Posts Tagged ‘tzolkin’

12/20 – the sequel

December 21, 2013

A Mayan stone calendar

Well, it has been an interesting year since “the end of the world” or something like that.

Many of the Maya prophets were expecting the “actual end” to fall on the end-date of the tzolkin in which 12/20/12 occurred, which would have been March 31st, 2013.

But nothing happened then either.

So the end of the next tzolkin was looked at and that would be yesterday, the first-aversary of the original end-date.

The day is over and it certainly does not look like anything untoward happened.

As much good work as the Maya put into their wonderful calendar, it seems to have proven to be flawed in some regard. And as a predictive tool it is found to be a bit short in effectiveness.

Don Alejandro and the 31st of March 2013

February 25, 2013

I see there is some interest in the Mayan predictions for the end of March this year.

After the build-up to the 21st of December last year – and nothing happening, I might add – most people have abandoned the subject.

Still, several astute students noticed that the Long Count ended in the middle of the tzolkin, the Maya’s 260-day calendar. And some have realized that perhaps the final day of that calendar might be of interest.

Actually, the Maya mystic, Don Alejandro, spoke about this date as early as the mid 1990’s as a very special day. He said the Sun would experience an eclipse.

But not just any eclipse.

This eclipse was supposed to last 60 to 70 hours not the several minutes usually allotted for this phenomenon.

Some people do not understand what this “eclipse” thing has to do with anything. Readers of my volume 12-20-2012; Our Last Golden Sunset? (posted on this blog in December 2012) will know the answer to that question. It is at the heart of the entire Mayan corpus concerning the Sun Ages.

Yes, “Sun Ages”. Not “New Age” or “Golden Age” as many writers on the subject would have you believe.

When they wrote about the New Sun – the ending of one and the birth of a New Sun – they meant exactly that: the death of the Sun… and the birth of a New Sun.

This is the simplest way to describe what they saw happen in the past and what they predicted for the future. The Sun will seem to go dark for a time before it is reborn as a “new” Sun.

I am not certain where Don Alejandro got the duration for the event as the ancient Maya indicate the previous time it happened the Sun was dark for a considerably longer period.

Still, will it happen on the 31st of March?

Maybe so.

If our calendar is correctly aligned with their tzolkin, it might be so.

But we really won’t know for sure until the 31st of March.

Or perhaps not until the next day, commonly called “April Fool’s Day”.

And that is not intended as a joke.

Still Waiting for the End?

February 22, 2013

Most people have moved on from the phenomenon once called “the End of the Mayan Calendar” and are actively searching for the next big end of the world date to worry about.

But I think they may have jumped the gun and abandoned the Mayan prediction a little too soon.

As anyone who has read my drivel for the past few years knows, the “ending” was not supposed to be the end of the world but the rebirth of the Sun. Of course that would entail a “death” of the Sun, in a manner of speaking, and the Maya told us it would be a wild runaway patch of sunspots.


At the present time, we are entering into the active portion of the sunspot maximum – a cycle that comes every 10-14 years – and results from the interplay of the magnetic fields on the Sun. When they get a little tangled before their reversal, sunspots appear.

And, as I mentioned recently, the Maya mystics are calling for this end of the Sun cycle to occur when the current tzolkin reaches it’s end on March 31st of this year.

See? There may still be some life in the prophecy after all.

the Fire Cycle

January 1, 2012

The “Fire Cycle” is formed by the conjunction of the 260-day tzolkin and the 360-day haab every fifty-two years.

Although the existence of the repeating cycle and it’s recurrence every fifty-two years is well known, the ceremony associated with it has caused no end of confusion.

The ceremony was quite simple: everyone in the region doused all their flames, all their fires, all their lights on the appointed evening. Then everyone waited.

The priests at the local ceremonial center watched the skies to ascertain that the Earth was not going to be destroyed. Then, when they were certain the Earth was spared yet again, they lit the central fire.

People from all over the region lit torches from this new fire and carried the flame back to their villages to re-ignite the fires all over the countryside.

This scene happened at not one, but at all the Mayan ceremonial centers.

But what was this huddling in the darkness to see if the world would be destroyed?

There are plenty of theories on the subject, most of them centering on some superstitious mumbo-jumbo about a bad storm in the past – perhaps a bad hurricane or some such – and they feared it would return.

Even Velikovsky weighed in on this one, thinking it coincided with the returning of the planet Mars to come into close contact with Earth.

But still no one mentions a correlation to the most curious aspect of this scenario.

Why gather in the dark and wait until the first glow of dawn is evidenced in the east?

Sure the whole thing may be some sort of mumbo-jumbo but even superstition is based in something that makes some sense.

Yes, a hurricane does sometimes make the sky very dark. But they are not protecting themselves from wind, rain, or any of the elementary forces in that regard.

From the records I have seen, it does not appear that this ceremony goes too far distant in the past. Not anything like near the starting period of the Classic Period. In fact, it seems to become prevalent in the later Classic Period.

In other words, after the Maya had already abandoned the Long Count.

Could it be that some ceremony concerned with the Long Count was transferred to the fifty-two year correlation of the other two calendars?

And if that were the case, what could be the importance of the darkness?

If you have not seen any of my articles before this one, the answer may surprise you. (Please read further details in the other articles if you find it too highly unlikely.)

It could be that they fear the Sun will go out sooner than the end of the Long Count. For some reason they seem to have the idea that it will happen at one of the fifty-two year celebrations.

And perhaps they forgot that was what the Long Count was for: counting the days to the end of the Sun. Literally.

How could they ever forget something as major as that?

Good question. Perhaps when they lost faith in the Long Count, they lost faith in a lot of things it was supposed to stand for and that would include the coming of the New Sun, Fifth Sun.

Which was due right after Fourth Sun was extinguished.

Astronomical Cycles

April 11, 2010

Given that all calendar systems in the world are built around celestial motions – day and year from the Sun, the month from the Moon, primarily – it is likely that the Mayan Calendar was designed to align with similar phenomena.

Noting their attention to the cycles of the planets – Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn – I would say it is close to a sure bet. They were obsessed with celestial motions. But then so were the majority of ancient civilizations.

But it is also a pretty fair assumption that, from modern scientific theories aside, the celestial motions we see today was not what the ancients were seeing. What evidence is there? Quite a bit, actually.

First of all, many ancient civilizations kept track of the days in a year – as well as the days in a month – and they were all in agreement that the year was 360 days long and the month had thirty days. Then, at the same period, all the calendars went haywire.

Historians say it was simply a case of miscounting. Really? I might believe that if they all had different numbers for the year but most were in agreement of 360 days. And when the numbers went crazy, it was the same the world around. And after a few years they all came up with the new numbers for the year and month lengths… and they were, again, in agreement.

It was not that the ancients did not know how to count, what they were counting was something we can no longer see. And what did they see? I don’t know if we’ll ever know. Some creative mathematician could probably put the data into a formula and come up with an answer, but that is not my strength.

One person even suggested that the length of the year was 260 days in the far distant past and the reason for the length of the tzolkin, but I have not found corroborating evidence.

If Velikovsky is correct, we can understand their fascination – or horror – with the planets Venus, Mars, and Mercury. But why the reverence – or is it apprehension? – of the Pleiades? It is not like they could have gone out of orbit and had a close encounter with Earth… they are not in orbit. But could something have come from the direction of the Pleiades in the past that made them wary of that constellation?

Their myths would seem to indicate something of the sort but, once again, exactly what is not quite known.

I wonder if someone has done an astrological or astronomical study on this subject?

a Question of Mathematics

April 8, 2010

Many say the number 13 used by the Maya comes from the joints of the body or the number of heavens or hells… that’s the reverse of reality. Their calendar was not based on earthly concepts or structures, it was – as most other calendars around the world – based on celestial phenomena, cosmology. The day is based on the Sun, as is the year (because of the inclination of our axis), the month is based on the Moon (even if it is not very exact to a month today).

They understood that cosmic cycles varied slightly from one occurrence to another and they used an average in the calendar. After building the entire structure of baktuns and katuns, they used something cosmological to define the numbers of each of these cyclical components.

The 260 days of the tzolkin were not there because of the maize-growing period or for the length of human gestation. It was there because there are 260 katuns in the calendar.

Astrologers are familiar with the “one day equals a year” in the formulation of progressed horoscopes for individuals. The Mayans understood this as well. That’s why the tzolkin is the calendar they use as an augury and its larger magnitude-mirror, the katun, has separate meanings as well. The Chilam Balam is filled with katun prophecies and parallels the tzolkin.

One has 260 separate meanings, and so does the other.

The cosmos is mirrored onto the planet. Their word “kin” means Sun, and time, and day. The passage of the Sun overhead defines the day, and represents the passing of time. But there is a deeper meaning here. The Sun actually defines time itself in what it passes to the other spheres in the Solar System. This is understood in astrology as well.

The giant celestial clock of the Solar System is controlled and defined by the Sun itself. The manifestations of its character are present in the very motions of all its parts. To understand the intertwining cycles took the Maya several centuries to map completely but they accomplished the task.

If they had done this during the previous Sun, as Carlos Barrios says in the Book of Destiny, they would not have needed so much time to complete the calculations. The reason it took so long was because the Sun we now have is different than the previous Sun and a whole new set of calculations had to be made.

And when the next Sun comes along, they will have to do it all over again.

The Mesoamerican Calendar(s)

April 1, 2010

There is not a single calendar used by the Maya, there were several. The tzolkin is the augury calendar, the haab is their solar calendar, and the Long Count is the one with the rapidly approaching end date. And there were other minor calendars and cycles they kept track of over the centuries.

There is no problem with the tzolkin. It ends every 260 days (less than nine months) and a new one starts, just like our calendars. The end-date for this calendar is nothing to worry about.

The haab likewise begins anew at the end of every year without dire circumstance.

The “Calendar Round” is a larger calendar cycle. The tzolkin and the haab run in parallel and end together on the same date every fifty-two years. This marks the time when they usually had their fire ceremony: putting out the fires in all the surrounding villages and waiting until the dawn, the appearance of the Sun again, to start a new fire in the city and carry the new flame to all the countryside. Apparently, they feared the Sun would not return that night. But why?

That still leaves us with the Long Count. Where did it come from? And for what purpose would they need to keep track of such long periods?

According to most theorists, the creators invented the calendar in the second century BCE and simply ‘back-dated’ the beginning from some mythical point. Some claim it dates from the birth of the planet Venus.

Jenkins and others think it was nothing more than the first rising of the planet Venus following some other event, as yet undiscovered. It seems like a rather lame start of an exhaustive enterprise to back-date the start of the Long Count to something so minor. It would lead one to believe that the ending of the calendar will be something as equally insignificant.

The Maya also understood precession of the equinoxes. This is the slight wobble of the pole of the planet which moves at a certain rate. The North Pole currently points at Polaris, the North Star, and in the past pointed elsewhere; in describes a circle in the sky over a period of about 26,000 years. But why is precession important? Other than show the mechanics of our rotating world in the cosmos, does it actually do anything for us?

Some theorize that the precessional cycle is a major cycle the world goes through. Although the numbers do not match up with any culture’s mythology it is an attractive idea.

But since the Maya understood precession, why didn’t they say the Long Count was aligned in some manner to the precessional cycle. Unfortunately, they do not. That is the idea of modern theorists on the subject.

Twenty and 260

March 4, 2010

In the History Channel episode on Decoding the Mayan Doomsday, John Major Jenkins follows the lead of many scholars in associating the 260 day length of the tzolkin with the human gestation period. The average number for that cycle is 266 days but, as any parent knows, the number can be dramatically different. As exacting as the Maya were with their numbers, I cannot believe they would approximate something like that. But then, I have been known to be wrong. It really is just anyone’s guess.

Others have mentioned that 260 days is the time from planting to harvesting maize although another mentions it as the length of time one should rest the field before planting more maize. I have been unable to verify either of these statements.

Another supposition is the 260 days from the zenith passage of the Sun until its next zenith passage – this actually creates two periods: one of 260 days and the other of 105 days, but this is at locations near 14° North. This one is more attractive than the other theories because there are Mayan sites along that parallel.

Unfortunately, I can find nothing in the calendar that equates to the other 105 day period, nor any suggestion why the Maya would think that period was unnecessary to keep track of as well as the longer period.

Another theory has it reflected in the period of Venus as both Morning Star and Evening Star. This period is rather close to the 260 days required but not exact. Perhaps the orbit of Venus exactly fit this measurement in the past, but we cannot know for sure.

About the number twenty, Jenkins follows the usual explanation of it being the “total man”, ten fingers plus ten toes equals twenty, therefore a representation of man. His theory might be correct in this as well as in the 260 for the tzolkin.

Still, I am hesitant to jump on either bandwagon. The correspondence of the numbers to something as meaningful as pregnancy, maize cultivation, or counting on ones on digits is hard to improve on, but I still have the idea that the numbers correspond to something in the cosmos. As agriculturally intuitive as they seemed to be, there seems very little in their mathematics based on the seasons or agriculture.

Many theories abound. Venus is seen by many to be at the center of this question. Some of the better work on this can be found at John Major Jenkins’ website,, and specifically at, as well as at Keith M. Hunter’s website,

But there is nothing I can find in the cosmos to align with the twenty or the 260. Perhaps the cosmos has changed significantly since the Maya began their calendar system. It has been noted that they had occasion over the centuries to make adjustments to their calendar by a day or two to keep it in rhythm. Still, they did not seem to fiddle with the 260 day count of the tzolkin.

So where did it come from? Any ideas?

Why 360 Days?

February 28, 2010

Many historians are astonished to find that the early Maya, otherwise so exact in their day-counts, should mistakenly give the length of a year as 360 days. Later, they very neatly computed the exact length of a year even better than modern man had, until midway through last century.

So, why the 360 day “mistake”? Well, it was no mistake at all. It is merely a mistake in our perception of the cosmos.

Before you shake your head in disbelief and stop reading, consider that the Maya were not the only ones to come up with that number. Other observers from China through the Middle Eastern civilizations also had that number. And, surprisingly, they all got into a quandary about the same time when the year suddenly grew longer.

If it was only one isolated group that had made the embarrassing error it would be one thing but when all the literate civilizations went through the same adjustment, at the same time, the only rational explanation is that the year had suddenly changed from 360 days to 365 days! Impossible as it may seem – especially to the Sagan-oriented among you – but that is the best explanation for the situation.

Immanuel Velikovsky had developed an interesting theory to resolve this apparent insanity of the ancients. In his Worlds in Collision (1950), he explained that some of the planets had left their orbits (through what agency he promised to reveal in a later volume) and one had pulled or pushed the Earth into an orbit slightly further out from the Sun, thus changing the period of our revolution from 360 days to about 365.25 days.

The Babylonians had neatly correlated the earlier 360 days into 12 periods of 30 days – and this is why our circles have 360°, one degree for every day of the year. They did not adjust their numbering system or the degrees in a circle to reflect the new calculations. Can you imagine working in a geometry with the circle having 365.25° in it?

Another interesting thing was that the Moon had a 30 day period at that time, slightly longer that in today’s cosmos. And, yes, the orbit of the Moon changed at the same time as Earth’s year.

Which brings up an interesting point: it the Babylonians used the Moon’s period for the month, why didn’t the Maya do the same? Rather than twelve months of 30 days each, they used eighteen months of twenty days each. Why? It’s not like they couldn’t see the Moon in the sky, right?

Well, again we can turn to Velikovsky’s book to discover an answer. You’re not going to like the answer, I am certain. The scientists in his time did not like it either – but then neither did the historians.

Early inhabitants of the Greek Arcadia (Pelasgains, according to Aristotle) claim to have held the land before the Earth had a Moon. Most historians count this as myth, giving the myth-maker a chance to describe how we got the Moon.

But the Maya also had this period before there was a Moon, otherwise it should have been utilized in their calendar and figured more prominently in their stories of the early cosmos.

The Babylonians developed their calendar and mathematics based on the temporal patterns of the Sun and Moon yet the Maya system apparently predates it, as they seem to have developed it “before the Earth had a Moon”.

At least that is one explanation. If you have another idea, please share it with me.

Dreamspell – the Reincarnation of Pacal Votan

December 16, 2009

José Argüelles, who I credit with starting the “Mayan Calendar phenomenon”, has diverged from the crowd further with the creation of his Mayan Calendar for the New Age. He has interpreted what the intent of the original calendar was and created a calendar for the New Age based on it. Perhaps it was his realization that he was the reincarnation of Pacal Votan that led him to this insight.

The Dreamspell Calendar differs from the modern calendar in that it has 13 months of 28 days each. This 364 day calendar starts every year on July 26th, the heliacal rising of Sirius (a touch from the Egyptian Calendar). But it also differs significantly from the traditional Mayan Calendar.

A lot of people subscribe to his vision but a lot of Mayan phenomena authors are in disagreement. Jenkins and Calleman disagree but that could be because their own interpretations have already diverged in different directions.

The field is constantly evolving, it would seem.

Some think José has gone off the deep-end with this talk of being the reincarnation of a famous Mayan King, but – hey! – if you believe in reincarnation, you know everybody is reincarnated from somebody before. Even Pacal claimed to be the reincarnation of an earlier king who had claimed to be an even earlier king (himself claiming to be the reincarnation of Kukulcan, or Quetzalcoatl). He did not claim to be Napoleon or Jesus or anyone like that and as he was the one who brought the Mayan Calendar to our notice, why not?

As for the changing the calendar, that’s his prerogative – incarnation of Pacal or not – but I don’t think it was what the Mayans were talking about. The Dreamspell Calendar is a re-working of the haab calendar with a touch of the tzolkin. The haab was the standard yearly calendar of the Maya and the tzolkin was their augury (fortune-telling) calendar. The Maya had certainly divorced them from the Long Count during the peak of their civilization, but it was the one with major importance to this study. Neither the haab nor the tzolkin have and End-Date, as does the Long-Count.

If anyone else wishes to restructure the tzolkin or haab, it won’t mean anything to the study of the End-date any more than does the creation by Argüelles.

As there are many adherents who have followed him along the Dreamspell path I am certain it is meaningful to many.

But it has nothing to do with my studies into the End-Date.