The Mayan Calendar: history, purpose, applications


View a blank page. Imagine it as dark. This darkness represents the Void that was there before God said ‘Let there be light’. Now put a tiny dot at the centre of the page. It represents the Point of Creation, through which the Light of Existence streams into Being via what our science calls the Big Bang. Before this the Void was dark: empty of ‘things’ but teeming with potential. Now it becomes an invisible backdrop for the Light Show of Existence. The Point of Creation is a tangible Source of all that exists but Void inheres behind every light form as the dark Ground of Being.

Light pours out in all directions from the Point of Creation, giving rise to our virtually infinite Universe. This produces a 360 degree spherical expansion that we represent on our page by a series of broken lines emanating in all directions out from centre. We focus on just one of those lines, the one that connects me as a manifestation of existence to the visible Source from which all existence arises. I mark this centre of my consciousness with a second point. Its relationship to the first point (visible Source) is expressed by a connecting line, which also represents the Flow of Creation as it streams through me from Source.

I draw a circle around this second point to represent my sphere of consciousness. Two lines from the Point of Creation connect tangentially to the perimeter of this circle on either side. (They have to since they emanate in all directions.) Thus my whole sphere of consciousness is pervaded by a never-ending Flow of Creation that forever streams out from Source, day after day and night after night, without interruption. My spiritual Heart (chakra) is the point at the centre of this circle.

Normally I don’t realise this because my consciousness is shaped according to ways of thinking, seeing and experiencing that prevail in the time and place where I was born or happen to live. Despite this, if I can manage to be still and develop awareness, it is possible to feel the Flow of Creation moving in me. It is felt most immediately in Heart, from which our intuitions arise. The first thing we must do to facilitate such realisation is re-centre consciousness in our Hearts. This brings us into alignment with the Flow of Creation as it seeks expression through our lives.

The Mayan calendar offers invaluable support in this process because it tracks the movement of Consciousness through the Flow of Creation in time. It shows that the Flow of Creation is highly structured and tells us where we are in relation to it. It does this on both a personal, day-to-day level and on a macro level across vast reaches of time, from the Big Bang up to our present and beyond it to an imminent ‘end of time’. The main reason why the calendar is so topical now is that we are within two years of its projected end date.

I shade in a segment around the original Source point to indicate that the whole visible expansion arises out of Void, covering 360 degrees over all possible planes projected through the Point of Creation. For reasons of expediency, only one part of this expansion is illustrated. It covers the area of Cosmos in which Earth and we are found. Everything about the evolution of our planet and all its creatures is implicitly encompassed by this time-line which links us back to (visible) Source. Our creativity and consciousness happen on the qualitative edge of a continuous cosmic unfolding and are supported by it in so far as we are free to allow this. The likelihood of such allowance varies over time in ways that the calendar helps clarify. In general terms, greater freedom arises with greater unfolding.

The Spanish conquistadors obscured this relation when they imposed their calendar, which has become virtually global since its institutionalisation by Pope Gregory in 1582. They presumed to tell the Maya what day it was, and which year of their (Spanish) ‘Lord’. The Maya resisted and were persecuted to force conversion. It was assumed that their methods of time-keeping were inexact and superstitious. Indeed, when modern archaeologists first found that the Mayan tun calendar operates with a 360 day base they assumed that it represents a ‘vague solar year’ – i.e., that the ‘Indians’ were unable to correctly calculate the length of Earth’s orbit around the sun and thus had arrived at a deficient approximation.

Discovery of the 260 day tzolkin, an astrological calendar, posed a further challenge. Indigenous reckoning couldn’t be both 5 and 105 days out! The tzolkin is now known as the Mayans’ primary form of personal divination. It specifies thirteen tones (or intentions) of Creation and relates them to twenty different aspects, each of which is represented by a distinctive glyph. Combining these yields a matrix of 260 (13×20) days, each with its own purpose and energetic profile. Thus every Mayan born on a given day knew her/his purpose in life, as did everyone around them. This divinatory power of the tzolkin is also incorporated into a tun-based system which the Maya used to track the energetic potentials of much longer time periods.

This was not appreciated until archaeologists found a huge stone lying on the jungle floor at Coba in the Yucatan area of Mexico. This featured abstract representations that proved to be the skeleton of a calendar: an empty frame encompassing vast intervals of time that nested uniformly into each other on different levels of scale, much like our 10, 100, 1,000 sequence except that this scale unfolds in powers of 20. The intervals were all named and eventually translated into bands that could also be specified according to our calendar, which measures years in terms of Earth’s 365.25 day orbital path around the sun.

But where did the 360 day base come from? No known planetary body has an orbital path of this duration but every single one spins through 360 degrees! Moreover, the Universe expands out from the Point of Creation through 360 degrees on every plane. This is what the Mayan Calendar tracks. It doesn’t measure time as such but rather an expansion of Consciousness through the Flow of Creation in space-time, and it does so ahead of time. How? A Swedish scholar and long-standing Mayan enthusiast, Carl Calleman, set out to answer this question.

He realised the significance of the fact that ‘Indians’ had been operating a calendar whose pattern unfolds over unimaginably vast cycles of time before the birth of Christ. He had the empty frame of this calendar. Through scholarship and consulting with indigenous elders he attempted to determine what day it is now in the Flow of Creation. With this information, he was able to reconstruct the entire sequence of the calendar by correlating major threshold points of its abstracted structure with decisive events in the history and evolution of Cosmos, as revealed by modern scientific investigation. His results are impressive: in every known case, major threshold points specified by the calendar and ‘named’ on the Coba stone correspond to major shifts identified by modern science.


Mayan sources refer to nine ‘Underworlds’ and thirteen ‘Heavens’. Christian readings discounted these as evidence of devilry and superstition. Calleman noted that the Coba stone describes nine different primary scales of time. He intuited that these correspond to the Mayan ‘Underworlds’, as represented by the nine levels of classic Mayan temples. Each ‘Underworld’ represents a major ‘wave’ in the unfolding of Consciousness through Creation. The first covers a period of 16.4 billion Gregorian years! What could ‘Indians’ in Central American jungles have been up to, making stone records of such unimaginably long periods over two thousand years ago? Calleman’s sense is that this ‘Cellular’ Underworld describes a wave of Creation that began with what we call the Big Bang and is not yet complete.

Each of the ‘Underworlds’ divides into thirteen equal sub-units. These are the thirteen ‘Heavens’, made up of seven ‘days’ and six ‘nights’ of Creation. The days mark periods of innovation and are specified in terms of the mythic imagery of an agri-cultural society. Thus ‘days’ one through seven correspond respectively to stages of sowing, germinating, sprouting, leafing, budding, flowering and fruition. The six ‘nights’ between these seven days are periods of (relative) inaction, consolidation and application. All time intervals are divisible by thirteen, over and over. The thirteen ‘Heavens’ thus describe a genesis pattern which is embedded at different levels of scale across all Mayan time cycles.

Calleman names each of the calendar’s nine ‘Underworlds’ (levels) for a defining shift which arises in its final (seventh) ‘day’. Thus the first is called ‘cellular’ because the first living cells evolved during the last 1.26 billion years of the 16.4 billion that have elapsed, according to the calendar, since the Big Bang. The pace of evolution shifts qualitatively once we jump to the next level. This is called ‘mammalian’ because the first live births occurred during its seventh day. It lasts only 820 million years but the same amount of evolutionary change happens during this time as during the 16.4 billion years of the entire cellular period. The next level lasts only 41 million years, the one after that two million and so on. In general, the rate of evolution increases by a factor of twenty every time we shift to a new level. This consideration becomes very important as we draw closer to our present time.

Monkeys appear 40 million years ago, just into a ‘familial’ period which is marked by recognition of individuals in primate groups. This contrasts with the undifferentiated herd mentality of earlier forms. The ‘tribal’ period began just over two million years ago (1) with the appearance of early hominids, direct ancestors of Homo Sapiens. The mind also began evolving during this period as a mechanism for noting similarities and differences. Our species flowered at the beginning of the ‘cultural’ period just over 100 thousand years ago. This is marked by the appearance of cave art, language and proto-religious forms. The correlation of such milestone events with the ‘shell’ of a calendar structured according to an entirely different system of time-accounting can’t be a coincidence. The implication is that the Flow of Creation is following a schedule which the Maya somehow knew about (2).

Organised agriculture appeared during the seventh day of the ‘Regional’ period (3). It allows the production of surplus food and thus the emergence of increased, settled populations. Cities, empires and nation states followed. The ‘national’ period dates from 3115 BC. Writing began at this time as did history and preoccupation with law as a means of ruling complex social formations. The next ‘Planetary’ level began in 1755 and coincides with the start of the Industrial Revolution. This used machines to harness the raw power of nature, thereby accelerating further the rate of evolutionary change. The whole planetary period lasts only 256 years, with new days and nights arriving every 19.7 years, a far cry from the 1.26 billion years of the cellular level.

Issues to do with harnessing and regulating power are central to the consciousness of the ‘planetary’ level. This culminates in explosions of the atom bomb during its fifth night, which signalled that we had attained a level of technical capacity sufficient to destroy ourselves. Thus the preoccupation of the next ‘Galactic’ level – which we are currently in – is with ethics, our ability to regulate power through integrity. This has been marked by increased questioning of corporate-institutional power through the seventh Day of the Planetary Underworld, which is still going on. Waves of colonial expansion, developments in the sphere of communication and, especially, the rise of the internet during the seventh day, have provided an infrastructure for the emergence of a planetary consciousness.

Our current ‘Galactic’ level began in January 1999. Since then the rate of change has been so rapid that the phenomenon of apparent time acceleration has become an issue of public concern. Despite this, time itself is not getting faster: evolution or the Flow of Creation is. As much change happens now in 360 days as used to happen every 19.7 years! (Think how quickly children’s learning overtakes that of their parents, for example.) It becomes more and more difficult for our minds to keep up. As noted, the focus of consciousness during this period is ethics, or the regulation of power through integrity. We must achieve this if we are to avoid destroying ourselves. The calendar indicates that we will succeed during day 7, which starts on November 3, 2010.

Then, on 9 March 2011, the first day of the last ‘Universal’ level begins (4). As much change will then be happening every eighteen days as now happens in (almost) a year and was happening, before 1999, almost every twenty years. Our minds will have no chance of keeping up. It might even appear as if the Flow of Creation had been set up to drive us out of our minds, but to where? The answer is our Hearts, where intuition registers. To appreciate the significance of this we need to step back a little.


There is both crisis and opportunity in the quantum shifts that arise with every major threshold leap along our evolutionary path – i.e., as we jump from one level of the calendar to the next. On the one hand, we are threatened with overload; on the other, rich new possibilities arise. We benefit from this if we can make required adjustments in good time. Our record of survival thus far suggests that we will do so but there is more than just survival involved at this point in the Flow of Creation. Special considerations arise regarding the ninth level due to its intensely concentrated nature and the fact that it’s the last in the sequence.

During this period, we won’t have time to process information and make decisions in our familiar linear-sequential, left brain way. The accelerated rate of change will be too fast. Unless we elect to experience the stress of constant overload, we will have to engage our intuition. This involves being fully present in the moment, trusting that integral participation in Flow will empower us to respond appropriately to whatever situations arise. Knowing ourselves as expressions of Divine Creation, we find that a power of Divine Creation in us – our in(ner)-tuition – sees us through. It is reassuring, therefore, that the focus of Consciousness at this final level is conscious co-creation.

We co-create all the time: witness our experiences in jobs, families, relationships etc. Take one element out of any of these contexts and everyone’s reality in it is changed. We are inherently creators but are usually not very conscious about this. Our efforts to regulate power ethically serve to refine awareness in this regard. Indeed, the purpose of the developmental schedule presented by the calendar is to bring us to a conscious awareness that we are creators just as we have traditionally imagined ‘God’ to be. We must realise (literally) that as integral expressions of the Flow of Divine Creation, we can also manifest Divine Creation by opening ourselves fully to it. This requires that we shift out of our minds and into our Hearts, which connect directly to the Source of our Inner Tuition.

Making this shift, we are raised out of the flow of linear time into a Consciousness of Now. This transcends ‘time’. It is the sphere of I AM Consciousness, of the constancy of Creator behind every flowering of Creation. ‘Creator’ is a state of consciousness, not a super-being other than ourselves. We are now called to realise this in existence. Doing so lifts us beyond time. This is the ‘end of time’ to which the calendar points. It has to do with widespread human attainment of Unity Consciousness rather than the spectacles of physical catastrophe evoked by popular media and New Age lore. The calendar’s purpose is to guide humanity towards attainment of Unity Consciousness. It has become available for this purpose exactly when we need it: now.


A question which invariably arises when an end of the calendar is broached is ‘What then?’ What will happen when the calendar runs out? The default conjecture is always that it will start over again. For this to happen literally, we would need another ‘Big Bang’ and wholesale removal of what already exists to make way for it. Not even the most ardent of modern catastrophe theorists anticipates this, so they fixate on some kind of global disaster which only the toughest and/or most enlightened will survive. Then, depending on the tone of their conjecture, a grim post-apocalyptic struggle will ensue and/or an enlightened golden age. The calendar doesn’t support and certainly doesn’t prescribe any such disaster scenario.

It does, as noted, point to an ‘end of time’ but foresees this in terms of an evolutionary pattern which is innocent and developmental, not punitive or regressive. It moves in spirals rather than simple cycles. It conserves but doesn’t repeat. Something new is always emerging. Thus, during the first day of a new Underworld, a seed of new consciousness is sown but remains invisible against the backdrop of earlier forms. By the third day it becomes visible. On the fourth it starts to eclipse the previous level. On the fifth, striking manifestations of the new consciousness emerge. On the sixth, new patterns stabilise. On the seventh, they consolidate to become receptive soil for the seed of a whole new level.


Vertical sub-patterns may be discerned in the calendar across the 13 Heavens of all 9 Underworlds. This is particularly evident regarding the series of fifth Days and Nights through all its Underworlds. Fifth Days mark the ‘Heaven’ during which most striking manifestations of the consciousness of a new level emerge from the backdrop of the old. Fifth Nights are associated with ‘disaster’ because of reactions which arise as the new seeks to establish itself beyond ‘resistance’ it provokes. Thus the developmental thrust of the calendar as a whole can be gauged by comparing the creativity of its fifth Days across levels. These creative bursts are typically followed during fifth Nights by periods of reaction which stimulate mastery and application of the new forms. These periods associate with catastrophic change so it is instructive to compare them also.

The creative accomplishment of the fifth Day during the Cellular Underworld was the formation of our solar system. Its fifth Night brought 250 million years of meteor bombardment. This eventually led to a new order of sustainable life. During the fifth Day of the Mammalian period, self-moving life forms emerged out of the oceans on to land. In its fifth Night, comets struck Earth and 97% of known life forms here were extinguished. Gaps exist in scientific knowledge regarding the familial period but fire was certainly discovered during the fifth day of the tribal period. A global ice age followed during its fifth night, which our ancestors survived thanks precisely to their mastery of fire.

Art appears as a creative manifestation of Homo Sapiens during the fifth day of the cultural period. It associates with a consciousness of future states and intuitions of an afterlife. Our Neanderthal cousins were unable to develop such gifts of imagination and so were unable to adapt to change as we did. As a result, they became extinct during the fifth night. Jesus’ message that we are intrinsically divine and not beholden to priestly intermediaries spread during the fifth Day of the National period. Its fifth Night brought the collapse of Rome and the onset of Europe’s Dark Ages.

The fifth Day of the Planetary Underworld saw publication of Einstein’s vision of an energy universe and Hubble’s discovery of an infinite (expanding) universe. Its fifth Night saw the horrors of World War II (power unregulated by ethics) and explosions of the atom bomb. The fifth Day of the Galactic Underworld is too recent to have been systematically documented. For me it involved a radical opening to spiritual creativity and dis-identification from the structures of a market economy. Thus, when the fifth Night brought a collapse of financial structures, I was totally unaffected by fears which this generated around me.

A pattern can be extrapolated: through the succession of fifth Days, consciousness becomes freer in terms of the range of possibilities open to it for creative expression while, through the sequence of fifth Nights, levels of destruction noted become more focused and less catastrophic. The calendar as a whole thus points away from global disasters such as an allegedly impending pole shift. This conclusion is reassuring but it masks our potential for unconscious (potentially destructive) creations. Acceleration exacerbates this. A new apocalypse can still be co-created out of lower awareness than our times allow. Increased choice brings greater freedom to align or not. Such freedom could prove our undoing. We have yet to unfold a power of conscious co-creation. This is immense and offers miraculous promise but becomes available only as we learn to act with integrity. It means acting whole and not in terms of coded precepts, however pious or considered. Integrity is a matter of wholeness, not morality. It implies an absence of the conflict and division which characterise unconscious creations. Our unconscious creations have left trails of carnage behind them. Careful re-orientation is warranted in this regard.

The ‘end of time’ described by the calendar refers to a state of consciousness which transcends time, not physical cessation and not physical catastrophe. People whose wounds prevent the anticipation of such transcendence project the ‘end of time’ as an end of the world and conjure apocalyptic visions in support. These project forward the traumas of an un-cleared past. This is an example of unconscious, misaligned creation that becomes ‘prophesy’ by virtue of the damaged willpower vested in it. Indigenous peoples are not necessarily exempted from this tendency. By contrast, people whose wounded parts have healed are not bound by such a literal outlook. They can dream and act from integrity, summoning the pure power of All That Is as impelled by 16 billion years of evolutionary force. This is the power and awareness that promises our deliverance.


Transition from one level of the calendar to the next is usually fraught with turmoil. There are several reasons for this. The first is an effect of bewilderment induced by accelerated change. People don’t understand what’s happening and feel overwhelmed. Knowing the calendar can help to remedy this. Another issue is that our psychological dispositions, personal and collective, are affected by old wounds left over from earlier stages of development. We need to undertake programmes of individual clearing in this respect, and simultaneous healing of ancestral lines. As we achieve this, gifts of our ancestors will become available to us in new ways, re-valued according to higher perspectives of consciousness associated with later stages in the calendar’s unfolding.

The relevance of these issues is amplified in the final Underworld by the sheer rate of change and volumes of creative force that apply as we approach ‘end times’. Where blockage exists, it is exacerbated by the very powers that would enhance creativity if openly allowed. The main catastrophes which are likely to arise will come from the resistance of human structures, psychological and political, to changes which are both unavoidable and ultimately benign. Apocalyptic visions to the contrary stem from a mixture of cynicism, ignorance and unprocessed hurt. The last, in particular, promotes attachment to visions which remain tainted by vestiges of a painful past.

Old patterns don’t have to be repeated. The calendar is progressive. It moves in spirals, opening higher levels of awareness that offer ever more possibility and choice. In particular, the creative wave that starts on 9 March 2011 will bring more intensely focused transformational power than we have ever known. The Mayan calendar helps us to prepare so we can be conscious and ready in good time. There is not a lot of time left, but we don’t need a lot of time. We need love, creativity and awareness. All three are intimately related, more so now than ever (4). Their combined potential is best manifested in the grace of ancient and modern people working together, manifesting our species’ primary powers of conscious remembering and creativity.

Every level of the calendar is set to complete on the same day, October 28, 2011 by Calleman’s reckoning. A Mayan inscription says that at this time Bolon Yookte, a ‘God of Nine Steps’ who was present at the start of Creation, will ‘descend’ in all nine aspects simultaneously, bringing about the End of Time. This means that the first will be last and the last first. It means that all that has ever happened in time is still available for revaluing and redemption. It means that – as conscious co-creators with hindsight, inspiration and newly empowering gifts of perspective – we can remember all that we have been and intend its perfection as Beauty on all levels. We can thus determine our own answer to the question ‘What then?’


(1) Fractions are introduced when Mayan tuns are converted to Gregorian years. My figures are therefore rounded up or down.

(2) According to Don Alejandro Oxlaj Cirillo, leader of the Mayan Council of Elders, his people were star-seeded from the Pleiades by Teachers who, among other things, bestowed this gift of reckoning the true nature of time. See ‘Dream of the First People’.

(3) Calleman also calls the ‘cultural’ period ‘regional’.

(4) Calleman now favours the date of March 9, 2011 although February 11 features in his earlier writings. Reasons for this are covered in ‘13/1′ and ‘Reflections on the Ninth Wave’, both available in this thread.

(5) To enter this stream and stay in it, we must centre in our Hearts, align with the Flow of Creation and follow intuitively where it leads. ‘Living from Heart’ offers an experiential process that empowers this.

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