Indigenous Peoples

The Mayan calendar explained, how to find guidance in ancient wisdom

A source of ancient knowledge that guides us in the modern world. How the Mayan calendar works: astrology to understand spirituality and the world after the predictions of 2012.

The ancient Mesoamerican civilisation of the Mayans worked out a common denominator linking planets’ cycles, human gestation cycles and the life cycles of maize. In other words they designed a calendar system broken down in 20 periods of 13 days, each with special flavour to it, linking the heart of heaven, the human heart and the heart of the earth.

Mayan astrology

According to Mayan astrology, everyone is born on one of the 260 days of the sacred calendar. Looking into it, one can find an invaluable source of guidance. Traditionally, astrology was used to guide society as well as keep it correctly balanced. Readings reveal information on three levels; your life path, your emotional direction and your surface personality as expressed through your number and nawal combination which is derived from your date of birth. Each nawal has a specific energy. Some are healers, others artists, leaders, law-makers and what not. When your work is in harmony with that energy then you’ll be naturally talented at what you do.

mayan calendar tikal
Tikal, one of the major sites of the Mayan civilisation in the heart of the Guatemalan jungle © Sarine Arslanian

Maya ceremonies

Maya ceremonies take place around a fire that is there to connect and interact with. During a ceremony the shaman calls the energies of the four directions then invites each of the 20 nawales, the elements of creation, offering them thanks and the foods they enjoy to consume. Like inviting your local council into your home and preparing a banquet table for them.

Ceremonies made on behalf of the community are moments to express gratitude and ask for forgiveness. Once the nawales have all been spoken to participants put candles in the fire to help them let go of what they would like to release, and call in what they would like to bring into their lives. There are seven candles of different colours each with their own meaning. For example, red symbolises strength and vitality, yellow abundance from the Earth and healing, and black wisdom and release from negative attachments.

mark elmy ceremony
Celebrating the divinity within and in all that surrounds us with Mark Elmy © Sarine Arslanian

The Mayan calendar after 2012

Mayans foretold the fall of the old world in 2012 to let the new one in. As every beginning is the end of something else certain things were meant to be torn down. “Society now is like a pressure cooker. It is the end point, it is unsustainable”, says Elmy. “Something has to give and birth hurts. Trump, Brexit and the rise of the rightwing are all part of the old world falling. They’re carrying the end with them,” he specifies, believing that the change of consciousness hasn’t begun but is looming.

“This rollercoaster ride we’re now on isn’t happening because of the Mayan calendar,” he adds, “but the calendar shows us points in time when we might need to choose a quieter place to settle.”

Lake Atitlan
Watching the sunset on Lake Atitlan in San Pablo © Sarine Arslanian

Mayan astrology readings

Mark Elmy has worked with the sacred Mayan calendar for over 18 years and offers in-depth Mayan astrology readings at the Flower House on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, as well as over Skype: “If you choose to live in harmony with the planet and the choice your soul made when you incarnated,” he says, then the reading points to options where you will be well supported.

This is why Elmy also conducts readings for children and their parents to help guide them. “If your child has an artist spirit make sure there are plenty of crayons around … creative materials to allow, develop and practice with that”.

A Mayan revival

Since the Spanish conquest of Guatemala the role of ancient Maya wisdom among indigenous communities has been disappearing. Only very few still know about the calendar system and astrology. Until the end of the Civil War in 1996 locals would face arrest for conducting ceremonies. Indigenous spirituality, associated with witchcraft, was the subject of strong repression.

guatemala indigenous
Doña Chonita from Santiago, Lake Atitlan © Sarine Arslanian

Today we’re seeing a rise in interest among local communities eager to learn about the marvels of the Mayan world. Not knowing who to trust, they’re turning to figures such as Elmy to learn more and reclaim their original knowledge. He strongly believes in the usefulness of Mayan astrology to help people find their way in life in order to reach prosperity, spirituality and joy.

Featured image: The Codex Dresdensis, one of four historic Mayan manuscripts that still exist in the world in Dresden, Germany © Joern Haufe/Getty Images

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