Radioactive: 2012 Series

By Robert Nelson

Mayan Skywatchers: Revealing the Mystery of 2012.
by Robert Nelson
Did the skywatchers of the ancient Maya discover something significant about our day? Did they embed an understanding of the great cycles of social transformation into their long-count calendar? John Major Jenkins is one of the leading experts on Mayan cosmology and philosophy. He has written several books including “Maya Cosmogensis 2012” and “Galactic Alignment.” His most recent cd series, “Unlocking the Secrets of 2012,” was recently released from Sounds True. KRCL’s Robert Nelson sat down with Jenkins during a recent RadioActive. — Troy Williams

Robert Nelson: Talk about the Mayans and their incredible ability to plot this calendar—December 21, 2012. How did they come up with this date? 

John Major Jenkins: 2012 is part of a world-age doctrine that the Maya had. The belief is that human beings pass through chapters, phases or eras, and we are approaching the end of one world age—a great cycle in the Maya calendar of 5,125 years. The Maya were tuned into a sophisticated understanding of the cycles that human beings live? within. They targeted this date because of a rare astronomical alignment culminates on December 21, 2012. The earth and the sun are going to line up with the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. This happens only once every 26,000 years.

Roughly 2,000 years ago, these pre-Maya people, who were part of the Izapa culture, invented this calendar and projected forward to the winter solstice in 2012. They were astute astronomers, and they were sophisticated in terms of their mathematical abilities. We know this because of the work scholars have done to reconstruct to scientific aspects of their ancient culture. This galactic alignment is the hidden key to understanding not only the Mayan calendar and the 2012 date, but also the transformations that are going on around us in the world today.

RN: Will this cause a reversal of the geo-magnetic north and south poles?

JMJ: There is some speculation that there could be physical effects of this galactic alignment. Work is being done to look at the possibility of magnetic field reversal. It’s very cutting edge, something that scientists and astrophysicists need to start looking at. But in my work, it seems that the Maya had more of a spiritual or metaphysical understanding of this. They didn’t comment on pole shifts, but more on the challenge that this phase represents for human beings. They were concerned with how we can come back into alignment to our true selves—the cosmic-center being representative of our true selves deep inside us. For the Maya, it’s really about these ancient spiritual teachings that are coming back again into our awareness — and how we integrate that ancient knowledge. And it may very well be that our correct relationship with this ancient knowledge, embracing it once again, will help us get through the transitional crisis.

RN: Did the Mayans believe this was a dawning of a new age in human consciousness?

JMJ: Yes, you are right on target. There is a spiritual science of cycles. They knew a cycle was ending, and there is good astronomy behind it. They saw this as a process that goes through several phases. Ultimately it’s about transformation and renewal, and that is really the insight into these transitional periods between one world age and the next. It’s not about a final end or a doomsday or cataclysm per se, but really about the crisis of our connection with our true selves. And nothing is predetermined. We can’t really say for certain what’s going to happen because it all involves our engaged, conscious interaction with being human and being alive on this planet. Are we going to co-create a better future, or are we going to get bogged down into unconsciousness and just allow the forces to plow us under? This is really the challenge.

RN: Knowing what we know now, is the Mayan’s astronomical mathematics correct? Is 2012 really the date when all of these celestial bodies line up in the way the Mayans predicted?

JMJ: Two thousand years ago they noticed this convergence. They had to project forward and make a pretty good astronomical calculation. But we have to also think about zones. There is really an alignment zone. We can’t narrow it down to one year. It’s really a process. The zone of alignment runs from the year 1980 to 2016. This is based on the astronomy of the alignment. So their calculation of 2012 was really “in the zone.” We really shouldn’t future project to any one specific date. There is a process-oriented shift going on that we are inside of right now. It’s good to retract from that future projection and just try to be engaged in the present moment as much as possible.

RN: Let’s talk about the nature of the calendar. Tell us why they used the 260-day, 13-month cycle.

JMJ: The 260-day cycle is the key. These are 20-day signs. They cycle along, combined with a number from 1 to 13. There are 13 numbers that represent degrees of intensity of the day signs. So 13 numbers times 20-day signs equals 260 days.

RN: And why is the 260-day cycle important?

JMJ: This is how we get into a really interesting study of Mayan time philosophy. There are Maya day-keepers surviving today, living in the highlands of Guatemala, and they’re still following the 260-day calendar, and the explanation they give is that it corresponds with the nine-month period of human gestation. So it’s really a key that operates on different domains of human experience. It also has an agricultural use; 260 days is the interval between the planting and harvesting of corn in the highlands. But most importantly, it’s the key that the Mayas used in their almanac, in which they could predict the cycles of Venus, Mars, the moon and eclipses. These earth rhythms are involved in the 260 cycles, and there are also the celestial cycles. It’s really the key that unites the cycles of heaven and earth.

RN: And how about the long-count, the extended calendar over this 5,125-year cycle?

JMJ: Although there are different systems, the 260-day calendar runs alongside the long-count calendar. During the classic period you had many carved monuments, and you’ll find the long-count dates and the 260 calendar dates as well, right alongside.

RN: So they had a vision of time and place—they knew some point within this cycle would span out into an important event that only happens once every 26,000 years – this great alignment of sun, earth and the center of the galaxy.

JMJ: That’s right, and they really saw this alignment as the centerpiece of many of their traditions. For example, the image of the alignment, astronomically speaking, of the sun and the heart of the galaxy is encoded into their creation mythology. They generally thought of it as the union of Cosmic Father (the sun) and Mother Galaxy (the galactic center being thought of as the womb or heart of the Milky Way – which was seen as a cosmic mother deity).

RN: It seems incredible that a civilization like the Mayans would be so obsessed with the stars.

JMJ: They were not unlike a lot of ancient people. They were trying to understand what it is to be alive on this planet and they looked to the stars for a connection to the greater universe. And there is this principle of “as above, so below,” which is an insight into how the universe really works. Everything is related by resonance and vibration, and everything is interconnected. I think it’s part of human nature to look to the stars and to the heavens to understand one’s connection to infinity.

RN: My birthday is December 20th. What are you going to do on that date, four years from now?

JMJ: Well, there is a general caveat that we really shouldn’t future project to that date. We should be engaged in “the now” and the work of transformation and creating a sustainable future. But having said that, of course, December 21st is the specific date, the true artifact of the calendar system, and certainly that specific date is going to be a focus for a sociological event. I’m not sure how it will manifest. I think probably we should see it as a marker for working together as a people to create a sustainable future, and after that date we should still be engaged in the work. I base a lot of my thoughts on the spiritual teachings of the Mayan creation mythology. And all of that has a lot to do with sacrificing and surrendering our illusions that keep us bound to states of limitation. A morning mediation where we contemplate our connection to the universe and to each other could be a really good thing, and it could be an ongoing mediation where we really practice detachment from the systems that limit us.

RN: I’m sort of looking forward to this date as a possibility – I don’t want to get my hopes up too high, but on the other hand, I do hope that it does inspire a new way of doing things.

JMJ: The world is a multidimensional kind of place. Probably everything that we could imagine might happen will be happening in some sense, somewhere. But what we tune into with our own minds will be a function of where our consciousness is. In a sense we are co-creators of the future, and we will go into the future that our minds most resonate with. Prophecy isn’t about predicting when an earthquake will happen. A prophecy is really invoking the highest possible future and making it happen as an activist. The 2012 discussion slices right into the incredible sustainable living movement. I’m amazed at the insights and the innovative things that are going on with alternative fuels, wind and solar power. It’s spiritually inspired political activism. I’m very hopeful. It’s an amazing time to be alive. We can trash the illusions we have been fed and live more fulfilling lives as human beings. We can be disconnected from the power structures that have been enslaving us. We can work together to co-create a beautiful future.

Visit John Major Jenkins at RadioActive airs weekdays on KRCL, 90.9 FM, .

This article was originally published on March 7, 2008.