The Universal Meaning of 2012 and the Mayan Calendar. The Mythos, Astronomy and Sociology of 2012-MC

On the Universal Significance of

December 21st, 2012

quetzalcoatl framed 3

World Centering and World Renewing

 

The question about the year 2012 and in particular December 21st,

is not— what’s going to happen—

but rather what are we going to make happen !!

A Spanish version of this article is available.

The Legend of 2012 is all about the social realm!

 

“Dark as the hour may appear, we exist in a dimension of greater opportunity,
freedom, and possibility than has ever been.”
~ Terrence McKenna


Based on the fantastic pace of change, the decay of the old world system and the macro-trends already set in motion, it does indeed look like the “end of the world” as we know it is upon us. We are witnessing the emergence of a new culture, or the birth of a planetary culture. The great mythologist Joseph Campbell said that the next stage of human cultural evolution would be dependent upon the creation of the planetary mythos.

The planetary mythos is nothing less than the presently unfolding story of how humanity’s collective yearning for a better world is turned into reality via a collective movement to save the planet and her inhabitants from the clutches of the Current World System. It is the story of how we as a whole outgrew our straight jackets of tradition, fear, ethnocentrism, self-absorption, and apathy, to embrace the worldview of a cooperative Planetary Culture.

“Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.”
~ Joseph Campbell

 

A Planetary Culture would be characterized by the following attributes.

  • Direct democracy
  • Ecological sensitivity
  • Evidence based policies
  • Gender balance-respect
  • Diplomacy and cooperation
  • Government transparency
  • Incorruptible monetary system
  • Cross cultural unity and respect
  • Egalitarian socio-cultural philosophy
  • Egalitarian lawmaking, Demilitarization, disarmament and non-violence
    • By egalitarian lawmaking I mean the enactment of rules, laws, and codes that do not favor any particular group or individual to the detriment or disadvantage of the rest.
  • Clean and harm minimizing technologies and products
  • Identification with the Planet as a whole (i.e. Planetary/Global Citizens)
  • Acceptance of others customs and beliefs with the following exceptions;
    • Militarism, coercion or force as a solution
    • The subjugation of women and minorities
    • Slavery of any kind
    • Discrimination based on sexual orientation
    • Child sexual abuse
    • Religious proselytizing

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream.
A dream you dream together is reality”
~ John Lennon

It should be glaringly clear to all, but the most self-absorbed and isolated among us, that the Current World System is a menace to life, liberty, sanity, and universal prosperity. By universal prosperity I don’t mean that everyone should have the same standards of living. Natural inequality is a fact of life, but legalized criminality, organized predation, and systematic parasitism is the socio-economic strategy of the “one percent”, and not a fact of life.

By virtue of its definition, it is the destiny of a Planetary Culture to abolish the horrors and stupefying inequalities perpetrated by the owners of the Current World System (CWS). There is no bright future in store for the Earth and her inhabitants unless the CWS is dismantled and transformed. The ongoing breakdown of the CWS, and the emergence of a Planetary Culture is precisely what the Legend of 2012 is all about. An old epoch (culture) is coming to a close, and a new one (culture) is dawning.

The ancient Mesoamericans responsible for the much maligned and misunderstood Mesoamerican Calendrical (MAC) system made no predictions about what would happen at the end of the Maya Long Count cycle that ends on December 21st, 2012. They did not need to. Implicit in the closing of a cycle is the notion of transition.

Transition implies the extraordinary changes that concur with such times. The wisdom of calendrical science or the study of cycles with regards to cyclical transition can be summed up in the following axiom of calendrical science.

“The approach of, and the entrance into cyclical renewal is always marked by signifying changes, and the changes are proportional to the magnitude of the cycle in question.” ~ RS   (I will elaborate on the concept further down)


As we begin the year 2012, and approach the fabled date of December 21st, 2012 four key questions loom large.

  • Why did the ancient Mesoamericans celebrate the end of a major cycle?
  • How would the ancient Mesoamericans celebrate the end of a major cycle?
  • Why is December 21st 2012 the best candidate for the end date of the Long Count cycle?
  • Why is the end of a calendrical cycle relevant to non-followers of Mesoamerican Calendrics (MAC)?

In this article I will attempt to answer those four questions, and I will also propose a celebratory format for December 21st 2012, as based on the ancient Mesoamerican tradition of the New Fire Ceremony. The primary purpose of this article is show why the December 21st, 2012 event is of universal significance, and why we should all make preparations to celebrate and/or observe in whatever manner each person deems appropriate.

It does not matter if you do not understand even the basics of the Mesoamerican Calendrical system (MAC). What matters is that the overarching zeitgeist be understood. Zeitgeist is German for “spirit of the times”. Just what is the zeitgeist of 2012?  To understand the fundamental zeitgeist of 2012, we need only look to the ritual observance of the winter solstice by nature based philosophies and spiritualities.

In the northern hemisphere the winter solstice falls on December 21st or 22nd and in the southern hemisphere it falls on June 20th or 21st. The solstices where of supreme importance to most, if not all non-Judeo-Christian and pre-Christian cultures of the world’s temperate latitudes because it meant that the sun was “returning”(cyclical renewal).

This meant that the growing season would soon arrive, and that meant food and warmer days. In the tropical latitudes, cultures would be more apt to celebrate the start of the rainy season for the same reason, or for the increased availability of food. In our day and age, certain segments of the population take the availability of food for granted.

The underlying theme in whatever the latitude is cyclical renewal of the life cycle. The time between the winter solstice and the spring equinox is equivalent to birth and emergence. Spring equinox to summer solstice is equivalent to the exuberant growth from birth to physical maturity. Summer solstice to fall equinox is parallel to the mental-emotional maturation of middle age and the fall to winter period corresponds to whole systems decline and death. The solstice signifies rebirth.

Those of you familiar with December 21st, 2012 might question and say; but the December 21st, 2012 date is about the end of a cycle that is over 5000 years long. That is correct, in fact its 5125.36 years to be exact. But the question remains: How is such a long cycle related to the yearly life cycle of renewal? To adequately answer the last question I will now address key question number 1 : Why did the ancient Mesoamericans celebrate the end of major cycles?

 

World Renewing

According to the ethnographic work of David Carrasco, ancient Mesoamerican cultures where concerned with 3 overriding cosmological quests – worldmaking, worldrenewing and worldcentering. This article is concerned foremost with the aspect of world-renewing, and to a slightly lesser degree the aspect of world-centering. Ancient Mesoamerican cultures tracked upwards of 20 different calendrical cycles.

These cycles measure anywhere from 13 days to 394 years and beyond. Their preoccupation with cycles stemmed from the discovery that cyclical ending and renewal are accompanied by moods, themes, and real world events, indicative of decline and renewal. In other words cyclical closure and renewal are more than just apt metaphors to indicate the ending and restart points of whatever cycle they were tracking.

Cyclical ending and renewal were expected to be accompanied by real events and socio-political themes indicative of termination and renewal. The ability to anticipate such junctures in time has clear value depending upon what one expects to accomplish. By anticipating the start of the rainy season the farmer knows when to plant his crops to better his chances of a successful harvest.

It was the goal of Mesoamerican cultures to harmonize their lives according to the ebb and flow of the cycles they tracked. By doing so they maximized effort, and minimized energy expenditures. Its the ability to know if you are going to encounter a tail or head wind. Going with the tail wind maximizes effort, while avoiding the headwind conserves energy. The all encompassing wisdom of worldrenewing can be summed up by the already mentioned axiom of cyclical transition.

The approach of, and the entrance into cyclical renewal is always marked by signifying changes, and the changes are proportional to the magnitude of the cycle in question.

For example Ice age cycles bring long lasting, widespread, and intense cold for much of the planet. The solar cycle brings intense cold for proportionately smaller regions of the planet, and for shorter periods of time. The day cycle brings warmth during the day, and coolness at night.

The transitional changes of each cycle are proportionate to the length of the cycle in question. The short gestational cycle of a mouse develops a smallish organism. The longer gestational cycle of a human being creates a medium sized creature, and that of whale develops a super sized one. So too do the cycles of time as mapped by the ancient Mesoamericans bring with their respective closure and restart junctures, events of proportionate magnitude. This understanding brings us to the second question, and that is: How did the ancient Mesoamericans celebrate the beginning of a new cycle?

 

The New Fire Ceremony

The completion of the 52 year Calendar Round cycle was accompanied by the most highly celebrated and anticipated ritual event in all of Mesoamerica – the New Fire Ceremony. It was at the end of every 52 years that the two principal timepieces of Mesoamerican calendrics completed their weave of time. The 260 day Tzolkin Cycle, and the 365 day solar cycle are offset by 105 days, and it takes precisely 52 years for the same day on the Tzolkin Cycle to once again coincide with the same day on the solar cycle.

The New Fire ceremony was enacted over a 13 day period, and it consisted of various purification and renewal rites involving the person, the home, and the village or city. Renewal also extended into the economic realm whereby all debts were forgiven.

Formal closure of the cycle was signified when all fires of ceremonial and domestic use were extinguished, and formal renewal of the cycle was symbolized by rekindling the fires. The New Fire Ceremony was pinpointed by an astronomical event involving the zenithal passage of the Pleiades at midnight. The event was also accompanied by human sacrifice, but I will spare you the details of the sacrificial aspect.

Though I will say more about the astronomical event, because it speaks directly to December 21st, 2012. This last detail bring us to question number 3, and that is: Why is December 21st, 2012 the best candidate for the end date of the Long Count cycle? That is an important question because the date has been challenged by some.

 

The Why of December 21st, 2012

Correlating the end date of the Maya Long Count Cycle with the Gregorian calendar was accomplished by the work of 3 archaeologists, and that body of work is known as the GoodmanMartinezThompson correlation or GMT for short. Most MMAC scholars are in accord with the GMT correlation. A separate correlation account by Floyd Lounsbury puts the end date on December 23rd 2012 – not much of a difference.

The next academic challenge of note is by Geraldo Aldana who says that the end date may be off by as much as 60 days. We can dismiss Carl Calleman’s October 28th 2011 end date without much ado. Given the slight amount of discord, there are still several reasons as to why the December 21st date is most likely the correct date, and if it isn’t then there is one good reason as to why we should make it so.

First of all calendrics is a work in progress. All cycles equate to less than a whole number. For example the year cycle is approximately 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds longer than 365 days so every 4 years the Gregorian calendar system adds a day so that its dates remain synced to the solstices and equinoxes. But that does not fix the problem entirely because adding a full day every 4 years accumulates an error of 11.25 minutes every 4 years.

In other words calendrical trackers are obliged to make field measurements to verify calculations. Over the course of time adjustments are made in order to account for the whole-number imprecision inherent in the cyclical movement of astronomical bodies.

The problem with the Long Count Cycle is that we don’t have an official benchmark or scholastically agreed upon astronomical body against which to check our measurement. There is some question as to what the Long Count Cycle was calibrated against, if anything.

This is where the work of John Major Jenkins comes in. In his book the Galactic Alignment, Jenkins goes into great detail about the astronomical significance of December 21st 2012 , and it just so happens that for the first time in 25,770.1 years, the solstice sun of the northern hemisphere is lined up with the galactic plane, and is a minor 5 to 6 degrees off the precise galactic center.

Based on the position of our solar system, the sun will never line up with the precise galactic center. December 21st, 2012 is as close as we get. Twenty-five thousand, seven hundred and seventy point one years is our most precise calculation of the precessional cycle according to archeo-astronomer Anthony Aveni. Most writers use the imprecise figures of 25,800, 25,920 or 26,000 when writing about the length of the precessional cycle, which is also known as the Platonic or Great Year.

This image show the relative position between the sun and the galactic plane in the year 1998 and 2012 respectively from right to left.

Should the calendrical community decide to use the galactic alignment of 2012 as the astronomical marker of the Long Count cycle then they have every right to do so. The galactic alignment is a perfect astronomical marker of the precessional cycle and the Long Count cycle is approximately one fifth of a precessional cycle. Meaning that the Long Count cycle is an appropriate yardstick by which to measure the precessional cycle.

Now let’s suppose that somehow someone is able to unequivocally prove that the Long Count cycle ends on some date other than 12/21-2012. No problem we merely re-calibrate the end of the Long Count cycle to end on the date the solstice sun conjuncts the galactic equator as it will on 12/21-2012, because it offers us an unequivocal and commensurate astronomical reference point.

We don’t have a better marker, unless events on Planet Earth in relation to the sun’s incomplete traverse of the galactic equator suggest that we consider a different date. Otherwise the overwhelming momentum of the human-planetary condition and the Mayan calendar-2012 mythos seems to be saying that the end of 2012 will be a time of mega-historic proportions.

The galactic plane is an imaginary 1 degree wide line that is envisioned to run through the center of the galactic disc when viewed sideways. It will take the sun 36 years to traverse the 1 degree wide galactic plane. The sun entered the zone of alignment in 1980, and that means it will exit the galactic plane in 2016. Therefore the most precise solstice-sun-galactic centering took place on December 21st, 1998. Does this mean that we’ve missed the boat? No not all.

First of all let’s acknowledge that we have an excellent and unequivocal astronomical counterpart to the end of the Long Count Cycle. The Long Count Cycle is however only one fifth of a precessional cycle. Five Long count cycles are equal to 25,626.8 years. That’s only 143.3 years off the modern calculation ! A calculation made possible only by our super advanced measuring technologies.

In one view we are ending a cycle that is 5125.36 years long and from another perspective we are ending a cycle that is 25,770.1 years long! If we divide the precessional cycle by 4 so as to create 4 seasons of 6442.52 years then this is what the last Great Year looks like in terms of seasonal event markers. For ease of visualization I will round off numbers for this example.

Approximately 26,000 years ago the earth was in the frozen grasp of what is known as the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and that means that the last ice age cycle had peaked as measured by the extent of the ice sheets. Let’s call the LGM the winter solstice of the current Great Year. The official end of the last ice age was approximately 13,000 years ago and that event marks the summer solstice or the mid-point of the Great Year.

The birth of the imperial civilizational model happened around 6500 years ago or what would amount to the fall equinox of the current precessional cycle. We are now fast approaching the winter solstice of a new precessional cycle and we find ourselves in the midst of a human induced mass extinction event. Death is associated with the fall equinox to winter solstice time period by most if not all cultures of the temperate zones. To this day more people die in the winter than at any other time of the year.

By extinction event, I am referring to the permanent death of thousands of species resulting from an unregulated and myopic human cultural process called “growth at any and all costs”. It just so happens that the ongoing extinction event is occurring during the fall to winter epoch of the current Great Year. Let us also remember the horrific genocidal and mass murder rampages (wars) of the last 600 years.

It was only in the last century when those who think themselves to be the most civilized of the world butchered each other to the tune of hundreds of millions of dead. In the last 600 years, death and destruction have been prevalent worldwide themes.

The imperial civilizational model is built upon the ruthless and rampant exploitation of everything it can get its hands on and warfare is its life blood. The fruit of such a model stands rotting before us as testimony to its utter failure to account for anything more than economic growth at any and all costs. The costs are after all externalized to be shouldered by the 99 percent – bailouts anyone?

The Current World System is designed to serve the tiniest minority (far less than 1%) of earth’s population. They are a very capable, but insensitive and deranged subculture of the human family, that is not fit to address the demands of the current planetary-human condition. In fact it is the social, environmental and economic policies of the one percent that have landed us in such a catastrophic mess.

The only solution to the Current World System is a Planetary Culture who uses its collective resources to improve society, maintain ecological balance, develop solutions, and minimize suffering. The Current World System does the exact opposite, so why would we want to salvage it? Our destiny, if we have one, can only be to dismantle and transform the current system.

The only other alternative is to look the other way and let the Current World System lead us down an ever widening path of death and destruction. The human-planetary condition coupled with a once in a precessional cycle solstice-sun galactic alignment event is the very meaning of worldrenewing. A old culture (evolutionary cycle) is dying and a new culture (evolutionary cycle) is yearning to emerge.

We are confronted with every literal and figurative sign post (peak everything) that we have arrived at a turning point of global and epic proportions!

The Current World System will do everything within its power to reconfigure itself under a new guise, but we will not settle for anything less than its opposite. We are talking about a transitional process of indeterminate length, to eventually bring about the changes that we so direly need to go forward with any kind optimistic outlook.

December 21st, 2012 marks only a new beginning and it is not to be confused with some supernatural, magical, or physically cataclysmic event as many 2012 writers have presented. As if we need more cataclysms than are already present! I mean if we can come together on the scale that I and others are proposing, then that could indeed qualify as a supernatural and magical event!

Gratefully,

Rohaan Solare
Founder-Author of
Emergent-Culture.com
and TzolkinCosmology.com
The Planetary Perspective

4 comments

  1. Laurie Tysinger

    Every time I read this one, it leads me to wonder what TC the purported mass disappearance of the Maya people occurred under.

    • Rohaan Solare

      The Maya people did not disappear. They are still around. They are the most numerous indigenous population in the Americas today. They maximized the development of an imperial civilization and then limitations kicked in and so did climate change.

  2. Laurie Tysinger

    Yes, I agree. That is why I say “purported”. Still, according to archaeologists…something drastic occurred at a certain point.I just wondered if the Tzolkin speaks of trends at the time.
    Wars during their decline…700 to 900 C.E.,etc.
    Was it at all similar to the “worldrenewing” phase we are now in the midst of?

    • Rohaan Solare

      The Tzolkin does not speak to large scale change over large periods of time per se. For that we use elements of the Long Count Calendar. And yes their civilization came to close as they approached and entered the 10th baktun.

      The Long Count Calendar that came to a close on December 21st, 2012 is divided into 13 periods of 144,000 days or just a bit more than 394 years per baktun. The following axiom of Tzolkin Cosmology helps understand the dynamics of cycle closure and cycle renewal.

      The approach of, and the entrance into cyclical renewal is always marked by signifying changes, and the changes are proportional to the magnitude of the cycle in question.

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