Some 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.