Bob Makransky is a systems analyst, programmer, and professional astrologer. For the past 30 years he has lived on a farm in highland Guatemala where he is a Mayan priest and is head of the local blueberry growers association.
His website has more resources on Mayan astrology, including downloadable software and books.
How did you become a Mayan priest?
I was given a ritual by a Mayan priestess to invoke the Mayan spirits; and after a while they began talking to me. Apparently it had to do with past lives I’ve had as a Mayan priest here in Guatemala in ancient times. It’s not a job you can interview for, or anything like that; it just was my destiny, luckily.
What is Mayan astrology?
Mayan astrology is basically a 260-day almanac known as the Chol Qij, or count of days. It consists of twenty naguals which can be thought of as archetypes roughly analogous in significance to our twelve zodiacal signs, except they are considered to be alive and petitionable. The twenty naguals carry a numerical coefficient from 1 to 13 which modifies the underlying meaning of the nagual. Thus 20 naguals x 13 coefficients = 260 days. My Mayan Horoscope software explains the entire system in detail and does all the calculations.
How does it differ from Western Astrology?
There are lots of similarities. The Chol Qij is used in natal, horary, and electional astrology. As in our natal astrology, a person’s character and destiny are determined by which of the twenty naguals, as modified by its numerical coefficient, rules the day that the person is born. As in our horary astrology, the Chol Qij is used to divine for answers to specific questions, such as: Does my husband have another lover? What will be the outcome of this journey? Should I marry this person?
Divination is carried out by manipulating 260 red tzinté bean seeds to obtain a nagual and coefficient which give the answer to the question being asked. The Chol Qij is more a system of numerology than astrology per se since it isn’t based upon planetary positions.
Since it is not based on the planetary positions, where do the heavens come in with Mayan astrology?
Judging from the few existing manuscripts which escaped the Spanish book burnings of the 1500’s, and also from inscriptions on monuments, the Mayans did calculate positions and phases of Venus and the moon, including eclipses; and presumably they knew about the other planets as well. However the manner in which this information was applied has been lost.
When you give a consultation now, do you combine Western and Mayan astrological systems?
I use pretty much pure Western astrology in my personal practice. I’ve been studying that for almost 40 years, and I only began studying Mayan astrology about ten years ago. Also the astrology I do is very much prediction-oriented – transits, progressions, and directions – and there is no equivalent in Mayan astrology. They do prediction but can’t pin it down in time as well as Western astrology does. My interest in Mayan astrology is mostly related to ceremonial magic, the ritual invocation of Mayan spirits.
The rituals seem complex -- what can people new to Mayan astrology draw for use in their everyday lives?
I don’t really know because Mayan astrology is closely connected with the Mayan spirit world. Any use of the Chol Qij is tantamount to an invocation of the Mayan spirits, and is preceded by lengthy, formulaic prayers and rituals. We western astrologers rely upon our own judgment and intuition, which is why we so often go wrong. The Mayans, on the other hand, use their astrology as a way of making contact with the spirit world, of channeling spirit messages.