The Trecena of Noj: 13 Days of Earth Wisdom & Ideas

Last Thursday, the Maya here in the western highlands of Guatemala celebrated Wajshakib Batz, 8 B’atz, which is the beginning of the new two hundred sixty day cycle. So, we are only just beginning. Again.

On Sunday, I interpreted a Mayan Fire Ceremony for a small group, alongside the spiritual guide, Thomas and he also brought his wife, Yolanda, for the first time ever to a ceremony at this particular location, after having worked there for 7 years.

It was a beautiful day-count ceremony, although the group was a bit reserved and tame. Blessings, gratitude, intention setting, letting go, calling in. The day was 11 Ix {Jaguar}, and afterward there were five personal readings with Thomas, which I also translated. Almost all of them teared up at some point during their readings, and all our hearts had been touched.

It felt like a poignant, full-circle morning for both Thomas and myself, as we had both been away from this center for many moons and were at long last coming back together in the role of guide and interpreter once again, with the intention of planting the seed for a prosperous and abundant season ahead.

So, just six days into the new cycle, we begin a new mini-cycle of 13 days. “Mayan weeks” are 13-day cycles called trecenas. From tomorrow, August 29, until September 10, 2018 we’ll be moving through the trecena ruled by the nahual known as Noj [pronounced “Noh”].

According to the Mayan Calendar Portal, “Caban, or No’j in K’iche’ Maya, represents intelligence, ideas, wisdom, knowledge, patience and memory.” This is the day sign of education, training and intelligence. Its spirit animals are the woodpecker and the gazelle. These next two weeks are a time for introspection, reflection and cultivation of knowledge and authentic wisdom, a time to give thanks to both Mother Earth’s and our own natural intelligence.

According to The Serpent and the Jaguar by Birgitte Rasine, on N’oj days, “the Maya ask for wisdom, for talent, and for the capacity to think positive, innovative or productive thoughts or ideas.  It is also a good day to ask for creativity in all of our endeavors and intelligence to address all of our challenges and resolve all of our issues.”

Mind over matter. Free your mind. Meditate.

These 13 days are about working with the innate intelligence mind, cultivating creativity and asking for clarity and understanding.

What is past belongs there; what is present is in your hands.  But it is only through your decisions in the present time that your future is defined: every action, every decision, every plan or project you undertake will have some impact on your life or perhaps those of others in the near- or long-term future. This is why the present is all-important; indeed, it is the only fleeting bit of time of which we have any active experience. – Birgitte Rasine

And this is why so many ancients and sages will tell you, live in the one moment, the ever-present, and think not of the past or future. For they are both already there, in that one eternal, flowing moment.

Here’s to intelligence, the power, presence and protection of nature, and cultivating wisdom with the intention of inner growth, from a place of mindfulness.

Where is your mind?

Step out of the Bureaucracy of Ego

Chakra 7thI’ve been thinking a lot about escape lately—and the comforts of home.

Escape is a myth, an illusion. There is no escape. This is it. Here we are.

Yet, paradoxically, there are many escapes—even more than the good old standards like binge-drinking, drug use, overeating, sex, TV, caffeine, and shopping. Reading, writing, and speaking just to hear oneself talk can all be forms of escape. Even yoga and meditation can serve as escapes and feed our addictive personalities.

“It is important to see that the main point of any spiritual practice is to step out of the bureaucracy of ego. This means stepping out of ego’s constant desire for a higher, more spiritual, more transcendental version of knowledge, religion, virtue, judgment, comfort, or whatever it is that the particular ego is seeking.” ~ Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

I have created a comfortable home. I have an awesome life—which is not to say that I don’t have struggles and stresses—but, my struggles and stresses have evolved and diminished incredibly due to the lifestyle I have chosen to live. One of simplicity, natural beauty, mindfulness, and loving kindness.

This life I am currently living has bloomed and flourished thanks to discontent. In my 20s, I was discontent with the standard life I had been conditioned to embrace: the hamster wheel of school, higher education, attainment of degrees, career promotions, two-week vacations, professional existence until retirement, and death.

Even earlier, I was discontent with the dogma I had been conditioned to believe—that I was an “original sinner,” full of faults, needing to confess, repent, and be redeemed or saved. That Jesus was the perfect, white-skinned, blue-eyed son of God, crucified for my sake. I was discontent with the contents of my mind, my moodiness, my manic depression, my irrational anxiety, my being told to just take one of these pills every day to make the pain go away.

Now, it’s clear to see that my discontent was a great gift.

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On Turning 37

I was born roughly 1,924 weeks ago. That number is only slightly more arbitrary than the corresponding number of years: thirty seven.

Age is strange. On the inside, I feel about twenty one. From the outside, it might seem like I am eightysomething, based on my much-cherished, early-to-bed, early-to-rise lifestyle. Nonetheless, I am barreling towards forty. How can this be possible? Am I middle aged?

I clearly remember my dad’s 39th birthday, September 30, 1991. Our family gathered in the kitchen to sing to him and eat the German chocolate cake my mom had made. I was eleven years old and suddenly overcome with nostalgia and concern for my dad’s advancing age. I was jolted by the revelation that my dad would one day die, and so would I, and so would we all. According to my childish logic, age 39 sounded alarmingly close to “old.”

On Tuesday, I turn 37. My parents are 64. Dude, it’s 2017. In the future, it will be the year 2049. What do any of these digits mean? What’s in a year? Isn’t time ultimately this moment, whatever is happening in the stream of consciousness of the present moment? Time marches on, yet life feels timeless, at times.

My husband teases that I’m a child of the eighties, while he belongs to the far-superior decade of the seventies. (Mind you, he was born in the summer of ’79.) I appreciate that the eighties were low-tech. I am grateful that social media did not exist until I was in college. I reminisce about the time before selfie sticks, smartphones and multitasking reigned all over the land. I am appalled to think about how much TV I watched as a kid and teen. I haven’t had a television since circa 2006.

I’ve done a lot of thinking over the past few years about learning and unlearning. The lesson I am currently unlearning, which I thought I had already but am realizing through my own experience as a mother to my daughter, is that “You have to be nice.” Be a good girl, try a little harder, and all that. Study hard. Work hard. Play hard.
Nowadays, I am more into softness.

I catch myself telling my girl, “Be nice.” Or urging her to hug someone or give a high-five or say something for goodness sakes’. She is currently speaking nonstop, all day every day at home, and when we go out of the house, she’s virtually silent around anyone she doesn’t know well. And that’s okay. I am practicing letting her be. Letting her do as she will, as she wishes, as long as it’s with kindness, respect and lovingness. Being softer and gentler with her, reasoning with her in a calm way, when she is not being so kind, loving or respectful.

So I’m unlearning “be nice” as a social construct, while ever reminding myself: be nice, as in: practice kindness, to all beings without exception.

Another day older, another day of precious life, another day closer to cheerful death.

I am thirtysomething. I’ve learned a lot since I was twentysomething. Have I grown, evolved, matured, become more grounded and well balanced, in general, a little bit? Have I gained wisdom? Maybe. Experience? Definitely. Most of all: self-knowledge. Understanding of my own mind, body and heart—as well as recalling, always, the essence of being and intending to flow with the energy of life.

Viva la vida!

The Relationship between Happiness & Morality

“Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim.” ~ Aristotle

Since its inception, humankind has been fascinated by the pursuit and the fruits of happiness.

Aristotle asks, “What is the ultimate purpose of human existence?” Notably, his prime interest lies in life’s “purpose” rather than its “meaning.” He inquires as to what is the most important goal toward which we should direct all of our activities. Pleasure? Abundance? Status and reputation? While Aristotle does not deny the value of these, he asserts that happiness is the chief good for which humanity should aim, “worth pursuing for its own sake and never for the sake of anything else that might be gained through it.”

Do we desire money, pleasure, marriage, children, and accolades because we believe that the possession of these will make us happy? According to Aristotle, all virtues are a means of obtaining happiness, while happiness is simultaneously both the path and the goal, the means and the end. Happiness is not fleeting, evasive or temporal, but rather the ultimate end and purpose of human existence: the exercise of virtue. This happiness is far from from the pop culture definition of a happiness attained through acquisition and consumption.

It seems to me that the older I get, the happier I am. Wisdom comes with age and reflection, and more wisdom brings greater joy. According to Aristotle, authentic happiness cannot be achieved until the end of one’s life, since it is a goal and not a temporary state. Our individual level of happiness is the result of our character development and requires contemplation, a mental activity which Aristotle sees as the ultimate realization of our rational, intellectual capacities. Aristotle conceives of “happiness as the primary goal of the happy life.” The whole point of contemplating and examining the nature of happiness is to aid our pursuit of happiness.

Aristotle would surely criticize our modern culture of instant gratification, because he realized that humans cannot achieve happiness through the pursuit of superficial or momentarily-passing pleasures. He astutely noted that “the mass of mankind are evidently quite slavish in their tastes, preferring a life suitable to beasts,” long before our current era of digital devices and their provision of an unending stream of information made possible by the internet.

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