Ajitz is a Mayan word meaning “shaman,” “healer,” “wizard,” or “holy man” and is also the name given the spirit of a deified shaman. During the Spanish Conquest of Guatemala, Mayans, particularly those identified as traditional spiritual leaders, were converted to Christian ity or killed for resisting. But not this particular shaman, who disappeared into the jungle carrying a doll in his own image and an axe, symbolizing his power to clear paths and cut through obstacles. He eventually reemerged as the spirit Ajitz, who is evoked to banish evil spirits and provide devotees with spiritual protection.
In Guatemala, traditional Spanish dance dramas depicting the conflict between Christians and Moors evolved into the Dance of the Conquest, depicting the battle between Christians and Mayans. The victors initially created the dance, and so the Chris tians clearly won. Over the years, however, the dance drama evolved and now features Ajitz in the role of a shaman who neither converts nor dies but survives. The dancers who impersonate him wear red painted masks and red clothes and carry axes and red dolls.
Iconography: Traditional wooden masks depict him with black eyes and hair, mustache, and beard. Statues are maintained on home altars. He is usually depicted enthroned but may stand, axe in hand, ready to strike. He is also represented by dance masks.
Attributes: Axe, his own image, scales
Offerings: Occult tools, botanicals, cigars, alcoholic beverages
See also: Maximon