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Master Mayan Tzolkin Calendar

Master Tzolkin Calendar
by Jag Steward

The classical Tzolkin Calendar is one of the most important Mayan calendars for modern people to understand.

The Tzolk’in is the oldest of all the Mayan Calendars and is referred to as the Master Calendar. All the other Mayan calendars are synchronized to it. It isn’t typically what you’d think of when you think “calendar”. You couldn’t hang it on your wall, or carry it around as a day planner.

The Tzolkin is not a physical object carved in stone

Symbols from the Tzolkin are carved into the stonework of the ancient Mayan pyramids and stelea (sculpted stone monuments) but there is not one singular carving that you could call a calendar, per se.

The image you see to just below is often referred to as the Mayan Calendar. It is actually the Aztec Sun Stone and not a Mayan Calendar.

The Maya used books (made from tree bark) formed with accordion style folding leaves that were an ongoing record keeping system of the ebb and flow of the energies of time, called a “Codex.” All of these books were burned or destroyed during the the Spanish conquest, led by Cortez and Catholic bishops that accompanied him, in 1519 AD.

Only four of these Ancient Mayan books are known to exist today.

The Tzolkin describes the energies of Creation moving through cycles within cycles, based on a 13:20 ratio that permeates the entire Mayan calendrical system.

For illustration purposes, the 2D graphic below shows what the Tzolkin would look like visually as well as how it functions, as a round-within-a-round… a wheel-within-a-wheel. The Tzolkin, is the hub of all the Mayan calendars which serves to connect and clarify what the true Mayan Calendar actually is. Without taking the Tzolkin into consideration, the Mayan calendar becomes a set of numbers disconnected from profound deeper meaning.

The inside round is the 13 Tones, while the outside round is the 20 Glyphs (also called day signs)

As the wheels turn, the 13 Tones and 20 Glyphs match up producing a unique energetic signature, each day, for 260 days.

The Basic Mathematics :

13 tones x 20 glyphs = 260 Kin (distinct enregies)
(one of the meanings for Kin is “day”)

Tzolkin calendar

The Tones
In the image above, you see the dots and lines that represent the 13 Tones, in the inner wheel.

One dot = one.

Two dots = two.

Three dots = three

Four dots = 4

One bar = 5, and then dots are added to it for 6 – 9

Two bars = 10 (with additional dots added for 11-13)

Each day increases by one, up to the number thirteen, and then starts over again at tone one. The image below shows how the numbers 1-13 are written:

Mayan Numbering System

(The Maya are credited to be the first people on Earth to use a Zero. In their writting a zero is symbolized by a glyph that looks llike a conch shell)

Names of the Day-Signs/Glyphs

The outer wheel is the 20 Glyphs or day signs.

The names of the glyphs, in order, 1-20. The Maya name is followed by the English translation:

  1. Imix / Crocodile
  2. Ik / Wind
  3. Akbal / Night
  4. Kan / Seed
  5. Chicchan / Serpent
  6. Cimi / Death or Transformer
  7. Manik / Deer
  8. Lamat / Star
  9. Muluc / Offering
  10. Oc / Dog
  11. Chuen / Monkey
  12. Eb / Road
  13. Ben / Reed
  14. Ix / Jaguar
  15. Men / Eagle
  16. Cib / Wisdom
  17. Caban / Earth
  18. Etznab / Flint
  19. Cauac / Storm
  20. Ahau / Sun

The first day of a new Tzolkin round is: 1 Imix / 1 Crocodile (top left in the chart below)

moving downward to day two,

Day two is: 2 Ik / 2 Wind

This matching process continues downward through the first or left-most column. The 14th day is: 1 Ix or 1 Jaguar, which is the 14th glyph. The 13 Tones start over, while the glyphs continue through to the 20th before starting again at the first Day Sign, “8 Imix” at the top of the second column. The 1st column is called the 1st Heaven, The 2nd column is called the 2nd Heaven and so on through the 13th column which is called the 13th Heaven of the Tzolkin round.

Each of the 13 columns called Uinals also represent the 13 Heavens or the 7 days and 6 nights of Creation

Here’s how it looks laid out in the formation of a grid with each of the 13 columns representing a day or a night which are the 7 days and 6 nights of Creation. 7 + 6 = 13 Heavens. (this calendar is used for determining the energy of a single day ( the microcosmic scale) and can be used to look at larger and larger cycles all the way up to the 1.26 billion solar year cycle the Maya called the Hablatun. (the macrocosmic scale) Heaven one of the Tzolkin round can reflect the energetic signature of 20 individual days or the first 1.26 billion solar years (1 Hablatun) of Creation, and many many more cycles in between these two scales of time, all at the same time.

Tzolkin Chart

Don’t worry if this sounds confusing at first. If it’s confusing that’s because its unfamiliar territory for the modern mind! It will get clearer as you become more familiar with the Tzolkin round – an effort well worth making.

The Tones are more like music than numbers. The Tones represent characteristics or qualities of enrgies from Universal Mind, not quantities. The same can be said of the Glyphs (day signs) This can be a radical shift to the modern day mind. Where the Ancient Maya were deeply immersed in discerning the13 Tones, the energetic qualities of universal mind, we are deeply immersed in our present reality with numbers representing only quantities of things.

Take the numbeer Zero for instance. How much does zero equal to you?

Zip, nada, nothing? The only time zero has more value to us today is when it is on the plus side of the decimal. As in one dollar is a lot nicer whan accompanied by more zeros. i.e, $100, $1,000, $10,000. Or when a debt has been paid and the new balance is $0.00 (still symbolizing a quantity)

In Mayan Cosmology (Mayan perspective) the Zero represents fullness, all there is, everything, the whole, the entire universe.

This perceptional difference is huge, and can be quite a stretch for the modern mind, yet, the way this works, thankfully, is on an energetic level. On an other than logical level. By merely observing the tones and glyphs, being aware of them, is all it takes. Transformative growth occurs. Trying to apply a meaning or definition to them limits one’s ability for discovery, for openess, for growth.

Facts of Life – No two people will experience the Tones and Glyphs the same way. Even two people with the same Day Sign, same Tone and Glyph will not experience them the same way. These are living, moving, real energies. They are not static, fixed in time, material objects. When we give things names we cut ourselves off from experiencing them now, fully, in the moment. I say this to encourage you to be brave, look within, question, ask the source of all life that dwells in you to teach you.

We are living in a higher level of the 9 level cosmic pyramid now. We are living in the 8th level. When the Ancient Maya were living during the peak of their civilization it was during the time period of the 6th level of the cosmic pyramid. The energetic frequency of the current time period we are in now is pulsing at a much higher frequency. 400 times faster now. We can take clues from the Ancients, but we must also consider that we are the ones here now, not them. We are the ones living in the end of days. It is our job now to discover how to move through the transformational shift of these next four years. Attempting to duplicate or copy ancient tradition will prove to be unreliable and will not sustain those of us who are living here now in this higher frequency of Consciousness energy . It is not possible to know every single detail of how the Ancient Maya viewed the Glyphs and Tones. We have to find our own way through.This is what we are being called upon by Universal Mind to do.

The next phase of our Human Evolution is the evolution of the mind. Seeing where we are in time, what we are, how we are designed to evolve, and how to work within this beautiful human design through the way of intelligence, shows us what we can do now to individually build a strong living inner spiritual body.

Each day in the Tzolkin Round is unique, just like you. Each day has a new and unique energetic characteristic.
There are 260 unique combinations of Tones and Glyphs. You were born on one of those 260 unique days. You have a “tone” and a “day sign” and that represents your true Mayan Calendar birth-date, or to put it more succinctly, it represents the energetic qualities of the day that you departed from the uterine world to enter the Earth world and begin your life journey.

While people today in this modern age are relatively familiar with western astrology, the Maya had a different view of the relationship between ourselves and the cosmos that was not based on stars or planets, or anything physical.

In western astrology, your birth sign and personality traits are fixed according to how the planets are aligned with the stars at the time of day that you were born, and then interpolated to provide some spiritual meaning for you to apply to your life.

Your Mayan birth-date on the other hand, is not based on the position of the planets and stars. It is based on where you stepped into the flow of the River of Time. You will often see Mayan birth-dates referred to as Mayan ‘Astrology’, which is technically in-correct. The word astrology has as it’s root, the word astron, which means star.

astrology c.1375, from L. astrologia “astronomy,” from Gk. astrologia “telling of the stars,” from astron “star” + -logia “treating of,” comb. form of logon “one who speaks (in a certain manner).” Originally identical with astronomy, it had also a special sense of “practical astronomy, astronomy applied to prediction of events.” This was divided into natural astrology “the calculation and foretelling of natural phenomenon” (tides, eclipses, etc.), and judicial astrology “the art of judging occult influences of stars on human affairs” (also known as astromancy, 1652). Differentiation began late 1400s and by the 17th century this word was limited to “reading influences of the stars and their effects on human destiny.” (credit: the Online Etymology Dictionary)

Mayan TIme Science isn’t astrology. It isn’t astrological. It isn’t based on the stars at all, or the planets, or anything physical either.. It is being called “astrology” to give modern day people something to relate to. There is nothing in our common understanding that is familiar when we first encounter and begin learning about the Mayan Calendar. Calling Mayan time science “astrology” is a modern day form of “Branding”. Like Coke, IBM, or BMW, McDonalds or StarBucks. From an advertising/marketing point of view, branding makes something instantly recognizable to consumers.

Mayan Time Science is an entirely new and unfamiliar world based on nothing familiar to our common understanding of the World. It trully is an adventure into a bold new world. This exploration leads to grand vistas of discovery, insight, deep inner growth and transformation of Consciousness Awareness. It holds the potential to enliven and build an entirely new inner living spiritual body. It is worth every effort to gain understanding of how Universal Intelligence has designed itself into each of us, and how we are made to evolve. This is the journey for each of us living on earth today, in this present cycle of time, so close to the completion of the Divine Intelligent Plan of Creation.

Turning of the wheel
Now that you have a few basic facts about the Tzolkin calendar, let’s consider what this calendar might be timing.

Since there is nothing in our Solar System that goes around anything else in 260 days, many modern era scientists dismissed the Tzolkin early on, as having liitle to no importance whatsoever.

Why would the Maya use a 260 day calendar? And why would this serve as the master hub for all their other calendars? That question remained unanswered for years. Without investigating the true Mayan Calendar with an open mind to discover the deeper, hidden meaning of the calendrical system, accessing hidden knowledge would be impossible.

The Mayan Calendar, for the ancient Maya, was the source and basis of their religion, and sacred process of life. The Tzolkin was their “master calendar”.

The Tzolkin is not a “mechanical” version of time based on where our planet is, in relation to it’s physical orbit around our Sun. The Tzolkin calendar expresses fluid, spiralling-cycles of alternating life energy moving through space and time, that continuously flow and encompasses the ever-changing evolutionary process of living beings.

Here are some basic points about the Tzolkin calendar round…

  • The entire Tzolkin round is 260 days in length
  • There are 13 Uinals – A Uinal is a Mayan month, which is 20 days in length
  • There are 20 Tricena – A Tricena is a Mayan week which is 13 days in length. The word “tricena” is a Spanish word which is a close approximation to the un-translatable word in the Maya language. The closest we can come to the meaning of the word is, it means “13”

What’s the purpose in YOUR journey?
When a person was born in the ancient Maya culture, they were named after the Glyph and Tone of their birth. This practice instilled the individual’s awareness of the energy characteristics of their birth. Because they were raised up completely immersed in the understanding of the calendar and the World Tree, when people met and told their names, each knew the other’s characteristic birth energies..

Another point interesting to note when considering a society where people are aware. The ancient Mayan society held an extremely high regard for art and artisans.

An artisan was revered in the way a lawyer or doctor would be revered today and treated with great respect. The arts, artisans and the creative process were considered central and sacred to the classical-period culture of 40 AD to 830 AD.

Art was highly regarded, valued and supported in this ancient culture. The roots of the ancient Mayan civilization were grounded and embedded in an energetic perspective of time, encoded in the World Tree, the Tzolkin and the Tun (for more information about the perspective of the Tzolkin, the Tun and how inseperable they were from the The World Tree for understanding the energies of creation in daily living, see this article).

Following the Tzolkin…

At the beginning of any journey into an unfamiliar world, the best way to begin is with simplicity. The Tzolkin is beautifully constructed as it provides an immediate way to start using it in your own life. Let me explain…

Following each day, as it turns in the Tzolkin calendar, is a powerful step in aligning your life with the changing daily energies of universal mind. This is about much more than counting “time” as you may think of time now. Following each day in the Tzolkin will become an experience as you pay attention to the movements of energy from day-to-day within your own life. You open yourself to working with the very real daily energies by simply being aware of the symbols of the Glyphs and Tones according to the Tzolkin calendar round.

As you follow the days one-by-one, your sense of time and your sense about time, will begin to transform. The subtle changes are accumulative; meaning this builds.

There is no reason to complicate this at first. Simply follow the days, read descriptions for the “tones” and “glyphs” and investigate them, observe them, watch for them, for yourself, one day at a time.

Encoded in our DNA?
As mentioned earlier, the Tzolkin calendar is a 260 day calendar. There is nothing in our Solar System – or for that matter, anywhere in the Universe that we know of that goes around anything else, in 260 days.

The current limited view of cosmology, the Mother of all modern day sciences, is based on the 320 year old Newtonian Law of Gravity, the science of Mechanics. .This says that everything, everywhere in the Universe is held together by something mechanical. This cosmology anchors our perspective into a material, physical view of the Universe. It means everything in modern day thinking, is understood through mechanical laws. This view has become more rigid in our world than Dogma. In our present day World, this dogma is a holy grail, not to be questioned. Any one who does is ridiculed and banned from the academic world and denied access to facilities and resources for their research.

Sir Isaac Newton, 1642-1727  The British mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton stands as one of the greatest scientists of all time. Newton spent most of his working life at Cambridge University. In 1665, the year he received his bachelor’s degree, an outbreak of the bubonic plague caused Cambridge to close for two years. Newton returned to his family home in Lincolnshire and, working alone, did some of his most important scientific work. Perhaps his greatest achievement was to demonstrate that scientific principles have universal applications. His universal law of gravitation states that there is an attractive force acting between all bodies in the universe. According to the famous–and possibly true–story, he observed an apple falling from a tree and, remarkably, connected the force drawing the apple to the ground with that keeping the Moon in its orbit. Along with his law of gravitation, Newton’s three laws of motion, which laid the basis for the science of mechanics, bridged the gap between scientific thinking about terrestrial and celestial dynamics. The laws are: (1) A body at rest or moving in a straight line will continue to do so unless acted upon by an external force; (2) The acceleration of a moving object is proportional to and in the same direction as the force acting on it and inversely proportional to the object’s mass; and (3) For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For nearly 400 years these laws have remained unchallenged; even Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is consistent with them. Newton stated his laws of motion in his 1687 masterpiece, the Principia Mathematica, in which he also introduced his formulation of the calculus (what we now call simply “calculus,” a different version of which was simultaneously developed by Leibnitz). In optics, Newton demonstrated that white light contains all the colors of the spectrum and provided strong evidence that light was composed of particles. (credit: The American Heritage Science Dictionary)

No wonder archaeologists and scientists alike saw nothing when they discovered the 260 day Tzolkin calendar. It wasn’t given any consideration untill the 1970’s, and not untill even more recently when independent researchers brought a great deal more light to bear on this unusual calendar.

We will also be very limited in what we are able to perceive in the Maya Cosmology by this prevailing mechanical conditioning that exists in us. Only when we become aware the conditioning exists can we begin to first see it functioning within, and in so doing, become released from the confines and restraints of the mind to peek through at entirely new worlds, new realms of possibility, new levels of being.

Looking beyond the commonly accepted view that a calendar only counts physical time, there are other interesting connections to be seen in the 260 day Master Tzolkin Calendar. Two examples…

  • (1) – Humans are the only creature on planet with 260 different/distinct families of cells.
  • (2) – The gestation period of humans is very close to the 260 day Tzolkin cycle.

How do these two points relate to a calendar?

In point of fact, the Tzolkin is really something quite unique. It is accurate to say the Tzolkin is less a calendar and more an energy-tracking-device.

The Tzolkin is the measure, intention and flow of Creation, for each day. Said another way, it has been keeping track of the bio-rhythms that exist within Creation’s entire evolutionary process for billions of years.

The Tzolkin offers a profound and solid foundation upon which to synchronize your flow with that of Universal Mind. It is a way to see how you are involved in and a part of the flow of universal consciousness evolution. It opens up more potential for how to live in harmony within.

Today, people everywhere in our modern society, disconnected from Sacred Time are actually working against the flow of Creation and entirely unaware that is the case. One simple action-step you can take to move your life in the direction of alignment is a 2 STEP process for re-constructing a relationship with the energies of Universal Mind.

To learn more go to “What Is My Mayan Birthdate?“.


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