Calendar Names of Eclipse Deities

The base 12 Lamat 1 Pop defines a number of eclipse deities of five different classes (cf., Table 12.7b). Some are associated with a solar node passage, some with the night before conjunction (the old Moon), some with conjunction (the astronomers' new Moon—the "dark of the Moon" to farmers), some with first visibility, and some with full Moon. A few seem to be associated with eclipses that coincide with multiples of planetary periods from the base. The most striking and convincing of these deities is the old Moon god named by a full calendar round name as 12 Lamat 1 Muan, which was previously discussed. Among the Nahuas, the old Moon god was called Tecciztecatl, "He of the Snail Shell." Figure 12.12a shows a prototype of this god from Teotihuacan.

The deity names seem to display a pattern in which old Moon goddesses are associated either with the last visible old Moon or the dark of the Moon, and male deities are associated with the dark of the Moon (the astronomical new Moon); young goddesses are associated with the first visible new Moon, and other goddesses are associated with the full Moon. There are also goddesses associated with the moment of solar node passage, in the sense that they represent integer multiples of the interval 173.31 days. In most or all cases, these lunar deities seem to be associated with eclipse or eclipse season intervals rather than with more general lunar phenomena. The skull-headed goddesses of pulque, the intoxicating drink of Mesoamerica, with the Aztec calendar names Two Flower and Three Crocodile (corresponding to the Mayan Two Ahau and Three Imix), appear at days 173 and 174 from the base, apparently marking the solar node passage interval or the eclipse season of 173.31 days (see §5.2.2). The solar node passage 173 days later at 7 Jaguar (7 Ix) is known as the "magical name" of the gourd and is marked by the decapitated head of a god identified by Kelley (1980, pp. S34-S35) as a Sun god. This god is said to have been turned into a gourd in the 16th century Maya book of Guatemala called the Popol Vuh.10

The motif of decapitation in connection with eclipses recurs frequently. Because 3 x 173.31d = 519.93d and 2 x 260d

10 A native term for "book of council." The term is used early within the book and was adopted by the early Mayanist Brasseur de Bourbourg (1861) as its name.

= 520d, the solar node passage will recur on the same day of the tzolkin for a long period of time. If the tzolkin day is repeated until it coincides nearly or exactly with a lunation, it then becomes the basis of an eclipse cycle. Thus, the original base 12 Lamat 1 Pop carried forward 11,960 days becomes 12 Lamat 1 Muan, the base of the major Mayan eclipse cycle, the fox.11 The day 173, 2 Ahau or 2 Flower, carried forward [173 + (40 x 260) = 10,573] becomes the base of the inex cycle, the most accurate of all short-range eclipse cycles. If 174, 3 Imix (3 Crocodile) is carried forward until it coincides with an eclipse; it becomes the base of the cycle defined by 46 eclipse season intervals (7972.26 days) and 270 lunations (7973.26 days). 7 Ix (7 Jaguar) carried forward becomes the Saros cycle. The eclipse deities 2 Flower, 3 Crocodile, and 7 Jaguar are identified in Table 12.7b. More detail can be found in Kelley (1980/1987).

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