Arts & Culture
Aztec Calendar: Five Things You Probably Didn’t Know!
The Aztec Calendar is the quintessential symbol of ancient Mexico. It's too bad no one can understand it. Until now!
Aztec Calendar

The Aztec Calendar is one of the most readily identified symbols of ancient Aztec culture, if not of Mexico City itself. And while it won’t remind you of birthdays anymore than most useless Google calendar widgets, there’s still a lot to be learned from this particular analog calendar.

Discovered some 200 years ago, the Aztec calendar stone establishes a close, unique and comprehensive relationship between mythology, astronomical movement and calendar chronologies based on mathematics. At 24 tons, it was a little too heavy to carry and was literally buried beneath the Zocalo until it was rediscovered in 1790.

Most ancient civilizations pursued astrology with a passion. Studying the position of the stars in the skies can give you some understanding of their effects on Earth. These effects usually take place within a given interval. They may also define primary tasks that may or may not be performed during that interval.

The observation of astral movements were performed from multiple, highly precise spatio-temporal points. Among all of these, the Aztec calendar helped to delineate rainy seasons from dry, and those ideal for the practice of war.  The stone also has religious significance. It’s referred to as “the Sun Stone” for the face in the center, often said to refer to Tonatiuh, the Sun God of the Aztecs. Of course, the stone can also be interpreted as a symbol of political and geographic significance as it clearly refers to the cardinal points of the compass, and thus to Tenochtitlan as the center of the empire, if not of the entire world. Let’s look at the Aztec Calendar a little more closely.


The Aztec Calendar – The Sun Stone

Aztec CalendarThe Aztec Calendar was undoubtedly designed by priests, sorcerers and necromancers. Commissioned to symbolize the cyclical experiences and the momentous dynamics of things happening in heaven and on Earth, they undoubtedly worked closely with the craftsman who carved the stone. Many scholars believe this carving occurred between 1500 and 1520, although a few argue that it may have been carved quite a few decades earlier.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), which runs the National Anthropology Museum where the stone can actually be seen, has continued to study the stone and to release interesting facts about the Aztec Calendar and the people who really used it. These are just some of their most interesting findings.

  • As mentioned above, the face in the center of the sculpture is likely the sun god, Tonatiuh. Tonatiuh is not only important as the sun and thus the giver of life, but also as the embodiment of war, the great renovator.
  • In actual use, the Aztec calendar stone would have been positioned horizontally. It likely served as an altar for the sacrifice of gladiators. A cavity within served as a repository for the heart and blood of warriors vanquished in this way.
  • The records of Fray Bernardino de Sahagun, author of General History of the Things of New Spain (Historia general de las cosas de la Nueva España), indicate that each month of the 18 month Aztec calendar was associated with a deity:

MONTH 1: Atalcahuallo (from 2 to 21 February). Patron goddess: Chachihuitlicue
MONTH 2: Tlacaxipehualitzi (from February 22 to March 13). Patron god: Xipe -Totec
MONTH 3: Tozoztontli (March 14 to April 2). Patron gods: Coatlicue-Tlaloc
MONTH 4: Hueytozoztli (from 3 to 22 April). Patron gods: Centéotl-Chicomecóatl
MONTH 5: Toxcatl (from April 23 to May 12). Patron gods: Tezcatlipoca-Huitzilopochtli
MONTH 6: Etzalculiztli (from May 13 to June 1). Patron gods: the tlaloques
MONTH 7: Tecuilhuitontli (2 to June 21). Patron god: Huixtocihuatl
MONTH 8: Hueytecuilhutli (from 22 June to 11 July). Patron god: Xilonen
MONTH 9: Tlaxochimaco (from 12 to 31 July). Patron god Huitzilopochtli
MONTH 10: Xocotlhuetzin (1 to August 20). Patron god: Xiuhtecuhtli
MONTH 11: Ochpanitztli (August 21 to September 9). Patron god: Tlazoltéotl
MONTH 12: Teotelco (from 10 to 29 September). Patron god: Tezcatlipoca
MONTH 13: Tepeilhuitl (from 30 September to 19 October). Patron god: Tlaloc
MONTH 14: Quecholli (from October 20 to November 8). Patron god: Mixcóatl / Camaxtli
MONTH 15: Panquetzalitzli (from 9 to 28 November). Patron god Huitzilopochtli
MONTH 16: Atemotzli (from 29 November to 18 December). Patron god: Tlaloc
MONTH 17: Tititl (from December 19 to January 7). Patron god: Llamatecuhtli
MONTH 18: Izcalli (from 8 to 27 January). Patron god: Xiuhtecuhtli

Importantly, the calendar also includes five days, Nemotemi, which were considered by the Aztecs as empty or nefarious. These were from January 28 to February 1.
Aztec Calendar

  • According to testimony from Fray Diego Duran in his History of the Indies of New Spain, the Aztec calendar was carved 42 years before the fall of Tenochtitlan.  Emperor Axayácatl commissioned the stone for the site, Cuauhxicalco, where it was to have been placed. This same source names the artist as one, Tecpatl, though the majority of modern scholars dispute the likelihood of these claims.
  • During repairs to the National Cathedral on 17 December 1790, the Sunstone was rediscovered when pipelines were being laid into the cathedral. Antonio de León y Gama a contemporary scholar noted that the calendar “was almost touching the surface of the earth, and would have been essentially uncovered with little or no effeort. Beneath it were several more works.” Presented with the discovery, then-Viceroy Revillagigedo decreed that the necessary measures be taken to guarantee its perpetual conservation as part of “the precious monuments that show the lights that illustrate the Indian nation in the moments before its conquest.” The calendar remained on the outside of the west tower of the National Cathedral for almost 100 years
  • In 1887, it was moved to the National Museum on Moneda Street, in a Gallery of  monoliths which inaugurated by President Porfirio Diaz.

ILUMINA, an alien-like sculpture of light and sound that shines with emotions
ILUMINA is an art piece where technology, design, light and sound invites us to experience the ways in which we are all connected to the cosmos.

ILUMINA is an interactive sculpture of light and sound fed by the collective energy of people’s hearts.


Art and technology are two faces of human creativity, two that are also closely related, despite the differences they apparently have with each other. What art does on many occasions has been achieved thanks to a specific technical development, a technology whose existence allows the artists to enhance or limit their creative work. Yes, it conditions it, but possibly also encourages it to transcend those limitations.

In this sense, the relationship between one and another human activities could be found in virtually any era, but it is certainly in recent times when technology has a presence, so persistent, somehow so inescapable, that art has been benefited for incorporating it. Both as a resource, an instrument, as part of the examination of contemporary reality, when many of our practices and interactions almost necessarily pass through a technological device.

Thus, somehow the ideal professed by Nietzsche on the need to transform life in a work of art, but this time through art and technology. Somehow the aesthetic sensibility, the discovery of the admirable or the frankly beautiful that any of us can perceive, finds a vehicle, a means of transmission and expression in how art can be magnified through technology.




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Nowadays, it is becoming more and more complex to achieve high levels of consciousness, and to create a community without being outside of technology, but ww can use it as a tool to improve our sensitive abilities. To the same extent that we depend on technology to survive, it has become part of our lives, even in its most spiritual and even transcendental recesses. Art, now more than ever, demands to be a vehicle to explore different states that bring us closer to the dimensions of the infinite

Ilumina is an installation created by the artist Pablo Gonzalez Vargas, who through a deep exploration with the power of interconnectivity, proposes a method to improve the energy field of the planet. Pablo Gonzalez created a majestic interactive sculpture of light and sound that is activated by the emotional states of people, generating a beautiful light show and a sound landscape where the participants enter a state of coherence and deep harmony with themselves and with each other.






Ilumina is a metallic art monument, completed with aluminum and LED lights that together form an architectural piece full of harmony. The piece of art combines technology with a design of ancient wisdom. Ilumina has a program that responds to external stimuli, being able to shine more while more “coherent” is the group that hosts, generating a unique shared experience.

Ilumina is a chilling visual experience, and the volunteers who participate in the exercise of meditative immersion that lasts three minutes, are transported to a state of coherence and deep harmony with themselves, with their fellow participants and with the cosmos through a patented fusion of modern technology and transpersonal art.



The biometric sensors are connected to the ear lobes of each participant, which measures their unique state of coherence and averages them together. This is how lighting design and moving soundscapes respond to a unique algorithm, a product of HeartMath that uses biometric sensors for personal self-training in the regulation of emotional states where the sculpture becomes brighter to the extent that the users experiment with their emotions.

The team that created Ilumina included about 20 people from different disciplines and contributions. There was a large industrial design team that shaped the exact model that was taken to manufacturing. Marco Kalach worked with an expert manufacturing workshop, because as it is a public use facility in particular events, it had to comply with all the rules, structural regulations and with protection codes. The executive producer of the project was Gaby Vargas, who was responsible for the expertise at HeartMath, and joined by mexican musicians and audio engineers to make the experience of 360 degrees of immersive sound, led by Billy Mendez. The lighting team, directed by Paolo Montiel, coordinated all the programming and lighting design that makes symbiosis with the audio.


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It was at Burning Man 2012, where Pablo Gonzalez Vargas created an art car called Mayan Warrior: a luminescence project and a spectacular audio show featuring pieces by the artist Alex Gray and musical performances by elite artists from Mexico and around the world.

In the penultimate edition of Burning Man, Pablo Gonzalez and his team decided to go a step beyond the great proposal that is Mayan Warrior, by presenting Ilumina, this piece of sacred geometry that radiates not only light but an algorithmic sacrality, it’s as mystical and hypnotic as an art piece can get. The tower of almost 12 meters high illuminated the Nevada desert at the Burning Man Festival 2017, and users managed to enter a mental state full of concentration characterized by a complete absorption, a wonderful moment of loss of the notion of spacetime.






It is expected that later there will be replicas of these sculptures, so that they can reach new locations around the world, and we can experience this amazing spectacle of light and the soundscape that connects us with the profound mysticism that exists in ourselves and that highlights the interconnectivity of our planet with the global energy fields.

Here are some photos of this beautiful project, in which lies the probability of a coherent and luminous future that would be worth living.


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Burning Man 2017


If you want to know more about this beautiful project or about the creative artist and allies that integrate it, visit their social media channels:


Ilumina Art Installation

Sitio web //  Facebook //  Instagram


The Five Most Beautiful Mexico City Libraries
For budget travelers, Mexico City libraries were always among the most attractive, free attractions to visit. Today, they're simply too inviting to pass up.
Mexico City Libraries

Chilangos may cherish their reputation for never reading, but Mexico City libraries present a very contrary picture. 

Though the internet makes lots more information available to lots more people, Mexico City libraries have simply not been supplanted. Charged with continually re-inventing themselves, and their places in the public imagination, one can still encounter eras gone by and great historical minds in a library as in few other places.

Knowledge, after all, belongs to everyone. Opening a book, reading it at a study, or just meeting in the silence of one these Mexico City libraries enhances concentration, and provides a welcome respite from everything going on out there in the world. 

Of all Mexico City libraries, the oldest were part of the church and one or another of its offshoot organizations. Among these was the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco, founded in the 1530s and surviving today as the Biblioteca José María Lafragua. Most of these ecclesiastical libraries were not truly open to the public, and Mexico had to wait for the  National Library of Mexico, inaugurated by Benito Juárez in 1867 to enjoy the benefits of a truly public library system.

The list below is intended to let you enjoy some of that system, too. 

José Vasconcelos Library

Mexico City Libraries

Opened just ten years ago, in 2006, the Vasconcelos is visited by thousands for the sheer spectacle of its innovative design. Graced by the iconic whale from artist, Gabriel Orozco, it’s always a good library for art and visual spectacle. The facade retains something of a colonial appearance, but for sheer scale, and jaw-dropping space, the interior must be experienced.

Address: Eje 1 Norte Mosqueta S / N, Buenavista


UNAM Central Library 

Mexico City Libraries

We’ve written a lot about it in these pages, but the UNAM library with the Juan O’Gorman murals remains one of the most outstanding of all Mexico City libraries. As a UNESCO site with some 428,000 volumes in the collection, it’s the biggest in Mexico, but lots of folks visit just to see the facade and the surrounding grounds. 

Address: Circuito Interior S / N, Coyoacán, Ciudad Universitaria


National Library of Mexico


Opened by Benito Juárez in 1867, there’s still a good one million books inside, today administered by the folks from UNAM. Originally located in the San Agustín church in the city center, the current building was opened in 1979. Geometric, and massive, it’s an extraordinary place to visit.

Address: Av. Universidad 3000, Coyocacan


Miguel Lerdo de Tejada Library


Specializing in economic materials, this collection of some 86,350 books and 114,852 journals is administered by the Secretary of Finance and Public Credit. Founded in 1928, it’s one of the cities true public art spectacles. Inside the main nave of the old Oratory of San Felipe Neri “El Nuevo,” the baroque façade outside is just the beginning. Inside, the murals are futuristic, and not to be missed.

Address: Av. República de el Salvador 49, Centro Histórico, col. Centro Histórico


Library of Congress of the Union


One of Centro’s truly outstanding historical buildings, for centuries it was the convent of the Clarisas from the 16th century. Today it’s something like a “Library of Congress” with a stunning collection of publications and artifacts, but also with a lush, deep, dark intellectual interior, that beckons from centuries past. 

Address: Tacuba 29, Centro Histórico

Photographs this page: Flickr – Creative Commons