2022 Cholq’ij Day Planner: Q&A w/ Denise Barrios


We recently had a chance to conduct a Q&A session with Denise Barrios, who just released the Maya Count of Days, a daily planner that follows the Cholq’ij Calendar, which is available for purchase in both English and Spanish. The book is a moving tribute to her work with her father, elder Carlos Barrios, who transitioned last year.  This is an incredible resource to help guide and harmonize us in our daily lives, and we were fortunate to have Denise share her insights with us here.

How did you come to this path?  What can you tell us about your journey?

I was born into a family that follows the spirituality of the Maya and its calendar, practices, and wisdom are the way in which I learned to understand and perceive reality. My father, Carlos Barrios, was an Ajq’ij (Mayan spiritual guide). Together with him and my mother I was blessed with the opportunity of traveling around Guatemala, mostly to Sacred Altars in the mountains of the highlands, sharing with elders, Grandmothers and Grandfathers who held a great wisdom.

At the age of 15 I felt that I also had a calling to become an Ajq’ij. My teacher, who was an elder from Totonicapán, thought that I might be a bit too young to begin this path, however, one day as we went to collect Tz’ite seeds (these are the sacred seeds that compose the Pisom Q’aq’al -Sacred Pouch of the Ajq’ij-) I had coincidentally collected the exact number of seeds that forms the Pisom Q’aq’al. At that moment he realized this was a sign for him to walk me on my path as a spiritual guide. Most of my learning in the spiritual path not only came from my teacher, but also from my father, with whom I was lucky enough to have worked with from that moment until his recent transition to another plane of existence. This has been a magical path that has allowed me to learn, to share, and to be able to help others, for which I am most grateful.

What is the Cholq’ij Calendar?  Why does it matter in our everyday lives?

The Cholq’ij, also known as the Sacred Calendar or the Calendar of Life, is the guide and axis around which the life and spirituality of the Mayan people revolves. More than being just a calendar that marks the passage of time, the Cholq’ij opens for us the possibility of understanding the energies that surround and influence us.

Through their wisdom and their way of living, which was one of complete harmony with nature and the universe, the ancient Mayan elders realized that our reality is formed by the confluence of the different energies that emerge from the power of the Cosmos and Mother Earth and that these energies not only shape our reality but they are also connected to us, as we are an integral part of the whole. Based on this wisdom they created a guide that determines the influence that the energies have on each day and the effect they have on people, giving shape to the 260 day Cholq’ij Calendar which is formed by 20 Ch’umilal or energies that vibrate in 13 different manifestations (20 x 13 = 260). The Cholq’ij is then the counting of time in relation to the human being and the cosmic-telluric power that flows in this reality.

Understanding these energies and how they influence us allows us to transit our life in harmony with existence, to make the most out of each day, as we can synchronize with its power. This calendar is a great tool that when we understand how to use it, it can help us in the path of our fulfillment and to accomplish our purpose of being.

What was the inspiration for the planner?

For the past 25 years or so I have been walking my spiritual path alongside my father, during that time I had the blessing of sharing with him and also of learning from him, as he was a powerful and renowned Mayan Elder. When he passed away last year I felt that I wanted to do something both to honor him and to share with others what I had the great luck of learning and experiencing in this path with him. It felt like a planner could be the first step into sharing his wisdom, as this is a great way of understanding and living the Cholq’ij.

How can people utilize the planner?

The planner is formed of two parts. First there are introductory chapters which explain what the Cholq’ij is and the energies that influence it, so that people can understand them and begin to integrate them into their life. Then there is the part of the planner, which combines the Gregorian date and the Mayan date, and for each Mayan day there is a text that was written by my father where he shares his interpretation of the energy. There is also a space where people can write their own feelings, events, dreams, intuitions… so that they can begin to sense how the energies influence and interact with them personally.

You also work to nourish the roots of the tradition that have passed on this knowledge.  Can you say anything about why this is important and the work you do?

One of the greatest blessings of being an Ajq’ij is the opportunity that this path opens to help others and to become keepers and transmitters of the wisdom of the grandmothers and grandfathers.

Twenty years ago my father together with Adam Rubel & Zoraida Palacios Rubel planted the seed of Saq’ Be’ with the purpose of spreading the true teachings and wisdom of the Mayan people, as the elders saw an importance in creating a space for sharing the authentic tradition and helping raise awareness in humanity. This platform soon became a space to share with and to support traditional communities. Although I had been collaborating with Saq’ Be’, especially when groups came to Guatemala, it was around ten years ago that I became an active member. This has given me the chance of working closely together with Tatas and Nanas, with Grandmothers and Grandfathers, in creating bridges of communication to make the wisdom of the wise sages more available to people, providing valuable tools to transit these relevant times we are living as a humanity, and at the same time to do projects that bring value to the communities and help nourish the roots of the Maya tradition, to heighten the value that it has not only for the Maya people but for all of us.

Some of the work we have been doing is filming audiovisual material of the elders who share their wisdom with us with the purpose of eventually creating a space of study for the communities. We are also currently collaborating with the building of medicinal gardens where the communities can find a space of healing, where the wisemen can share their knowledge, and the children and everyone can learn from the sacred plants.

We have many dreams and plans to accomplish to make the wisdom available, doing it in a way in which we respect the elders, and we will continue to nourish the seed of Saq’ Be’ so that all these dreams can flourish. I believe in my heart that learning from, nurturing and spreading the knowledge of the traditions that understand the importance of living in harmony with nature, with the cycles of the earth and universe is a step forward in our evolution.

I want to take this opportunity also to thank each of the members of Saq’ Be’ for the support they have given me in the creation of this planner, three times thank you!

Is there anything else you would like people to know about the importance of living in harmony with the energies of the Cholq’ij and how the planner can help them to do this?

My personal experience is that when you vibrate in harmony with the energies that surround you, when you come to understand the influence they have in you personally or even the influence they might have on others, why a day might feel stuck, why you feel sensible or are particularly intuitive, you find a new magic in the way you perceive life. To me the calendar is a perfect tool that allows you to flow through life with much less resistance and much more understanding, to create the reality you want to experience and to impel your growth as a being, not only in the spiritual plane, but in a holistic sense, in each plane of manifestation. This planner is aimed to be an instrument that enables people to do this in a simple way and to integrate this wisdom into their daily life.

Order English Version Here:


Order Spanish Version Here:

Adam Rubel
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