Day Signs: Native American Astrology from Ancient Mexico

Bruce Scofield


This is the new and expanded version of Day-Signs, originally published in 1991. In this edition there are some content and organizational changes in the introductory chapters, the listings of people born under each of the day-signs has been expanded, and the day-sign look-up tables now go to 2029. The original delineations of the 20 day-signs remain at the heart of the book, and these have been updated to include the author’s latest insights. They are the first ever to be described in psychological terms, and the only ones produced by the analysis of over 400 examples.

For those interested in astrology, it may come as a surprise to learn that the Maya and Aztecs of ancient Mexico and Central America had developed a comprehensive system of signs and cycles, very little of which has survived in the indigenous population to the present day. Tantalizing pieces of this astrological system do exist but there are many parts missing. One thing is known, however, and that is the central role of the 20 named days called day-signs. It is the reconstruction and reinterpretation of these symbolic images that is the subject of this book.

The 20 day-signs are like a zodiac – a cycle of development that moves through various stages from origin to completion. Each of the day-signs has distinct qualities and as the 20 signs cycle through the calendar dates, they move with a secondary cycle of 13 numbers that deepen meanings. Finally, after 13 cycles of the 20 day-signs and 20 cycles of the 13 numbers, the larger cycle, called the Tzolkin by the Maya and Tonalpouhalli by the Aztecs, begins again. This 260-day cycle is at the core of the ancient astrology of the Americas and an understanding of it is a prerequisite to comprehending the other components of the system.

Here, in this book, is a modern interpretation of each of the signs, translated from an ancient mindset into the shared reality of the present. Even though the rediscovery of ancient native American astrology is far from complete, readers will be fascinated that significant variations in personality, discovered in a strange culture a long time ago, are just as relevant today.

Weight 450 g
  • ISBN 13: 9781910531198

Bruce Scofield began a lifelong study of astrology in 1967 and since the mid 1970s has been an astrological consultant specializing in psychological analysis, relationships and electional astrology. He is the author of, or contributor to, many books and a large number of articles on astrology and other topics. He has served on the education committee of the National Center for Geocosmic Research (NCGR) since 1979 as both member and director, presently serving as president of the Professional Astrologers Alliance (PAA), has Level 4 certification from NCGR–PAA, professional certification from American Federation of Astrologers and holds an M.A. in history and a Ph.D. in geosciences. Since 2000 he has taught science at the University of Massachusetts and astrology–related courses for Kepler College. His website contains information on Mesoamerican astrology and other topics.

Visit Bruce’s author page for details of his books and links to his interviews.

Already much lauded by the likes of Anthony Louis and Michael Lutin since its first outing in 1997, Day-Signs revives a distinctive Native-American astrological tradition which flourished in ancient Mesoamerica, today’s Mexico and northern Central America. Though our understanding of this system is not complete, Scofield has reconstructed its 260-day astrological calendar and 20 named days (tonalli or day-signs) which are like a zodiac and lead us to greater cycles of deepened meaning. The focus is on practical demonstration, hence the tables at the back of the book to enable readers to discover how the system’s personality delineation applies to them. There are similarities to Western astrology – for instance, each person has a Sun- and Moon-sign. As Lutin writes of Day-Signs: “[This] is a useful tool that can give deep insights into personality and added meaning to personal destiny”.

Victor Olliver   The Astrological Journal



The Meso-Americans apparently had a sophisticated astrological system which was destroyed by the Spanish Conquest. In this work (and he has written other books on this subject) the author resurrects the ancient knowledge.

In this system there are 20 signs (instead of the 12 we are familiar with in Western Astrology). Each of these signs recurs every 13 days. 20 times in the course of a year. Each sign can be the ruler of a 13 day period (this was the equivalent of the MesoAmerican week) or merely a ruler of a particular day in the cycle. By determining the ruler of the 13 day cycle and the day sign of the cycle, a person can learn of his or her character traits, abilities and flaws. In the back there is an ephemeris where the reader can look up their cycle and day sign and then read the interpretations provided. This can be done personally or for friends and acquaintances.While this won’t replace our traditional Natal Horoscope, it makes a nice addition to it. It can give some additional “flavor” to the reading.

Part 2 of the book – most of the book – is devoted to these delineations. It is amazing that one can calculate harmonious and difficult periods with this system simply by transposing Natal aspects to the day signs. Even progressed Horoscopes can be done in this manner.(Though he doesn’t mention it, the Solar Return could also be done this way.)This part of the book is suitable even for the casual reader.

But for me Part 1 was the most interesting. This is juicy philosophy, well written, clear, intelligent. The author has thought deeply about this. He gets into the philosophical reasons for the 260 day calendar (20 weeks of 13 days each). These have some astronomical basis. 9 lunations (the approximate gestation period for a birth) comes out (roughly) to 260 days. Venus’ orbit around the Sun (263 days) is probably another reason.

As I read this I questioned why we in the West (and in India) have 12 signs and a 12 month year. Was it arbitrary? Well for one thing, there are 12 constellations in the sky and we could have transposed that to our tropical zodiac. (At one time, thousands of years ago, there was little difference between a tropical sign and the corresponding constellation.) But there could have been another reason too. 12 is a very natural division of the circle. If you take a circle and using a compass and a ruler , you draw two interlaced triangles (the Seal of Solomon) – a six pointed star.* This shape in Kabbala is ruled by the Sun. Though the star has 6 points 60 degrees apart, there are 6 nodes. Draw a line through each of the points and nodes and you have the 12 signs of 30 degrees each. I lean to this explanation as it involves sacred geometry.

If I understood him properly, this astrology is really a divination system. It doesn’t seem to have any regard for the actual positions of the planets and their aspects. Its origins are astronomical, but the system itself seems divorced from it. I can accept this as a Divination system, like Tarot Cards (each of which is also attributed to either a sign or a planet and to the 4 elements) or numerology, but astrology? The whole premise of astrology, as I understand it, is that the movements of the planets are intimately related to events on earth. “As above so below”. But here there is no relationship between the two.

Still this is a very good read. It’s intelligent. A must read for those who want to learn more about MesoAmerican astrology (and theology in general). And, it will probably work as a Divination system.


* This is a very natural process. Draw a circle with your compass. Using the same radius place the compass anywhere on the circle. Draw an arc that intersects the circle at two points. Then place the compass on one of the points you marked and do the same. Then go to the next point that you marked and do the same. Continue until you’re back where you started. Then draw a line (you need a ruler for this) and connect alternating points. You will have two interlaced triangles – the Solar Form.

From the Preface

Day–Signs: Native American Astrology from Mexico concentrates only on the 260–day calendar as a personality matrix built on natural cycles. I have tried to present the material clearly and simply and with an emphasis on practice, not theory. The delineations of the day–signs are, to my knowledge, far more detailed than anything published previously and, I believe, they open up a new human typology for astrologers, psychologists and others who work with human nature. The success of these delineations is evidenced by the number of times I have been  plagiarized by other writers. In some cases, authors using a completely different calendar correlation have published delineations that were clearly taken from my work.
The West has much to learn from the Native–American tradition. In this book I share my own personal discovery of one aspect of their cultural and cosmic perspective.