the tz’olkin round, a concentric calendar. Credit: Tik&

How to apply the Tz’olkin

Can a 5,000 year old calendar be of practical use to a modern world?

My introduction to the Tz’olkin occurred in 2011 through the influence of Ian Lungold and the developing culture which proceeded from his work. Over the years of looking I feel like the calendar has helped me to understand parts of myself, but its never really given me any insight into the future, and while with my experiences its not difficult for me to believe that the Tz’olkin is tracking real phenomena, it remains as a tool of astrology, which is more like meteorology than philosophy. Some groups online claim certain signs or tones as being more compatible with one another, and some less compatible. The signs descriptions are a reflection of the nature of our seeking, or the kinds of questions we’re probably asking often in our personal experience. But it doesn't seek to answer the questions, only to predict the questions we’ll be asking on the next day, and the next. It doesn't really teach you how to live. It says nothing of the origin nor future of Earth. Perhaps for this the Maya had other calendars.

However, this isn't to imply that the calendar is useless. The Maya tracked this calendar for 5,000 years, and even through the Spanish conquests and the destruction of so much of their cultural heritage they maintained and kept the calendars, even though for until very recently this was illegal.

The Tz’olkin truly is more than just a spiritual structure. Much of the information about the 20 daysigns on Guatesol’s website tells us that it is also a civic structure, it is also a thought structure. It tells you what jobs you might prefer, it tells you what sort of activities you might enjoy, suppositions of its accuracy aside, its a powerfully suggestive tool. And to impress such a system into the awarenesses of an entire culture or civilization is to harmonize their civic, spiritual, and interpersonal lives. To follow the Tz’olkin in the time of the ancient Maya, in Guatemala at the peak of their civilization would have been inestimably more rewarding, because every person around you is aware and thinking of generally the same ideas, on every day. Your name is the day of your birth, and you've known the calendar since birth, and everyone you know has known it since their birth and even the people you don’t know, as soon as you know each others’ names you know the day of their birth and your awarenesses will flood with all the shared understandings that each of you were taught from before you can even remember about yourself, and about all the things he’s been taught about himself.

People are organic, they’ll grow into the shapes their provided, my true belief the Tz’olkin is a harmonic tool with little enough constraint to allow growth from within any of its 260 potential locations. And it bears enough instruction to unify many social, civic, and philosophical aspects of life for the culture practicing it.

I believe all nations, kingdoms, and religions are harmonic tools of the same kind. As is music, as is the internet. The Tz’olkin provided the ancient Maya with an architecture for understanding each other and themselves.

It served as both good and evil for the Maya, if there were good days, maybe it was because of the Tz’olkin. If there were bad days, maybe it was because of the Tz’olkin. These sorts of awareness walls in structured spirituality are funnels into which blame and agitation which would otherwise land on a person can be absorbed. A harmonic social framework acknowledges that these awareness walls exist, that we don’t understand tomorrow, that we can’t explain the origins of our thoughts, that the purpose of our experience is a mystery though we’re all stirred that there is a purpose. It provided an identity with which a seeker can become familiar, and then accepts responsibility for the influences behind our awareness walls unilaterally. Over time you develop a familiarity, a relationship with the framework, and in times of confusion, when your awareness wall is looming wide, the familiarity to the aspects and practiced rhythm of influences gives you course and patience until times are more settled. And these experiences imbue events with the confidence of cosmic significance: faith. And in time an awareness wall is conquered, having been endured enough times to be understood.

The Tz’olkin is rewarding because it encourages you to pay attention. Its not evident to our species yet whether the internal experience bears a natural system of organization. Are we chakras, are we souls, are we nine-centered beings, are we daysigns and tones, do all people experience the same emotions? The internal experience is a large part of our awareness walls. It is known however that the internal experience will accept a framework, whether an original system exists. The mind is neuroplastic, building automatic drivers for everything we’re learning. Mathematics, learning to drive, learning to ride a bike, and our internal system of ethics.

I carry the Tz’olkin framework with me permanently now. On any given day I can tell you what day it is, what Trecena, what tone, what season I’m in, how far through the round we are, and what each of those things mean. I share these understandings with my best friend as we've been learning alongside each other. She and I sometimes have a hard time understanding each other, for us, the opportunity of a shared framework was exactly the experience we needed to share understandings and unify during our confusion by the citation of signs and ideas with which we were both familiar, even if we didn't always relate to each other directly.

We keep the calendar on the wall now more out habit and because we understand the Tz’olkin increments better than the Gregorian and its structure serves our schedule and lifestyle. It remains an intimate part of our lives, whether or not it ever bore innately supernatural properties. In observing the calendar and developing this intimacy, we learned a new way to observe ourselves, stimulating evolution, just as Lungold always believed.