Cholq’ij (Tzolkin) Calendar
The Maya culture has developed a tremendous capacity for understanding the cycles and rhythms of the natural world. This knowledge includes numerous calendars measuring various cycles of greater and shorter duration. The calendar most directly relevant to human life and development is known as the Calendar of Life, or Cholq’ij (in the Kiche language) or Tzolkin (in Yucatec language). This ancient technology has the capacity to transform our personal and collective lives towards greater harmony and evolutionary realization.
The information below about the Cholq’ij was produced by an Indigenous group of Mayan Ajq’ij (priests) in Chichicastenango, Guatemala: Fundacion Centro Cultural y Asistencia Maya (C.C.A.M.). We give thank for their efforts in keeping the traditions alive and for their welcoming arms and open hearts. We give special thanks to “Chema” who has shared his knowledge and wisdom with us openly and has been of great assistance in bridging the knowledge of the ancient and the modern.
INTERPRETATION OF THE MAYAN CALENDAR
The Mayan calendars were idealized by the astronomers and spiritual guides based on the movement of the blue bodies of the universe. The Mayan scientists were very studious and very observant. They were able to measure movement, the velocity of every asteroid, then establishing systems that allowed them to register time and other natural events. They were able to make the calendar which allowed them to give orientation to the cycle of agriculture production, giving origin to social time and the time of the individual destiny.
THE CHOLQ’IJ: SACRED CALENDAR OF 260 DAYS
The Cholq’ij “Book of the days” or “Thread of the days”, begins on B’atz’ and ends on Tz’i’. This “Book of days” is used today as it was put together by the ancient Mayas. For divination and the establishment of time, for the manifestation of ceremonies of commemoration and for protection, as well as for the times of celebration and spiritual strengthening.
The Cholq’ij is immersed in the universe and in the elements of mother nature, necessary for life; the fire, earth, water, air; in the cycle of life of some beings still alive and other fundamental aspects of our culture; the women (I’x), the dawn (Aq’ab’al), and the death (Kame).
The Cholq’ij, or the sacred calendar, consists of 260 days. It is formed by 20 days that are combined with numbers from 1 to 13 placed before the 20 glyphs of the days. Once finished with the #13, it begins once again with the #1, until reaching #13 again, this way consecutively. We can say that the sacred calendar is composed of 13 months that hold 20 days. (13×20=260)
Why are the numbers 13 and 20 used? The ancestors used and considered these numbers as sacred. The number 13 is sacred because the most important joints in the body are; the two at the ankles, two at the knees, two at the hips, two at the wrist, two at the elbows, two at the shoulders and one at the head or neck. As far as the number 20, this symbolizes the 20 fingers of the human being; 10 on the hands and 10 on the feet.
In these 20 sacred words are expressed all of the basic forces of creation and destruction, the good and the bad that are in the world, in society, in the family and what is in the heart of the human. The unity of such forces in the individual lives depends on the course of life and destiny.
The signs of the 20 days of the Cholq’ij are: B’atz’, E, Aj, I’x , Tz’ikin, Ajmaq, No’j, Tijax, Kawoq, Ajpu, Imox, Iq’, Aq’ab’al, K’at, Kan, Kame, Kej, Q’anil, Toj, T’zi’.
If we add, to the 260 day sacred calendar, 13 more days, there is a total of 273 days, which is the same time for human gestation, from conception to birth, the sacred time for development of the human being in the mother’s womb.
Calendar Conversion Tool
Traditionally, when a child was born, and Ajq’ij would look at that child’s birth chart using the Cholq’ij to determine that child’s purpose. Although this process is intricate and requires years of training, it is often helpful to know the energy at the time of birth, the equivalent of what is known as your “heart sign”. To find out what this energy was at your time of birth, you may use the calendar conversion tool and then look up your sign. This tool can also be used to learn about the energy of any given day so that we may plan and work to be in better harmony.
Saq’ Be’ has developed a Maya Calendar conversion tool! Visit this page to enter a Gregorian date and convert it into both the Cholq’ij date and long count. You will be shown the full Maya cross of energies for the date you enter.
Please view the other areas of the Cholq’ij Calendar section on this website to learn about the meaning of the twenty Ch’umilal (day signs), the meaning of the thirteen numbers of the Cholq’ij, and the Mayan significance of candle colors. You can also follow the daily energies of the calendar and by signing up for our newsletter, the Daily Ch’umil or following us on social media.