Are there two different Mayan calendars? The real origin of the Dreamspell calendar

Today, July 25, 2020 in the Gregorian calendar is proclaimed to be a “day out of time” according to a system called the Maya Dreamspell/Thirteen Moon calendar. This was developed in the early 1990’s by two Americans, José Argüelles, an art historian and his wife Lloydine, a dancer. The background to this was that in 1987 Argüelles had been the main promoter of an event called the Harmonic Convergence, August 16-17, which to many felt like the beginning of a new more spiritual era. Thus it had spontaneously attracted a large number of people especially in the United States, but in some other countries as well. This had been prepared for by Argüelles’ book The Mayan Factor that for the first time opened up a larger audience to the possibility of understanding human history through the lens of the ancient Maya. In my own view these contributions early on were valuable.

Argüelles had not come up with the dates for the Harmonic Convergence himself. They had been given to him by a Sioux Indian by the name of Tony Shearer who identified these dates as the first two energies in the true traditional Mayan/Aztec calendar, 1 Imix (Alligator) and 2 Ik (Wind). Argüelles recognized the contribution of Shearer, but for the reader interested in how the creator of the Dreamspell calendar saw himself it may be noted that when Shearer passed away and Argüelles wrote an obituary for him, he referred to Shearer as “my John the Baptist.” José Argüelles thus had come to see himself as some kind of Messiah.

Before continuing, I think it is important to point out that on October 28, 1987, about two months after the Harmonic Convergence, Argüelles suffered a personal tragedy in that his son died in a car accident, something that he would grapple with for the rest of his life. I think if we want to understand his continued path, it should be done against this background of huge success followed by personal tragedy shortly thereafter. Regardless, because of the big success that the Harmonic Convergence was, many people expected that Argüelles should continue to introduce the Mayan calendar into the modern world. For this reason, together with his wife Lloydine he in 1990 introduced the Dreamspell kit, which in a playful form allowed people to learn about and use a calendar that was presented as Mayan. It certainly used the same symbols as the true Mayan calendar and had an artistic flair that together with its New Age philosophy made it attractive to some people. In the early nineties the couple then toured the world and in many countries gained followers and leaders of their project for calendar change.            

Yet, while the Argüelles’ presented the Thirteen Moon/Dreamspell calendar kit to the world as Mayan, it was not actually the true sacred 260 day calendar of the Maya. At the time no one even asked the Mayan elders in Guatemala about what calendar they themselves were using. Scholarly objections against the Dreamspell that the Maya never had a day out of time fell on deaf ears. Moreover, while Argüelles launched a lot of rhetoric against the Gregorian calendar his own calendar was in fact directly based on the Gregorian calendar as it adhered to its leap day February 29 every four years. It should be obvious to anyone that neither the ancient nor the contemporary Maya would have let their calendar be subordinated to this Christian calendar. Already this proves without a doubt that the Dreamspell calendar is not a true Mayan calendar. Despite these obvious inconsistencies Argüelles was able to spread his calendar system quite widely in certain countries. On a daily basis people would reiterate a kind of mantra to align themselves with his calendar and the movement became cult-like. Lloydine Argüelles, for instance wrote in a text (for internal use only): ”All of the knowledge in the Dreamspell is unalterable knowledge.” ”If we think to ourselves, I can agree with 98 % of the new knowledge, but the other knowledge I can’t accept, then we must consider how ego can enter and cause distortion of knowledge.” The followers of this calendar system were in other words not encouraged to question its truthfulness or the Argüelles’ couple who had invented it.

As with everything that takes on these kind of cult-like manifestations, something was clearly not right. Nonetheless, in 1998 Argüelles traveled to Guatemala to rally the support of the elders for the calendar system he had invented. In a communication with me afterwards he said that at the meeting they had concluded that there was no contradiction between the two calendars, his own and the one the Maya were using. Later however as I interviewed Don Alejandro Oxlaj, the head of the council of elders in Guatemala, it was clear that he had another view. He said that the elders had concluded that they did not need to change the calendar that they had been using for thousands of years (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_MKHqVsAlQ&t=35s).

So why had Argüelles changed the true sacred 260-day calendar? It had been modified and Argüelles was well aware of the powerful influence that calendars had on humans. Thus, even if his calendar used the same symbols for numbers and day-signs, the Dreamspell was not the sacred calendar that had been used (and was still being used) by the Mayan people and their day-keepers. Even today those that follow the Dreamspell calendar are however never told why they are being taught a different calendar than the Mayan elders. The reason for this is that the calendar that Argüelles had invented was based on a hidden agenda and was designed so that his own and his wife’s birthdays, were given the master numbers 11 and 22. In the case of his wife she was also given the in Mayan lore highly honored day-sign of Bolon Ik, Nine Wind, which in ancient times was symbolic of Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent, the highest creator divinity. 

A quote from Argüelles clearly explains why he gave himself and his wife the calendrical kin numbers 11 and 22: “Again, here the sign of the return of the heavenly city Tollan, and over here the sign of the Star Traveler, the avatar – this time with signs of the Spectral Monkey, kin 11 and kin 22, which as we all know add up to 33. This is meditation 26 and we are entering the 33rd Harmony. Everything really is that psychedelic that we could be here explaining this to you, and that we are the numbers that talk and you are the numbers that listen, and we are all numbers together.” In other words, his calendar system had given him and his wife what he saw as especially powerful master numbers making them the ones that talk while the others were there to listen.” In an apparent slip of the tongue he also once talked about kin 11 as ”the one designated as Valum Votan (which was a name he used).” Obviously this is because he himself designed his calendar to give him this number. Someone who looked upon himself as a Messiah might indeed have felt entitled to do so. 

It is reasonable to assume that Argüelles felt at home with the tzolkin symbols he assigned to himself in his calendar, 11 Chuen (Monkey). Not only was 11 a master number, but Monkey is the central day-sign typically seen as someone with artistic talents holding everything together. Argüelles‘ true tzolkin sign, 10 Chicchan (Serpent) would on the other hand have aroused suspicion among those knowledgeable in the traditional interpretation of the calendar. The number 10, at least in the Aztec tradition, is associated with Tezcatlipoca, the lord of darkness, while Serpent is considered to be a good day-sign for shamans, but also typically associated with a risk of abusing power.

Description: NR10
The tzolkin with its numbers and day-signs presented as two connected cog-wheels.

Regardless, as Argüelles modified the calendar to improve his own day-sign, this falsehood also meant that everyone else who used this calendar system to calculate their day-signs (or galactic signatures) would have false results. Yet, I should qualify that Argüelles never admitted to having created his calendar based on their own birthdays, but when I confronted him with this proposal he did not deny it either. Obviously, he would not want this origin of his calendar to come out, and he or anyone else has ever presented any other explanation as to why he changed the Mayan calendar. This origin of their calendar might seems so bizarre that it is hard to believe, but anyone who has studied Argüelles work knows that he was obsessed with the numbers 11, 22 and 33 and should not be surprised. If someone thinks the Mayan tzolkin was changed for some other reason he should let the world know, rather than sweeping the matter under the rug.

Of course, everyone is entitled to use whatever calendar they like, hidden agenda or not. Yet, there is a serious integrity problem when someone calls the Dreamspell calendar “Mayan” since the Maya has never used this. In reality, there is only one legitimate and true 260-day tzolkin calendar and it is not the Dreamspell. Those that call the Dreamspell “Mayan” or say that “there are two Mayan calendars” are thus appropriating an ancient cultural tradition in a way that you would not think to be right for anyone who honors the traditions of indigenous peoples. From the perspective of humanity at large, through their activities followers of the Dreamspell have often also  blocked a very important part of the human heritage from entering their countries: the Mayan calendar.

The damage and confusion caused by Argüelles calendar is in my view thus very large and plays out on several different levels. First, because the Dreamspell is based on Argüelles own birthday it is truly an ego-based calendar. What this means is not only that all those that have followed it unbeknownst to themselves are worshipping his person (rather the divine source of the calendar), and this is especially so as this is a hidden agenda. Secondly, because the Dreamspell calendar is ego-based also those that follow it are often attracted to it because it boosts their own egos. Some day-signs and galactic portals will for instance be perceived as better than the others. This is not consistent with the Mayan view. The true Mayan calendar does not make a person anything different from what he or she already is. It only tells him or her what the energy was that he was born into.

Since there is not enough space here to go through everything that is non-Mayan about the Dreamspell calendar I refer the reader to a more detailed article: https://calleman.com/2014/12/11/thirteen-moondreamspell-calendar/ that also discusses the origin of the so-called 28 day “moon” and the “day-out of time” on July 25. The issue is not only that it is unethical to usurp the calendar used by the Mayan day-keepers. It is also that through the success that the Dreamspell has had (not so much anymore and I would say in the United States it is almost completely gone), it has blocked the understanding of the evolution of the world that only the true calendar can give. Yet, this is a topic I will have to leave for another article.

13 thoughts on “Are there two different Mayan calendars? The real origin of the Dreamspell calendar

  1. Thanks, Carl, I remember someone reading me my Dreamspell calendar in the late 90s and I told them it was hogwash ( I guess because I am a good western astrologer…) LOL, Good to know why and what happened after all this time. And of course, I have been blessed to know a real Mayan Time Keeper. Thanks so much for all your good works. I ordered your book and eagerly awaiting its arrival. Blessings Tashi

  2. A very interesting read.. seems to raise some very valid points.. While I have resonated with the Dreamspell to a degree, I’ve never quite resonated with Jose, I wonder if some of that reason is presented here

  3. Thank you for this explaination of Dreamspell. I have always considered myself blessed to learn your wisdom about the Mayan Calendar directly from the vibration of your voice! I never was attracted to Dreamspell. Grateful I didn’t have to unlearn!! Always in my heart! Nancy

  4. Are the accurate and authentic Mayan tzolkin teachings and astrological significance readily available to all in need of such wisdom today?

    1. There are several calculators that are based on the true Mayan calendar and from which you can find out your true day-sign and number say for instance Tzolkin Explorer, Mayan Majix and Mayan Calendar portal. When it comes to the interpretation of these they are not cut in stone and while there is some consensus the day-keeper will also base himself or herself on his intuition.

  5. Very useful and fascinating article, thank you very much Carl !
    I have last year, listened to some teachings on the Web where they too, claim the “dreamspell calendar” as being a true Mayan calendar and the 25th of July as being indeed the “day out of time”. After reading your article, I have forwarded it to concerned people so they can correct what they teach for the good of their own followers. Let’s just hope they do !
    In mid 90’s, I encounter a similar cult-like manifestation when the founder of the raelian movement started calling himself (among many other titles) the “new maitreya”. To assert his claim, he too invented a new calendar, Tibetan this time. To verify his claim I wrote directly to the Dalaï Lama’s office in Dharamsala. Ten days after I received an email from the D-L’s secretary refuting all of what vorilhon was claiming.
    Please do your own research and be thorough while doing it ! Listen to your own intuition not the void you think you need to fill.

    1. Good points Serge,
      Cult leaders often attack others for having the false calendars while they at the same time try to introduce a false calendar themselves. It is the classical case of projection and drawing away attention from what they are doing themselves. It is interesting that you had a similar experience with the Tibetan calendar. In the case of Argüelles he constantly criticized the Gregorian calendar for being inaccurate, at the same time as he introduced a calendar he called Mayan that skipped a day every four years at the Gregorian leap day, so that the whole system and every single day-sign calculated according to him became subordinated to the Gregorian calendar. To some people this will not seem like a problem – a cult is what they are looking for – but it is important to let sincere truth seekers know about the real story.

  6. And Carl, the saddest part about my experience with this particular cult-like manifestation, (and with most self-made cult leaders I have encountered in my life) was, that out of all people with whom I had discussions about it, only 3 recognized the email I had on hand, as real and true. Wasn’t Socrate saying: ” I cannot teach anyone, all I can do is make them reflect on it ! “

  7. This was really well written Carl, I am really glad someone has the complete missing story, I agree with my Pueblo Maya about NOT calling the Dream spell a Mayan calendar cause it’s NOT, but I don’t agree with persecution of nobody, nor ridiculing anyone in Social media.
    Maltiox amigo I applaud you!

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