Tzolk’in is the divine one and the oldest one among the Mayan calendars. It is not typically what you'd think of when you think "calendar". You couldn't hang it on the wall, or carry it around as a day planner. It is amazing that Mayas never used the wheel to move stone but they did use the great wheel of time to order every detail of their lives. Tzolk’in is the hub of Maya time. It looks like a round-within-a-round... a wheel-within-a-wheel.
Continuously renewing, it has cycled through seasons and thousands of years, through Maya Kings and Spanish conquerors, democracy and dictators, two World Wars, man’s walk on the moon and right now the dawn of the 21st Century.
Literally, Tzolk’in means recitation of days. Tzolk’in calendar is a ritual calendar having 260 days. It is formed into 13 months of 20days each.
At first, experts could not match the 260 day cycle to any astronomical thing. Many theories were put forward:
It could be the result of multiplying 20 (days) and 13 (months). The 260 days period can be critical, with 20 and 13 chosen. These numbers are the smallest common denominators. And also 20 and 13 are two important numbers for Mayas. There are different theories as with all things Maya.
Another idea was that 20 is a human based number for example the number of our fingers and toes. Literally 20 is “a person full of days”. In Maya Language “Unial” means 20days and it comes from the same root as “Uinic”, the word for man. “Hun Uinic” means 20. Additionally, the 13 of the Tzolk’in is for the 13 major gestures that you can make with your legs and arms, or articulations. When we put together this numbers, 13:20 is the time of the Tzolk’in links each of us human beings to the cycles of the planets of our solar system. It describes the energies of creation moving through cycles within cycles, based on a 13:20 ratio.
Also, each of the 20days has a corresponding direction and in this way 260 unites time with space. The number of 260 has several significant cycles. About 266 days before birth, a human baby is in the womb. About 263 days Venus is the morning star. During the summer growing season the Sun at noon is north of overhead for 260 days at 15 degrees latitude. 13 consecutive Jupiter-Saturn cycles of 20 years is 260 years. But with all these correlations, the 260 day cycle of the Tzolk’in has yet to be proven to relate to any natural phenomenon. Each day in the Tzolkin Round is unique, and has a new also unique energetic characteristic.
After some time, experts realized that it had something to do with the sun and the earth’s changeable magnetic fields at the equator and the poles. However, certainty came only after mankind’s progress in astronautics, space researches and space travels. It is hard to think of how the Mayans were aware of those magnetic fields thousands years ago.
For Mayas the “kin” is the basic unit of time and in Maya language a “kin” means a sun since kin is the name of the sun. Hours based on the Sun’s movement are not equal so the basic unit isn’t an hour. The sun’s face gives rise to the 4 directions east, west, north, south. In all Maya Languages the road of the sun defines space and time. In Maya language Lakin is east and means “the sun is born”, Cikin is west and means “the sun is eaten”, Xaman is north and means “right hand of the sun”, Nohol is south and means “sun’s left or hidden hand”. According to Maya east is at the top of a map of this four square plane of Earth.
If linguistic data is correct, The Tolzk’in was already in use before 1000BCE by the Maya and other Mesoamerican people. Later on, this calendar was projected backward to the beginning of this, the fourth creation in 3114BCE. Today, Modern Maya still keep its days. In the Guatemalan highlands the Tzolk’in is still in use by several Maya communities.
The Tzolk’in calendar has 20 different named days that are counted in cycles of 1 through 13 till all possible pairings of days and numbers have been made which takes 260 days. After 260 days the cycle starts new with all combinations have been made and day one and number one meet again.
1: imix( the first day of the Tzolk’in),
1: ix 2: menand so on until after 260 days the cycle returns to 1 ahau. 13 Ahau is the 260th day of the Tzolkin. Each of the 20days is a unique quality for Mayas and also each of the 13 bumbers represents a different principle. As a result each day in Tzolk’in calendar has characteristic or a special flavour that colours the day. Under the influence of the day’s quality a child born, a marriage undertaken, an activity begun.
Tzolk’in is a clock of universal time and was extensively used in Mayan inscriptions and codes for example symbols from the Tzolkin are carved into the stonework of the ancient Mayan pyramids. Mayan Time Science isn't astrological, isn't based on the stars, the planets or anything physical either. It can be confusing because it’s unfamiliar territory for the modern mind. It is an entirely new and also unfamiliar world based on nothing familiar to our common understanding of the World. The Tzolkin calendar expresses fluid, spiraling cycles of alternating life energy moving through space and time that continuously flow and encompasses the ever changing evolutionary process of living beings. As you become more familiar with the Tzolk’in round, it will get clearer.