15-Year Old Discovers Mayan City (updated update)

8 May 2016

 Using astronomy. So, what’s your excuse?

Updated Update: This story isn’t all it has been cracked up to be. Not to knock William Gadoury, as he was testing a theory, more with the “experts” who confirmed his findings, as they may not be “lost” or “a city”.  We can’t confirm mayan constellations, since we don’t have a definitive list of them, and the mayan region was likely heavily developed and populated.

the Long-Lost Mayan City Teen Found Isn’t Lost…Or a City

william gadoury

Un ado découvre une cité maya (So, yes, it’s in French (le journal de Montreal, after all).

Un Québécois de 15 ans a découvert une nouvelle cité maya jusque-là méconnue grâce à sa théorie selon laquelle cette civilisation choisissait l’emplacement de ses villes selon la forme des constellations d’étoiles.

William Gadoury, un adolescent de Saint-Jean-de-Matha dans Lanaudière, est devenu une petite vedette à la NASA, à l’Agence spatiale canadienne et à l’Agence spatiale japonaise, alors que sa découverte est sur le point d’être diffusée dans une revue scientifique.

Essentially, a 15-year-old Quebecois lad discovered a heretofore (they have that word in French, y’know) unknown Maya city thanks to his theory that the Mayan civilization chose the locations for its settlements according to the constellations.

Pretty clever stuff. Good on him, and for showing that this type of creative thinking is really valuable.

map K’ÀAK’ CHI’

UPDATE: as one intrepid commenter on the original site noted: the coordinates provided in the article put the city in Guatemala, whereas the map above shows the city in Belize. I have more faith in William Gadoury than I do the fact-checkers at le Journal de Montreal. Also, Montreal is spelled Hochelaga.


Earth’s Orbit and Time

9 July 2015

There are changes and then there are changes.

by the way, the only fact I would consider incorrect  is that the day and night are equal at the equinox. This date varies depending on the line of latitude at which you live. True story.


Myth of the Year

2 April 2012

Turning out an annual Story.

I’ve been giving this some thought, but it really looks like I’ve been overthinking it. Given that the months of theAbysmal Calendar are numbered, and can be named as suits the calendar user, what would be my choice, all other things being equal? There are a few proposals for 13-month calendars (like Tranquility). or we could use the 12 Gregorian months with one extra, or we could just reinvent the wheel. This is the most appealing option.

I’ve got my biases, granted, but I’ve drawn inspiration from several disparate sources: the Western & Chinese Zodiacs, the I Ching, the Mesoamerican (and other) Calendars, and a whole host of mythologies and stories.

The symbols I’ve drawn together (and have yet to elaborate on) are as follows:

  • Cockerel – inspired by Seven Macaw (from the Maya Creation Myth Popo lVuh). This has gotten the most consideration as an individual archetype – it crows the beginning of each new year, like each new dawn (which real roosters don’t do. In my experience, they crow all bloody night long).

THE PRIDE OF SEVEN MACAW BEFORE THE DAWN

WHILE the face of the earth was only a little brightened,before there was a sun, there was one who puffed himself up named Seven Macaw. There was a sky and an earth, but the faces of the sun and moon were dim. He therefore declared himself to be the bright sign for those who were drowned in the flood. He was like an enchanted person in his essence.

“I am great. I dwell above the heads of the people who have been framed and shaped. I am their sun. I am also their light. And I am also their moon.
“Then be it so. Great is my brightness. By the brilliance of my silver and gold I light the walkways and pathways of the people.
“My eyes sparkle with glittering blue/green jewels. My teeth as well are jade stones, as brilliant as the face of the sky. This, my beak, shines brightly far into the distance like the moon.

“My throne is gold and silver. When I go forth from my throne, I brighten the face of the earth.
“Thus I am the sun. I am the moon as well for those who are born in the light, those who are begotten in the light.
“Then be it so. My vision reaches far,” said Seven Macaw.
Now Seven Macaw was not truly the sun, but he puffed himself up in this way because of his plumage and his gold and his silver. His vision did not reach beyond where he sat. It did not really reach everywhere beneath the sky.
Thus Seven Macaw puffed himself up in the days and months before the faces of the sun, moon, and stars could truly be seen. He desired only greatness and transcendence before the light of the sun and moon were revealed in their clarity. This was in the era when the flood was made because of the effigies of carved wood.

  • the Plough – there are five symbols that are technologies of a sort. This is the first here, not because it’s the first technology invented by people, but because it is a device of one blade. The blade recurs throughout, and I only noticed it after the fact. This represents the first shackling of animals by humans, and the subjugation of the land. The Cockerel heralds this new era.
  • Bovine Ox or Taurus or Bison. A large beast of burden, shackled to the plough, and domesticated.
  • Dog – in Chinese and Mesoamerican systems – represents love and loyalty, and serves man to herd bovines
  • the Forge – the second technology, this one with two blades – the rough one being worked on the anvil, and the finished ideal sword.
  • Rascal – based on Mars/Scorpio as the vital, virile, male with a devilish, satyrical nature.
  • the Well – the central month, based on I Ching Hexagram 48 – here it drops down to the Abyss, and its bottom cannot be known, yet we draw sustenance up from it. It is the centre, and all things come to and draw from it.
  • Healer – the feminine counterpart of the Rascal, inspired by Virgo/Venus/Ophiuchus
  • the Cauldron – the technology with three blades, in this case the three paddles that stir the bubbling contents by three women. Inspired by the I Ching Hexagram 50
  • Cat – From Vietnamese astrology – the counterpart to the dog (at least in our modern Western use of cats and dogs)
  • Spider – This is more a personal one, not drawn from anywhere in particular, although credit should go to Charlotte’s Web
  • the Mill – the last of the technologies, a four-bladed windmill (as much in the Quixotic sense as in the agricultural one).
  • Flood – all good things must come to an end. The flood can be water, ice, rainstorm, or any cataclysm. This one just seems to be more mythic, and with climate change melting polar ice, a very real possibility for a great many island and coastal people. The water rises, creating an abyss of unfathomable depths, and when it eventually recedes, the Cockerel shows up to announce the new beginning.

These are still rough, and I don’t know how much of the source material I want to include in these archetypal images, however, I’m hoping to make a story of the year out of it. For the moment, it looks like this:

My graphic designer friends are always bitching about my font choices and lack of colour, but honestly, it would take me too long to figure out, and I’d rather spend time developing a story than figuring out what font would best embody my thoughts. Fine tuning colour gives me a headache. I may explore that further on, but for the time being, we’re in black, white and greyscale.

This is something I hope to work on through the Quarter (along with trumpet, Inuktitut, and dancing whenever possible). Any suggestions are welcome – your own calendar months & symbolism even moreso.

Couple of Posts assigning story genres to seasons:

263 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Mycelium of Life

7 March 2012

Trying to figure out where this image came from.

See that thing at the centre of the circle above? It’s like a cross, kind of, with circles, and lines between them. That was part of the original design for theAbysmal Calendar (as were the 13 months around it). I developed it while studying the Qabalah (moreso the Hermetic one than the Hebrew Kabbalah). I still haven’t assigned any particular significance to it – only general ideas. The swirly circle at the centre is the Abyss, the centre, the unknowable.

I just wanted to review the process, and see if I can’t stumble on a greater significance for this thing. I’ve been calling it the mycelium of life, as I derived it from the tree of life. But as the mycelium isn’t hierarchical, I named it after the mysterious mushroom.

So above we have the Qabalah tree of life. There are 10 circles and 22 paths between them. The circles, called sephiroth, represent different “enumerations” of divine creation. The tree is also arranged in three columns – the left is the divine feminine, the right the divine masculine, and the centre is balance. In the Hebrew origins, each path was associated with one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It’s worth noting that each letter has a number associated with it (see gematria – the assigning of meanings to words through numbers).

One can spend a lifetime (and some do) studying and learning all there is to learn about the Kabbalah (or Qabalah). When I looked at this, I focused on two aspects – the four worlds of the tree of life, and the central sephiroth – Tiphareth, Beauty, Balance, Compassion. In the traditional symbology, the four worlds are each represented by a tree of life in an overlapping hierarchy. Imagine four trees of life, interlinked one above the other, each part of the hierarchy of the path from the divine to the mundane.

That’s about as much as I care to delve into the Qabalah, because frankly, I only ever scratched the surface, and I found that after a period of time, the complexity reinforced a particular approach, and I preferred to use its basic structure as a starting point. What I wanted to develop was a radial image, instead of a hierarchical one.

All fourth-dimensional functions are radial in nature and imply a principle of centre from which the structure is projected…
V.I. Vernadsky

So to begin, I focused on Tiphereth as the centre of balance, and looked at the part of the tree above it.

Here, the sephiroth Da’ath is usually invisible, or defined by a dotted line. It has its own special significance as the Abyss (in a sense). The next step was to take this part of the Qabalah and rotate it around the central sephiroth, which is similar to the idea of the four worlds, only in a radial sense instead of a hierarchical one.

And the final step is cramming these four together, with the central Tiphereth overlapping, as well as the sephiroth around it.

This is the final result of my toying around with the Qabalah Tree of Life. It has no relationship to its inspiration at this point, but I thought the process was worth sharing.

The Hermetic Tree of Life assigns a card from the major arcana of the Tarot Deck to each of the 22 paths. These are trump cards, numbered 0 to 21, that follow their own progression from the Fool to the World. (mind you different decks use different cards – see Thoth Tarot designed by Aleister Crowley). These have their own esoteric richness which I shan’t belabour here. I’d recommend Alan Moore‘s Promethea graphic novel series for a tutorial on Hermetic Cabalah.

The Mycelium of Life has the central Abysmal sphere, surrounded by an inner circle of 8 spheres and an outer circle of 12 spheres. It has 52 paths altogether.

When I illustrated the 13 months of theAbysmal calendar, a commenter suggested I put the central month in the centre of the circle of 12 months to see the symmetries it created between them. So I did this, drawing lines between the months across from each other laterally, diagonally and vertically. Here’s the result.

The resulting paths describe the Mycelium of Life. As a result, it’s become a symbol of sorts for the entirety of the calendar system.

The 12 outer spheres + the central abysmal one represent the 13 months. The 8 inner spheres can stand for the eight cardinal directions as well as the eight planets, with the sun at the centre.

the 52 paths are equivalent to the 52 weeks of the year.

The numerology of this also ties into Maya numerology – 13 and 20 are key numbers. There are 20 spheres (plus the abysmal centre). The outer spheres + the abysmal are 13. It’s flexible that way. The 8 inner spheres + the abysmal are the 9 lords of night (another cycle to the Mesoamerican calendar), however, it is also a key number in the Long Count. There are 52 named years in the Mesoamerican Calendar system, consistent with the 52 paths.

The 12 outer spheres can also stand for the 12 months of the Gregorian, Coptic, Persian and Islamic Calendars, and has the flexibility to stand for the 12 (or 13 including the abysmal sphere) months of lunisolar calendars.

So that’s where I’ve left it for now. There’s possibility to formalize this symbol, but I haven’t committed to it, as I’m hoping it can remain a flexible enough symbol to work for a variety of systems, and not have to become overly rigid to the exclusion of anything. I’ll likely post more on this as I give it more consideration in future.

Happy days.

P.S. Mycelia look an awful lot like nerve cells, and more importantly, in mycorrhizal fungus, they form a vast natural network between trees, plants, bacteria and other fungi.

289 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Reformulating Western Astrology (updated)

27 January 2012

13 Constellations on the ecliptic – why not 13 signs of the zodiac?

Never one to leave well enough alone, I’ve been playing with the zodiac (moreso in terms of its more superficial qualities. Several thousands of years of development are not reformed overnight). First, we have the reintroduction of Ophiuchus, the 13th sign of the zodiac, which the International Astronomical Union acknowledge among the constellations of the ecliptic back in 1930. Astrology and astronomy are tenuously related, however, the signs of the Western Zodiac are set in their place in the heavens, whereas the constellations shift over the centuries.

While looking at the 7 ancient planets we have long associated with the week (Saturn, the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus), I decided to take another gander at planetary influences over astrological signs (granted, I’m no astrologer, so take this with as much salt as you like).

First, I added Ophiuchus back into the zodiac, following Scorpio and before Sagittarius. Then I considered the elements associated with each sign (fire, earth, air, water). There is also a fifth element, aether/void/space, which has been neglected. I tied it to Libra, the only object in the zodiac of living things. This shifts air to Scorpio (where it was previously water) and water to Ophiuchus. Like so:

It retains its symmetry, however, if we place Libra at the centre, then it becomes even more evident.

Fair enough. Another change you may notice is the location of each sign. If we associate a sign with each of the months of theAbysmal Calendar, then the sun passes through each sign for 28 days, starting with Aries from December 22nd to coincide with the Solstice. The sun currently enters the sign of Aries at March 21s at the Equinox.

To sum up the initial changes: from 12 to 13 signs, from 4 to 5 elements, Libra from Air to Aether, Scorpio from Water to Air, Ophiuchus gets Water, Aries from Mar 21st to Dec 22nd.

The rulership of the 7 ancient planets over the zodiac are as follows:

  • Sun symbol.svg – Sun rules Leo.
  • Moon symbol crescent.svg – Moon rules Cancer.
  • Mercury symbol.svg – Mercury rules Gemini and Virgo.
  • Venus symbol.svg – Venus rules Libra and Taurus.
  • Mars symbol.svg – Mars  rules Aries and Scorpio.
  • Jupiter symbol.svg – Jupiter rules Sagittarius and Pisces.
  • Saturn symbol.svg – Saturn rules Capricorn and Aquarius.

Taking a look at the heptagram used by the Babylonians for the planets, we get this thing:

If you start with Saturn at the bottom right, and trace the star upwards to the Sun, you’ll follow the order of the weekdays through the Moon (Monday), Mars (Tuesday), Mercury (Wednesday), Jupiter (Thursday), Venus (Friday) and back to Saturn (Saturday). If you follow around the circumference, starting with the moon, the planets are arranged in order of their sidereal orbital period, from the Moon (29.53 days) to Saturn (29.5 years). For the Sun, use 365 days. At any rate, this is an ancient arrangement.

So, the next step is to figure out how this heptagram lines up with the zodiac. Given that the Sun is the centre of this system, as is Libra, I associate those two with each other. That leaves us with 12 signs of the zodiac with 6 planets. Easy enough to do the math. We end up with this:

The planetary rulership changes to:

  • Sun symbol.svg – Sun rules Libra.
  • Moon symbol crescent.svg – Moon rules Aries and Taurus.
  • Mercury symbol.svg – Mercury rules Gemini and Cancer.
  • Venus symbol.svg – Venus rules Leo and Virgo.
  • Mars symbol.svg – Mars  rules Scorpio and Ophiuchus.
  • Jupiter symbol.svg – Jupiter rules Sagittarius and Capricorn.
  • Saturn symbol.svg – Saturn rules Aquarius and Pisces.

Some of these are unchanged, but there is a great shift in these associations. It felt to me that Virgo & Venus went together, as they both represent the feminine, whereas Scorpio & Mars represent the masculine (the phallic symbols give them away). I don’t know what astrologers might make of this, but in terms of symbolic symmetry, this appears to be a workable system (well, almost anything is workable, human ingenuity being what it is).

Now, we are neglecting the two modern planets that remain, Uranus and Neptune. If we add those to the preexisting seven planets, we get this:

This gets a bit trickier, but it’s not hopeless (where there’s life and all that). The  left side of the circle contains the inner planets, and the right side the outer planets. Each planet (except the sun, as before) rules a sign and a half. therefore each planet rules a sign, and four signs share planetary rulership. The four signs in question are the fixed signs.

The months in theAbysmal calendar that share these signs also happen to fall midway in each of the year’s quarters. So in a sense, the planets can be associated with the four quarters of the year. Anyway, the new planetary rulership looks like this:

The planetary rulership changes to:

  • Sun symbol.svg – Sun rules Libra.
  • Moon symbol crescent.svg – Moon rules Aries and semi-Taurus.
  • Mercury symbol.svg – Mercury rules semi-Taurus and Gemini.
  • Venus symbol.svg – Venus rules Cancer and semi-Leo.
  • Mars symbol.svg – Mars  rules semi-Leo and Virgo.
  • Jupiter symbol.svg – Jupiter rules Scorpio and semi-Ophiuchus.
  • Saturn symbol.svg – Saturn rules semi-Ophiuchus and Sagittarius.
  • Uranus's astrological symbol.svg – Uranus rules Sagittarius and semi-Aquarius.
  • Neptune symbol.svg – Neptune rules semi-Aquarius and Pisces.

I’m not entirely satisfied with this arrangement of the planets. There may be a more workable solution, however, it bears contemplating.

What do you think? Is this something to consider, or does the absence of Uranus & Neptune make this whole exercise moot?

329 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Reconsidering symmetry in the zodiac

7 February 2011

13 signs elaborate the symmetry of 12

So here is a comparison of the 13 signs of the zodiac assigned to the 13 months of theAbysmal Calendar. The first image shows the 13 signs arranged circularly, beginning with Aries (bottom left) moving clockwise up through Libra (top) and back down through to Pisces (bottom right).

With 13 signs, Libra, the only inert symbol in the “wheel of animals” stands out. When placed in the centre, it becomes the balance between the 6 signs before it, and the 6 after. In the system with 12 signs, Libra is lopsided with 6 signs before and 5 after.

The colours represent the western tradition of 5 elements (fire, earth, air, water, aether/void), and the gendre quality (masculine/feminine & neutral).

In the image below, Libra, that exceptional sign, is placed at the centre of the circle. The 12 remaining signs show symmetry radially (they cycle through the four elements 3 times), and linearly (reflecting from side-to-side or up-and-down).

Notice anything else?

resembles this design that came out of playing with the Kabbalist Tree of Life