Solar Zenith – 13 Kej (30th April 2020)

Here, by Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, approximately 15 degrees north of the equator we observe the phenomenon of the solar zenith twice per year, but what is the solar zenith?

The zenith point is the highest point of the sun in the sky. This will occur at midday, when the sun crosses an imaginary line running from north to south known as the meridian. The path of the sun through the sky is called the ecliptic, and is also the line on which you can find the planets – it is the plane of the solar system. At the days of solar zenith, the meridian and the ecliptic will form a perfect cross at midday, with 90 degree angles in each quadrant. This means that the sun will be directly overhead, and our shadow, if we stand up straight, will be just a little puddle around our feet. The sun is perfectly balanced on both the east/west and north/south axes.

This phenomenon happens at all locations within the tropics, and at slightly different times. On the Tropic of Cancer, 25.4 degrees north of the equator, solar zenith is observed on just one day of the year, June solstice. The further south you go, the further the the difference in days increases up until you reach the equator, where the solar zenith occurs on the equinoxes. If you continue south to the Tropic of Capricorn, 23.4 degrees south of the equator, you find that again the solar zenith occurs only once, on December solstice.

For us here, it means that in the days between the first zenith transit at the end of April and the second in August (around August 11), the sun is effectively in the north at midday. It is not by a great amount (about 81 degrees above the northern horizon at midday) but it can certainly mean that planning a garden is not so easy.

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about the solar zenith is that the two occasions are 105 days apart. If we use the Mayan solar calendar, they count the solar year with 365 days. Therefore the “summer” period between the April and August zenith transits of 105 days means that the remainder of days, between August and April works out to 260 days, the number of days in the sacred calendar. This is a fact which convinced some scholars that the sacred calendar must have originated at a latitude of about 15 degrees north of the equator. There is also some other special Mayan numerology in the timing of the zenith passages, with each one occurring 52 days away from the June solstice – 52 being a number which occurs many times in Mayan mathematics. It is also interesting that the second zenith transit occurs around 11th August, which according to the GMT correlation, was the day of creation of the fourth age of the Sun back in 3114BC.

We can tell by the alignments of certain structures (for example El Caracol at Chichen Itza, The Palace at Palenque and stelae 10 and 12 at Copan to name just a few) that the ancient Maya were marking the sunrises and sunsets on zenith days, so it would seem that zenith days were of importance to them. There are also zenith tubes, long, vertical holes which could only illuminate the chamber below when the sun was directly overhead on zenith days.

Exactly what meaning was attributed to the zenith days is something I have yet to understand. However, there is a great deal of evidence that the April zenith day was seen as a day for general planting to start. Right now we are waiting for the rains to come. A few little sprinkles have happened to wet the earth up a bit, but the true rains are on their way. With this zenith coinciding with the days 13 Kej and 1 Q’anil, it would seem like an excellent time to connect with the spirit of the natural world and the ancestors (13 Kej) and plant your seeds for an abundant harvest (1 Q’anil) asking the sun to bless your crops.

13 Kej (30th April 2020)

13 KejThe combination of the nawal Kej representing strength with the number 13 can bring about an extremely powerful day. This is a day of strengthening from the spirit of the natural world.

Kej can have the tendency to ride roughshod over anything or anyone that stands in its way, and today it has the power of the spirit world behind it. It can be a great day for achieving your goals, although remember to exercise temperance when dealing with those who you may perceive as obstructing your path. A little force goes a long way today.

That said the other aspect of this day can be truly enlightening. The connection of Kej to the wilderness and the strength of spirit in 13 could give rise to an epiphany should you choose to connect with nature today. It is a day to find your answers during a walk in the woods, to energise yourself in the life force of the natural world, as the otherworld provides a bridge through the wilderness.

Xbalamkiej, patron of the day Kej one of the hero twins from the Popol Vuh. From the Dresden Codex
Xbalamkiej, patron of the day Kej one of the hero twins from the Popol Vuh. From the Dresden Codex

Kej is possibly the strongest of the nawales, it is powerful, but in a different way to Kan. Kej is energetic, lively and determined. It is the nawal of nature, of the wilderness and it is this power that it draws on. The animal totem of Kej is the deer, but if you have fragile, new-born Bambi in mind, think again. This is the majestic stag, standing on the mountain surveying his domain. Whilst most nawales are not necessarily engendered, Kej is most definitely masculine. Both men and women that carry Kej as their nawal have great strength, although the men tend to hide their strength more. Kej women are particularly driven, resourceful and brave, sometimes to the point of being rather dominant. All radiate an aura of nobility, people tend to look to them to lead.

Kej is the nawal of the Mayan “religion”, a day of spiritual leaders, of shaman and of priests. It is these leaders who understand how to read the messages from the natural world, who help to keep our existence in balance with nature. It is a day to connect with the wilderness and draw the power of the natural world into you, to harmonise and replenish.

The number 13 is the final number on the pyramid. It represents the spirit world. It is said that on Halloween, the veil between the worlds is the thinnest. However within the sacred calendar, this thinning happens every 13 days. This connection with the spirit world creates a powerful day, where both the positive and negative aspects of the nawal it is attached to come through strongly. It is a very good day for activities such as divination, however, ceremonies on 13 days are generally only carried out by the most experienced Aj Q’ij who understand how to work with that strength of energy.