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 Post subject: Mnemonic Phrases and the Nine Symbol Chart
 Post Posted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:55 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:17 pm
Posts: 95
Go to to find out your maya day sign.

Barbara Tedlock delineated in her generously praised study on the traditional practices of daykeepers in the Maya Highlands how the Ajqijab--or keepers of the days--memorize(d) mnemonic phrases for each of the sacred signs. They have for centuries applied these phrases in acts of divination as a kind of receptacle of the sum total of their experiences and intuitions with regard to the meaning of each of the signs. For the Highland Maya, the sacred signs are not fixed symbols that can be defined, but extended metaphors that can never be completely understood, but can be alluded to, worked with, and expanded on, given that there is a medium for their interpretation in the material world.

Contemporary Guatemalan understanding of the true nature of the signs depends on a peculiar method that is not as one would see in most Western traditions that have in recent years began to wield the calendar for their own purposes. Of course, we cannot generalize Mayanist following of the days and sweepingly say that they are wrong. There are no wrong interpretations in the sacred calendar, but only wrong counts and false prophets. Everyone has the right to interpret the calendar as they see fit, but there are some ways to get more out of it than others. I mention the Highland Maya because their methods and techniques for molding their bodies and minds into vessels for providing an understanding of people's destinies has been quite successful, so I will share the little I know. Perhaps it will be of use to somebody, somewhere.

There are of course many commonly known personality traits for each of the sacred signs, but to say that the Tzolkin can only serve us as a psychological schema or a system composed of various personality types or canned inflexible energies would fall short of understanding its true potential as an all-inclusive system of meaningful correspondences.

And despite what some New Age ideologues would have you think, it's not all flowery transformation and Jedi Mind Tricks, for all possible sources of ones own destruction are present in the calendar, and I would argue that the forces, before one becomes unified to the calendar, mostly is in the dark side of the calendar. The relational process of accepting ones sign and traveling this journey while living within mother Earth's womb moves us closes to spiritual equilibrium. Never forget that the decline of Mesoamerican religion came before the conquest. It was still there, but it's not what it had been during the Classic period, for the material began to creep in, and equilibrium was lost. Whereas the Post-Classic Maya and Mexica were declining, we in the West at this point in history are moving towards our own Classic age from the dark. We begin from the vantage point of decline--the uphill battle towards equilibrium, not more matter than we need, not more spririt than we need to be one and at peace.

The possibilities of the calendar never cease to expand. One can apply its underlying principles to anything from understanding ones day, soothsaying the days to come, all the ways to construct organizations that would flow a little better, a little more united, a little more conscious of the light and the dark. It may be used in many cases to construct literary fiction of the most organic plot structure. I may or may not elaborate on this particular point in another blog. Overall, there are different ways to approach each operation depending on what the desired outcome is from the onset.

Usually what most know about the nature of the days relates primarily to ones personality and how it interacts with the world, i.e. other people, the differing days. But it can become tiresome to apply one set of definitions to all problems. That is why the contemporary Maya put differing mnemonics in different association blocks, kind of like hanging ornament on a forever spiraling cosmic tree. We here on this site who follow the calendar know at best self-consciously and at worst intuitively that the meaning of the signs gain depth and meaning each passing day, but not until one lives an entire 260 day cycle does one truly comprehend the magnitude of the natural cycle in its essence, for as one a cycle has turned to another, ones understanding expands exponentially. The 260 days as a whole form a unity that can be thought of as a super-sign that is in fact a fractal of the Long Count, which is a macrocosm of the Tzolkin itself. In the long narrative of time in space, the Sacred Calendar is but its pages--no more, no less.

Within this network of all possible combinations within the super-sign itself, which includes all folds of dark, light, gray, and everything in between within its lexicon, the calendar becomes an open system that can be exploited to generate an unlimited amount of meaning, but what is left is for an interpreter to make use of this generative principle in order to generate the transformation of consciousness in all the light touches. Instead of saturating oneself with information, it's more practical in most cases to fill the most amount of energy and insight into the smallest amount of space. I have tried in the past to simply associate intuitions with either the glyph symbols, the words, or their translations.

Recently, though, I have found it very reassuring and simpler to stack the heaps of information into a concentric phrase. You could always create your own sets of phrases. Perhaps four short, descriptive phrases for each sign. So, when you think of a sign, instead of a long personality description as could be found in most book on "Mayan Astrology," one can construct their own system of linked lists that can be easily accessed by the trained mind instead of depending on mountains of overwhelming information.

I now simply awaken from sleep each day and perform rituals that re-enforce the direction and meaning of the phrases, and for the rest of my life, those phrases will acquire the depth, breath and meaning south after by my soul and will be imprinted on my consciousness without need for any other re-enforcement. I was once dependent on websites and books, but once the method has been simplified, one is ready for true work with people and the calendar.

For the sake of simplicity, I will use the day names most familiar to most in the United States which are the Yucatec. It would be too tedious to lay them out in Quiche since there are many dialects. Most New Age writers use the Yucatec versions anyways. Here are the day names and their corresponding mnemonic phrases as transcribed by Barbara Tedlock during her apprenticeship as an Ajqij:

IMIX: "one becomes possessed or crazy," "a big enemy," "humble oneself before truth."
IK: "one became annoyed," "an enemy is against one," "strong, wild, violent," "frenzy, fury, madness."
AKBAL: "opening at dawn," "to blame of lies, tricks, and slander."
KAN: "to burn in nets and heaps," "to be in debt."
CHICCHAN: "he is weeping," "the enemy."
CIMI: "asking for good," "the deceased," "marriage."
MANIK: "mounting," "talker."
LAMAT: "harvest," "it ripens," "to have corn and money," "sowing and planting," "feeder," "sunset."
MULUC: "to pay," "illness, pain."
OC: "to be dirty, soiled, stained, impure," "jealous words," "it isn't certain."
CHUEN: "to spin," "to roll up," "winding," "asking."
EB: "the good road," "the straight road."
BEN: "in the house," "at the place," "mixing," "in the patrilineage."
IX: "to withdraw, remove, to be free," "before the Earth."
MEN: "to cry for," "to ask for," "money, silver."
CIB: "pardoning your sins there before the sky, before god, before Earth, before the ancestors."
CABAN: "he was thinking good thoughts," "he was thinking bad thoughts," "to think, meditate, argue, resolve, conclude, or worry."
ETZNAB: "telling lies," "slandering," "trampling lips," "to conceal from ones family," "fighting."
CAUAC: "to hold water, to plant or set out," "gather together gossip, trouble, or harassment."
AHAU: "ancestor's day," "before the ancestors," "the ancestors already know."

They use these particular phrases mostly in divining through sorting seeds in group and counting out the days, mixing the messages of the seed with the movements of the blood in their bodies, which I don't think you could truly do unless you've been initiated, but there are other ways to divine. It's quite easy to come up with new ways to divine. As long as you're true to yourself and your experience, you cannot be wrong. Not all divination is left to chance, especially not when it comes to a phenomenon as calculated and precise as the Tzolkin.

There are several different charts that one could use to map out different aspects of different things that the calendar and the sacred numbers can be consciously applied to. If one wanted to know the chronology of the day, a person's total destiny, vocation, his/her friends, and social organization, these phrases may either be written or mentally superimposed over the sacred map used by many Ixil and Quiche diviners. There is a direct parallel between this sacred map of the plumed serpent, as i've heard it referred to, and the Dreamspell's Oracle of Destiny, which when compared is quite incomplete, as it is missing four signs, and makes mistaken differences between antipode and analog signs, which are actually more alike than not and are where two of the guardians--two of four to be exact, as will be mentioned later--should reside. The guide in the Dreamspell equates to the past or conception in the sacred map, whereas the occult sign in the Dreamspell is much like and in the same position as the sign for the protection of the future.

It is a map of nine mayan symbols--sign/tone juxtapositions--and at its center is the current day or the day one is objectifying in order to observe. Above it is its past or its conception. Below it is the protection for the future. To its lower left and upper right are its two helpers which re-enforce and aid the central sign. The rest are its guardians, or what one should be watchful for and what one should arm themselves with. This complex personality map is difficult to understand and read, but with the aid of the phrases in their interpretation, it becomes quite manageable. I have found that this can, as mentioned above, be useful in understanding either the chronology of a person's life or the chronology of a particular day. The past symbol could represent the beginning of the day, the emergence into waking life. The future symbol can mean its decent into the stupor of sleep, the ascending to the spirit world. But when these symbols are applied to a personality, the past is the past, and the future is simply the road ahead. Wherever you find yourself in life, regardless of the day on the sacred calendar, you could always look to the sign of the past for answers as to what you have done wrong and what you have done right. The future can tell you what you should do and what you should not.

I have not found this technique mentioned but in one book called "Contemporary Maya Spirituality" in a section called 'Use of the Calendar for Personal Mapping.' Here are a few mini-instructions for the blueprint in brief (I will use my own sign, 11-Cauac, to illustrate the process; and please note that when one counts the day forward or backward, the number counted from is included in the product):

1) On a clean sheet of paper, draw three dots an inch apart, each dot down along the left side.
2) Beside each dot, add two more dots an inch away from the first dot toward the right. You should now have the rough shape of a square made up of nine dots.
3) At the central dot, the middle dot, we place ones sign. In this example, it will be 11-Cauac.
4) Count nine days backwards from this sign and put it over the dot above it, which would be 3-Chuen.
5) Count nine forward from the central sign and put it over the dot below it, which would be 6-Manik.
6) From 3-Chuen, count backward seven days, which would bring us to 10-Chicchan. Put that over the dot to its left.
6) From 3-Chuen, count forward seven days, which would come to 9-Caban. Put that over the dot to 3-Chuen's right.
7) Now, starting from the central sign 11-Cauac, we count seven backwards to 5-Ben and write it over the dot to its left.
8) Count forward seven days from 11-Cauac, arriving at 4-Chicchan. Write it over the dot to its right.
9) From 6-Manik, count seven backward and forward in the same way as done above, arriving at 13-Imix to its left, and 12-Ben to its right. Notice that Chicchan and Ben repeat themselves: these are the four guardians.
10) Now you should have nine different juxtapositions hovering over each of the nine dots, all equidistant from each other. This is the cool part. It is said that the plumed serpent is in every sign and therefore in every map. This can actually be seen with the naked eye. Connect the dots of 10-Chicchan and 3-Chuen.
11) Connect the dots from 3-Chuen to 5-Ben.
12) Connect the dots from 5-Ben to 9-Caban.
13) Connect the dots from 9-Caban to the central 11-Cauac, then connect the dot of 11-Cauac to the dot for 13-Imix.
14) Connect the dots from 13-Imix to 4-Chicchan. By this time, if successfully composed, you could figure out how to connect the rest.

If you took the trouble to construct the constellation or map, you would find before you a map to my entire life's potential, my curses, and my faults. Once the technique is mastered, counting the nines, counting the sevens, then making the zigzag, over time, this map becomes the life-blood of any consultation of the destinies of individuals, for once one has been birthed, this map does not change.There are only 260 of these maps, and that is more than enough. There is more "embellishments" with regards to the directions, the feminine and masculine aspects of the chart, and more. My knowledge of how to read it is based on intuition and the scraps about it I have gathered, but I will attempt one day to fully explain the function of each element in ones map.

A few quotes I managed to jot down from where I learned this:

"This constellation tells us how to understand people, the way they express themselves and their characteristics."

"Three day signs inform a person's life: the past, the birth, the protection for the future. By drawing relationships to a day nine days before and to a day nine days after ones birth, day-keepers enlarge and deepen the interpretation of one's capacity and work."

"It's really a schema of nine Maya symbols, on a sequence of 7."

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