Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of January 15th - January 21st, 2010

The Mayan World Tree

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Mayan World Tree

A World Wide Remembrance

  The World Tree of the Maya is a Tree to be proud of. One of the largest species in the Central American Rainforest, it's light gray bark is capped by a unique flat top crown. It's huge buttressed roots provide shelter for bats, who also fertilize the tree and help to keep the insect population down. The bat is the Mayan symbol for the Underworld. This powerful sub-soil system supports a trunk representing the "middle ground." On their Tree, the Norse call it Middle Earth. Anteaters populate this zone, feeding on the large termite nests which lodge in the lower branches. The Tree's upper crown is interesting. The branches radiate out almost horizontally, providing a wonderful haven for the dome of Heaven to rest her stars. Among these is one earthly star, the Harpie, who finds this tree's canopy a perfect roost for this, the largest of all eagles.

  If we take another look at the World Tree and how it was depicted by the Mayan (Fig. 126), a few concepts begin to come into focus. This 'Tree' is a living observatory to monitor, calibrate and chart the Heavens. Here we can see (Fig. 154) a contemporary 'horoscope wheel' superimposed on top of the Mayan World Tree image.

  A 'horoscope' is noting more than a tool, a lens with which to observe the Heavens and witness a moment in time. The etymological roots tell us the name means, 'hora' the time or the hour, and 'skopus' the observer; "to observe the hour."

Mayan depiction of their World Tree

The horizontal beam across the center
represents the Earth.

The horizontal line dividing the chart in half represents the horizon. Anything above that line is what you can see in the Sky. Anything below that can't be seen because the Earth gets in the way. The blue 'slices of Pi' are the Sky above, while the green 'slices of Pi' is the Earth beneath. East, where the Sun and planets rise is on the left side of the wheel, while West is on the right. For those in the northern hemisphere, South is at the top of the wheel because we have to look South to see the planets and a majority of the stars.

  Now, if we superimpose the World Tree back onto this image (Fig. 155), we start to notice some interesting things.

  First of all, the 'step' configuration marks 'units' along the Tree that can be used for longitudinal observational calibration. Secondly, if you look along the central beam that falls along the horizon, you will notice small cut-out notches (Fig. 126).

Mayan astro wheel

Blue sky above, green Earth below.

These could be used to calibrate celestial latitude- how close, or far, from the Celestial Meridian stars rise or set. The vertical line climbing to the top of the wheel represents due South, our 'high point' of Heaven. Astrologers continue to remember this honorary seat in its nomenclature, the Medium Coeli (MC), Latin for 'middle of the Heavens'. We've been focusing on the Dragon and its guardianship over the NCP, and for that one must look North.

Mayan depiction of their World Tree

Two similar sets of 'crosshairs'
to monitor the movements of Heaven

  How do you find due North (the Pole star) if you're looking at the planets?

  Turn around.

  In order to accurately portray the Skywheel, you'll notice that the Earth is pictured 'upside down' (Fig. 154) from what we are used to (North on the top), but again, this simply represents a matter of focus. Are you paying attention to the activity in the Southern Skies or the Northern?

  The answer, of course, is that you're interested in both.

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