Sunday, April 28, 2013

Maximon/San Simon

Maximon/San Simon (pronounced "Mash-ih-mon" or "Match-ih-mon" and "San Si-moan"), sometimes referred to Hermano (brother), is a Guatemalan folk saint associated with wealth, luck. prosperity, health, fertility, blessings, and protection, especially from witchcraft. The word Maximon (the tied-up one) is perhaps his true name. The name San Simon, though more popular today, is perhaps the name of the newly evolved form.

Appearance: An adult Guatamalan man with a moustache, dressed in 19th century-style dark clothing and carrying a rifle and a bag of money. Sometimes he carries a wooden baton. San Simon is almost always portrayed as being seated. For images of Maximon/San Simon, click HERE.

Lore: There is much misinformation being spread about San Simon/Maximon. The misinformation is similar to that being spread about Santa Muerte, mainly that San Simon is a pagan god that survived the coming of Christianity. Certain individuals claim that San Simon is the survival of the worship of a pagan Mayan deity named Mam. In reality there is no evidence for such. The word 'mam' means 'grandfather' and is not the proper name of a deity but is used as a term to denote any elderly male god. So there are multiple "mams" in Mayan mythology. However, mam meaning grandfather is a word that is still used to this day and thus it is far more likely that any use of mam connected to the veneration of San Simon is merely used as a term of respect for elders, with San Simon being the highest "elder" of the community.

The origins of San Simon are murky for sure but what little evidence exists suggests that San Simon's "birth" began as a ritual involving the creation of an effigy as a charm to destroy and drive off witches and witchcraft. Thus San Simon's "power" to grant prosperity, wealth, fertility, etc., is simply the restoration of normalcy once the witches have been defeated. With time this more than likely became confused with San Simon granting these things in exchange for his veneration. From the clothing we can ascertain that sometime in the 19th century San Simon began to evolve as a character and his look began to be more or less "fixed" with 19th century clothing. Prior to this time all the effigies of San Simon were made of rags and straw, with perhaps a mask and a hat. The Catholic Church at first approved of the veneration of San Simon or at least turned a blind eye to the practice. I would propose that when San Simon began to evolve from an effigy meant to drive off witches into a personality or figure of devotion, that that is when the Catholic Church began to have issues with the veneration of San Simon. The reason I suggest this is because the Catholic Church originally allowed the effigies in the Church. The effigies were tied up in a high place within the church, which is where the name "Maximon" (the tied-up one) comes from. Then something happened where the Church forbid the effigies in the church. I would suggest that a possible answer is that the priests began to realize that the people had crossed the line into venerating the effigy as an actual spiritual entity unto itself instead of viewing it as simply a charm to ward off evil. Part of the crusade to eradicate the veneration of this new folk saint involved the Catholic Church equating San Simon with Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ. Such equations backfired. Instead of viewing San Simon as a devil or figure of evil, as most Christians view Judas to be, they began to view him in a more positive light as even though Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver, he also gave that silver away to the needy before he killed himself. The Catholic Church failed at eradicating the veneration of San Simon but the equation of San Simon with Judas Iscariot has remained among believers.

One folk legend on the birth of San Simon involves a man-whore and trickster who managed to sleep with all the women in the community while the men where away. As punishment he had his arms and legs chopped off. He then bled to death in a field (his blood fertilizing the crops), and his spirit was transformed into San Simon, the folk saint. This legend most likely arose because some of the effigies of him are without legs and arms. In fact, the original effigies of Maximon were made of rags and straw, with a mask and hat. These effigies did not have arms or legs. Most likely sometime in the 19th century this then evolved into Maximon developing his own look and character, that which we see today.

San Simon is a trickster. He will deceive you if you aren't careful. His tricks are associated with his sense of humor but he does have a dark side and can be cruel at times. He is also a very macho spirit. His offerings include liquor, tobacco, tortillas, corn, hot peppers, candy, money, as well as music and songs. He is also given blood sacrifices, usually chickens. He can accept any offering though as long as it is given in good faith. Sometimes his offerings are burned. It is extremely important to realize that he is Judas Iscariot. That is something that his believers have accepted.

Powers- San Simon can grant wealth, prosperity, luck, good harvests, ensure fertility, grant blessings, heal, and grant protection, especially from witchcraft in return for his veneration and giving him his offerings.

Defense Against San Simon - The only people who truly have a need to fear San Simon are witches, as in evil-doers, workers of black magic against innocents, as his original function is to destroy witches and witchcraft.

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