What is Mayan Astrology?

Nawales in a ringMayan astrology is system of interpretation based on the Mayan sacred calendar of 260 days. There are at least two different counts of sacred calendar in use; one used by the Maya people, particularly here in highland Guatemala, commonly called the Chol Q’ij or Quiche count; and one used primarily in the “New Age” community often called the Tzolkin.

The cycle of 260 days is a harmonious fragment, a fraction which correlates and interconnects many aspects of our lives and reality. In its expanded form within Mayan Astrology, it can be closely related with the gestation period of human beings. Mayan creation stories relate that humanity was created from maize dough and oil, the maize grown at this latitude also having a life cycle of 260 days between planting (conception) and harvest (birth).

Isn’t astrology connected to the heavens?

Whilst these aspects are obviously terrestrial, the sacred calendar also relates to movements of the planets, particularly Venus and Mars. Mars has a synodic period, the time required to return to the same or approximately the same position relative to the Sun as seen by an observer on the Earth, of 780 days, exactly 3 revolutions of the 260 day calendar. Venus has a 584 day synodic period. During this time venus will appear as a morning star for 236 days, disappear for 90 days, reappear as an evening star for 250 days and finally disappear for 8 days before reappearing as a morning star. When Venus reappears as the morning star, it is not quite in the same position in the sky as the previous cycles. This gives rise to a second part of the harmonic, where the 584 day cycle is actually part of a 2920 day cycle. Venus can be seen in one of five different places, and 2920 days later will be in exactly the same place in the sky. This motion of Venus is recorded in the Dresden Codex, a Maya document from the 11th or 12th century copied from an earlier document created around four centuries earlier. The Venus table as it is known shows the day of the sacred calendar on which Venus will appear or disappear in each of its phases. This table, produced perhaps 1400 years ago is still accurate today. I have been making observations and using the internet to track Venus. Venus appeared on 13th December 2014 as an evening star on the day 11 Iq’ within the Quiche count of the sacred calendar, disappeared on 20th August 2015 on the day 1 E’, and then reappeared as a morning star on the day 9 Ajpu, 28th August 2015, exactly as shown in the table.

In this way we see that even after 1400 years the Quiche sacred calendar is still tied in to the motions of at least two of the closest planets in our solar system, the gestation period of humans and the life cycle of maize. It acts as a bridge between the heart of the sky (movements of the planets) and the heart of the earth (roots of the maize). As such it can be used to determine the interaction of the divine with the earthly plane, or as it we could put it the earthly life path chosen by ones soul.

So how does it apply to people?

According to Mayan astrology, you are born on one of the 260 days of the sacred calendar. This is known as your awach q’ij (face of the sun). It consists of a number between 1 and 13 and one of twenty nawales. Both the numbers and the nawales all have different characteristics. The combination of the number and the nawal is thought to determine your personality, your strengths and your weaknesses.

Additionally, this is modified by the year in which you were born. The 260 day sacred calendar interacts with a 365 day solar calendar known as the Ha’ab. The first day of the Ha’ab is known as the arrival of the Mam, or old man, the carrier of time. This is also known as the day 0 Pop, and colloquially as Mayan new year. Currently this occurs on 21st February, although it moves back 1 day every four years due to the lack of a leap day in the Ha’ab. Due to the way that the calendars engage, somewhat like gears in a clock, the first day of the new solar year can occur on one of only four of the nawales, which are known as year bearers. As there are 4 year bearers and 13 numbers, this gives a 52 ha’ab year cycle which is seen as an important cycle of life. It is said that the 52 years represent the time at which one becomes an elder. We can certainly understand this from more traditional societies, where at 52 years one has accumulated a great deal of knowledge and is probably a grandparent by that age. Within Mayan astrology, when you have completed 52 revolutions of the sun, you have spent a year getting to know each of the year bearers, and hence you have gained knowledge and experience from each of them. This 52 Ha’ab years is equal to 18980 days, or exactly the half way point of the 13 synodic cycles of Venus. The year bearer of the year in which you are born also gives you certain strengths and weaknesses, and in some ways can be seen as giving you a certain potential to fulfil within life. In order to fulfil this potential you receive a skill set from your number and nawal combination, and so both the sacred calendar and the solar calendar are involved in Mayan astrology.

From this combination we can derive a reading, which can help to highlight what qualities you carry, we are able to look beneath the outward personality at your true drives and motivations, what will bring you joy and where your challenges lie. A simple combination of number and nawal can be expanded to give what is known as the Mayan cross, which introduces secondary numbers and nawales representing your past, future, intuitive and physical aspects. This can further be expanded into a nine sign constellation showing the past and future of both your intuitive and physical aspects.

Some nawales carry the energy of the arts, some of plants, some of prayer makers and some of law keepers. However, in our world the idea of working in harmony with that which comes naturally is sacrificed in favour of that which pays well. When your daily work is in harmony with the energy of your nawal, you will have a natural talent at what you do. Most people will find this pleasing as they will be able to enjoy what they do and be successful at it.  Mayan astrology can be helpful to people who have reached a crossroads in their life, have become dissatisfied with their profession and are wondering what to do next. It can also be very useful to determine the talents of a young child so that materials which will bring out their natural talents can be made freely available to them.

If you are interested to schedule a reading with me, I am available to make them over Skype. You can contact me here to give me your name and birth information. I charge US$95 for a reading, which I can accept through PayPal. I look forward to hearing from you.

Why am I writing about Mayan Astrology?

Phone Nov 2015 196Some time ago I decided I wanted to write a book about Mayan Astrology. This has been a project that has been on my mind for at least five years. I have been asked by others, and it has been suggested to me by people I deeply respect that I put what I know on paper. I started meeting authors and decided that I would definitely do it, yet it is only now that I begin. I am sure that no one sets out with the intention of writing something which is less than what they consider to be the best book on their chosen subject matter, neither did I, but I now realise why it has taken me so long to get around to writing this. I wanted to have the most accurate book on Mayan Astrology available. I wanted it to be authentic from the point of view of what is practiced here in the highlands of Guatemala. I wanted it to be the most essential truth from the real calendars of the real living Maya people. All of these were obstacles which stood in the way of me writing. There is no one truth, each Aj Q’ij (Mayan Spiritual Guide / priest / shaman) will tell you something a little different about their perception of a Nawal, or what day to do a ceremony on, or what to use in ceremony. Perhaps it is our “Western” minds which try to categorise and define systems, we want to standardise everything into something which we can say is definite. Perhaps we are a little too left brained in these ideas, especially when we are dealing with a system which is essentially derived from a very right brained and heart combination. To try to put these ideas down is rather like taking a photograph of a moving, living thing. The photograph will give one perspective of the subject, but without personal observation it is impossible to truly understand the subject.

I wanted to do something anthropologically correct, well that has already been adequately covered by the wonderful writings of Barbara Tedlock and Kenneth Johnson, who reported so accurately on the procedures and practices of Maya spiritual guides in Momostenango. I realised that much of what I wanted to write about was not standard practice. It was my extrapolations and interpretations of practices and ideas. Every Aj Q’ij makes ceremony a little differently, every Aj Q’ij has slightly different ideas. They are working with their hearts and minds engaged with the Heart of the Sky and the Heart of the Earth. Their work is like painting, they may be painting a picture of the same subject, but they will use their own style and possibly their own palette.

I realised that the only option open to me is to set it out straight that this is my interpretation of Mayan calendar systems, of Mayan astrology, of Mayan shamanic practice. This is based on my experiences over sixteen years with people like my teachers Michael Baker, Alloa Patricia Mercier, Don Rigoberto Itzep Chanchavac, with Isaias Mendoza, Ingrid Arevalo, Dolores Ratzan, Nadia Petrova, Kenneth Johnson, Anita Garr and many other teachers, day keepers, observers and interested parties. From each came a part of the puzzle, an ingredient for the caldo. As Don Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj told me, “there is no right way, there is no wrong way, everyone does it in their own way.”

What I am working with has been applied over hundreds of readings with people and seems to be remarkably accurate. How and why it works is a mystery even to me, but I am hoping that some clarity will come as I write this. It is my clients and students that have encouraged me to do this, my peers and fellow adventurers that have helped to make this possible and my teachers that have inspired me. I thank you all.