Amid colossal megaliths a Mayan group are chanting to the Sun. Suddenly their attention is caught by stirrings to the south. A gathering crowd of strange figures is seen looming on the brow of the great outer bank of the open temple. Some of the silhouetted figures sport antler headdresses, some wear long robes, others animal skins; some carry wizened wooden staffs the height of a man, others stringed instruments.
The Mayan group hold a hasty discussion, and unanimously agree on a course of action. Their small party would be engulfed by the great crowd of druids if they carried on their chant, and so they decide to join the druidic ceremony.
A circle is formed; spirits of the directions are invoked. Songs are sung by bards and consecrated mead is passed around.
The place: Avebury Stone Circle, Wiltshire, England. The day: Midsummer 1996 A.D. The group of Mayan calendar enthusiasts, myself included within it, has travelled west from the town of Amersham in Bucks. It's it a lovely day and there is a real feeling of being synched-in to something.
But it would be several years before I was in a position to look at both the Avebury circle and the Mayan cycle from the perspective of the Venus calendar of Sacred Time….
My take on Sacred Time is not complicated by hopes for ultimate solutions or fears of "end time" catastrophes, or the generic good/bad predictive concerns of daily astrological magazine columns. "Sacred Geometry" is used in architecture to assist in the creation of designs and spaces with an uplifting, harmonious feel and transcendent resonances, something I regard as a tangible benefit on both a personal and a societal level. Why limit this to the three dimensions of space?
A sacred calendar, as I see it, will potentially be a way of using sacred geometry to apply this same alchemy to time. Though there may also be metaphysical effects subtle and manifold, the basic aim is simple: to create harmonious, uplifting ways to think about time. Thus, working with and marking out time becomes comparable to entering the precincts of a beautiful temple complex. Put another way, a sacred calendar is a kind of holo-morphic time field. "Holo-" like a hologram, since the parts are joined up to the whole of a bigger pattern by geometric relationship, reminding us of a conception of time more sophisticated and inter-connective than the straight-line model, and "-morphic" to recall the theory of morphic fields, of forms resonant through a transpersonal ether.
"… working with and marking out time becomes comparable to entering the precincts of a beautiful temple complex…"
Town planning with an eye on the beautiful can have a massively uplifting effect on a community…so what about an art of time planning?
Linear calendars are practical at the mundane level, but exclusive focus on the mundane leads to boredom. It is characteristic of Sacred Time that it is marked for more than purely mundane purposes. It transforms zones of space-time into things of beauty, having about them an elegance and sense of proportion and interrelationship. Sacred geometric calendars do for time what yoga does for the body. The opposite of boredom is creative force, known as Kundalini or Serpent Fire in the Hindu traditions. A more interesting conception of time (than the purely mundane) facilitates rather than hinders this force. Enter the Serpent as totemic day counter, the good serpent whose apple teaches the way back into Eden.
Stripping away notions of "end times" or utopias bestowed on us for no reason other than that somehow The Time Has Come does not have to mean an exclusion of the beauty and juiciness of mythic influxes. We have a tradition of architecture that we term classical, and an intrinsic part of what we understand by that word pertains to a style that invokes the mythos of a Golden Age, a time that exists eternally as an idea. Sacred Time, similarly, is a way of bridging this idea – the Golden Age – to time as we experience it. If you want the following to come alive, don't read it merely as dry facts and figures, but probe into the patterns with the opened eye of the mind as if travelling beautiful time tunnels to heavenly inner spaces, and as the days of the calendars unfold allow yourself to remember an identity as a player – a beautiful hero or heroine even – on a Golden Age scene – privately, humbly, subtly, non-quixotically. Classical temples were adorned with stories sculpted onto their pediments; the best mythologies with which to adorn the calendar of Sacred Time are surely those that are to do with beauty, the manifesting of the Golden Age, and the evolution and greater fulfilment of human potential. Such are the myths draped onto the likes of the Mayan Long Count end date by New Ageism, but when we are talking about intentional invocation rather than fuzzy-headed belief then this is not so much New Ageism as grounded Hermetic Golden Ageism – plugging back more fully into an eternal field, consciously employing the fact that from strong mental fields ideas precipitate by elegant synchronicity and inspired impulse in new and creative ways.
Before we get to the more sophisticated and elegant patterns of Sacred Time, we may find the simplest of the sacred geometric time cycles by looking at a familiar period, and remembering its sacred myth. We'll nip through this speedily as many will be familiar with the idea already.
The Sacred Seven Day Cycle
The seven-day week and the accompanying seven day creation story that became a part of Judaic tradition have their origins in the ancient Near East, from the lands between the two rivers. If we criticize the seven-day Genesis story as being an obvious fiction we reveal how trapped we are in linear time perspectives. The story is effective as a myth born from an elementary and beautiful geometric pattern, as shown by Drunvalo Melchizedek in his Flower of Life book.
In Sacred Geometry the drawing of a circle may, clearly, be regarded as one of the most fundamental movements, and in this Genesis pattern the circle is indeed the starting point. However, this is a creation story, so we have to ask where it came from in the first place. We shall see that it came from the pattern's own future, and will regard it as the pre-existing, self-begotten creation, like the egg of the Phoenix. So from this original circle we can produce a more developed pattern that retains regularity, because another circle can be drawn on the circumference with its own circumference passing through the centre of the pre-existing circle. Since this "first" operation is carried out from an existing foundation, it doesn't need to be regarded as having been created from the void, and so this drawing of the second circle is called the First Day or First Movement.
The centre of balance has now shifted from the original centre of the pattern, and there are two new intersection points. We may continue adding new circles using the new intersection points as the centres, until we have a pattern with a total of seven circles. Remember that the first was pre-existing, so we are still just at Day Six. However, the first circle was really on loan from the future. Now that we have reached the end of this cycle, that original circle's time of actualizing has come round, and so in Day Seven we return to that original centre since this has now for the first time since the First Day become again the centre of balance of the pattern. This return home is mythologized in the Genesis story as the Day of Rest.
Interestingly, Chapter 24 of the I Ching (as popularized by a Barrett/Pink Floyd song) describes this pattern:-
All movement is accomplished in six stages
And the seventh brings return
For seven is the number of the Young Light
It forms when darkness is increased by one.
Did Canaanite seafarers carry this mystery far and wide? As well as turning up in the I Ching of China, the Mayan people of Central America have a creation myth, told in the Popol Vuh, where, out of the primordial stillness and emptiness, there emerges from the Heart of the Sky the creator figure "God Seven", seven gods in one. It is as if we are asked to conceive of creation from out of the void of the black hole at the Galactic Centre, the Heart of the Sky.
The Genesis pattern is clearly floral, and in both Hindu and Ancient Egyptian traditions we find the birth of a First-Born, Self-begotten god from the centre of a lotus, in the myth of Brahma, and in the Heliopolitan creation story. Brahma's first act is to sing the Om, and this in turn reminds us of Genesis again: "In the beginning was the word." And the word was "Om". Now for an interesting development.
The Thirteen Day Week of the Maya
The seven day cycle teaches us the basic concepts, but it is a more developed version of the geometry to which we must turn to find something that plugs in to bigger interlocking cycles of Sacred Time, giving us just the kind of holo-morphic time field we are looking for.
I propose that the Mayan 13-day period be viewed as coming from this same type of geometry. Rather than going straight back to the centre on the Seventh Day, we can extend our credit for another six days, borrowing until then before returning to the centre, because there are six new intersection points on the outside of our pattern all of which can be used as the centres for further circles. When we have added six more circles, now again we notice that the centre of balance has gone to the original centre, so that in this expanded version it is Day Thirteen that deposits the original circle of the centre back in time.
In fact, the 13-day cycle is one of the most important building blocks of Central American calendars such as the Mayan Calendar Round. This isn't the linearly-focussed Mayan Long Cont Calendar with the famous 2012 end-date – it is a cycle of time; it spirals on and on without end.
We mark the seven day week with various rituals, such as fish on Friday, a night out on Saturday or the Sunday Roast. How could we mark the start of a thirteen-day week in an unobtrusive, convenient way? A meal? An item of jewellery? Being one day less than a fortnight, it leads us backwards through the week days – Monday, Sunday, Saturday etc.
As I've said, the 13-cycle is part of a larger pattern that fits the bill as regards our holomorphic timeweb, but to see why we first need to factor in the 20-day count.
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.
The pentagonal Venus Wild Rose with her five retrograde loops like the pips of an apple in cross section.
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.
Wheels within Wheels : The Tzolkin and the Haab
As you may well know if you've read about the Maya, the 13 and 20-day weeks together make a "year" of 260 days, now known as the Tzolkin, and this 260-day cycle comes into phase with the 365-day Sun-Earth year (which the Maya called the Haab) every 52 of our solar years. This 52-year return is known as the Calendar Round.
And here is the integration of the Calendar Round with the Venus cycle. The Venus cycle, we remember, is 8-years, and consists of the sacred 13-cycle of Venus years. Thirteen of these cycles in turn leads to 13 x 8 solar years which equals 104 years, which is precisely 2 of these 52-year Calendar Rounds. We know from the Mayan Dresden Codex that this 104-year period, called by them the "Venus Round", was counted off by the Maya, and even that they made small adjustments to the count occasionally to keep it synchronised with the Venus cycle. (The Mayan and Other Ancient Calendars, Geoff Stray)
It may not previously have been noted that this Venus Round is 13×13 Venus years, and that this is 169, the same number as the area of the 13×13 tilted square of Crotalus Durrissus mentioned earlier.
Wouldn't it be more elegant still if the 52 year Round integrated with Venus without the need for doubling it up to 104? Not when you factor in a key part of this story, namely the sacred geometry and numerology of this Central American rattlesnake that was so influential in Mayan art, architecture and, of course, the calendar. The halving by geometry of 169 Venus years back down to one Calendar Round of 84.5 Venus years 52 Solar years by geometry increases the elegance of this beautiful strangeness.
Serpent Geometry : The Canamayte Pattern as the Square of the Venus Round
In actual fact the pattern on the snake's hide is in the form of a crossed diamond. I regard this as very neat, because the crossed diamond pattern forms the "Plato's canted squares" pattern which produces a halving of the area, which is exactly what we're looking for, because it gets us back down to the simple rather than the double Calendar Round. If the area of the larger square is 169, that of the inner square is half of this, 84.5. So we are back to the 52-year period produced from the phase pattern of the 13 x 20 Tzolkin year and the solar year.
Inner square = half area of outer (tilted) square, namely 169/2= area 84.5 scales
Venus Calendar Recalibration
We have seen so far that the Venus cycle is indeed a beautiful, ancient, spiralling, harmoniously geometric way to think about time. If we are to make a calendar from it we need to decide what to designate the beginning / end of that eight-year period, and then we can begin to mark off proportions of this period such as its Golden Section points. The mental resonance is increased when we're singing off the same hymn sheet. "Venus Transits" are events that provide an opportunity to do just this, with the rare transits for example in early June 2004 and almost exactly eight years later in early June 2012. It will be over a century until the next transits after 2012, so until then we can work with this as the fixer of the 8-year periods i.e. continuing through 2020, 2028, 2036 and so on.
The Olympiad Calendar
You may have noticed that the above – 2004, 2012, etc – are all Olympics years, while the Ancient Greeks from at least the Hellenistic period used the four-year Olympic period, the Olympiad, as a calendar unit when cataloguing important historical events. The Summer 2004 Olympics were in Greece, with the Summer 2012 in London eight years later. The Olympiad period is of course not eight years but four years. However, although there was not a Venus transit in early June 2008, there was a "superior conjunction" of Venus and the Sun. In other words, Venus went passed the Sun, but not fully aligned in the vertical plane, so she didn't actually pass across the face of the Sun. The same will be true in early June 2016. In fact, the four year period, half of the Venus cycle, is marked out continually by these conjunctions, so that the halving of the 8-year period to the more frequent 4 years makes a great deal of sense.
But there seems to be something spookily elegant about the fact that the first time the Olympics were held in London was in the summer of 1908. This means that the 2012 London Games are being held exactly 104 years after the first London Games,
which is of course the Double Calendar Round of 13 x 13 = 169 Venus years –
the Olympian Venus Round –
and this can be counted with the 13 & 20 day wheels making Tzolkins interlocking with Haabs right
the way through, to culminate with a Venus/Sun transit in 2012!
Now we're really Tzlokin.
The other London Olympics was in 1948, which is the 5/8 Fibonacci / Golden Section measuring backwards from 2012 to 1908.
As well as the games of Olympia, the Greeks also held major games at their sacred site of Delphi, and the original period for these was the full eight years. Plato spoke of how the planets come into alignment after eight full years in his book Timaeus and it is assumed that this was a reference to the Venus cycle; the Delphic period was probably inaugurated to follow the Venus cycle. Poussin's beautiful painting Parnassus, showing the crowning of a poet with a laurel wreath at Delphi while he drinks from a chalice of inspiration proffered by Apollo, can only refer to the Delphic games, since these included not just athletic but also musical and poetic contests, and the winners were indeed crowned with Apollo's plant, the laurel. Notice that Poussin has included a reclining Venus figure centrally placed. (As it happens, one of the rare Venus Transits occurred in 1632, shortly after this painting was completed.)
Delphi was the home of the most famous and revered prophetesses and sibyls, and of course Sacred Time structures become most potent in consciousnesses where there is also a honed ability to feel time, past and to some extent future, because time itself is the raw substance that is alchemically enriched by the sacred geometry of these patterns. Without this the geometric calendars are like cooking paella without the paella. Time is sensed through the feelings, from whence the information is translated into ideas via the Eye of the Mind. The ability to use feelings as a prophetic sense organ is enhanced if the emotions are calm yet sensitive – the ideal state for the feeling body. This state is easier to attain when we plug into the Earth, grounding into the sweet, deep, blissful vibration of Gaia. So, for example, the custodians of the Greek oracle at Dodona walked bare foot on the soil, and the first oracle at Delphi received her utterances from Ge, Gaia, the "First Condition" of R.J.Stewart's elemental communications (e.g. in The Power within the Land.)
Poussin's Parnassus painting was inspired by the similar Parnassus of Raphael, which in turn was inspired by Mantegna's equivalent painting, also known as Parnassus but which surely shows in fact Mount Helicon, with its two springs, one brought into existence by the stamping of the hoof of Pegasus (who Mantegna shows) and with the dancing Muses, sacred to Helicon, where they had a temple, also shown. As well as these features, Mantegna's scene is watched over by Mars and Venus in embrace. As the art historian Edgar Wind described in Pagan Mysteries of the Renaissance this theme of Venus united with (and thus tempering) Mars was championed by Renaissance Neo-Platonists as an alchemical fusion vital to the health and vitality of things, and the implication in the painting is that this union vivifies culture (represented by the Muses). This leads us on to an extraordinary fact – the synodic period (of the retrograde movements) of Mars in our sky is 780 days, precisely 3 Tzolkin periods of 260 days! So every 3 Venus Rounds (3 x 104 years) the cycles are fully synchronized. And so Mars and Venus are united by the Tzolkin!
Later the Delphic Games were doubled up in frequency from eight to every four years, like the Olympics, still integrating with the eight-year period but meaning they didn't have to wait so long.
Say what you like about the modern Olympics, there is no doubt that they happen to integrate very well with the Venus cycles we have been looking at. Perhaps London, sited on the global Prime Meridian from which Earth time as well as longitude is configured, is a good place to celebrate a global festival of entry into a calendar of Sacred Time, with the famous 2012 ending of the Mayan Long Count representing the corresponding relative down-grading in importance of mundane "linear time" models. (The Long Count has an end date but the Calendar Round spins on and on.) Urban beautification requires finance, and in Classical times the Games were how Olympia was able to become one of the most beautiful of the Greek temple-complex sites. Pausanias, who travelled all over Greece, raved particularly about Olympia and Eleusis. (See the amazing virtual reconstructions at http://www.osmosis.com.au/visualize/olympia_01.htm.) Speaking as an advocate, I suggest that no civilization since has provided "Western" culture with a better basic model for urban beautification than the Hellenic one.
Not that there is any obvious reason why the festivals marking Sacred Time should involve athletic contests, or any other contests. That said, we might as well note that a myth of the founding of the Olympics speaks of the gods running the first foot races of these games. The gods of Antiquity were equated with the planets, and so we have the circuit of the track equated with the orbits of the planets, just as the planet Venus as we've seen dances out the Olympiad. Another story says the first wrestling contest of the Olympics was one in which Zeus triumphed over Cronos at the site of Olympia. "Cronos" means "time", and so here, we can say, we have an allegory of the triumph of sacred time consciousness over merely mundane, chronological, linear time models. But that aside an Olympiad could just as easily be celebrated with less competitive activities such as festive meals or parties. Christmas Day doesn't have a governing body. Well, the Church, perhaps, but what people do on Christmas Day is really a combination of tradition and choice. People might choose to engage in a contest at Christmas, such as charades, but this is not an essential part of the festival. We can view Olympiad festivals in just the same way, and the Olympiad's feasts are surely Venusian – shellfish and the like. Who is the goddess of the Olympiad? Olympia, which denotes simply a goddess of Olympus, is, as we have seen, and as Manet somehow knew, Venus, who is indeed an Olympian goddess, for Manet's Olympia (right) was an updating of Titian's Venus of Urbino (left). (And it so happens that Cezanne's A Modern Olympia, in turn based on Manet's painting, was completed in Venus Transit year 1874.)
Plato (in Phaedrus) has already provided us with a simile in which the Olympics represent spiritual growth. Plato says that in the Inner Olympics the gods celebrate as a wreath is awarded to a Soul whose perception has been lifted back to a level where the Universal is seen in the Particular. Plato likened this to a chariot race, as used to be performed in the Games, where the taming and reigning in of the horses represents teaching the part of us that lusts after beauty in the fleeting/particular to understand that it is a result of resonance with a Universal Idea with which the mind can enter into a rapturous union. As such beauty is an initiation rather that a cause to lust in fear of losing it.
Let's call the 8-year period the Pythiad, in reference to the Delphic Games which originally did occur at such an interval. We may consider the Pythiad running from the Greek Olympics in 2004 to the London Olympics 2012. Thinking creatively, could this work as a kind of allegory for Sacred Time? Remember this is 13 Venus circles, and the original circle came from the 13th movement, from the future. Greece was the home of the Olympics, and London is the great cosmopolitan city sited on the Global Meridian, just as Delphi was located at the centre of the Greek world. Following through on this notion, we could work with the idea that we are entering a period that stands in some harmonious and non-linear relationship to the culture of Ancient Greece. Remember how in Sacred Time the seed of a cycle comes holographically from its fruition; the creative impulse for a thing comes from its future, just as the real talent of a genius is to sense the potential of a hunch and nurture it. It's time to look at the history of culture in more sophisticated ways. The tokens Theseus found under the rock came from the future. (See http://www.arcadian-dreamtime.co.uk/Theseus.html) Countless history books paint a picture of Ancient Greece as one of the stepping stones upon which we have been able to haul ourselves to our current position. The truth may be far more sophisticated. What if there was to come a time when urbanization was to reach a point of expansion where beautification became vital for the sake of societal health and good order, and what if we were to then realize the imperative of having an already-existing Classical Dreamtime and precedent already ancient in its beauty and the richness of its fields? We would have the willingness for this to have been the case in our own past. So, the precedent is sent back – Circle Thirteen, the Egg of the Phoenix, whisperings from the Muses in the ears of ancient oracles and bards, Apollo-beams of sacred sound from their future. Are aspects of the Classical Greek culture model treasures that had their genesis back then in part so that we would now be able to look back on them as part of the Dreamtime of Western Culture, and use them as a rich cultural source for purposes of beautification?
The Olympic Flame ignited from solar rays at Olympia, modern ceremony
The symbolism of the Olympic Torch that is carried around the world before the Games suddenly becomes more powerful. The Greeks used chains of mountain beacons, and where (and if) one of these had been lit at dawn in the East (as I believe it was) it would have arrived in the West before dawn, "outracing the day's fire" (Sophocles), like the Argonauts racing back with the Fleece ahead of the Colchian king in his Sun chariot, enabling this fire to be "the torch the kindles glorious day", to quote Aeschylus, a seed planted in the night in order that the light could come. (See http://www.arcadian-dreamtime.co.uk/Jason.html)
Because of the equations of relativity, black holes have become the obvious symbols for us of a portal to the past. It is indeed amazing that the Mayan Long Count calendar has its last day on the solstice of Winter 2012/2013, at which time the Sun is in a close conjunction with the Black Hole at the Galactic Centre: the end sends the seed back to the beginning through the portal to the past. This Long Count is also full of cycles of thirteen, and its ending ushers in the year which is, by elegant coincidence, 2013 in our Western calendar. 20 & 13, the number of the Tzolkin and by extension the Calendar Round. So it seems to make sense to view this as a good time to make a concerted shift of focus towards the Venus calendar so as to conceive of time in more beautiful ways. Elegant coincidences notwithstanding, this would be a deliberate choice, not merely the unfolding of some New Age prophecy.
The Great Zodiac Cycle
The Great Cycle of the Zodiac ages takes around 26,000 years. 20 x 13 = 260, and 2000 x 13 = 26,000 – that's 2000 years for each of the 13 Zodiac ages (including the Serpent Bearer). We can also integrate this with the Venus cycle, by dividing the 2000 by 8 to get 250, and then observing that 250 x 104 = 26,000. In other words, in loose, conceptual terms, we can say there are 250 Double Calendar Rounds or "Venus Squares" in the great Zodiac Cycle.
To divide up the 26,000-year cycle into 13 sections in this way, we need to decide on a starting place. The convenient consensus is the same solstice of Winter 2012/2013 to be taken as the start of a 2000 year Long Age of Aquarius, since there we have the coincidence of the end of the Mayan Long Count and the close conjunction of the Sun and the Time Portal of the Black Hole.
Making the Venus Cycle Work For Us
It will not serve us to be twiddling our thumbs too much when using a calendar of Sacred Time. The purpose of it is not to set aside distant days as special, but to enrich our sense of time as a whole. It's not all about 2012. What about today? We can employ geometry to understand the connection to the bigger pattern, and then the days that are thus picked out have an aura that extends around them, a pre- and afterglow, just as you don't need to be standing on top of a temple to appreciate the beauty of its architecture, but can enjoy the view even from a distance.
Key dates we have identified so far are the start of each 8-year Pythiad, such as early June 2004, 2012 and 2020, and the intervening half-Pythiads or Olympiads, such as early June 2008, 2016 and 2024.
What other dates can we pick out? The 5th year of the 8-year Pythiad will include a Golden Section of the Pythiad. The Fibonacci series homes in on this. 5/8 gives a rough approximation, giving for example early June 2009 and 2017 as key dates. We can also measure backwards through each Pythiad, (3/8), giving June 2007 and 2015.
8/13 homes in closer to the Golden Section, i.e. the completion of the 8th Venus year after the start of the Pythiad, since there are 13 in the full cycle. This occurs one Moon cycle earlier, in early-mid May, 2009 and 2017 (and later for 2007 and 2015).
The Venus synod retrograde movements also occur at geometric intervals of the period, namely 1/5th of the full 8 years. So for example March 27th 2009 was a Venus-Sun conjunction in the middle of a synod, and in fact this is yet another part of that Fibonacci series, being 3/5 of the way through the period. 3:5, 5:8, 8:13. The conjunction in the middle of the next Synod is on 7 October 2010. (A more complete list can be seen on Wikipedia under "Aspects of Venus".)
We've halved the period, we've looked at its Golden Section, and we've divided it into 5ths. What other dates can we consider? We have available to us the option of following the 13-day and 20-day cycles of the Tzolkin since we know this integrates with this same Venus cycle. The Tzolkin count has been kept down to the present by daykeepers in the Guatemalan highlands since the times of the Classic Maya, and you can find a Tzolkin date using an online converter such as http://www.diagnosis2012.co.uk/mlink.htm.
But I don't want to leave it there. Since we have seen the Tzolkin integrating with the Venus Cycle, we could chose to count out the 13 and the 20 in such a way that the start day of the Venus Pythiad (e.g. June 6, 2012) is also a 1,1 day in the 13 & 20 count, thus revealing the Olympian Calendar Round. This is not intended as a replacement to the Mayan round itself of course, but as an additional count calibrated to the Venus cycle and appropriate to the "Western Tradition". The coincidences beg us to establish this new count because as we have seen a double calendar round of 104 years joins the London Olympics summers of 1908 and Venus transit year 2012!
In fact, we know from the Dresden Codex that in the earlier period the Mayan count was periodically adjusted so that at a key date in the 104-year "Venus Round" the first rise of Venus as a morning "star" would occur on a 1 Ahua day of the 260-day Tzolkin. Ahua is actually the 20th or last day in the 20-day cycle. The significance of timing this to the first rise of Venus must have been due to some specifically Mayan association. It makes more sense for our Olympian Round to just use the number 1. Also, if we go by the transit day June 6 2012 (rather than the First Rise of Venus day three days later) the 13-day cycle happens to coincide with the traditional Mayan count, because 6 June 2012 falls on a 1 of 13 day, and anyway it is now the transit day that has become more significant, as it is now easily observable. Therefore, June 6 2012 can be 1,1 (i.e 1/13, 1/20) in the a Tzolkin of the Olympian Calendar Round, and the rest is extrapolated from there. And there is an easy conversion process. For a particular day, find the Mayan Tzolkin day (e.g. at the website address given above), and then subtract one from the number in the 20-day cycle. Eg. Ik (2), becomes 1; 1 (Imix) becomes 20; 20 (Ahua) becomes 19, and so on. Easy. I've tried following this pattern by stringing beads on a necklace for the 13 and 20 day cycles, but this didn't give me a feel for the bigger pattern. More effective I think is marking off the days on a table of 13 columns and 20 rows snaking down each column of twenty but counting in 13's. That way we can see at a glance how far we are through the Tzolkin. An example here shows the 260-day "Olympian" Tzolkin in progress during the writing of this piece, with a cross indicating the day in which this sentence is being penned. Further Olympian Tzolkin tablets will be posted to my website at www.arcadian-dreamtime.co.uk.
Example Tzolkin Tablet Ending July 31 2009 of the Olympian Calendar Round
The Avebury Pythiad?
Almost to the day, the same moon phase at the same time of year occurs after a period of 8 years. This is quite a coincidence given that this is also the period of the Venus cycle. The number of moon phases in this period is 99. We don't know for certain how many stones there were in the outer circle at Avebury, but the number does appear to have been 99. We'll go with this here in order to build up a mytho-poetic image. Evelyn Francis in Avebury suggests the circle of 99 stones at Avebury represents this cycle of moons. Having been to look at the stones on a moonlit night, and seen how the crystals in the rock shine beautifully in that lunar light, I have been tempted to take this seriously – each stone standing for a full moon.
The archaeologist Mike Pitts, in Hengeworld, writes "Erecting even the smallest [megalithic] stone is an event. It requires planning and organisation, people and equipment. It attracts attention and bequeaths stories – it generates a buzz….The important thing was the observance, the activity."
Stukeley's drawing of two gigantic Avebury megaliths
There is a longstanding folkloric tradition of timing activities to the lunar cycle – receiving the new seed in the quietness of new moon, bringing projects to fruition at full moon, letting go and preparing for the next project in the waning period.
If we put these ideas together, a wonderful possibility arises. Did the builders of Avebury gather together and raise one of the stones of the outer circle during each moon phase for the full 8-year period, perhaps timing the final raising into position of each of these giant stones with each of the 99 full moons? If so…
…one can only imagine the joy of the final celebration when the last stone was raised as the three brightest bodies in the sky recalled the moment when the project had been begun:
Venus was observed in the same position in the sky and the Moon in the same phase as the time almost exactly eight solar years before, when the Sun too had the same rising and setting point on the horizon and position in the starry sky!
What a wonderful time to bring their great work to completion, as the heavens completed their sacred period. If you think about it, the poets of Greece we doing the same thing when they prepared to display their works at the Pythian Games of Delphi every 8 and later 8/2 years. They completed and perfected their works in order to be ready by the completion of the period.
The act of construction itself, the process, would then have been a way to attune to this cycle, a brilliant and harmonious song singing still in the stones even now. Whether by synchronicity or design, the sacred 8-year cycle of Sun, Moon and Venus is crystallized in lasting Earthly – and earthy – form at Avebury, on a colossal, Olympian scale yet with the satisfying, protected feel of a haven: Sacred Time translated into Sacred Space.
Stones of the Avebury great circle and a spiral of meditating visitors at the site, Spring 2009.
Photos Kate Walmsley
More speculatively still, there is the fact that when the great ditch of the henge surrounding the stone circle was excavated it was found to have a surprisingly regular flat bottom. Was this circular track ever used for games and races? This ditch was dug to an amazing depth of 11 metres into the chalk, and the circumference of the circle it follows is over a kilometre! 400 men has been reckoned a likely size for a workforce, and it's been calculated that 400 men could have dug this mighty ditch in 8 years.