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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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Chapter 4 – The intermediary


[The ajq’ij] is an intermediary, it is a person who cures through the spiritual, a counsellor, and if we’re talking about modern times, it is a psychologist as well. […] An intermediary, a guide, a counsellor, among others. That’s what an ajq’ij is, it’s a very special person.

- Byron

Making offerings is part of what an ajq’ij has to do. It’s about reciprocity, it’s about balancing the world, balancing the universe.

- Martin

In Maya communities, the ajq’ij is a person whom people can approach to solve all kinds of problems. The ajq’ijab possess the ability to communicate with beings and things normally not reached easily by others, and this gives them the possibility to find a spiritual solution to personal and social problems; to cure sickness; to give thanks or pray for harvests and many other tasks. This is what Byron refers to when he speaks about the intermediary, and what Martin refers to when he mentions reciprocity.

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