Mayan Astrology Has Tones of Western Astrology...With Some Interesting Twists

By Sandra Musser

Mayan Astrology nagual symbols

Mayan Astrology has existed since the Maya understood the concept of "As below." Every social activity...ceremonial event...major decision...even agriculture, was based on the cosmos, and by what the Chol Oij or Tzolkin said about the tendencies for a given time period.

"During the Classic Period, Mayan astrology was an enormously complex art. Not only did Mayan astronomers chart the motions of the planets with great accuracy, but they perceived their entire creation myth as an event that was re-created eternally in the sky." Jaguar Wisdom, Kenneth Johnson

The Maya believed that what happened in the celestial bodies in the cosmos had great significance for the future of humans on earth. Precessional changes in the night sky foretold changes to occur on earth.

I feel the Tzolkin had celestial beginnings. Having said this, we truly don't know how to use the Tzolkin created or possibly refined by the Classic Maya.

Many believe the Classic Maya were spiritual avatars who came to this earth with their mathematics and cosmology intact. There are no signs of trial and error with these Maya, or the beginning stages of "figuring out" the significance of numerology meanings and cosmology. It just suddenly appeared in all its perfection.

So what is Mayan Astrology based on?

This astrology is based on the twenty naguals or lords, and thirteen numbers found in the Tzolkin. A close analogy of naguals would be personality traits like the twelve zodiac signs of the Greeks/Egyptian Astrology we are familiar with. But, the thirteen numbers included with each nagual gives this past-present-future guide, 260 total possibilities. The thirteen numbers also serve a different purpose. The lower numbers have less power or intensity, and the higher numbers more strength or influence on the person.

Here's an example of Mayan Astrology as it is used today

This example is from Kenneth Johnson's book, Jaguar Wisdom. Out of curiosity, I did my own birthday!

Using the tables in the back of his book, my birthday in Mayan symbols is 10 Wind. According to Johnson's book, Wind is symbolic of the vital spirit or serpent energy that gives life to and animates us all. Too much vital spirit could lead to excessive arrogance or pride.

Similar to Greek/Egyptian Astrology, there is a positive and a negative side to each Mayan Astrology symbol. It's up to us to be cognizant of which direction we choose. Then the person would have to guard against the negative tendencies inherent with the Wind symbol as their sign.

This sign is associated with dictators and military despots. Hmmmmmmmm! I can see where this tendency might come through in me. I was a single mom for many years, and I'm sure my children felt like they were in the army at times. I've worked hard at letting them make their own decisions as adults, even though my tendency is to "fix everything." A dictator sure isn't where I want to be.

The "divine breath" of this sign Wind gives people under its influence lots of energy. I can attest to this being true for me.

This person must realize this energy is not of them, but given to them. It's their connection to the source of life...the creator. If the Wind person can hold onto and know origination of their power, they can make things happen in the world with almost infinite power. I do like this aspect!

Mayan Astrology takes your birth sign a step further. The "10" indicates my birthday under this sign has a dominate influence on my life, because of the higher number. The numbers range from 1-13.

The Aztec Calendar, which uses the same calendar with somewhat different symbol names, used the thirteen numbers in this way:

  1. God of fire and time................initiates
  2. God of the earth....................creates a reaction
  3. Goddess of water and childbirth.....activates
  4. God of warriors and the sun.........stabilizes
  5. Goddess of love and childbirth......empowers
  6. God of death........................creates flow
  7. God of maize........................reveals
  8. God of rain.........................harmonizes
  9. God of light........................creates movement forward
  10. God of darkness.....................challenges
  11. Goddess of childbirth...............creates clarity
  12. God ruling before dawn..............creates understanding
  13. The supreme deity...................completes
This was taken from Barbara Hand Clow's book, "The Mayan Code."

For a "Tree of Life" reading, one would take their birth symbol, in my case 10 wind, and form a cross with their birth symbol in the middle. See the graphic example.

Mayan Astrology Example

Judging from the low numbers for the past and future, my present symbol is the dominant influence. I can use the deep underlying wisdom of the Jaguar-west(my past) to stay awake to my responsibilities to the spirit world. Controlling my anger is important to accomplishing this. Wind people have power about them that others feel. At times this power can get out of control, Jaguar helps to direct it to the higher good.

Fortunately, the Right Hand, Vulture-south(masculine, aggressive), and left Hand, Rabbit-north(feminine, intuitive), powers of Wind are both quiet and relatively gentle signs. Vulture is good-natured (but often lazy). Rabbit is sensual and in love with the good things of this world. "Wind people can draw upon both of these gentle powers in order to help themselves become more appreciative of all that is quiet, loving and kind."

Dog-east, is the future sign for Wind. In my case it's relatively neutral at "5". But, it's with this sign a decision must be made. Will I follow my tendency to be one of life's warriors, and use my energy and power for ego fulfillment...the worse qualities of Dog. Or, will I learn to be wise and tranquil, enjoying ordinary beauties and rewards in daily life. Will I see my inner spirit shining through ordinary pursuits? It's all about controlling Wind's inner hurricane.

When I compare my Mayan Astrology reading to my Astrology and Ray Charts they are very similar. In fact it's uncanny just how similar. Maybe there's more to this than we think.

Notable Wind People: Michael Jackson (4), Elizabeth Taylor and Hillary Clinton (9), Billy Graham (11).

To do your own reading, refer to Kenneth Johnson's book, Jaguar Wisdom

How is Mayan Astrology different from the astrology we know today?

There are more similarities than difference between Mayan Astrology and the Greek/Egyptian version. But, there are a few differences:

  1. The first and most obvious is the time period. The astrology we're accustomed to is based on twelve zodiac signs or constellations that are spread over a 365 day yearly period. But, what some of you may not be aware of is there used to be only ten signs. These ten signs include polar opposite signs that represent the evolution of an individual from manifestation on the physical plane to discipleship. So there were originally five signs with it's polar opposite making ten. Discipleship is when the person follows the spiritual call to transcend the physical.

  2. Mayan Astrology through the Tzolkin has twenty lords or nagual, and thirteen numbers, for a total of 260 possibilities. The Maya today using ancient Mayan astrology believe that a persons day-sign reveals their spirit guardian. For example a person born December 14, 1983 has a Mayan sign of 12 Ancestors, which would make the very powerful collective consciousness of the ancestors their spiritual guardian. This person, has a challenging, yet potentially powerful spiritual growth experience in this lifetime.
  3. Mayan Astrology may be indirectly based on cosmic occurrences, but the readings done today are strictly through the Tzolkin itself.
  4. Greek/Egptian Astrology is based on constellations, rays and planets in the cosmos.

The Twenty Mayan Astrology nagual or lord symbols

Mayan Astrology nagual symbols

This graphic is from Wikipedia under Mayan Astrology.


A person's astrological sign is like a blueprint of the soul's journey, especially when you look at Greek/Egyptian Astrology esoterically. The most challenging signs and conditions indicate the greatest chance for spiritual growth. It's through our challenges we grow. When things run smoothly we have no incentive to change. Why would we search for something better if we were content with what we already had?

"Astrology is not a belief system; it is a language of the dynamic interplay between our interior life and the exterior world. The astrological language grants us access to the invisible realm it describes, and provides the vocabulary with which we can begin a detailed investigative exploration of the psyche." Making the Gods Work for You, Caroline Casey

Both Mayan Astrology and Greek/Egyptian Astrology find their roots in the same premise...the night sky. I feel the Tzolkin is connected intimately with the natural cycles of the cosmos, and the Great Cycle of the universe. December 21, 2012 is predicted by the Maya as the beginning of the next Great Cycle. All Great Cycles start with the number "four." This date just happens to be quite appropriately 4 Ancestors.

The change that is slated to occur on or about this date predicts the world will go through a change in consciousness to a higher we have not yet attained. Even the Greek/Egyptian Astrology predicts this change in the Age of Aquarius, which will occur at about the same time. We are presently in the Age of Pisces.

It's interesting that the Mayan Astrology symbol for December 21, 2012 is 4 Ancestors. The Maya predict we'll tap into the collective wisdom of the ancestors through a rise in our own collective consciousness as a planet. All the Mayan "calendars" point to this moment in time as one of the greatest opportunities for spiritual growth. The Tzolkin is just one of many reoccurring cycles that meshes in perfect harmony with all the other natural cycles recognized by the Maya in the universe.

Jaguar Wisdom, Kenneth Johnson
Time and the Highland Maya, Barbara Tedlock
The Mayan Code, Barbara Hand Clow
Making the Gods Work for You, Caroline Casey
Esoteric Astrology, Alice Bailey

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