Crocodiles were associated with the mythic world tree that linked heaven, earth and underworld. In the night sky, the Milky Way was often seen as a cosmic crocodile.
In the jungle, the wind can be a welcome breeze or a force of destruction. Our word hurricane comes from the Maya word Hurakan, a god of winds and storms.
This is the sign of the night, when ten thousand stars twinkle in the jungle sky and nocturnal creatures like tapirs, vampire bats and jaguars come out to hunt.
Maize was a staple food and many rituals were based on its life-cycle. Babies’ heads were even molded into corncobs in homage to the Maize God.
The ancient Maya revered snakes; crowds still gather twice a year at Chichen Itza to witness the illusion of a great serpent descending the pyramid steps.
Skulls in Maya art often sprout a green shoot or
a flower to symbolize the circle of life. Day keepers consider Kimi an especially fortunate day on which
to be born.
Deer represented all things sacred, and the Maya valued white-tailed deer most of all. It is possible that small herds of deer were owned as status symbols by the Maya elite.
The ancient Maya were skilled astronomers and
the cycles of Venus, the morning and evening star, were more significant to them than even the
passage of the sun.
The Tzolk’in is the Maya ritual calendar, used to predict the characteristics of each day and determine the days for rituals, like a daily zodiac. It is still in use by many Maya today, and it has been kept, without interruption since the time of the Ancients.
The calendar is made up of twenty day names and thirteen numbers. It takes 260 days (the average length of a human pregnancy) to go through the full cycle of name/number combinations.
Each day name has a quality, some good, some bad. For example, Imix (“Crocodile”) is full of complications and problems, and thus bad for journeys or business deals. The number (1–13) determines how strong the characteristic would be. So on 13 Imix, you might want to stay home.
To read more about the Maya calendars click here.
Water is the source of all
life and the Maya devised many ingenious systems
to collect and store it - including pipes, reservoirs, cisterns, canals, aqueducts, and fountains.
Specially-bred barkless dogs are often found buried alongside their masters in royal Maya tombs. People born on this day were said to have great leadership skills.
In ancient Maya art,
scribes and artists are
often depicted as monkeys. The creative arts were
highly valued by the Maya, and this day was
considered a lucky one.
Thousands of years ago in Mesoamerica, a strain of wild grass called teosinte was gradually domesticated into corn. This glyph is also said to mean the road of destiny.
Reeds were associated with power and kingship; rulers would sit on woven reed mats. The Maya also carved reeds into tuneful flutes and sharpened them into arrows.
The mighty jaguar, king of the rainforest, was associated with nobility, strength, and bravery in battle. Its spotted coat was said to be a map of the stars in the night sky.
With a wingspan of over six feet, harpy eagles are the biggest birds in the rainforest. They pursue their prey through the tree canopy at speeds of up to 60mph.
The Maya kept stingless bees for their aromatic honey and turned their wax into sweet-smelling candles to light their palaces, temples and sacred caves.
The Maya heartlands are located in the so-called Ring of Fire, an area of erupting volcanoes and frequent earthquake activity, caused by tectonic plate shifts.
The Maya built their soaring pyramids without any metal tools. Their blades were made of flint or obsidian, a natural volcanic glass still used for surgical scalpels.
The ancient Maya believed that lightning occurred when Chahk, one of their oldest and most revered gods of storm and rain, struck the clouds with his lightning axe.
The Maya lived in hundreds of independent city states, each ruled by its own ‘ahaw’ or lord. To Maya astrologers, Ahaw was the day of the sun god, Sun-Eyed Fire Macaw.
The twenty day signs
To find your birth date in the Tzolkin, the ritual Maya calendar, email your day, month and year of birth (please spell out month) to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Only a Maya day keeper can tell you the astrological portents of your Maya birth date. But here are a few notes on the day-to-day significance of these glyphs to the ancient Maya.