The Cigarette Smoking Effigy of Maximón

The thing that excites me so much about these new forums is the ability to talk about “Atlas-y” type topics that aren’t connected to a single specific “place.” For instance, Maximón, a Mayan deity venerated in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. I first encountered him during a visit to a a small temple in Chichicastenango. There are churches and altars all around the region that are dedicated to him, and he manifests himself differently in different places. What’s consistent about Maximón is that he is always depicted drinking and/or smoking (often his altar attendants can be seen doing the same.) Pilgrims will often leave offerings of cigars or alcohol when asking for his protections. Of all the saints, Maximón seems like the kind I wouldn’t mind hanging out with.

Does anyone else here know about interesting regional deities (Central American, or otherwise?)


I had never heard of the Effigy of Maximón… So interesting, I’m glad you shared this!
Have you heard of Santa Muerte? She’s a folk saint of Mexican Catholicism, and is regarded as the personification of death. While I think this religion began as a Mexican regional belief-- subscribed to by narcos in particular-- it has since spread well beyond. If I’m not mistaken, the worship of Santa Muerte is one of the fastest-growing religions in North America! Statuettes of her can be found all over Mexico, and candles with her image are probably even more widespread. I found some such candles in a botanica in Austin, TX, and I recently even saw some in an international supermarket in Nashville, TN.
Here’s a somewhat recent article from Atlas Obscura about the worship of Santa Muerte. If you would like to know more, Andrew Chestnut, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, has written a few articles for AO about Santa Muerte, as well as a book on the subject: “Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint.”


Hey Rose–I met Maximon too, in a village on Lake Atitlan. But I don’t think he was smoking.

No? What was he doing? I just dug a little deeper into the Atlas and it turns out there is an entry about his altar is Santiago Atitlan! Where did you visit him and what was your experience like?

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That is where we visited him. It was surreal–we took a boat across the lake from Panajachel, and then some kid attached himself to us as our guide, and took us through the village to the place where, if I remember, Maximon was being paraded around. Then I remember going to see him in some dark altar like place. It’s a little foggy in my memory


Staying on MaXimon for a minute: He has quite a presence in Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala.

A book (rather lengthy) that I would recommend is:

LOS NAWALES: The Ancient Ones

Merchants, Wives and Lovers: The Creation Story of MaXimon

By Vinvent James Stanzione

I know that they have hard copies at La Galeria in Panajachel, Guatemala,

Or you could read it online at