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

Problems and bad luck

The interviewees often talked about both enfermedad, ‘illness,’ and fracasos, ‘failures,’ ‘problems’ or ‘obstacles.’ These terms were sometimes used interchangeably and are often linked, as illness may be a severe obstacle in one’s life. The use offracasos when talking about illness highlights that not only is the illness itself a problem, but all its consequences as well, such as loss of work and increased poverty.

Whether connected to illness or not, “bad luck” or problems are commonly seen as a possible sign of becoming an ajq’ij. Like with illness, some of the interviewees explain that it is the person’s nahual that is bothering her or him, since he or she does not do what he or she is supposed to do.

There are problems [that can be counted as signs]. For example big ones, like economical failures or obstacles. Or sometimes, there are cases where there are women, ladies, that can’t get a husband. It’s not because they are ugly, no, no, I don’t think so. It’s their nahual that doesn’t give them one, that’s equal for both men and women. And so, sometimes a person will ask [an ajq’ij]: “What’s happening to me? That person is uglier than me,

[so why am I the one to have this problem]?” And so they will investigate,[1] and if the ajq’ij says it’s because of her or his nahual, her or his date of birth [then the person is predestined to become an ajq’ij].

- Byron

  • [1] Do a divination.
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