence in the Mayan mythology. “The Popol Vuh,” says the anthropologist, “relates that in one of the creations humans were bad and foolish and the gods decided to exterminate them. The objects of the houses came to life and attacked these men. Some went up to the trees to hide and those were turned into monkeys.”
The rabbit was linked to the origins of the world (the Maya saw the figure of one of them on the Moon); the deer had erotic symbolism, according to some researchers, and the jaguar was a nocturnal deity.