Cholq'ij, the Maya sacred ceremonial calendar of 260 days—20 day-deities appearing throughout 13 cycles—is the basis of the Maya spirituality that survives to this time, practiced daily among millions of Maya people, in thousands of communities. The interpretation of the days can vary from one Maya people to another. The interpretations given here are based on sustained conversations and participation over three decades with Maya Q'eqchi daykeeping families in the area of Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, by Jose Barreiro (Taíno), head of NMAI’s Office of Latin America, and his wife, Katsi Cook (Mohawk).
For a more complete introduction to this series, please see Jose's post "Living in the Practice."6 Kat | Friday, January 20, 2012
Corresponding with January 20, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 6 Kat. Kat is Spider, also Web and Fire. 6 is a low day, but good for many types of ceremonies. Kat is the network of the sacred fireplace, the family hearth. Kat is a good day to pray for your family fireplace, the spirit of the fire that belongs in the home, the one that calls other spirits to ceremony and speaks for them. Kat is the net that hauls in fish and the net that holds ears of corn. It is a good day to help free prisoners or inmates from captivity or to request youth and power for the weak. On Kat, the unity of the people is paramount, and knowledge is deepened. Kat can bring the fruition of things and the untangling of complications.
5 Aqbal | Thursday, January 19, 2012
Corresponding with January 19, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 5 Aqbal. Aqbal is the Dawn, also Bat. 5 is early number—one hand. Aqbal is clarity, separation of darkness and light as the Sun disperses the fog and obscurity of night. It is a good day to ask for a peaceful and happy daybreak, a day to find hidden and lost things and to wash away tears of sadness. Aqbal is also a good day to clean the ashes (renew the heart) of a fireplace and to present a new baby to el Mundo. On Aqbal, the sacred fire is recognized and appreciated. A potential bride or groom can be revealed on this day. Harvesting of corn can begin on this day.Persons born on Aqbal relate in the present and are a special link between past and future. They are early risers, good workers, tranquil and kind, strong before an enemy, good researchers and finders of hidden things, often called "the candle of the home."4 Iq | Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Corresponding with January 18, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 4 Iq. Iq is Wind, also Moon. 4 is full balance. Wind is powerful, violent, driven of itself. A day of strong emotion, Iq is a cleansing, healing day.
Iq is one of the four Yearbearers, or mams. It is a creator that helped finish the world and put breath (essence) in human beings. Persons born on the Iq are inclined to follow spiritual ways and to tap impulsively into cosmic sources. Good wind is nutritional for human minds; it is the mystic breath and vital inspiration of nature. Iq is a good day to appreciate all of Creation. On Iq, a breeze or wind coming to split against your face is a blessing, a cleansing to take your ills and purge your head and body. Respiratory ills are prayed over on this day.3 Imox | Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Corresponding with January 17, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 3 Imox. Imox is Lizard. 3 is an early number. Imox is a good day to pray for creativity and rain and is the very force of gravity. Imox can open el Mundo for receiving cosmic messages. Imox is known as a "crazy" day, one that demands good control. A day of high, male intelligence, also impatience and agitation, Imox can be a difficult day.
Grounded on its left side, left arm, this day is easily unbalanced and in need of clasping with the right hand. Imox can be good if held in the balance of Heart of the Sky / Heart of the Earth; if unattended, Imox can manifest imbalance, mental agitation, and even death. Persons born on Imox are open and sincere but indecisive, in need of ceremony to set the positive to override the negative.2 Ajpu | Monday, January 16, 2012
Corresponding with January 16, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 2 Ajpu. Ajpu is Caracol, or Spiraled Shell. 2 is the base of even, the twin. Ajpu is also Sun, captain of Time, a day of personal strength and for good to triumph over evil. Ajpu begins the men's cycle and is a day to connect with the ancestors, who can reward and punish. Death is reachable and amenable, and spirits can ask permission to enter el Mundo, or the living world. Day of the warrior and blowgun hunter (cerbatanero), Ajpu is good for hitting the target, a day to pray for stealth and for enemy lines to break. It's a good day to start building on a house. Ajpu cares for boys and guides men; it's a good day to make prayers for women, for good lactation.
The Hero twin, Jun Ajpu Ixbalanke, defeated the Xibalbas and fooled them into accepting the offering of copal rather than a human heart. In near and remote ways, this character and episode from the book of the Maya ancients remains the backdrop to the day Ajpu.
1 Kawoq | Sunday, January 15, 2012
Corresponding with January 15, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 1 Kawoq. Kawoq is Turtle, also Sky Serpent. 1 is the freshest number. Kawoq is a high woman day, a day of duality in all of nature, and a guardian of contentment. It is the day of woman–man, lightning and thunder, fecundity and imagination. It is a day of midwives; a day of prayer for unity in the home, for the strength of the family, for smoothing of all irritation, and for renewed strength for convalescents. It is a good day to turn bad medicine back on itself.
Kawoq attends to young women in pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and to full realization for all women; it is a day of their sash. It is a good day to commemorate the Staff of Authority and for the men of the community to pray for the coffers (good fortune) of the women; it is a good day to pray for the protection of the home. Good midwives, writers, and architecst are born on this day.
13 Tijax | Saturday, January 14, 2012
Corresponding with January 14, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 13 Tijax. Tijax is Fish and sharp obsidian. 13 is the highest and strongest number in the calendar. Tijax is a day of doctors, a good day to pray for surgeons and all medical practitioners. It is a day of sacrifice and liberation from suffering. It is a day of sharp, cutting objects—of knives and scalpels and scissors; a good day to safeguard domestic animals against predators and to pray for all animals that are sacrificed, both in ceremony and in everyday life.
Tijax is a good day to use metal (machete, scissors) to "open the sky" and solicit rain, solicit life, split black clouds. Gossip, calumny, and sorcery, on money and sexual matters, can be overcome on this day. On a high-number day, such as today's 13, disputes can turn public, and debilitating. It is a good day for seasoned masters to fortify daykeeping trainees against ridicule by envious countrymen or by evangelicos. It is not a good day to plant.12 Noj | Friday, January 13, 2012
Corresponding with January 13, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 12 Noj. Noj is Woodpecker; Noj is women's intelligence and intelligent ideas connected to the movement of the earth. 12 is the highest balance. Maya knowledge and wisdom live in this day, a good science to support all good deeds, good projects, good business, good home life. Boys born on this day have qualities associated with women and are tranquilo; elder women look to teach them. Everyone born on this day can be attentive to the knowledge of nature, which guides us all. Noj is a good day to hear advice and to make decisions; it is a good day to feed the mind and our curiosity, and to strengthen memory. Noj is one of the four Yearbearers.11 Ajmac | Thursday, January 12, 2012
Corresponding with January 12, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 11 Ajmac. Ajmac is Bee and Vulture, and a day for ancestor spirits to detect and smooth the thread of time in our lives. 11 is an acute, high number. Prudence, intelligence, and ancient wisdom are in this day. Ajmac is a day to plead forgiveness for serious faults and to be judged. Our faults must be faced and paid for on this day, and humble requests for pity are encouraged. Ajmac is a propitious day for the women of a household to make peace with one another after conflict, to apologize for sharp words, and to pray for smooth relationships and the renewal of agreements. Hard luck can face those born on this day, as it is a day that demands moral rectitude, respect, and sincere self-analysis.
10 Tz'ikin | Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Corresponding with January 11, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 10 Tz'ikin. Tz'ikin is Bird, best represented by the hummingbird, also the quetzal, also the eagle. 10 is a strong-shouldered number. Tz'ikin carries the message between Heart of Earth and Heart of Sky. Cold, heat, light, air, cloud are its elements. Love, intuition, precognition are strong in those born on this day. Tz'ikin is a good day for humans to follow the birds to the corn, to find good material luck. It is a good day to ask for revelation and intelligence, for abundance, and for vision. Tz'ikin is a good day to ask for collaboration on projects and for your personal freedom. On this day women have the privilege to ask for their husbands and sons to triple the family money.9 I'x | Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Corresponding with January 10, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 9 I'x. I'x is Jaguar. 9 is a higher number, specifically associated with gestation. I'x is woman's energy day. It is a day to connect with your own land and to pray for its original owners; to pray for and appreciate your house; to pray for the finances to buy and sustain your land; to ask for fertility in humans and animals; to request vigor and strength for reproductive organs, particularly female. I'x is a good day to pray to the mountains in favor of the land. It is a good day for a woman to request strength in her husband's commitment to matrimonial stability. Persons born on the I'x have a close relationship to el Mundo and receive good access to precious metals. I'x is a good day for solitude and meditation.8 Aj | Monday, January 9, 2012
Corresponding with January 9, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 8 Aj. Aj is Cane Reed. 8 is a most solid number. 8 Aj is especially good to ask for clarity of destiny. Aj begins the women's cycle, sentiment of family and home, the spinal chord. Aj is a day of resurgence, renewal, as in the reed and the corn, triumph of good over evil, life over death; it is a day of happiness; renewal of food, money, heart of life. Aj is life and receives life. Persons born on this day renew their communities; they are sickly as children and sturdy as adults; they are especially lucky; they are good awakeners of their families and communities; they make good midwives.
Aj is generally a good day to pray for protection of one's life; protection of the newborn; a good day to pray for twins; a good day to pray for humanity. In the Pop Vuh, the sacred book of the Maya-Quiché, Jun Ajpu Ixbalanké planted a cane in his grandmother's home. The plant would blanche or renew as he died and was resurrected in the fight of the Hero Twins with the Xibalbas, Death Lords of the Underworld. This story, central to Maya spirituality, is remembered in the oral tradition, independent of academic literature.7 Eh | Sunday, January 8, 2012
Corresponding with January 8, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 7 Eh. Eh is Bobcat; it is the Trail; it is the Tooth. 7 is a strong number, linking the halves. Eh is a day that can orient persons (and groups and communities) to their destiny. Eh is the day to ask for protection from dangers and obstructions during travels—specifically that on your road the attention of thieves or highway cops or border inspectors be deviated from your trajectory.
Solitude is in Eh, light rain, kindness, alignment. Persons born on this day can be good counselors, spiritual guides with the gift of prayer to Ajaw (Creator) on the destity of things. Also, good dentists are born on this day. Eh is one of the four pillars of the twenty days, a Yearbearer, a strong, especially sacred day. A prayer started in Batz can be carried by the Eh through the full cycle of twenty days.6 Batz | Saturday, January 7, 2012
Corresponding with January 7, 2012, in the Gregorian calendar is 6 Batz. Batz is Monkey. 6 is a low middle number, steady. Monkey braid, monkey fingers, monkey tail, Batz is the grasp of the hand of monkey so tight and braided that the fist will not let go, even in death. Batz is a good day for beginnings, and for some Maya day-keepers, Batz begins the twenty days. Batz is unity, a good day to tie things together. A good day for a marriage or to start a construction, a good day for initiation into the ways. Batz is the thread of Time that rolls out from under the earth, weaving life until it is cut, weaving Time into History. People born on Batz are calm and self-confident; they make good spiritual guides and leaders, good-hearted architects.5 Tzi | Friday, January 6, 2012
Tzi is the Canine, the guardian. 5 is a partial strength, one leg. Dog, Wolf, Coyote, Tzi can be snarly, terrifying the unprepared with his bark and his bite. Tzi people are zealous to guard the sacredness of ceremony, to identify and punish "intruders," those not disciplined to participate. Benevolent to friends and fierce to enemies, Tzi is steady to reward or punish. Tzi will punish those who disrespect the Days and the spirit of the family. It is a good day to ask for mystic clarity for leaders so that they can seek and discover hidden things, so that they can be just. Tzi has strong sexual energy, hard to restrain. When defined, people born on the Tzi make loyal friends, husbands, and wives.4 Toj | Thursday, January 5, 2012
Corresponding with January 5, 2012, in the Gregorian Calendar is 4 Toj. Toj is a day of making even. The number 4 squares evenly and strongly on this day. Toj is a good day to pay your debts and collect what you are owed. It is a day of evenness for a family, a good day for parents to pay the family's debt to the Mundo, good for the oldest son to appreciate the father and the father to appreciate the mountain. Illness can be turned away from the family by making ceremonial payment on this day.3 Anil | Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Corresponding with January 4, 2012, in the Gregorian Calendar is 3 Anil. Anil is the fertility in the seed; Anil is Rabbit. 3 is a strong, fresh Anil. Anil is the four colors of corn—red, white, yellow, black—the seed of life that is the unity of the world. Anil is renewal after death, regeneration of the earth. Anil people are four directions people and can be good travelers. It is a day of coming back; a day of declaring love to create a new relationship; a day to declare the wish to do business; a day of finding lost things; a day to ask for help in overcoming shyness.2 Kiej | Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Corresponding with January 3, 2012, in the Gregorian Calendar is 2 Kiej. Kiej is the Deer; 2 is the foundational duality, good for a day of equilibrium. Kiej is the four directions; four hoofs striking the earth at once; the many sacred foursomes of the cosmos linked to prayer, highest aviso to the Mundo. Kiej is the staff of authority, keen energy of a chief to detect danger, perception of the leader buck, his horns. Kiej is a good day to pray for mental and physical agility, a day of agile travelers and good communicators. It is also a day to ask for clarity before gossip and ill intentions. Major gift of nature, Kiej holds the indefatigable energy. He is one of the four main carriers of Time.1 Kame | Monday, January 2, 2012
Corresponding with January 2, 2012 in the Gregorian Calendar is 1 Kame. Kame is the Owl, and the recognition of Death. 1 is the first number on the rotation of 13 energies that attach to the Days. A day that recalls the night, tranquility, silence, Kame is a good day to ask for the ancestors who have gone on, to thank them and remember them with purpose. It is an appropriate day to extend reconciliation, to feel and give forgiveness, to develop one's patience, to invoke against mortal illnesses, to access superior knowledge. Without fear, it is a good day to approach spiritual dimensions.13 Kan | Sunday, January 1, 2012
Corresponding with the first day of 2012 in the Gregorian Calendar is 13 Kan. Kan is the Snake; 13 is the highest power that energizes a day. Kan is the ancient origin—Cucumatz, plumed serpent; Kan is the day of impartial justice, a day of maturity, a day to thank the corn, a day of respect. Kan is a good day to pray that truth and justice manifest in the Heart of the Sky, the Heart of the Earth. It is a good day to put aside jealousies and request equilibrium in life and in the family. It is a day to ask for physical strength, to contemplate one's spiritual evolution, and to rekindle the internal fire.