Central panel of the Temple of the Foliated Cross, Palenque. By Linda Schele

3 Aj (18th November 2017)

3 AjWhile the nawal Aj is the quintessential energy of stability, its combination with the number three may see it knocked off its usual balance today. This day may bring challenges to leadership in particular.

The staff tipped with silver carried by Maya elders in their villages is a mark of authority. It is Aj, and both their authority and their leadership spring from many sources. It is not necessarily a political position, although in the modern world it may have become more so. It is a position of respect, achieved through wisdom and dedication to the ongoing life and prosperity of the community. This is the essence of the energy of Aj, leadership through quiet devotion to the people rather than self serving power.

However, the energy of the number 3 brings a challenge to that. It brings a day when even the altruistic efforts of leadership may be challenged, certainly if they are applied externally. The energy of the three brings the focus back to the home and the internal process. As a number of creation, it could be suggested that today is a good day to employ the newfound creativity felt in the B’atz trecena within the home, bringing the harmony as you do so.

Aj is also seen as the nawal of harmony in the home and, together with the number 3, as such this could be seen as  very potent place to focus your wisdom and strength today.  On a day where the external values of leaders are challenged more than ever, looking inside yourself for the courage to stand up and wisdom to do the right thing is the most beneficial course of action.

The Temple of the Foliated Cross. This small and unassuming temple houses one of the most remarkable and beautiful friezes, the Foliated Cross, the featured image of this article. Together with those of the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Cross, this forms an architectural version of a codex, showing both mythic and historical accounts of the ruling dynasty. The three temples together form the cross group, the sacred heart of the beautiful site of Palenque. Picture by Mark Elmy

The nawal Aj is related to many things which generally revolve around leadership on an earthly level. It is sometimes known as the cornstalk, sometimes the staff of life. It represents the spinal column within the body, that which allows us to stand tall, proud and brave. As the cornstalk, it has its roots in the Earth, and its head in the sky. As we are the people of maize, if we wish to lead in a just manner, we should cultivate our connection with the Heart of the Sky and the Heart of the Earth.

Foliated crossThis is a picture of the carving at the top of one of my favourite Mayan temples, the Temple of the Foliated Cross on the site of Palenque (Bàakʼ) in Chiapas, Mexico. At the top of the tablet you see a bird, which represents the Heart of the Sky, the face with the large rectangular (crossed) eyes at the base of the cross represents the Heart of the Earth. The foliated cross is a stylised maize plant with the heads of humans emerging. This is Aj bringing life to the world. It is the central pillar, that which supports life. It is represented by the staffs carried by the elders of Mayan communities to this day. 

Aj is an authority, it is gentle, yet noble. It works quietly for the community it leads. It does not seek the limelight. This is a day that seeks sustenance for its people, that keeps everything in its rightful place. It is a day where we ask for the courage and bravery to stand up straight and tall, to do the right thing.

There are various myths about the creation which link with the number 3. One is that at the time of creation, three stone jumped out of the fireplace and formed the new world. These three stones are called the hearthstones, and are still seen in many Maya homes today, on the fire supporting the tortilla griddle. From an astronomical point of view, the stones are the stars Alnitak, Saiph and Rigel in the constellation we call Orion, and the Smoky Fireplace is the Great Orion Nebula (M42)

A (slightly crude) montage showing a proposed correlation between the constellation of Orion and the triadic structure of Maya pyramids. This one is "El Tigre" at the El Mirador site. Photo and montage by Mark Elmy
A (slightly crude) montage showing a proposed correlation between the constellation of Orion and the triadic structure of Maya pyramids. This one is “El Tigre” at the El Mirador site. Photo and montage by Mark Elmy

The number 3 is still in the low end of the range of numbers. It does not have much energy yet, and it is also an odd number. It can represent the home, relating to the three hearthstones laid by the creators, and this is probably a good focus for a 3 day. However, it is possibly the most troublesome of the numbers to deal with, it lacks stability and represents challenges and obstructions. The number three brings up internal/external dilemma. The lack of stability in the physical, external world that it brings suggests that the more appropriate action is to look to the internal world, both of the home and of yourself.

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