Popol Vuh is a fascinating text that sheds light on the Mayan civilisation and its beliefs. It is interesting because it provides insights into the Mayan calendar and the role of Venus in their culture. Through studying this text, we can gain a deeper understanding of Mayan mythology and their views on the cosmos.
In the heart of ancient Mayan civilization, a remarkable celestial phenomenon captured the imagination of these gifted astronomers and myth-makers: the Venus Cycle. To the Mayans, Venus wasn't just a planet; it was a celestial actor in a grand cosmic drama. Its movements, from the dark pre-dawn hours to its appearance as the evening star, were deeply intertwined with their calendar and mythology.
The Dance of Venus
Venus's journey through the skies unfolded like an intricate ballet. Sometimes, it graced the eastern horizon just before the sun's ascent, earning the title of the "morning star." At other times, it appeared briefly at dusk as the sun set, becoming the "evening star." There were also moments when Venus and the sun seemed so close together that Venus vanished from sight—superior and inferior conjunctions.
N.B. During mid and late October 2023, Venus will be seen a few hours before sunrise. And if observed through a telescope, it will appear like a thin crescent moon. You can check to see where Venus and when other astronomical events occur via your local observatory, such as the Sydney Observatory: https://powerhouse.com.au/stories/sky-guide-september-2023
Above: The Mayan Dresden Codex of the Popol Vuh.
What is the Popol Vuh
The Popol Vuh, often called the "Book of the Community" or "Book of Counsel," holds a central place in the sacred narratives of the Kʼicheʼ people of ancient Maya civilization. This foundational text encompasses the Mayan creation myth, the heroic adventures of the twin brothers Hunahpú and Xbalanqué, and a historical account of the Kʼicheʼ people. Initially an oral tradition, it was transcribed into written form around 1550, thanks to the efforts of the 18th-century Spanish Dominican friar Francisco Ximénez. The Popol Vuh is a precious cultural relic, especially significant due to the limited availability of early records documenting Mesoamerican mythologies, which were often destroyed during the Spanish conquest.
Mayan Calendar and Venus
The Mayans were keen observers of this celestial choreography. They devised a way to measure and predict the Venus Cycle, weaving it into the fabric of their sacred calendar. They matched significant moments in the Venus Cycle, such as its first rise as the morning star, with specific day signs in their calendar. For example, the beginning of a significant Venus sequence coincided with the Mayan day sign "Ahau," also known as "Sun."
This synchronisation of day signs and Venus Cycle events created a cosmic narrative akin to the adventures of the legendary Mayan twin Spirits Hunahpu and Ixbalanque, as depicted in the Popol Vuh. For instance, the summoning of the hero twins by the Lords of Negativity corresponds to the day sign "Cib" meaning "owl" or "warrior." The episode where the twins confront man-eating jaguars aligns with the day sign "Ix," representing the "Jaguar shaman".
The Sacred Matrix
The Mayan day signs intertwined with Venus cycle events form a sacred matrix. This matrix guided traditionally trained Day-Keeper calendar priests in their Mayan oracle readings. While similarities exist between this Mayan oracle and the "solar-seal" and "tone" readings of the Dreamspell, the Mayan oracle is significantly older.
The Dreamspell tradition, popularized by Jose Arguelles (a New Age author), was inspired by the ancient Mayan monarch Pacal, and it offers unique insights into Mayan cosmology. Another visionary, John Major Jenkins unveiled the Mayan calendar's secrets and connection to Venus cycles in his work, "Tzolkin: Visionary Perspectives and Calendar Studies." His fascination with Maya came when he visited Mexico and Central America in 1986, described in his book "Maya Cosmogenesis".
A New Perspective
By combining knowledge of the Taino legend of with the Mayan legend of Hun-Ahpu and Ix-Balanque, we gain fresh insights into our ancestors' wisdom. These revelations provide us with keys to unlock the ancient prophecies and look ahead to the future beyond the pivotal year 2012.
A Suggested Ritual
To honour the cosmic dance of Venus and the Mayan calendar, consider the following ritual. Begin by finding a quiet, open space to witness the pre-dawn sky. As Venus currently rises a couple of hours before sunrise, in its morning star phase, sit and meditate on its significance. In the Mayan myth, this is a cosmic journey. Contemplate, "What is your connection to your own spiritual journey?" Use this moment to set any intentions and align yourself with the celestial rhythms and insights that may occur.
Draw or write something to represent your intention and any insights.
As the morning star, Venus symbolises new beginnings and illumination, but it is also the warrior path. You can incorporate candles, incense, face washing, and crystals into your ritual to enhance your intention. Afterwards, record your thoughts and insights you might receive during your meditative experience.
The Mayan understanding of Venus and its relationship to their calendar and mythology offers a subtle perspective on the cosmos and our place in this dance cycle. Embrace your insights and deepen your spiritual connection. Open new doors to pathways of understanding in your personal practice of Witchcraft and esoteric knowledge.
Commentary on the Maya Manuscript in the Royal Public Library of Dresden: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Commentary_on_the_Maya_Manuscript_in_the_Royal_Public_Library_of_Dresden