From the Oak: Let’s hear it for the God!

Many are those that focus on female divinities, leaving male divinities in the shadows if they get mentioned at all. This is a shame. Here I will share my thoughts, stories and prayers on male divinities. Currently focusing on divinities placed in an atheist "graveyard".

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Of Confusion and the Mesoamerican Pantheons

Of the blogs I’ve written so far, this one by far has taken up the most of my time, frustration and with not nearly enough to show for it.  I’ve got more questions than answers. This week’s deity is from the Mesoamerican pantheon.  This area is widely known home for the Mayans, Aztecs and Incans.  Their pantheons overlap so much it is hard for a layman to pick one out from the rest.  So I’m going to tell you what I found on one of their deities that caught my attention, listing it in the order that I found it.  I make no promises of the accuracy, so this is mostly just an information dump to start you on your own search or for you to throw more information to aid me in mine.

In reviewing an item, I came across a deity named Acat who was described as a Mayan deity of tattooing and tattoo artists.  Now I thought this was pretty cool, so I wanted more information. Commence headache.  The majority of the information I found in English was the same thing ad nauseum. 

Acat, Acat-Cib, Acaat, Ah-Kat:  god of tattoos, tattooing and tattoo artists; god of fetal growth and development; God of Life; possible Becab(Bacab) of the East

So then it was suggested when I hit various groups looking for more information that I try looking in Spanish and rely upon translating software.  I found more information this way.

Acatlis (Acatl in Aztec) is a Nahuatl day name which means reed (though sometimes translated as cane).  It is the 13th day of the 20 day Aztec month representing East, Arrows and governed by Tezcatlipoca.


Ah Cat(Kat) means “he of the storage jar”, were cat/kat means jar (Khanan = cana= khana = kat = kan = net, sacrifice)

In Yucatec, Acat is the god of tattoos and sacrifices

Acatl is the reed used in tattooing; hence may be a nickname or epithet of another god; Acatl is the god of dwellings

Cib = wax, owl/vulture, soul, insect, lizard, maize

Akna is a mother goddess who rules over human fertility and births while Acat forms the fetuses in the (her?) womb; she is associated with the Becabs and possible the moon and rabbits (though that may be a different goddess with the same name)

Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities (edited by Charles Russell Coulter, Patricia Turner) states that Acat is a god of life and tattooers for the Maya People of the Yucatan; one of the Bacabs aka Wind Gods aka four pillars of heaven whose names differs with each culure in the area.  Acatl is a year god for the Aztec people of Mexico who is in charge of the east region; possible the same as Acat who along with his brothers (the Becabs) were similar to the Incan Tahuantin Suyu Kapac; Acatl corresponds to the skybearer Tlauixacalpantecuhtli

Tlauixacalpantecuhtli is listed as the Lord of the Morning Star; a manifestation of Quetzalcoatl; a god of war; but he is associated with the 12th day not the 13th.

Tezcatlipoca also called Omacatl (Two Reeds) , smoking mirror (obsidian), Great God, Carved Obsidian Knife; whose bird is Horned Owl; has various aspects associated with various directions; brother of Quetzalcotl (who is sometimes called White Tezactlipoca) and often his opposition.

Now none of these refer to tattoos or fetal development.  So let’s go back to the Becabs.

Becabs (Bacabs) are a set of divinities, creator gods, Lords of the Winds, Deities of agriculture, rain and fertility, patrons of beekepers which are seated at each of the four cardinal points holding up the sky, appearing various as iguana-type entities, old men, frogs, tortoises, jaguars or trees.  Now Becab of the east is various listed as Kan, Acat, Acatl, Chac, Muluc and Hobnil.  His color is sometimes listed as red, other times yellow.

Do you see where this is going?  In circles I think, cause I can no longer see my way out.  Now several of these may be the same divinity saw through different tribal lenses but I can no longer pick who, how or which.  They all blur together.

One more wrench to throw in because why not?


Acat – a type of dwarf that turns into a flower

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I'm an eclectic polytheist whose main divinities are Heru-ur, Bast, Sobek, Yinepu Isis, Zeus-Serapis, and Yemaya. I'm a mother, wife and Librarian living in the Rocky Mountains stumbling on my path and wondering what the heck I'm doing. Blessed be.


  • Melia/Merit Brokaw
    Melia/Merit Brokaw Monday, 30 September 2013

    I received the following recommendations from Chas Clifton for those that may wish to follow up on Acat or on Mayan divinities in general:

    Popol Vuh: the definitive edition of the Mayan book of the dawn of
    life and the glories of gods and kings, translated by Dennis Tedlock.

    Linda Schele et. al. "The Blood of Kings" and "A Forest of Kings."

    Elizabeth Graham's Maya Christians and Their Churches in Sixteenth-Century Belize (University Press of Florida, 2011). Graham is an archaeologist here at the UCL Institute of Archaeology in London, and although her book is a study of the arrival of Christianity, it looks quite a bit at religious syncretism and the survival of Maya traditional religion. Also of note is that is contains some interesting theoretical discussion of terms like "paganism", "cult" etc from an archaeological perspective.

    The University Press of Florida has a Mayan Studies book series that features Graham's book but also includes Cynthia Robin's "Chan: An Ancient Maya Farming Community." that was published in 2012. The University of Texas Press also has a highly regarded Mayan Series in publishing

    In terms of recent reevaluations of classical Mayan religion, I've found Keith Prufer's "Stone Houses and Earth Lords: Maya Religion in the Cave Context" (2005) and Finamore/Houston's "Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea." (2010) to be very helpful. Getting ahold of these (often lavishly illustrated and glossy printed) books can sometimes be difficult and expensive though. Prufer's book is published in University of Colorado's Mesoamerican Series, which includes some recent volumes focusing specifically on Mayan codices.

  • Devin Wilson
    Devin Wilson Tuesday, 17 November 2015

    Thank you. I'm very grateful for such a collection of information in one place. For many years I've researched Acat, even going so far as to send e-mails to specialists at various Universities (naturally without replies). The questions remain; when was Acat first mentioned? In which of the Codex's? Or was it a carving in the wall of a temple?
    It is also thought, that in the wheels of the Mayan calendar, that each day in one particular "gear" was devoted to one or two Gods. Thinking of it as a Farris wheel, and each bucket contains 2 Gods. As the bucket meshes with another wheel, the Gods of that day would bestow good or bad omens, depending upon what part of the wheel they connected with.
    So perhaps the secret to finding out more about Acat, is not in their religious texts, but more in their magnificent calendar.
    Personally, it makes me ache to think that there may be some hidden room or small temple out there, once devoted to the God of tattooists, but now swallowed whole by the jungles. If there is such a thing, I hope they find it in my lifetime.

  • Melia/Merit Brokaw
    Melia/Merit Brokaw Tuesday, 17 November 2015

    I'm glad you found it helpful Devin!

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