Breaking Bad: Tzolkin calendar analysis

Reader notice: spoilers ahead! This piece is dedicated to those who have seen the entire AMC series “Breaking Bad”. If you’re just curious – watch the series first…

1-Imix on route to 13-Ben

Breaking Bad is all about family. “Family” is a broad term which includes many types of human relationships, regardless of actual blood connection. Its meaning is a matter of individual, custom-made truths and beliefs. Family is where identity and human connection is first established. Throughout life and well beyond death family retains its relevance and potency.


Walter Jr., a.k.a. “Flinn” (13-Ben)

13-Ben is the last day of the current trecena. This sun-sign symbolizes family and leadership. It is concerned with destiny and progeny, with sticking to principles so that aspirations can manifest and manifestations can inspire. In a family context, Ben types are leading parents and loyal offspring. They are said to carry the flame of the family fireplace and alter.

Besides Flinn, Marie Schrader was also born on a Ben day: 11-Ben.

In the following photo taken from the series’ first episode and season, there’s a company logo in the background which says “Family 1st clothing”. Skyler White (Anna Gunn, 12-Caban) is in the foreground looking shocked at her husband Walter (Bryan Cranston, 9-Caban) behind the camera. Their son Walter Jr. (R.J. Mitte, 13-Ben) is behind her, very impressed by his dad.

Skyler (Anna Gunn, 12-Caban) is shocked when she sees how her husband Walter (Cranston, 9-Caban) handles some local punks at a fashion shop called "Family 1st Clothing"

Figure 1: Skyler (12-Caban) is shocked when she sees how her husband Walter (9-Caban) handles some local punks harassing his disabled teenage son, at a fashion shop called “Family 1st Clothing”; Walter’s son Walt Jr. (13-Ben) is rather impressed.

“La familia est todos” – Hector Salamanca (4-Chuen, 1-Lamat trecena)

Caban and eastern sun-signs


Walter “Heisenberg” White, Gustavo Fring (9-Caban)

The sun-sign Caban (Earth, heartbeat) appears twice in main characters (dad and mom) and then twice again in supporting roles (lawyer and boss). It’s amazing that throughout 2+ seasons Walter was having a face-off against Gus, who was born exactly on the same Tzolkin birthday (9-Caban). Statistically, it’s a one in 260 chance (0.004%) to have such a meeting. In what ways were they similar? What’s behind their apparent differences?

Season 2, chapter 11, minute 12:00. Walter and Jesse are sitting in Saul’s office, trying to figure out how to sell all the meth they had cooked. One of their dealers got shot by competitors, the other just got out after an arrest, and the skinny dealer split. Saul suggests he setup a meeting between Walt, Jesse, and a stealthy meth-baron, who has been making and selling this chemical for over 20 years:

Saul Goodman (11-Caban): "From what I do hear about him, he (Gus Fring, 9-Caban) is like you (Walt, 9-Caban)"

Figure 2: Saul Goodman (11-Caban): “From what I do hear about him, he (Gus Fring, 9-Caban) sounds a little like you (Walt, 9-Caban)”. Good job casting!

Butterfly effect

Walter’s alias “Heisenberg” takes the nameskae of  the well known physicist of the 20th century Werner Heisenberg (born 5-Imix back in 1901). In 1932 he got a Nobel physics prize for being one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics. His contribution had to do with what he dubbed “Matrix mechanics” back then.

In other words, while nuclear energy and potential was being discovered and tapped into, he was one of the guys who saw the overall matrix (mother/feminine) surrounding and governing the pattern (father/masculine) of substance at the atomic level. This is a forerunner to “fuzzy”, cutting-edge science, which bridges the gap between academic and spiritual students. Quantum mechanics is unique in that it resists application. It’s a purely theoretical field of study, based on observation and assumption. Unlike Newton’s laws, quantum-level understandings cannot be applied to improving the next F-16, or making it fly like in the alien’s movie.

It’s interesting that, in Breaking Bad, a middle-class talented chemist would choose the name of a physicist as his underground psudoname. Watching the series, I always thought Heisenberg was the name of a famous chemist I never heard about.

So I guess the reference is less because of professional affinity and more to do with quantum mechanics. How does this peculiar field of physics apply to the main character in Breaking Bad?

As raw as it gets

Responsible Living

Hank Schrader (10-Chicchan)

Here’s another oddity that has nothing to do with the Tzolkin. DEA agent Hank Schrader is played by an actor named DEAn Norris.

Serpent energy according to the Maya represents the very essense of life and vitality. It is a quinessential symbol of knowledge and knowing, and for this reason Serpent types are always learning about life and seeking new and old knowledge. Because of their infinite store of energy, Serpent-types can just keep going and working without any regard for their personal and physical needs. When possessed by a fascinating subject, they hardly sleep, eat, or tend to any of their comforts.

These traits seem to fit DEA agent Schrader in many ways. Add to that what Ian Lungold referred to in the Serpent as bringing “justice which is quick and sure”, a perfect fit for a law enforcement officer.

A serpent usually flows and gives to everyone until s/he gets cornered and someone crosses its line. Then the lightning-quick bite comes. Something out of the blue, hurting and final. A kiss of death.

Deep Rhythm

Skyler White (12-Caban)

Caban is the birth sun-sign of Walter, Skyler, and Saul Goodman, so they share a common nature. However, each was born on a different number (9, 12 and 11 respectively), and gender also plays into how a sun-sign manifests in the person. Caban types are highly cerebral, and think that anything in life can be understood by the mind alone. They’re highly intelligent and perpetual learners who skilfully combine these gifts to become shrewd managers and leaders.

Another of their great gifts is the ability to succeed anywhere on Earth. Caban types are good travellers who make the entire planet their home. When in unknown lands, they don’t even need to know the local language in order to make friends and get assistance.

However, their amplified mental orientation has a drawback. Sometimes a perfectly logical course of action is not the wisest way to go. For example, Walter made very logical decisions in order to provide for and protect his family. However, a wiser man in the same situation might not be as intelligent, but will be wise enough not to lose his family in the process of helping them.

So, 7 leading and supporting cast members were born on eastern (red) sun-signs, and on number 9 or higher. This adds up to a raw and energetic vibe throughout the drama, coupled with high birth numbers that add intensity and gravity. Also, east means individuality, and a lot of sensitivity and emotion – all very important ingredients in any drama.

The Northern side of Braking Bad

Jesse Pinkman (2-Oc)

Jesse Pinkman (2-Oc)

In the family story that is Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul (2-Oc) played the role of the young puppy trying to begin his own family, after his natural family kicked him out of his Home.

Although a dog (Oc) aspires to spend all his days with a good pack, he makes one hell of a loner when he chooses or has to. Jesse’s whole being and motive is around loyalty – the hallmark of any canine. Most of the series his loyalty to his master (Mr. White, he never called him otherwise) seems undying. But to turn the drama around, in the last season that loyalty is undermined by Jesse’s revealing of the truth about what Walt has morphed into.

One of the dog’s special traits can be said to be hidden in plain sight. The first time Jesse appears in the series (S1E1) he is climbing out the window of a sexy lady’s bedroom. So he’s very sensual and sexual. He loves to hang out with friends and lovers, enjoy the good things in life, and party! The same goes with dogs.

In season 4, when Jesse was coming up in Gus’s ranks, working closely with Mike (1-Ix), his skills as a natural protector were evident. Whenever you’re in the presence of an Oc type, the Maya say a unique sense of security is palpable. “This good friend will let no harm come near the pack.”

When Jesse’s job took him south of the boarder to cook for the cartel yet another canine trait became apparent. Dogs love to get around and go for walks, but like to stay around their own territory. Long voyages away from their beloved routine are not easily taken. And likewise, Jesse was very reluctant to go, and responded in shock when he realized he’s staying to work there.

Poss in boots

"I haven't been on a trip like that since college." - Antonio Banderas (1-Ix) as Puss in Boots in Shrek the Third

Michael Ehrmantraut (1-Ix)

Besides Jesse, Mike is the only northern sun-sign-born in the leading cast. One other smaller one would be Ted Beneke (10-Ik), but that’s it. Mike and Jesse ended up in a father-son kind of relationship, and Mike seemed to have Jesse’s well being in mind. But that all came to an abrupt stop, like all of Jesse’s other attempts to belong to a family, when Walt, Jesse’s real surrogate dad, killed Mike.

Ix is the feline aspect of the calendar, and it means Jaguar. Mike is first introduced into the series as an anonymous cleanup guy, sent by Saul to help Jesse off the hook on the morning Jane (12-Eb) died. Mike coached Jesse on what to say and what to do when the police arrives, took all incriminating evidence, and left.

This is how a cat operates. Stealthy, indirect, skillful, knowing. These skills were put into action often when Mike was doing his thing, for Gus and later for Walt.

Go West

"Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand. Anyone may gather it and no limit is set." - Mother Teresa (6-Manik)

Badger, Skinny Pete, Don Eladio (all born 6-Manik)

Western (blue) sun-signs appear only in minor roles in Breaking Bad, but some interesting patterns appear.

When Jesse begins managing the blue meth distribution network he has three lieutenants/friends working for him: Combo, Badger, and Skinny Pete. Of these, the first was shot dead in mid-season 2. The actor’s name is Rodney Rush, and I couldn’t find his birthday.

The other two actually stayed on and appeared in many consequent chapters, including the last one. These are Badger (Matt L. Jones, born 6-Manik) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker, born 6-Manik). So again we come across a statistical oddity, having two actors born on the same Tzolkin date appear side by side, and in this case – literally side by side. For the Ulysses Jesse is, they are the proverbial Castor and Pollux, the hero twins immortalized in the zodiac known as Gemini.

But there’s another very minor but memorable character that was born on the very same Tzolkin day. He is the Mexican drug baron Don Eladio, played by veteran TV star Steven Bauer (6-Manik).

One last odd pair

The first and the last

Lydia Rodarte-Quayle (4-imix)

Laura Fraser (4-Imix) plays the role of Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, a criminal executive for a multinational corporation named Madrigal. She has a very fragile and neurotic demeanor, and appears to be quite crazy in a way. At the same time Lydia has to be some kind of genius in order to handle the dangerous distribution operation she managed for Walt. All these are traits of the crocodile (Imix).


Hector (Tio) Salamanca (4-Chuen)

If you count 130 days (1/2 cycle) from 4-Imix you arrive at our next odd and standout character – Tio Salamanca, played by the talanted Mark Margolis (4-Chuen). The only time he has lines in the series is during flashbacks, to the time when he was still young. In his present day state he’s in a wheelchair, unable to speak, and using a bell mounted on his armrest as his only means of communication.

Tio’s nurse and his nephews use a ouija board to communicate with him. It’s like he’s already dead (ouija boards are usually used to converse only with the departed), but somehow hovers still between life and death, because maybe, just maybe he still got one last card to play. His sun-sign Chuen (monkey) is indicative of this rare ability of those born on that day – to be the joker, the wild card who nobody saw coming.

Breaking Bad: major character Tzolkin birthday layout

In the following Figure 3 I’ve arranged all the sun-signs of the leading characters and support acts, each near the number of their birthday. So it doesn’t represent any real trecena (although Jesse 2-Oc and Walter 9-Caban were born on the same trecena: 1-Muluc), but rather the Tzolkin constellation of the cast.

The one character I didn’t mention above, but appears in Figure 3, is Tuco Salamanca, who was born 9-Manik. This is exactly 130 (1/2 cycle) apart from 9-Caban.


Figure 3: Caban is most prevalent sun-sign among the major roles; both protagonists (Walt and Jesse) were born on the same trecena: 1-Muluc | size of sun-sign indicates scope of role in the series; blank spots indicate either no roles or only minor, beyond the scope of this analysis.

The road to hell is paved by good intentions

Heisenberg discovered the secrets of quantum mechanics, of the way by which there is no such thing as unrelated elements of a given organism. By realizing this, “coincidence” becomes a word used by other people.

Was it a coincidence that Jesse ended up being emotionally involved with the sister of the 10 year-old kid who shot his friend Combo (S3E11)? Was it a coincidence that Walter’s admirer Gail Boetticher was a fan of Walt Whitman poetry like Walter? It was Whitman’s poetry book, which Gail gave Walter as a gift, that eventually revealed Walt’s identity as Heisenberg to Hank, and began the last sharp dip of his crash.

It was almost perfect. But then something unexpected happened. A fly in the ointment; a snake in the garden. An off chance that somehow made a difference. “Karma” means your own doing. Nothing can really just happen to you. It’s all your own doing.

The lies which Walt thought would hold up were revealed eventually, all to his own undoing. His plans always worked because he was very shrewd and smart. But his actions also always yielded a fallout of lies and karmic debt, which all came around eventually to collect.

4 responses to “Breaking Bad: Tzolkin calendar analysis

  1. OH YES! I think you’ve found your niche. I was captivated by your analysis of this exceptionally done and addictive series…thoroughly enjoyed your labours here. Thank you Eagle! Can’t wait for the next installment…

  2. Brilliant Tzolkin Analysis of Breaking Bad. I particularly resonated with what you said about Jesse being a 2- Dog (Oc) and his loyalty to his master “Mr. White”, then to his boss “Mike.” Something else that comes to mind is that in the final season when Jesse is being held captive to make the meth for the gang they actually chain him up “like a dog” so not to escape.

    Also amazing to me is the fact that twice you found actors with the exact same Sun sign and tones (Walter and Gus, Badger and Skinny Pete). The odds for that are outrageous.

    And so many Caban’s in the cast!

    Looking forward to your next analysis.

  3. Pingback: 1-Ben trecena daily digest, begins 25 OCT 2014 | Another Time

  4. Pingback: 1-Ben trecena daily digest, begins 30 Aug 2017 | Another Time

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.