One of the fascinating features of Ancient Mesoamerican Culture was the Calendar, which not only provided a way to reference cycles of time, but also actual dates. It also provided the manner in which individuals were referenced, or named; people took their names from their birth dates, or rather, the birth date became their first name.
So the calendar date in the Central Valley of Mexico not only named the day and named the people, but whatever day upon which the first day of the year fell became the name of that entire year. (The Maya named years, or Tuns, Katuns and Baktuns, for the last day of the period.)
Usually the calendar date was conjoined with a descriptive name, rendering something like 8 Deer, Jaguar Paw, or 9 Wind, Flint Helmet; 8 Deer and 9 Wind being the birth dates of these individuals.
In the historical and genealogical codices of the Mexican Highlands, individuals are usually identified by only the number and Day Sign of their birth. (I go to some length in my book explaining the anomaly of a sophisticated information storage technology, using only 13 digits and 20 Day Signs, that provided birth records and even named the days that ended the
World Ages and the manner of their demise; 4 Jaguar, 4 Rain, 4 Wind, 4 Water, and the Age we are now in, 4 Movement, or Earthquake.
This unique way of recording history and dates and individuals has provided us today with some insightful views into the past, as well as glimpses into the future. For instance, we have the historical account of a figure from the Central Valley of Mexico who lived in the Tenth Century, whom we call Quetzalcoatl, or the Plumed Serpent. His full name was actually One Reed,Our Lord Plumed Serpent. In the Nahuatl language this is rendered as Ce Acatl, Tolpitzin Quetzalcoatl, ' Ce ' meaning one, and ' Acatl ', meaning reed. Tolpitzin translates as our lord, and Quetzalcoatl means plumed serpent.
In this story the pious priest was forced to leave Tula by an adversarial priesthood, the priesthood of Tezcatlipoca, and travel with his followers to build a new capital, Cholula, to which kings would go on pilgrimage to receive their investiture, or insignia of right to rule. In the codices we see these nobles having their noses pierced and receiving a nose pin.
After a time Quetzalcoatl departed into the sky, or sea, on a raft of snakes on the day of his birth and of his name, Ce Acatl, One Reed. He also predicted he would someday return in the future on the the date One Reed, Ce Acatl.
In this strange story of prophecy altering the future, five hundred years later, Cortes would make landfall on the coast of Mexico on the date One Reed. It was for this reason that Cortes was believed to be the returning Quetzalcoatl. Montezuma, the Aztec Emperor, even told Cortes that he himself was only holding the throne until the rightful lord, Quetzalcoatl, returned. So this legend played a huge role in the conquest of Mexico by the Conquistadores. But wait, there is more information for us in this story.
I recently relocated from Kentucky to the Seattle area because my son, Littlebird, decided to pursue his education at a college nearby. I had simply assumed that Seattle was named for the chief, Seattle. (For those of you unfamiliar with Chief Seattle, google up his famous speech; it is one of the most eloquent compositions ever delivered in the English Language.)
I explained earlier that 'Ce Acatl ' means One Reed in Nahuatl and Reed is one of twenty day signs. Another of those Day Signs from the Central Valley of Mexico is 'Water ', which is pronounced 'Atl ' in the Nahuatl language. So, in a word, or actually two words, Ce Atl means One Water in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztec, and Ce Atl IS Seattle.
The Nahuatl Language belongs to the Uto-Azteccan Language Group, and is represented by a number of tribal groups in North America, the Ute, Comanche and Shoshone among them. The recognition of the sound ' Ce Atl ' in the name Seattle means the custom of using numbers and Calendar Day Signs in personal names was not limited to Mesoamerica, but extended in North America as far as the Northwest Coast.
Conversely, we must infer that the Calendar from which these signs derive, was not limited to Mesoamerica either, but was in use among tribes in North America too, as far North as presentday Seattle, Washington.
I'll leave you with that thought and the icon for the last Day Sign in the Maya group of Sacred Count Day Signs, Ahau, which much resembles a modern' emoticon'. Littlebird tells me he associates emoticons with the death of written language.