by Boots Hart, CAP

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Mayan Calendar

 Main Plaza (including Temple I) - Tikal, Guatemala

For all the conversation about the 'end of the Mayan Calendar' in 2012, not many understand what the Mayan Calendar is. And isn't. And that there are really three different Mayan calendars - which we will attempt to run through here in the briefest of brief manners.

The first is based on 365 days - one "Haab" (often written as Haab', ancient Mayan-speak being a language full of apostrophes). This calendar is easy enough for us to understand - it correlates to the length of a solar year.

Well, more or less. The actual solar year is not quite 365 days. And the fact is that the rotational rate planet Earth is very, very, very slowly slowing down.

In the grand world of calculating using such things, unless you're NASA or someone like that, even the mathematically persnickety among us generally use 365.2422 as a day-length for one Earthly year. And it's that '0.2422' bit which accounts for leap year; seeing that the Gregorian calendar (the one you use and have hung on the wall with pretty pictures) is basically scheduled for only 365 days a year that quarter of a day has to go somewhere...which is why we have Leap Years.

This 'left over' quarter of a day thing is also why when an astrologer calculates your birthday chart (using exact data) the astronomical day of your birthday will shift back and forth in a 4-year, leap-year sort of cycle. Which is nice if you're one of those people who likes to celebrate your birthday a lot: chances are good that in any four years, at least two out of the four will give you good justification for stretching the party (parties) out.

So that's the Haab - and a bit more just for the sake of it.

The second calendar is the Tzolkin (or again, Tzolk'in), the so-called sacred Mayan 'count of days.' This is a  calendar based on 260 days and which was devoted to divinations on particular ritual dates. The two hundred-sixty part of this count is based on 20 x 13 - a pairing of numbers which has everything to do with various Mayan beliefs, their observations of the heavens (the Maya having been fabulous astronomers, astrologers and philosophical types)... and on a more basic level, the fact that the Mayan numerical system as a whole was based not on ten - as ours is - but on twenty.

And yes, this would suggest the Maya may have cared as much about toes as fingers, but that's another thing (and good on them for doing so if that was the case, too).

According to many if not most, your common Mayan person was not actually all that into the specific day and year in the greater sense that we think of centuries and millennial doings. For them, two things were important: knowing when to plant and harvest, and when to deal with things ritual and sacred. For this they turned to a local daykeeper. 

Daykeepers were priestly-scribe types charged with keeping track of the interlocking, intercalary calculations which kept all in sync - no small feat considering the base twenty and the way the Maya saw temporal progression. But when all is boiled down, what becomes apparent is that the general populace operated with a 'big picture' 52-year window within which their world pretty much operated (give or take an invasion from the city-state next door and all that).

This 52 year cycle is interesting to us as distant contemplatives of a world allegedly now long gone (I say allegedly as I happen to know personally that as of the 1950's it hadn't actually entirely gone away) the end of each 52 year cycle word would go out and everybody would pack up and move out of their cities and towns, lock stock and kitchen fire. As they did so, all their houses and rooms in various palaces and temples got filled up with rubble - part of their purification process (and very good at making sure nobody snuck back in).

This brings us also the fact that Mayan temples - the "pyramids" of the Maya are not built in anything of the same manner as those of the Egyptians, pyramids many of us are far more familiar with. The Egyptian pyramids are built greatly of giant, solid blocks of stone - with a few passageways and secret niches. The Mayan pyramids were built as 'rooms,' each of which was filled with (guess what!) building rubble. Said rubble giving the room mass and structural tolerance, once a room was filled with shards chipped off the rocks they were building with (an efficient system if nothing else), a ceiling was laid on and building continued.... interesting thought, given the monumental size of some Mayan buildings.

Temple II - Tikal, Guatemala

Between the building and the necessity to clear out and fill everything with rubble once every 52 years, this suggests a flourishing market in rubble as a commodity in everyday Mayan life. Who knows - there may have been some sort of 'rubble exchange' with Mayan traders jumping up and down yelling prices for sacks of rubble.

But I digress...

That the two calendars discussed - the Haab' and the Tzolk'in - interfaced (through multiplication of days) in what we call the Mayan Long Count is why and how the Mayan calendar concept has come down to us as time being a function as 'wheels within wheels.' It is also this Long Count which is going to come to a close in December of 2012.

Yet one true and very Mayan concept about the Long Count makes all the fuss and bother about the world ending rather extraneous - a fact which may annoy Hollywood filmmakers who have come up with disaster movies based on the idea that the world is suddenly going to end come December, 2012. That fact is that the Long Count is the only calendar known constructed to run both backwards and forwards. And this may seem like a big yawn and 'so what?' until you recognize that the Maya, in projecting that there had been an entire Long Count before they came to be would have no real motivation for saying the world was going to end in 2012.

Au contraire...Mayan beliefs - which were far ahead of their day - are that time and thus life are an eternal continuum. There was an essential belief among the Maya that 'we are the stuff of the stars' and that nothing of the essence which is Creation and That Created is ever lost. It may change form, but it remains as part of the cosmos.

In case you don't recognize that concept, today we call that E=mc2'd.

Yes, the Maya were a bit ahead of their time. One wonders if Einstein ever have them a thought or two.

With all this said, there are either two or three charts for this Mayan Long Count we should probably take a gander at. The first would be that for its inception, a date which is recorded as August 13, 3113 BCE - which is why today we are sort of 'celebrating' the Long Count's birthday. Here's that one:

Mayan Long Count - Inception
August 13, 3113 BCE/Tikal, Guatemala

In short - taking into particular conception that after Sun and Moon the planet most watched by the Maya was Venus, this would appear to be a picture of mankind learning how to live with civilization.

Venus exactly trine Black Moon (aka calculated Lilith) from Cancer to Pisces suggests it is our emotionalism and our ability to deal with our own feelings and our feelings about being part of a greater society (or in this world) which makes the difference. And whether you're considering Things Atomic or religions which came after that of the Maya (western religions, in particular) this concept of sin and redemption, or purity, or the 'broken-ness of the world' all amount to this very question.

According to this image, Pallas (wisdom) is conjunct fixed star Thuban - the indicator of struggle. So the gaining of wisdom isn't easy. And given Pallas being inconjunct to obsessive/transformative Pluto, that process of learning is constant (inconjuncts = adjustment) and not all that comfortable. The inconjunct being an aspect which always connects signs of unalike and discordant nature, here we have the 'idea(s)' of wisdom at odds with 'concrete success.'

But remember, in true astrological style, this is a door which also opens both ways. So in one direction we have the 'right idea' or the 'right/correct/wise' thing being at odds with success in the sense of achievement, leadership, power and wealth. You know, all the modern popular biggies. But in the other direction, we have the 'proof of the pudding' thing - that reality may prove all our concepts of wisdom or things built from those 'wise concepts' not so wise. This too can be applied to anything from A to Z, giving us materialism versus humanistic values, societal need versus planetary ecology, even real life versus religion.

Considering that, maybe the whole 2012 thing...could that merely be the coming of many of these debates to a head? Popular rabble rousing (not to mention Hollywood) is always talking about 'the end of the world,' but frankly, the end of the world has been being forecast since anyone realized there was a world which could possibly end. And things do end - our conceptions of life, they end by evolving and becoming new concepts. In the light of the fact that the Mayan Long Count is indeed a calendar which by Mayan design extended backwards as well as forwards, does that not suggest that if the end of this Long Count means anything, it means a shift in human not planetary evolution?

For that answer - astrologically - we look to the chart for conclusion of the Long Count. And here we get into a little bit of a flurry. If you Google on this matter, what you'll find is that there are a couple of different calculations for the date; having done the math personally (oh, the things young astrologers do with their evenings!) I can see where both December 21 and 23, 2012 work. 

(Don't don't want the whole explanation here.)

So here are both charts. First, the one for December 21, 2012....

Mayan Long Count - Ending #1
December 21, 2012/Tikal, Guatemala

...and here's the chart for the 23rd...

Mayan Long Count - Ending #2
December 23, 2012/Tikal, Guatemala

Obviously the chart for the 21st is a solstice chart, but solstices being not nearly as notable an occurrence close to the equator as at higher latitudes, it may be not all that shocking that they weren't quite the event in the land of the Mayan that they are in say, London or Melbourne. When you live near the equator things vary, yes. But you aren't anticipating the kind of climate shifts you expect in say, Toronto.

The most basic of the differences in these charts pertain to the position of Sun and Moon. Either way we are talking about a Sun in the 1st (and physical) decanate of Capricorn, an area of the zodiac all about what we aim at, what we make of ourselves and the standards to which we hold ourselves as individuals and as people with responsibilities to others, including society.

Zero Capricorn (December 21st) embodies these ideas in a very self/worldly sense as a steward of their environment, personal and global and lore tells us that this is a degree of great endurance and patience. Two Capricorn (December 23rd) is different in that it's a degree all about finding the support you need not in your environment, but in yourself. This degree challenges the finding of harmony and indeed calls for a reduction in manageable prospects; what may under other circumstances seem boundless is here defined as needing a somewhat 'smaller' framework so that each thing can be built in turn with care and attention to the whole.

Unfortunately we can't look at the Moon of these charts with certain accuracy, simply because the Mayan day started at dawn and dawn occurs at a one hour over here in this place - which would at that moment be a completely different hour and not dawn in some other place. I've set the charts shown here for Tikal - a city known as the Queen of Mayan cities - for convenience of conversation and because Tikal means a great deal to me, personally. But if the Mayan Long Count means anything global, it can be about one single place.

So...sorry. About all we can say about the Moon is that it's in Aries - the sign of "I Am" and the physical being, initiation and physicality on the 21st and in Taurus, sign of self worth, resources, talents and value on the 23rd.

But we do have one other global factor well worth looking at: Venus - sacred planet of the Maya. Seen in these charts, Venus stands conjunct fixed star Antares, a star which promises success if obsessions are avoided. Connected with Venus, the first 'obsession' which indicated here is what is 'gotten' out of any given action or transaction.

On the 21st, Venus is at 6 Sagittarius, a degree all about being of service to the whole or the group. Situated with Antares, this would say that yes, the contribution is for the group but it must be done in the right spirit (in other words, not for what you're going to get out of the deal).

On the December 23rd, Venus will be at 9 Sagittarius, a degree which speaks about a 'fire' and the possibility of getting 'burned.' Those who believe in apocalyptic visions for this period as the 'end time' will like as not latch on to this symbol, though astrologically this 'burning' is as likely to be 'burning with inspiration' as with fever or because volcanoes are raining lava down hither and yon.

Perhaps most telling in both these charts is that Sun in both stands conjunct Juno and square Uranus at 4 Aries. Juno is many things, all of which come back to one's ability to provide security/secure leadership. In square to Uranus at 4 Aries this is a challenge of discernment - in other words, just because you can do something (or because it sounds interesting) doesn't mean you should do something.

Considering our world, these symbols have a lot of meanings global, societal and personal. But maybe most important to realize is that there isn't anything to say the end of the world has come. If we compare the 2012 charts to the 3113 BCE chart, the message would be that as a race we have spent a long time learning and that now we need to concentrate more on not how to do it, but why we would (or shouldn't) do things.

And that may be the key. Mankind has spent a goodly number of thousands of years conquering the world, the environment and so on.

But conquering our tendencies? The aberrations of our emotions? Our cravings when put against our sensibilities and that all same comes from what would seem to as yet be a pretty irrational hold on that oh-so personal commodity, the human ego?

If we are indeed one with the stars, if we are E=mc2'd, then what makes us separate is the same thing which drives our desires: ego. Ego is what makes us think we're 'all that' as a race. It causes us to kill each other. Ego causes people living on a planet with literally billions of human beings on it to think they need to make yet another human life.

Ego causes mankind to think we're better than other creatures - and in the end more of a life force on this planet than the cockroach (even though we apparently know cockroaches could last though an atomic bomb we set off when we ourselves wouldn't survive).

Ego makes us think we are 'all that' and the champagne bottle sitting in the kitchen sink of the universe.

Maybe it's time we got over or past that?


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