Posts Tagged ‘Long Count’

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.

Whew! Dodging the Bullet

December 23, 2011

The end is NOT near!

At least that is what Adriana Gomez Licon assures us in her news article about the Mayan Calendar End-Date.

A German expert on Mayan glyphs, Sven Gronemeyer of La Trobe University in Australia, spoke about the stone found at Tortuguero (the original stone found as opposed to the more recently found inscribed brick – see yesterday’s blog for more on that).

He explained that the 1,300 year old inscription describes the return of mysterious Mayan god Bolon Yokte at the end of a 13th Baktun (a period of nearly 400 years) on Dec. 21, 2012. And though the Mayans considered 13 a sacred number, he says there’s nothing apocalyptic in the date.

His interpretation is that the ruler at Tortuguero, Bahlam Ajaw, apparently made a prophecy some 1,300 years ago, about the passage of the god, Bolon Yokte. They had to prepare a way for the god and the ruler was going to host the initiation of the event, when the god would come to the sanctuary in Tortuguero.

Gronemeyer said, “The date acquired a symbolic value because it is seen as a reflection of the day of creation. It is the passage of a god and not necessarily a great leap for humanity.”

Of course, one could see it as nothing remarkable if one thought the Mayans were talking about gods running around in their forests and not speaking of the gods in the heavens above, i.e. the planets. But then, that is just my take on their concepts.

And I could be wrong.

For more, see her article at:
Expert: Mexico glyphs don’t predict apocalypse
By ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON | AP – Wed, Nov 30, 2011

Some Correlations of the Mayan Calendars

April 21, 2010

Where did the 260 days come from? One theorist says the year used to be that length before it jumped up to 360 days. But other than the Mayan usage, I cannot find evidence of such a thing. If I have overlooked it, I would welcome any illumination on it.

Others theorize that it is nothing more than the length of human gestation… that or the length of time it takes to cultivate maize. Both good guesses but one does not have to go to such lengths.

I have always thought the calendar had been built on celestial events, cosmological patterns. So, where does the 260 come from? I believe it is nothing more than a microcosm of the Long Count. Another example of the Mayan obsession with cycles-within-cycles.

The Long Count has thirteen baktuns of twenty katuns each. The Books of Chilam Balam show that the Mayan elders of the past had been able to assign meanings, prophecies to each of the katuns.

The other calendar they use as an augury, each day with a meaning, is the tzolkin. This augury calendar is 260 days in length, each day with a meaning.

Likewise, the Long Count of the Fifth Sun is 260 katuns in length, each katun with a meaning.

One is like the other and, I believe, the meanings in one are mirrored – albeit on a different scale – with the other.

Does the 260 have yet another meaning? Perhaps, but I haven’t found it.

So, from the larger cycle of 260 katuns, they might have noticed the cycle on the smaller scale as well. Or it could be that they noticed personal cycles ran a course of 260 days (probably linked to some celestial phenomena) before repeating. And this was expanded to the macroscale of the Long Count.

Just as many astrologers believe the emanations of the planets create effects on this planet, the Mayan see all source of energy stemming from the Sun. The Sun gives its own stamp to the Age – this one is the Earthquake Sun – and its energies control the movements of all the planets in its system. By studying the separate parts of the system and the timing cycles that are profiles of their character, the Maya could understand the entire Solar System.

The previous Sun had a different “personality” and a different set of cycles. I do not think the same Long Count calendar would have worked properly in that Sun Age, but then that is a personal opinion rather than something gleaned from the Mayan writings.

I am sure there are things we may never know… even after the Mayan Elders have revealed the last of their “secrets”.

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.

a Thought on the Earliest Long Count Record

March 15, 2010

Some historians hypothesize that the Long Count was completely finalized in the first century BC as that is the occurrence of the oldest known Long Count inscription (36 BC at Chiapa de Corzo). It could be that earlier inscriptions have simply not made it to our time (being on destructible materials) or that earlier stone representations have just not yet been found.

Either way, the 36 BC occurrence remains the oldest about which we know. So, why did the Maya date the beginning of their calendar so much further back, like 3100 years further back?

And did they keep record of the days and years since that time in the prototype of the Long Count or some other system until it was finalized? Or was it truly as John Major Jenkins hypothesized that they simply back-dated the calendar to a random starting point in the past?

It is difficult to do more than speculate on this question. One thing that would help is knowing why they started it on the date in question. What happened then that should have been monumental enough to give birth to a new calendar?

There are many theories about this issue. The usual definition given from the Mayan documents was that it was the “birth” of the planet Venus. Most historians today brush that aside, saying it was only the appearance of Venus as the morning star before the Sun rose. I cannot see that would be such a momentous thing since it happens quite often. And I have not seen anyone offer any proof that this was the case.

Immanuel Velikovsky theorized that Venus was born out of the planet Jupiter (see his Worlds in Collision for the particulars. Practically all the scientific community, however, stick to their belief that Venus is about the same age as Earth so there should have been no life to witness it’s “birth” from Jupiter or elsewhere.

But, if Velikovsky was correct in his timeline of the birth of Venus and the subsequent encounters of our planet with others, the last encounter would have been around 685BC. This might have allowed the orbits to stabilize and the Maya could have made any adjustments required to complete the various cycles in their calendars. They could then have finalized the Long Count. This may have taken a few centuries to completely nail it down.

Hence the earliest records of the first century BC. There may be even older ones, but if this timetable is correct, they may not be too much older.

But, time may prove me wrong.

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.

Celebrating Nothing

January 1, 2010

Can it be that there was not supposed to be any great happenings at the baktun end?

Where did the Mayans get the idea that each baktun or katun-ending was some monumental event? That they thought this is not exactly known but judging from the Books of Chilam Balam (written after the Spanish Conquest) it would seem to be the case. Each successive period had a different “flavor” to it and was ushered in by an important event.

At least this is the interpretation given by Carl Johan Calleman. His insights into what each age meant, their defining moments actually tell us more about the author and his worldview than what the Mayans were talking about.

Is this the reason they abandoned the Long Count or was it something else? If they noticed it was not working the way they anticipated, perhaps the whole thing had to be trashed… but they kept the tzolkin, and the haab, and the Calendar Round.

Where did they get the notion that the katun and baktun endings were of importance? In our present society, whichever calendar you are using, the New Year’s Day is celebrated as the start of something new, separating everyone from the year before.

I don’t think anyone actually expects for something great to occur on New Year’s Day so where did the Maya get this notion? From the histories I have seen, it did not appear to be anything monumental in their earlier period but gained in importance later on.

Could it be that the King’s of the Classic Period, assuming the dates were of major importance, planned wars on the appointed day then, when the expected outcome was not achieved, they simply blamed the calendar?

This could explain why the Long Count was abandoned. It was a tool they assumed was broken. It was as if they – the Classic Era Maya – had already forgotten the intent of the Calendar itself. They had already forgotten about the end of the Fifth Sun. Instead, they had assumed the Long Count acted much the same as the tzolkin: as an augury.

It is a shame they abandoned the Long Count but even more of a shame that they seem to have forgotten exactly what it was all about.

We now understand what the ancients were trying to tell us. Why did the Maya themselves forget?

We learned of their meaning some time ago but wrote it off as superstition, mythology, tales to entertain. Because of our worldview, we could not comprehend the message. So what happened to the Mayan society that altered their worldview in a fashion to make them forget the meaning of the calendar their ancestors had given them?

Easy to see how we could have overlooked it but what caused them to forget? Could it have been nothing more than that daily survival required so much of their intention? Or had the priesthood “played-up” to the kings on the importance of the baktun-ending dates?

We just don’t know why but abandon it they did.

But now, at least, we know what it’s about.

In the Beginning

December 24, 2009

In 1989, I purchased a book at my local New Age bookstore, the Mayan Factor: Path Beyond Technology by José Argüelles [1988, Bear & Company].

In reading it, my interest in the Maya and their Calendar was reawakened. Other reading and study followed, and a decade later I had started a novel (Cycles – a Mayan Tale, unfinished as of this writing) on the Maya and how their Calendar came about.

In doing more in-depth and up-to-date research, I was surprised to see that no one had arrived at the same interpretation I had about the Maya End-Date and what it really meant. I had thought their meaning was so obvious… How could everyone overlook it?

I realized the reason no one could see what I thought the Maya stated quite clearly, was the blinders we are wearing, preconceived notions about the world, the universe, and the mechanics of nature.

After an exhaustive internet search, I determined that the interpretations of its meaning were as many and as varied as there were authors on the subject and yet they were all falling into two basic categories:

1 – Those believing the world was going to end by one horrible method or another, and
2 – Those who thought we were entering a new age of enlightenment.

Having heard both theories before, the first on various and sundry occasions by a large number of “kooks” and members of the fringe, the second in relation to the dawning of the Age of Aquarius in the ’60’s, I really did not put much stock in either.

Why was no one seeing the true message? The Maya were not trying to be confusing or mystical, they put the answer right out there.

So, I wrote a book, 12•20•2012; Or Last Golden Sunset? and tried to get it published. But after a year without getting either an agent or a publisher interested in what I thought was a “hot topic”, I decided to just put it up on the internet in this blog format. I think the theory should be aired and discussed before people start going off the deep end – that is, if my interpretation is correct.

In 1950, Immanuel Velikovsky wrote about the mechanics of the universe through the explanations given in the Old Testament. What this told us about the world was quite different from the science textbooks. But, naturally, Sagan and his crowd won the day and Velikovsky was relegated to the fringe area of pseudoscience. He was declared a “crackpot”.

Now we have another source of cosmological data that falls into the same category. Most people choose to believe the Saganized picture of the universe that it has been the same and unchanging for “billions and billions” of years. Or you can believe some rather terrified eye-witnesses tried to explain what they did not understand in symbols that they could to wrap their minds around.

What the End-Date means is not up for barter. If you believe in the End-Date the Maya gave us, you have to believe their reason for giving it. Not some modern notion for our own more personal psychological needs.

The message here is really rather simple to state but the ramifications go a lot deeper and wider than most people would be willing to tackle.

Abandoning the Long Count

December 22, 2009

The Maya developed the Long Count during the period 1000-350 BC, according to historians, and started using it on their monuments in the 1st century BC.

During the height of their civilization, c.800-900 AD, they abandoned its use. No longer did they note and celebrate the katun and baktun endings, no longer did they continue marking the passage of days.

But why? If their calendar was so perfectly aligned to bring them to the end of the present Sun, why suddenly leave off its usage?

Was the length of the inscriptions too much work for them? Did the present suddenly mean more to them than some distant future?

Or could it be that they did not notice anything spectacular marking the baktun and katun endings. Perhaps they expected some truly remarkable things but nothing of moment occurred. They planned major wars to coincide with these calendrical moments and the outcomes, if less than satisfactory, caused them to lose faith in the calendar. It could have made them think the system was not working. Some fundamental mechanism, timing pattern, had been overlooked or miscalculated.

Perhaps they abandoned the End-Date and the Long Count because they realized it was WRONG.

So what can that mean for us? Will 12/21/2012 pass with nothing more than any earlier katun or baktun ending ceremony?

We will have to wait and see but I speculate that the Mayans realized they had erred.

But had they?

What if their thinking the Calendar was wrong was only something like both sides in a game praying to Jesus for victory. Well, only one can win, so does it mean one’s prayers were stronger or whatever to get the victor’s crown? Does it mean the prayers or the deity are wrong because only one side can win?

If this was the thinking the Mayans fell into because a victory was not given them on their carefully chosen baktun-ending day, perhaps they abandoned the Long Count in error.

And that would mean that the End-Date is still viable.

We do not know how or why they formulated their calendar in the fashion they did – series of twenties, eighteens, and thirteens – but it must have had a reason. We assume it had some reason other than simply coming up with the numerical value of the End-Date their Sun required.

If we can decipher how they derived their calendars, the cycles they deemed important enough to be included, we might understand what they were up to.

And if the End-Date still remains valid.

What the Maya Really Meant

December 21, 2009

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will be wondering “if it is NOT all these other theories, then what the heck IS it?” Well, perhaps it is time…

Today is the 21st of December, 2009. According to the Maya there are only three years left until THE Big Day.

Trying to explain what the Maya meant for this day seems almost anti-climactic to me. After all, its not as if they tried hiding their meaning. No, they put it right out there in the open for everyone to see it clearly.

Repeatedly, they spoke of the previous Sun Ages, each ending with a cataclysm INVOLVING the Sun. When you mention catastrophe, people immediately think earthquakes, tidal waves, meteor impacts, or the planet tilting. The Maya mention the earthquakes as part of what will happen but there is not any extra-Solar boogeymen to watch out for. It is a cataclysm involving the Sun.

They did not speak of the “Ages of the World” or “world ages” of any sort – like most writers on the subject mis translate the terminology. It is Sun Ages being referred to and each successive Sun has different qualities, different powers, and a different name. But we scratch our heads and say “how can there be more than one Sun?”

Probably the reason no one has noticed what the Maya said concerning the End-Date is that it conflicts with a mythology we hold in high esteem. Mythology? you ask. We don’t believe in any stinking mythology!

Well, yes, we do. The mythology is called “science”. Not the science that measures the quantities of this that and the other, not the science that put us on the moon, not the science that gives us ever bigger and better weaponry. No, I’m talking about the science that views a small segment on the universal time-scale and says it has always been this way; as one cleverly put it, for “billions and billions” of years. It is a pleasant theory that has become the bedrock of the scientific world. Yet it is nothing more than a theory of uniformity – in other words: myth.

And that is the myth that clouds our understanding of the Mayan End-Date.

And the cataclysm the Maya spoke of concerning the Sun is nothing more than the Sun going out. (And this is probably why no one has yet evolved this theory: it is impossible!)

But, you ask, how can the Sun go out?!?! (But that is an exercise we can go through later.)

Suffice it to say that there is no great mystery concerning the End-Date. The Maya have told us again and again. Repeatedly they called them “Sun Ages” and we translated it into “World Ages”. They mentioned the Sun’s fire dying out and we took it to be a mythology about a drought or something too mundane to bother with.

We have simply chosen to NOT believe them.

It has led to an immense amount of speculation on subjects that did not need to be brought to this table. The time is short and there is still more understanding needed.

I am sure you are wondering how the Sun could possibly go out.