Discover Chac, the Mayan God of Rain
In Cancun, Mexico, the rainy season runs from May through October and surprisingly, it’s quite a treat! The tropical rain is a refreshing break from the scorching sun with its resulting crisp scent of plants and flowers and lush green jungles. Symbolizing rebirth, the ancient Mayans of the region viewed rain as the source of renewed life. In honor of this life-enhancing rain, let’s explore the Mayan mythological rain god.
The ancient Maya worshipped over 165 gods, each corresponding to natural elements, such as wind, fire, and rain. Like most Mayan gods, the rain god, Chac, is both a single and multiple deity, reflecting the rain itself and the four directions. Each rain god was assigned a directional color and distinct name: north (white): Sac Xib Chac, south (yellow): Kan Xib Chac, east (red): Chac Xib Chac, and west (black): Ek Xib Chac.
The Maya believed their gods had initially visited the earth, breathing life into the planet, which then resulted in a spiritual connection between the Maya and the gods. Consequently, these gods had human counterparts, usually kings, who were given the same names as the gods. Chac Xib Chac, the rain god of the east, was also king of the Mayan city, Chichen Itza, in the Yucatan, Mexico.
Mayan Rain God
One of the Maya’s most powerful and influential gods was Chac (also spelled Chaac or Chaahk): the god of thunder, lightening, and rain. Depicted as a reptile with a scaled body, holding a serpentine axe, the symbol for lightening, Chac has matted hair, curled fangs, a turned-up nose, and large eyes shedding tears, a symbol of rain. Unrelated to Chac, Chac Mool is a stone altar used for offerings to the gods.
Chac is one of the oldest, most frequently worshipped gods in Mayan civilization and was seen as the essential source of rain for nurturing their crops. Regarded as a friendly, protective deity, Chac was the god to whom the Maya prayed for help with their crop growth. Since the Maya sustained themselves primarily through agriculture as both a food source and economic means, Chac is said to have shown them how to grow vegetables.
Mayan Myth of Chac
The Maya believed that when time began, Chac split apart a sacred stone with his axe from which sprang the first ear of maize (corn). Residing in the sky, Chac would strike the clouds with his axe to produce thunder and rain. Since he was known to visit water sources on earth, Chac was worshipped by the Maya at sacred sites called cenotes (cavernous sinkholes with natural wells), which were also their primary water source.
Various ceremonies were performed for the rain gods. One ritual involved men leaving the village to follow strict fasting and celibacy. Another ritual involved four boys behaving like frogs (the Yucatec Cha-Chaac ceremony), because the frog represented Chac and since croaking frogs signaled impending rain. Yet another ritual involved throwing young men and women into cenote wells and retrieving them to share acquired prophecies.
Chac Mool Beach in Cancun
A Cancun beach was named after the sacred stone altar, Chac Mool, believed to be the carved image of a god. The reason for naming this beach after an altar is not clear, but we could speculate it’s because the beach is so beautiful that the concept of naming it after an altar for satisfying the gods makes sense. Although it’s probably a good idea to see Playa Chac Mool after the rain, the rain doesn’t usually last long. A visit to this white sand beach is well worth the wait!