The Maya Deck - Dr. Ronald L. Bonewitz
“Maya daily life was entirely one with Maya spiritual belief. The Maya lived in a world of continuous divination—it was a normal part of their everyday life, and a natural out-working of Maya belief.” – From the companion booklet

Often erroneously referred to as a singular people and culture, the Maya reflected the influence of many city-states, conquering tribes, and varied languages. However, at core of this rich culture was a consistent cosmology and system of symbolism. A sophisticated number system and a Sacred Calendar was central to the whole of Mesoamerica until the Spanish conquest, The complex cycles of this calendar governed ceremonial and religious activities, and was consulted for divinatory purposes.

The Maya believed the universe was a homogeneous entity that interacted and interpenetrated the whole of reality—with time and space and essential ingredient. Each god contained a positive/negative duality, as well as a fourfold personality based on the cardinal directions, depending on the time and place of its manifestation. Because they believed the world to be flat, Mayan reality contained an Overworld and an Underworld. The former was associated with daytime and the more obvious, practical dimensions of life. The latter was the primary dwelling place of the gods, mirroring the subtle, often unseen, influences that shaped the lives of humanity.

Combining Mayan dualistic spirituality, the four cardinal directions, astronomy, and sacred numbers, days, gods, and animals, The Maya Deck is a complex, illuminating oracle for the modern age. Drawing upon his studies in behavioral science, geology, archeology, and mysticism, Dr. Ronald L. Bonewitz has created a remarkable deck using Mayan wisdom as a source for personal discovery and growth. With specially carved images by artist Achim Frederic Kiel, each card is based on authentic Mayan sources.

The Maya Deck consists of 45 cards with five different “suits”:

The Old Gods – These personify broad, deep, solid, long-term influences.
The Astronomical Cards – These cards indicate difficulties and cyclical influences.
Sacred Animal Cards – These cards show windows of opportunity
Sacred Form Cards – These cards are essentially immovable objects and well-anchored energies and influences.
Day/Number Cards – Represent three different influences: time, intensity/cycles, or intensity of energy depending on where the card falls.

The 80-page companion booklet provides an overview of Mayan culture, cosmology, and symbolism, as well as the meaning of each card. Dr. Bonewitz explains the significance of the four directions, as well as how to prepare a deck and read for specific questions. Two sample readings are systematically covered. While most oracle decks can be used with any spread, The Maya Deck is designed to work with a comprehensive 8-card layout. The central Influence Card casts a spell over the entire reading, with the other seven cards affected by this central theme.

Four Fixers are placed around the Influence Card, and they anchor the characteristic of the cardinal direction in which they appear. Four Modifiers are placed around the Fixers, lending meaning to the specific areas/directions of the Fixer cards.

For each card, attributes, duality, and duality keywords are given. Also provided is the Maya symbolism of each image, and the card interpretation as an Influence Card, Fixer Card, and Modifier Card. The maroon card backing feature four cream-colored glyphs depicting the cardinal directions and are fully reversible. Inverted cards are also discussed in the companion booklet.

The layout of the booklet is a bit awkward and the information at times confusing, so I had to do a good bit of flipping back and forth in order to interpret my spread. However, the insight The Maya Deck provided was well worth the time in getting to know this unusual oracle. Because of the complexity, I don’t think this deck is a good one for Cartomancy beginners. Nevertheless, The Maya Deck will likely delight those who have an affinity for either Mayan culture or deep readings for personal transformation. This deck was able to speak comprehensively and accurately to my question, which surprised and pleased me. The stone engravings on each card are truly works of art and lend an authentic feel to this unique oracle.

Below are 9 images from this deck:

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