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Mayan Prophecy

December 19, 2012 by  

Mayan Prophecy, The hour is upon us. This Friday at the stroke of solstice (4:12 a.m. Mountain Standard Time), the Maya Long Count calendar will click over to read “13.0.0.0.0,” (pronounced “thirteen b’aktun”) for the first time in 5,125 years.

The event has captured the world’s curiosity and imagination, and this week, all eyes are on Mesoamerica: i.e. southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and parts of Honduras and El Salvador. That’s where the Maya culture reigned during the Classic Period (about 200-900 A.D.) and where most of the 10 million or so living Maya reside today. So much attention being showered on the Maya people and their history, cosmology and culture presents an opportunity to ask a few questions.

A b’aktun is a period of 144,000 days (about 393 years) in the Long Count. It is an especially important unit, “used for describing the creations of humans and of the world,” as Guatemalan writer Gaspar Pedro Gonz?lez says. Some historians, looking at the historical record, have argued that there is a correlation between major world events and b’aktun endings.

Thirteen is a sacred number for the Maya, so the completion of 13 b’aktuns, or 1,872,000 days, lends even more import to December 21, 2012. The fact that the Maya may have pegged this end date to a winter solstice (using only nkd eye astronomy while taking precession into account, the earth’s leapyear-causing wobble) is, for some, additional evidence of some kind of intention by the ancient Maya.

Others are not so convinced and most (but not all) mainstream academic Mayanists say there is zero evidence of any intention or prophecy. So put down that survivalist manual, ignore Hodgman’s advice to hoard urine and Mayonnaise and instead buy some books or maybe even plane tickets to a Maya country.

The Maya’s observations of celestial cycles inspired a complex system of interlocking calendars of various lengths. Maya day-keepers, as their priests are known, built the cycles into a Long Count, or 5,125-year period of time, which they projected backward to begin on August 11, 3114 B.C. and forward to end on December 21, 2012. The Long Count is both calendar and historical record.

The calculations were made at least 1,300 years ago in southern Mexico (perhaps even earlier by pre-Maya Olmec cultures). The dates were scrawled into stone stelae and temple walls, then lay hidden for many centuries and are still being unearthed and deciphered today. Entire books are dedicated to explaining the unique and complex base-20 Maya calendar system — Barbara Tedlock’s Time and the Highland Maya is a standard on the subject.

Dr. Edwin Barnhart, Director of the Maya Exploration Center, writes about the Maya’s affinity for “calculating the lowest common multiples and highest common divisors between the celestial cycles they were tracking.” He says, “I believe the Long Count allowed them to tease those temporal conjunctions out and that and that they viewed them as the hidden synchronicities of the cosmos.”

But if the purpose of the Long Count was not to pinpoint a transition at its end, then what was it?

John Major Jenkins, an independent researcher and author, thinks the answer is in the sky. He has written several books laying out the evidence for his galactic alignment theory, which states that the Maya selected 2012 as the end of their Long Count to correspond to future astronomical phenomena. His work is heavily based on the architecture, writing and layout of Izapa archaeological zone in southwest Chiapas, Mexico.

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