Header Graphic
SAN SIMON Folkloric Saint of Guatemala






I write this essay so that the world can know more about this powerful spirit “champion of the hopeless”.  [Infinitas gracias mi Hermano Simon por que siempre escuchas y no olvidas, mi clamor y en mi corazon tu nombre siempre vive mi bendito Hermano Simon.] My experiences with San Simon started in Los Angeles County California in  Barrio Norwalk los Barrio Calles, my home town. There in the old Barrio was a Botanica in which an espiritualista/bruja now long retired named Carmen first introduced me to El Hermano San Simon. This essay is my tribute to San Simon.



San Simon sometimes called “Hermano Simon” by those who adore this folkloric saint from Guatemala.  Represented in the image of a man of means dressed in black with his cigar in his mouth and a baston in hand sitting in an old style chair and his bottle of “Aguardiente” called guaro by the natives of Guatemala, he also has his bag of gold coins with him.  In truth this spirit is not a Catholic saint at all as such he is of Mayan pagan origin the face he wears is of a 20th century man this was done as to adapt to the lives of Mayan peasants that adore this spirit.


   In truth his named derived from the older names this deity used be addressed by, in pre-Columbian times he was called “Mam” it meant “ancient one” later known as Maximon pronounced “Masheemon” *1.  Then Maximon became known as Simon or San Simon, this trend was started when the missionaries tried to convert the Maya from their old pagan beliefs.  Hence they started to refer to him as San Simon, the plot then became for the missionaries to associate San Simon with Judas Iscariot.  This was an attempt to make the ancient deity unappealing to the Mayan peasants.  Silly enough this backfired on the missionaries, when the peasants started to view their beloved folk saint as a greater hero.



     The story goes that Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus of Nazareth for thirty pieces of silver, well since the Missionaries forced the belief of Judas Iscariot being Maximon this soon became a good thing.  For in the Mayan Pagan mind Judas/Simon was a hero because he took the thirty silver coins and gave them as charity to the most needy of the people*2. In a sense this attempt by the missionaries was to make Maximon appear like “the devil” since Judas was labeled the devil, this is because Mam or Maximon is known to be a Powerful Underworld deity.


 It is well known, that in pre-Columbian times Mam was considered symbolic of the "black water, bitter water," the primordial sea*3.  Hence his dark overtones for the dark waters spawned all life; however this does not mean that he is an evil deity.  The good vs. evil is a conception of the Judeo Christian theology and that is not a part of traditional Mayan pagan belief.  Darkness and light both have their places just like Night and Day are cycles of life hence an underworld deity like Maximon is not necessarily evil, however being that he’s dark in his nature he is separated from deities of light it is the balance of nature. 



Something I did not add earlier is, that because the missionaries made Maximon out to be Judas Iscariot, a person will find that in many of the prayers offered to Maximon by his devotees he will be addressed as Judas/Simon in some parts of the prayer *4. Maximon is a very important deity to the Mayan people of Guatemala his blessing is required for their annual renewal festival. Also there appears to be two sides to this Deity just like night and day.



      For example the Maximon of Santiago Atitlan he is of Religion and as such is revered like many of the most cherished Catholic Saints.  The other Maximon is from San Andres Iztapa is caught between the sacred and profane he’s like a Magician and will use his magic to help his brethren.  El Hermano Simon is so revered for his powers to heal and help others, that there are sects of Witchcraft specific to this deity, they are known as a “Cofradia”.  In my personal experience I work with the San Simon of Magic and Witchcraft.  He is a Magician in his own right considered by the natives to be superior to the mightiest of human Sorcerers that taste the mountainous regions in Guatemala.  That is why he is petitioned for many things by his believers for it is well known that he can be petitioned for good or evil objectives. 


    As long as you bring him his favorite foods and drinks in conjunction with the candle pertaining to your desire he will grant your wish. 



     But as the indigenas say “you must have a deep faith and sincerity when you pray to Hermano Simon”.  When a person prays, to San Simon it is customary to offer him a drink of  “Aguardiente” this is a type of whiskey made with Sugar canes, apart from that you offer him a cigar & his corn tortillas also his Cigar.  These are the traditional foods that are offered to Hermano Simon; also certain incenses are burnt in his honor.


     In the town of San Andres Iztapa there is a temple to Maximon where many people make a pilgrimage people bring candles of different colors, green for prosperity, red for love and yellow for the protection of loved ones.  It is also said that some of those visiting the shrine will bring black candles with them, these are people looking for revenge or to get rid of an enemy *5.  Of course there are many other colors of candles used with San Simon but those mentioned are the most popularly offered to this deity.


 So popular is Maximon that his fame has reached Mexico from the people of Guatemala making a life in Mexico.  This I know to be very true for my own encounters with San Simon came from knowing a certain Mexican Espiritualista “spiritualist” who gave me small lectures of San Simon and other spirits of Brujeria.  Not to stray from the topic of course I only mentioned as reference to San Simon’s popularity in other parts of Mesoamerica.


  Mexico and Guatemala are very close to each other hence it would be easy to see how such beliefs can filter into another way of life a similar mode of thought.




     There is so much more that I can write about in regards to San Simon, some of this essay will be included in a future grimoire that I will write about “Brujeria”. It will include a chapter on San Simon and how to work specific rituals and spells with this mighty spirit.


[1. From Renewal of life in Santiago Atitlan by Susan Hoffman: 2. from the book San Simon Obras y Milagros “author unknown”.]

[3. From Renewal of life in Santiago Atitlan by Susan Hoffman: 4. A portion of the traditional prayer to San Simon translated from Spanish from the book San Simon Obras y Milagros “author unknown”.  5.  Taken from report by {IPS May 3rd 1998)