The sun, moon, planets and stars played a major role in Mayan spirituality and religious life. Their religion included numerous nature-based gods, including a Sun God, who was also linked to the Mayan nobility. The sun was viewed as the source of light and life, and was central to the Mayan religion. Priests and shamans would watch the sun’s cycles and use the movement of the sun (and the moon and planets) to determine when to hold ceremonies, celebrations or other rituals.
The Mayans believed that the annual cycle of the sun represented a spiritual path of enlightenment that they could take, and would build their temples and pyramids so that the sun would highlight them in a certain manner during the equinoxes and solstices. The most famous of these is at Chichen Itza, when the sun appears to make KuKulkan, the Feathered Serpent, slither down the steps of the pyramid on the equinoxes.
Each solar year was an opportunity to increase one’s consciousness. The sun symbolized the phases someone seeking spirit evolution would go through:
- The fall equinox – death, darkness and going within
- The winter solstice – birth, creation, and awakening
- The spring equinox – growth and resurrection
- The summer solstice – triumph, ascension and consciousness
The cycle begins with the fall equinox. On that day, day and night are equal, but then the nights become longer than the days. It is a time of growing darkness, a time for someone on a spiritual journey to go within, face his or her inner darkness and fears, and work to overcome them.
This “dark night of the soul” time is critical to the start of spiritual evolution. Before we can evolve, we need to first let go of (or let die) those parts of us that will not serve us as we move toward higher consciousness: separation, polarity, judgments, hatred, intolerance, anger, etc.
Top photo (Dzibilchaltun) credit: Mayan Yucatan Traveler
Middle photo (Chichan Itza) credit: Bric Vacation Rentals
(Please note: The details of the symbolism for each cycle of the sun were derived from The Path of the Spiritual Sun. I have added in my personal interpretations and insights.)