Venus's Heliacal Rising, November 2010: her return from the Underworld
Something in between dreaming and doing
Something arching down from there to here
We are the arching
We are neither here nor there
We are the hope that lives between
The continual blooming outward and upward
of something we want
but cannot see
– Author unknown
On winter solstice this year, December 21st, the longest night in the northern hemisphere will be graced not only by a full moon but a total lunar eclipse at 8:14am GMT — 00:14am Pacific time.
It is a cosmic sign, a prelude to our annual rendezvous with Galactic Center — that dark patch in the Milky Way — when the Sun, including us, microscopic specks of energy clinging on to the plane of the ecliptic, all nine planets of our system as one, align with our Motherboard, the Creator-black-hole, call it what you will, in the middle of our Galaxy. Then, spiralling away one more time, we shall head off for another year of peripatetic searching through infinite realms of space until, two years from now, we return for that Great Meeting with Source prior to winter solstice 2012.
The Ancients always took note of appearances like this solstitial eclipse as they occurred at the cardinal points of the year (later on the same day, the Sun enters zodiac sign of Capricorn). In our 21st century world, I am not alone in thinking this heavenly sign — the apparent total annihilation of the moon’s disc — will probably go relatively unnoticed. Western minds filled with Christmas concerns, getting the car to start or catching the commute to work in snowy conditions, tend not to be looking skywards.
For the Maya, on the other hand, Mesoamerican life in the 9th century and later was an ongoing succession of cosmic appearances. They came in time cycles, each with a predictable quality. And their fascination with the night sky, like many prehistoric and classical cultures, allowed them to develop a deep knowledge of time which dwarfs our numerical western (Gregorian) system.
Time was seen as an evolution of human consciousness, split into Great Ages through which society would evolve. The Maya developed separate calendars for mathematical, ritual and functional purposes, but the great Long Count calendar which began in 3114BC and which comes full circle on winter solstice year-after-next is the one which has caught hold in our collective imagination as presaging the ‘End of Days‘.
For the Maya as well as for many other Ancients, celestial movement was at the root of astrology, theology, cosmology, history and social change. For them, the purpose of life was to understand sky rhythms that created time and to reflect in their culture the beauty and cosmic order seen in cyclical heavenly repetition.
‘It becomes clear….that the Maya always expected history to repeat itself’
Bruce Scofield, Signs of Time (1997)
Kukulkan, feathered serpent god of the Maya, Toltec and Aztec (Quetzalcoatl)
, which is the oldest Mayan Calendar, repeats itself every nine months. The Long Count
calendar’s 5124-year cycle with its so-callled end date of December 21, 2012 actually measures the precession of the equinoxes, the sun’s apparent motion through each of the twelve zodiac signs once in 25,920 years, but theoretically stretches to infinity. To give an idea of this precession cycle’s massive scale, it takes the Earth 72 years to move through one degree (1º/360º) of one zodiac sign.
West Acropolis of Yaxchilan (Maya: 'Green Stones') in Mexican state of Chiapas
There are carvings on the walls of a ruin at Palenque that give dates beyond AD4000. It is our modern short-sightedness that assumes, based on only one of the several Mayan calendars, that time stops at winter solstice, December 21st 2012. It is specifically this ending and new beginning chronicled in the Long Count Calendar which in New Age parlance is called the ‘dawning of the Age of Aquarius
Documentation of this extremely long cycle was an amazing achievement for a culture whose belief in cycles of time had them keep astronomical records for 6000 generations, projecting forward and (20,000 years back) into a distant past. It is evident in the placement of some of their most sacred buildings that they saw purpose in heavenly movement.
Cosmology and religious icons were intimately intertwined.
While several pyramids and ballcourts at Tikal, Palenque and Chichen Itza are sited on extreme sun positions (solstices, equinoxes), the Governor’s Palace at Uxmal is precisely aligned to view the heliacal rising of Venus at its southernmost point in an 8-year cycle.
Whereas Megalithic and Egyptian complexes can sometimes be obscure or difficult to understand from our modern non-sky-viewing cultural perspective, (Newgrange and Stonehenge heelstone aligned on solstice sunrise, Aberdeenshire recumbent stone circles aligned on midwinter sunrise and midsummer moonset), the writings and hieroglyphs of the Maya are more easily understood as they can be compared easily with recent calculations of the same recorded astronomical cycles.
The ancient Maya left codices, systems of hieroglyphic recordings devised to include celestial sightings and predict events. The complexity with which these sightings and predictions are woven seamlessly into their entire culture is almost surreal.
Dresden Codex fragment, water-damaged in WWII, restored: shows Lunar series and Venus tables
One of these codices, the ‘Dresden Codex’ details an elaborate recreation of a cosmic environment which the ancient Maya believed regulated life. It contains an illuminated calendar recording observations of the planet Venus
. Working with their solar Haab
calendar and the separate sacred ritual Tzolkin
, the Maya saw the heliacal rising of Venus
, (Venus rising before the sun, visible in the east as a ‘morning star’) as a sign of resurrection of Light after Darkness, rebirth of a New Age. But its resurrection might also be seen as presaging evil, invoking wars, sparking conflict.
In Mayan mythology, the planet/goddess was inextricably linked with the sun and power of serpent god Kukulkan –his name means ‘one who emerges from the serpent-spirit’ or cosmic kundalini force. To the Maya the two bodies seemed conjoined, stand close to each other in the sky, never stray more than 47º apart.
Lamat: glyph for Venus as 'evening star'
Venus either follows the sun (when she appears as evening ‘star’, Lamat
), hides behind the sun, descending into the Underworld, or reappears before the sun — her heliacal rising as a ‘morning star’, Ah-Chicum-Ek’
. Seen in mythological context, their joining symbolized at times his masculine domination over female-desire-sexuality producing cultural balance, art and architectural beauty; at others (when she rides into the Underworld — below the horizon) her ability to wreak havoc on society. This warrior-goddess aspect of her femininity is not easily understood in our modern rush for ‘male’ pursuits in business, military dominion and political power. But it is this aspect of Venus which lingers in mythology and which is the natural, intuitive deep feminine of the mother consciousness which early patrilineal cultures (Hellenist Greece, Latin Rome, Judaism, pharaonic Egypt) wished to suppress. In examining the Venus cycles
— particularly as they relate to upcoming 2012 date — we may be delightfully surprised to learn something ‘new’ which is very old.
According to observations made by the Maya, episodes of upheaval linked to the cyclical motion of the planet Venus play out as life-changing events.
Venus’s astronomical cycles are legendary.
Fascinated with sequences, periodicity and numbers, the Maya must have adored Venus. Not only does she disappear and reappear with amazing regularity, her luminescence is also measurable, on some clear nights actually capable of casting a shadow. They noticed that Venus travels faster round the sun than Earth, orbiting 2.6 times to Earth’s 1.6 orbits. Venus orbits the Sun 13 times in 8 years, passing between Earth and Sun 5 times until they return to that meeting point in the synodic cycle (synod = meeting place). Point of closest ‘meeting’ is called ‘inferior conjunction’, taken as the start of the cycle.
It is also when Venus cannot be seen from Earth because of the sun’s brilliance, but as she continues to orbit, not only does she appear to go into ‘retrograde’ motion — a phenomenon caused by both bodies in orbit passing each other at different speeds — but she suddenly becomes visible again at greatest brilliance. Five Venus cycles of 548 days exactly equals 8 Earth cycles of 365 days — 8 Earth years — to bring both planets back in line to synodic point. When Venus is on the opposite side of the Sun its position is called ‘superior conjunction’ and has weakest brilliance. In between Venus appears to stretch to ‘extreme elongation’ to either side of Earth. The Maya also noticed Venus’s ‘stages’ took exactly 36 days, or multiples of 36.
So, Venus reaches maximum brightness 36 days after inferior conjunction, traveling direct and in the morning sky; maximum elongation (Venus’s farthest distance from the Sun) occurs 36 days later; then at superior conjunction, 216 days after that (6 x 36 days) Venus is on the far side of the Sun and traveling at its fastest speed, about 1º15′ per day, but obscured by the Sun from Earth eyes. Thirty-six days after superior conjunction, when the Sun and Venus are about 10º zodiac degrees apart, Venus first appears in the evening sky, setting after the Sun. In evening star phase, maximum elongation happens 216 days after superior conjunction, with maximum brightness reached 36 days following maximum elongation; 36 days more bring her back to inferior conjunction (and retrograde motion). This calculable sky embrace between Venus and the Sun, their apparent duel for supremacy in brilliance, disappearing into the ‘Underworld’ and reappearance in reborn brilliance, must have delighted the Maya.
Venus's orbit and Earth's over an eight year cycle
Not only did they know every nuance of Venus’s synchronicty with Earth, but they figured that in a complete cycle of 8 years the two planets did a dance round the zodiac (and the Sun) which resembled a sacred pentagram. Some of their written motifs reflect this knowledge. It is no surprise, then, that they also knew when Venus made a double transit of the Sun, a phenomenon that occurs less than once per century.
To bring their supreme, detailed and laborious calculations into modern context, it is synchronous that in 2012, there will be two profound solar eclipses and a rare ‘transit of Venus’ on June 6th, when Venus will pass directly in front of the Sun from our Earth perspective. It forms a perfect alignment of Earth, Venus and Sun. Transits come in 8-year pairs, with the precursor to this transit seen in June 2004. Transits of Venus happen on average only twice every 121 years. The last transit of Venus occurred in 1874 and 1882, around the time of rediscovery of ancient Mayan sacred sites. The 2012 Venus transit completes the pair and the phenomenon will not recur until 2117 and 2125.
Their solar calculations are renowned, too, with a system of years split to reflect numbers 13 and 20 still used by present-day Maya and many devotees.
A prophecy is attached to each of the twenty year Katun cycles. Each cycle starts on the day of the Ancestors, Ajpu or Ahau as Ancestors are known to the Yucatec Maya. The first 20-year cycle starts with 11 Ahau.
The present cycle (see Underworlds, below) starting on a 4 Ahau date began in 1999 and completes in 2012.
The Maya thought this katun brought scarcity and the arrival of great leaders. It is also the katun of remembering knowledge and writing it down.
4 Ahau: Food scarcities. Half the katun good, half bad. The return of Kukulkan
Kukulkan, depicted in the ancient Classical period as Divine Serpent, at Maya city Yaxchilan, modern Mexico
Legend of Kukulkan
, Plumed Serpent god of the Maya, shares prophecy with the Aztec legend of Quetzalcoatl
, known as Feathered Serpent, god of intelligence and self-reflection.
Serpent god Kukulkan in more recent Maya tradition
In the Mayan version of the legend the king and his court had descended into weakness and debauchery. He decided to redeem himself by sailing out into the ocean alone on a flaming boat. The gods forgave him and he was reborn. He came back to the Maya on a vessel from ‘across the waters’.
This Katun prediction implies that a great hero will come from across the waters to heal the problems of the people. It was during one of the 4 Ahau time periods, between 1480 and 1500 that Christopher Columbus came to the continent of the Americas from across the waters.
Although Kukulkan was mentioned as an historical person by Maya writers of the 16th century, earlier 9th century texts at Chichen Itza do not identify him as human and instead artistic representations depict him as a Vision Serpent entwined around figures of presiding priests. Chichen Itza’s famous step pyramid, El Castillo, shows Kukulkan depicted presiding over sacrifice, but the magnificent pyramid
Serpent god seen undulating down the staircase on fall Equinox at Chichen Itza
is most famous for his serpentine ‘appearance’ via
the sun, which on the equinoxes (March 21, September 23) casts a serpent shadow that descends the steps of the famous pyramid’s north side in the late afternoon before fall equinoctial sunset and ascends its serpentine undulation prior to spring equinox sunset.
The living Maya still hold ceremony to celebrate equinox.
At autumn equinox this year Carl Johan Calleman called for a convergence to prepare ourselves for Unity Consciousness, our renewal as a species.
‘As the seventh day of the Galactic Underworld is activated we will actually finally come to a point when it is time to celebrate the end to male, western and rational dominance and to create a balance between the different aspects of the human mind associated with the left and right brain halves‘
Carl Johan Calleman
He suggested that, beginning November 3-7, 2010 (‘Yellow Galactic Seed’ Tzolkin date) careful contemplation of the Shift of the Ages and an awareness of our position in affecting the way we move forward will facilitate the dawning of the last step in our evolution. Seeing all of Creation from 3114BC divided into nine ‘Underworlds’ of ever-decreasing length, Dr Calleman (and others) agree with Mayan calculation that in that week in November we emerged from the last ‘night’ of the penultimate phase –the eighth Galactic Underworld which began January 1999, consisting of a wave-cycle of six fluctuating ‘days’ and ‘nights’– and that we now stand in the seventh ‘day’ of that wave, preparing to enter the final Universal Underworld, the Ninth Wave, in February next year. That is only two months from now. In that final cycle of existence, according to the Maya — and to thousands of believers of other faiths around the world — we are capable of manifesting ‘one thousand years of peace and harmony’ on our shared planet.
On that weekend of Yellow Galactic Seed in November — coincidentally when Venus’s heliacal rising returned her to our skies as an ‘morning star’, the leaders of nations representing East and West on Earth held separate but spiritually-cohesive celebrations and ceremonies to invoke peace on earth and a joining of minds. In the West, Don Alejandro Oxlaj, 13th Generation Quiche Mayan High Priest — ‘Wandering Wolf’ — and Buddhist spiritual leader of the Orient, Seiyu Kiriyama, joined their flocks in mutual meditation, flooding the airwaves and ethers with positive affirmation. Calleman saw this not only as the meeting of West and East but a mingling of the feminine, intuitive right-brain half of humanity with the masculine, rational left-brain side.
Unity Consciousness. Our ‘Awakening’.
New Age philosophy and astrology support a path to ascension required of its vision-keepers, lightworkers (through meditation and right living) as a process of uniting these two conflicting polarities, emphasizing the need to bring harmony to the male-female yin-yang, left and right brain hemispheres which must operate before the Earth may return to a balanced state of wholeness and oneness.
As a small postscript, or just to keep us on our toes, Mayan Elder Don Alejandro has suggested that shortly after the solar system’s 2012 re-alignment with Galactic Center — when our sun and all planets are conjunct the dark ridge in the middle of our Galaxy, the Milky Way —
Earth will “pass inside the center of a magnetic axis and that it may be darkened with a great cloud for 60 to 70 hours”
Don Alejandro Oxlaj
To some Mayan scholars, in a continuing calendar the doom-and-gloom scenario is far more likely to play itself out, not in 2012, but around the year 2032.
Several other events are in the lineup for 2012:
May 4 partial lunar eclipse off Mexico
May 14 1st standstill Venus during retrograde loop
May 20 annular eclipse of Sun
June 6 transit of Venus (above) and Inferior Conjunction
November 13 2012 total solar eclipse in which sun and moon align with head of the Serpent (constellation Serpens)
November 18 Solar system conjunct dark ridge Galactic Center
Nov 28 partial (penumbral) lunar eclipse
We know our future is in our own hands. This is seen by believers with faith in Man’s ability to transcend his inglorious past as positive, glorious rebirth, awakening, resurrection of our soul, our apotheosis, potential to become one with the gods. The opposite is also true –especially if we continue to contribute to the misuse of energy, pollute and dissipate earthly gifts.
As we know, cycles exist to show choices in the Path: overall the future is golden. Venus’s malevolence may only be a wayshower to direct us away from a mistaken ‘Way’. The future, in the form of the Ninth Wave, is upon us — all the heavenly signs say so — and it’s up to us to embrace it.