The origins of Aztec astrology
Aztec astrology, as its name suggests, comes to us from an ancient South American tribe: the Aztecs, who were particularly fond of astronomy and astrology. Their study of the celestial bodies gave birth to this very precise but also colourful form of astrology, which is based on their own beliefs of the time...
The 3 Aztec calendars
Aztec astrology is a complex science that uses 3 different calendars:
Tonalpohualli, a sacred divination calendar composed of 260 days.
This system defines periods of 13 days (in the manner of our weeks), to which 20 signs are associated (20 x 13 = 260). Each day is therefore designated by the association of a sign, or glyph, and a figure between 1 and 13, which in turn is associated with a divinity. Certain days can be considered as beneficial or harmful according to the number with which they are associated. This calendar serves to predict the future and the destiny of each one according to his or her day of birth.
Xiuitl, a solar calendar of 365 days
The days are grouped, not in 12 lunar months, but in 18 months of 20 days, to which are added 5 days in which the god Nemomtoni or Nemotemi is worshipped. On the twentieth day of each month, and therefore 18 times a year, are celebrated their festivals, during which they proceed to human sacrifices for the salvation of the Earth, according to Aztec belief.
Ximolpilli or the Aztec Century
These calendars are in turn part of a longer cycle of 52 years, called Ximolpilli or the Aztec Century, divided into four periods of 13 years, corresponding to the 13 periods of the divinatory calendar. Each of these periods is associated with a figure and a sign, from among the following: Acatl (reed), Tecpatl (flint), Calli (house), Tochtli (rabbit). Because of this cycle, two people born on the same day 52 years apart will have the same sign.
This agreement of the number and the sign the 52 years is called the "League of the years", moment in which the Aztecs celebrate the Festival of the New Fire.
The fact that a man who reaches the age of 52 officially enters old age is also noteworthy, it's a symbol of respect and the reason why he is relieved of many obligations such as paying for his rights. His judgment is taken into account, and at that moment he is allowed to drink pulque, a fermented drink based on pita.
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Due to this system, each person is attributed three signs
A day sign, which describes the person in their routine, behavior, mood or intimate nature. It takes precedence over the other signs.
A sign of Treizain, which acts as a protection. Less important than the preceding one, but whose action can allow the personality to be balanced.
An annual sign, which provides all the information about the influences that society has on the individual.
The three signs in a set speak to us about the fortune that a person can expect throughout his life.
Correlations between the Aztec calendar and our current calendar
- Alfonso Caso's correlation based on the date 1-Coatl (corresponding to the date of August 13, 1521, of the Julian calendar, the day of the fall of Tenochtitlan), is used for most Mesoamerican calendars.
- Francisco Rodriguez Cortes' correlation, known as the "correlation constant", corresponds to the accounts and our current calendar. At the time of the "league of the years", we attached a 6th Nemotomi, added to a 13th year, that day is even more nefarious than usual.
In any case, that day is not added unless it coincides with a period of 104 years that the Aztecs call "old age". This union is made only once every two years at the end of a cycle of 52 years plus one day every 104 years. At the end, 12 days are added every 52, 1 day every 104 years and 1 day every 520 years.
An Aztec year therefore gives: 365 + 12/52 + 1/104 + 1/520 = 365.2423 days. This precision is remarkable since it takes into account the fact that the year of the seasons that separates the two spring equinoxes has a varied duration, corresponding to a tropical year, that is:
A tropical year: 365.2422 days
Our Gregorian calendar: 365.2425 days
The Aztec calendar is therefore more accurate in measuring time than the system we use today.
The 20 signs of the divinity calendar
The signs are each associated with a direction.
- Crocodile (Cipactli) - East
- Wind (Eecatl) - North
- House (Calli) - West
- Lizard (Cuetzpallin) - South
- Snake (Coatl) - East
- Death (Miquiztli) - North
- Deer (Mazatl) - West
- Rabbit (Tochtli) - South
- Water (Atl) - East
- Dog (Itzcuintli) - North
- Monkey (Ozomatli) - West
- Grass (Malinalli) - South
- Cane (Acatl) - East
- Jaguar (Ocelot) - North
- Eagle (Quauhtli) - West
- Vulture (Cozcaquauhtli) - South
- Movement (Ollin) - East
- Flint (Tecpatl) - North
- Rain (Quiauitl) - West
- Flower (Xochitl) - South
The Months of the Solar Calendar
- Atlcahualco: "Water Stop" - Dedicated to Tlaloc, the God of Rain
- Tlacaxipehualitzi: "Skinning of men" - Dedicated to Xipe Totec.
- Tozoztontli: "Little dream" - Dedicated to Coatlicue.
- Huey Tozoztli: "Big Dream" - Dedicated to Chicomecoatl.
- Toxcatl: "Drought" - Dedicated to Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipoca.
- EtzalCuauliztli: "Consumption" - Dedicated to Tlaloc.
- Tecuilhuitontli: "Small Dignitaries' Feast" - Dedicated to Huixtociuatl.
- Huey Tecuilhuitl: "Great festivity of the dignitaries" - Dedicated to Xilonen.
- Tlaxochimaco: "Floral offering" - Dedicated to Huitzlilopochtli.
- Xocotl Huetzi: "Fall of the fruits" - Dedicated to Xiuhtecuhtli, God of Fire.
- Ochpaniztli: "Sweeping" - Dedicated to the earth goddesses.
- Teotleco: "Return of the gods" - Dedicated to the multiple gods.
- Tepeilhuit: "Festivity of the mountains" - Dedicated to the peaks and Tlaloc.
- Quecholli: "Name of a bird"