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Important concepts

Some ideas and concepts were repeated to me by several of the interviewees as central to the ajq’ijab and their work. The ideas presented in this part are ideas that all of them, or nearly all of them, spoke of directly or referred to during our interviews. If opinions differed, I have included several viewpoints.

Some of these concepts and ideas relate to beings, forces or concepts of a spiritual nature - what is on “the other side” in the ajq’ij’s communications as an intermediary - while others relate to the values an ajq’ij should have and why it is important to maintain the communication as an intermediary.

Spiritual energies: nahuales

The subject of nahuales is a wide and complex one. A Nahuatl word, it can refer to a wide variety of concepts and ideas in several of the Mesoamerican cultures.[1] As with spirituality, I will focus on its daily use among the people that I met.

When my interviewees used the word, they were mainly referring to the days of the Maya 260-day calendar[2] or a person’s nahual, which Martin describes as a “spiritual essence.”

And so we refer to an individual’s nahual, meaning that persons essence, but it’s also a short hand way of talking about the day in the calendar of one’s birth. But we also talk about the nahuales in terms of the calendars, meaning the day names - the 20 day names of the 260 day calendar.

  • [1] For a recent study of such concepts, see, for instance, Roberto Martinez Gonzalez, Elnahualismo (Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 2011).
  • [2] Often referred to as the Maya short-count calendar.
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