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The ajq’ijab are a large and diverse group. The interviewees are both men and women, young and old, some have families and some do not, some have money and some do not. When I asked them whether the ajq’ijab have something in common in terms of requirements, nearly all agreed that they did - but they did not necessarily agree on what the requirements were.

The right nahual and number

One of the most important requirements to most of the interviewees seems to be the person’s nahual, that is, which one out of the 20 days a person is born on.[1]

Those who have more energy are better [suited to become ajq’ijab] than others. And so, it’s not based on studying, it’s based on natural circumstances. So a person is predestined for it, based on the number and the day the person is born.

- Byron

[The only thing that matters is when] you were born, the nahual. For example, today is the nahual I’x. If a baby is born today, he or she may become [an ajq’ij].

- Odilia

Nearly all of the interviewees agreed that some nahuales are more suited for becoming an ajq’ij than others. Still, it might be wrong to make a list where the nahuales are sorted as suited or not suited. This is because there will always be exceptions to such a list based on other factors such as strong signs, and because there was some variation among the interviewees as to which nahuales that would fall into each category.

In addition to the day name, a person’s number is also important. Byron told me this was because a higher number will have more energy, and a lot of energy is needed to be able to do a good job.

[There] are thirteen energies, energies from one to thirteen, right? [...] 7 is half-way to 13, so we call that the number of balance. Well, 7 and below may become ajq’ijab, but their energy is less. So, [a person with a number] from 7 and up may become ajq’ij [too, and] he or she is better, he or she is the one who can help people.

[People with] a 1 or a 2 on the other hand, are not as ... They can perform ceremonies, of course. They can do them, let’s say, to give thanks in the house, because that’s just a small one. But, let’s say there are illnesses or another difficult task, then they can’t, that’s difficult. Even if they have a good heart, no, they can’t. [.] They don’t have the energy for it. And so, it’s not because the society or the people say that they aren’t good enough. They are different because of their day and number.

- Byron

  • [1] Each date in the Maya short-count calendar consists of a number and a day name, asexplained in Chapter 4 above. A person’s nahual relates to the number and the dayname of the day the person was born. The word nahual is used both to talk of the dayname only and to talk of a combination of the number and the day name. For example:My nahual is 11 Ajpu. It consists of the number 11 and the nahual (or day name) Ajpu.
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