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Good Morning 8 B'atz
March 21, 2017
Today is 8 B'atz, an important and powerful day in the Mayan sacred calendar when new day-keepers are initiated in the Highlands of Guatemala. B'atz signifies the unwinding a time, the story, history. Its the day when the sacred calendar "begins", and is characterized by the monkey. B'atz is the birth sign of writers and artists, art patrons, clowns, tricksters, and actors.
I guess I should not be surprised then, that this morning I felt inspired to reach out to several friends and offer to create the Mayan Sacred Calendar in their communities, in the form of mosaic stepping stones, and present the works in a public discussion about the 20 Days, their significance and wisdom, sharing my own experiences with the calendar over 15 years now...11 in Guatemala.
The Mayan Calendar first came to my attention in 2002 when I was in the public library in Ketchum, Idaho, where I was visiting places nearby of special importance to me for their "sacred" qualities. There in the library, I was suddenly drawn to a shelf of books and immediately picked out a rather "New Age" interpretation of the 20 "Nawales" or days in the Mayan sacred calendar. Later, friends introduced me to "The Mayan Oracle" and other titles, but it been my own experiences living in Guatemala that have most shaped my understanding of this beautiful system of "sacred time."
The 20 day cycles of the Ch'olq'iij, as its called in Guatemala, draw our attention to an aspect of life that deserves our respect and gratitude. B'atz commands our respect of time, history, and creative expression. E' reminds us of our path in life, our own sacred journey. Aj reminds us to keep our house--spiritual and worldly--in order. I'x reminds us to pay respects to the sacred hills and altars, places where we come closer to our spirit. And so on...the days remind us of a special set of values that the Mayan people have been living by for centuries. Often this wisdom is intermixed with Protestant or Catholic beliefs, but despite 500 years of systemic destruction by both church and state, the Ch'olq'iij continues to guide Mayans and non-Mayans alike.
The 20 Nawales had no choice but to influence my mosaic work, and beginning in 2013 I began interpreting the days in mosaic stepping stones. These I used to line the path at Cafe La Puerta, as well as creating spaces for fire ceremony by arranging them in a circle. I've taken the project to my hometown of Boise, where I've created the 20 pieces through the support and interest of friends and family in the community there. As well, I've had the privilege of sharing the project with local young people in my town of San Pedro La Laguna, teaching them the mosaic techniques, while preserving this important cultural heritage in the local museum.
Today I'm reaching out and offering this project to the world at large. The pieces that are created can be installed together, set in concrete, placed in the garden or a natural setting, or they can be taken home by the various member of the community. This has proven to be a most interesting and enjoyable activity to share with people in their own communities.
The experience with the 20 Nawales is one of learning about and understanding a system of values that are easily comparable to other philosophies and world views. There are so many overlapping beliefs shared with Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism and Islam. As with all philosophies, its a system that begs to be lived, experienced, felt. Creating the 20 unique glyphs in mosaic and sharing it with groups has allowed me to share this beautiful system with many people in a personal and unique way.
If you're interested in the Mayan calendar, I recommend "The Book of Destiny" by Carlos Barrios. As well the website www.mayanmajix.com, and Mayan Calendar Portal and Jaguar Wisdom on Facebook.
If you're interested in re-creating this project in your community, or sponsoring its creation in a community in Guatemala, please contact me.