the Coming Golden Age

PART TWO – The Hypotheses – after Argüelles awakened the beast

After searching through a little background of the Maya, their calendar, and their mythology, we should have some understanding of who the Maya were and a bit of where they were coming from, one would think we should have at least some small inkling about this mysterious End-Date they have gifted to us.

Unfortunately, the field is still fairly wide open as one can tell by all the varying hypotheses. The Maya cannot have meant more than one thing for the End-Date of their calendar, so there is only one correct hypothesis. But which one? What evidence have they brought forward to back up their theories?

And I do not mean what evidence of the world today they apply, I am talking about showing what the Maya themselves said in support of their hypothesis.

Now it is time to see what the various interpretations are. Not everyone reads the data the same way, especially from texts that are so ancient and – in some cases – not completely understood. If the End-Date was still a half-century away, historians may have gained a fuller understanding of the meaning of the ancients. Unfortunately, we have only a few months.

The following theorists work by emphasizing whichever portion of the data impresses them most and, more importantly, bolsters up their own theory.

The Coming Golden Age

Most of the modern Maya Calendar prophets subscribe to the “Golden Enlightenment” hypothesis rather than any of the Doom-and-gloomsday scenarios. Why? Probably because the idea of any cataclysm seems very unpalatable. It’s like that old joke: I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

And as much as this idea appeals to me personally, this is the one I find least likely.

It is not that I have anything personal against universal enlightenment and the coming Golden Age. Most of the authors and websites are backing this horse. And it is a very attractive entry. A peaceful change, a healthy change, a beneficial change to all of mankind as we head into a brighter, more user-friendly future.

Yes, I really like that theory. If only…

Unfortunately, I have seen that snake-oil salesman before.

Only in the 1960’s they hitched it to the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Same shtick, different date. They called for more peace, love, and understanding and all I’ve seen is more war, hate, and destruction. So far, Aquarius is not my cup of tea.

Of course, many now tell us the “actual” Age of Aquarius has not come yet, so there is still some time for the “universal enlightenment” to descend upon us. Some tell us that the real Aquarian time is not due to start for a century or more yet, but some prophets have back-dated that prediction to coincide with December 21st, 2012. How convenient is that, huh?

Back in the day, there were more many people proclaiming the coming Golden Age than those predicting the end of the world. So, now, the 2012 phenomenon has given both sides a chance to renew their campaign of hope (or doom, as the case may be).

Even with all the primary writers on the 2012 phenomenon pulling for this scenario – and though John Major Jenkins, Jose Argüelles, and Carl Calleman may differ on major points, on this one they are still unified – this is to my mind the least likely of all the scenarios. Why? Well, let’s just say I have studied to know enough history to know what mankind would do with such “enlightenment”. Not being cynical, just being a realist. Without some basic understanding of what the enlightenment would mean, I do not see much impetus for people to change.

I would much prefer the Spiritual Convergence descending on us but the evidence for it is mighty slim. What evidence is offered? All the prophets for this angle merely state that the Maya were spiritual. That may be but what does that mean? What does that prove?

Unfortunately, not much.

And we are once again left where we were, like in the ’60’s with the love beads, the flower power, and nothing but a slim hope of universal enlightenment.

The Incredibly Exacting but Extremely Flexible End-Date

If you were planning on trumpets sounding and the mantle of enlightenment descending over the world on December 21st, 2012, you had better not hold your breath. The modern prophets assure us that the enlightenment that is coming will arrive slowly and gradually. They all foresee what they call a spiritual shift. How… exciting. How “New Age”.

I am not exactly sure what they mean by that but it does not sound quite as positive as the advertising claims. Is this gradual approach going to span a year? Five? Ten? How about five-thousand years?

So, why would the Maya pick a specific date for the end only to approximate a gradual awakening? And which part of this gradual transformation were they pinpointing with their End-Date? The beginning of the transformation, the ending, or as yet some otherwise indistinguishable random date somewhere in the middle?

They must have had something else in mind, something more specific.

These modern spiritual leaders are in touch with the ‘Maya elders’ and claim to foresee a philosophical transformation coming based on what the elders say. Who’s to say that the elders are right? What they espouse may be their current beliefs but do we have a chain of evidence of their belief being the same in years past?

I sense a disconnect from what the ancients believed and what the present Mayans believe. We need to look back at what was meant in the pre-Classic, Classic, and post-Classic periods to see if the current views are reflected in the ancient writings.

And why would this period be called “earthquake sun” if it were to end on something as calming as spiritual awakening, and a lot of pretty butterflies. (Oops, I think my inner hippy slipped out a little.)

Another Golden Age is Upon Us

Now, as to the end of the calendar. The majority of the 2012 prophets tell us it will usher in a golden age. John Major Jenkins goes even further and says it will coincide with the alignment of our Sun with the Galactic center on the winter solstice in 2012.

That may be a rather pivotal event but if we are supposed to experiencing a “gradual period of enlightenment”, what is the importance of this one day? Is this when the gradual enlightenment will begin? End? Or will it occur somewhat in the middle.

The alignment of the Sun with the Galactic Center has been happening over the past several years. It has happened every year recently before the solstice and in the years after 2012 it will occur just after the solstice. So is the significance of the alignment with the Sun or with the solstice?

And why would the Maya even care?

Argüelles, Jenkins, Calleman and the like have told us the Maya were a very spiritual people and the coming age is the spiritual awakening they have been waiting for.

Funny, if they were a “spiritual people”, would that not mean they had already had a spiritual awakening? Or was the awakening supposed to be for the rest of us, the non-Maya in the world?

And why would they feel the need to create a calendar to tell us of this future? Why all the hocus-pocus and mis-direction? Or was there some particular reason they had to wait until now to tell us about it?

Argüelles and Dreamspell

It was in a small book published in 1987, that the late José Argüelles outlined his concept of the Mayan End-Date. The Mayan Factor was quickly an underground bestseller. My copy was picked up off the shelves at the local “new age” store sitting alongside the incense and the tarot decks.

And it was a fascinating read!

I had been consumed by the different cycles the Maya used in their calendar when I was in college, writing about the cycles in a paper for my statistics class. Other papers in that class dealt with stock market cycles as that was the main focus of most of the people in the class. I don’t think anyone read my paper with much interest. The cycles were fascinating to me and I continued working with them for several years even after the class work was behind me.

Inspired by The Mayan Factor, I began a novel about the ancient Maya and the construction of the calendar. During the course of the writing, I continued doing more research on the subject until I got sidetracked onto doing this volume. I thought, all these bizarre theories and doomsday scenarios was not really what the Maya were talking about!

Argüelles spoke of the metaphysics behind the cycles and the coming harmonic convergence for all of mankind promised by the culmination of the calendar. Perhaps I assign too much credit for this entire movement to this one man and his book but that’s the way it seems to me.

Soon, more and more books appeared on the subject by other authors who added to the story. Some followed Argüelles’ lead toward a period of spiritual awakening while others trod the road to doom and destruction.

And, as often happens with such enterprises, there was a parting of the ways. Differing theories took writers in different directions with their presentations. Argüelles became consumed with wanting to update the calendar for modern usage and thus was born the Dreamspell Calendar. He saw, as framed in his Harmonic Convergences, that humans have gotten onto an incorrect attunement because of the Julian Calendar.

Though he seems to have started the 2012 craze, he seems to have gone off on a tangent much to the dismay of the other End-Date proponents. I believe today that much of what he created has been marginalized from the mainstream of the 2012 phenomenon. I had also heard at one point that he proclaimed himself the reincarnation of Pacal Votan, but I really don’t know much about that.

On a side note, my wife used to teach the sons of his twin brother, Ivan Argüelles, the poet. She remembers the boys Maximilian and Alexander fondly. But that was many years before I knew her and long before I read The Mayan Factor.

Jenkins and the Alignment

John Major Jenkins weighed in on the matter by taking a more cosmologic view of the Mayan Calendar. He sees their star gazing at the core of pretty much everything they did. Even the ball game is seen as some harmonic attunement to the heavens.

But the primary focus of his work is, of course, the alignment that figures to coincide with the End-Date of the Calendar. This idea was also utilized in the movie “2012” but only briefly. One of the characters in the film mentions all the planets lining up on that day pointing to the center of the galaxy.

Well, there is going to be such an alignment on that date but not with all the planets. In fact, very few of them. Okay, it is just the Earth and the Sun; no great planetary alignment falls into the mix.

One gets the impression that Jenkins looked around at the angles on the End-Date and noticed this particular alignment before deciding it was what the Maya were talking about. It would have made more sense if he had used what the Maya talked about and then went looking for an alignment. As it is, he has a wonderful theory but nothing concrete in the Maya body of literature to base it on, other than the fact that the Maya are a spiritual people.

Sure, the Maya noticed the dark rift in the Milky Way – which most of us have trouble finding today because of the light-pollution that obscures our view of the heavens – and they even thought of it as another entrance to Xibalba, but that was really about it.

And to make the entire concept suspect, Jenkins goes on to say the Maya designed their calendar specifically to highlight precession.

Oooo, Precession!

It seems a lot of historical scientists (or is that ‘scientific historians’?) use the measure of precession as the yardstick of intelligence for ancient astronomers. If these ancients can show knowledge of precession, then they must have really been intelligent.(1)

But what is precession, really? Oh, a lot of writers will give you the technical details and the mathematical formulae for the mechanics, but what bearing has it on us in our day-to-day world? On anything in history, for that matter?

Well, nothing. It really has no bearing on anything except calendars. And then, only on calendars spanning very long periods.

Nerds in the past noticed it as much as the nerds of today, but has it any bearing on the calendar? Other than showing us that the ancient Maya knew about the mechanism and could calculate the rate of change, it really has no bearing on the End-Date or anything else of importance.

Carrie Kozikowski thought the Mayan Calendar showed precession was speeding up since the lengths of the previous sun ages was different. Jenkins seems to think that precession is not only a constant (like most things astronomical, either constant or lasting unchanged for billions and billions of years) but is in fact the basis for all of Mayan cosmology. He thinks they based their entire calendar on the winter solstice Sun crossing the Galactic Center in 2012.

Which would mean the starting point of their calendar in 3114 BC was meaningless. Moreso because they had four previous periods wrapping around the entire precessional cycle.

But does that construction really make any sense? Why didn’t they just make the calendar 25,625 years long and extend the starting date back to 23613 BC? Why make it more confusing than it has to be?

Another thing on the precessional hypothesis of Jenkins: why would the Sun lining up with the center of the Galaxy on the Winter Solstice mean anything to the Maya?

If they were really only pointing their calendar to this “all-important” even, why not just have their calendar start at 300 BC when the first Long Count record was made? Why go to the unnecessary extreme of having it start 3114 BC? Were they simply playing math or mind games?

None of this really adds up except in the mind of Jenkins.

His correlation of the theoretical Black Hole at the center of the galaxy (and let’s face it, the Black Hole thing is still just a theory) with any part of Maya cosmology is unsupported by any scholar in the field of Mayan studies. The idea that it is somehow the Mayan Road to the Underworld is hypothetical.

A theory based on a theory of an hypothesis garnered from yet another theory is tenuous at best. I think we should try and understanding the Maya rather than creating a lot of New Age mumbo jumbo.

Cosmogenesis and Other Beginnings

Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, published in 1998, describes Jenkins’ vision of the Mayan Calendar in great detail. Using the precession hypothesis, he assumes the previous sun ages were of the same length as the present one, 5,125 years. And there are five ages mentioned, so that would be an exact precessional cycle of 25,625 years.

Which would be amazing if it were not just a couple of small details. First, the precession cycle is usually estimated to be closer to 26,000 years, and second, if there was only five sun ages, why would the Maya be talking about the next one even in the ninth century? And why would they give a specific reason for the start of this current calendar?

Sadly, precession may have been a factor for the ancient Maya astronomers but it was not really at the heart of their Calendar. And since their calendars did not match the solar year anyway, I do not think they felt the need to keep in step with such things. Their Long Count was really about something else entirely.

And why would the Maya separate the full precessional cycle into five different “suns”? There seems to be no rationale for this minor detail in his cycle either. But perhaps it was just another of their exacting whims – there are, after all, five sides to a pentagon. (Just a whimsical thought.)

If one cruises the internet for any amount of time, checking out all the 2012 sites, this is the theory that has more adherents. This theory is the one most favored by the parties interested enough to create a website based on the matter.

Jenkins has a lot of fans and a lot of followers. And he has not rested on his laurels. He has journeyed to Yucatan many times to de further research and writing. Many Mayan scholars even credit him with discoveries and correlations they themselves had overlooked or missed entirely.

But they draw the line at the Calendar End-Date. It seems they are not buying any New Age hooey either.

So,…uh, What’s the Point?

Predicting that the ancient Maya see the winter solstice progressing year by year toward the dark rift in the Milky Way, Jenkins proposed that they established their Calendar to show when it would exactly coincide.

Never mind that the Sun aligns with the supposed black hole at the galactic center every year for the past few, Jenkins is convinced that when it does so on the solstice, it will herald in the blessed event.

And what is this event?

The “gradual awakening” of mankind into spiritual awareness guided by Divine Wisdom. Wow! What a way to end a calendar, huh? Except, the gradual awareness begins on that date? Or does the gradualness begin a little before, or maybe even after that date? And exactly how gradual are we talking here? Will we be fully spiritually aware in a year or will it be more like a decade? Or a century?

What is the point of having a calendar end on a specific date for some unknown specific reason if the reason is so nebulous. Why not end the calendar by repeating the same day over and over so we would get the idea?

Perhaps we should look at some other theories and see if we cannot get a firmer picture of what is going to take place.

Calleman and Transformation

Carl Johan Calleman stands alone among the primary lights in the 2012 writing cadre as he is the only one who actually holds a degree in the sciences. It is a Doctorate in Physical Biology but it is at least in a standard scientific field. He understands the ins and outs of scientific research better than Argüelles, a doctorate in art history, and Jenkins, an independent researcher.

His 2004 volume, The Maya Calendar and the Transformation of Consciousness, was another fascinating read. He deals a lot with the influences of the spiritual harmonics on the physical sphere especially in regard to the Maya Calendar.

Utilizing the Chilam Balam books, he has been able to show how each of the successive ages has been predicted and how the influence of each period translates into the historical framework we know. But picking out the major influences in any period of history is subjective at best. A person viewing different criteria would give an entirely different interpretation of what was “important” at that time.

Another thing was drawing a conclusion from rather limited data. On page 59 of the volume he says: “Some researchers conclude the Earth’s core has a crystalline structure.” Then on the very next page, page 60: “All we know for sure is that the Earth’s inner iron core is crystalline.”

In the space of one short page he made a quantum leap of “some conclude” to “all we know for sure”. I have a problem with that sort of logic. And the funny thing, it really did not have a lot to do with his theory. I mean, it would have been nice to have a little scientific framework but the volume is basically a new age spiritualism and does not require anything like a scientific basis.

I doubt any other reader of the book even noticed the contradiction.

He uses the “map” from the Chilam Balam to show the future of the spiritual development from 2004 until the Calendar ends at… Whoa! What’s happening here?!?

He has the End-Date as October 28th, 2011!!!

Many people might now think this theory has been proven wrong because that date has already passed and nothing happened. Actually, since Calleman – like Jenkins – predicts a gradual awakening, the specific End-Date could happen practically any time and still be considered to usher in the process.

How cool is that, huh?

Gilbert and Orion

Orion is not necessarily a central theme to the Maya, but it was the subject of a book by Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert. The theory was that the pyramid complex at Giza was laid out to mirror the stars in Orion’s belt. A fascinating volume but not dealing with the Maya at all.

However, Gilbert’s next outing was. The Mayan Prophecies: Unlocking the Secrets of a Lost Civilization by Adrian Gilbert and Maurice Cotterell (1995) dealt with the subject matter from a more astro-archaeological perspective. Gilbert brought in the same correlations-with-the-stars technique used in his earlier work and Cotterell brought in his knowledge of the Sun.

I was excited to see how they involved the Sun in the Mayan calendar calculations because, after all, the Maya did call this the fifth Sun. But after talking at length about the sunspot cycle, Cotterell went on to examining the lid of the tomb from Palenque. He made the image on a transparency and flipped it over the top of the original image, guided to do this by the singular notch out of one of the corners.

The messages revealed were interesting but did not seem to lead any further except to take Cotterell into a whole new direction with his next book, using the same technique with everything he could get his hands on from the ancient world.

I keep waiting for his future volume when he does that overlay technique on the U. S. Constitution and let us know what the ancients really meant by it.

Other Takes on the End

There are a lot of websites on the web that speak of the 2012 event as a spiritual occurrence with slightly different interpretations or emphasis than those given above but they are essentially followers of either Argüelles, or Jenkins, or Calleman.

Some have closer ties with the current Maya like Aluna Joy or the late Ian Lungold, but though the focus is more Maya-centered it remains the same essential theory.

There are a lot of other theories out there but as they do not fall under the “golden enlightenment” umbrella, they will be dealt with in the following chapters. Most of the interpretations given here are shamanistic.

Shamanism is basically atheistic, but it is very spiritual.

Theism attaches an anthropomorphic identification with the Creator, while shamanism – though ascribing to an intelligence behind everything – does not. It is more involved with the energy behind everything (like God) but without the very human qualities we ascribe to the deity.

Since all these authors mention that the coming new consciousness is already happening, I wonder at the trustworthiness or efficacy of the calendar: why end it on a certain date if nothing of importance is actually going to happen?

Spiritualism seems like a late-comer to the world stage but it has been there throughout history. It had to keep a pretty low profile during the Dark Ages in Europe when the Catholic Church would burn people at the stake for such things. But it is the evidence of the burnings and the excommunications that show us it was alive and well even during those dark times.

In today’s world it has been brought out of the closet and into the mainstream.

In Summation

The Sun crosses the Galactic Center every year. The fact that it just happens to coincide with the equinox in 2012 seems a lucky happenstance. If the Maya had put a lot of emphasis on it (like a festival marking its occurrence every year) I would think it mattered. Since it was not celebrated or mentioned, I don’t think it really means anything.

I think rather than look at everything that is going to happen on 12-20-2012 and pick out what it means, the proper action is to find out what occurred in the past that frightened them so much they had to fear such an alignment – whatever alignment might occur on that day, whether known by us or not. If the Maya picked the date for a reason, it will be found somewhere else in their canon.

Since most religion seems to be based on fear (at least according to our standards) and some hope of salvation, I think it needs to be re-examined.

What happened? Of course, Jenkins and his ilk think it ushers in the Golden Age, so they may not be thinking this way. Still, the birth of a New Age implies birth pains as well as the destruction of the Old Age.

So, let’s examine something involving that sort of a change.

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