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

Guidance and counselling

In addition to - or instead of - divination, the ajq’ij may find the solution to a problem through conversations, in a way like a clinical psychologist would. He or she will give the visitor spiritual or practical advice and help them to help themselves.

So the ajq’ij solves problems and helps in different ways?

In the material and in the spiritual. In both. He may not give you cash, but he will pray that you have progress, right? [...] Or, let’s say, I want to build my house, and I’d like to cut down a tree; but I want the wood to last long, not to deteriorate. Then, the ajq’ij will say “You have to ask for permission, and you have to cut down the tree at full moon so that the tree is well. If you do it under a new moon, it won’t keep and it will deteriorate, it’ll be no good.” So, they have a profound knowledge. The ajq’ij helps with anything.

- Byron

Interpreting signs

Often, the cause of the problem can be found by interpreting signs given to a person in dreams or in other ways.

[The ajq’ij] has many roles, because you can ask an ajq’ij a lot of things. “What will happen with this?” “What should I do with this?” “Listen, I’m dreaming ... I’m dreaming this over and over, can you tell me what it means? What is the message I don’t understand, that this dream is giving me?” And so, [the ajq’ij] can explain the dreams.

- Manuel

Signs are sent by the sacred, God, the universe or the ancestors, depending on who you ask. According to Carlos they can be sent consciously by the Christian God or by the ancestors, while Manuel thinks these signs are more like natural laws, the signs are just there because of the laws of cause and effect.

It’s not like one is divining, but rather that one deciphers the cosmological, the relation between nature and man, the relation between nature and the energies. [.]

They are not prophecies, not divinations, but spiritual diagnoses of the energies and their capacities. For example, today is the nahual Toj, the nahual of appreciation and reciprocity. If I was begotten in Toj, I would have to be thankful, because if I weren’t thankful, it would be like ... The nahuales are moving and turning like a code of ethics. Yes, we have a code of ethics with articles like the Code of Work, the Penal Code ... and if we violate a code, we have to pay a fine, a punishment.

- Manuel

Some ajq’ijab can also “feel” signs sent to them by God, the sacred, the universe or the ancestors. Sometimes, Isabela’s blood “speaks” to her.

The ajq’ij feels what the problem is. Sometimes her or his dreams give the answers, or sometimes it moves her or his body. [.] Sometimes the blood speaks, that’s how the ajq’ij feels it.

What does that mean? That the blood speaks?

It moves one’s body, it moves the body, it always moves one’s body.

- Isabela

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