Maximon - The Mayan God Of Adultery

Luke and I have been living in San Marcos for close to four months now. However, we’ve been so busy “living” - volunteering, learning Spanish, practising yoga and building our business - that we hadn’t taken the time to be tourists. So last weekend we decided to take an adventure to Santiago, one of the other villages surrounding the lake, a forty minute transit by boat. Santiago is the largest village on Lake Atitlan, harbouring a tragic past that includes genocide and natural disasters. Despite this, it is a beautiful, bustling town full of charismatic characters.

One of the main cultural attractions of the town is “Maximon” (pronounce maa-shee-mohn), Santiago’s very own Mayan God of Adultery.

The origins of this Mayan god stems from the legend, that while the village men were out in the fields working, Maximon slept with all of their wives and indulged in cigars and drinking copious amounts of rum.

Each year the statue moves house to reside with a new family. This is a big deal, because along with the prestige of having Maximon comes the profit from “donations” of money, cigars and rum.

When we visited this strange effigy, in what seemed to be someone’s garage, a medicine man sat to the right, nodding off periodically, identifiable only by a red scarf. The statue itself is quite small, made of wood and dressed in multiple satin scarves. A lit cigarette hangs limply from his mouth, as the ashes as are collected below to be later used as an offering or some type of healing agent.

Further to the right of the statue was a life-size statue of Jesus encased in a glass coffin, surrounded by polyester flowers and dazzling fairy lights. It was comical to see their God-fearing Catholicism combined with this unusual Mayan God, who represents much of which The 10 Commandments speak out against.