Mayan Calendar - Overview
Maya Fifth Sun
The ancient Maya used over 17 calendars to track cycles of the sun, moon, planets, stars,
seasons, and passage of time. They cross-references calendars using the numerology of the
Tzolk'in. This sacred mystical count was numeric and held the key to cycles. It is said that your
level of spiritual mastery increases with the number of calendars you know.
Tzolk'in: Sacred divinatory calendar that determines ceremonies and prophecies, and synchronizes the other
calendars. In its pure form it is strictly numeric, using a 13 (spirit) by 20 (form) combination. The multiples of 13 x 20
= 260 keep repeating endlessly. When a count of 260 is reached, the calendar returns to its original combination and
starts over. In common usage the Tzolk'in count of 20 is attached to the 20 Mayan day glyphs. However, indigenous
experts report that this practice is an error that began with Friar Diego de Landa and was perpetuated by
archeologists such as J. Eric Thompson and Sylvanus Morley.
Haab: Solar calendar tracking movements of the sun and its relationship with the earth, such as solstices and
equinoxes when energy projected over the earth is more or less favorable. It consists of 18 "months" (uinal) of 20
days (kin) that were counted from 0 to 19, the first day being the "seating of the uinal." This 18 x 20 count = 360
days. The Maya knew the exact length of the solar year (365.24 days) but retained 360 as the tun, a time period
embedded into the Long Count Calendar. Evidence supports a 360-day year among many ancient civilizations,
reflecting a shorter earth year prior to the solar system cataclysm of 11,500 years ago. The Maya added a short
5-day month to adjust the solar calendar, calling it uayab. The 5 uayab days are unnamed and common lore says
Mesoamerican peoples viewed them as unlucky.
Uc - Lunar calendar consisting of 13 moon cycles per year. The Mayas noted whether these cycles were 28 or 29
days (actual lunar month is 29.53 days), and at what point in the moon cycle a given event occurred. The moon cycle
count is adjusted at the full moon occurring closest to spring equinox. The Dresden Codex has an eclipse table of
405 lunations, exactly equal to 46 Tzolk'ins. Nine Lords of the Night, called Bolontiku, ruled each day in turn and
were depicted before the lunar glyph.
Long Count: Continuous count of days from the assigned starting date of the last Great Cycle, recorded by the
Maya as 188.8.131.52.0 4 Ahau 8 Kumku, around 3000 BCE. It was used during the Preclassic through the Late Classic
periods, the last carved Long Count date yet discovered is at Tonina (10.4.0.0.0). By the GMT correlation this is
909 CE. Correlating the Long Count to the Gregorian calendar presents many challenges, with a range of over 600
years between proposed dating. Issues around the accuracy of 2012 predictions arise from correlation questions.
See The The Mayan Calendar and 2012
Tunben K'ak: Calendar of the Earth for 52-year cycles, called the Calendar Round, relates the Tzolk'in and
Haab. Every 52 Haabs and 73 Tzolk'ins (18,980 days) the original combination of day positions recurs. The 2
counts return to their original starting position. At this time a "New Fire" ceremony was performed. All village fires
were extinguished during a ritual of fasting and prayers during the night. When the sun rose the next morning, gifts
were made to the gods and a new fire lit by priests, who carried it to re-light hearths in the village.
Katun Count: A count of 20 tuns (19.71 solar years) at which monuments were dedicated to commemorate
katun endings. When the Maya stopped using the Long Count, they kept a "short count" using only katuns, called u
kahlay katunob. Each 20-tun period was named by its ending katun, such as Katun 8 ahau. Katun names repeated
every 260 tuns (256 years) leading to confusion about exact dating.
K'altun Count: Calendar for 260 tuns (256 years) related to Earth and ceremonial cycles. Also called the may
cycle, it marked important ceremonial periods. The main ceremonial seat rotated among cities, changing every 256
years, with ritual disempowering of monuments in the terminating city.
Venus Calendar: The Maya followed Venus (Noh Ek, Xux Ek) carefully, tracking its appearances as morning
and evening star and synods (conjunction with the sun). Using a 584-day cycle (Venus synodic cycle = 583.92
days), after 5 cycles there are exactly 8 Haabs and 99 lunations. Two Calendar Rounds equal 65 Venus cycles.
Mars, Jupiter and Saturn: A mysterious 819-day cycle originated at Palenque, related to the 13 Gods of the
Upper World, 9 Lords of the Underworld, and 7 Earth Gods (7x9x13=819). It uses 21 (21x13x3) for synodic
cycles of Jupiter (21x19 days) and Saturn (21x18 days), and includes Mars synodic cycle (780 days = 3 Tzolk'ins.)
The 819-day cycle links with the 4 directions-colors to form a 3276-day cycle that coordinates with the moon every
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Press Release: The Maya
Legacy and "Apocalypto"
Newspaper articles and
Book Cover: Dreaming the
Maya Fifth Sun
Short Synopsis Dreaming
the Maya Fifth Sun
Dresden Codex - Calendar glyphs and deities using hand signs
Overview of Mayan Calendars