Xultun Tarot: The Wheel
(Mayan number Lahun at base of image)
Numbers can identify where you are in the process of creating your life. Unlike the masculine idea of success, where you “arrive”, a more feminine approach exists that connects manifestation to cycles of time. The numbers in both the Mayan calendar and the feminist view of the tarot Minor Arcana describe this process perfectly.
Numbers and Circular Time
The Maya believe in spiral rather than linear time. For the Maya, time does not move forward like a straight line, rather it evolves through repetitive cycles. The Mayan calendar consists of a series of interconnected cycles, like gears rotating within other gears. The 260 day sacred calendar or Tzolk’in is the most famous of these cycles, comprised of 20 thirteen day cycles called trecenas and 13 months composed of 20 daysigns or naguales.
In the Tzolk’in, there are thirteen day cycles of sacred daysigns called trecenas. Trecenas are named after the daysign falling on the first day of the cycle and carry the flavor of that energy until day 13. Numbers represent daily life activity blending with the more archetypal energy of the daysigns. It’s common to initiate a goal on the first day of the trecena.
Tarot Minor Arcana
“Within each suit’s realm of activity, we experience growth, in this world, as represented by the numbers from Ace through King” – Gail Fairfield Everyday Tarot
In some feminist decks like the Tarot of the Crone, the court cards progress with the Queen representing the peak expression of that element and the King (or Hag, Crone, etc) symbolizing the end of the cycle. Ace through King are a continuous progression of steps from one through fourteen. In this approach, which can be used with any tarot deck, the end of one cycle flows naturally into a new beginning. Although it is not described as a wave, it functions very much like a Mayan trecena.
You can easily see where you are in a project or cycle of creation by looking at the number associated with the daysign or tarot card you have chosen. So 3 (“Ox” in Yucatec Mayan) Manik or the 3 of Wands can both indicate you are early in the process. And a higher number can indicate a more mature process. By looking at the number, you can plan and act more successfully because you understand where you are in the process of creation. You can begin to feel the difference between circular and linear time.
So how would we use a more feminine or cyclical view of numerology, inspired by the Mayan trecena, in a tarot reading? The numbers and meanings don’t exactly overlap: after all, these are systems from two hemispheres and continents! But the spirit of the different approaches combine in a helpful way because both systems use numbers to indicate what Gail Fairfield would call “ongoing processes”.
A walk through the numbers in the Trecena and the Minor Arcana
Aces (in Yucatec Mayan, the number one is called “Hun”) often mean the seed or dream of a new direction in life. In feminist tarot, the aces indicate the ability to imagine or receive inspiration, clarity, an open heart, or practical benefit in life depending on the suit. In the trecena, Hun (and its daysign) introduces energies that will carry throughout and “flavor” the entire mini-cycle. Kenneth Johnson says that many shrines in the Mayalands are devoted to this number and Mayan spiritual guides often hold ceremonies on this day.
Twos (in Yucatec Mayan, called “Ka”) represent the balancing forces of life. In tarot, twos can indicate the balance of opportunity (Ace) and action or decision (2). Ka indicates the polarities that exists throughout life: hot/cold, feminine/masculine, etc). Both twos in the suits and Ka can manifest as a choice, a conflict or as a coupling or affinity between two things.
Threes (or “Ox” in Yucatec) represent integration and nurturing. In this tarot system, threes can be the moment when you clarify, study, or define something that will soon become action. Ox is a tricky and unstable number for the Maya, however it also represents the three hearthstones in every cooking fire: “the foundation of all family and domestic life” as defined in the Mayan Calendar Portal App. Like “The Empress” in tarot, Ox (3) is connected to the Aztec goddess of germination and birth: Chalcuihtlicue (Jade Skirt).
Four or “Kan” in Yucatec represents stability and grounded action or energy in both numerological systems. The Maya add a feeling of completeness to this energy as it represents the four cardinal energies which are invoked before every ceremony.
Five or “Ho” in Yucatec have slightly different meanings in each system. There is one interesting parallel: unstable structures lead to awkward situations. The energy of five in both systems seems to indicate the need to reconsider or adjust to these problems. Ho can rush into something too quickly while the fives in tarot can indicate conflicts or flaws that need to be fixed for something to be truly stable.
Six or “Uac” represents stability in both Western tarot numerology and the Mayan sacred calendar. This stability is so important to the Maya, that the axis mundi or World Tree is called “6 Raised Up Sky” (Ken Johnson).
Seven or “Uuc” is the number of possibilities and the ability to see things from different points of view. This can also be a challenge. The Maya say this number represents the midpoint of the trecena, the top of the thirteen day pyramid.
Eight or “Uaxac” represents wholeness, the ability to choose a direction or understand priorities. This focuses one or more of the possible actions suggested by the number seven. For the Maya, eight indicates completion: the addition of one and seven. K’iche’ Maya ceremonies are often held on “Uaxac” days because this number is associated with birth and the eight strands of the umbilical cord.
Nine or “Bolon” is the number of the feminine. A human spends nine months in the mother’s womb so many Mayan ceremonies for women occur on “Bolon” days. In the tarot, the energy of completion creates success or self-reliance in that suit or Major Arcana card.
Dark Goddess Tarot by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince
Ten or “Lahun” represents the ability to see both sides of a situation, just as we have ten fingers and toes. The Maya believe Lahun helps us walk the middle path between extremes to create stability. In the tarot, ten is the moment when you have reached a choice point: keep going or stay where you are (Gail Fairfield).
Pages and “Buluk” represent the number 11. They have different interpretations as pages can represent a bold, risky step and Buluk can represent something that is very creative but can be channeled in either positive or negative ways. The common theme is that eleven means boldness that carries power or risk.
Knights and “La Ka“. Because tarot has 14 cards, it creates an extra step in the manifestation process. The number 12 in tarot is associated with the zeal of the knight or prince. This single-minded focus is similar to the strength of “La Ka” or 12 in the Mayan trecena. People born on this day in the Mayan sacred calendar have a lot of energy.
Queens .La Ka has another meaning: the totality of life including all the actions and goals that have been accomplished. In tarot, the queens represent the fullest and most mature expression of a suit. The tarot queens definitely can look back and review the totality of their experience in that area of life.
Xultun Tarot: Death (Trump 13) Mayan number Oxlahun at base of card.
Finally, we come to the Kings and the Mayan number (13) Oxlahun. In feminist tarot, the Kings release or pass on the knowledge and life experience symbolized by the queens. Oxlahun represents the completion of the wave that began with Hun. It’s considered to be a very psychic number that enhances contact with other worlds. It’s also a very powerful number. This is one of the reasons that tarot aces and Hun days are so meaningful. The power of the final day of the cycle, or the energy of the release symbolized by the King, creates the momentum that will become the Ace or Hun in the next cycle.
If you’d like to further explore a feminist approach to the sequence of Ace through King in the Minor Arcana, read James Wells or Everyday Tarot by Gail Fairfield.
If you would like a traditional, grounded, and inexpensive introduction to the Mayan trecena, check out Jaguar Wisdom (Ken Johnson’s) daily posts on Facebook or get the Mayan Calendar Portal App here.