The Tzolkin or Sacred Mayan Calendar

By Sandra Musser

The Tzolkin is a mysterious 260 day calendar based on twenty named lords with character traits that mesh with a cycle of thirteen numbers. Both repeat in a continuous cycle with no end. This calendar is synchronized with two other Mayan calendars. They ALL have a significant cosmic events happening on the Mayan end date of December 21, 2012.

This is the oldest and most used Mayan calendar today. It's unsure exactly its purpose in ancient times, but here are a few popular possibilities:

  • The number of days, 260 also follows the period of gestation in a human pregnancy after the last missed period.
  • It could represent a planting or some other cycle, but some believe it wasn't tied to agriculture.
  • It was also used for timing rituals.
  • Most likely, it was used for a similar purpose as astrology today, but using calendar signs instead of constellations.

This calendar was created almost 3,000 years ago. Vincent Malmstrom, a geographer, felt Izapa had to have created the 260 day Tzolkin calendar because of the 260 day interval between the August and May zenith passages from Izapa's location. These two zenith passages would have represented the sun passing through the Heart of Heaven, from its birth to its rebirth.

Tedlock says,"This calendar doesn't appear to have any cosmic link." (1982, pp. 174-177).

I feel he's wrong.

The Tzolkin meshed with the Haab calendar to form a 52 year calendar that also traced the solar year. The combination of the two calendars was widely used and was called the Calendar Round.

I don't see this calendar as just a calendar as we know it. Similar to astrology/Tarot cards mixed, the Tzolkin's twenty cycle signs called lords, had specific tendencies or character traits for that cycle of thirteen days each. I'm sure that each person had a Tzolkin reading at birth.

That reading probably foretold a person's future whether challenging or otherwise. The book Jaguar Wisdom gives you the possible meaning of the twenty different cycle symbols or lords in this calendar. He also provides a way to calculate your own birthday tendencies. I see the Tzolkin more as the personal or earth calendar.

I see this Sacred calendar as more of a past, present and future manual or journal. The Tzolkin would mesh perfectly with the other two calendars. The spiritual aspirant or anyone would have known where they are on their path, and what general challenges to expect in their lifetime. If time is cyclical as the Maya believe, this calendar could well be a guide...a course on spiritual ascension showing ones own soul's journey or progress.

The Tzolkin just may be part of the original Council Book.

The book would have been like a Mayan bible. I feel within it's mysterious symbols and numbers are clues of what the original

Council Book or Popul Vuh may have been about?

This book would have been like a Mayan bible. It would have been given to aspirants who went to ceremonial centers like Izapa to learn more about how the Universe affected us personally.

But, let's take this a step further...could the greater meaning be beyond the intellect? Hmmmmmmm.

"The intent of the gods is to create a human being who is fully realized. The concept of successive worlds records the progress of human spiritual evolution, and the changes in Great Cycle mark significant evolutionary leaps - moments when powerful transformations occur, when one world or level of consciousness goes through a kind of death in order that a higher level of development may take shape." Jaguar Wisdom, Kenneth Johnson

This calendar is mostly a mystery to us today, more so than the other Mayan calendars. What's hidden in the symbols and numbers of this calendar? I can't help but feel Mayan scholars have missed the mark on it's true purpose.

Today’s Maya use this calendar. But do they even use it in the proper way? If the prophecy for December 21, 2012 that the Maya predict comes to pass, we may at last KNOW the true meaning of this and the other Mayan calendars. Why? Because we will finally free ourselves from the limiting bonds of the ego, and reconnect to the Ancestors, the collective consciousness.

The symbol of 4 Ancestors happens to be the Sacred calendars symbol for December 21, 2012. The Ancestors is the most revered symbol in this calendar. Why? Because is represent the accumulated wisdom of all life on earth from the beginning of time. This is the future the Maya saw for us.

Wikipedia, Tedlock (1982, pp. 174-177)
Jaguar Wisdom, Kenneth Johnson
Tzolkin: Visionary Perspectives and Calendar Studies, John Major Jenkins

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