Removing the Lens

PART THREE – Back To The Basics – what are we really left with?

We have witnessed some deviations from the Mayan mindset in the theories current in the debate. Notions have been attributed to the Maya that they never hinted at. Visions of the future summoned from wide vistas that were nowhere in their view.

Certainly, changes are troubling times, times of social upheaval at least. And judging from the tales of earlier periods ending, there seems to be some trying times ahead but nothing on the order of doom and destruction put forward by some of these theorists.

Can we possibly understand what the Maya were saying without traveling back in time to learn it straight from them? With all the evidence uncovered to date, we have nothing more than a small glimpse at their message. As I said earlier, if we had another century we might gain enough understanding from new excavations going on but we are left with less than a year until the End-Date.

I keep thinking that there should be no problem uncovering what the Maya were talking about. We already have a vast reservoir of evidence to draw from so what if we simply reorganize the way we are looking at it. If we stop trying to reinterpret their words and simply take it at face value, listen to what they are saying without putting any of our preconceptions on their meaning, we might be able to see what they meant.

Unfortunately, coming to grips with what they meant is going to be the hardest part. It will require a quantum leap far greater than any other previously undertaken. Their meaning is as simple as it is frightening, and as terrifying as it is inescapable.

But we have to look at it through new eyes.

Removing the Lens

You might be wondering what type of “lens” I could be talking about. Quite simply, it is the lens of preconceptions. And most of the preconceptions in regard to the Mayan Calendar – and its fundamental cosmology – lies in what we call “science”.

In the past few chapters I have made it a point to show how much of the corpus grown up around the 2012 phenomenon is “pseudo-science”. It is easy to sit behind a wall of scientific reason we have and chide the ancients for being so foolish.

Others might say the ancients only invented these stories to describe things they did not understand and so created these tales in their daily parlance so they could somehow grasp the nature of what they witnessed. And that is why their tales do not make sense to our modern ear.

That sounds pretty good in theory but lacks something in the application. And putting everything into some sort of “racial” memory with its Jungian archetypes does not do much good either. Sure the ancient people around the world have the same fearful tales but saying it is nothing more than a genetic predisposition does not quite satisfy.

Rather than dismiss the tales of the ancients as some sort of “dream language” spoken through nightmares why not consider perhaps their stories are based in fact. The reason, of course, is quite simple: the stories run contrary to what we “know” because of our science.

Immanuel Velikovsky had been a psychoanalyst before he turned pseudo-science and pseudo-history author. He was very familiar with the psyche and the theories Jung was putting forth. However, he decided to take the myths of the ancients at face value, to simply look at what it was they told us they saw, without preconceptions.

Using this basis, he set about to see if any of the ancient myths in the Bible could have actually have been records of real events. And the events he was speaking of could not have just been localized to the Holy Land. Some of these seeming cosmic events would have to have been recorded by other peoples in far and diverse places.

If he could not find any evidence for such, his theory was as good as dead. But what he found convinced him to publish.

I always credit Velikovsky with giving modern catastrophism a shot in the arm, so to speak. However, the modern catastrophism community says he did more harm to their cause. They consider him to be a quack. Imagine, one pseudo-scientist damning another pseudo-scientist. I guess they don’t feel much camaraderie even among their own.

Perhaps they had some fearful need to distance themselves from his published studies. What I got from Velikovsky was the ability to revisit mythology with an eye to ferreting out the reality from the fantasy, regardless of how easy assigning an archetype might be. There may be something in the human genome that causes our brains to imagine certain things from the events we see but when people all over the globe see a certain thing, I tend to look for the physical explanation before writing it off to some sort of mental disorder.

Though I did not and do not agree with everything he said but I was intrigued with the idea that the ancient myths might actually have some basis in truth, if only we would approach it all with an open enough mind.

So, even if I cannot agree with what the Maya corpus tells me, I am willing to investigate it like it was an historical account. But which parts are to be considered historical and which parts fanciful?

To begin, I accepted it all as gospel and looked for corroboration elsewhere. And when nothing was found I would move along to the next idea. If I could find nothing that seemed likely, I noted it and moved on.

I am not a scientist, as I mentioned before, but I do have a fundamental grasp of what science considers plausible. Like my regard for Velikovsky’s works, there is a lot of science of which I remained unconvinced. But I will not go into detail here as it would get tedious.

Once I had accepted what the Mayans had written, I had the task of trying to make some sense of it all. Did what I took from the corpus actually match the other parts of their myth cycle? And did any of it – especially the apparent global portions – have any corroboration elsewhere?

Ancient Astronomers or Daydreamers?

In the old days, people would spend their evenings looking up in the sky. They had no scientists to tell them that the stable lights were suns much like our own and the movable lights were planets much like our own. No, they had to rely on what their village elders had told them from the past: the planets were gods and they ruled the heavens. Our father(s) who art in heaven.

Understanding those lights are nothing more than planets gives us a form of control over them. Since we understand their properties more, we no longer have to be afraid of them. Science has done this for us and ‘proven’ that things have been this way since time immemorial.

Would it have helped the ancients to have had that knowledge, that insight into the structure of the solar system? Or was their fear of the heavens based on something far more dire than we now consider in our nicely structured universe?

The Mayans and other ancients did not have the benefit of science. There was no theoretical physics in place nor PR department to tell them such things could not occur. They were left to use their own senses.

Today, we are much better equipped. Scientists have already proclaimed that the Sun and the planets have been around for billions of years and are not likely to change – short of a nuclear holocaust – for billions of years to come.

Unfortunately for our vaunted science, even without the aid of modern conveniences, the Maya did know that the lights in the sky, their gods, were planets.

Mythology

Mythology is generally viewed by modern man as nothing more that fairy tales, morality tales created to both instruct and entertain. They see no historical validity in them.

With Jung’s archetypes based on primal fears, we think we have a pretty good notion of where the ancients were coming from.

But we have myths of our own. Washington, our supposed “first action hero” who most historians agree did not actually win any battles in the American Revolution, and Lincoln, the supposed “universally loved” president, who was called a “tyrant” by more of his contemporaries than just one John Wilkes Booth. Most people would say their stories are history but in reality what has become the “generally accepted” stories of these men are nothing more than myth. And the reason we mythologize these people rather than accept them for the flawed humans they were is so we might have an ideal, an epitome of the American Dream that we can look up to and strive to emulate.

It is an understandable and human attribute we have, much like the ancient Greeks who idolized their heroes and made them sons of gods. But still, we mythologize.

And it is not just history that falls under the spell. Other myths we call “science”. The myth of the Sun having been here for billions of years, that the planets have maintained their present slow, majestic arc around the Sun for millions of years. There is no proof of this, only theory, only the myth of continuance. It is a comforting myth to maintain, one of continuance and stability, but no closer to proof than any myth taken from the ancient texts despite all the mathematical posturing of academia. We can prove only that the planets have been around as they are today for as long as we have been able to accurately measure them in those orbits.

And the records for such do not go as far back as one would hope. The ancient Greeks and Babylonians kept careful records of planetary motions but only in the last few centuries before the time of Christ. Before that period, and the reason they claim to have started keeping such careful watch, the planets were moving in a “very threatening manner”.

Their fears are ignored by our contemporaries who think they were simply afraid of the planetary movements, even while remarking at the time they spent on following the motions. So, which was it, they lived in fear of the motions they could not understand or curious about and studying the motions? Certainly, the study does not preclude the fear but it certainly lessens its possibility.

Revisiting the Gods

First of all, we must remember that the calendar was built of cycles. And not cycles of men, not based on their fingers and toes, nor the hairs on their head. The cycles were cosmic. Their other various calendars for Mars and Venus, solar and lunar eclipses, show where their interest lay: it was in the heavens above. And the heavens were peopled with the gods.

Many ancient societies called the planets “gods”. This could be, as many propose, because while the fixed stars did not move, these other lights did and it is that independent motion that enhanced their status to godhood. Although, the planets remaining “in their courses” does not convey the concept of any independent motion. That would look quite different.

But what of the qualities of those gods? Many ancients have described Mars as warlike and shown his color to be red. Why is that? Certainly, when viewing the planet today, one can see a pinkish light emanating from the planet but not enough to call it red.

The ancient Greeks told of the overthrow of the king of the gods, Saturn, by his son, Jupiter. They said Jupiter captured his father and tied him up with bands all around him. Did these people really see the rings of Saturn?

Ancient people in northern Europe mentioned Wodin [Jupiter] plucking out one eye in exchange for wisdom. Did they really see the gaping red wound on the planet’s face?

Or were all these merely coincidences that have come down to us, some wild form of archetype very specific in its assignment?

World Ages

Speaking of ancient cultures leads us to a discussion of the so-called World Ages. Many ancient cultures have this concept. Especially in regard to times long past. Even today we recognize this concept, but place it somewhere in the future. So here we are in the present age, between two golden ages, past and future. What have we got now, chopped liver? I thought this age was pretty good.

The Maya mythology mentioned former ages as well. They call them ‘suns’ and named them for the sun shining during each particular age.

Perhaps it is just the ‘end-of-times’ feeling in the air which has sparked the sudden interest in an old subject. When I was growing up we were anticipating the dawning of the age of Aquarius. It was something I thought was imminent but it turns out to be a couple of centuries away by some estimates. Although one writer makes the Aquarian Age begin with the end of the Maya Calendar.

Yet that same ‘New Age’ flavor has attached itself to this latest craze. I do not know if it became attached by artifice or by accident. The New Age mysticism needs to be divorced from the study long enough to take a hard analytical look at the subject. Not being a scientist I cannot create a formula for this investigation, so I will conduct it more like a detective tale by Poe, sans Inspector Dupuy and the murderous baboon.

Ages and More Ages

According to the Mayan corpus, the first world was destroyed by water, the second destroyed by winds, ending about 4,000 years after the first world ended. The third world lasted from about 7000 B. C. to 3114 B. C. to be destroyed by fire. The later fire ceremonies of the Maya and Aztecs call this period’s end to mind in that the ceremonies were linked to the idea of regeneration. And these ceremonies were held originally at the end of the baktuns (every 394.5 years) and later at the end of every Calendar Round (every 52 years). Historians have traced the earliest crops at Oaxaca to be around 7000 B. C. and the first maize crops date to around 3100 B. C.

Several authors say the next world ended in 750 A. D. with the abandonment of Teotihuacán. At this point, the gods huddled around a small fire burning there in the darkness, discussing how they could get another Sun in the sky. It was decided that one of their number should throw themselves onto the fire, a sacrifice that would convert them into the new Sun.

One very proud and haughty god, with a lot of fine jewels and flowing robes announced that he should become the new Sun. (The character of this god reminds me immediately of Vucub-Caquix, Seven Macaw.) He approached the flames hesitantly but was forced back when the flames rose up.

Three different times, this worthy approached the fire and each time the flames leapt up and drove him backward. At last, tired of waiting, a smaller pock-marked god rushed past the haughty one and threw himself into the flames.

Immediately the new Sun was born.

It is interesting that this version has the new Sun beginning in 750 A. D. I thought by the definition used by the Maya this event should have been posited back at 3114 B. C. But this version was from the Aztec era, as they considered Teotihuacán to be the home of the gods.

From the Vatico-Latin codex we get a slightly different version. The first age would have started in 11205 B. C. and the fourth age coincided with the birth of Venus in 3114 B. C.

But were the Maya really speaking of “Ages”? All the writers I have read seem to think so. When they speak of what the Maya said, they habitually make an adjustment: “the Fifth Sun [Age]”. Then they continue by describing the “Age” as if it is something the Maya were actually talking about. But the Maya did not mention anything about an age, they were talking about the Sun.

Is there a difference, really, in the meaning being expressed? All the authors – both those on the fringe as well as the scholars – make this adjustment, so it should in essence mean the same thing. But I think not. Why would they place such an emphasis on the Sun if they meant something more mundane?

What the Ancients Feared

The ancient folks who watched the heavens were no different – essentially – than you or I. They lived, laughed, loved, struggled to keep their families safe and well fed, and they did not react too kindly toward any major upsets to their serene worldview.

And it is possible they invented stories to scare their children straight similar to stories today (or at least when I was younger) of the mysterious “boogey-man”. But they most certainly would not have dedicated several centuries of careful notations to construct a calendar of this complexity on a fairy tale.

There had to have been something very frightening, very motivating to keep them on the project for such a period.

The ancient Babylonian astronomer Berosus, as well as Plato, Zoroastrian texts, the Mahabarahta, the Taoists & the Bamboo Books all mention the planets running amok. Running amok describes anything other than staying “in their courses”.

We can, of course, write off the widespread evidence from the ancients as hyperbole, sketching a hypothesis in order to relate some morality tale, a flight of fancy, or merely the scribes dipping a little too much into the mushroom bins.

Or, we can take note of this and realize they were actually afraid of “something” rather than a nice little “boogey-man”. It would be nice to convince ourselves that the universe has always been as safe and quiet as we now see it, but I am afraid the evidence, necessary in all scientific investigations, does not tend in that direction.

Egyptians have the earlier age ruled by a sun-god, Aten, who then departed. Babylonians speak of An (or Anu), who left. Greeks speak of Cronus, who was replaced by Zeus.

The stories of the sky-god who departs repeats over and over in ancient tales.

the ‘New Age’ Way of Thinking

Modern people are no different than people in the past. Sure, we have “better technology” than they had but as people we have not changed very much. Tales of hatred, petty jealousies, triumphs, and personal enlightenment transcend the time frame in which they happen.

So, it should come as no surprise, that the feeling of an imminent “golden age” or an apocalyptic ending just around the corner is really nothing very new. People throughout history have felt that their generation was the penultimate one that all of history had somehow been leading to.

And that it was not true should also come as no surprise.

I really do not see the present as being anything different. We will always have the feeling of impending doom or advancing utopia. Perhaps that is what makes us so uniquely human.

In the writings of the ancient Greeks or the ancient Babylonians, the Mayans, the writers of the Renaissance, we can get their sense of the same. The world has certainly not ended by now and I think it will not for some time yet. Not because of some scientific theory or some divinely-inspired vision. That is just my gut-feeling on the subject and it may be wrong.

Whose Apocalypse Is It, Anyway?

But this study is not about us in the present – though the End-Date of the Calendar certainly is impacting us – it is about the Mayans and what they created the calendar for and what they thought the ending of it would signify.

Had they left on operator’s manual with the calendar it would have made this task easier. It would have made this book and many others completely unnecessary. But it is that lack of definitive answer that calls into being all the variant conjectures.

All the modern interpretations and imposing our own doomsday wishes and fears on their calendar does not clear the air. In fact it clouds the issue even further. New age mumbo-jumbo and fears of a very science-fictiony demise cloud it even further.

Trying to sort out the answers through historical studies seem to have brought us up empty. Applying scientific reasoning is completely laughable as the subject – though mathematical to a great degree – is far removed from the realm of scientific enquiry.

Science is not a real good yardstick for studies in the humanities.

A Comment on the History of Science

Science chose not to respond to most of Velikovsky’s work. They felt that to dignify his pseudo-science by a serious debate would lend some credence to his wild ideas – they preferred to not term any of it a “theory”.

Yet, these same scientists should have remembered that their field has too often in the past reached a point where they figured they had everything pretty much nailed down. It was not science directly, but in 1875 the government seriously considered closing the U. S. Patent Office because it was generally regarded that “everything had been invented”.

But then there is always something new coming along, it seems, that they had not previously considered.

In the history of science there have been times when their widely accepted belief systems had to be reworked when new evidence came to the fore. The present twenty-first century construct may be a mighty work of many interlocking theories, but theories they remain.

I am not suggesting we throw out any systems that work, I only suggest we be more open minded out possibilities than some of our predecessors. And who knows, it may only require shifting a number here and there in their mathematical models.

The greatest scholarly sin is getting your work published in a non-peer-reviewed journal… in other words, making money and getting public support for your work. But so many findings have been quashed by the ‘establishment’ (no matter how much the establishment tries to deny it or minimize it) that there is truly no other outlet for ‘fringe theories’. Just like Steen-McIntyre’s work I mentioned before, no peer-reviewed journal would bother to publish such obvious garbage, regardless of the evidence presented.

Hey, if it quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck… and the scientific establishment’s response: Not if we don’t publish it!


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