Full Circle

The final frontierImagine my disappointment. There I was, enjoying a caffeinated beverage with the usual flock of hippies when someone brought up the end of time as we know it. Not in any some day in the distant future way, either; he meant five short years from now. I felt a chill wind on the back of my neck. Why wasn't I informed of this?

The problem, it seems, has to do with the Mayan calendar, which comes to a rather abrupt end in 2012. Normally, my first impulse would be to laugh at whoever designed a calendar that just quits halfway through, but some say this is no ordinary calendar. Some say this calendar—even though it was in use some 2300 years ago—accurately predicts the exact date of the winter solstice in 2012, among other things. This is no mean feat when you consider problems like precession, which is caused by the lethargic wobble of our planet's polar axis. Astronomically speaking, the relative positions of celestial objects change over time, to the tune of about one degree every 72 years. The result is an accumulating error over time, making the long-term prediction of future equinox dates a bit of a hassle, especially when the date in question lies 2300 years away. According to The How and Why of the Mayan End Date in 2012 A. D., the level of accuracy, in that ancient culture, is extraordinary.

It should be noted that because precession is a very slow process, similar astronomical alignments will be evident on the winter solstice dates within perhaps 5 years on either side of 2012. However, the accuracy of the conjunction of 2012 is quite astounding, beyond anything deemed calculable by the ancient Maya, and serves well to represent the perfect mid-point of the process.

It's unusual for another reason, too. In Mayan culture, the concept of the Sacred Tree lay at the heart of human creation, and the dark band of interstellar dust we see in our own Milky Way—the galactic equator—is closely related. To the Maya, that dark band represented a road, but more in the sense of a cosmic portal than an earthly path.

December 21st, 2012 ( in the Long Count) therefore represents an extremely close conjunction of the winter solstice sun with the crossing point of Galactic Equator and the ecliptic, what the ancient Maya recognized as the Sacred Tree. It is critical to understand that the winter solstice sun rarely conjuncts the Sacred Tree.

But to call this event a rarity, and leave it at that, is to ignore the point of that mysterious final entry in the human calendar. The point, I think, isn't so much about endings as it is about rebirth, and at a very familiar location, too.

Above all, what is becoming apparent from the corpus of Mayan Creation Myths is that creation seems to have taken place at a celestial crossroads - the crossing point of ecliptic and Milky Way.

What a relief. We're not standing at the threshold of extinction; we're only approaching the crossroads of our birth.


1 comment:

  1. So how will WE write it? How shall it read when we look back on December 21, 2012? We certainly have the elements in place to destroy ourselves. The planet has experienced cataclysmic events in its history - polar shifts, ice ages, etc. No one really knows. What the Mayan’s meant with their End-Count calendar will always be up for speculation. It fires the imagination, for sure. SOooo let's write it like we want it. That is what Chris Fenwick did in the #1 Visionary Novel: "the 100th human." You choose...