What is the Tzolkin?


The Tzolkin is a traditional Mayan count of days, 260 in total. The 260-day length suggests human gestation (~ 9 months). It also takes 260 days for corn to grow from germination to full harvest in the Mayan territories. I like to suppose that the correlation between the creation of life, in the legacy of humankind and the food staple of maiz, was so divine it inspired a calendar in honorarium.

The Tzolkin is subdivided into 20 13-day wavespells (see What is a wavespell? for details). Each wavespell is named for and oriented to one of the 20 Mayan day names or ‘tribes’. So there is a Red Dragon wavespell, a White Wizard wavespell, and so on until every tribe has been represented. Each of us will have a time within the Tzolkin, a 13-day span of intensity, that celebrates our birth energy.

The Tzolkin thereby holds the keystones of the Maya’s sacred numerology: 13 and 20. The modern Natural Time movement is sometimes defined as 13:20 time instead of 12:60 (the latter representing our 12 month calendar and 60 minute clock). The difference between 13 and 20 is 7 and also sacred. The addition of 13 and 20 is a nice link to Christian mysticism: 33.

Although there are two calendars utilized in Natural Time, the Tzolkin is definitely more authentically and exclusively Mayan in origin. And it’s the anomaly that stretches our brain out, blows our mind: a calendar that’s not oriented to a planetary orbit, that’s about something more etheric than astronomical?

And it’s extremely mystical, as well. We’re celebrating the span of creation of our species. This is the time that it takes to come alive in the womb, to move from seed to sentient being. This is profound, and when you can mark your life by cycles akin to gestation, you’ll see many monumental things come to birth and be.