This trecena’s theme is the mysterious sun-sign known as Ben in Yucatec and Aj in K’iche. Well, “mysterious” should be taken with a caveat. I mostly refer to “mysterious to us left-hemisphere dwellers”. I’m sure the complete sense of “Ben” is crystal clear in Momostenango. Well, maybe not immediately upon touchdown, but after a week or two there.
Ben (or “Reed”) is not as readily accessible to everyone as, say the serpent or eagle or any other animal sun-sign. I can relate to the essence of Ix by thinking of any kind of cat. But how can I relate with a reed or corn-stalk? Flora is alien to (western) human experience when compared to fauna. So I had to get some anchors.
I found three keywords which helped me in putting 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 alter”, among with many other depictions.
No less than 8 US presidents were born on this trecena. More leaders in many other fields are born on a Ben day, mostly in trecenas other than 1-Ben.
8 out of 44 means 18.1818…%. There are 20 sun-signs, so there’s an expected mean distribution of 5%. Big difference between 5 and 18+ per cent.
If I add the leaders that were born on a Ben day I get 2 more US presidents, a French PM, a Syrian one, 2 Israeli PMs, a Queen mother, the godfather of an elite Banking family, and Julian Assange.
Our concept of time
When does a new child begin life’s journey? Is it at the moment of birth? of conception? Is it after puberty? or a couple of days after his/her parents first met?
When viewing time as a linear progression of units, it becomes terribly important to agree on a suitable answer to the above query. So most people will say that the moment of birth is the beginning, and the government bureau-cats will have a piece of flimsy reality with which to fill out their forms in hospitals, and file them next to the morgue expiry forms.
To counter the linear perception of time, Ken Johnson stresses that according to the Mayan concept of time there’s no exact moment (for example, 00:00) when one day nawal is replaced by the following one. When the sun sets the nawal of the following day already begins to assert its energy, while the nawal that governed the current day wanes.
So like everything else in nature, days and nights have their unique, flowing dance of energies, which intensifies whenever they mix and switch governance (of day and night/winter and summer). Spring, after all, is known as “The Quickening”, and fall is exactly what it means – a slowing down, a time to stop and take stock, gather gravity in preparation for winter – the standstill.
There are no clear cuts in the natural world. Clear cuts can only be found in the human world of words and dotted lines. They are arbitrarily set by my dualistic, calculating mind (one of my favorite tools!)
According to the Mayan concept of time, when the child is born other members of the family are born with him/her. This means that the mother and father (roles) are born with the child, along with sisters, brothers, grandparents, etc. This is most obvious with the first child (there were no parents before it came), but is also true about any other child joining earth.
At the time of birth something also dies. When a couple gets married the bachelors die, and when the pet is adopted the loner dies.
1-Ben: Leadership and the Family
Born on this day: Stephen Baxter, Brian O’Leary, Sean Bean, John Rhys-Davies, Richard E. Byrd, Michael Moore, Ralph Waldo Emerson
Leadership, since it is the sun-sign that follows The Road (Eb, human sun-sign), in the sense that after the road is mapped a leader must walk in front of the community.
Leadership, also, since the staff or Reed is a sign of authority (much like the Olympian torch, and Roman fasces). It is the tool in the hands of the guide, or the elder. It is the staff of Moses, which can turn into a serpent (13-Chicchan) when the need arises.
A good leader instructs and bridges differences by giving the kind of advice that can run goosebumps up and down my spine. Regretfully, nowadays I seldom experience this when confronted with those who call themselves our leaders. It’s mostly PR and appearances, distractions and guilt-flinging.
This doesn’t mean I’m not blessed with good leaders in my inner circle. Listening to my mother can sometimes cause me goosebumps. Although she wasn’t born on a Ben day or trecena, and doesn’t have Ben in her Mayan cross – her seniority has bestowed upon her the energy of Ben.
(She was born 9-Eb, BTW, the day before 10-Ben)
2-Ix: Lunar Shaman
Born on this day: Shakira, Cliff Richard, Mike Rutherford (Genesis), Harvey Keitel, Carlos Slim, Richard Nixon (37th US President), Mitt Romney
The way I see it, the number 2 is associated with the moon and the lunar cycles. First of all, the moon comes second to the Sun. Secondly, it receives its light from the Sun, so it’s a reflective device (like your computer screen).
Thirdly… well, maybe anything beyond 2 is already something other than lunar.
Manly P. Hall (3-Cauac, 1-Caban trecena) once said in one of his lectures: “Pressure can cause an individual to say ‘the end justify the means.’ The moment he has done so – the madness of the moon is upon him.” In other words, he’s a lunatic.
So the moon is reflective, and it wields dominion over the jaguar’s time of prowl. It is little surprise, then, that one of the richest men alive (Carlos Slim) was born 2-Ix, and so did “Tricky” Dick Nixon.
2-Ix comes right after the seed of leadership and dreams which is 1-Ben. It can be thought of as a very shrewd and respectful feline; prone to flattery and high-life, perhaps.
Born on this day: Matt Stone, Michael Stipe, Peter Lorre
The second keyword is “Family”, and here I’ll make a small aside for some background (Under the hood).
The sun-sign Ben is one quarter of a burner quadruplet which also includes Edznab, Akbal, and Lamat. Each quadruplet has a theme which binds its four members together. The quadruplet in question has to do with Dreams, Reality, and whatever’s in-between. Why? well, there’s the Night (Akbal) and the Star (Lamat), the mirror (Edznab) and driving it all – destiny’s conduit a.k.a. Jacob’s Ladder (Ben).
The family is where I find myself when the Night falls and the Stars come out. Under the same roof, the family takes the Night’s journey of dreams, where the Reed and the Mirror are predominant. I have dinner with my wife and talk about what came to pass and what’s looming ahead. We discuss our dreams and our daily reality. We take part in working out the minute aspects of each other’s destiny.
To clarify, “Family” is anything YOU decide it is, with or without blood, and regardless of gender or any other denomination. Oddly enough, Ken Johnson says Ben’s “Family” orientation also means household pets and animals.
Family means something very, very specific in human experience. This is where 3-Men comes in. The true engine (Activating 3) behind leadership is vision without boundaries. It is the vision and undying drive which is worth sweating out all the small details of daily life.
4-Cib: Four Mothers
Born on this day: Kenny Kirkland, Lisa Lopez, Brian Austin Green, Hal Holbrook, Ali Akbar Khan
The infrastructure below the current 1-Ben process is finalized today. Beginning tomorrow constructive focus begins to shape reality, based on these roots. It is of little wonder the number 4 embodies completeness and definition.
The question arising today is: What do I define as being sacred to me?
To further define the question, keep the word “Family” in mind while pondering. The family was always considered sacred in all communities. It is my home and its sanctity. It is the wisdom I bestow to my dependents and offspring.
4-Aj’ maj today resonates with 1-Aj on a sound level. It shares the same prefix “Aj” which Barbara related to “Sri” in the Vedic context.
In Hebrew, “Aj”/”Ach” means brother. You know, like Freemasons and G.I.s call each other…
Kenny Kirkland (4-Cib) was a talented and successful jazz pianist who passed away 16 years ago at the premature age of 43. In the next clip he plays one of the best piano solos I’ve heard (begins 04:28).
5-Caban: Global Center of Gravity
Born on this day: Byron Katie, Fernando Torres, Robert Smith (The Cure), Demi Moore, Michael J. Fox, Nikos Kazantzakis, Michael Collins
The day after wisdom is firmly defined (4-Cib) it’s time to blaze new tracks using the global mind/heartbeat Caban.
5-Caban’s slogan might be:
“You live, you learn” – Alanis Morrisette (13-Caban)
As long as I’m breathing, eating, sleeping, communicating, expressing myself – I’m learning.
And where is the place I go to “do everything as [I] like”, as Carlos Barrios puts it? I go back to Mother earth. I go back home to get my heart synchronized with whoever I hug there. I can be myself and put some focus on the destiny I share with those under my roof.
We all learn from each other all the time.
If I have to go global and specify where can that homey place be on Google Maps, I’ll say this place is wherever I travel with my family on the home planet. This can be many places, even the ones I travel to alone to meditate and remember my family.
This is why I’m into house-swapping.
6-Edznab: Tradition is Real
Born on this day: Kimberley Ann Deal (Pixies), Zachary Taylor (12th US President), James A. Garfield (20th, same) , Benicio del Toro, Lisa Kudrow, Nicolas Godin (Air), Jim Abrahams
Yesterday was 5-Caban, and since Caban relates to a global heartbeat and to the planet itself, it’s a good time to focus on the universal.
Whatever I find sacred in my personal life has a global counterpart – some kind of “value” which is observed in any and all communities and families around the globe.
When pondering my own personal values I realized I cannot use “family” as a word for value, but rather rephrase to a value within what I call family. Something like giving respect to elders and leaders, giving due attention to children, or thinking about stocking the fridge and pantry (maintenance of abundance in the home).
Edznab [Tijax] is a mirror or reality and truth. I look at a polished mirror and nothing remains concealed. Today’s energy can reveal those places where reality contradicts attitudes and perceptions.
For example, I can go along with my day thinking I look dreadful just because I feel so. When I go to the bathroom I know for sure whether I’m right/wrong about this perception. Looking in the mirror has that quality of changing (and even destroying) whatever misconception came before it.
When coupled with the number 6, Edznab becomes a reliable reflector. It demands the kind of truth that can be appreciated anywhere.
dead presidents’ Wisdom
We’ll go over two of the names above, and begin with the one who is currently least known. Zachary Taylor came from the Whigs party of the mid-19th century. The Whigs basically supported the supremacy of Congress over the presidency and favored a program of modernization and economic protectionism.
Economic Protectionism, by the way, is called Anti-Globalization
James Garfied, called a Republican in the parlance of the times, was the 20th man in the white house. He got to call the shots for a mere 6 months, right up to the point where he got his two .44 mm shots by a ‘deranged assassin’. That happened on the Tzolkin day 8-Ahau (2 days following his birthday).
James Garfield was the second US president to be assassinated (after
Zachary Tylor was the second US president to die in office.
7-Cauac: Cloudy Horizon
Born on this day: James Buchanan (15th US president), Jerry Seinfeld, Kurt Cobain, Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim), Robert Altman, Mario Savio
Cauac (Rainstorm) shares traits with the current trecena theme of Ben. It appears on the North/feminine Mayan cross of Aj/Ben. Cauac is considered to be a homey sign, and people born under this sign tend to appreciate the comforts of home and family. This is the flip-side of the stormy nature of Cauac, who knows how stormy it can be outside the family and home settings.
In addition, Cauac, much like Ix on stage 2 and Kan on stage 12 of this trecena – embodies potential and a gathering of energy before release. It is therefore fitting for Cauac to appear on the 7th stage of this trecena, since it is on this day that Destiny reaches its highest potential and gains purpose, as a cleansing and educating force within HOME.
Another aspect of Cauac is a special gift for teaching and learning. This goes well with the description of 5-Caban and “you live, you learn”.
8-Ahau: Infinite Light
Born on this day: Alan Dershowitz, Warren Beatty, Toni Collette, Vincent van Gogh, Douglas Adams, Norah Jones
Destiny. A word with much gravity and a touch of romanticism. Is there really a destination that I can single out and abbreviate as being my destiny? The thing with destinations is that once you arrive at one of them you get a view good enough to recognize the next one. So how can there be a destiny in the sense of an ultimate destination, some life-long goal that can be actually realized and materialized? And if there is one, in what way do I continue living without destiny beyond its achievment?
There can’t be such a thing as a future destiny, unless I define death itself as a destiny, followed by nothing. Instead of looking to the future in search of it, I think destiny is everything that has already happened, along with whatever’s transpiring now. So in other words destiny is made up of my karmic accumulation of the past, over which I have no control, and the now moment, for which I have total responsibility.
… and 8-Ahau says: “perfection cannot be realized tomorrow, nor remembered as past glory. It abides now and always, beckoning me to discover it.”
9-Imix: Begin from Zoom-Out
Born on this day: Robert Plant, Johann Sebastian Bach, Aretha Franklin, John Noble, Richard O’Brien, Glenn Close, Ron Silver
The 4th uinal begins today with 9-Imix. The 9th stage, when all cycles of action come to completion, gets a primordial jolt back to the basic aspect of nurturing and initiation (Imix).
So far I’ve been outlining the elusive meaning of the sun-sign Ben using the keywords: leadership, family, and destiny. 9-Imix is the day when these concepts coalesce and integrate to complete the cycles of action, a split second before manifestation (stage 10).
Leadership, since Imix is the first day sign of the uinal, and it contains all the raw materials required to journey through 20 days and arrive at Ahau.
However, being the first and the most raw is just a good start, and this is where family comes in. A good parent is a good leader, and vice versa. Another angle shows that a good leader is usually also good at being led, and the same applies for parents being good children.
“But what does ‘good’ mean?” asked a trendy post-modernist at the back.
Whatever’s best in line with my destiny.
Imix is the cosmic female parent, who lies at the very root of family. She nourishes and protects her offspring emphatically. She follows obediently and leads impartially. Her destiny is strong and radiant.
The pelvic thrust
Riff Raff (9-Imix), Magenta (11-Cib), Columbia (5-Men), Brad (10-Lamat), Janet (12-Men), and the occasional narrator (8-Kan) warping time:
10-Ik: Palpable Change
Born on this day: Lou Piniella, Tom Selleck, Richard Dean Anderson, James Hetfield (Metallica), Egberto Gismonti, Boy George, Billie Joe Armstrong, Beth Gibbons, L. Ron Hubbard, George Lucas, Christopher Cousins (Breaking Bad)
What began in the stalk of the Reed manifests today on the breath of the boundless Wind. The ideals and morals that established Leadership and Family during the first stages, the same ones that make the Reed rigid (the proverbial Backbone) all get blown away and diluted today by the complications of language and meaning.
This is what Mr. Hubbard was talking about when he uttered the above quote, at least the way I see it.
The wind bends the flexible Reeds and breaks the rest.
Born on this day: Pelé, Danny Kaye, Billy Joel, Jon Bon Jovi, Jay Kay (Jamiroquai), Kai Eckhardt, Jack London, Henry James, Chester A. Arthur (21st US president), Herbert Hoover (31st US president), Abraham Lincoln (16th US president), Andy Serkis, Oliver Platt, Crispin Glover (George McFly), Kevin Costner, Vinnie Jones
To have 3 US presidents born on one day, and to have so many of them on the same trecena (wait, there’s more to come) – is a very curious finding, to say the least.
However, it is merely a finding. Everything else that is currently spiraling around my mind is speculation and theory, extracted through everyday discourse and elusive fashions.
11-Akbal is to creatively step into the unknown. Instead of speculations and maybes and starting from scratch, it stands for consistency and structure that arises from whatever’s already manifested.
12-Kan: Deep Harvest
Born on this day: Pope Benedict XVI (265th Pope), Nomar Garciaparra, Charles Mingus, James Doohan, Pia Zadora, Werner von Siemens, Omar Bradley
The next-to-last stage 12 is like the next-to-final scene of a good suspense movie. It is when all the pieces fall into place, and all loose ends are somehow tied or otherwise dealt with. It concludes when it’s obvious that the only thing left in the movie is to watch some kind of final goodbye, with a hint regarding what happens next.
The moment of understanding for the Reed, that instant when everything falls into place – is when it produces a Seed. The Seed is tomorrow’s potential. It is the offspring that allows the leader of Destiny to depart, knowing that even if his own destiny hasn’t been completely realized within his Time, the seeds of a new destiny have already been sown.
Kan is a sign of gathering potential that has no time boundaries. Something like indefinite storage. After all, a seed can remain buried in the desert for many years, awaiting the ever-possible flood from the old mountains.
13-Chicchan: Winter’s Terror
Born on this day: Heath Ledger, Sylvester Stallone, Jodie Foster, Mark Wahlberg, George W. Bush (43rd US president), Osama bin Laden
The United States declared independence on the Tzolkin date 9-Ben (1-Chicchan trecena). So, today these two related sun-signs (Serpent and Reed) meet again, but in reverse.
To find that Bush and Bin-Laden shared the same Tzolkin birthday really got my attention a few years ago. Bush is the 8th US president to have his birthday on this trecena. I wonder if this record will be beaten. His father, BTW, Bush senior, was born the very next day in the Tzolkin – 1-Cimi. In other words – close, but no cigar.
The sun-sign Ben seems to have a lot in common with the United States. Heck, even Obama was born on 9-Ben!
… and what’s this hang-up I have with presidents and politicians, anyway? Time to get off the authority trip. Time for a change.
So the last day of the Tzolkin Fall is 13-Chicchan, which is a divine flavor of fluidity, with an unreal scent for drama – directly contrasting our point of origin (1-Ben, the unitary steel pipe).
… and Moses remained on mount Nebo, and watched his flock cross the Jordan into the promised land.