This trecena’s theme is the mysterious sun-sign known as Ben in Yucatec and Aj in K’iche Maya, Central America. “Mysterious” should be taken with a caveat. When I refer to “mysterious”, I mean to us left-hemisphere dwellers. I’m sure the complete sense of “Aj” is crystal clear in Momostenango; maybe not immediately upon touchdown, but certainly after a week or two there.
Aj (or “Cornstalk”) is not as readily accessible to everyone as animal sun-signs, such as the serpent or eagle. I can relate to the essence of Balam by thinking of any kind of cat I know, or Tzi by picturing canines, but how can I relate to a cornstalk? For that matter, how can a human relate to the Night (Aq’abal), or to Death (Kame)? Flora is alien to (western) human experience. So I had to get some anchors.
I found three keywords which helped me put together a possible meaning. They are: Leadership, Family, and Destiny.
Carlos Barrios adds “authority, the home, do everything as we like… creating possibilities… Aj is our internal altar”, among many other depictions.
Leaders in many fields were born under the Aj archetype. No fewer than 8 US presidents were born on this trecena. Adding the leaders that were born on Aj days (like 5-Aj, 7-Aj, etc.) we get 2 more US presidents, 2 Israeli PMs, a French PM, a Syrian PM, a Queen Mother, the godfather of an elite banking family, and Julian Assange.
The Leadership of Aj
Born 1-Aj: Stephen Baxter, Brian O’Leary, Sean Bean, John Rhys-Davies, Richard E. Byrd, Michael Moore, Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Aj archetype embodies leadership, since it is the sun-sign that follows The Road (E’/Eb), in the sense that after the Road is mapped a leader must walk in front of the community.
Leadership, also, since this archetype is also known as the Staff or Reed, which is a universal sign of authority (much like the Olympian torch, and Roman fasces). It is the tool in the hands of the guide, the vanguard, the trailblazer, and the elder. It is the staff of Moses, which can turn into a serpent (13-Kan, coming up in 12 days) when the need arises.
According to the Mayan nawal Aj, a good leader has a knack for bridging differences between separated individuals. He listens to one, then the other, then speaks in the language of bridge-makers.
People born on Aj days create new opportunities by giving sound advice to all sides; with words and intention, that can run goosebumps up and down spines. Regretfully, nowadays I seldom experience this when encountering those who call themselves my leaders. Mostly I experience PR tricks and appearances, distractions and infantile guilt-flinging. Why is that?
One cannot intend to elicit goosebumps in another. Leaders that elicit goosebumps do so through a heart connection. They feel deeply about where they are going, speaking openly and passionately about it, so people naturally relate and opt to follow.
They follow the direction and the idea, and are empowered and inspired by the person in front.
A lot of what happens around (either good or bad) leadership – how it is received, the reactions it prompts, and the actions that grow out of it – is unintentional. A good leader addresses her people and tells them about what’s eminently ahead, how to prepare, how to go about doing it, and what’s further, over the horizon. She shares a vision. In between her lines, in the way she communicates, and in the genuine cadence of her voice – many other invisible processes are set in motion within the gathered individuals. Each process unique, and each outcome – different and complementing the other, in a dance of growth and evolution.
A bad leader does the same, and the same happens, but to the detriment of her society. The extent to which she and her words are “together”, “all apiece” – i.e., her integrity determines the fruits of her leadership and the destiny of the community she leads. When integrity is weak, the led sense it instantly. This is a part of what comes across unintentionally, in the background.
Current political leaders (of the sordid, corrupt sort we all like to ridiculously picture) tend to lose their “togetherness” quite early in their careers, and quickly fail to lead by example. Their mission becomes “do what I say, not what I do”.
Moreover, they intend to elicit goosebumps, with poll-tested soundbites and tried-and-true emotional triggers, which is like trying to lift yourself up by your bootstraps.