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Damascius in his treatise "IIɛpi Apxiov" says: "The Egyptians asserted nothing of the First Principle of things, but celebrated it as a thrice unknown darkness transcending all intellectual perception." According to Servius, "they assigned the perfect number three to the Great God." Tetraktis was the mystic name of the Creative Power, and three was looked upon as embracing all human things. "Know God," says Pythagoras, "who is number and harmony. Number is the father of the gods and men." Pythagoras borrowed his knowledge of numbers and their meanings from the Egyptians. received their science from the Mayas, those civilized strangers, their ancestors, who in remote ages, coming from the East and from the West, had settled and brought civilization to the banks of the Nile. Such being the case, it is but natural that we should find the same doctrine regarding cosmogony and the meaning of numbers in Mayach, their mother country in the "Lands of the West."
Pythagoras's teachings were that the rectangular triangle which Plato called the mystic diagram, its height being represented by 3, its base by 4, and its hypothenuse by 5, was the most perfect image of the "Infinite Spirit in the Universe,' because 3, composed of 1 + 1 + 1, stood for the male principle; 4, the square of 2, for the female; and 5, proceeding from both 2 and 3, the universe, and so was counted Penta in the general numeration.
The Mayas called the first centenary (100, the square of 10) the number representing the "INFINITE ONE ABOUT TO MANIFEST," Hokal, and placed it in their diagram at the upper end of the vertical diameter.
The second centenary (200) they said was "THE INFINITE STILL WHOLLY ENCLOSED," Lahunkal (that is, Lah,
"wholly; " hun, "one;" kal, "enclosed "), and placed it at the right hand end of the horizontal diameter.
The third centenary (300) they held to be the piercing of the closed virgin womb, Holhukal (that is, Hol, "to pierce;" hu, "virgin womb," and kal, "closed"), and placed it at the lower end of the vertical diameter that forms the height of the four rectangular triangles which compose the square, and therefore stands for the male principle in Plato's mystic diagram.
Out of this notion came the doctrine so general in the theogonies of all civilized nations of antiquity, of an immaculate virgin conceiving and giving birth to a god.
The fourth centenary (400) the Mayas called Hunbak, the one male organ of generation, and placed it at the left end of the horizontal diameter; that is, the base of the rectangular triangles composing the square, corresponding therefore to the female principle of Plato's mystic diagram.
The hypothenuses, standing for number five and the universe in said diagram, form the sides of the square inscribed in the circumference. Their numerical aggregated value is twenty, which the Maya sages called kal, or that which closes and completes the square.
Thus we come to know that the identical doctrine regarding the esoteric meaning of numbers which existed in India, Chaldea, Egypt, and Greece was likewise taught to the initi ates in the temples of Mayach, and why, in their numerical computations, the Maya sages counted in fives up to twenty, and by twenties to one hundred, thus making use of what we moderns call the decimal system.
They refrained from counting by tens for the same reason that we forbear to habitually utter the name of God; number
10, Lahun, representing to their mind the "SPIRIT OF THE UNIVERSE," the "BOUNDLESS," the "INFINITE ONE," Ku, whose name was too sacred to be pronounced except with the utmost reverence.
Is it mere coincidence that in all countries where vestiges of Maya civilization can be traced, there also we find that among the occultists and initiates into the sacred mysteries number ten stood for the name of God?
Even for the Hebrew cabalists, who no doubt learned the doctrine from the philosophers of the school of Alexandria, number ten was represented by the letter J or I, Jod, signature of the name of JEHOVAH, by whom all things were created; JAH (Jehovah) being a name composed of the two letters J and II, that is, 10 and 5, or "God and the universe." The ten Sephiroth, or numbers, were regarded by them as emanations of the Divine Intelligence, that, according to the book of light, the Sohar, combined to form the Heavenly Man, of whom man on earth is an image.1
As we count by thousands, saying "one thousand, two thousand, three thousand," etc., the Mayas, for sacred reasons, counted by "four hundreds." Thus they said "one four hundred, two four hundred, three four hundred," etc.
It may interest my readers, particularly those who have made a study of occultism, to know the esoteric meaning of the names of the cardinal numbers as taught by the ancient Maya adepts, the Naacals, to those they initiated into the mysteries of cosmogony.
In my rendering of the Maya names I have adhered to their original purport as closely as the genius of the English
'Moses de Leon, Book of Sohar, ii. 70 b;
i. 20 a.
language permits. The correctness of my translation may be easily verified by consulting Maya vocabularies.1
The fact that the Mayas alone, among all civilized nations of antiquity, and even of modern times, epitomized in the names of the cardinal numbers their system of cosmogony, would tend to prove that they were the originators of it. This identical system having been adopted in all countries where traces of their name is found, would show that, at some time or other, they carried it to said countries; and its adoption, without any material change, by the priesthood of these
1 There is a very complete ancient Maya dictionary MS. in the Brown Library in Providence, R. I. It was the property of Abbé Brasseur, who used it extensively in forming his own vocabulary-Maya and French. He allowed Dr. Carl Berendt to make a copy of it. This copy is now in possession of Dr. Brinton, who refers to it as "the Motul dictionary." I made a partial copy of it in 1884, when it was intrusted to me for that purpose by my friend the late Mr. Bartlett, then librarian of Brown's Library.
2 Are we to see here the origin of the idea of the serpent being regarded as the wisest of all animals (Genesis, chap. iii., verse 11), and therefore of its being used as symbol of the Creator by all civilized nations of antiquity? Can, in Maya, is the generic word for "serpent."