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  • Gorety Camay

The Mayan ceremonies and the H’men

Updated: Sep 1, 2021

Throughout my life, I have heard about different Mayan ceremonies, spirits, aluxes, the Xtabay who bewitches men, and many other things. All this and its relationship with the collective imagination seems very interesting to me. That is why, on this occasion, I decided to delve into one of the many topics that can be detached from Mayan ceremonies or rituals: the figure of the H'men (also known as j'men; x'men or ah'men) and his role in these events. What are the characteristics of Mayan ceremonies? What is a H'men? How does the figure of the H'men function in Mayan ceremonies? Let's find out...


If we look up the definition of ceremony in the RAE, we will find the following:

"Action or outward act arranged, by law, statute or custom, to give

worship to divine things, or reverence and honor to profane things."

In the Mayan culture, ceremonies are offerings that were performed on specific days of their

calendar. They served to cure illnesses, cleanse, remove negative energy, guarantee abundance, solve problems, protect people or organizations, among other things.

They were carried out in two stages: going up (ensik), where the offerings were presented to the ancestors, and going down (emik), when they were distributed among the attendants to the ceremony. At the end, a little balché (sacred drink) was drunk and a prayer was said as a symbol of gratitude to the ancestors.

In the same way, different sacred elements from nature were used, chosen according to the occasion, among them: candle, incense, liquor, pom, cuilco, copal, chocolate, sesame and other aromatizing elements such as rosemary and cinnamon.

What is a H’men?

In Yucatán, the healer, teacher, herbalist, is called H'men or ah'men. He is also known as ah k'in, chilam, espiritista and way. He was in charge of performing certain ceremonies or rituals that had the purpose of healing, cleansing, eliminating negative energies, etc.

Through ceremonies or rituals, such as:

  • The k'ex or k'ex kuxtal. - means "change" and it was a healing ceremony (Yucatec Maya). In this ceremony the life of a hen (chicken, hen or rooster) was offered in "exchange" for the life of the patient.

  • The loh . - means "liberation, purification of the earth", a ceremony that allowed "healing" of a place or site that cannot be occupied because it is inhabited by "vientepasados" or ik'oob, mythical ancestors whose fundamental essence is the wind.

Today, in the Yucatan Peninsula, there are very few people with the necessary knowledge to carry out these rites. The people who are currently recognized as H'men are people who have studied and learned the necessary skills for the proper performance of these and many other ceremonies.

Let's continue to learn about and encourage more visitors to discover the incredible history and traditions of the Yucatan Peninsula. Let's motivate more community members to continue preserving them.

Do not let the opportunity of getting to know the figure of the H'men and the ceremonies that he does. Book now your next experience. Come and live this experience with MX3 Travel!

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