Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and the Mayan Calendar

By  Howard Teich, Ph.D.

Rudolph first appeared in a 1939 booklet written by Robert L. May and published by Montgomery Ward.

Rudolph first appeared in a 1939 booklet written by Robert L. May and published by Montgomery Ward.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is a fictional reindeer with a glowing red nose. He is popularly known as “Santa’s 8th Reindeer and is the lead reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve, bringing gifts to children who have been good. The luminosity of his nose is so great that it illuminates the team’s path through inclement winter weather.

Rudolph’s glowing red nose made him a social outcast. The other reindeer harassed him mercilessly and excluded him from their fun because of this unusual trait. However, one Christmas Eve Santa Claus was having difficulty making his flight around the world because it was too foggy. When Santa went to Rudolph’s house to deliver his presents he noticed the glowing red nose in the darkened bedroom and decided it could serve as a makeshift lamp to guide his sleigh. He asked Rudolph if he would lead the sleigh for the rest of the night. Rudolph agreed, and was rewarded with recognition and acceptance amongst his fellow reindeer for his heroics that helped Santa Claus.

Christmas is about love and fertility. Whether one is religious or not, this special time is celebrated on a global scale. In fact, from the beginning of human time, this astronomical event, the winter solstice—the shortest day and longest night of the year—has inspired celebration of the subsidence of light into darkness.

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Mayan Twin Heros : Hunahpu and Xbalanque

Hunahpu and Xbalanque By Four Arrows (aka Don Jacobs)

All cultures have twin hero myths and most have one twin who is a “solar,” more aggressive and direct twin and the other is a “lunar” twin, more passive and reflective. In Western culture, the solar twin often kills the lunar twin or the lunar twin becomes unimportant in the culture. Cain and Able, Romulus and Remus, Jacob and Esau, Hercules and Iphecules, etc. In Indigenous twin hero stories, the two twins also represent these polar dualities, but they work as complementary pairs. Examples are many, such as the Navajo myth with Mexico origins about Child Born of the Water (Lunar) and Monster Slayer (Solar). The twins help one another to fight the monsters that symbolically keep us from being in balance, recognizes human relationship with complete natural world of which we are part.

Mayan CalendarThe Mayan Twin Hero Myth is a story to know and honor in preparation for the end of the particular calendar in which their twin heroes, Hunahpu and Xbalanque are depicted. Hunapu (Blowgun Hunter-Solar) and Xbalanque (Hidden Sun-Lunar) were trying to make a garden but every time they clearedaway the underbrush, the forest animals put it back again. Finally they caught a rat and held its tail over the fire (which is why rats have no hair there), until it started explaining. The rat started talking. “Look, you are not cut out to be gardeners anyway. There’s something you’d be better at. I’ll tell you if you let me go.”

The rat explained that their father and uncle had been great handball players and how they were cut out themselves to be great ballplayers. The rat said, “You just need the proper gear and I know where your father hid it before he was lost to the Underworld.”

The boys got the gear and started playing, but were noisy about their playing so that the Lords of Death were affronted by their lack of humility. They sent messengers to summon the boys to a ballgame in the Underworld.

This was OK with the Twins who wanted to defeat the Lords of Death because they learned it was they who took their father. They allowed themselves to go through many challenging tests and ordeals so as to get to a place where they could finally kill the Lords of Death, the same ordeals their father experienced but had failed and never came back from the Underworld.

Near the end of their successful completion of the tests, Hunahpu made their first mistake. From his hiding place in the blowgun, he wanted to see if it was daylight, so he stuck his head out and a night- flying bat sliced it off.

Hunahpu and Xbalanque

The Lords of Death started the game using this brother’s head for a ball. But his twin, Xbalanque, managed to fool the Lords and got his brother’s head back and put it back onto him, and then replaced the head with a squash. The boys resumed the game and one, defeating the Lords of Death, and setting up the opportunity to destroy them.

The boys then sought their father, found him, but he was not up to the trip home. So they left him in the ball court, saying they would play ball regularly to pray for and honor all those who sought hope, knowing this would at last ease their father’s heart forever. The boys, finished with their work, and no longer arrogant, accepted the light and shadow aspects of life and the complementary nature of their opposing personalities. The Gods then intervened in not only helping them climb back to Earth’s surface, but honored them and gifted the world by making Xbalanque the Moon and Hunahpu the Sun. Hunahpu and XbalanqueThey became the two complementary forces that must remain in balance for life to survive on Earth. They should remind us that every one of the millions of star molecules we are made of must be in balance with its complementary twin. This means we cannot over-identify with one force or the other because of ego fear or ego satisfaction or other needs of the ego. We must accept the dark and the light in ways that we know how to keep our solar and lunar aspects in harmony and not be split into one when we are better to be more with the other (like what happened when the bats cut of the one twin’s head for his wanting it to be daylight when it was still night.)

It is time for us all to find our twins and not be afraid of being one with them so that we can ultimately use the combined power of both to be in balance. Human civilizations have lost this balance. We must awaken to this before the cosmos itself rebalances as it is doing with climate change and other vibrational anomalies.

Txun blays :
ya huh, txoe kata key ya, ma wah nee.Translation :
I am walking toward the future making good and balanced decisions.

Being out of balance ultimately is an act of insanity and the prophesy of the fifth world is about regaining sanity. We have more knowledge now than ever before about both what is wrong and what the solutions are to correct, yet we continue moving forward with our over-identificationwith only one side or the other of the solar-lunar duality, continuing to do the very things we know will kill us all. It is time to wake up, and then celebrate returning to an era of harmony!

Then finished, the pair departed Xibalba and climbed back up to the surface of the Earth. They did not stop there, however, and continued climbing straight on up into the sky. One became the Sun, theother became the Moon

Death to one of the twins, losing life essence and power, and then a resurrection or rebirth taking place


A Dual Masculinity

The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal, Vol. 13, No. 4, 1995

Maud Oakes, Text and Paintings. Where the Two Came to Their Father: A Navaho War Ceremonial, Give by Jeff King, with commentary by Joseph Campbell. Princeton University Press, (Mythos Paperback), 1991. // Reviewed by Howard Teich


As everyone realizes now, Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero With a Thousand Faces brought the archetype of the Hero back to the forefront of our collective consciousness. He revealed how, throughout the world, beneath the multitudinous cultural overlays, a central “monomyth” of the Hero’s journey is told over and over again:

…a hero ventures forth from the world of common day into the region of supernatural power: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won. The hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons upon his fellow man. (Joseph Campbell. The Hero’s Journey, edited by Phil Cousineau. San Francisco; Harper & Row, 1990, p. xvi)

It is however, in Where the Two Came to Their Father, his first book (as co-author, Bollingen, 1943), now reissued as part of Princeton’s new “Mythos” series, that Campbell uncovered the subtler dynamics of the hero’s emergence in a balanced way. To demonstrate this still poorly understood pattern of ecologically sound ego-development, Campbell joined Maud Oakes and Navaho singer Jeff King in exploring the journey of “Twin Heroes,” who almost invariably are found at the very beginning, and thus at the very core, of the beautifully preserved and rendered in this seminal volume, records the ebb and flow of the two sides of the hero in interaction, displaying the dynamic interplay of inner energies that further an individual on the path toward an integrity of spirit. The republication of this book, which has been a collectors’ item, could make this psychology available to the general public, which remains in need of the insights contained here.



The Bollingen Series, which was inaugurated to publish C.G. Jung in English, was launched in 1943 with the first publication of Where the Two Came to Their Father. Heinrich Zimmer, a mythologist from Heidelberg who had been the initial lecturer at the Eranos conferences, played a seminal role in launching the Bollingren series as well. It was he that suggested the series start with something on the American Indian. Zimmer felt that if the American reading public were first seduced by the rich and mysterious symbolism that originated in the own native land, their resistance to subsequent publications of more “esoteric” symbolism from Eastern cultures would be considerably attenuated.

Navaho symbolism had been particularly appealing for Maud Oakes. A painter born in 1903, Oakes had grown up near Seattle, on an island whose many Indian mounds instill in her a consciousness of the Indian past.

Jeff King (Haska-zilth-e-yah), one of the most respected medicine men on the Navajo Reservation in the first half of the 20th century. He served the U.S. Army as a scout and died in 1964.

Living in a small hogan, working at her easel, she slowly gained the confidence of the Navaho medicine man, Jeff King. Through his mediation, the Navaho welcome Miss Oakes to witness and record their rituals, permitting her to make copes of sandpaintings they made on the earth with colored sand, powdered minerals, pollen and flowers. Then in his eighties, King directed Oakes, through an interpreter, to copy the sand paintings in crayon on brown wrapping paper. Together King and Oakes recorded the “Blessing Ceremony” which at that time was being performed over young men being inducted into the armed forces in preparation for U.S. involvement in World War II.



It is one of the unusual and wonderful features of this book that it contains not only the central Navaho myth of “Where the Two came to Their Father,” but also an illustrative first-hand account of “Singer” Jeff King’s performance of the “Blessing Rite,” the ritual through which the myth is revivified. All too often we come away from reading the great mythologies of the world without a sense of how real and powerful a presence they exert within their native cultures; not here.

Myth and ritual are neither ancient nor exotic; rather they form ideas and activities which are expressing what we already hold to be true and these are meant to be gestures which engage us every day, bringing our daily lives into accord with our “eternal truths.”  The power of myth, as Joseph Campbell has said, persists “just beneath the crust of things,” wanting to be drawn through ritual into the conscious art of living. In the separability that is myth and ritual, myth is the breath, ritual is the breathing.

The two myths preserved in this book dramatically illustrate the mythic ecology which structures the Navaho universe. Through symbolic association, Jeff King’s “Introductory Legend” and “Where the Two Came to Their Father” correlate all the worlds, colors, species, seasons, directions, mythic figures, plants and landscapes that shape the Navaho universe and its people. Established categories of separate identity, which in Western culture are so assiduously maintained, are overridden by the mythic web, which ensnares things, forces, places, and periods of history in stories designed to bring under control the otherwise chaotic and apparently accidental nature of the universe.

It may be through this continual renewing of their ancestral order that the Navaho nation has managed to survive within a civilization that has been less than gracious towards it. Through ceremonials and rituals, they repeatedly realize an inner vision of stability and harmony that withstands in spite of the egregiously harsh realities their people endure.

Olmec Twins & Jaguar

Olmec Twins & Jaguar

Three of the sculptures at El Azuzul shown in situ, as they were discovered.

Olmec Twins & Jaguar – At El Azuzul another important monumental sculpture was found, a pair of twin males facing a Jaguar. This scene offers powerful image of duality and shamanic transformation as indicated by the postures of the twins.

The first pair of statues, described as “some of the greatest masterpieces of Olmec art”, are nearly identical seated human figures. When discovered the two statues were facing east, one behind the other. Some researchers have suggested that these “twins” are forerunners of the Maya Hero Twins from the Popul Vuh, although their headdresses have led others to describe them as priests. The twin’s headdresses have been mutilated, probably to erase identifying insignia.

Olmec Twins & Jaguar

Olmec Twins & Jaguar from the back

These photographs of the three sculptures at El Azuzul shown in situ, are as they were discovered. Researchers believe that these sculptures had not been moved since Olmec times.

This is a sculptural representation of two young Olmec rulers, twins, paying homage to a feline-jaguar deity.

Each twin, like the figure in San Martín Pajapan Monument 1, is grasping a ceremonial bar with his right hand under the bar and his left over, caught in the act of raising what has been described as an axis mundi or Mesoamerican world tree.

Facing these two humans was a feline-like statue, generally identified as a jaguar. Slightly larger than the humans it faced, the feline is roughly 1.2 meters high. A 1.6 meter version of this feline was found a few meters away, to the northeast. The jaguars show evidence of having been re-carved from earlier monuments.

Olmec TwinsThe humans are similar to other Olmec sculpture, in particular San Martin Pajapan Monument 1, where a young lord also attempts to lift a ceremonial bar. Despite its “tantalizing hints of [a] lost mythic cycle”, it is not known with any clarity what this four statue tableau illustrates.

The Navaho and the Western Psyche : Where the Paths Diverge

Twin Hero Series by Howard Teich Ph. D. 

It was Gladys Reichard’s extensive study of Navaho symbolism in the book Navaho Religion that inspired Maud Oakes’s initial interest in studying Navaho sandpainting. As an artist, Oakes was immediately fascinated by the complex color systems in the paintings. The Navaho have two principal color systems, each including four colors to represent the four worlds or four directions that frame the Navaho universe. The two systems differ only in that black and white exchange places in the order they appear.

The arrangement of colors in each symbolic system does not derive merely from the aesthetic or decorative sensibilities of the Navaho, it has as well a cosmological significance. The ascending order of colors corresponds with the first through the fourth worlds in the myth of ascension. It is after the ascension from the four underworlds that the twins are born from their mother Changing Woman. The four-color Navaho system appears to correspond with the color system favored in European alchemy with the notable exception of the color blue.

Although curiously absent in many classic accounts of alchemy, the color blue does indeed appear in the alchemical process, representing a critical stage of the transformation process that failed to receive adequate notice. Before examining the Navaho use of this color (See James Hillman’s “ Alchemical Blue and the Unio Mentalis,” Spring 84), I would like to describe in some detail the point at which the color blue surfaces in alchemy because it represents a crucial step in the individuation process that seems to have been glossed over in Western psychology. (As always the role of symbolism in alchemy is to “manifest that which is hidden and conceal that which is manifest.”)

Jung recorded that the ultimate goal of alchemy, the “coniunctio,” or “union of opposites,” is achieved by combining the masculine and feminine principles with the common element, Mercurius. The female principle must first be produced by combining “salt” and “Mercurius” and two “sulphurs” entering combination with each other.

It is from this preliminary stage of the male coniunctio, the “monoculus,” that the color blue emerges; this stage is crucial for the readiness of the masculine principle to enter combination, later, with the feminine. On the male side of the equation, red sulphur, representing the active masculine principle of the Sun, combines with white sulphur, representing the active masculine principle of the Moon, to produce the “monoculus.” In Jung’s Mysterium Coniunctionis the “monoculus” is represented in a series of illustrations of two men joined in one body. The final transformation shows the two supported by one blue foot, and the inscription beneath the plate reads,

Wherefore saith the philosopher: He obtaineth the art who can manifest that which is hidden and conceal that which is manifest … The blue color after the yellow … (C.G. Jung, Collected Works, Vol. 14, Mysterium Coniunctionis. 2nd Edition. Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1970. p. 508)

This cryptic inscription suggests that the energy represented in the color blue, which signifies a union of solar and lunar aspects in the masculine psyche, is prerequisite to the final “union of the opposites,” masculine and feminine.

Jung did not recognize the significance of this preliminary stage in the male psyche. Throughout his alchemical research Jung consistently interpreted “lunar” symbolism as feminine and “solar” as masculine, so as to parallel and reinforce his anima/animus theory, which, like other systems of Western thought, implicit and explicit, separated energies into masculine and feminine categories.

A great deal of Jung’s research was devoted to locating the “feminine” energy that might compensate for the imbalance experienced in the masculine psyche. In dreams and vision, he searched for this missing link, which was often associated with the color blue: “There is but one more thing to ask: three there are, but where the fourth? Why is the color blue missing???” (C.G. Jung. Collected Works, Vol. XII, Psychology and Alchemy. 2nd Edition. Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1968, p. 213)

To be sure blue was the color of the Virgin in medieval and Renaissance art; so Jung was honoring a venerable tradition in assuming that blue was a color of feminine spirituality. What he failed to take into account was that, if the color blue represents the fusion of male solar and male lunar principles in the “monoculus,” then it is not an exclusively or inherently “feminine” energy. Rather, it is an energy that arises whenever solar and lunar aspects are experienced as complements, instead of opposite, a fact that is particularly numinous when experienced in the male psyche, where the color blue represents a truly masculine mystique.

The fact that the color blue is concealed in alchemy is symptomatic of a pervasive repression of this energy in the Western male psyche. Indeed, we find this fourth balancing element missing in almost all European representational systems, the most obvious example being the Christian trinity. It is this fourth balancing element, symbolized by the color blue of the second twin, Child Born of Water, that we might reclaim through an empathic understanding of the sand paintings illustrating the Twin Heroes’ journey in “Where the Two Came to Their Father.”

In the myth of “Where the Two Came to Their Father,” solar and lunar principles are represented in the complementary relationship of the twin masculine heroes, Monster Slayer and Child Born of Water. Campbell describes the twins as counterpoised parts of a powerful dialectic:

The two, Sun-child and Water-child, antagonistic yet cooperative, represent a single cosmic force polarized, split, and turned against itself in mutual portions. The life-supporting sap-power, mysterious in the lunar rhythm of its tides, growing and decaying at a time, counters and tempers the solar fire of the zenith, life-desiccating in its brilliance, yet by whose heat all lives. (p. 38)

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