Some Mayan peasant-hunters across the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico still carry out a hunting ritual -Loojil Ts'oon, Loj Ts'oon or Carbine Ceremony- in which they renew the divine permission for hunting in order to continue deserving the gift of prey after a period of hunt. Thus they are granted access to game by the gods and the Lords of the Animals, particularly the spirit/evil-wind call. This paper focuses on the acts within the Loojil Ts'oon -which is performed in the X-Pichil community and surrounding area- that make it unique among the hunting rituals performed in other parts of the Peninsula.
The Loojil Ts'oon hunting ritual was observed and registered in audiovisual format in two different occasions in X-Pichil (Friday 04/29/2011 and Friday 07/29/2011). Afterwards, we delivered digital videodisks (DVD) to hunters and their families and to the j-men (the magic-medic-ritual specialist) who participated in these ceremonies. This delivery produced confidence among participants to talk more openly and in-depth about the Loojil Ts'oon, revealing symbolic, psychological, and material details previously unknown to outsiders. Qualitative information was obtained through the ethnographic method using techniques such as participant observation and guided tours. Semi-structured interviews were carried out to obtain complementary information.
On one hand, we describe the preparation and cleansing of the "Sip soup", as well as its parading and distribution -delivery to the spirit/evil-wind Sip- on the streets of the community (highlingting the role of the rooster as a counter-gift). On the other hand, the cleansing of the jaws (of deer: Odocoileus virginianus, Mazama spp.; and peccaries: Tayassuidae) and their return to the Lords of Animals in the hills so that they may give these animals new life.
By performing the Loojil Ts'oon, the act of killing an animal is legitimized. The kill transforms into an exchange to perpetuate life, in which gods and Lords of animals grant the hunter the solicited new game if he has completed his ritual duties and has not broken the prescribed hunting rules. The Loojil Ts'oon does not only represent the continuity and regeneration of animals, that is, fauna as a resource, but also of the whole hunting cycle. The hunter does so to maintain and recreate order and equilibrium in one's relationship with nature as a whole, with the rest of one's social group, and with oneself. Thus, hunting transcends the exclusively material dimension of a subsistence activity.