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The Maya and 2012 - timeline and references

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posted on Oct, 5 2011 @ 07:22 PM


For years now 2012 has been a hot topic for discussion. This is true not only on ATS. In fact this is a “conspiracy” that has worked its way into everyday discussions. It has become so pervasive that millions have been made in book sales and at least one major motion picture has been created based around the claims regarding 2012. There are those who claim that it marks the end of the world. There are also those who claim that 2012 is going to be a time of ascension. No matter what side one subscribes to the source for these claims always go back to one civilization. The Maya. It is my hope with this thread to dispel some of the false claims that have been attributed to the Maya and to set the record straight as to what the Maya actually claimed regarding the start of the 13th baktun.


The origins of connecting the Maya with eschatology goes back to before anything was actually known about them. In 1502 Christopher Columbus was in the area of Honduras when he heard of a tribe on the island of Guanaja named the “Maia.” It is a known fact that Columbus was greatly influenced by the Catholic bishop Pierre d'Ailly, specifically his book Imago Mundi. It is from this book that Columbus based his estimates of the circumference of the Earth. In this book d'Ailly also portrays the schism occurring in the Church at that time as an apocalyptic event. Certain passages from d'Ailly's book convinced Columbus that his discovery of distant lands, and by association the “Maia,” would bring about the Apocalypse (Hoopes, 2011).

The first mention the Europeans actually had of 13 baktun comes in the form of the Popol Vuh For those that are unfamiliar with the Popol Vuh, it is a compilation of the creation myths of the K'iche' Maya who resided in the highlands of Guatemala. In the Popol Vuh the K'iche' stated that we are currently living in the fourth world, with the previous three ending after 13 baktun (Schele & Freidel, 1990).

On top of the Popol Vuh, most modern claims regarding 2012 stem from the Dresden Codex. The first one to associate cataclysmic events with the Dresden Codex was Ernst Forstemann in the early 1900s. Forstemann stated that the final page of the Codex depicted a catastrophic flood. Forstemann however never mentioned a specific date, or whether or not the flood was a past or future event. In 1946 Sylvanus Morley picked up on Forstemann's claims and embellished them for his book The Ancient Maya (Morley, 1983).

Prophecies & Prophets

Beginning in the mid-70s writers began to pick up on the writings regarding the 13th baktun and incorporate them into their own theories. The first of these was New Age writer Frank Waters (1975). In his book Mexico Mystique: The Coming Sixth World of Consciousness attempted to tie the date of the 13th baktun to astrology and the Hope Blue Star Kachina prophecy. He believed that the convergence of these factors would produce a global shift in consciousness.

Similar claims were being made by Jose Arguelles and Terrence McKenna, although they did not originally associate their theories with the Mayans. It wasn't until Robert Sharer published a correlation table in the 4th edition of Morley's The Ancient Maya (1983) that corresponded the 13th baktun with December 21, 2012 that McKenna and Arguelles jumped on the Maya bandwagon.

The next major proponent of a shift in consciousness was John Major Jenkins. Jenkins picked up the astrological aspect of Waters, McKenna, and Arguelles, but greatly expanded upon it. Jenkins main focus was on something known as the Dark Rift. The Dark Rift is a series of non-luminous dust clouds that, to the naked eye, extend from Cygnus to Centaurus. It appears as a dark band in the night sky (McClure, 2009). Certain scholars believe that the Maya knew the Dark Rift as Xibalba be, or the “Dark Road.” Jenkins believes that using the Xibalba be the Maya were able to determine the location of the Galactic Center and then calculate when the Sun will align with this position, which he states will occur on December 21, 2012. He states that this alignment will then be a harbinger of a global change in consciousness (Jenkins, 1998).

It was around this time that Maya elder started to support the claims of these New Age writers. Most notable of these are Hunbatz Men and Don Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj. Hunbatz Men first threw his hat into the ring when he was mentioned Jose Arguelles. Hunbatz Men stated that Arguelles' claims regarding Mayan cosmology was correct and that the end of the Long Count did mark a change in consciousness. Don Alejandro on the other hand began talking about prophecies that seemed to support Jenkins' claims regarding 2012.

On the other side of the argument are the doomsayers. While seemingly less organized than the consciousness shift crowd they also appear to be the most vocal. For the most part their claims cannot be connected to a single writer and instead most are made by anonymous internet posters. There are however exceptions to this. Probably the biggest name associated with claims of doomsday is Graham Hancock, who in Fingerprints of the Gods (1995) stated that remarks made by Michael Coe in his 1992 book Breaking the Maya Code were evidence for a doomsday prophecy.

Much like those who support a consciousness shift a major claim that is used by doomsday supporters is that the Maya were connecting the end of the Long Count to a celestial alignment. The common claim is that the alignment will create a kind of gravity well that will cause devastating seismological events and/or a pole shift (Astronomy Cast, 2008; Cessna, 2009a).

The doomsday believers did gain some credibility to their claims in 1996 when Stuart and Houston published a paper in Antiquity where they published a translation of Tortuguero Monument 6. At that time Tortuguero Monument 6 contained the only reference to the 13th baktun in the entire Classic period. Stuart and Houston claimed that this monument contained a prophecy about the return of Bolon Yokte', an ancient god connected to war and strife. This paper seemed to support the belief that the Maya believed the 13th baktun would bring death and destruction.
edit on 5-10-2011 by Byrd because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 5 2011 @ 07:24 PM

“Prophecies” & Profits

Unfortunately for both the New Agers and the doomsayers the facts don't actually support their claims. Most claims regarding 2012 stem from Morley's interpretation of the Dresden Codex and Coe's comments regarding. However, as was mentioned above, there is actually no date that corresponds to the last page of the Codex, which is the one that contains the “prophecy.” As the Dresden Codex dealt primarily with agriculture it is more likely that this page depicts an event that has already occurred, or possibly even seasonal flooding. However, even if it is supposed to depict a future event, there is no way to know whether or not it is connected to the 13th baktun.

The other major source for claims surrounding 2012 is the Popol Vuh. As I stated previously this was from the post-Colonial period. This is a major factor as Mayan beliefs began to drastically change after the arrival of the Spanish. This is most apparent in the Chilam Balam books, which were used to convert the Maya to Christianity. The Chilam Balam are also well known for their prophecies, such as the arrival of the white man, but they have clearly been influenced by Christian beliefs and do not reflect traditional Maya cosmology. I say this because the belief in multiple worlds does not seem to exist among the Maya prior to the Popol Vuh (Normark, 2010). For example, on Coba Stela 1, the date of the creation of the universe is placed at, which is several trillion years before the start of the Long Count and it makes no reference to different worlds. Furthermore, we can see from the use of Difference Numbers that the Maya never expected the Long Count to end. We have certain inscriptions that extend past a piktun (20 baktun) and correspond to dates thousands of years in the future.

This brings us to claims from actual Maya regarding their “prophecies.” First is Hunbatz Men. When he began to support Arguelles' work it seemed to add a shot of credibility to the field. Unfortunately for Arguelles Hunbatz Men was a Yucatec Mayan. To most this statement won't mean anything, but it is very important when considering the claims of Aguelles and Hunbatz Men. Most people assume the Long Count was in widespread use throughout the Mayan empire. This isn't true though. It was only in use by Mayans in Central America, primarily Guatemala. As a Yucatec Mayan Hunbatz Men would have no tradition of the Long Count and thus no prophecies associated with it. We also run into problems with Don Alejandro. Prior to a 1998 trip by Ian Lungold to visit Don Alejandro he made no claims regarding 2012. However, on this trip Lungold read Don Alejandro excerpts from Jenkins' Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 book. Following this even is when Don Alejandro began making “prophecies” the quoted almost word for word from Jenkins' book. These two events then set a precedence where a 2012 “researcher” would visit a Mayan elder and tell them about either their work or the work of someone else. The elder would then start making “prophecies” incorporating what they were told and then other “researchers” would quote them saying that these were Mayan beliefs. This has led to a lot of missourced claims and a complete fabrication of Mayan cosmology (Normark, 2011; Jenkins, 2009).

If we then look at the claims of celestial alignments, it becomes quickly apparent that there aren't any on December 21, 2012. First we'll look at the claims of planetary alignments. Much like the claims surrounding Elenin there have been claims that a planetary alignment on the 13th baktun will cause mass devastation. However, there are no planetary alignments that occur on that date (Morrison, 2010). To further show how ridiculous this claim is, there were multi-planet alignments that occurred in 2000 and 2010 with nothing happening (Cessna, 2009b). Next there's Jenkins' claim about an alignment with the galactic center. While one could argue that the Sun will be aligned with the galactic center on that date one could also say that it was there last year, and the year before, and the year before that, etc. It takes the Sun 36 years to stop being aligned with the galactic center and in fact it was best aligned in 1998 (Meeus, 1997). The final celestial alignment claim is that the solar system with pass through the galactic plane on this date. Once again this just isn't true. First, it takes thousands of years for the solar system to pass through the galactic plane and it can't be traced to a single day. Second, all research indicates that we passed through the galactic plane three million years ago. This means that it will be millions of more years before the solar system passes through the galactic center again (Bahcall & Bahcall, 1985).

posted on Oct, 5 2011 @ 07:24 PM
The last area that must be touched on is Tortuguero Monument 6. While the rest of this Mayan prophecy stuff may not have panned out at least there's still Tortuguero Monument 6's prophecy. Right? Wrong. Starting in 2010 researchers have come out saying that Tortuguero Monument 6 has no prophecy whatsoever on it. The first paper was by Gronemeyer & Macleod (2010). They stated that the monument was not a prophecy, but was actually discussing a ceremony that was to occur on the 13th baktun where a person would dress as Bolon Yokte' and march around. Houston on the other hand believes that it doesn't have anything to do with 2012 at all (Houston, 2008). Stuart has also stated his views on the subject and has thrown his support behind Houston.


From all of this information there are a number of things that we can conclude. First, there is no prophecy that Maya associated with the 13th baktun. Second, the Long Count does not end on the 13th baktun. Third, all of the claims surrounding this day are not supported by Mayan comsology or science. Fourth, it is clear that there are at least a few people trying to cash in on the 2012 phenomenon, including a few Mayan elders.

While I don't expect this thread to stop the discussions regarding 2012 I do hope that at least a few people have learned something. There is so much disinformation and lies surrounding the 13th baktun that I just wanted to set the record straight. I hope most of you can now see that there is nothing to the 2012 thing, but if not I am willing to debate the topic.


Since the Hopi Blue Star Kachina prophecy so often gets drawn in to the claims about 2012 I thought I would add a little bit regarding that as well and why it isn't an actual prophecy. First, it should be stated that there is no Hopi source for this prophecy. There are two white men and a man who claimed to be half-Hopi, but has since rescinded that claim. This right off the bat should raise a red flag. To further refute its legitimacy the Hopi themselves have come forward and stated that it is not a prophecy of theirs. They have made it clear that one should not trust any Hopi speaking about Hopi matters. They even caution about Hopi speaking about Hopi matters if they are not on Hopi land (Hopi, 2004).

posted on Oct, 5 2011 @ 07:25 PM

Works Cited

Astronomy Cast. (2008). “Questions show: Alignment with the galactic plane, destruction from Venus, and the death of the solar system.” Universe Today.

Bahcall, J.N. & Bahcall, S. (1985). “The Sun's motion perpendicular to the galactic plane.” Nature, 316 (6030), 706-708.

Cessna, A. (2009a). “Geomagnetic reversal.” Universe Today.

Cessna, A. (2009b). “Planetary alignment.” Universe Today.

Gronemeyer, S. & Macleod, B. (2010). “What could happen in 2012: A re-analysis of the 13-bak'tun prophecy on Tortuguero Monument 6.” Wayeb Notes, 34, 1-68.

Hancock, G. (1995). Fingerprints of the gods, New York: Crown Publishers Inc.

Hoopes, J.W. (2011). “A critical history of 2012 mythology.” Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, 7, 240-248.

Hopi Nation. (2004). “Cultural theft and misrepresentation.”

Houston, S. & Stuart, D. (1996). “Of gods, glyphs, and kings: Divinity and rulership among the Classic Maya.” Antiquity, 70 (268), 289-312.

Houston, S. (2008). “What will not happen in 2012.” Maya Decipherment.

Jenkins, J.M. (1998). Maya cosmogenesis 2012: The true meaning of the Maya calendar end-date, Rochester, VT: Bear and Company.

Jenkins, J.M. (2009). The 2012 story: The myths, fallacies, and truth behind the most intriguing date in history, Los Angeles: Tarcher.

McClure, B. (2009). “Great Rift: Dark area in the Milky Way.” EarthSky.

Meeus, J. (1997). “Ecliptic and galactic equator.” Mathematical Astronomy Morsels, Richmond, VA: Willmann-Bell.

Morley, S. (1983) The ancient Maya. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

Normark, J. (2010). “The Long Count is not cyclical.” Archaeological Haecceities.

Normark, J. (2011). “The Maya elders and 13 baktun.” Archaeological Haecceities.

Schele, L. & Freidel, D. (1990) A forest of kings: The untold story of the Maya, New York: Harper.

Stuart, D. (2011). “More on Tortuguero's Monument 6 and the prophecy that wasn't.” Maya Decipherment.

Waters, F. (1975). Mexico mystique: The coming sixth world of consciousness, Chicago: Sage Books/Swallow Press.

posted on Oct, 5 2011 @ 07:39 PM
Closed, pinned for reference material.

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