The Wayeb


The WayebFor 5,000 years the Maya have simultaneously used 20 different calendars for various purposes: agricultural, sacred, and predictions, amongst others.

The Hab’ is one of these Maya calendars. It has 18 months of 20 days each, plus a small month of 5 days, totaling 365 days. The Hab’ is the most accurate calendar of the ancient world. According to the most sophisticated computers, the length of a year is 365.2422 days and the calculations of the Maya are at 365.2420 days.

One of the most relevant things about the Hab’ are the 5 days prior to the New Year. This time is used to purify several aspects of one’s self, in order to receive the coming year with good energy. During these days people clean their homes, giving away the things that are no longer useful to them but might be useful to someone else. They paint their house, fast to eliminate accumulated toxins, and meditate and reflect on the offenses they have done to others, for which they apologize. They bathe in thermal springs or saunas to purify their bodies, practice sexual abstinence, and reflect upon whether or not they have fulfilled their goals – and why or why not. They doing a cleansing and seeking for balance in the four levels:

  • Material: by cleaning their body and their home
  • Spiritual: by cleaning their spirit
  • Emotional: by cleaning envies and bad feelings in their heart
  • Intellectual: by cleaning the bad thoughts of their mind

The goal is to find an understanding of why we did not accomplish certain purposes so as to not commit the same mistakes in the coming year.

For this reason this 5 day month receives the name of Wayeb’ in Yucatec Maya and Tz’apil in K’iche’ Maya.  The latter one means closing a door, for it is closing the door to the old year and receiving the new one cleansed in all levels to achieve happiness.
The WayebOn the first day of the year, people wear new clothes, with new energy to start the year without the burden of the previous one.  They also light a new fire, as the old fire was put out at the beginning of the Wayeb’.  During these five, days the fire, the comal (clay or metal dish used to make tortillas), the pot used to cook maize and the grinding stone rest – until a new fire is lit at the start of the new year.

The whole community is in a profound cleansing process to have a good beginning to the coming year. We will start the year, 5,200, on February 22, 2012. This day is also Oxlajuj (13) N’oj, which brings an energy of development, awareness, knowledge and wisdom to the year. It is a good year to learn from your experiences, acquire knowledge in all levels and increase your spiritual development.

If each year we cleanse ourselves, our path becomes easier, without many burdens. Our baggage becomes lighter, our health becomes better, we will be happier, more understanding, our life will flow easier into the universe, things will be solved faster.  If we climb a mountain carrying a 50 pound bag it will be tough climb, but if we are carrying a 10 pound backpack we will walk faster, without getting that tired.  We will enjoy the view, breathe the air, we will not need to rest too often and we will reach the peek faster to enjoy the beautiful view from the top. This is the difference we make in our life if we cleanse ourselves every year. The funny thing is that we service our car when we have driven it for a number amount of miles, assuring it will last longer and be in better condition, but we don’t service ourselves. The Wayeb’ or Tz’apil is the service that the Maya people make, not to cars – to themselves.

This is the third in a series of short stories written by Mayan Ajq’ij (spiritual guide) Lina Barrios from Guatemala. These stories are meant to share the knowledge and wisdom of the Mayan peoples with the world. This story relates to the 5 day month known as the Wayeb, which occurs from 2/17 through 2/21 2012 on the Gregorian Calendar.


Lina Barrios
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