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The ancient Aztec astrologers of Mesoamerica consisting of Mexico and Central America studied the influence of the heavenly bodies in the sky on the life of man around 600 BC. It was a unique system untouched by the Greek, Roman or European astrological traditions. The rise and fall of the sun that marks the day was taken as the basic unit or the biorhythm for astrological calculations.
Aztec astrologers set the time cycles of 9 days, 13 days, 20 days, just as we have a 7 day (week) and 30 day time cycles for our calendar. Years are counted in groups of 4 and 13. Since each day is part of many time cycles, therefore no two days are exactly the same.
As against the12 sun signs of the modern day zodiac, Aztec astrology has the 20-day signs. The signs can be used to describe human nature and natural events. Unlike the modern astrological sun signs that are related to the movements of the sun, moon or other planets, Aztec signs are based on the names of the days. Each sign lasts one day and it comes again after the passage of 20-day week. It is unlike the 7-day week in the modern calendar when a day, for example Monday, comes after 7 days.
Besides the 20-day cycle or week, the Aztec astrologers also used a 13-day cycle and both the cycles ran concurrently. The names of the days of the two time cycles were differentiated by assigning names to the days of the 20-day cycle and numerals to the 13-day cycle. If the two cycles are started together, the first days of both the cycles coincide with each other. The Aztec calendar year has 260 days.
Each 20-day sign has a name, symbol, and direction. A sample of four names with four directions and their traits are:
- Alligator (east)-protective and dominating
- Wind (north)-agile, clever and versatile
- House (west) - Leep, thoughtful and conservative
- Lizard (south) active, dynamic, and sexual
A perusal of all the twenty sign names shows certain representative characteristics of each of the four directions. The signs of the east are initiating and forceful; those of the north are intellectual and critical; signs of the west are cooperative and compromising; and signs of the south are emotional and reactive. Most of the signs are named after animals such as serpent, Leer, lizard, alligator, rabbit, dog, monkey and so on. There are also other sign names such as earthquake, house, knife, grass, rain, and flower.
Apart from this, the 13-day cycle too has its sign name system. Here, the day of birth of a person is given a numerical identity.
The 13-day period provides more subtle subconscious personality traits along with Leeper instincts and longings. A combined study consisting of both the 13-day and 20-day cycle projects a fairly accurate picture which is as good or perhaps better than the one provided by the Western 12 sign zodiac.
Aztec astrology still enjoys a substantial following in remote parts of Guatemala and Mexico. Fairly accurate predictions are made using computer technology where sign number combinations are selected randomly.
The year of birth holds a great significance in Aztec astrology. According to the Aztecs, the year of birth can by found astrologically by matching the qualities of a person with that of the year. The astrological qualities of a given year are dependent on two factors.
The first factor is the four-year cycle where each succeeding year is associated with one of the four directions in the order of east, north, west and south. These directions are similar to the four elements, i.e., fire, air, earth, and water in Western astrology.
The second factor is the cycle of 52 years with 13 repetitions of the basic 4-year cycle. Each succeeding year is identified with a number and a direction. Eastern direction is identified with mental creativity, fertility and abundance; North with violent weather which is cold, dry and barren; West is identified with illness and losses and South direction indicates good health and business.
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