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

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Being chosen

The most important requirement of all is that the person is elegido, ‘chosen,’ that is, meant to become an ajq’ij from birth. Receiving a sign[1] is what defines a person as chosen.

Well, if we’re talking about the religion here in Guatemala, that is Christianity,[2] then there are the priests of the [different] churches. [They are priests] because they want to.

In the Maya [spirituality] on the other hand, it’s not because they want to. Rather, it’s a manifestation of the nahual [of the person]. [...]

[The priests] go to a school, or ... I don’t know. And they do it for a [diploma]. But there’s a difference with the ajq’ij, because he or she is predestined for it.

- Byron

For a while, other people recognised Teresa as being chosen, even though she did not believe it herself at first. After several people had told her she was chosen, she was confused, and so she asked God for advice. He came to her in a dream and told her she was chosen. She then accepted her predestination and became an ajq’ij.

I asked for help from the Lord, our creator, right? I said that if I was there to serve him, then he should tell me who would teach me how to do it [and he told me of an ajq’ij].[3] [.] Ever since I was a little girl, people have told me “you’re an ajq’ij, you’re an ajq’ij’,’ since I was eight years old. And “this and this happens to you because you don’t believe it,” right? “Until you accept it, you’ll change, and you’ll definitively have a different life.” And that came to be! When I was 13 years old, a man told me “you’ll become an ajq’ij, an ajq’ij, an ajq’ij’.’ And really, look! That’s what happened!

They knew?

Yes, they knew, even before I knew it! But I think that it’s good I received[4] when I was older, because someone who is younger may see it as a game. He or she wouldn’t take it seriously.

- Teresa

  • [1] See below.
  • [2] Here, Byron makes a distinction between what he calls ‘Guatemalan religion’(Christianity) and ‘Guatemalan spirituality’ (Maya spirituality).
  • [3] Teresa asked God who she should listen to, and God told her the name of a man ina dream. After hearing of the dream, this man then told her to become an ajq’ij, andbecame her teacher. The dream itself was seen as a sign.
  • [4] Became an ajq’ij.
 
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