Mercury: knowledge and skill
A good messenger is neutral and loyal to the message s/he carries. That’s how Mercury was depicted in Roman mythology. Before the Romans there was Hermes of the Greeks, and before him Nebu of Babylon – all serving the same purpose. Way-way before those the Hindus had the planet Buddha, carrying the same symbolism of neutral, faithful transmission of knowledge and message.
This neutrality can also be seen in the way the planet Mercury itself rotates and creates neutral aspects with other planets. I’m no expert on western astrology or planetary mechanics, but lately it’s been increasingly interesting for me to study them. I know enough to mention that, from Earth’s perspective, Mercury turned retrograde this week on US election day (11-Men).
During a Mercury retrograde the faithful neutrality is disrupted, and misunderstandings are frequent. I find this to be quite true these last couple of days. I communicate as clearly as I can, but I meet unexpected responses – obviously something’s unclear in the medium itself. Some of these situations turn out to be quite funny (if not embarrassing) , and I’m reminded of another, less known Mercury hallmark.
Humor is another form of faithful transmission of a message. The humorous and skillful message is often read between the lines, tongue-in-cheek, and its punchline is a surprise. Humor depends upon preconceptions – it comes up from behind and casts a net of doubt over them. Because serious and sincere transmission is expected by default – humor can always find a blind spot to sneak under and surprise me.
As an extension to humor, mercury also embodies skill and craftiness. If the first aspect of mercury manifests, and my knowledge is faithful to the truth, I then gain the second aspect of mercury, which is skill and artistic expression. For if knowledge can lift me up from darkness and ignorance, it can also carry me over and above known limitations. This is the evolutionary leap of creativity, inspiration and skill, not to mention cunning and astuteness, whenever called for.
Meanwhile, in the Yucatan
There are two adjacent sun-signs in the Tzolkin that I found corresponding to the above significant characteristics of the planet Mercury: Oc and Chuen. Oc is the faithful one, while Chuen is the comedian. Oc is cerebral and analytical and Chuen has perfect comic timing and an inspiring charisma. Both draw their power from interaction with others, and both must be faithful to the Message.
This trecena ends on 13-oc and the next one begins on 1-chuen. Two Tzolkin rounds ago this juncture in the Tzolkin coincided with the summer solstice. This time it’s a play of energies between the Tzolkin and the current Mercury retrograde.
Reality is a good place to start
Under the Hood
The 7th day of the 13-day trecena is the absolute midpoint of the process (the crest of the wave). Likewise, the entire 260-day Tzolkin is divided into 13 equal periods of 20 days each (uinals), and the 7th uinal constitutes the midpoint period of the Tzolkin. The 20 days of the 7th uinal are called “core days”, and are indicated by gray circles in the figure above . These 20 consecutive core days begin in the current trecena on 4-Imix and end in the following trecena (1-Chuen) on 10 Ahau. Unlike portal days, which appear on every uinal except the 7th, core days appear only on the 7th uinal.
If the first half of the Tzolkin is inhaling, the second half is exhaling. If the first half is accumulation and planning the second half is release and execution. In between there are core days. The way this heightened period is experienced is very subjective and subtle, but the main theme is introspection and reflection. It is the silent eye of the storm that has been slowly gathering since 1-Imix (15-July-2012), and it is a time to come to terms with whatever’s been sown and planted since then.
1-Edznab: Seed of Truth
Born on this day: Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis, Jude Law, Martin Van Buren (8th US president), William Hurt, Warren G, Yair Loewenson
“As to the presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it.” – Martin Van Buren (1-Edznab)
Our journey through the core period will involve music, and plenty of it. Truth and the reality of form and structure are best conveyed through music, so I recommend an experiential, rather than discursive ride through 1-Edznab.
I’ll begin with the person who’s been teaching me music every week for the last 4 years or so. His name is Yair Loewenson, and he was born 1-Edznab. Being the pure Edznab that he is, he notices bull in music faster than anyone I know. He’s also very strict and serious about practicing, and dexterous beyond belief. This next piece he composed is called “Davka” (in spite):
Alanis Morissette, who has her Tzolkin birthday on the day before 1-Edznab (13-Caban), sings:
"These precious illusions in my head
did not let me down when I was defenseless,
and parting with them is like parting with
invisible best friends".
1-Edznab is when I begin to part with illusions, preconceptions, and whatever’s unreal – regardless of how precious and loyal they may have been in the past. Illusions and programmed ideas about who I am or who I’m supposed to be inhibit my ability to consciously experience evolution at this very moment in time.
Edznab is the sharp mirror of reality which reflects truth and dispels fallacy. When I begin facing it on this day I come to realize how defenseless and naked I truly am.
2-Cauac: Cleanse falacies
Born on this day: John Coltrane, Courteney Cox, Tony Williams, Cristiano Ronaldo, Yoko Ono
“… as I look upon the world, I feel all men know the truth. If a man was a Christian, he could know the truth and he could not. The truth itself does not have any name on it. And each man has to find it for himself, I think.” – John Coltrane (2-Cauac)
While within the imaginative realms of jazz, we might as well go and meet the governor – John Coltrane. For me Coltrane’s music was always a bit like James Joyce’s Ulysses. It’s obviously brilliant beyond anything I can possibly express or get my mind around:
Jazz in particular, and music in general feature prominently in this and the next trecena. For example, the legendary drummer Tony Williams, who was also born 2-Cauac like Coltrane, but never played with him. You’ll see him a bit later.
Facing the mirror of truth is a process of purification, which is represented today by the rainstorm Cauac. The storm is both devastating and rejuvenating, and when I’m caught up in it I can either run between shelters or sing in the rain. The inherent duality of 2-Cauac means that when today’s reality dawns and yesterday’s illusions are cleansed – there is no turning back. 1-Edznab is a one-way mirror, and when I walk though it 2-Cauac washes my false skin and make-believe makeup away.
3-Ahau: Rhythmic sunshine
Born on this day: Wayne Rooney, Frida Kahlo, Victor Hugo, Ariel Sharon, Haile Selassie I, James Eagan Holmes
“Leadership does not mean domination… The true leader is a different sort; he seeks effective activity which has a truly beneficient purpose.” – Haile Selassie I (3-Ahau)
The Jamaican culture and Rastafari movement have their roots in Ethiopia. Tafari Makonnen was the given name of the Emperor of Ethiopia, Halie Selassie I, Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Elect of God, who ruled his land for 44 years until 1974. “Ras” (as in Rastafari) means head or leader. In Arabic it’s “Rais” and in Hebrew “Rosh”. The Semitic connection is not an accident, of course, since the Emperor of Ethiopia claims his throne by the royal bloodline of Queen Sheba and King Solomon, son of David of the tribe of Judah.
This is why Bob Marley sings about lions and Zion.
In the Mayan culture, Ahau was a favorable day to be born on if your destiny was leadership. Like his Hebrew counterpart Ariel Sharon, Selassie sat on his throne and governed his people like he wrote the book himself.
Here he is in a rare interview, speaking about Christmas in Ethiopia and the example of Christ:
After the storm the sun (Ahau) shines and blossoms as a flower to illuminate whatever’s reflected by reality’s mirror. Since the sun of enlightenment appears at the early 3rd stage of the trecena, it provides the process basic rhythm and serves as an energetic driving force throughout.
In other words, the mirror is useless without turning the Light ON. When fully realized and attuned, the 3rd stage allows me to visualize and predict where the process is taking me. Thus, 3-Ahau means that when the light of truth is reflected in reality’s mirror – everything is illuminated and my potential knows no boundaries.
4-imix°: The first and the last
Born on this day: Gary Sinise, Mao Zedong, Mark McGwire, David Wright (NY Mets), Orson Welles
“I have always been more interested in experiment, than in accomplishment.” – Orson Welles (4-imix)
Here’s an unexpected music act. Gary Sinise (4-imix), apart from being a gifted stage and screen actor, plays bass guitar. The crowd he chose to please is not your regular crowd. He plays in a band that tours the many countries where the US has military bases, and performs for the troops.
Now, I know some object to this reality. His crowd constitute forces of occupation and selfish interests, trespassing upon sovereign lands of other nations. But I, for one, can’t help but love this guy.
US military presence is a global reality. The people who wear uniform do sacrifice a lot for something. Others don’t. They deserve the Lt. Dan Band.
As an imix, I’m sure Sinise gets his kick simply by being near the military, whether he’s holding a guitar or a rifle full of blanks as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump.
The first of 20 Core Days begins on 4-imix. The process of reflection and introspection must be defined in order to penetrate the superficial, achieve depth, and become truly meaningful. A mirror without boundaries eventually reflects itself and becomes infinite illusion.
The primordial crocodile Imix provides a strong and radiant energy source which thrusts us into the core period, and defines the outline of the mirror’s rectangular frame (4). The crocodile is also known as the universal mother, who knows best how to set limits and sometimes enforce them, since she knows her children more than they know themselves.
Continuing the discussion from last time, stage 4 marks an ending of sorts – “the end of the beginning” as Churchill said. 4-imix is as far as 1-Edznab’s reality goes, and it is very far indeed. Imix is the essence of material existence – the very fabric of reality. So it establishes very real and tangible parameters by which I can gauge truth and reality, on the Edznab journey.
5-ik°: One word
Born on this day: Wes Montgomery, Nina Simone, Eric Clapton, Will Smith, Joe Pesci, Mike D (Beastie Boys), Philip II of Spain, Frank Zappa, Joan Armatrading
“There is no hell. There is only France.” – Frank Zappa (5-ik), Church Chat
Wasting no words, and back to classic Jazz, here’s Wes Montgomery (5-ik) playing “Full House”:
Reality is there whether I dissect and discuss it or not, and it sometimes seems that opinion, interpretation and communication cause division more than connection and identity. Communication is nevertheless a reciprocal exchange which allows each participant to realize things s/he couldn’t possibly realize by his/her own personal introspection alone.
5-ik is a day to communicate and share with others what I personally see reflected in my reality’s mirror. It is the day in which the process of introspection is empowered by the disseminating Wind, reminding me that communication and communion primarily take place behind the words. Each small reflection I share with another is true in itself and a valid piece of the whole.
6-akbal°: Ancient fairytory
Born on this day: Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Björk, Olivier Messiaen, Lester Young, Walter Koenig (Star Trek), Albert Pike, Drew Barrymore
“Remember, that though life is short, Thought and the influences of what we do or say, are immortal; and that no calculus has yet pretended to ascertain the law of proportion between cause and effect.” – Albert Pike (6-akbal)
The album that made Björk world famous was “Debut”. The album’s title was weird, since it was actually the second album she recorded. Björk was weird, herself, but obviously a genius. I remember listening to it for the first time and thinking it’s the freshest and most beautifully bizarre creation of music.
This piece begins in Icelandic, then moves to English. It’s a haunting bit of vocal beauty:
I live by the ocean
and during the night
I dive into it
down to the bottom
underneath all currents
and drop my anchor
This is where I'm staying
This is my home
The Edznab trecena cuts through fallacies which I held as true for a long time. As a result, fundamental gaps are created in the way I view reality, which cannot easily or immediately be reconciled. When the chasm between the known and the unknown cannot be bridged by any belief, akbal provides courage and intuition to blindly walk on and keep studying lessons daily, just like a child.
When coupled with the responsive energy of 6, it becomes alright to simply say “I don’t know” or “I’m still learning” rather than falling back on old patterns and saying “I believe that…”
7-kan°: The need for Seed
Born on this day: Erich von Däniken, David Byrne, Robert Duvall, Martin Short, Kim Cattrall, Adam Clayton (U2), Jan-Michael Vincent, Dennis Ritchie (programmer), Steffi Graf
“Money is power. Sex is power. Therefore, getting money for sex is simply an exchange of power.” – Kim Cattrall (7-kan) as Samantha Jones in the 1st season of Sex and the City
The Talking Heads first came together back in 1975 in New York, and had their heyday in the 80’s and very early 90’s. David Byrne (7-kan) was their charismatic front man. Generally speaking, the role of front-persons in popular music is at its best when filled by a Kan-born musician. Here’s why:
I can't seem to face up to the facts
I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax
I can't sleep - the bed's on fire
Don't touch me, I'm a real live wire
As I look deeper into the mirror and delve deeper into myself it becomes clear that reality itself, and the way I perceive it – IS in fact a mirror of my own consciousness. Therefore, a flaw I judge in reality is a reflection of a flaw that is built into human awareness and my own experience of it. Had it not been identified and labeled inside it could not be recognized as such outside.
This realization is fertile ground for infinite opportunities to evolve and grow; it is the reflective reed (7-kan), which is formed on the tree of life, and holds inside it the promise of a new tree.
Abundance is always a presented choice. The Reflective Seed 7-kan is placed in front of reality’s mirror (the trecena’s theme) and a question mark appears above it:
Which seed is the real one? the one in the mirror or the one in front of it?
But the duality presented by the simple question is easily overcome, since the seed (kan) is coupled with the divine number 7 – the trecena’s core, so it is already reflective within itself.
And what do I get when I place a seed between two mirrors? -infinite abundance.
Under the hood
The core period, which began recently on 4-imix, has 2 reflective days: 7-kan and 7-caban (seed and earth). On these days a window of opportunity is opened to get to know the 7th stage both on the daily energy level, as well as underneath in deeper levels through the overall theme of the 7th uinal – the current core period.
What is special about stage 7 is that it is the first stage in which I can actually see where I am heading. Using the mountain-climbing analogy on the trecena diagram, when I climb up the steep side of days 1 through 6 you can only imagine what the other side is going to look like. When I reach the core/apex of day 7 the other side becomes completely visible for the first time. From 7-kan I can see 13-oc below, 1-chuen and what’s beyond it (1-Kan).
1-chuen is Roland Orzabal’s Tzolkin birthday, and he sings:
“Anything is possible when you’re Sowing the Seeds of Love… An End to Need and the Politics of Greed” – Tears for Fears
8-chicchan°: Justice serves truth
Born on this day: Dave Liebman, Horatio Nelson, Chazz Palminteri, Jojo Mayer, Oliver Kahn
“The measure may be thought bold, but I am of the opinion the boldest are the safest.” – Horatio Nelson (8-chicchan)
Jojo Mayer is a world-famous drummer. I heard drummers either have good hands or good leags. Jojo seems to have both, but especially hands. The following piece is called “Nerve”, and the band he’s in is called A38 Ship: with Janek Gwizdala (7-MULUC) on bass, and Takuya Nakamura on keyboard and trumpet:
His mind-boggling solo begins around the 4:30 minute mark.
8-chicchan is located on the 1-Edznab trecena, so a combination of truth and justice emerges. The serpent is a symbol of justice and retribution, and today it is coupled with stage 8, which is all about balance and harmony. This structure fittingly has its root in 1-Edznab.
Possibly more than any other Northern trecena, 1-Edznab feels like living inside my cyber-mind 24/7. Everything seems to be cerebral, clean-cut, and either/or. Stage 8 brings back the theme of the previous trecena (Chicchan) to balance the effects of this hi-tech trip through the Matrix. 8-chicchan can mean “Human Forever, through and through”.
Now that I’ve looked in reality’s sharp mirror and cut through many illusions and fallacies – it is time to come to terms with, and cut away outdated false beliefs which I hold regarding my basic survival instincts, and the sincerity of the service and courtesy I offer to my fellow wo/man. These are primary human concerns which tend to defy logic. On this day chicchan is about reflecting upon all the aspects that can never be fully incorporated into the mirror’s logic; cannot be automated, predicted, nor fully controlled.
9-cimi°: Intense change
Born on this day: Sheila Jordan, Walter Lippmann
“It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf.” – Walter Lippmann (9-cimi), A Preface to Morals (1929).
Today Mercury conjuncts the sun it its retrograde motion.
After the duality of the mirror is transcended by Kundalini and chi(cchan), the transformation inherent in cimi (Death) gently dawns within my awareness to complete the cycles of action. Very much like the previous northern sun-sign “Wind” at stage 5, 9-cimi enhances and develops the trecena’s theme and process. The mirror’s gift of refinement and introspection also means a sacrifice of whatever runs contrary to the mirror’s truth, exactly as it is reflected right now.
It’s funny sometimes when I think about my need to change, as if I can stay the same as I was yesterday; as if transformation can be helped. In reality’s mirror nothing is frozen in Time. Truth is a dynamic, living thing. Everything around me undergoes profound change and constant growth/decay – as do I, naturally. Therefore, what I considered to be inner truths yesterday may not hold true today, and must be left behind.
10-manik°: Truth’s journey
Born on this day: Lewis Carroll, Amelia Earhart, Timothy Geithner, Aaron Russo, James Cook
“Preparation, I have often said, is rightly two-thirds of any venture.” – Amelia Earhart (10-manik), Last Flight (1937)
No musicians born today (so far in my searches), just some die-hard dreamers.
Aaron Russo (10-manik) had a solid and die-hard grasp of truth and freedom, and he preached it to those who cared to listen. Now that he’s dead, his words can safely become prophecies, and he in turn can be said to have been “ahead of his time”.
If you watch closely, you’ll see the decisive way in which Manik-types like Russo assert themselves. It’s the same purifying energy that skillful healers and responsible orators have had in their skill-set since before BC.
Lewis Carroll, who was born on this Tzolkin day, is the author who wrote “Through the Looking Glass”. When Alice went through the rabbit hole she found herself in Wonderland, where the familiar and unfamiliar rearranged to create an alternative reality (which is entirely true in itself). Alice took her reality to Wonderland, and ultimately took Wonderland back to reality, and thus was able to better understand and develop both. I do the same every day when I fall asleep and then wake up again.
Manik is a transformative sun-sign which purifies the negative by healing. Thus, the reflective process of 1-Edznab manifests on this day and is embodied by my individual responsibility to heal within and without. According to 10-Manik, the way to heal and dispel the negative is by sharing fresh and sharp points of view with each other – the insights that were skillfully obtained “Through the Looking Glass” – and then applying them together and individually to our daily concerns.
11-lamat°: A drop of plenty
Born on this day: Jason Mewes, Robbie Coltrane, John Frusciante (RHCP)
“It’s changing out there. There’s a storm coming, Harry… just like last time.” – Robbie Coltrane (11-lamat) as Rubeus Hagrid in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Back to music again, here’s John Frusciante singing and playing the Bee-Gees solo:
Around the 1:30 minute mark – witness how Lamats handle slip-ups, and then rationalize them (“I just learned this song today”). I used to do this ever since I can remember myself, being a Lamat and all. I still can’t help rationalizing sometimes, but I don’t externalize or share it anymore.
After the healing energy of reality’s reflection has manifested yesterday, it is now time to multiply newly acquired perspectives to abundance. One of the meanings of Lamat is “rabbit”, an animal best known for its ability to procreate. On 11-lamat, this abundant essence arrives at the 11th stage, which is equivalent to the flowering stage of the growth process.
The mature tree that manifested on stage 10 now turns its attention to the future, and blossoms in order to procreate. In the context of this trecena, 11-Lamat’s energy creates a multitude of true, fresh and healing reflections of reality, to replace the obsolete and establish a different tomorrow.
Born on this day: Martin Heidegger, Herbie Hancock, Amy Winehouse, Sean Paul, Woodrow Wilson (28th US president), Julianne Moore
“The possible ranks higher than the actual.” – Martin Heidegger (12-muluc), Being and Time (1927)
When I was 18 I took my father’s car and drove alone to Tel-Aviv to watch this following band. It was my first world-class Jazz concert, and I never forgot it. Twenty years later I learned that my music teacher Yair was also there at the same concert. He was also all praise about it, which is quite untypical of him.
Here’s Herbie Hancock (12-muluc) playing in a tribute to Miles Davis (12-Cauac) with Tony Williams (2-Cauac), Wayne Shorter (8-Manik), Ron Carter (4-Men), and Wallace Roney (2-CABAN):
Although the introspective process of 1-Edznab is nearing its conclusion on the subjective-personal level, 12-Muluc is located deep in the middle of the 7th uinal and the Core period. Therefore, the inward-gathering movement on the global level is still going strong and is about to reach its climax.
In two words, 12-muluc means “deep understanding”. Muluc represents the element of water, which, very much like the sun – provides our world almost everything while requiring almost nothing. The water’s aspect of depth is today’s message, and it provides a continuous scuba voyage down the bottomless well of understanding.
On this day I learn that the only limits to my understanding are products of outdated viewpoints and preconceptions, which are based on fears, invoked by the unknown abyss.
13-oc°: Extra friendly
Born on this day: Tim Robbins, Rachel Weisz, William Howard Taft (27th US president), Luke Hochevar
“The world is not going to be saved by legislation.” – William Howard Taft (13-oc), Our Chief Magistrate and His Powers (1916)
And from music back to the silver screen. Here is Tim Robbins (13-oc) and Morgan Freeman (6-akbal, a week ago) in the Shawshank Redemption:
For those who know the movie – note how Andy’s fantasies about Mexico are perceived as dangerous hallucinations by Red (the traditional, institutionalized 6-akbal performed by Freeman). Andy sees beyond (13). He’s already made up his mind. He’s not staying.
Loyalty, directed inwardly and extended in gratitude to another – is the ripe fruit 13-oc, which contains the seeds of love and justice. The quest of uncompromising truth began by facing the mirror of reality courageously and continued by cutting away old skin and pulling down masks mercilessly. Like the fruit’s seeds, the stage of ascension (13) carries these lessons into the next step of evolution by invoking the image of the steadfast dog (oc).
13-oc means staying true to one’s self and true to the family and immediate community. This form of “territoriality” allows my personal truth to withstand the trials of whatever tomorrow has in store.
Now that inner truth and outside reality has been reflected upon and refreshed, the artist 1-chuen takes the stage – It’s Showtime!