A calendar glyph painted on wood for 13 Aqbal, the day which coincides with December 4 on the Mayan Calendar. (Esteban Pop Caal (Qieqchi Maya) via National Museum of the American Indian)

Following the Mayan Calendar With The National Museum of the American Indian

December 04, 2012


The days are drawing closer to the supposed Mayan Apocalypse said to happen at the end of the indigenous group’s Long Count calendar – December 21.

Though this has been proven a myth, there is still much that isn’t known about the Mayan calendar.

“The Cholq’lj, the Maya sacred ceremonial calendar of 260 days—a cycle of 20 Day deities and 13 numbers—is the basis of the Maya spirituality that survives to this time, practiced daily among millions of Maya people, in thousands of communities,” according to the National Museum of the American Indian’s Maya Calendar archive.

The archived blog has shared the meaning of each day throughout the Mayan year, and has been composed by Jose Barreiro, head of NMAI’s Office of Latin America, and his wife Katsi Cook. As the blog states, the interpretation of the days varies among the Maya people and this ongoing blog is based on sustained conversations and participation with Maya Q’eqchi calendar preist Roderico Teni and daykeeping families in the area of Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, over a span of three decades.

“I am particularly moved to write these interpretations of the Maya Days because there is growing confusion about the actual, living Maya calendric tradition,” Barreiro wrote in Living in the Practice: Introduction to “This Day in the Maya Calendar." “This compelling indigenous lifeway is obscured by loud and superficial static fueled by Hollywood, apocalyptic preachers and not a few academics. Some of the early readers of these entries have asked, ‘Are you a Maya expert?’ ‘Expertise’ is too big a word for learning about an ancient tradition such as that practiced by the Maya. I heard an elder say once that the Maya knowledge is in the people, who are a large, vast field of corn stalks ripe with thousands of ears of the four sacred colors. ‘Each kernel is a world of knowledge and each kernel is like no other,’ he said. In a large field of corn, one is lucky to hold one or two kernels.”

The following is a look at today, December 4, and the day it coincides with on the Maya calendar:

13 Aqbal: “Corresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 13 Aqbal. Aqbal is the Dawn, also Bat; 13 is the highest turbulence. Aqbal is clarity, the separation of darkness and light as the Sun disperses the fog and obscurity of night. This is a good day to ask for a peaceful and happy daybreak, a day to find hidden and lost things, a day to wash away tears of sadness. On Aqbal, the sacred fire is recognized and appreciated. Aqbal is a good day to clean the ashes (renew the heart) of a fireplace and to present a new baby to el Mundo. A potential bride or groom can be revealed on this day. Harvesting of corn can begin on this day.

“People 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."

Be sure to check the archive throughout the days leading up to December 21 to learn the meanings in the Mayan calendar.

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