Thursday, August 03, 2006

Encounter with the Goddess

The legend of Xtabay tells us about two women who lived in a village in the Yucatán Peninsula. One was named Xtabay, but people called her Xkeban (which means prostitute, bad woman or who practices illicit love), the other was Utz-Colel (good, decent woman).

People said Xkeban was sick with lust and gave her favors to every man who asked her. Utz-Colel was virtuous and honest. Xkeban had a good heart and kindly helped the poor, sick and homeless, and also the animals abandoned for being considered useless, by giving up the jewellery and fine clothes she got from her lovers. She wasn't a haughty woman, neither did she say bad things about people. Xtabay humbly received the insults and humiliations from the people of her village. On the other hand, Utz-Colel was cold, full of pride, harsh of heart and easily disgusted by the poor.

One day, Xtabay was not seen anymore. Days passed and a fine delicate perfume was smelt all over the village. People found it came from Xtabay's house, who had died there, alone. Utz-Colel said it wasn't possible, that perfume couldn't be that of such a vile and corrupt body, nothing but decay and stench could come out of her. She argued that had to be bad spirits demon still trying to tempt men. If that is the odour of a dead prostitute, mine shall be incredible when I die, said she. A few people buried Xtabay, feeling pity for her. The next day, her grave was covered with beautiful flowers of a delicate perfume.

When Utz-Colel died, the entire village attended her funeral, they remembered her virtue and honesty. To the amazement of the crowd, an intolerable stench came out from her grave. The flowers growing on Xtabay's grave were named Xtabentún.

The xtabay is a malignant spirit that inhabits in the aged trunks of the Ceiba tree, this legend advises men (specially young ones), that, while walking alone in the woods, under the moon lit or star lit night, the Xtabay who has spied on them previously, could appear in the shape of a beautiful insinuating woman with long black hair, dressed in white. She waves with her hand, enchants them with her penetrating eyes and bewitches them with her smile, he who follows her into the woods never comes back and his soul is trapped in the underworld feeding the ceiba tree´s roots for all eternity. There are two versions that explain why men surrender to the Xtabay´s powers: The first says that men who act wrongfully are sent to their doom. The second states that the Xtabay is only an illusion born from a man´s heart that forces him to chase after the ideal woman.


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