Most of the Latin American world celebrate the Day of the Dead on the Gregorian date of November 2nd. The day 8 Kame could be seen as its counterpart within the Chol Q’ij, but with additional symbolism.
As the days go, there can hardly be a more representative energy of the cycle of life and possibly the cycle of the soul. Today is a day that ceremonies will be made to honour our ancestors, those who are walking their path in the otherworld. It is said that after death, the souls pass into the underworld where they pass through the houses of challenges. Upon completion of the challenges, they then climb the world tree to the heavens, from where they again incarnate. Today we remember our ancestors, their love and what they brought to us. We are here because of them, we carry their DNA forwards. They taught us things both through their actions and their words. It is for all of these things that we thank our ancestors, we show our love, we show that they are remembered. We hold them in our hearts, and in our memories they live on. This is a day to embrace joy and allow Kame to burn away our grief.
When we see Kame in combination with the 8, this really brings home the wholeness of the cycle of life. It is not just the physical death of the body, every change we go through is a death or end of something. Even birth is the end of a cycle of gestation, the beginning of parenthood, the beginning of a new life. This is a day to celebrate those changes. It is a day when we embrace the changes which happen through the emergence of the new (1) and the death of the old (7) all together in one place. In this Kawok trecena, as we go through our own rebirth process, today is the changing point where we become that which our process has brought us to, we step through the veil into our new self.
The day 8 Kame is also seen as the perfect day to get married. When a couple are married, their lineages become entwined, woven together. This is obvious as their offspring will carry the DNA of both bloodlines. However, it is also seen as having an effect of bringing together the ancestors. The wishes of the ancestors are considered in a great many things and a marriage on a day which honours them is thought to be highly beneficial. The reason why the 8 Kame is particularly seen as beneficial is that not only is it a day on which the ancestors are honoured, it is a day which takes into consideration the four first couples – Balam Kitze and Kaja Paluma; Balam Aq’ab and Chomija; Majujkutaj and Tz’unun Ya; Balam Ikim and Kakixaja. According to the creation stories, they are the ancestors of us all, the guardians of each of the cardinal points. They bless the union of the couple with the masculine and feminine aspects of the properties of each of the directions – strength, wisdom, spirit and abundance.
Kame relates to death, which often makes people nervous. However, this nawal is seen as an extremely positive day. Birth is the gateway into the mortal life, death the gateway into the eternal. In many shamanistic traditions, the initiate goes through several death experiences during training. This can be through the use of particular herbs, or sometimes through accident or illness. In these experiences the density of the mortal realm falls away and the greater understanding emerges. It can often be described as a spiritual transformation. In the Popul Vuh, the Mayan book of creation, the Hero Twins descend to the underworld, Xibalba, to confront the Lords of Death. They pass the many challenges set for them, but eventually end up being tricked by the Lord of Death. Instead of giving in, the Hero Twins choose to sacrifice themselves. They give instructions to a pair of seers to convince the Lords of Death to grind the Twins’ bones to dust and throw the dust in the river. Everything went according to plan and five days later the twins appeared as catfish in the river, then transformed into vagabond “magicians”. In this way we see a literal transformation from the crusader (Tijax) through death (Kame) to the higher self (Ix). This is the potential of the Kame day, to face ones fears and attain a higher perspective, to advance the journey of your soul. This is also a day to remember your ancestors and friends that have passed into the other realm, to remember what they taught you, and to thank them for their wisdom that helped you to grow.
The number 8 is considered to be a number of wholeness. It can be seen as birth (1) and death (7) combined to represent the whole cycle of the soul. It can also be seen as the point where the four first men who raised the sky from the sea were joined by their wives and the world become whole. It is the most common day for ceremonies to be made, it is still in the balanced range of numbers and is an even number, which is also considered fortunate. As this wholeness represents every aspect of the energy of the day with which it is coupled, it is the wholeness of the nawal that is addressed in ceremony.