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Balancing the World

Contemporary Maya "ajq’ijab</I> in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Daniel Croles Fitjar

In Balancing the World, the author illuminates what an ajq’ij, or «daykeeper», is by presenting material he collected in a series of interviews with practitioners of Maya spirituality. Frequently labeled as Maya priests, shamans, spiritual guides, or even witches, the men and women called ajq’ijab do a variety of work to help their visitors, their ancestors, the spirits and the world itself. Nine interviewees from the Quetzaltenango area in the Guatemalan highlands tell about how they cure and avert illness, perform divinations, communicate with the ancestors and do their part in balancing the world. Most of them agree that they have been chosen for this responsibility and they see it as both a gift and a burden.
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Balancing the World was written in the spring of 2013 and was handed in as my thesis within the Master’s Programme in the Study of Religion at the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion at the University of Bergen. The text presented here is essentially the same as the one used in the thesis, although I have updated a few numbers and corrected a few spelling mistakes. This printed version also contains a new foreword by my supervisor for this project, Professor Håkan Rydving.

Several people have helped me with my project and with the publication process. I would like to thank all of my co-students for their valuable input, for good discussions and for proofreading my text (often several times) during our Master’s study.

Vivian Sollid, Natalie Sagstad, Malin Martinsen, Signe Underlid, Lloyd Abercrombie, Cameron Beebe, Alex Clark, Vidar Pedersen, Bjørn Ola Tafjord and Lisbeth Mikaelsson have all helped me with developing ideas, developing questionnaires, finding literature and proofreading of the original text. I am especially grateful for all the help I received from Thomas Hart during my fieldwork, and also for his excellent book on Maya spirituality.

I would also like to thank my family; Christina Elmar, Magne Fitjar, Elisabeth Croles, Maaike Croles Fitjar and Kjetil Fitjar Bøe, for their continuous support and for travelling with me to places near and far.

The fieldwork was partially funded by the Faculty of Humanities at the University...

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