In the past decades interest in the Mayan Calendar has constantly been on the rise. The number of people that have plunged deeply into it may be low, but a high number of people have a sense that there is something important to be learned from the Mayan Calendar, although they may not be sure exactly what. It is in order to clarify what this might be, and to present the currently two most important interpretations of the meaning of the Mayan Calendar, that this debate takes place. This is however not an academic dispute. The two opposing views, presented here by myself and John Major Jenkins, author of Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, have widely different consequences not only for how we are to look upon the Mayan Calendar, but also for what is the purpose of human life. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is a debate that is pivotal for the future of humanity.
But before presenting my critique of Jenkins’ precessional theory I would like to say a few words of appreciation of John Jenkins and the contribution he has already made to disseminating information about the Mayan Calendar. John Jenkins was the person who really brought the attention of wider groups of people to the true Mayan tzolkin count, the one that was used among the Maya in ancient times and has survived until this day among the Maya in Guatemala. This, he highlighted in the so-called True Count Debate that was posted on the Internet in 1995, where Jenkins exposed the calendar proposed by Jose Argüelles, the Dreamspell, as a calendar that had never been used by the Maya. At the time, when many thought of Argüelles as someone whose word could not be questioned, this was courageous to do on the part of Jenkins.
Clearly today an increasing number of people, not the least thanks to Jenkins, are beginning to realize that the tzolkin calendar still in use among the Maya is really the true master calendar. The True Count debate is thus something we may now leave behind, since a new consensus has grown out of it. What we now need to debate is the True Meaning of the Mayan Calendar, that is, the nature of the Mayan calendar system at large, and its spiritual consequences. These are the issues, with specific consequences for the end date, on which Jenkins and I seem to diverge, and while few people yet may know it, I feel these are questions fundamental for the future of humanity.
When it comes to explaining the meaning of the Mayan Calendar in the larger perspective, Jenkins’ idea is essentially that the Mayan Long Count, the 5,200 tun (tun = 360-day period) cycle that ends December 21, 2012, is really nothing but an attempt to calibrate a fifth of a precessional cycle of the earth, a cycle which is currently estimated by modern astronomers to approximately 25,920 years. At the ending date of the Long Count Jenkins supposedly identifies an alignment of the Midwinter Solstice sun with the galactic center. He also claims that this event is what the Maya had targeted and had hit on with some super human accuracy. Since Jenkins surmises that the precessional cycle is relevant for the changing of the ages he then postulates that a new age, corresponding to a new precessional cycle, will begin at the end of the Long Count. His basic assumption is thus that the Mayan calendar is based on an astronomical, or physical, cycle; the precessional cycle of the earth.
One would then have thought that his 425-page book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 would contain some proof of the central tenets of his ideas: A/ That the Maya used a 26,000 tun cycle to describe the precessional cycle of the earth, B/ That the precessional cycle of the earth has something to do with the coming and going of the ages, C/ That the Mayan calendar system is calibrated based on its end date, and D/ That there is an alignment of the Midwinter Solstice sun with the Galactic Center in the year 2012.
Amazingly, these central issues are not proved, and are mostly not even discussed, in Jenkins’ book and yet, those are the central assumptions upon which he bases his theory. I will discuss them one by one:
A) Nowhere in the Mayan records is there any mention of a 26,000-tun cycle, although this according to Jenkins’ theory would be the most important cycle among the Maya, upon which their whole chronology and calendar system was based. While there are hundreds and maybe thousands of mentions of baktuns and katuns and tuns as important prophetic cycles, there is not one single mention of a 26,000-tun cycle, that would conform to Jenkins’ proposed precessional cycle. I find it quite remarkable that an explanation is proposed for a cycle with a duration that the Maya do not ever record. Given that the Maya were very competent as astronomers and mathematicians it is hard to believe that the Maya would not point to the existence of a 26,000-tun cycle, at least on one of their steles, if this cycle indeed was, as Jenkins believes, the very basis of their calendar system.
B) It has never been demonstrated that the precessional cycle has anything to do with the coming and going of ages. Obviously, this idea is derived from Babylonian-European astrology according to which the earth goes through certain ages as the Spring Equinox passes through the various signs of the Babylonian Zodiac. This, I think, is the chief reason to the appeal that Jenkins’ idea has had among many. It is consistent with the bias of those believing in Babylonian-European astrology. Yet, there is no evidence that there would be any truth to the existence of various zodiacal ages. Jenkins’ book completely lacks historical evidence on this point and do not even refer to any one who would present it. In contrast, there is now overwhelming evidence, which in part is presented in my book The Mayan Calendar, that the various baktuns, katuns and tuns of the Mayan Long Count conform to significant changes in human history and that they in fact do define different ages. The thirteen baktuns of the Long Count for instance describe an evolution of consciousness from seed to mature fruit, from the formation of the first nation in Egypt to the emergence of the modern nation state in Europe, to take just an obvious example.
C) Jenkins builds his whole idea on an assumption that the Maya that developed the so-called Long Count did so with the purpose of targeting its end date. On this point Jenkins totally ignores the actual accounts by the ancient Maya, who do not describe events at the end of the Mayan calendar. The inscriptions in Quirigua and Palenque describe the beginning of creation, when the First Father raised the World Tree, and do not mention its end. Part of the problem with this is also that modern astronomers (with access to lasers and satellites) do not consider themselves able to estimate the end of a precessional cycle more accurately than by maybe ten years. Jenkins however assert that the Maya of two thousand years ago knew how to estimate the duration of the precessional cycle exactly on the day.
The Mayas own description of the beginning of the Long Count fits perfectly with what we now know about the great civilisational leap that took place on earth at that time. This leap propelled the emergence of writing, the first nations and cities and the building of the first pyramids in Egypt and Sumer. In other words, we actually do know that the beginning of the Long Count concurs with one of the greatest civilizational leaps ever. Yet, this beginning is ignored by Jenkins, since it does not fit his precessional theory. In reality, and I still do not know if Jenkins contests this, the Long Count reads like a global history book and the emergence of the first higher civilizations at the beginning of the Long Count only represents the beginning of this.
D) Astronomers have calculated that the alignment that Jenkins talks about happened in the year 1998, and so will not occur in 2012. Jenkins seems to be aware of this and in the appendix of his book (page 336) he suggests that "we should allow for at least a thirteen-year range in precessional calculations". Yet, throughout the body of his book he keeps reiterating the "end-date alignment" as if the astronomical alignment he describes would actually happen at the end of the Long Count. And so, it is no wonder that he is often quoted on the Internet as having shown that the proposed alignment actually takes place in 2012. It does not. The alignment that Jenkins wishes would occur in 2012 already happened in 1998. And so, if we draw the consequences of Jenkins’ view, there would be no further reason for us to follow the Mayan calendar, since the event it supposedly had targeted is already behind us.
On this point some words should also be said about the work of the late Terence McKenna, who wrote the foreword to Jenkins book. Based on the I Ching McKenna developed a Time-Wave function that he claimed would come to an end at the end of the Long Count, December 21, 2012. Unfortunately, McKenna is not here to respond, but Peter Meyer who developed the mathematics of the Time-Wave in the McKennas’ book The Invisible Landscape, pointed out already in his life-time that McKenna’s time wave, that had been anchored in human history merely by the choice of one single event, the Hiroshima Bombing, actually did not end on December 21, 2012, but on November 18, 2012. Since McKenna choose not to respond to this very serious criticism, we can only assume that it was wishful thinking that had led McKenna to say that the end of his time-wave coincided with the end-date of the Mayan Long Count.
At the heart of this discussion however rests two fundamentally different views of the world, a materialist and a spiritual. In Jenkins’ view the driving factor behind the changing ages is seen as a physical cycle of matter. Much of Babylonian-European astrology, which Jenkins seems to be influenced by, is in fact based on the same idea, that the locations of physical bodies, e.g., the planets and the precessional cycle, are behind events on earth. In my own view on the other hand consciousness is primary to matter, and even the movement of matter is ultimately subordinated to cosmic creation cycles.
Through my own research I have come to the conclusion that the Mayan Calendar is actually conceived of on a much greater scale than a precessional cycle of some mere 26,000 years. It is in fact a calendar of the Cosmic Evolution Plan, a time schedule for all of Creation, and so, it goes back all the way to its beginning with the Big Bang about 15 billion years ago. In this perspective the precessional cycle of our particular earth dwindles and we may become aware that the Mayan Calendar is something of such a grand scale that, properly understood, it may serve to unify science and religion. This then also leads to a deep realization that we are fundamentally all one, and one with the Cosmic Intelligence.
The fact that the creation cycles that the Mayan Calendar describe go back to a time, the Big Bang, when no planets, no solar system and even no Milky Way existed irrevocably shows that this was not based on astronomical cycles, especially not the precessional cycle of the earth, a planet that came into existence only about 5 billion years ago. So the time periods that the Mayan calendar describe must be based on something more fundamental than the gravitational cycles of matter. What I assert is that they are based on the evolution of consciousness subordinated to a strict divine cosmic time plan.
And this evolution of consciousness in the cosmos, through its different levels and time periods is obviously tun-based. It is, in other words, based on the 360-day period and its various multiples of twenty; katuns, baktuns, etc, up to hablatuns. When I say "obviously" I am not only trying to talk something into existence. There is overwhelming empirical evidence that the wave movement of cosmic evolution is based on these time periods. Also, if we study the ancient Books of Chilam Balam (the Jaguar Prophet) from the Maya, we find that these talk about the influence that the various deities that ruled the kins, the tuns and the katuns had on events on earth. Babylonian-European astrology, with its emphasis on the power of physical bodies on events on earth, was in fact forced upon the Maya by the Catholic friars. The real point to get for the study of the Mayan calendar is however that in its prophetic uses it is based on the 260-day tzolkin or the 360-day tun, cycles that do not have an origin in the physical universe. These cycles instead constitute the basic time periods that govern the evolution of consciousness, which reflect the vibration frequencies of the invisible World Tree.
The reason that the New Understanding of the Mayan Calendar, which emphasizes the driving role of consciousness in the evolution of the cosmos, is starting to break through at this very time is really that a new level of consciousness, and its corresponding world view, is now starting to develop. As we recently took a climb upward on the cosmic pyramid and a new age began as of January 5, 1999, a new Underworld began to develop according to a rhythm that I have called the Galactic creation cycle. A number of things stand out about this cycle of consciousness evolution:
1) Changes take place at a higher rate than ever before and so time seems to be speeding up dramatically. In reality, the rate of the divine process of creation and the vibration frequency of the World Tree has increased twenty-fold.
2) Everything is happening on a grander scale than before. For instance, since the manifestations in Seattle in 1999 the focus of political agitation or discussion has almost entirely shifted from the framework of the nation state to the global political arena.
3) People are increasingly beginning to adhere to the idea that consciousness is primary to matter and that we are living in a holographic universe that we will never truly understand from a reductionist or materialist approach. This change in thinking may be the most evident in the area of medicine. Thus, there we have seen a very significant trend towards the practice of treatments that are based on a holistic view of the human being, which emphasizes the role of consciousness in diseases as well as for healing.
The Mayan Calendar thus describes the emergence at the present time of a new level of consciousness, a higher galactic consciousness, that we are only now beginning to attain. It is, more than anything else, in order to understand this new level of consciousness, and immerse ourselves in its rhythm, that we really need the Mayan Calendar. For exact physical measurements of the precessional cycle we can however be fairly certain that it is better to trust modern science.
Partly this discussion then touches upon our view of ourselves. If the prophetic Mayan Calendar, as Jenkins seems to think, is primarily based on material processes, then matter would be primary to consciousness and this would affect also our view of ourselves as a lump of matter rather than a spirit. On the other hand, if we are primarily consciousness, evolving according to a cosmic divine time plan, then we are aspects of the divine coming into existence, and the purpose of human evolution will gradually manifest as we approach the end of these creation cycles on October 28, 2011.
So this is not an academic discussion. It reaches to the question of who we fundamentally are, and what we are here to do. But there are much more practical and immediate aspects. If we are to accept the Mayan view (which I think in my book I have proved to be accurate) that the tun-based system is a prophetic calendar, where the rulerships of the various deities set their mark on different time periods, then we should not just sit around and wait for the "end date" of the Long Count. Instead we should actually follow the ups and downs of the wave movement of consciousness to develop our intuition and tune in to the cosmic changes. This is really a question of destiny for each and every one of us as well as for humanity collectively speaking. Only if we actually use the Mayan calendar, based on the correct tzolkin count and a corrected ending date, October 28, 2011, will it have any value as guidance for us. If the calendar is incorrectly calibrated and has an incorrect basis, it will only lead us further astray. Coming to an understanding of the true nature of time is an urgent, as well as beneficial, matter.Carl Johan Calleman