Maya Divination by the Maya Calendar

Tzolk'in is the name of the most important Maya calendar, which has also been called the sacred almanac or the Sacred Round. It is a combination of a cycle of 13 day numbers with a cycle of 20 day names (the Kin).
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Tzolk'in days names ans glyphs

The twenty days of the Tsolk'in, shown above by name and with 2 versions of their corresponding glyphs, are the basis of the entire complicated calendrical system designed by the ancient Maya. They are, however, by no means to be considered as abstract computational units. Rather they reflect the physical properties and the origin of man as well as the influence which powerful celestial beings, in particular the moon and the sun, have on his existence. Twenty is the total number of human extremities, fingers and toes, and is contained 13 times in 260, the duration of the divinatory calendar, the Tsolk'in. This time-period (plus one day) actually represents nine lunations of twenty-nine full day-and-night cycles. As is well known, the time between menstruations is one lunation, and it takes nine of these anthropo-lunar cycles for a new human being to form after impregnation.

Among the Quiché-Maya of highland Guatemala these same nine months are replicated, until this very day, in the training of the aj k'ij, the keeper of the 260-day-calendar, the ah k'in of ancient Yucatán.

It is nine months after the beginning of training in divination that the young novice is actually "born" and solemnly initiated into his office. Thus, in the perception of the Maya, man and calendar have the same roots; they are both of the same lunar origin. This is how Quiché-Maya calendar-priests explained it to the German physician and ethnologist Dr. Leonhard Schultze Jena back in 1930. Here is Dr. Leonhard Schultze Jena at work in his library at Marburg, Germany, towards the end of WW II, presumably some time during 1944. Foto: Kohlhammer Press, Stuttgart/Berlin

It is, therefore, not surprising to find that the Maya considered the days of their calendar to be living beings, albeit of a different, a more powerful and influential nature. People were named just after "the lord of the day" who ruled on the day they were born. The two kings who ruled the Quiché-Maya when the Spaniards under Alvarado conquered Guatemala in 1524, had calendar-names. They were named Oxib Quieh ( "3 Deer" = Oxil Manik' in Yucatec Maya ) and Beleheb Tzi ( "9 Dog" = Bolon Ok in Yucatec Maya ).



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