The Sacred Geometry of Sacred Time
in the Olympiad and the Mayan Calendar Round (cont.)
By William Glyn-Jones
The Twenty Day Wheel of the Maya
The Maya name the days of a sacred "year" with a number from the 13-day week plus one of the 20 day-glyphs, resulting in 260 different day names from the two interlocking wheels. For humans there is a natural link between counting and the digits of our bodies, of which we have twenty, of course, including the toes. Twenty also features as an important number in sacred geometry, being the maximum number of faces there can be on a Platonic Solid (i.e. the 3D polygonal forms that are regular in every sense.) And so we have the count of twenty days to the number representing completion.
But the real power of the 20 factor lies in its mediation between the 13-day week and bigger cycles that we shall come to in a moment. The first thing to note is that the Great Lordly Serpent of the Maya, Crotaluss Durrissus Durrissus, grows two new fangs every 20 days. This rattlesnake, which the Maya held sacred, has a pattern of scales with a square, titled 45 degrees to make a diamond. The largest of these, that is to say those diamonds along the wider part of the snake's body, usually have a side length of 13 scales. So the snake gives us both the 20-day period and the number 13.
That much has been recognized already, but I would like to contribute some more to the understanding of these things. A square with a side of units 13 has an area, of course, of 13 x 13 = 169, a number which we shall return to shortly. The snake's patterns influenced Mayan art and architecture, as well as the calendar, quite significantly. It's always struck me that a creature with a rattle is a rather an appropriate time counter.
Jose Diaz-Bolio, who studied this business in depth, wrote that "Mayan art, architecture, geometry and religion all derive from the Mayan rattlesnake...", adding that this pattern influenced "the Mayan thatched-roof house, the pyramid, the temple-roof vault or 'false arch', the design on a Mayan blouse." One of the 20 Mayan day glyphs, Chuen, even seems to represent two rattlesnake fangs.
The Earth-Venus Cycle
A sacred geometric architect works with certain givens of the surroundings, such as the Cardinal Directions and alignment with respect to features of the landscape. Similarly, there are certain repeating phenomena which form the ideal foundations of a sacred calendar. An excellent example is the Venus-Earth-Sun cycle. For a start the length of a Venus year equals, to quite a high degree of accuracy, the Golden Ratio of the Earth year, i.e. the ratio of the difference between the two to the shorter (the Venus orbit), is the same as the ratio of the shorter (Venus) to the longer (the Earth-Sun year). This is a very promising start.
The Venus cycle is an ancient pattern in human culture. For example, we know from the Venus Tablet of Ammisaduqa that the cycles of Venus were tracked in the Mesopotamian region in the Bronze Age. We also know from the few surviving texts that Venus was closely tracked by the Maya. The Dreamtime, the accumulation of human impressions of wonder and appreciation, is stronger with an ancient, long cherished temple - a pattern in architectural space - than a younger one, all other things being equal, and the same is logically true of a pattern in calendar space. This Venus cycle taps us into rich ancient fields.
Geometry, being absolutely definable to the mind, enhances this transpersonal idea resonance, which is why classical architecture uses it to further magnify these Dreamtime fields. Venus has a cycle in our skies which takes, very elegantly, eight full Sun-Earth years to complete almost to the day, with similar accuracy, thirteen Venus years (orbits of Venus around the Sun). The eight-year period can be shown as an octagon, where each point is the position of Venus in Her solar orbit on the same day on the eight different years (Martineaux, A Little Book of Coincidence), with the alternate years shown here in their square relationship.
"Venus has a cycle in our skies which takes, very elegantly, eight full Sun-Earth years to complete"
During this time there are exactly 5 Venus synods, that is to say the loops where Venus goes retrograde, appearing to moving backwards, like the backwards step in a Greek circle dance, due to Her movement around the Sun. 5, 8 and 13 are numbers in the golden spiralling series that approximates closer and closer to the Golden Ratio.
So the Venus cycle in our skies occurs during an 8-year period in which Venus circles a full 13 times around the Sun. So, here we are again in a 13-based time cycle, in which the same pattern of intersecting circles can be applied as we saw with the period of thirteen days, in other words one where the thirteenth movement creates the first circle from the future, like the egg of the Phoenix. In fact Venus, the Morning Star, was apparently associated in Ancient Egypt with the Phoenix, the Benu bird that lays the primordial egg. The Book of the Dead says "I come forth like the Bennu, the Morning Star" and apparently the planet Venus was called the "star of the ship of the Bennu-Asar". The name benu is thought to come from an Egyptian word meaning to rise and shine, and one of the Benu bird's Egyptian titles was "He who came into being by himself" - just like Circle Thirteen. So each of Venus' thirteen almost-circular orbits of the Sun can be seen as the drawing of one of the circles in the extended Genesis pattern.
During this 8-year period Venus draws an elegant pentagonal rose-pattern against the backdrop of the sky, and on completion after the 8 solar / 13 Venus years she is back almost to the same starting point. How does this link with the 13 and 20-day cycles? It does so in a wonderful way.