Year Bearer Glossary Definition
The Year Bearer fulfills an important role for the Maya and throughout Mesoamerica. This is the Daylord who bears responsibility for carrying the sun up from the underworld each morning, through the day and back into the underworld in the evening. It's a heavy, dangerous load. You can see him in the glyph below, surrounded by the glyphs for the 18 months of the 365-day, solar year Haab calendar.
The Haab calendar has a unique arrangement of 18 months of 20 days each, equaling 360 days. Then, at the end of this cycle, the additional five days are tacked on, grouped together to form a time period celebrated as the Wayeb. This is a time for ceremony, prayer, offerings, renewal and celebration.
Year Bearers take turns assisting the sun as it makes its daily journey around the earth. The Year Bearers operate like a relay team, each taking responsibility for 365 days before the next Year Bearer takes over the burden for the next year.
Since there are a total of 20 Day Lords in the sacred count of days and the Haab, this translates to a total of five groups of Year Bearers, 4 Day Lords in each group. Over eons of time, these groups also take turns take turns and characterize the energy of the epochs of time that they carry.
The groupings are:
I Crocodile/Imox, Death/Kame, Monkey/B'atz, Wisdom/Ajmaq
II Knowledge/Noj, Wind/Iq, Deer/Kej, Road/E*****current grouping
III Reed/Aaj, Flint/Tijax, Dawn/Aqabal, Seed/Q'anil
IV Offering/Toj, Jaguar/Ix, Rainstorm/Kawaq, Net/K'at
V Serpent/Kan, Dog/T'zi, Bird/Tz'ikin, Sun/Ajpu
What causes the Day Lord groups to shift from one to another? The Mayan Elder's Counsel decides based upon their guidance from the unseen world as well as observations of world and local events.
Carlos Barrios indicates that the Elders are discussing and foresee a shift coming so that the "baton" will shift from group II to group number III in 2013, which would make sense according to the change to the 13th Baktun cycle of time on the Long Count calendar.
There are, however, differences in how it is used among various lineages or clans. It is common to find discrepancies regarding which day lord is in charge or when is the first day of the Haab. The system we used to calculate the year bearer for our Mayan Cross is the one in place in the Kiché department of Guatemala. In 2013, the Tuzjuhil, Kaqchiquel, Mam and Kiche traditions all use the same "seating" of the new year, February 21 when the energy moves from 13.Knowledge (Noj) in 2012 to 1.Wind (Iq) in 2013.
The Year Bearer concept actively integrated throughout Mesoamerica as you can see from the wall painting above, in Zunil, GT.