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Home arrow Sociology arrow Balancing the World: Contemporary Maya ajq’ijab in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Does that mean there are 20 nahuales?

No, there are thousands of nahuales, there are millions of nahuales - because you’ve got your nahual, and I’ve got mine, and that table has it’s nahual. It depends on the context, you know? You can’t say “nahual only means this,” that’s, that’s ... no. A spiritual essence, or sometimes when you say nahual you mean the day name - of which there are 20, yeah - and other times you mean a person’s spiritual essence, and other times not a person’s, but an animal’s or whatever else which has life. So it depends entirely on the context what a nahual is, as it were.

- Martin

Every day has its own characteristic determined by its nahual. The name of the nahual is also used to refer to the day in the calendar. Because the nahuales have their own characteristics or personalities, certain days are better for certain ceremonies or rituals.

The Maya 260-day calendar consists of 20 nahuales, or days, revolving in a cycle from day one (called B’atz’ in K’iche’) to day 20 (called Tz’i’ in K’iche’). A cycle of the numbers one to thirteen revolves simultaneously, creating dates consisting of a number and a nahual. After 260 days, all combinations have been used and the calendar starts a new round with 1 B’atz’, the first day. For Odilia, the nahuales are “energies filled with knowledge.”

The nahuales are wisdoms, energies, they serve to keep track of time. There are twenty nahuales [in the calendar]. Everybody have their nahuales, they have their energies, they are charged with them when they are born, in their creation and in their birth.

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