Understanding Our Place in the Galaxy

The Galactic Center: the Dark Rift

This labeled photograph of the galactic center will serve as a guide to the time when you may get to see the real thing.
This labeled photograph of the galactic center will serve as a guide to the time when you may get to see the real thing.
The sun lies in the Orion arm of the galaxy, The Sagittarius arm is located closer to the galactic center. To the rim lies the Cygnus arm.
The sun lies in the Orion arm of the galaxy, The Sagittarius arm is located closer to the galactic center. To the rim lies the Cygnus arm.

Mayan Perspectives

According to the Maya perspective, there are two intersecting “branches” that form the cosmic tree of life consisting of the galactic plane and the ecliptic. The Maya naked eye observational astronomers have a full account of the whole cosmos from this perspective and to them, the two centers are marked where the ecliptic or zodiacal plane intersects the galactic plane. As a youth, I had the opportunity to witness the fantastic and overwhelming view of the galaxy in the pitch dark of a moonless summer night in the middle of nowhere, far from any kind of light pollution. It was an epiphany and marked a major transition point.

The view of the galaxy at night changes by the minute and over the year, the orientation of the main structure also changes. No two moments in a year are identical and as far as that goes, neither are any two years. But in both of these contexts, the changes are subtle. In order to plot these changes, one is going to need some sort of sighting device and a long time to observe. This can be something as simple as a medicine wheel or as complex as a Hindu astronomical naked eye observatory, a pyramid complex such as found in central America or Egypt, or other observation place such as many that are found the world over. Recording ones observations will also have to be developed. The Hindus, Egyptians and Maya recorded their observations and developed their world views out of them. These were synchronized with events over selected periods of time. They have been handed down to us, but unfortunately, out of prejudice and conquest, some of these accounts have been almost completely obliterated. Those of us who are interested in the truth of these matters as opposed to subjective speculations, have to “reverse engineer” what we do know to a more complete picture of their world view, that with investigation, can reveal significant convergences with our understanding.

To “reverse engineer” a world view, we have to take the fragments we do know and reconstruct the paradigm of the Maya cosmic view from this to get the complete picture. This is somewhat similar to examining the various temple and city complexes with all their inscriptions based on partial knowledge, only in this case, it involves the sky itself. For the Mayan perspective, we do know that the Heart of Sky and the Dark Rift were two center points of the cosmos, one of light and the other of darkness. We know that the galactic plane was seen as a great celestial tree, called the Tree of Life. We know that they marked the solstices and the equinoxes, the lunar month, the Venus cycle, the solar year and other celestial events of which little is said. Some constellation locations were important while others seem to have either been overlooked by us, or were unimportant to them. Let's begin our journey by looking at the galactic plane itself, which as we shall find, will answer some questions, but raise new ones. In the end, what is required is to let the sky “speak for itself” and learn to watch and listen to that message. Astrologers have a good head start provided that they have not been corrupted by greed and profiteering and read into the sky that which is not there.

Taking the marker of the December 21st , 2010 winter solstice lunar eclipse in the Heart-of-Sky, we can identify that point where the moon is situated where the ecliptic or zodiacal crosses the galactic plane. In this case, situated in Orion where it juts between Gemini and Taurus, we are looking outward to the fringes of the Galaxy and what astronomers call, toward the Orion galactic arm. There exists photographic evidence of that total lunar eclipse in the Heart-of-Sky. It follows that the sun was situated in line with what is identified as the “Dark Rift” or close to it. This choice of wording is important, because when we look at the galactic center, we can find dark patches near the constellations of Aquilla and Ophucus. There are also dark patches and bands that lie between Scorpio and Libra and also along the galactic plane from Sagittarius-Capricorn-Pisces. Examine the sky map negative generated by an astronomical program. There are three bands, two large ones the follow the galactic plane and a smaller one to one side of the ecliptic and near the current winter solstice point. With all of these nebular clouds, it is not that easy to say just which one marks the Mayan “Dark Rift”. Perhaps, the dark rift is all of them with the center connected to the ecliptic. Modern astronomers identify the galactic center itself to be located close to Sagittarius Alpha, the star that marks the tip of the Sagittarius' arrow. We are told that in this direction lies the super massive black hole at the galactic center. There are few large dark nebular cloud there, but there are plenty nearby relatively speaking.

The sky map below is of the Heart-of-Sky and the summer solstice point of this epoch marks where this is. The Heart-of-Sky is located between Taurus, the “V” shape in the lower part of the diagram and the upside down “U” shape of Gemini. Orion is located “below” the ecliptic and careful examination will show the belt and dagger of Orion to the lower left. In this part of the sky there are few “rifts” such as found in the opposite part of the sky.

On both “sides” of the sky, the ecliptic and galactic plane there is formed a great cross made from the ecliptic and galactic plane, a form of constellation held in high regard in Maya-Olmec cosmogony. One might ask why this has any importance. It has great importance as these are critical markers in the Mayan point of view and are central in determining the link of the sky with their many calendar systems that are handed down to us as the most accurate sky link calendar system on the planet. In particular, the Heart-of-Sky is held in very high regard. To us, the center of the galaxy between Sagittarius-Scorpio marks the center and it is currently the position of the winter solstice point in the sidereal perspective. When we are told that the 21st of December marks the boundary between Sagittarius-Capricorn, that relates to the tropical zodiac that differs from the sidereal, naked eye, sky that is up to 24 degrees in separation fir the current epoch. It is these two zodiacs that cause some confusion as to the actual alignment of the winter solstice to the “dark rift”.


The grand cross of 2010 has been described as a cardinal grand cross, but in the sidereal realm of the real sky, it was a mutable grand cross, with Sagittarius marking one of the arms where planets were found in the formation of that stellium. This was a harbinger of the full moon eclipse in the Heart-of-Sky when the sun occupied the Dark Rift. These are some of the reasons why this moment marks the point of a new cycle according to the Maya system of though.


In their day, there was a very clear view of the sky, so they were intimately familiar with all its aspects and as a result, oriented all their cities and lives around the real presence of the sky. Those of us in cities today are not connected at all with this as light pollution blots out all but the very brightest of stars. Gone is the view of the “Tree of Life” or the galactic band of the Milky Way. This then is why this guide has been constructed. Everyone should go to a dark place away from the great cities for the express purpose of viewing it first hand.

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Comments 3 comments

smanty profile image

smanty 5 years ago

My favorite topic to spike conversation with my friends has to do with our size in the universe. I think it is amazing what is out there, and looking at what has already been discovered is extraordinary. Great Hub, very informative, Thanks!


ASTRADEVA 4 years ago

if we have mapped the sky why is earth not pin pointed on the map or is every picture an enhanced view from here.


syzygyastro profile image

syzygyastro 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada Author

At the present time, we can only approximate our position. Every single picture of the cosmos is from our vantage point, the earth or near the earth. The probes furthest away are the Voyager probes, but they are low resolution and with cameras pointed toward the sun.

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