Posts Tagged ‘haab’

the Fire Cycle

January 1, 2012

The “Fire Cycle” is formed by the conjunction of the 260-day tzolkin and the 360-day haab every fifty-two years.

Although the existence of the repeating cycle and it’s recurrence every fifty-two years is well known, the ceremony associated with it has caused no end of confusion.

The ceremony was quite simple: everyone in the region doused all their flames, all their fires, all their lights on the appointed evening. Then everyone waited.

The priests at the local ceremonial center watched the skies to ascertain that the Earth was not going to be destroyed. Then, when they were certain the Earth was spared yet again, they lit the central fire.

People from all over the region lit torches from this new fire and carried the flame back to their villages to re-ignite the fires all over the countryside.

This scene happened at not one, but at all the Mayan ceremonial centers.

But what was this huddling in the darkness to see if the world would be destroyed?

There are plenty of theories on the subject, most of them centering on some superstitious mumbo-jumbo about a bad storm in the past – perhaps a bad hurricane or some such – and they feared it would return.

Even Velikovsky weighed in on this one, thinking it coincided with the returning of the planet Mars to come into close contact with Earth.

But still no one mentions a correlation to the most curious aspect of this scenario.

Why gather in the dark and wait until the first glow of dawn is evidenced in the east?

Sure the whole thing may be some sort of mumbo-jumbo but even superstition is based in something that makes some sense.

Yes, a hurricane does sometimes make the sky very dark. But they are not protecting themselves from wind, rain, or any of the elementary forces in that regard.

From the records I have seen, it does not appear that this ceremony goes too far distant in the past. Not anything like near the starting period of the Classic Period. In fact, it seems to become prevalent in the later Classic Period.

In other words, after the Maya had already abandoned the Long Count.

Could it be that some ceremony concerned with the Long Count was transferred to the fifty-two year correlation of the other two calendars?

And if that were the case, what could be the importance of the darkness?

If you have not seen any of my articles before this one, the answer may surprise you. (Please read further details in the other articles if you find it too highly unlikely.)

It could be that they fear the Sun will go out sooner than the end of the Long Count. For some reason they seem to have the idea that it will happen at one of the fifty-two year celebrations.

And perhaps they forgot that was what the Long Count was for: counting the days to the end of the Sun. Literally.

How could they ever forget something as major as that?

Good question. Perhaps when they lost faith in the Long Count, they lost faith in a lot of things it was supposed to stand for and that would include the coming of the New Sun, Fifth Sun.

Which was due right after Fourth Sun was extinguished.

The Mesoamerican Calendar(s)

April 1, 2010

There is not a single calendar used by the Maya, there were several. The tzolkin is the augury calendar, the haab is their solar calendar, and the Long Count is the one with the rapidly approaching end date. And there were other minor calendars and cycles they kept track of over the centuries.

There is no problem with the tzolkin. It ends every 260 days (less than nine months) and a new one starts, just like our calendars. The end-date for this calendar is nothing to worry about.

The haab likewise begins anew at the end of every year without dire circumstance.

The “Calendar Round” is a larger calendar cycle. The tzolkin and the haab run in parallel and end together on the same date every fifty-two years. This marks the time when they usually had their fire ceremony: putting out the fires in all the surrounding villages and waiting until the dawn, the appearance of the Sun again, to start a new fire in the city and carry the new flame to all the countryside. Apparently, they feared the Sun would not return that night. But why?

That still leaves us with the Long Count. Where did it come from? And for what purpose would they need to keep track of such long periods?

According to most theorists, the creators invented the calendar in the second century BCE and simply ‘back-dated’ the beginning from some mythical point. Some claim it dates from the birth of the planet Venus.

Jenkins and others think it was nothing more than the first rising of the planet Venus following some other event, as yet undiscovered. It seems like a rather lame start of an exhaustive enterprise to back-date the start of the Long Count to something so minor. It would lead one to believe that the ending of the calendar will be something as equally insignificant.

The Maya also understood precession of the equinoxes. This is the slight wobble of the pole of the planet which moves at a certain rate. The North Pole currently points at Polaris, the North Star, and in the past pointed elsewhere; in describes a circle in the sky over a period of about 26,000 years. But why is precession important? Other than show the mechanics of our rotating world in the cosmos, does it actually do anything for us?

Some theorize that the precessional cycle is a major cycle the world goes through. Although the numbers do not match up with any culture’s mythology it is an attractive idea.

But since the Maya understood precession, why didn’t they say the Long Count was aligned in some manner to the precessional cycle. Unfortunately, they do not. That is the idea of modern theorists on the subject.

Why 360 Days?

February 28, 2010

Many historians are astonished to find that the early Maya, otherwise so exact in their day-counts, should mistakenly give the length of a year as 360 days. Later, they very neatly computed the exact length of a year even better than modern man had, until midway through last century.

So, why the 360 day “mistake”? Well, it was no mistake at all. It is merely a mistake in our perception of the cosmos.

Before you shake your head in disbelief and stop reading, consider that the Maya were not the only ones to come up with that number. Other observers from China through the Middle Eastern civilizations also had that number. And, surprisingly, they all got into a quandary about the same time when the year suddenly grew longer.

If it was only one isolated group that had made the embarrassing error it would be one thing but when all the literate civilizations went through the same adjustment, at the same time, the only rational explanation is that the year had suddenly changed from 360 days to 365 days! Impossible as it may seem – especially to the Sagan-oriented among you – but that is the best explanation for the situation.

Immanuel Velikovsky had developed an interesting theory to resolve this apparent insanity of the ancients. In his Worlds in Collision (1950), he explained that some of the planets had left their orbits (through what agency he promised to reveal in a later volume) and one had pulled or pushed the Earth into an orbit slightly further out from the Sun, thus changing the period of our revolution from 360 days to about 365.25 days.

The Babylonians had neatly correlated the earlier 360 days into 12 periods of 30 days – and this is why our circles have 360°, one degree for every day of the year. They did not adjust their numbering system or the degrees in a circle to reflect the new calculations. Can you imagine working in a geometry with the circle having 365.25° in it?

Another interesting thing was that the Moon had a 30 day period at that time, slightly longer that in today’s cosmos. And, yes, the orbit of the Moon changed at the same time as Earth’s year.

Which brings up an interesting point: it the Babylonians used the Moon’s period for the month, why didn’t the Maya do the same? Rather than twelve months of 30 days each, they used eighteen months of twenty days each. Why? It’s not like they couldn’t see the Moon in the sky, right?

Well, again we can turn to Velikovsky’s book to discover an answer. You’re not going to like the answer, I am certain. The scientists in his time did not like it either – but then neither did the historians.

Early inhabitants of the Greek Arcadia (Pelasgains, according to Aristotle) claim to have held the land before the Earth had a Moon. Most historians count this as myth, giving the myth-maker a chance to describe how we got the Moon.

But the Maya also had this period before there was a Moon, otherwise it should have been utilized in their calendar and figured more prominently in their stories of the early cosmos.

The Babylonians developed their calendar and mathematics based on the temporal patterns of the Sun and Moon yet the Maya system apparently predates it, as they seem to have developed it “before the Earth had a Moon”.

At least that is one explanation. If you have another idea, please share it with me.

On the Calendar Usage Today

July 18, 2009

A lot has been made about the Maya continuing to use the ancient calendar even today. And that is, in part, absolutely correct. They still utilize the tzolkin and the haab. Some even still celebrate the Calendar Round – that fifty-two year cycle of the two intertwining parts.

However, many of the authors today are going to the Mayan elders concerning questions about the Long Count.

Why? The modern Maya do not keep track of the Long Count. In fact, it was abandoned by the Maya during the Classic Period (circa 900 AD) at the height of their culture. They left us no reason why they abandoned its use after centuries of tracking the days and celebrating the ending of every katun.

So why did they abandon it? Probably because they did not understand its purpose. Apparently, they thought the katun ends were something very important but nothing seemed to coincide with those dates and they quit using it. [This is completely hypothetical; history gives us no clue as to why they discontinued its use, but usually things are discarded when their use becomes superfluous.]

So, one wonders if the katun ends did not produce visible results, why would the ending of katun 13 (December 21, 2012) mean anything?

the Creators of the Mayan Calendar

July 14, 2009

Some scholars are claiming the Mayan calendar is not actually theirs. Some theorize that actually their predecessors, the Olmecs, created the Calendar now bearing the Maya name.

Unfortunately, the earliest Long Date inscriptions fall AFTER the demise of the Olmec even though they do precede the earliest Mayan civilized centers. Also, the earliest inscriptions are found beyond the pale of the Olmec culture.

The best one can assume is that the calendar was invented by the culture that became the Mayan civilization. If so, I can think of no reason why we should call it anything but the Mayan calendar. They were the earliest to use it on a massive scale and the ones who continue to use it – in part, at least – even today.

Whether proto-Mayans or early Mayans, I think we can safely call it the Mayan Calendar. To call it anything else would fly in the face of the evidence.

At least as the evidence stands at the moment, and the field is constantly advancing.

the Tzolkin (pronounced CHOL-KIN)

June 27, 2009

Most writer spend a lot of time delving into the Tzolkin and it is an interesting artifact. But what is it, really?

In use today still by the modern Maya, it is an augury – much like our daily horoscope – telling them what are good days for certain actions, etc.

Most authors spend a great deal of time discussing this 260-day calendar and its meanings (using the marvelous glyphs the Mayans used for each of the days). But it is not the only Mayan calendar!

Not to be outdone by anyone, the Maya also had the standard Solar calendar of 365 days (called the Haab) and the correlation between the two (each restarting at the same point every fifty-two years) termed the Calendar Round. Pretty fascinating stuff, huh?

But what has all this to do with the Long Count, the calendar ending December 21st, 2012?

But much, I’m afraid. The Haab continues past that date, the Tzolkin continues, the Calendar Round continues… With all the discussion and deference given to these marvelous calendrical constructs, they really don’t mean anything in the question at hand. Still, they can give us insight into the Maya and what they were meaning.

Just don’t think the small parts ARE the big picture.

Introduction to the Mayan Calendar

June 19, 2009

I suppose I ought to make a few introductory remarks for those people new to this field (or phenomenon) and want to know more about it, I will give a short introduction to the subject. Those wishing more in depth information can find a wealth of articles on the web through any search engine or at practically any bookstore.

The Maya civilization crept into history around 300 BC and peaked between 400 and 800 AD, then quietly slipped back into the jungles around 900-950 AD. But the Maya continued and still exist today predominantly in Guatemala and Southern Mexico. And, believe it or not, they still use the calendar.

Sort of.

You see, the Mayans had several different calendars: the Haab (a solar calendar of 365 days), the Tzolkin (another calendar of 260 days), The Calendar Round (the confluence of both of the former, ending in unison every 52 years), and the Long Count, which is the ONLY calendar that really comes into focus here. None of the other calendars are ending any time soon, just the Long Count.

The Long Count began on August 13, 3114 BC and will end on December 21st, 2012. Why it started on the date mentioned is not really understood by the scholars as many state it had to do with the birth of Venus (whatever that means) and others really have no clue. What the end date signifies… Well, that’s what the fuss is all about currently.

As I stated in the last entry, there are not a lot of differing theories out there about the End-Date. It’s all either Doom-and-Gloom or Golden Enlightenment. If votes were counted, mine would be for the Enlightenment scenario; it sounds a lot more pleasant than the other.

But we shall have to wait until the End-Date arrives to know for certain – if even then, hmmm?

On another note, I will be interviewed on blogtalkradio this Friday evening, 7pm EST. I imagine there will be a short talk and then an open discussion on the subject.

Everyone is invited to attend.

I hope to see you there.