July 15 2012: Today is 1 Imox, which scholars such as Vincent Malstrom have determined is the true first day of the 260-day tzolkin – the day the Sacred Calendar was first set into motion. Many other Mayan calendars, such as the 1,040-year Ukajlay Katunob’, begin on 1 Crocodile and end on 13 Sun, which was yesterday.
Symbolism in the glyph for this nahual from one of the first tales in the Popul Vuh substantiates his conclusion. The lines on the glyph represent the Crocodile, the Earth’s continents. A water lily represents the waters.
Popul Vuh tells how Quetzalcoatl and Heart of Sky caused the continents to rise suddenly around the world, creating giant tsunamis and turbulence that led to one of the key cosmic meanings of Crocodile – instability. The first act of the gods on the planet, the story begins on the second page of the book. This nahual’s symbolic association with a story about the formation of the continents at the very outset of the Popul Vuh makes it clear it was the starting date of the calendar.
8 Monkey (B’atz/Chuen): The Ki’che’ Way
Over the years, contemporary Maya in Guatemala celebrate other days. The Ki’che’ honor the calendar on 8 Monkey, or Thread. At Lake Atitlan, the Tzu’tujil (called the Bird House people in the Popul Vuh) celebrate on 8 Eagle. Even so, they and other Maya in Guatemala still celebrate 8 Monkey as an important date in the 260-day cycle.
Who’s right? Turns out they all are. According to Maya scholars at Lake Atitlan, a community can choose any day that is significant to celebrate the calendar. Even so, for scientific purposes, they concur that 1 Crocodile was considered the starting date in the oldest records of the Maya, as it is used in the Books of Chilam Balam from the Yucatan.