χαίρε θεών μήτηρ άλοχ’,
Oύρανοΰ άστερόεντος!


Hail! Mother of the Gods,

Goddess of starry Heaven!



Reconstructing Ancient Cosmologies:
The Maya’s Galactic Cosmology Compared to the Primordial Tradition of Coomaraswamy and Guenon


John Major Jenkins / May-June 2000


                The brilliant and complicated legacies of our ancient ancestors come down to us today fragmented, eroded, misinterpreted and degraded. These spiritual and cosmological belief systems draw from a profound realm of myth-making, as intuitive as they are compelling. And it is easy to assemble the unsolved mysteries of the past, set them out for all to see, and be contentedly entertained by the mystery of those wily Ancients. However, we are now being overwhelmed by an astonishing array of evidence and clear-headed interpretation that reveals a very definite fact about these archaic world-views: they were quite aware of our impending solstice-galaxy alignment and considered it to be the moment of spiritual opportunity for human beings on earth.

                My work with these questions has evolved over an unbroken course of self-study from an early age. I look back upon this earnest search and recognize a chain of initiation into deeper understanding. I chose to focus on elucidating these galactic mysteries as I unraveled them in Mayan and Mesoamerican archaeoastronomy, and recently have opened to seeing the very same core ideas in Egyptian and Vedic esoteric tradition. And this new panorama of inter-related ancient systems of thought reveal to me nothing less than the archaic mono-myth, a galactic paradigm of immense genius and depth, formulated by brilliant human beings, our ancestors, next to whom we are but confused and bewildered hedonists.


The Story Behind Maya Cosmogenesis 2012


Since roughly 1986 I have been drawn ever deeper into exploring the unresolved questions in the growing field of Maya Studies. At the time, I was living in Boulder, Colorado, and worked the night shift in a factory to save money for a dream trip to Mexico and Central America. Twenty-two years old, single, reading Alan Watts, Carl Jung, Frank Waters and Barbara Tedlock's Time and the Highland Maya — my sole purpose was to get south of the border and spend some time with the living Maya. By December I was off, and the four-month-long trip was full of adventures and misadventures that I later recounted in my first book Journey to the Mayan Underworld (1989). Back in Boulder, I wrote and studied, read, explored books, exhausted the resources of CU Boulder's university library, had friends get me books through interlibrary loan, and returned to Central America in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1994 and 1998. During these years I tackled the core questions of Maya cosmology:


·         The correlation of the Maya calendar

·         Identifying the core principles of Maya time philosophy 

·         The meaning of the 2012 end-date


                The first question involved determining "what day is it, today, in the 260-day Maya calendar?" It was very simply answered by taking a look at the academic literature, and I explored the question thoroughly in by 1992 book Tzolkin: Visionary Calendar Perspectives and Calendar Studies (published by Borderlands Science Research Foundation in 1994). However, while the answer agreed with the surviving count placement among the highland Quiché Maya, and revealed an unbroken continuity going back almost 3000 years, my support for this placement also put me at odds with the large sector of Maya calendar enthusiasts who were following the work of José Argüelles, as published in The Maya Factor and the Dreamspell system. Argüelles had determined to follow a daycount placement that was not consistent with the surviving, unbroken Maya daycount. My definitive conclusions on this subject had been published in my book Tzolkin (1992/1994). The ensuing sporadic exchange with various proponents of the Argüelles placement extended over several years beginning in 1991, and culminated in late 1995 with my controversial piece The Key to the Dreamspell Agenda, and the posting of letters on the Talis / resonate.org website in 1996. A less dramatic overview of the problem was soon thereafter posted on my website, called "A Manifesto for Clarity." I wrote this essay specifically for the Institute of Maya Studies in Miami Florida, where it was distributed freely during programs given in 1996. That's where I let the matter rest. To this day I am bemused that a matter so clearly resolvable to anyone willing to survey the pertinent ethnographic sources could be the source of such popular confusion and consternation.  I responded individually to over three hundred letters from people bewildered by inconsistencies in the Argüelles/Dreamspell system — its correlation as well as other problems. The phenomenon is complex and, above anything else, seems to have brought up issues around clarity and control that needed to be collectively processed and resolved. On another level, the Dreamspell system also seemed to be a perfect filter to self-select seekers capable of seeing through hype, attractive rhetoric, and personality-driven charisma to the underlying truth, however painful (or boring) it might be.


The second question that directed my research was to identify the core principles of Maya time philosophy. The constant refrain in my research, beginning in 1989, was "what is at the core of the Maya calendar?" I'll spare the reader and abridge the story by simply saying that in research laid out in Journey to the Mayan Underworld (1989), Mirror in the Sky (1991), and Tzolkin (1992/1994), I identified three root principles which are identical to the three root-principles of Egyptian Sacred Science. Following the essays of Martin Prechtel and Robert Carlsen, I was able to show how two of these root principles correspond to the contemporary Tzutujil Maya paradigm of change called Jaloj Kexoj. This phase of my research culminated in the book Jaloj Kexoj and PHI-64  (1994), which I reissued with four new appendices in March of 2000 as Mayan Sacred Science.


Now we get to the central concern of my work, and my magnum opus, Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. This is where we see the true meaning of the 2012 end-date of the Maya calendar and  the central insight of the Maya perception of time. My research shifted to the end-date question in early 1994. To set the writing of this book in the context of my life, I'd like to share some personal whereabouts. Escaping Boulder's skyrocketing rental market, in 1993 I moved to Louisville, six miles east of Boulder. I soon took up residence in a remodeled garage, with electricity but no running water. A friend had offered this little hermitage to me, at a very reasonable rent, and I used the water/bathroom facilities of my friend's nearby house. I worked a part-time job to pay the bills. In early 1994 I returned to Guatemala, delivering relief supplies to a beleaguered Quiché Maya community in the western highlands.  Throughout 1994 and early 1995 I wrote, researched, and formulated the essays that grew into the book The Center of Mayan Time (1995). In retrospect, this book was a preliminary effort, and did not include the detailed discoveries of  Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. However, the basic idea was there — that the Maya intended their 2012 end-date to mark the alignment of the solstice sun with the Milky Way galaxy, and the mytho-astronomical players in the scenario were One Hunahpu (First Father), the dark-rift Road to the Underworld, and the Milky Way Great Mother archetype. In fact, I had published these initial findings in the December, 1994 issue of Mountain Astrologer magazine. 1996 was an extremely productive year of research and discovery, staying up late in "the cottage," getting obscure books through interlibrary loan, tracking down the unresolved questions, and corresponding with Maya scholars. Everything snowballed towards November when I completed the Izapa Cosmos monograph.  That's when I knew I had gotten it all through, that all the core discoveries were in place and now I only needed to assemble the pieces and streamline the manuscript.


I took a sabbatical and fell in love. For through all the years of research and hermit-scholar questing, I was nearing the end of my rope. I was holding out for the final insight, and the Izapa Cosmos chapter pointed the way. And so I produced a few spiral-bound prototypes and then let go. Ellie and I discovered each other in a flurry of healing, laughing, and crying. We were married some two years later, at midday in mid-May. This personal shift signaled a professional shift, for I was emerging from a cocoon of solitary study and writing and now needed to get my latest work  published. By May of 1997 I had finished my traditional spiral-bound prototype, entitled Mayan Cosmogenesis 2012: Precession Astronomy in Ancient Mesoamerica.  By July of 1997 I signed with Bear & Company (Santa Fe) — my second book "officially" taken up by an outside publisher. In August I gave a slide show presentation of my findings at The Institute of Maya Studies in Miami, and the response was excellent. I began giving local Denver-Boulder talks, and asked Terence McKenna to write the foreword to my book. November 1997 to March 1998 was an intense time of copy-editing, revisions, doing the two hundred illustrations, and so on. I quit my part-time job and by March it was pretty much complete. I flew to Mexico to speak at Hunbatz Men's spring equinox Maya Calendar Congress, where I shared my interpretation of the shadow-serpent event at Chichen Itza. Excerpts were published in various magazines prior to my book’s release — in Nexus Magazine (Australia), Towards 2012 (England), and Mayan Messenger (USA). The Laura Lee radio show interview (live) was taped in May just days before the first copies arrived hot of the press. My magnum opus was released in June of 1998; I count it as my fifth major book-length study, although poetry collections, articles, monographs, the Key to the Kalevala editing/translation project, and smaller booklets were also produced during this time.  In his foreword, the late Terence McKenna called it "a revolutionary work of discovery and synthesis."


Summary of the Discoveries Set Forth in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012


A quality of Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 that sets it apart from the majority of other books on the Maya — both popular and academic — is that it puts forward new breakthroughs. In addition, unlike mass-market books promising to identify the “Maya prophecies”, my work is rooted in and supported by careful source documentation, interdisciplinary synthesis, and rigorous adhesion to the best academic scholarship.  Historically, it is to my knowledge the first in-depth, serious,  and comprehensive exploration of the Galactic Alignment; in a sense, I broke the case.  Here I would like to summarize the salient points of my new reconstruction that contributes a great deal to our evolving understanding of ancient Maya cosmology.  We have entered a new era of understanding.


1.     The Maya intended the 2012 end-date of the 13-baktun cycle of their Long Count calendar to target the rare alignment of the solstice sun with the Galactic Center of our Milky Way galaxy.

2.     They encoded this alignment into their basic institutions, including the Creation Myth, king accession rites, and the sacred ballgame. I term this idea-complex the Galactic Cosmology.

3.     Izapa is the origin place of the Long Count and the Maya Creation myth, which serve as the astronomical, calendric, ritual, and mythological foundation of the Galactic Cosmology.

4.     An unrecognized astronomical message in the Pyramid of Kukulcan at Chichen Itza (where the famous shadow-serpent event occurs every equinox) involves the alignment of the sun and the Pleiades in the zenith. My reconstruction here is supported by evidence in Maya iconography, calendrics, and archaeoastronomy. I termed it the Zenith Cosmology.

5.     In addition, I identified the New Fire ceremony and the Calendar Round as the systems used to track the alignment of the sun and the Pleiades in the zenith.

6.     Thus, Chichen Itza was identified as a place that recognized not only the future 2012 alignment of sun and Galactic Center, but a future convergence (in the 21st century) of solar and Pleiadian energy.

7.     Given that the Pleiades and the Galactic Center are roughly opposed in the sky, I proposed that the Maya understood the two alignments to occur in the 21st century (over Chichen Itza, at least) as an opening of the Evolutionary Axis that extends from the Galactic Center, through earth, and out towards the Galactic Anti-Center region of the Pleiades. The implications of this are profound, and embrace ideas in Vedic and Egyptian cosmology.


All of this is completely new, with no inkling of a precedent elsewhere. None of this is derived directly from the work of others; however, my findings did emerge from a comprehensive synthesis of academic perspectives and source studies. In the largest context of what seems to be implied, if not demonstrated here, the Maya were interested in two parts of the sky and two precession-caused alignment that occur in those directions. Both of those alignments are very rare and involve the entire frame of the sky rather than merely local conjunctions of planets. The alignments of our local solstice/equinox framework to the Galactic Center and to the Pleiades, incredibly, both occur in the 21st century. The Maya created an entire set of myths and deities to encode these celestial convergences. The former is the resurrection of One Hunahpu; the latter is the return of Quetzalcoatl. Astronomically speaking, we are aligning via the solstitial axis with the Galactic Center and the Galactic Anti-Center. In an end-note in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 I hinted at the implications of this, and in presentations given during the West Coast book promotion tour (October 1998) I explicated further on the meaning of this: A Galactic Chakra system can be envisioned, and the evolutionary energy (or shakti) is funneling through earth as a result of the alignments identified in ancient Maya cosmology.  



Revised Approach / What I've Learned


                What I just said about the Evolutionary Axis suggests a very compelling (and ancient) model of human spiritual evolution. One thing I learned from writing Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 and elaborating the ideas it contains is this: It is good to distinguish between the reconstructed cosmology of the ancient Maya and having to believe in it ourselves. The idea that periodic alignments to the Galactic Center stimulate consciousness on this planet is an intriguing and profound concept. What I have demonstrated clearly in my book  is that the ancient Maya astronomer-priests understood the astronomy involved in this statement, projected foreword accurately to the next big alignment, and they believed it would signal the dawn of a new World Age. In addition, my greatest contribution was in that I did not make these claims without assembling a huge amount of interdisciplinary evidence from academic sources, showing clearly how the Maya encoded this end-date alignment concept into their core institutions. What I should not have done is argue for the mechanism that may or may not have been responsible for such alignments effecting life on earth. I only did this in the last chapter, in the interest of exploring possibilities. Today, I might point the interested empiricist in the direction of the works of Oliver Reiser (Cosmic Humanism and The Intent of Creation), David Bohm (see Physics and the Ultimate Significance of Time, David R. Griffin editor), Wilhelm Reich (Cosmic Superimposition) and Dr. Theodor Landscheidt (Cosmic Cybernetics). In the foreword to my book, Terence McKenna suggested that a resonant relationship between DNA molecules and the Galactic Center might be elaborated through the growing paradigm of chaos dynamics. This is without doubt the right track — resonant relationships rather than cause-and-effect “astrology.” However, my feeling is that any argument for an empirical, scientifically rigorous model might not be as important as:


1.       The potential for spiritual and social transformation that the knowledge of our impending alignment with the Galactic Center (which is, after all, an empirical fact) might have for people.

2.       The empirical invalidity of the model doesn't mitigate against my reconstruction of the ancient Maya cosmology, nor would it disprove the presence of these galactic concepts in other ancient traditions.


Must we believe in the details of ancient Greek political science or Vedic philosophy to study and appreciate its perspectives? The lingering unresolved suspicion here, of course, is that this ancient Galactic Cosmology does offer an insight superior to any suggested by our own cosmologists. Ironically, we might state this insight in a surprisingly simple way: our changing relationship to the larger galaxy changes the nature of life on earth. A third-grader would respond to this with a loud and exasperated "dahhh!" And yet something in this that is unsettling to the rational mind seems to be the lynch-pin of impatient dismissals of my entire body of work.

                What else have I learned? One person commented that my Julian-Gregorian date conversion in Appendix 2 was off by a day in a few cases. Feedback on my book pointed out an overgeneralization in my use of the term Toltec. Technically, the Toltecs were specifically from Tula; I used the term to designate the larger Central Mexican tradition derived from Teotihuacan, but not equivalent with the later Aztecs. I should have used the term Nahuatl or Teotihuacano. Apart from this, there are no conceptual guffaws which challenge my reconstruction, even after I invited and received criticism on the scholarly email list called Aztlan. Or perhaps I should rather say that I was able to respond clearly and knowledgably to my critics, revealing that their perception of error on my part derived from their own faulty or incomplete understanding of the astronomy, ethnography, iconography, and calendrics involved. I'll detail some of these exchanges below.

                I also learned, immediately after the release of my book, that other researchers were active on the galactic alignment question, although usually from a purely astrological viewpoint. In fact, I discovered, literally hours before sending off the final bibliography disks to Bear, an article in the May 1998 issue of Mountain Astrologer by Daniel Giamario on "a shamanic look at the turning of ages" suggested by the alignment. I found his research to be clear and his perspective interesting, so I quickly added the reference to the bibliography and dropped it in the mail that day. Related to the topic of other researchers, right after publication Jay Weidner called me, having seen my book, and I learned of his amazing collaboration with Vincent Bridges on a book called A Monument to the End of Time — released in August 1999. Their book is superbly argued and thoroughly examines the work of enigmatic French alchemist Fulcanelli and a monument in southern France that clearly encodes the galactic alignment as an "end of time" signal. Their work made it clear to me that the Maya's Galactic Cosmology might have a wider base; in other words, the same compelling insight was noticed by other civilizations around the globe. Weidner and Bridges’ work showed that it went back to Egypt. Subsequent  research indicates it was a core process of the Vedic World Age doctrine and its metaphysical conception of spiritual transformation in general.


Responses To My Work and Correspondence Excerpts 


Maya "mysteries" and other media biases 

Magical Blend’s review and our response

Kindred Spirit interview and the

Idiot's Guide to millennial prophecies’ misrepresentation of my article

Don Alejandro’s newspaper article


Ed Krupp, Mayanist and Director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, responded to essays I sent him in 1995-1996. His main objection was that a Mayan concept of a galactic equator could not be proven, and that no evidence indicated the “star fields of Sagittarius” as a creation place in Mayan cosmology. Regarding the first objection: The Milky Way itself is the galactic equator; degrees of precise measurement have enabled modern astrophysicists to narrow this down to an abstract dotted line extending through the precise middle of the Milky Way. In addition, the dark-rift is a narrow path along the middle of the Milky Way, extending north of Sagittarius and Scorpio, which the Maya recognized variously as a road, a mouth, and a birth portal. This was the Mayan’s conceptual equivalent of the galactic equator. Regarding the second objection: In Maya iconography, crosses denote the cosmic center and origin place. The Great Cross formed by the Milky Way and the ecliptic (in Sagittarius) has been recognized as a viable concept in Maya cosmology — a key concept in fact: it’s the Sacred Tree. Thus, the “star fields of Sagittarius” coincide with a location the Maya considered to be a creation place. Krupp’s comments were offered at an early stage of my research, based solely on essays I sent him; I was encouraged because I could respond to him clearly and with confidence.     


Anthony Aveni kindly responded to some essays I sent him in late 1995, including the piece “The Stellar Frame and World Ages” that became chapter 10 in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. He did not agree with my World Age hypothesis, even though he had stated in his book Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico that ancient stargazers could have fairly easily noticed precession. Around this time I received a critique from Nikolai Grube in Germany, who was then serving as submissions editor for Mexicon magazine. I had submitted the World Ages piece to that journal; his response criticized my documentation style and did not address my main thesis.


In mid-1997, when I completed the prototype version of Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, I sent out invitational letters to various scholars — Munro Edmonson, David Kelley, Linda Schele, Susan Milbrath, and the Tedlocks — offering to send them spiral-bound copies of my laboriously (and expensively) produced book. I sent one to David Kelley which resulted in an exchange, but he, like Antoon Vollamaere, was arguing for a completely different correlation and so was predisposed to not thinking anything significant might revolve around the 2012 date. The Tedlocks, who I met at Naropa Institute in Boulder in 1994 and 1995, were a mixture of support and indifference. Talking with Dennis at Naropa, he told me he was aware of the solstice-galaxy alignment but  “didn’t know what to do with it” and considered any argument for an intentional connection with 2012 to be a case of misplaced concretism — because you will not actually be able to see the alignment (covered as it is by the sun). This, however, did not seem valid to me as the real point was that the ancient skywatchers could see, and could track, the slow movement of the solstice sun toward the band of the Milky Way. When I spoke to Barbara later (in March, 1998), she was not interested in giving me a written endorsement or review because my book was published by Bear & Company, a "new age" trade publisher. The impression I got was of encouragement, though mixed with a disinterest in seriously looking at my work. I greatly respect the work of the Tedlocks; recently I converted and edited Dennis's Breath on the Mirror for netLibrary, the largest ebook conversion provider in the world. A few telephone conversations with Dennis have not resulted in much direct discussion of my ideas.


In March of 1995 I journeyed via beat-up pick-up truck from Denver to Austin, Texas, for the famed Maya Meetings. Linda Schele would be there, and I hoped to talk with her. I opted to go to this event over the popular Chichen Itza gathering. In Austin, I met with Mark Valladares, an ex-Argüelles student who provided me with many insights into the preoccupations and activities of Dreamspell’s inner circle. His conscious scrutinizing of the group brought him and his partner Penny into contact with José in Mexico, and as a result they became disenchanted with the group’s motives, beliefs, and methods. Meanwhile, we attended the meetings; I was well aware of Schele’s 1992 breakthroughs demonstrating important relationships between Maya myth and astronomy. After the conference we attended the customary party at Linda’s house. I talked with her about Izapa, but within ten minutes she was distracted by others in her entourage. However, she directed me to one of her students who was studying Izapa. I then talked to her, but she was unable to discuss any of the monuments I mentioned, not seeming to have a working knowledge of Izapa in general. The contacts I made in Austin seemed promising, but subsequent attempts at correspondence were left unanswered. I traded my book The Center of Mayan Time with Barbara MacLeod for her Maya comic book. I talked with Michael Coe, but I didn’t realize it was him at the time!     


Schele’s breakthroughs have since been criticized by rationalist apologists in Maya studies, claiming that as a result of her terminal liver diagnosis (apparently in 1992) she became “too metaphysical.” I find this to be disingenuous indeed, and it may be argued that a brilliant scholar who has long labored under the restricting biases and constipating politics of modern academia may have been freed in her final years to be more lucid and more clear. Giorgio de Santillana, one of the authors of Hamlet’s Mill, was near death as that masterpiece was being completed, and wrote of that ambitious and progressive study: “whatever fate awaits this last enterprise of my latter years, and be it that of Odysseus’ last voyage, I feel comforted by the awareness that it shall be the right conclusion of a life dedicated to the search for truth.” Perhaps Schele may have felt the same way. Her astronomical statements are at times unclear, and she might not have had a strong grasp of things like precession; however, her emphasis on the role played by the Milky Way / ecliptic cross finds precedent in the work of David Kelley, Susan Milbrath, Raphael Girard, Barbara Tedlock, Dennis Tedlock, and others. This is really the only area where my work converges with Schele’s, apart from her general emphasis that mythology and astronomy go together—a truism that I don’t think anyone questions.


Susan Milbrath responded to my letters. At the time she was working on her magnum opus, Star Gods of the Maya, recently published with The University of Texas Press. A careful reading of her incredible book provides enough evidence to convince one of the veracity of my own theory. And her presentation in September of 2000 at the Institute of Maya Studies brilliantly revealed three celestial crosses toward which the cross temples of Palenque were oriented. Unfortunately, Milbrath herself does not believe the ancient Mesoamerican astronomers tracked and calibrated precession, and her presentation de-emphasized the Mayan recognition of the Milky Way / ecliptic cross (for example, although the Sagittarian Thieves Cross is practically co-spatial with the Milky Way / ecliptic cross, that fact wasn’t addressed). She acknowledges precession was an astronomical reality, but I think she sees it as a potential complication to her own theories. I believe her insights are correct and aren’t threatened by precession; in fact, we can take her work to the next level if we admit that precession was incorporated into Mesoamerican cosmology. 


One bright spot in this phase of my work was being invited by the Institute of Maya Studies in Miami to  present my cutting-edge research. This was arranged by now-President Jim Reed, took place in August 1997, and was well-received.


I should point out that my early exchanges with scholars were based only on preliminary essays I had sent out. Disinterest in my research at that point might be expected. However, since that time I have amassed and assembled a huge amount of related evidence, and Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 was the result. My cordial invitations to Mayanists since that time have resulted in a series of interesting, if somewhat frustrating, exchanges. The area in which I engaged in the most telling and valuable dialogue on my progressive ideas was the Aztlan email conference, which generally sustains a high level of intellectual rigor and scholarship. Unfortunately, it is dominated by specialists seeking miscellania. Linda Schele was active on this list after its inception in late-1995; in fact, her comments on the 2012 end-date inspired a response from me, which I mailed to her at that time and later incorporated into Appendix 5 of Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. I didn’t receive a response to any of my letters to Schele; understandable, I guess, given her prolific work at that time.  It was only later, in the spring of 1999, that I rejoined the list and corresponded with various scholars and independent researchers; exchanges follow.


Lloyd Anderson took me up on my invitation and sort of introduced me to the larger circle of Aztlan listeros  by being open minded. The body of my invitation, sent May 26, 1999, reads as follows:


Hello everyone,

My name is John Major Jenkins. I belonged to this mailing list when it first got started, and am happy to once again be involved.


I would like to invite all members of the AZTLAN list to comment on and/or critique my work with the Maya calendar and cosmology. My recent book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 abides by the highest standards of documentation to show that the ancient creators of the Long Count calendar intended the date of December 21, 2012 A.D. to target a rare alignment in the cycle of the precession of the equinoxes, that of the December solstice sun with the Galactic equator (the Milky Way). Wait! Don't delete yet. My work is based upon ten years of interdisciplinary analysis, drawing from the latest breakthroughs in epigraphy, iconography, archaeoastronomy, and ethnography. I have presented my work at the Institute of Maya Studies in Miami, and am scheduled to give a workshop at the Esalen Institute this coming August.


MC2012 is my seventh book-length study of Maya cosmology. It contains a 24-page bibliography, six appendices, almost 200 illustrations and charts, and twenty pages of documentation and end-notes. The bibliography can be found at http://edj.net/mc2012/bibbb.htm. Reviews and endorsements can be found at amazon.com or at my website: http://edj.net/mc2012.


I am very interested in discussing the following ideas with the AZTLAN list; a few of the key ideas in my book are as follows:


1. The 13-baktun cycle end-date of the Long Count calendar coincides with a rare alignment of the solstice meridian and the Galactic equator. For ancient skywatchers tracking precession, this would look like the December solstice sun slowly approaching the bright band of the Milky Way.


2. This coincidence of two established facts is not coincidental; the ancient creators of the Long Count intended the end-date of the 13-baktun cycle to mark the alignment of the solstice sun and the Milky Way.


3. Evidence for this is found in the symbolism of the Maya Creation story (the Hero Twin myth), the ballgame, and king accession rites. Each one of these traditions encodes the astronomical alignment of era-2012.


My work is not about arguing for the efficacy of astrology, or for demonstrable "effects" that a solstice-galaxy alignment may have for human beings on earth, but is rather an attempt to reconstruct the ancient Maya worldview and beliefs about the big time-cycle ending of 2012 A.D. Here's an interesting footnote: by modern astronomical calculations performed by the U.S. Naval Observatory, the precessional alignment of the solstice meridian and the Galactic equator is due to most precisely occur in 1998, +/- at least 1 year. This doesn't disqualify the Maya; yes, they were some 13 years off in their forward precessional calculations, but it is clear they were intending 2012 to mark the solstice-galaxy alignment. Another footnote of import: The Greek astronomer Hipparchus, "discoverer" of precession, was using data that was only 170 years old.


The only potentially problematical point of my theory is how the ancient Maya astronomers discovered precession. However, this point is less controversial that one may initially suspect. Maya scholars like Anthony Aveni and Gordon Brotherston consider that, given the Maya's possession of a year-drift formula some 2000 years ago that enabled a calculation of the solar year to 2/1000ths of a day (1507 solar years equal 1508 haab), accurate precessional calculations would have been par for the course. 


My work is being recognized as an important contribution to Maya studies. I welcome all comments. Unfortunately it is impossible to recapitulate a 450-page, thoroughly documented study into a brief email. More material, essays, and articles can be found on my website: http://edj.net/mc2012. I would greatly appreciate entering into a mutually beneficial dialogue with anyone willing to take up the challenge of critiquing my reconstruction of the Maya calendar cosmology. Perhaps we can begin with Point 1 given above. Best wishes . . .


This was the letter that generated a series of interesting comments. As mentioned, Lloyd Anderson asked some good questions and shared some of his own research. Then, Antoon Vollamaere, with his own axe to grind on the calendar correlation, called into question my use of 2012 as an end-date. I was thus required to formally summarize the vast body of work done by scholars over many decades that proved the 584283 correlation (beyond a reasonable doubt, at least). Of course, this was an area that I had thoroughly explored seven years earlier in my book Tzolkin, and it had little to do with the ideas in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. Vollamaere is among those who have argued for alternative correlations; generally, they focus on only one field of data, e.g., astronomy, to make their case, and ignore the important evidence of ethnographers. Well, this temporarily derailed my attempts to enter into serious dialog on the alignment. Soon, however, Andrew J. MacDonald surfaced, and I noticed he had an interesting model of early Maya cosmology that involved three axes of orientation. This intrigued me, because I had identified three axes and three cosmic centers at Izapa. We exchanged papers and came to a general respectful openness for each other's position; mine was certainly more "radical" or, I would say, specific in my references to the Polar, Zenith, and Galactic centers as the astronomical source of these anchor-points in Maya thought. David Kelley (the one in Japan) asked good questions about precession.


Three other Aztlan subscribers (Urquidi, M. Peach, S. Davies) questioned and critiqued an open letter I wrote in June (reproduced below) with disinterest in entering into serious dialog. This, unfortunately, exemplified the conclusions most typical of the linear, one-dimensional thinker.  I responded clearly to all of their comments, but the dialogs dwindled into silence. I’ll illustrate shortly why this is really a question of two different approaches to analyzing ancient data — one of which is more limited than the other.


In late September (actually, while I was in England), Stephen Davies responded to the open letter that I had posted, which was designed to show how the Maya identified the region of the Galactic Center  as a source (or birthplace) and a center. I responded to his critique after returning from England in early October:


From my Open letter: Among the modern-day Quiché Maya, the dark-rift is called the xibalba be. This means "road to the underworld."


Stevan Davies: OK. That gives us a fact from a particular time ca. 1970 from a particular culture, Quiché. What is true for Quiché language and legend today is not thereby true for classic Mayans of more than a millenium before. If it were the case that all, or almost all, present day Mayan languages called the dark-rift "xibalbe be" your point would be much stronger. As it is, it raises the question in my mind, why are the Yucatecs and Choltis and so forth not doing this?


John Major Jenkins: My argument is intended to show that the concept of  "road to the underworld" was central to Mesoamerican ideas about emergence or birthing. We should not expect cultures speaking different dialects to be using the exact same term for the same concept. The Yucatec and Chorti Maya have concepts similar to the Quiché xibalba be; for the Yucatec it is the U hol Glorya or Glory Hole (Schele’s term), for the Chorti it is probably the Hol Txan be. It can also be shown that the "road or portal to the underworld" concept is represented in cave and jaguar symbolism going back to the Olmec. For example, the mouth of the jaguar was portrayed as an entrance to the underworld. 


Open letter: In the ancient Maya Creation text, the Popol Vuh, this same feature serves as a road to the underworld and is also called the Black Road.


Stevan Davies: No. The Popol Vuh refers to red, green, white, and black roads. The black road to the underworld is taken. But where do you get the "also" from? There is NO connection made in the Popol Vuh between the black road and any astronomical feature whatsoever.


John Major Jenkins: By saying "also" I was showing that the dark-rift in the Milky Way was labeled by the Quiché as a "road to the underworld" and "also" a Black Road. You emphatically state that there is "NO connection made in the Popol Vuh between the black road and any astronomical feature whatsoever." Have you ever heard of Dennis Tedlock? As ethnographer and translator of the Popol Vuh,  he has elucidated the astronomy within the Popol Vuh very carefully and clearly, specifically associating the Black Road taken by the Hero Twins with the dark-rift in the Milky Way. Before making emphatic statements, it may be more productive to ask for my sources. In this regard, my open letter is intended as a brief, concise summary. The interdisciplinary evidence I have assembled and interpreted can be found in my book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. But let me direct you to the studies which demonstrate (if you read them) the larger millennia-long context of the "underworld portal" and the astronomy within the Popol Vuh: http://edj.net/mc2012/bibbb.htm


Open letter: Associated iconography with the "underworld portal" concept includes caves, monster mouths, and birthing portals. In general, the Milky Way was conceived as a Great Goddess and the dark-rift was her birth canal.


Stevan Davies: Whoa! This appears to be quite the non sequitur. I don't know where you get "birthing portals" for your first list, and cannot imagine what leads you to assert "in general the Milky Way was conceived as a Great Goddess," etc. [Do you mean] in general throughout the world? For the present day Maya? Classic Maya? What are you talking about here and what is your evidence for it and its relevance to your thesis?


JMJ: In Mesoamerican cosmo-conception. See Milbrath’s 1988 study of Aztec astronomy and goddesses in the website previously cited. The relevance to the open letter thesis is to show that the wider conceptual understanding of the xibalba be includes birthing. Caves, serpent mouths, thrones, and birthing portals were apparently conceptually related in the minds of Mesoamerican thinkers. In the Tzotzil language, Chen means both cave and birthing passage. Caves were entrance points to the underworld. Do you understand that we can approach a general understanding of the Mesoamerican "portal to the underworld" complex through this kind of interdisciplinary synthesis? Evidence that the dark-rift was conceived as a birthplace: The most compelling evidence comes from Izapa in roughly the first century B.C., the place where distinct episodes from the Popol Vuh are portrayed on dozens of carved monuments. Norman, Lowe, Schele and others have shown that a great deal of astronomy is on these pictographs. For example, Izapa's Group A alignments to the Big Dipper are compatible with Group A's pictographic content: Seven Macaw (The Big Dipper) is shown rising and falling. Notice that modern ethnographic information among the Quiché also associates Seven Macaw with the Big Dipper — a continuity of some 2000 years! Another example: Stela 25 contains a caiman-tree that symbolizes the Milky Way (this is similar to David Kelley’s model of the Milky Way with the mouth at the base of the tree being associated with the dark-rift in the Milky Way). Izapa Stela 11 has an upturned frog or toad deity, and a solar lord is being birthed from it. As Lowe pointed out, this appears to be a prototypal "upturned frog-mouth" hieroglyph, translated by David Kelley in 1976 to mean "to be born from." Here, the mouth of the caiman, frog, snake, or jaguar are loosely interchangeable references to the concept of the "road to the underworld", thus likely associating them in Izapan astronomy with the dark-rift in the Milky Way. Our scrutinizing and discriminating intellects might not like this kind of broad-brush association, but the Maya mind was more interested in conflating categories, in synthesizing the underlying meaning of different labels. (An example of this is the fact that the very same astronomical feature might have many different mythological identities.)


Another important factor at Izapa that supports the thesis is its alignment to the dark-rift, the solstices, the Milky Way, and the Big Dipper. Here observe that you are asking good questions, ones that I have already addressed in my book. I cannot rewrite that book, but I would direct you there if you want the evidence. And there is a great deal of it.    


Open letter: This demonstrates that the Maya understood the region of the Galactic Center as a source-point or birth place.


Stevan Davies:  If the "birth canal" statement above is valid, then it does demonstrate [this] as you say it does . . .  tautologically, for the dark-rift is the center of the galaxy. This, however, makes it all the more important for you to show that the Galactic Center was a "birth canal" in the minds of the ancient Maya.


JMJ: The dark-rift POINTS TO the center of the galaxy. I’ve shown that the Galactic Center region of the sky was understood by ancient Mesoamerican thinkers as a birthplace, through the identification of the nearby dark-rift as a birthplace. The other factor in my open letter is the crossroads, providing another complex of symbols that indicate "center," thus supporting my thesis from an entirely separate direction. [Crosses denote “center” in Mesoamerican iconography.] One set of evidence might be dismissed as coincidence. But two?


Open letter: The cross formed by the Milky Way with the ecliptic near Sagittarius has been identified at Palenque and elsewhere as the Mayan Sacred Tree." Etc.


Stevan Davies: That appears to be the case. But I don't think a great many people have found that that identification has been cogently and convincingly argued to the point that one can say it is established. Rather, I think one can only say that the identification has been suggested.


JMJ: That’s because you aren’t aware of the larger body of evidence. The cross of the Milky Way and the ecliptic as a "cross" or "tree" is demonstrated in Girard’s ethnographic work among the Chorti. Related work by Milbrath utilizes the Milky Way-ecliptic cross as an important key to understanding astronomical information in the surviving Maya codices and in Aztec sources. Evidence likewise exists in the 16th-century Popol Vuh, modern Quiché ethnography, and even in Olmec symbology (see essays by Schele and others in The Olmec World, 1995). Ballcourt symbology, double-headed serpent bar imagery, throne crosses, and of course the clearest representation at Palenque. But it’s not just Palenque. Without trying to overemphasize, my book assembles all this evidence into a coherent whole. Or check out some of the sources at http://edj.net/mc2012/bibbb.htm


Stevan Davies: Frankly, I think your work cannot be proven correct. The Mayan calendar was in existence prior to 120 AD, the earliest recorded date (that I know of). So, whatever culture brought that calendar into being was the culture that would have designed it to end at 2012. What is the extent of our knowledge of the intellectual life of that culture? Zero. We do not know where or when or how or by whom the Mayan calendar was designed.


JMJ: These questions are answered. Long Count dates start appearing in the archaeological record during Izapa’s heydey — first century B.C.  We know a lot about the intellectual preoccupations of the Izapan culture by way of its archaeoastronomical alignments, it’s carved monuments, its shamanism and local ecology.  When you say "Mayan calendar" you need to distinguish between the Long Count and the much older 260-day calendar. Michael Coe has written that "it is quite clear cut that the Izapan civilization was instrumental in the development of the Long Count calendar." Other scholars agree. It's also a fairly straightforward probability when you consider that the Long Count calendar starts appearing in the archaeological record at the same time Izapa was experiencing it's heydey, and in the same region.


Stevan Davies: So even if the Palenque Mayans knew all about the ecliptic and thought it was a really really big deal and organized their principal artistic designs in reference to it (all of which I strongly doubt) that tells us virtually nothing about the culture that, hundreds of years earlier, invented the calendar.

Stevan Davies


JMJ: Well, I think that doubt is based in the limited view of Maya genius that has plagued Maya studies for a hundred years. Look at Izapa, the culture that invented the Long Count and carved the earliest distinct episodes from the Hero Twin Creation Myth, and you will find sophisticated astronomy. You will find the Milky Way-ecliptic cross and the dark-rift.  If the sum-total of my work on these questions amounted to a two-page open letter, it would be easy to dismiss it as you have. However, that two-page letter was intended as a common-language summary of evidence showing that the ancient Maya conceived of the region of the Galactic Center in a way that is consistent with its true nature as a center and source. This was merely an assemblage of the evidence from academic sources. When I describe what is present in this data, very little of it is my own subjective argument; it's just setting the pieces out for all to see. This is what amuses me the most. It's based in factual evidence but the resistance among evidence-seeking scholars is the most extreme. And the reason for this, I believe, has to do simply with the implications. But the implications of assembled evidence, no matter how unsettling to the superiority complex of modern science, must be faced if we want to progress. It's 2 AM and I should be sleeping . . .


From my perspective, a large amount of data/evidence/information should result in similar conclusions—even among different thinkers— if common sense and reason are being applied. What I have observed in the response of Davies and others is resistance to drawing the appropriate common sense and logical conclusion. This step is not taken because the rationalist anticipates intractable admissions that must follow upon making the leap, namely, that the Maya calculated precession and were aware of the location of the Galactic Center. The full text of my open letter that Davies responded to (above), which developed during an exchange I had with an astronomer at Johns Hopkins University, is as follows:


An Open Letter to Astronomers

John Major Jenkins / June 30, 1999


Did the Maya know where the Galactic Center is located?




Now, brace yourself, because I’m going to show you how and why without resorting to speculation or guesswork. The question to ask is this: Did the Maya understand the region of the sky occupied by the Galactic Center in a way that is metaphorically and conceptually equivalent to what the Galactic Center is? In this way we can answer the related question of "did the Maya know where the Galactic Center is located?"


So, what is the Galactic Center? In most basic terms, the Galactic Center is:


1. A center

2. A source-point, or "creation place."


The first thing to recognize is that the region of the Galactic Center contains several features — all visible to the naked eye — that call attention to it as a unique place along the Milky Way. These are:


1. The Milky Way is filled with brighter stars and is wider in the region of the Galactic Center


2. The dark-rift, or Great Cleft, of the Milky Way extends to the north of the Galactic Center


3. The cross formed by the Milky Way and the ecliptic


Now we can assess established, academic (i.e., not my own), identifications in Mayan ethnoastronomy and starlore. Two factual indicators:


1. Among the modern-day Quiché Maya, the dark-rift is called the xibalba be. This means "road to the underworld." In the ancient Maya Creation text, the Popol Vuh, this same feature serves as a road to the underworld and is also called the Black Road. Associated iconography with the "underworld portal" concept includes caves, monster mouths, and birthing portals. In general, the Milky Way was conceived as a Great Goddess and the dark-rift was her birth canal. This demonstrates that the Maya understood the region of the Galactic Center as a source-point or birth place.


2. The cross formed by the Milky Way with the ecliptic near Sagittarius has been identified at Palenque, among the Quiché and Chorti Maya, and elsewhere as the Mayan Sacred Tree. In the Popol Vuh, it is the Crossroads. The cross symbol, according to accepted epigraphic and iconographic interpretation (e.g., on thrones), denotes the concept of "center" and usually contextually implies a "cosmic" or "celestial" center. The concept of "cosmic center" and the principle of  world-centering was important to Mesoamerican astronomers, city planners, and Maya kings — kings who symbolically occupied and ruled from the "cosmic center." Thus, the Maya, via the Sacred Tree/Cosmic Cross symbology, understood the region of the Galactic Center to be a center.


Center and birthplace — understandings that are true to the Galactic Center’s nature. This is not speculation, but an  assemblage of academic evidence. I repeat here the evidence available in my book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, which contains 24 pages of bibliography and 20 pages of academic documentation in end notes.


I speak of "region" in referring to the Galactic Center because the visible "nuclear bulge" of the Galactic Center is not an abstract, invisible point, is not limited to the high frequency radio spectrum, but rather covers a large area or "region" in the visible night sky. Now, my book argues, as its primary thesis, that the Maya intended 2012 to mark the rare alignment of the solstice sun with the band of the Milky Way. In astronomical terms, this is the alignment of the solstice meridian with the Galactic equator — an astronomical fact. Notice that my thesis does not require knowledge of the Galactic Center in order for it to be accepted. Nevertheless, knowledge among the ancient Maya of the Galactic Center as a "creation place" and "cosmic center" is strongly implied, indeed demonstrated, by established Maya concepts, as outlined above.


Ancient Maya knowledge of the precession of the equinoxes is the hitch that most closed-minded scholars invoke to discredit my work. The evidence for precessional knowledge is found in the academic data, in archaeoastronomical realignments of temples, in the Creation monuments and texts, in the structure of the Long Count calendar, and in the work of respected Mayanists like Gordon Brotherston and Eva Hunt. Appendix 2 of my book surveys the evidence in the literature. Citations to the work of Brotherston, Tedlock, Schele, Smiley, Hunt, Aveni, etc etc etc are available upon request (electronically) and are also contained in my book. Important points that are demonstrated here, which will help us understand how and why the Maya knew where the Galactic Center is located:


1. We need to recognize that naked eye observation alone can identify the uniqueness of the Galactic Center region.


2. We need to compare ancient Mayan terms and metaphors with modern scientific terms and metaphors to determine if the ancient Maya had an accurate understanding and conception of the Galactic Center region. Clearly, without even using speculation but rather by assessing the available and accepted academic data, they did.


3. We need to separate unfounded accusations of my work as new age psycho-babble from the integrative, deductive, well-researched and documented approach that it is.


I am trying to establish here a foundation for astronomers to approach my material without judgment before the evidence I’ve assembled is assessed. I anxiously await further dialog, comments, and feedback.


The astronomer at Johns Hopkins could not accept this concise and brief letter, and simply stated emphatically that the Maya could not have known where the Galactic Center was located. So, the fact that in their mythology and cosmology they think of the region of the Galactic Center as a birthplace and a center must be a total coincidence. This is the least scientific position I could imagine. Other Mayanists with astronomical understanding, have simply refused to respond (e.g., I sent email to John B. Carlson in the summer of 1999, and he subscribes to the Aztlan e-list). Another Aztlan listero followed up my lengthy response to Davies:


D.M. Urquidi: The debate between Stevan Davies and John Major Jenkins was lengthy to say the least. With all the arguments presented, I am prone to agree, not with JMJ but with SD. It seemed to me that ALL arguments led to ALL  symbols being the "road to Xibalba" or the "underworld" or the Galaxy "birthing canal".


I think it is a bit much. Every element of every symbol has its  own nuance that tells us another aspect of something. but for all  to refer to "road to Xibalba" or the "underworld" or the Galaxy "birthing canal" does not seem feasible. What does "death" mean to the Meso-Americans? What does "life" mean? Where are/were the  dead buried? The answers we think we know, but do we? Where is  the Cosmic Tree? At the junction of the Galactic and the Elliptic?  Or is it somewhere completely different? Why is a bird connected  with the tree and with the twins? Too many questions still to be  answered. In the PV, the twins became stars and the 400 youths became stars? Who/what else?


JMJ: Many of these questions have been addressed and sufficiently answered to satisfy a healthy level of skepticism. And the answers are not all my own, but come from the wider context of studies previously referred to. While it is certainly easy to inappropriately associate iconographic and conceptual elements with one perceived reference, i.e., the dark-rift, it is also possible to push back a little our understanding of just how overarching the "birthing place" concept was to Mesoamerican thinkers. If we accept this, then the ubiquitous presence of the dark-rift reference in many Mesoamerican traditions will not seem quite as imaginary.   


D.M.U. This would indicate that there was no poetry, no literature, no  games, no thought in Meso-America, only religious astronomy and  religious wars. Not a very likely occurance. The Mesos wanted the  same things we want today. . . a good life, good food, a happy,  healthy family and probably a quiet death. Where does the family  fit into the picture? As the "birthing canal" symbolism in the  Milky Way? Why? Why not lactation of the heavens instead. Humans  do have to be fed as infants.

D. M. Urquidi


JMJ: I've been concerned with the astronomical level of ancient Izapan thought. This does not preclude the obvious reality that they were living, breathing human beings. 

John Major Jenkins


Urquidi’s accusation that all of my arguments lead in a roundabout way to the dark-rift / birth canal motif is similar to Munro Edmonson’s comment (in personal correspondence, 1997) that my identifications were “free-floating” and could “land just about anywhere”, which was not his “cup of tea.” Here we encounter a basic difference between approaches to the data. My work, without compromising rational thought, has sought to identify parallels of meaning, an association of motifs by way of analogy and metaphor. We could call this comparative iconography. To me, this reveals the deeper associations that a cultural mindset might encode for a given motif.  The linear rational/deductionist mind needs to find factual links for an association to be valid; metaphor and analogy have no place, and to approach the data with an eye to actually synthesizing the inner meaning would be heresy. The rational/deductionist mind would also gasp and criticize my use of the word “deductionist”. Any linguistically sophisticated intellect could easily understand my intention in using this “synthesized” word, but the uni-dimensional linear intellect balks, sputters, complains, freezes up and cannot proceed further.

                Most interestingly, Edmonson’s critique of my approach, echoed by Urquidi, is exactly the same as  Umberto Eco’s critique of René Guénon’s analogical/symbolist approach. In his introduction to Maria Pia Pozzato’s L’idea deforme (The Deformed Idea, 1979), Eco deconstructs Guénon’s book The Lord of the World, calling it a classic example of the “slipping away” of saying anything meaningful because everything is perceived via a relationship of analogy, unity, or similarity with everything else and so nothing meaningful can be concluded. In other words, the inter-related complex of ideas is free floating and so can apply to (or “land on”, as Edmonson said of my approach) any argument. This is a problem of differing approaches; we might call these approaches “analogical” versus “logical.”  The  analogical or “synthesizing” approach of myself and Guénon is clearly more capable of accurately languaging the deeper currents of the body of information being examined. For it is in the relationships between categories (categories kept separate in the linear/logical/specialist mode) that provides meaning. And understanding. In  the foreword to Evola’s  The Mystery of the Grail, H. T. Hansen addressed Eco’s “picking to pieces” of Guénon’s approach, and wrote:


In a scientific, semiotic mode of thinking, such traditional analogies naturally have no place. However, they do have they capability to move deeply. And if, as Jung says, reality is that which is effective, then myths are also reality. Here, of course, completely different definitions of reality come into play.


And so, I ask, if the ancient Maya participated more in the mindset of a Primordial Tradition than in the logic of the Western scientific method, then isn’t it more appropriate to interpret their doctrines with the principles and methods of their own mindset? In the end, I don’t even think that Guénon’s approach can even be accused of being anti-rational. In the prerational-rational-transrational levels of consciousness discussed by thinkers such as Ken Wilbur, the approach of the Primordial Traditionalists like Guénon is clearly trans-rational; that is, capable of rational interpretation — and going beyond it — without getting stuck in its limiting dualisms and misplaced allegiance to the superiority complex of modern scientific methods.  Pre-rational interpretation characterizes much of the New Age literature; with its ineffective nonsense appealing largely to an emotional, pre-rational substitute for authentic spiritual experience. Or, might I add, the experiences may be authentic but the integration into daily life is lacking.

                My dilemmas in engaging in productive discourse are based in these fundamental differences in approach. My detractors want to interpret through the filters of Western deconstructionism; I want to interpret and understand through the perspective of Maya cosmology itself. For example, in my open letter piece, I identified important (and widely accepted) elements in Maya myth and astronomy indicating that the region of the Galactic Center was conceived as a center and birthplace. None of that assemblage of evidence rests upon my own interpretations. The simple conclusion, as logical as it is threatening to the superiority complex of the Western Intellect, is this: The Maya thought of the region of the Galactic Center as a center and source point. They recognized the true nature of that part of the Milky Way. And their ideas were backed up by the fact that the Milky Way is very bright and wide in that region — empirical observation at its best. 


Carl Calleman in Sweden, independently of the goings on with Aztlan, called into question my use of precession. I want to give his critique a full hearing, because of the time Carl put into corresponding with me, and because it documents an intractable conflict of, we might say, perspectives. Calleman and I both gave presentations in March of 1998 at the Maya Calendar Congress in Merida, Mexico. He is the author of several books on the Maya calendar, including The True Cross, and approaches the subject in terms of his theological model of spiritual transformation based on the Maya calendar. He has a theory proposing that the correct end-date is not December 21, 2012, but October 28, 2011, which in my opinion is unfounded and derived from arbitrary considerations and misunderstood facts. Nevertheless, despite his anomalous end-date theory, he has adopted the True Count correlation and has written clearly about the correlation debate; I posted an article he wrote on my website. Our email correspondence through 1999 culminated with a piece he wrote as an appendix to his next book. It was an argument against my methods, reasoning, and conclusions. I was surprised at his disagreement with my basic thesis that the end-date was timed by precession — a fundamental concept that I had argued for with careful documentation, accessing interdisciplinary scholarship to settle the question. Calleman sent his critique to me “for my knowledge.” For the record I felt obliged to respond to his points of criticism:


Hi Carl,

Yes, please feel free to critique my work. However, I'd like to provide some of my own responses that you may use to adapt your appendix if you like.


CJC: "Another example [of a pseudo-spiritual interpretation] is provided by John Major Jenkins’ book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, where the author seeks to ground the Mayan Great Cycle, and its changing energies, in the 26,000-year astronomical cycle that the earth undergoes because of precession. Both [Argüelles and Jenkins] thus seek to adapt the spiritual cycles to the astronomical rather than the other way around . . ." 


JMJ: In MC2012 I sought to identify the underlying empirical (astronomical) reason why the Maya chose 2012 to end the 13-baktun cycle. Elsewhere in the book, and in previous articles and books, I explore and elucidate the spiritual and ceremonial dimensions of the tzolkin and Long Count. MC2012 had a focus — one book cannot be all things. Carl, your summation of my theory is accurate; your precession description is easy to understand.


CJC: "On a planet made from a non-bulging material (and hence no precession) no evolution could take place."


JMJ: Local gravitational influences may not be the sole cause of precession. Is it any coincidence that the Galactic Center is roughly 26,000 light years from earth?


CJC: "Jenkins has chosen the midwinter solstice, which seemed to fit the Mayan end date, but this is arbitrary too. Why not let the summer solstice determine the age?"


JMJ: I don't know, it seems to have been a decision of the early Maya cosmologists [i.e., December 21, 2012 is established].


CJC: "And, really, no one has proved that precession has an effect on human consciousness."


JMJ: If true, however, this possibility could, as with the rediscovery of the heliocentric solar system by Copernicus/Kepler/Galileo, stimulate a cosmological revolution. [Also, proof of this idea doesn’t invalidate my reconstruction of the ancient Mayan belief about it.]


CJC: ". . . this highlights the strangest and most inexplicable omission in Jenkins’ work — the total neglect of the creation stories actually presented by the ancient Maya in Quirigua and Palenque."


JMJ: These are Classic Period versions; I chose the Quiche Popol Vuh Creation Story, which has close associations with the original Creation Story portrayed on the monuments of Izapa. In fact, I did discuss the Quirigua creation monument in my 1994 book Jaloj Kexoj and PHI-64. These monuments usually read something like "On the image is made to appear." The glyph for "the image" is a kan-cross, symbol of the crossroads and the sun. Notice that the date reads rather than I also discuss Schele's questionable use of the Palenque texts in an appendix in MC2012, "Response to Counter-Arguments."


CJC: "I do not feel that the description of creation in Palenque is something that serious research about the meaning of the Long Count can allow itself to overlook."


JMJ: In my opinion, spiritual politics at Palenque gave permission for rulers to place themselves into the older Long Count creation wisdom, adapting it when necessary to contemporary political needs. Palenque thrived 700 years after the Izapan culture created the Long Count. Compare Christianity of the 1st century with the corruptions of the 14th.


CJC: "This omission is all the more serious as the evidence he presents to support his theses is mostly mythological . . ."


JMJ: This is not true and I would serious advise amending this. Mythology yes, but mythology with established astronomical references. Also, I utilized calendrics (see reconstruction of the Izapan Calendar Round), iconography (rending the Izapan monuments readable), astronomy, archaeoastronomy, ethnography (ancient and modern), epigraphy (see upturned frog-mouth glyph interpretation of Kelley). This is the greatest and most argument-resistant aspect of my work — I didn't isolate the data, I synthesized data from a wide spectrum of different disciplines. Some data was considered irrelevant, with good reason. Please don't give the wrong impression here.        


CJC: "They date the fall of Seven-Macaw to May 28, 3149 BC. . ."


JMJ: Who is this "they" — latter-day pundits at Palenque? Yes.


CJC: "[He] neglects the actual Mayan dates presented in the creation stories . . ."


JMJ: On the contrary, I emphasized the date (or era) of the creation of the Creation Myth itself, as evidenced by it’s first appearance in the archaeological record, at Izapa in roughly the first century B.C. Again, I consciously chose to examine the untarnished first occurrence of the Creation Myth rather than it’s adaptations centuries later.


CJC: "Jenkins interprets Seven-Macaw as the Big Dipper which begins to fall from its north pole location in the sky some time around 1000 BC. Since anthropologists agree that the Maya identified Seven-Macaw with the Big Dipper it would at first seem that Jenkins has a strong case. But what if the fall of the Big Dipper from its polar position was just a way for popularizing the end of the Seventh DAY of the Cultural Cycle (I have already suggested that during NIGHTS the ancient Egyptians would be led into identifying the Seven LIGHTS of a creation cycle with seven stars, and there is no reason why the ancient Maya would not have succumbed to the same type of illusion regarding Seven-Macaw in the NIGHT of baktun 7). Thus, if Jenkins’ interpretation were correct we would expect that they would have dated the fall of Seven-Macaw to baktun 5, which is when the Big Dipper began to fall from its polar position. But in fact they do not. They date the fall of Seven-Macaw to May 28, 3149 BC, even before the present creation began with the First Father raising the World Tree.


JMJ: [Here Carl is interpreting the material though his model of Cultural Cycles. The date he uses for the fall of Seven Macaw is from seventh-century Palenque, 800 years after the fall of Seven Macaw was portrayed on monuments at Izapa. Again, this is a misplaced reliance on a precise correspondence of dates; the astronomical reference of the fall of Seven Macaw myth is to the movements of the North Celestial Pole. My work goes further in suggesting both annual and precession-caused movements are involved. Calleman’s reasoning here is unrelated to Maya concepts.]


CJC: “The neglect of the actual Mayan dates presented in the creation stories, in favor of his own interpretation of their myths tainted by the astrological Doctrine of the World Ages, is in my opinion a great shortcoming of Jenkins’ work . . ."


JMJ: Isn't the Maya Creation Myth an astrological doctrine of World Ages? What about Hamlet's Mill?


CJC: "Nowhere in the Mayan accounts from ancient times is a cycle of 26,000 years described. Nowhere!"


JMJ: Perhaps not explicitly among the Maya, but as I thoroughly explored in an appendix, Gordon Brotherston finds explicit reference to periods of roughly 26,000 years in Central Mexican codices. Remember, there are only four Maya books left. Ultimately, precise knowledge of the exact duration of precession is irrelevant to my thesis that they were able to project forward some 2100 years with decent accuracy to the solstice-galaxy alignment of 2012. Of course it doesn't directly follow that the early cosmologists would have even been interested in (let alone aware of) the full 26,000 cycle. However, [whether they were or not] doesn't effect my end-date alignment theory. In other words, to know that I must awake at 6:00 AM does not imply that I know there are 24 hours in the day.


A great deal of your additional critique hinges on the supposition that I ignored Classic Period inscriptions. However, as I said these inscriptions speak less for the original conception of the Long Count BY THOSE WHO CREATED IT than the earlier monuments and alignments at Izapa.


CJC: "Another Mayan mythological concept that is important to discuss is the World Tree. Jenkins suggests that this is formed by the cross of the ecliptic (local planetary component) and the equator of the Milky Way (galactic). But this interpretation is impossible. The ecliptic and the galactic mid-plane are at an angle of about 60° in relation to each other, and in all representations from the Maya the World Tree is formed by the perpendicular arms of a cross, which give rise to the four geographical directions on earth."


JMJ: This identification is not mine, but as credited and cited in my book, is a well-established universal and ancient motif.  What about the material in the chapter A Hawk, A Cross, and A Mouth? [Observe here Carl’s scientific need for the angles of the trees in Maya iconography to precisely reflect the angles in the sky—as tedious and irrelevant as the specialists who try to identify the genus and species designation of mythological birds in Maya sculpture.]


CJC: "In reality, the true galactic cross is invisible (it has no material manifestations) and is formed by the galactic midplane and a line perpendicular to it."


JMJ: This is an interesting point, and has meaning for new theories about galactic dynamics. However, I don't think it is what the Maya were referring to.


CJC: "It is thus simply an accident that the end-date of the Long Count falls on a midwinter solstice: Midwinter solstice is in fact where the end-date by necessity must fall if its beginning is set at the solar zenith in Izapa. Strangely, Jenkins is aware that the beginning date of the Long Count is the solar zenith in Izapa, but does not point out what a remarkable accident this would be if the Long Count was meant for targeting the end-date."


JMJ: I noted and discussed this in my 1995 book The Center of Mayan Time. It is impossible to recapitulate all material in previous books. Also, this is an area that needs further research, as it may not be a coincidence. But it doesn't mean I'm intentionally ignoring it. Jesus, what am I suppose to have all the answers? Each successive katun begins 260 days further on in the seasonal year, yet each katun also has an even 7200 days. Which is primary?


CJC: "Yet, throughout his book he keeps referring to "the end-date alignment" as if this was a reality, when in fact, the midwinter solstice sun does not align with the galactic equator in the year 2012."


JMJ: The sun is 1/2 degree wide, remember? We've both discussed the parameters of this alignment. Don't accuse me of ignoring the full scope of the question. It is complex, and I don't evade it. I've posted discussions of this question on my website. In conclusion, your critique is selective and assumes several key things about my approach which are presented as wrong (for example, my not using Classic Period evidence to understand the Long Count / Creation Myth complex which first emerged in the 1st century B.C.) My response: Why the hell would I? By examining 14th-century Christianity would we understand any better the birth of Christianity? The evidence I've assembled to argue for my stated thesis, that "the Maya intended 2012 to mark the alignment of solstice and galaxy" is thoroughly, interdisciplinary, and extremely well-supported. However, you didn't discuss this material. And thus I'm forced to defend and restate material that I've researched and written and rewritten and rewritten and rewritten. My theory is not perfect, but it is well researched and argued, based upon established Maya concepts. I'm not qualified to say much about Maya spirituality. I leave that to others. But I don't think that our approaches / conclusions are contradictory.


Thanks for sending me your critique, and I wish you luck in all your endeavors.




This is the kind of hard-questioning dialog I’ve been wanting to engage in. Unlike Maya scholars themselves, independent researcher Carl Johan Calleman cares enough about the cutting-edge of Mayan Studies to address my work, really think it through, and generate questions. Unfortunately, this exchange reveals the intractable stalemate that can result from differing perspectives. Even though our work converges at critical junctures, Calleman and I emphasize differing priorities. I am trying reconstruct the original worldview of those who created the Long Count calendar; he is trying to create / identify  a Maya calendar-based theology of history and spirituality. I consider his approach as belonging to the Western theological tradition which requires new philosophers on the scene to put forward their own unique “model” to identify their personal niche in the exegetical evolution of theological thought. In comparison, my function is only to elucidate authentic Maya tradition, especially those elements that have been submerged or forgotten. I am confident that I responded clearly and concisely to Calleman’s critique, and his argument against my work is faulty in several places, as I pointed out. In a somewhat unrelated area of concern, around this time Calleman contacted Patrick Wallace, Star Link Project Manager at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in England, who supplied the following calculations about the solstice sun’s precessional movement in relation to the Galactic Center. I’ve been aware of these movements since the early nineties, but not the specific years that he generously calculated for us:


The winter-solstice Sun is closest to the Galactic equator in 1998. This presumably corresponds to the Meeus/USNO calculation.  The distance from the Sun to the Galactic centre at that time is 6.4396 degrees (measured in apparent place). The winter-solstice Sun has cleared the Galactic equator by 2021. The winter-solstice Sun is closest to the Galactic centre in 2219, with a couple of years either side also candidates for this epoch because of nutation.  The distance to the Galactic centre at the 2219 solstice is 5.6367 degrees, 0.8029 degrees closer than in 1998. The winter-solstice Sun and Galactic centre share the same apparent-place meridian in 2225.


This relates to the question of when an empirically-timed shift might be expected, if one wanted to pursue that possibility. Again, proof of the empirical impact of the alignment on human affairs neither credits nor discredits my reconstruction work.


Dr. Horace R. Drew. In the summer of 1999, a specialist in the field of molecular biology contacted me with some encouraging information about the possibility of an empirical basis to a magnetic shift caused by the solstice-galaxy alignment. He wrote: “Some scientists have actually read your Mayan work carefully! Personally I have tried to interest professional astronomers in that material (copies to them). After some study, here are some interesting notes which may perhaps advance the subject further [lengthy descriptions of precession and magnetic field reversals omitted]. I hope these tentative notes will bring your work to the attention of professional astronomers, who may reflect on it further (and who may perhaps now contact you). Today's astronomers seem astonishingly ignorant of factors which influence Earth's magnetic field. Could it not be coupled to precession, just as the Sun's field is coupled to Jupiter?” Yes! There are conscious intellectuals out there!


Gordon Brotherston responded to an email in June of 1999 with the expected support that, of course, the Maya knew of precession. Brotherston, an extraordinary intellect, has written for decades on various important aspects of Mesoamerican literature, astronomy, calendrics, and iconography. A piece he wrote on the famous Aztec sunstone showed how it encoded the five World Age periods as sub-units of the total 26,000-year precession cycle. He has identified precessional data in the Annales de Cauahtitlan and many other Mesoamerican documents. He even supported my description of the zenith cosmology, saying that it solved a problem of a four-day disparity in the Festivals of the Aztec Months.


Rush Allen. A brilliant independent thinker who has taken the mythological motifs within the solstice-galaxy alignment to new levels of interpretation. We exchanged email frequently throughout 1999. My work is less ambituous than his in that I try to stick to reconstructing the Maya cosmology; Rush has gone global and has pointed out quite compellingly the universal global myths that all seem to point to this precessional convergence. Website: http://siloam.net. Dr. William Gaspar (The Celestial Clock) has also explored interesting questions in precession and Milankovich’s Ice Age theories, presenting a new theory of his own in the process. 


In June of 1999 I was invited by the Center for Millennial Studies (associated with Boston University) to submit a paper for their millennial conference in November. In researching their program, I read an interview with the Institute’s director, Richard Landes, on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air with Terri Gross. In it, Landes made an  unprofessional insinuation that the Maya calendar and 2012 was to be considered a rather flaky obsession of New Age pundits. Despite the Institute stating an interest in Native American prophecies and all forms of eschatological thinking, my paper was rejected. I had tailored it with clarity to the point where mention of the Galactic Center was not even necessary for the point I was making: that the years around A.D. 2000 were not arbitrary but in fact coincided with the rare alignment of the solstice meridian with the galactic plane. I even sourced the alignment calculation directly to Jean Meeus’s Mathematical Astronomy Morsels (1997). Of course, I presented the Maya as the ones who incorporated this fact into an eschatological cosmology. The abstract, written in May 1999, reads:


The calendar cosmology of the ancient Maya of Central America states that the world is due for renewal in the years around A.D. 2012. Recent breakthroughs in understanding the astronomical underpinnings of this "millennial" temporal turning point show that the Maya believed a rare alignment of the solstice sun with the Milky Way (or Galactic Plane) would be responsible for an era of great transformation on earth. We can refer to this event as a Galactic Alignment. It is an astronomical fact that the solstice meridian will be precessing (by way of the precession of the equinoxes) through the Galactic equator in roughly the year 2000. Although the sociological implications of the concept of Galactic Alignment is unfamiliar to mainstream scientific discourse today, there is ample evidence in the scientific work of several researchers that suggests our changing relationship to the Galactic Plane is important. There is further evidence in the traditions of the major ancient civilizations (namely, Egypt, Mayan, and Vedic) that this alignment was thought of as being a significant transformative event for human beings on earth. The Galactic Alignment of era-2012 served the Maya, as well as many other ancient civilizations, as a type of temporal marker around which gravitate sociological effects typical of what we call "millennial fever." My paper identifies the underlying empirical reason that Maya cosmology holds responsible for millennial visions, calendars and traditions.


Implications. The current (upcoming) millennium coincides very closely with a rare alignment in the cycle of precession that is recognized in the calendar-systems of at least three ancient civilizations as a transformative event for earth. How is it that the Judaeo-Christian Year 2000 "coincides" with this rare alignment of solstice and galaxy? Here are three possibilities: 1. Total coincidence; 2. Ancient knowledge of the future alignment was intentionally encoded into the early Christian calendar; 3. An unconscious intentionality within the collective movement of history. Whether or not the extremely close coincidence of Year 2000 with the solstice-galaxy alignment is intentional, we should acknowledge the fact, understand how the ancient civilizations who believed in its significance came to their conclusions, and incorporate it into our analysis of current millennial phenomenon.


Upon rejection, I inquired if the Institute was planning on having any specialists discuss the Maya 2012 date, for I was concerned that the subject would be treated poorly. I didn’t receive a response, and the media’s reporting of the conference was trite and superficial. It gave the impression that there are funny lunatics preaching doomsday on one side and funny scholars on the other preaching to not worry, don’t panic, your investments are safe.


One thing is clear: University institutes and celebrated spokesmen for rational common sense (such as Stephen Jay Gould) are simply unable to acknowledge that the solstice-galaxy alignment does make Year 2000 empirically unique. This isn’t even good science. It’s selective perception of the empirical data available. The aforementioned author wrote a book on the millennium, which (excuse the biting sarcasm) I awarded with “The Stupid Science Book of the Year.” This is why:


The Stupid Science Book of the Year Award goes to Stephen Jay Gould’s Questioning the Millennium: A Rationalist’s Guide to a Precisely Arbitrary Countdown (1997). In this book, science apologist and Saganite pundit of small-minded miscellania S. J. Gould muses pondiferously over the approaching year 2000, and what’s the big deal anyway? While discussing the various debates such as “when does the millennium really turn” (2000 or 2001?) and “why are even-numbered millenniums considered more millennial?”, Gould’s main viewpoint emerges: Year 2000 is not special or unique in any empirical sense.

            Science is supposed to acknowledge facts and base provisional conclusions on those facts. But Gould completely ignores the scientific fact that a rare alignment of the solstice meridian with the galactic equator became most precise in 1998. It is an astronomical fact that this alignment takes place roughly once every 13,000 years. The alignment is caused by astronomical precession, and calculations made by the U.S. Naval Observatory and European astronomer Jean Meeus (Mathematical Astronomy Morsels, 1997) calculate dates of October 27, 1998 and May 10, 1998 respectively. The rarity and empirical quality of this alignment, as well as its conceptually compelling nature, should be factored into discussions of the Year 2000 “phenomenon.” At the very least, scientific commentators are factually unjustified in labeling Year 2000 as a completely ambiguous and somewhat silly artifact of historical process and under-informed ancient calendar making.

            Gould examined when the millennium really should have turned, pointing out that Jesus was really born in 4 B.C. (which would be written -3 in calculational terms).  He also draws from Bishop Usher’s infamous calculation of the world’s creation on October 23, 4004 B.C., and how both facts point to an adjusted millennial turning of October 23, 1997 A.D. Usage of the October 23rd date here is an ambiguous artifact of Usher’s fallacious calculations, but we might consider 1997, in this adjusted accounting, to be the “real” last year of the millennium. As such, the new millennium would dawn on January 1, 1998. Now, if we take the average of the two scientific calculations for the precise solstice-galaxy alignment (given above), we arrive at August 1, 1998. This is a mere seven months after the corrected millennial dawning. Given that the calculation of the solstice-galaxy alignment is subject to spacial and precessional vagaries that must allow for at least a plus or minus 1-year range, the true millennial dawning, exactly 6000 years after the Biblical creation, occurs right on the target of an astronomical alignment that is so rare it occurs only once every 13,000 years!!! This is an error of .0000958 percent in 6000 years! Under one ten-thousandths of a percent. But of course this is complete coincidence, right Mr. Gould? Of course.


Well, the list goes on. Generally, I feel that most of scholardom belongs to closed-minded specialists who don't have an interdisciplinary scope of knowledge and therefore get embarrassingly lost at one of several critical junctures in my work. They can't see the larger scope of the jigsaw puzzle, and defer to what they consider to be common sense for their final judgment. However, their common sense is usually a set of nested biases filtered through their own university indoctrination. Or they defer, snickering as they scurry, to Linda Schele's dismissal of the 2012 end-date as not being "the end of the world." Her position, however, is so generically and incompletely stated that it's quite easy to rephrase the question so that it can be fairly and clearly answered. Yes, it's not the end of the world, it's the end of the 13-baktun cycle of the Long Count calendar. And having said that we should then proceed with examining my theory about the solstice-galaxy alignment that occurs around that date. Of course, Schele was overcompensating to chastise the silly pop-millennium books on the Maya that continue to pour money into the coffers of clueless publishers. And kudos for that. Unfortunately, my book, despite not indulging in New Age muddiness, is all too often lumped into that category. Sadly, if you go to the big chain stores and look for it, you will find it in the astrology section, despite the fact that its back cover categorizes it as Maya Studies / Anthropology and its Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data (on the copyright page) labels it F1435.3 — right between The Paris Codex and Milbrath’s Star Gods of the Maya.    


The popular New Age press has also succeeded in misunderstanding the simplest statements in my work and co-opting my ideas without credit given. Magical Blend magazine, for example, in a review of millennial books, wrote that my work was derived from Terence McKenna’s; The Idiot’s Guide to Millennial Prophecies seriously misinterpreted my 1994 Mountain Astrologer article on the end-date (ridiculously associating the dark-rift with dark/evil forces); and Quiché Maya leader Don Alejandro’s description of “passing through the center of a magnetic axis” and Earth being darkened by a “great cloud” (Denver Post, January 2, 2000) sounds eerily like my descriptions of the alignment. (In fact, I know that my book was shown and explained to Don Alejandro by an acquaintance who visited Guatemala in 1999). Whether he was acknowledging my elucidation of 2012 as consistent with his traditional understanding, or was directly influenced by my book, I don’t know. However, Erick Gonzalez, who has studied with Maya elders for twenty years and is now working with them to facilitate international non-denominational meetings, has recently told me that my work and approach is appreciated by the traditional elders he knows.

To return to the Magical Blend debacle, after Terence and I both wrote corrective letters to the editors, they seemingly intentionally chose to reprint my informal cover letter rather than my carefully worded and concise correction. I’ve been advised by various people who know the MB editor responsible for this fiasco to not take it too personally. Terence himself said to me that “I have long had the pleasure of being whipsawed by a dull-witted class of journalists.”        


On the subject of Terence, I’d like share my last meeting with him, about a month before he was diagnosed with the brain cancer that he succumbed to in April 2000. My fiancé was out of town for the weekend, and I was debating going to the Whole Life Expo in downtown Denver, to attend Terence’s talk. My resistance revolved around the fact that I had no cash and no way to get any for the rather exorbitant event ($30). At the last minute I decided to go anyway. Arriving, as I walked down the main hallway I saw Terence approaching me; I waved and we stopped to talk for a while. He ended up giving me a comp-ticket for the main showroom, and we departed. In the showroom I bumped into a friend of mine who had a booth, and she gave me a free ticket to any event. Terence’s talk was starting in five minutes, so I dashed over and was able to attend. This revealed to me the kind of magic, of possibilities, that danced around Terence. My wife and I were married several weeks later on May 15th, and took our honeymoon in Durango and environs. Driving back to Denver through Paonia, Terence’s birthplace, I recounted to Ellen my dream of the previous night: I was skiing the timewave pattern down a snowy mountain trail, Terence next to me saying in my ear: “You can’t see it ‘til you ski it.” It was only later that I found out about Terence’s seizure and flight off his volcano, narrowly escaping a roadside death by being revived and airlifted to the hospital. That happened on the day of my dream. My synchronicity pattern with Terence extends to the famous experiment at La Chorrera, which began on March 4, 1971. That was my seventh birthday. I have a drawing I made in March 1971, some kind of school project, that was returned to me from my late Grandmother’s house a few years ago (she liked to save these little treasures of childhood). It depicts a big mushroom in the foreground, undulating hills in the middle background, and some unseen person behind those hills flying a kite, which hangs in the far distance, but right over the mushroom (this drawing is on my website). I showed this to Terence when he was in Boulder in July 1998; he called it the mushroom kite ladder. Around that time, which was right after MC2012 was released, Terence called and left a message, saying  “your book will mean a lot to all of us” and “congratulations on not only a new book, but a book that actually moves the human discourse on human transformation foreword.” Terence was instrumental in arranging my Esalen workshop in August 1999. It is ironic that fate conspired to remove this brilliant thinker, Terence McKenna, from our midst. But his passing must be part of a larger karmic plan.      


Meanwhile, I was able to give workshops, classes, and presentations at a number of progressive venues, including Esalen Institute, The Assembly Rooms in Glastonbury, England (for The Fourth International Mayan Dreamtime Festival, September, 1999), and a five-class series at Naropa University in Boulder (October-November 1999). I’ve been interviewed on a documentary about the Galactic Center (Earth Under Fire, 1999), a Danish video production on the millennium (The Fifth Gate, 1999), for the Discovery Channel (“Places of Mystery” series, aired October 2000) and on numerous other TV productions and radio shows. I also contacted and discussed my work with cutting-edge thinkers, securing endorsements for the second printing of Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 (December 1999). For example, Peter Tompkins, author of many amazing books including the recent The Secret Life of Nature, wrote:


With his better than academic decoding of the mysterious Maya glyphs that incorporate both their colorful mythology and sophisticated astronomy, John Major Jenkins has validated that shamans, with their out-of-body clairvoyance, were responsible for the amazing accuracy of Mayan and other Mesoamerican calendar systems that cover thousands of years of earthly, planetary, and galactic motion. That Mayan deities represent astronomical bodies, as did the pantheons of Egypt and Mesopotamia, is equally validated by Jenkins. His emphasis on the famous Long Count calendar shows that when the rising sun on the December solstice of the year 2012 conjuncts with the Milky Way’s galactic center — or birth canal of the Great Mother of us all — a new age is expected, one in which humanity will mutate spiritually into a new relationship with space-time and the material universe.


Robert Lawlor, author of Sacred Geometry, Voices of the First Day, and co-translator of Schwaller de Lubicz’s monumental study of Egypt, The Temple in Man, wrote:


In Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, author John Major Jenkins has combined his gift for incisive, mythic and symbolic interpretation with rigorous research, to reveal the Mayan calendar as a world cosmology and spiritual philosophy, firmly grounded in precise observations of celestial patterns and rhythms. According to Jenkins’ in depth yet accessible and often poetic analysis, the Maya had reconciled a number of planetary and sidereal cycles to accurately define the passage of our earth and solar system, as it moves through millennia, in and out of alignment with the galactical core and equator. This vast, celestial conjunction, so central to the Mayan sages and astronomers, holds profound transformative implications for individuals and civilization today.


Robert Bauval, the mastermind behind The Orion Mystery and other revolutionary books on Egyptian cosmology, wrote: "The extensive research by John Major Jenkins into the Mayan mysteries is very impressive indeed, and his book will no doubt become a classic in this field of study. Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 is a must read for all those who feel that there is far more to our ancient past than meets the eye."


And John Anthony West, author of Serpent in the Sky, also commented, writing: “Meticulously and exhaustively researched, carefully written, this book's patiently arrived at (but never jumped to) highly original conclusions have both the weight and the ring of that authority found only in the very best scholarship. Unlike other books devoted to decoding the Mayan 'prophecies' it also has a potentially happy ending.”


It goes without saying that the late Terence McKenna’s endorsement of my book, in that he wrote the foreword to it, deems it worthy of closer examination by intellectuals, scholars, and everyone interested in the deeper truth to be found in our increasingly dense world.      


New Findings in Support of the Galactic Cosmology


Before launching off into the wider origins of the Galactic Cosmology, I'd like to share some incredible new Maya material that has come to my attention. My interpretations are based on Linda Schele and David Mathews’ Code of Kings. There are basically two areas of interest. First is their detailed look at the iconography and murals associated with the Upper and Lower Temple of the Jaguars at Chichen Itza (and the ballcourt in general). The second is the iconography of Stela C and related monuments at Copan.


The Upper Temple of the Jaguars

The front of this temple is quite astounding. A row of cross-shaped spear shields line the upper register. The cross-form, of course, may have a deep — though probably obscure — resonance with the Milky Way-ecliptic cross. The register just below contains two horizontal rattlesnakes, emanating by their rattles from the center of the façade. This indicates in its basic meaning a center concept as origin place, with the snake springing forth therefrom. The snake is all over Chichen, and has deep symbolic connection with the Pleiades, the sun, and the zenith. The center-place from which the two rattlesnakes spring faces the horizon along which the sun sets on the zenith passage date at Chichen. This date — in the era of the Zenith Cosmology's apotheosis — is six months removed from the New Fire ceremony's observation of the Pleiades passing through the zenith at midnight. Also, as encoded by the nearby Pyramid of Kukulcan, the first solar zenith-passage date is when the sun and the Pleiades will conjoin in the 21st century. This scenario is based on the astronomical fact that the date of the midnight zenith passage of the Pleiades is exactly one-half year removed from the sun-Pleiades conjunction. The center-place "portal" is above the door of the Upper Temple of the Jaguars, which also faces the zenith-passage day’s sunset position — at 286 degrees azimuth. The door is flanked by inverted serpent columns. Four pawatuns — bacabs or year-bearer symbols of the four directions — give the visual impression of surrounding the door. This means that the doorway is the fifth, central direction. As with the apex of the Pyramid of Kukulcan — or any pyramid for that matter — this portal doorway is an entrance into the cosmic center place of creation or, as Schele puts it, the Na Ho Kan (the Five Sky Place). Inside, an altar block supported by numerous raised-arm "Atlantean" figures as well as  many murals repeat scenes of the two avatars (Captain Sun Disk and Captain Serpent) joined in sealing a pact of union. The mural on the back wall was illuminated at sundown in late May and late July — during the zenith passage at Chichen. I’ve suggested elsewhere that solar zenith-passage intervals at Chichen may relate to the 13-katun prophecy cycle: It takes 256 years (13 katuns) for New Year’s Day to shift  back through the solar year (a quarter day lost every four years = 64 or 65 days in 256 years). Every katun, 5 days may have been adjusted for; there are 65 days between Chichen’s solar zenith-passage dates of July 25 and May 21. Note: there is a range for zenith passages, so this model is only approximate.


The Lower Temple of the Jaguars

This temple faces the sunrise on the date six months after the May 20th zenith passage of the conjoined Sun-Pleiades. This date was the New Fire ceremony. The general E-W axis of the LTJ and UTJ represents the ecliptic and the Zenith/Pleiades Cosmology, which is intrinsically related to the New Fire Ceremony. The symbology encodes a polarity between the New Fire Ceremony date and  sunset on the first zenith-passage date — a six-month axis between solar zenith and solar nadir, and between the midnight zenith passage of the Pleiades and the Sun-Pleiades conjunction. The N-S axis of the ballcourt pertains to solstice dates via the orientation of the Milky Way to the ballcourt on June solstices in the era of the ballcourt’s construction (ninth century A.D.), as well as the ballgame symbology of solar rebirth at winter solstice, and the ballcourt stone (gameball in goalring = sun in dark-rift). The secondary N-S reference is to the North Celestial Pole, as symbolized in the North Temple’s four World Trees framing a reclining deity who emanates the scene from its navel — akin to the navel of Vishnu.  So, we have a triangulation between the North Pole as vertex and the E-W polarity of sun/zenith/Pleiades phenomena. This seems related to the cosmological framework described by Michael Coe in his article in Native Astronomy in Mesoamerica (ed. Aveni, 1975): Polaris, the Southern Cross, Pleiades, and Scorpio demarcate the four-cornered cosmos. Elsewhere in that article Coe wrote, “I suspect that it [the Pleiades], and not Polaris, was thought of as the center of the firmament.” 


Copan Stela C

In late 1999 I was carefully reading about Copan in Schele and Mathews’ book Code of Kings. The famous Stela C, dated (December 5, 711) — the first katun-ending after 13-Rabbit's succession — is elucidated brilliantly by Schele and Mathews. Two things: The image is of the solar king standing in the maw of a crocodile form, holding a double-headed serpent bar that is the ecliptic. He’s wearing a draped breech-clout (like pants) that are ornamented with the jaws and teeth of a crocodile, and the meaning is this: he is in the croc’s mouth. This replicates the basic form of Stela 11 Izapa, which portrays the solar lord First Father inside the upturned mouth of a frog-caiman creature. In my theory, this portrays the solstice sun in the dark-rift  in the Milky Way — the 2012 alignment. As mentioned, Copan Stela C is dated December 5, 711 A.D. (Gregorian calendar). The sky on December 5, 711 has Venus on the Milky Way (as evening star right after sundown). It is close to the Milky Way. Also, if we precess the sky backwards we find that December 5 was very close to the date in era-711 AD that the sun was conjoining the Milky Way’s dark-rift. So what does Stela C depict?  It depicts the astronomy of the date that it contains: the sun in the dark-rift.


I just confirmed that occurred on December 3 in the 584283 and thus is 18 or 19 days before the solstice. 19 days x 71.2 (years per one degree of precession) equals a precessional shift to within 50 years accuracy between 711 and 1998. This amounts to an acceptable error of less than a degree — acceptable because the dark-rift itself is several degrees wide. Thus, Stela C is much like Izapa Stela 11. If, as Schele demonstrates, Stela C encodes the sky on that date, then we must acknowledge the fact that on that date the sun was right in the dark-rift — the portal to the Otherworld. Although it wasn’t on the solstice back then, this image mirrors the end-date alignment itself.   Most significantly, Stela C faced the eastern horizon, and on the very date carved into it the sun was in conjunction with the dark-rift! Unfortunately,  Schele and Mathews didn’t recognize this. In addition, we have other supportive data: Iconography on the west-facing side of Stela C involves a turtle, and faces Orion. Stela C is a Janus-faced monument that encodes the two poles of the sky — the Galactic Center / Galactic Anticenter axis. Other monuments in Copan’s ritual circuit indicate that specific dates in the tropical year were being tracked (i.e., 19 days before the solstice) possibly to calibrate the sun’s precessional movement. (Note:  A version of this observation will be published in the December 2000 issue of the Institute of Maya Studies Newsletter.)


Galactic Center - Galactic Anticenter Symbology at Chichen Itza

A striking drawing of Chichen Itza by Tatiana Prouskoriakoff illustrates the Galactic Cosmology.  The long processional causeway between the cenote and the Pyramid of Kukulcan can be envisaged as the Milky Way.


Picture here


The Zenith Cosmology encoded into the pyramid pointed into the zernith, where the sun and the Pleiades will one day be united, and Quetzalcoatl can return to earth. The snake that slithers down the pyramid’s north stairway stretches toward the cenote, the earth cave which is symbolically equivalent to the snake’s mouth, the dark-rift in the Milky Way, and thus indicates the Galactic Center. The causeway is the axis that unites the Galactic Center and the Pleiades, which is how the Maya demarcated the Evolutionary Axis that runs, like a Galactic Chakra system, from the Galactic Center, through earth, and out to the Galactic Anticenter. This is how the cosmologists of ninth-century Chichen unified the Galactic Cosmology of the Maya with the Zenith Cosmology of the Central Mexicans.


Perhaps a better orientation for this causeway would have been to the December solstice sunrise and to the zenith-passage sundown to the northwest. Amazingly, the High Priest’s Temple in Old Chichen (which is a miniature version of the Pyramid of Kukulcan) does have a solstice axis that leads to a little cenote. 


New Directions


New Directions that have opened up: The most exciting perspective now emerging is recognizing how the work of the Primordial Traditionalists relate to the solstice-galaxy alignment. In exploring deeper into Vedic scholarship, I was led to the writings of French symbolist philosopher René Guénon. He was the primary exponent of the Traditionalist school of thought, and was active in the 1920s to the early 1950s. Though an independent (that is, unaffiliated) thinker, he influenced the ideas of many thinkers, including Julius Evola and Mircea Eliade. He collaborated with and was influenced by the brilliant scholar Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, a Research Fellow at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston between 1932 and 1947. Coomaraswamy's immense intellect and comprehensive analyses of Hindu and Buddhist art and symbolism influenced Heinrich Zimmer, Joseph Campbell, and others. Access to the ideas of these two thinkers was available to English speakers as early as 1950, when Alan Watts published his book The Supreme Identity. In his acknowledgements, he praised their insights and expressed his gratitude. Other writers who shared in the milieu of the Primordial Tradition include Julius Evola, Frithjof Schuon, Henry Corbin, Martin Lings, and Seyyed Hossein Nasr. The related research of Jean Richer and John Michell also contributes a great deal to this area.

                There is a set of interlocking ideas in the work of Coomaraswamy, which Guénon elucidated in essays that appeared in the French journal Etudes Traditionnelles, later translated and collected in Fundamental Symbols: The Universal Language of Sacred Science. These ideas contribute a great deal to understanding the ancient Vedic / Hindu perspective on what I've termed the Galactic Cosmology. I'll summarize these below, but I should emphasize now that reference to the Galactic Center is not explicitly made in the work of either Coomaraswamy or Guénon, but the key symbols of the Primordial Tradition point to that part of the sky. And so, I offer the Galactic Alignment as a kind of key with which we can understand the empirical basis of these ancient artifacts in Vedic cosmology. 


Core Ideas of the Primordial Tradition

There are many facets of the Primordial Tradition and in the following sketch I will not presume to be comprehensive. However, the shared interest of Coomaraswamy and Guénon in the following topics suggests that they are to be considered central. Although neither Coomaraswamy or Guénon were explicit in discussing the Galactic Center, the following topics relate directly to precession and the astronomical features of the Galactic Cosmology that I reconstructed in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012.   


The Solstitial Gateways

This concept is rooted in the Vedic idea of dividing the year into ascending and descending phases. The ascending phase begins at winter solstice and is called the devayana or Gate of the Gods. The descending phase begins at summer solstice and is called pitriyana, the Gate of Humanity. We can refer to the former as the portal of ascension and the latter as the door to reincarnation. Vedic iconography and symbolism also relates these two solar doorways to specific zodiacal signs: Capricorn and Cancer. This model has uses on the larger level of the Great Year of precession as discussed by both Guénon and Coomaraswamy. We should recognize that the solstice axis aligns with Capricorn and Cancer once every 13,000 years. The actual reference here is to the Galactic Center  / Galactic Anticenter axis, which is more accurately placed on a Sagittarius-Gemini axis in a sidereal zodiac. (There is explicit and implicit reference to Sagittarius as the location of the devayana shift in Richer’s Sacred Geography of the Greeks and in Coomaraswamy’s unpublished article “Early Iconography of Sagittarius.” This may be explained by the heliacal rise of Sagittarius when the solstice was in sidereal Capricorn some 2,500 years ago; this needs deeper exploring.) Combining Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet's writings in The Gnostic Circle, David Frawley's Astrology of the Seers and From the River of Heaven, Sri Yukteswar's The Holy Science, and those of Coomaraswamy and Guénon, it is easy to recognize the Milky Way, the dark-rift, and the Galactic Center as the region intended by the ancient Vedic seers to mark the devayana shift on the level of the Great Year of precession.  And the alignment of the solstice axis with the Galactic Center therefore heralds the end of descending Kali Yuga and the beginning of ascending Kali Yuga. Related concepts identified in the work of Coomaraswamy include the Janua Coeli (Celestial Door of January), the Symplegades (the clashing cliff motif), and the Sun Door at World's End (the ascension portal created by the solstice sun's alignment with the Galactic Center at the end of the age). Based on the connections and insights offered by Julius Evola in The Mystery of the Grail, we can also equate the Galactic Center with the Holy Grail. 


The Symbolism of the Dome

Houses, temple domes, and the shaman's tent share a quadrated modeling of the cosmos, with a cosmic center at the topmost level. Coomaraswamy's in-depth analysis of the symbolism of the dome also makes a connection to human physiology, suggesting a symbolic association between the pineal gland, the highest spiritual chakra (svadhistana), the uppermost central hole of the cosmic house, and therefore, I would add, the dark-rift/Galactic Center.  The Axis Mundi in this model, central to Coomaraswamy's insights, corresponds to the Evolutionary Axis discussed by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (The Galactic Center / Galactic Anticenter axis). This relates to the Solstitial Gateway explained above, in that the solstice axis aligns with the Evolutionary Axis once every 13,000 years. We can imagine this to activate a kind of galactic awakening as we resonate we our deep galactic core (muladhara in the chakra system) and our extra-galactic potentiality (Galactic Anticenter; svadhistana/crown chakra) which many esotericists equate with the Pleiades.    


The Symplegades

Pronunciation: Sim-play-gah-deez. This is the motif of clashing cliffs, open and shutting doors, the rotating island-castle in the Grail Cycle, and so on. It suggests a fleeting time of great opportunity during which a cosmic portal to reach the goal is open. In initiatory stories, it presents a final obstacle or limit-test, through which one must pass without hesitation before the door closes. It evokes, again, the precessional alignment of solstice and galaxy which, of course, is valid for only a limited time. Visually, the symbolism of clashing cliffs (which is what Symplegades means) makes me think of the Great Cleft that divides the Milky Way into two narrow walls or pillars in the region of the Galactic Center. This may have been mythologized as a narrow passage encountered just before achieving the initiate's goal of the cosmic center or the Holy Grail. I also think of the Gates of Hercules as well as myriad other related motifs. Joseph Campbell, following Coomaraswamy, associated the Symplegades symbol with the parting of the Red Sea. I may venture a speculation that the galactic Symplegades is represented by the contrary forces on each side of the Galactic equator.


The Center of the World — Polar and Solar Symbolism

Seyyed Hossein Nasr wrote in The Need for a Sacred Science, “the traditional universe is dominated by the two basic realities of Origin and Center, both if which belong to the realm of the eternal.” As in the Maya’s Galactic Cosmology, the cosmic center thus looms as a “central” idea in the Primordial Tradition. But where is it? Here we have a simple question susceptible to at least two interpretations. The cosmic center is a core motif in the Grail Mythos, as well as in the Primordial Tradition in general. Guénon has described two different sets of ideas which focus on the cosmic center and are closely interrelated, yet seem to apply to two different parts of the sky. The first is the polar center symbology, which he calls Hyperborean and considers to be older. The second is solar or sun-centered symbolism which Evola refers to as Olympian and others call Atlantean. Both involve the temporal movement of cosmic cycles. However, the former tracks the polar precession while the latter would presumably track the sun's precessional slippage backward through the zodiac. Both models are linked by an  interlocking set of shared symbols, the most important of which is the cosmic center. The polar or Hyperborean utilizes, of course, the North Celestial Pole as its preferred cosmic center. The question remains unanswered in the writings of Coomaraswamy and Guénon, however, as to which cosmic center is utilized in the solar or Atlantean / Olympian model. Based on the large amount of information in the available studies by Coomaraswamy, Guénon, Evola, Jean Richer (Sacred Geography of the Greeks) and others, the Olympian / Atlantean cosmology centers upon the Galactic Center as the true source and heart of the world. Center symbolism occurs in many of the motifs mentioned: The Holy Grail, Symplegades, Janua Coeli, Svayamatrinna (the Solstice Gateways), Sun Door at World's End, and so on. Richer's reconstruction of Greek sacred topography indicates—albeit indirectly—that Mt. Olympus (abode of Zeus) symbolizes the Galactic Center.

                Guénon’s primary argument for a shift from polar to solar symbolism involves the transfer of the Seven Sages from the Great Bear to the Pleiades. Each has (or had) seven stars and the Pleiades resemble a tiny dipper. A relationship between the Great Bear and the Pleiades is found in many stories. The number seven may indirectly refer to the seven stages or rungs on the ladder of the cosmic pillar that the soul passes while ascending to the highest heaven. The Pleiads or Atlantides were the daughters of Atlas, and therefore become the new offspring of the Atlantean tradition. This equation is rich in implications. The cosmological framework that once revolved around the circumpolar constellation Ursa Major was transferred to the galactic north pole of the Evolutionary Axis that extends from the Galactic Center to the Galactic Anticenter. The Pleiades are not precisely on the Galactic Anticenter, but then neither is the Great Bear precisely on the Polestar. They serve as mythic marker points around which the cosmic knowledge constellates.  Here we can clarify our identifications in the polar-solar-galactic equation: 







Great Bear /
North Polestar

Cancer /
June solstice



Celestial Pole

Capricorn /
December solstice

Galactic Center

Three Cosmic Frameworks










More can be explored along these lines; but at this point I'll shift focus and ruminate on some of the core ideas within the Primordial Tradition. This will be a summary of certain points of consensus shared by those writers who sought to elucidate the nature of the Primordial Tradition.


Degradation of Modern Spirituality and Science.

This includes the emergence of spiritual materialism in New Age publishing and marketing in the 1980s, the subversion of science and university priorities to the explicit or tacit needs of funding agencies, the anaesthetizing of the American/Western public through TV, the imprisoning of underclass groups through drug war tactics, the proliferation of consumeristic propaganda and other forms of mind control via created wants and police-state intimidation, the enslaving of human free time to fascist forms of enforced finance (credit cards, unethical business practices), institutionalized ineptness among professional service organizations that creates hell and heartache for all, ransoming the future through credit, the proliferation of low-minded and invasive annoyances (i.e., phone solicitors), creating the illusory need for more insurance to ensure security and enforcing the like through "public interest" laws, higher taxes and lower real income, two-income households, child care expenses, sub-standard public schools, the eradication of social programs during the Reagan-Bush dark ages,  two- (often more) car families, the dumbing down of America through gratuitous violence in the news media and entertainment industry, and so on.  

                These realities provide ample evidence that we live in an age of spiritual darkness in which personal empowerment and spiritual openness are rare and difficult to sustain. As the ancient Vedic doctrine of World Ages stated, humanity will descend deeper into materialism and spiritual darkness until we turn the corner in the great cycle of time. It is worth noting that Guénon did not anticipate the advent of widespread psychedelic usage or the internet / computer revolution. It can be argued that these things are merely deeper ingressions of darkness and bondage; but many believe that sacred plants have reawakened a sacred dimension in human experience, which may be the first inkling of ascending Kali Yuga.


The Primordial Tradition is a state of mind rather than a distant Golden Age or ancient location.

As a state of mind, the Primordial Tradition is accessible to any person or culture, at any time or place, without the aid of direct transmission through lineage or Atlantean antecedent. The current pop-culture quest to trace fragments of compelling "evidence" back to some Atlantean Ur-civilization misses the point, and is evidence of the over-literal preoccupations of Western “modern” consciousness. An incredibly low-minded manifestation of this is the mass-media’s treatment of Maya and Egyptian archaeology, revealing an inability to see anything beyond treasure hunting, gold artifacts, and scary mummies. The deeper truth of our search for lost “artifacts” is our desire to make visible a knowledge or mindset which is more comprehensive and fulfilling. As with Shambhala, which faded into invisibility as humanity lost the ability to see it, the Primordial Tradition fades but reemerges in places conducive to discovering and appreciating its profound depth and wisdom. This explains the ancient Maya's isolation and independent genius which nevertheless had tapped into the same doctrines also found in ancient Vedic and Egyptian cosmology. Trans-oceanic voyages are not required for this simultaneous non-local emergence. 


Initiatory Knowledge.

The only authentic form of wisdom / knowledge / spiritual growth comes through a direct experience of higher states of mind, and by integrating the new perspectives and insights gained into one’s own awareness. This approach has no place in the curriculum vitae (or curriculum mordir) of learning as currently peddled in high schools, colleges, and universities around the country. Worse still, higher education has recently devolved into mere job training, applying the Pavlovian method of repetition-reward-gratification to deeper levels of materialism. Two-year colleges offer crash courses in “high-tech careers” which may result in a comfortable cubicle in one of the nation’s computer corporations. However, this work is more likely than not to be, as cube-hero Dilbert might say, boring, unfulfilling, and damaging to eyes, health, and morale.

                Long ago, attaining degrees of knowledge had to do with initiation into experiential understanding of the inner workings of life and the cosmos. The mystery schools of ancient Greece retained this approach, which they adapted from older Egyptian mystery schools. The Mystery of Eleusis in Greece, experienced by famous Greek thinkers like Socrates (?) and Apuleus, revealed to the initiate a high vision induced by ingesting a sacred psychoactive drink. In the Middle Ages, all forms of direct contact with nature’s mysteries were eradicated by the Christian church and the Inquisition. Original thoughts and creative pursuits, not to mention practicing the ancient mantic and healing arts, were punishable by torture and death. Learning regained a foothold with the Enlightenment, but inner spiritual experience as a means of gaining true wisdom was thereafter relegated to a marginalized area of rebel-religiosity in an increasingly science-dominated worldview. Only very recently has the transformative and revelatory power of inner experience reemerged with the popularity of psychedelics. And yet this fragile and delicate new shoot, promising to reawaken the value of initiatory learning, has been challenged and attacked violently through Drug War propaganda. Western civilization has reached an impasse and shows itself incapable of integrating the wisdom of deep experience into its hopelessly narcissistic and self-destructive agenda of world domination.

                And yet people continue to seek out and have deep inner experiences, whether induced by entheogens or other means. In our fleeting encounters with inner knowledge, we glimpse pieces of a monolithic substratum of human consciousness, overlaid and overgrown with the superficial interests of modern materialism. This substratum is the dark, cobwebby, underground fortress of the Primordial Tradition, awaiting intrepid explorers to once again open its gates to the light of day. Recognizing the landmarks along the way is part of the initiatory journey, one that I imagine will stretch over many generations. The entirety of Western civilization is going through a slow initiation into the primordial wisdom; it’s a sea change and advances in a two-steps-forward-one-step-back fashion. Initiation into true degrees of deepening understanding is a key to this process.   


Seasons of Growth and Decline in Human History (The Yuga Doctrine)

This relates to the first point above. According to the Vedic World Age doctrine, humanity descends into increasing spiritual darkness until we enter the devayana or ascending phase of the Great Year. Guénon in particular ascribed to this as a personal belief. He saw the world bogging down deeper into mindlessness and materialism, and yet he also believed that the tide would eventually turn. And the Primordial Tradition, by way of the myth of the reemergence of the conscious kingdom (i.e., Shambhala) also forecasts such a shift.  Guénon believed it was not too far off in the future; he died in 1952. My work shows that the turnabout point is the solstice-galaxy alignment, which most precisely occurred in late 1998. But other factors involved in the process (which I discuss in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012) suggest a zone of perhaps thirty-six years on either side of 1998.   


The Primordial Tradition and the Galactic Cosmology


With this as a basis, I'd like to elaborate on one very important characteristic of the Primordial Tradition. In doing so we will see how relevant this material is to the dire situation of the modern world, and how the Primordial Tradition can be understood more fully by recognizing our periodic alignments to the Galactic Center as its highest initiatory insight. 


Sacred Rulership, the Separation of Church and State

One of the defining characteristics of the Primordial Tradition, according to Julius Evola, is Sacred Regality. This is the fusion of what today we distinguish as the religious and political functions. Within the dimension of the Primordial Tradition, the king is self-selected to rule with power and wisdom when he attains high degrees of initiation into universal gnosis. Sacred knowledge is won or achieved (we might better say channeled) by undertaking visionary journeys up the world axis into the cosmic center.  A ruler, having thus become fused with the divine source and emanating power of life and wisdom, constellates the beings and objects of lesser degrees. He becomes the focus through self-selection and succeeding in the difficult task of integrating high degrees of initiatory knowledge into his/her consciousness.

                This is a core feature of the Primordial Tradition. It is alien to modern Western mores because the separation of church and state is the antithesis of Sacred Rulership.  The Pope and the President have two very different functions. The Pope has little effectiveness in  the political landscape, apart from mass appeal and token respect from political leaders. The President attains office not through demonstrating a deep wisdom or understanding of the processes that create and sustain nations, cultures, and people, but through nefarious and corrupt acts of finance contribution, propaganda, promises, and business alliances.  The hierarchies that naturally emerge are not crowned with the best and most qualified person; instead, an inversion has taken place whereby it's exactly who you wouldn't want to be at the top who is right there. In the case of Western politics it's power hungry greed merchants filled with ambition and a great need for ego gratification.  Interestingly, they denounce the very source (shamanistic psychoactive drugs) that anointed their ancient predecessors with the wisdom to sustain their “high” office.

                In the rhetoric of scholastic misunderstanding, Sacred Kingship is usually associated with the term theocracy, which is framed as a political style in which the king makes all the rules, whimsically hacks off heads, and so on. This may have been kingship in its later degenerative phase (e.g., England's King Henry the VIII) but it doesn't reflect the doctrine of divine self-election in its original form. In fact, this pejorative interpretation of theocracy and Sacred Kingship can be seen as being filtered through a glass darkly. Or, again, as the degenerated expression of a tradition that was at one time, prior to its enantiodromic transformation throughout history, aligned with healthy, collectively beneficial intentions. (See Coomaraswamy’s Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power in the Indian Theory of Government.)

                A person can achieve sacred knowledge and empower their own lives, thereby becoming a natural leader of others. This comes through direct experience (what we might call degrees of initiation).  However, experience itself is not enough. One must cultivate a discerning and open mind so that the experiences gathered can ripen into understanding. Without the desire to process, integrate, and learn from ones experiences, ones experiential yearnings can erode into repetitive stimulation, leading to misunderstandings and unfulfilling hedonism.

                In addition to this, there are two categories of experience: inner and outer (or spiritual and sensory). There is a lot that can be experienced on the sensory plane: travel, nature, exotic tastes, videos, music, sexual arousal, and so on. With proper integration these experiences lead can lead (perhaps over many incarnations) to a satiation and fulfillment of enjoyment on the plane of the senses. The inner knower then either seeks more inwardly for subtler forms of experience or becomes addicted to various forms of external sensory stimulation. As we approach the end of descending Kali Yuga — the end of this current cycle of collective soul incarnation— most souls have satisfied their need for sensory experiences. And most have gotten stuck in various repetitive addictions to external substances and sensory stimulation. The inner category of experience is the dimension into which the self-selecting seeker journeys for deeper knowledge, a knowledge of the energies and processes that create and sustain the universe available only by journeying into the deepest center of the soul — the cosmic heart and center.     


Initiation and the Archaic Revival

Whether inner or outer experiences are being considered, the level to which one can process experiences reveals ones degree of self-initiation into the Primordial Tradition. It must be remembered that the Primordial Tradition is not a distant civilization of geniuses or a set of doctrines and beliefs; it is a state of mind. The highest degree of  immersion in the Primordial Tradition is a complete unification with the cosmic heart and source. Through initiatic, experiential, inner-directed practices, one can fairly easily have a brief glimpse of this state, a peak experience of the highest order. However, as one reintegrates back down into ordinary day-consciousness, the unity with the All that was glimpsed fades into the background as ego-consciousness reemerges. One may, however, retain certain insights, and this level of remembering defines ones degree of integration (or initiation). It takes time to process and integrate the insights retained, and thus it is unwise to repeat the consciousness-enhancing techniques too frequently.          


The inner-directed practices which I refer to and, for this example,  have in mind are those of psychedelic shamanism, of a type explicated by Terence McKenna. Wise use of psychoactive plants is central to McKenna's idea that an Archaic Revival is needed. This is conceived as a return to a style of culture which frequently avails itself of centering, transformative plants in the natural environment. Use of such plants encourage a culture rooted in partnership-based values rather than ego-driven priorities of a dominator culture. I suggest that McKenna's Archaic Revival concept is very similar to the Primordial Tradition. Given this parallel, both systems promote an ancient vision or style of consciousness which has since become lost or degraded, having slipped into the background of history, but which is now reawakening as we approach the fin de seicle.  As such, we may look to the work of Coomaraswamy, Guénon, Evola, and others for detailed insights and comparative analyses.  Here we might explore further the idea that the Primordial Tradition is best considered as a state of mind rather than an ancient legacy.


Two traditions that resonate with this idea of invisible immanence are the legends of Shambhala and the periodic reemergences of evolutionary avatars, or teachers, to guide humanity through transitional eras. Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet (The Gnostic Circle and recent website essays) writes that these avatar-eras are defined by alignments in the precession cycle, and we are in one now. One can deduce from her writings that she refers to alignments between the seasonal quarters and the Milky Way. Shambhala is a kingdom of light that faded into the shadows as increasing spiritual darkness overshadowed humanity. It isn't a kingdom that was destroyed, per se,  now laying in ruins in some remote valley of the Himalayas. It is a living dimension, a multi-dimensional mindspace, access to which has evaded human beings for millennia, steeped as we are in materialism and decadence. The Primordial Tradition is like this; its principles have always undergirded reality and this truth will one day again become apparent for those who have self-selected themselves to have the inner eyes to see it. In a similar fashion, the evolutionary avatars are eternal principles or beings, waiting in the wings for the era of consciousness-shift to dawn. At that time they incarnate as teachers to guide and renew humanity by showing them how to reconnect with the cosmic heart and source. For the incredibly dense final generation, psychoactive plants have served well to reconnect the human soul with the true source of life and wisdom — the universal heart. Notice in this scenario that there are time-specific eras of great tumultuous change. This resonates with McKenna's Timewave Zero theory as well as the Maya end-date cosmology, both of which culminate in A.D. 2012.


Galactic Alignment as the Key to the Primordial Tradition

My contribution to this discussion has been to show that the Maya intended their 2012 end-date to target the rare precession-caused alignment of the December solstice sun with the Milky Way galaxy (specifically, that place along the Milky Way that contains the Galactic Center).  From studying the work of Guénon, Evola, and Coomaraswamy — all significant elucidators of the Primordial Tradition — it is very clear that the solstice-galaxy alignment was also a central (though until now unrecognized) feature of the Primordial Tradition, especially evident in the Vedic material. And so I have reason to offer the Galactic Alignment of era-2012 as the key to understanding the temporal manifestations described in the Primordial Tradition. The temporal manifestations of the evolutionary avatars, of Shambhala, and of the Primordial Tradition itself, would seem to therefore be timed by the precessional cycle, specifically, by alignments to the Milky Way galaxy that occur within that astronomical cycle. McKenna's revival of archaic, or primordial, forms and ideas maps perfectly onto the global precessional doctrines uncovered in my research.   


Down to Details


I want to shift to specifics now, to show that my comments here are based in a careful assessment of the literature. The most important point I have made in my recent writings is that the Primordial Tradition of Guénon and Coomaraswamy is consistent with the Galactic Cosmology, so named during my research into the profound worldview of the ancient Maya. Moreover, the solstice-galaxy alignment which is so central to the Mayan Galactic Cosmology is a previously unrecognized “key” to understanding the deeper (or higher) levels of the Primordial Tradition. Since Coomaraswamy’s work draws largely from the Vedic/Hindu literature and mytho-cosmology, my focus in the following excerpt will be that area. I’ve already discussed how the identifications of Coomaraswamy and Guénon relate to the solstice-galaxy alignment, so in the following I  will draw from a wider spectrum of source materials in order to show that this idea is universally present and has already been hinted at, albeit indirectly, by other writers. Again, we still need to recognize the solstice-galaxy alignment as the key, and here I’ll try to show you why it is and how it is.


An excerpt from my work in progress:

The Galactic Cosmology: Recovering a Lost Evolutionary Science


Our understanding of the true age of the ancient Vedic civilization has undergone a well-documented revolution. Feuerstein, Frawley, and Kak have show conclusively (In Search of the Cradle of Civilization) that the long-accepted age of the Vedic culture — erroneously dated by scholars parading a series of assumptions and unscientific arguments to roughly 1500 BC — is much too recent in light of the astronomical references within Vedic literature. The corrected dating to eras far prior to 1500 BC was possible by recognizing that precessional eras are datable in Vedic mythology, and were recorded by  ancient Vedic astronomers. As a result, the Indus Valley civilization appears to be a possible cradle of civilization, dating to perhaps 7000 BC. India may thus be a true source of the civilizing impulse that fed Anatolia, with its complex Goddess-worshipping city-states of  Çatal Hüyük and Hacilar.

                The work of these three writers shows that biases and assumptions within scholarly discourse can prevent an accurate modeling of history and an underestimation of the accomplishments of ancient cultures. The analogous situation between modern Egyptology and Mesoamerican studies also requires that well-documented new theories — often exhaustively argued, interdisciplinary, and oriented toward a progressive synthesis of new data — should be appraised fairly and without bias. The Vedic civilization is perhaps the oldest continuous living tradition in the world. Its extremely ancient doctrines and insights into human spirituality are unsurpassed. We might expect that its cosmological science of time has been as misunderstood as its true antiquity. In looking closely at Vedic doctrines of time, spiritual growth, calendars, and astronomy, we will see that a central core idea is that of our periodic alignment to the Galactic Center. And, according to these ancient Vedic beliefs,  the galactic alignment we are currently experiencing heralds our shift from a millennia-long deepening descent into spiritual darkness to a new era of light and ascending consciousness.


Yugas and the Laws of Manu


One of the oldest pieces of Vedic literature comes from a pseudo-historical God-Man called Manu. As René Guénon has written, Manu belongs to a family of related archetypal figures, which include Melchezidek, Metatron, Michael, Gabriel, and Enoch. As an angelic inspiration for the origin of humanity at the dawn of a new era, or manvantara,  Manu is the primal law-giver, and his laws were recorded in the extremely ancient Vedic text called the Laws of Manu. Much of its contents describe moral and ethical codes of right behavior, but there is a section that deals with the ancient Vedic doctrine of World Ages  — the Yugas. Manu indicates that a period of 24,000 years — clearly a reference to precession — consists of a series of four yugas or ages, each shorter and spiritually darker than the last.  The morning and twilight periods between the dawn of each new era — each being one-tenth of its associated yuga — are shown:


Sanskrit text of the Laws of Manu illustration from page 11 of Holy Science


400 + 4000 + 400 = 4800 years. Satya Yuga (Golden Age)

300 + 3000 + 300 = 3600 years. Treta Yuga (Silver Age)

200 + 2000 + 200 = 2400 years. Dwapara Yuga (Bronze Age)

100 + 1000 + 100 = 1200 years. Kali Yuga (Iron Age)

                              12,000 years


According to Vedic mythology, a fabled dawn time existed in the distant past, when human beings had direct contact with the divine intelligence emanating from Brahma — the seat of creative power and intelligence in the cosmos. This archaic Golden Age — the Satya Yuga — lasted some 4800 years. After the Golden Age ended, humanity entered a denser era, that of the Silver Age, lasting only 3600 years. In this age, humanity’s connection with the source was dimmed, and sacrifices and spiritual practices became necessary to preserve it.  The Bronze Age followed, and humanity forgot its divine nature. Next we entered the Kali Yuga — in which we remain today — where the human spirit suffers under gross materialism, ignorance, warfare, stupidity, arrogance, and everything contrary to our divine spiritual potential.

                As the teachings tell, Kali, the creator-destroyer Goddess, will appear at the end of Kali Yuga to sweep away the putrid detritus of a spirit-dead humanity, making way for a new cycle of light and peace. Notice that the Manu text takes us from a pinnacle of light to the ultimate end-point of the process — the darkness of Kali Yuga. And notice that the four ages, when the overlap period is added, amounts to only half of the 24,000-year period of the yugas given. This points to a missing aspect of the doctrine that a Hindu Master, Sri Yukteswar, sought to clarify.


Sri Yukteswar’s Update


Sri Yukteswar was a Hindu saint active in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was the master of the famous Yogananda, founder of The Self Realization Fellowship, whose book Autobiography of a Yogi turned many people on to the magic and mystery of Indian spirituality. Yukteswar was interested in contemporary scientific advances and in showing parallels between Hindu religion and Christianity. His book The Holy Science is primarily about these correspondences. It was written in the mid-1890s at the behest of Yukteswar’s teacher, Mahavatar Babaji. However, the Introduction contains an intriguing updated model of the World Age system of Yugas.


Although the exact timing of the Kali Yuga’s beginning is subject to debate, no one argues that we are  deep into it. Unfortunately, the cycles and year-counts present in Hindu chronology are subject to gross exaggerations and manipulation — the sorry effect of clueless Hindu scholars trying to reconstruct the ancient doctrines. And these errors have been inserted as long ago as the 4th century AD, and have therefore been passed down to unsuspecting students as a kind of conventional wisdom. However, it strikes me that Sri Yukteswar got closest to the true intention of the Yuga doctrine. Yukteswar based his “updated Yuga model” on the Laws of Manu as well as other traditions in Vedic and Hindu astronomy and mythology. The tradition he shares is as follows:


“. . . the sun, with its planets and their moons, takes some star for its dual and revolves around it in about 24,000 years of our earth---a celestial phenomenon [precession]. . . . The sun also has another motion by which it revolves around a grand center called Vishnunabhi, which is the seat of creative power, Brahma, the universal magnetism. Brahma regulates dharma, the mental virtue of the internal world.”


In reading an account like this, it is immediately apparent that things could be worded more clearly. This is a typical problem in translated works, and, unfortunately, as a reader it is always tempting to mentally ignore the unclear section and keep reading. But there is a huge grain of wisdom inside of Yukteswar’s description, and it is worth looking at very closely.  Let us see if we can read between the lines and get a sense for what Yukteswar is really referring to.  

We have an important identification of the “grand center” as Vishnunabhi or Brahma, the seat of creative power. Vishnunabhi is the navel of the Hindu god Vishnu, and modern Vedic scholar David Frawley identifies Vishnunabhi with the Galactic Center. In his 1990 book Astrology of the Seers he writes, “The galactic center is called ‘Brahma,’ the creative force, or ‘Vishnunabhi,’ the navel of Vishnu. From the galactic sun emanates the light which determines the life and intelligence on Earth . . ..”  Without mincing words, it is clear that the ancient Vedic skywatchers were aware of the Galactic Center, and, indeed, considered it to be the center and source of creative power in the universe.

                Yukteswar suggests that the sun takes a star “for its dual” and revolves around it in one precessional cycle. Clearly, the reference is not to an actual orbital period, like the moon orbiting around the earth, but is rather to the precessional shifting of the sun around the zodiac. If the sun’s dual is a fixed star against which the sun’s precessional motion is measured, then we can understand this more clearly. This kind of conceptual or linguistic muddiness can delay deeper understanding right away. Now, in order to measure the precessional motion of the sun, the ancient astronomers would  need to identify a specific sun in the seasonal cycle — for example, the vernal equinox sun or the summer solstice sun. This specification will anchor the sun to a seasonal quarter so that the “orbital” motion referred to by Yukteswar — which is really precessional shifting — can be measured against a fixed star, the sun’s “dual.” Aldebaran might be a candidate, but the real fixed “dual” against which the cycle of precession is tracked in this Vedic description may actually be Vishnunabhi — the Galactic Center.  In the quote given above Yukteswar also mentions “another motion” of the sun around the Galactic Center, which is probably its actual orbital period — a huge cycle of some 225,000,000 years.  Back on track, Yukteswar continues:


“When the sun in its revolution around its dual comes to the place nearest to this grand center, the seat of Brahma (an event which takes place when the Autumnal Equinox comes to the first point of Aries), dharma, the mental virtue, becomes so much developed that man can easily comprehend all, even the mysteries of the spirit. . ..”


The precessional movement of “the sun” closer to “the grand center” causes the full expression of a Golden Age of Light, a time indicated in Vedic and other traditions as occurring a dozen or so millennia ago. As such, it must be the precessional motion of the June solstice sun around the grand center that is indicated, because the June solstice sun was “closest to” the Galactic Center roughly 12,000 to 13,000 years ago. Unfortunately, Yukteswar attempts a precise dating based upon a 12,000-year period for one-half of a precession cycle. As a result, he backdates to the time of the fabled Golden Age  (which he later gives as 11,501 BC)  by using an autumn equinox point in Aries that is in error.  Yukteswar’s diagram preserves the insight of a descending phase and an ascending phase of the precessional cycle, but the timing of the shift from descending Kali Yuga to ascending Kali Yuga must be adjusted:


diagram on page of 9 of Holy Science and new diagram based on page 9 of Yukteswar’s Holy  Science


Sri Yukteswar wanted the end of descending Kali Yuga to correspond to his historical understanding of the dark ages and his hypothesized elevation in the state of human consciousness beginning around 500 AD. He cites scientific advances to support this, but in my opinion technology has thrust us deeper into material dependency and spiritual darkness. I realize it may seem presumptuous to correct a saint on this point, but his intention was to elucidate astronomical details of ancient doctrines that, by his time, had eroded into semantic vagaries.  And he was writing before modern science had rediscovered the Galactic Center. Perhaps it seems that I’ve injected my own ambiguous reading into Yukteswar’s work. But my conclusions — and corrections — are fairly straightforward. Let’s look at it like this: Yukteswar writes that the Golden Age ended and we began our descent into spiritual darkness in 11,501 BC. This was roughly 13,500 years ago. Now, Yukteswar also said that this Golden Age occurred when “the sun” was close to Vishnunabhi (the Galactic Center). And the context of his description is solar movements within the cycle of  precession. Now, the question we must ask is thus: what kind of precessional alignment between the sun and the Galactic Center happened roughly 13,500 years ago, the reverse of which happens one-half of a precession cycle later? The answer is quite apparent — the Golden Age shift is timed with the alignment of the June solstice sun and the Galactic Center. The reverse event is the alignment of the December solstice sun with the Galactic Center, and we can get a true bearing on the timing of this event, as modern astronomy can calculate it. And there are actually several factors and features involved which enrich our understanding of what this galactic alignment  might mean to us. I’ll address the issues and parameters of the current galactic alignment in Part Three.     

The Golden Age mentioned in Yukteswar’s quote given above represented the culmination of the previous ascent phase and the shift to the descending phase, the archaic “fall of man” scenario. The flipside  — the shift to ascending — occurs at the astronomically opposed event:


“After 12,000 years, when the sun goes to the place in its orbit which is farthest  from Brahma, the grand center . . . [then] dharma, the mental virtue, comes to such a reduced state that man cannot grasp anything beyond the gross material creation.”


This is the Vedic doctrine, clearly based in astronomy, that underlies René Guénon’s belief that modern people are unconscious degenerates with little resemblance to the full human potential that our ancient ancestors manifested. 


David Frawley’s identification of the Galactic Dimensions of Vedic Astrology


David Frawley interprets Yukteswar’s model and adds some clarity: “When the Sun is on the side of its orbit wherein its dark companion comes between it and the galactic center, the reception of that cosmic light appears to be greatly reduced. At such times there is a dark or materialistic age on Earth” (1990:56). I would add that the June solstice sun’s “dark companion” could be the December solstice sun, the day of greatest darkness in the solar year. In this scenario, the June solstice sun continually revolves around (in opposition to) the December solstice sun. Whether or not there is an actual occulting of the June solstice sun in terms of energetic radiation may simply be besides the point; the metaphor points us to the astronomy involved in this doctrine and the Vedic belief system woven around it.  

The critical information encoded in this material — written decades before the Galactic Center was “officially” discovered in the 1920s — is that the ancient Vedic Yuga doctrine was calibrated with the periodic alignments of the solstice sun with the Galactic Center. If we do sense that the Vedic wisdom speaks a truth to us (nothing less than a lost science of the galactic influences on human evolution) the words of David Frawley may help us understand the importance of our impending “harmonization” with the Galactic Center:


Harmonization With the Galactic Center

An important cosmic event is occurring now. The winter solstice is now at a point in conjunction with the galactic center . . . This should cause a slow harmonization of humanity with the Divine will as transmitted from the galactic center . . . By the accounts of thinkers like Plato, the flood that destroyed Atlantis (and probably ended the Ice Age) occurred about 9300
B.C. (9000 years before Plato). This appears to have been when the summer solstice was in conjunction with the galactic center—a point completely opposite to the one today (Frawley 1990:63).


In fact, Frawley believes that all of Vedic astrology “orients the zodiac to the galactic center” (1990:48) as the source of creative intelligence, mediated to human beings by the fixed stars of Sagittarius and the guru planet Jupiter, the Divine teacher. Frawley gives an astronomically accurate sidereal location for the Galactic Center — 6 degrees 40’ Sagittarius. This corresponds to 28 degrees Sagittarius in the unadjusted tropical system, wherein the December solstice is at 0 degrees Capricorn (by definition). Again, the precise parameters of the galactic alignment will be explored later.


The Lunar Mansions of Vedic Astrology and the Galactic Center


The lunar mansions of Vedic astrology indicate the Galactic Center region as a “root” place. The naksastra or lunar mansion corresponding to the 13-degree lunar “sign” that embraces the Galactic Center is called mula, which means “root.” The mansion that occurs before “root” is called “the eldest”, suggesting that this spot in the sky is the end-beginning nexus in an ancient concept of the zodiac, which would be understandable given the precessional importance of the Galactic Center  as a “root” or beginning point for time.   

                There are compelling events in Hindu-Vedic mythology that are associated with the Galactic Center, Sagittarius, the theft of Soma, and the solstices. However, current interpretations are not conclusive, and many eras of overlapping symbology makes it difficult to sort out the original meaning with certainty. The head of the horse, the Ashwin twins, and the Churning of the Milky Ocean myth are all involved, and we will explore them in greater detail shortly.  There does appear to be astronomical references in the Vedas to precessional eras in which the solstice point was in a constellation that would indicate a dating of 7000 BC. The records are found in stories in which the lunar mansion that the full moon is in on the solstice is mentioned, thus providing a 13-degree lunar mansion position for the solstice point. This all suggests that Vedic astronomy and cosmology is much older than scholars have been willing to allow. {See Godwin’s Arktos, Frawley’s books, and Tilak’s Arctic Home in the Vedas for more. Other modern experts on Vedic science and cosmology reveal profound depth in the ancient knowledge — Kak’s astronomy; Sidharth; especially Norelli-Bachelet.}


The Gnostic Circle and Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet


My work to reconstruct Maya cosmology led me to realize that it is galactic in nature. Specifically, I was amazed to discover overwhelming evidence that the Maya intended their 2012 “end date” to mark the alignment of the December solstice sun with the Milky Way and the Galactic Center. After showing how the Maya encoded this knowledge into their Creation myth, king accession rites, and the sacred ballgame, I became curious if this knowledge was present — as a core belief — in other traditions. During my workshop on “Maya Galactic Cosmology” at The Esalen Institute in August, 1999, one of my students gave me the book The Gnostic Circle by Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet. I had encountered some of Norelli-Bachelet’s writings on the internet earlier that summer, and knew  she was tapped into something deep and profound.  At Esalen one afternoon, I walked down to the rocky beach, sat by the crashing waves, and  had a little time to focus on the material in The Gnostic Circle.

                Norelli-Bachelet is a devoted disciple of Aurobindo and The Mother, and in 1968 was a founding member of Auroville, a spiritual center in India.  She worked closely with The Mother (Aurobindo’s partner and an enlightened founder of the movement) on the design and symbology of Matrimandir, a temple shrine designed to replicate the Godhead on Earth. It was strategically situated on a 12 degree latitude in India so as to synthesize the zenith-passage date with the Grand Center. Immediately this jumped out at me as a reflection of what the Maya did at Chichen Itza, when they  unified the Zenith/Pleiades Cosmology with the Galactic Cosmology. I’ll have more to say on this parallel and the symbology of Matrimandir later.

                The Gnostic Circle is a deep, intuitive, and complex work. Norelli-Bachelet draws from a great reservoir of Hindu wisdom, obviously combined with personal insights into the nature of time and human spirituality. It was written in 1974, published in 1978, and it’s interesting to me that it contains an almost matter-of-fact description of the evolutionary implications of our periodic alignments with the Galactic Center:    


“There is the mysterious centre that keeps all the stars in orbit around itself. This Centre, that Science knows so little of as yet, is located with respect to our Sun and planet in the direction of the Constellation Hercules or the zodiacal sign Capricorn, and slowly, at the rate of 12 miles per second . . . our sun orbits around and moves closer to this Solar Apex, as it is called. That is, at the end of December each year, the Earth is directly behind the sun with respect to this great Void; our solar system with our planet is being drawn ever closer to this colossal Magnet” (1978:160).


Like Yukteswar, one must read this wording very carefully, and determine what is really being described. The writing almost seems intentionally cryptic, sorting out those who cannot see beyond the surface of the metaphor from those who can (i.e., want to) see the deeper truth. I know this sounds elitist, but initiatory teachings have always had this quality. Unlike the dumb-it-down mandate of superficial New Age publishing, true gnostic understanding is triggered by the seeker’s own inner awakening of discernment. For this reason, for me, silly New Age gobbledygook that just says a lot about nothing is a perfect BS-meter, separating those who prefer to play games from those who will not be fooled by empty brain candy.

For example, in the quote above we are again confronted with the question of whether the statement refers to the sun’s literal orbital cycle around the Great Center, or whether the reference is to the sun’s precessional motion around the zodiac. As with Yukteswar, Norelli-Bachelet’s intention is the latter. In fact, later on in The Gnostic Circle we get a clarification on this point. In discussing the shifting of the poles caused by precession, she writes, “the shifting of the poles themselves . . . is connected with the movement of our solar system around the galactic centre. . . .  Our solar system, the Sun with all its orbiting bodies, is slowly being drawn into this Centre — or is moving ever closer into the sign of Capricorn, we could say. ” (1978:276).  This demonstrates that the sun’s orbit around the Galactic Center is actually the apparent motion of the sun around the zodiac caused by precession. I hope that this observation will lay to rest the patently absurd New Age notion that our solar system orbits the Pleiades. In many channeled sources, we are told that a great secret is contained in the knowledge that we orbit around the Pleiades in a period of 26,000 years. Well, right away we should suspect that precession is somehow involved in this information. As with the information relayed by Yukteswar and Norelli-Bachelet, the Pleiadian orbit is intended to refer to the sun’s apparent motion around the zodiac in relation to the fixed sidereal position of the Pleiades (I discussed this in my book The Center of Mayan Time, 1995). So, the mud contains a truth, but right understanding is required to dispel deception. This clarification is much like what I have said about Von Däniken’s spaceman theory regarding Pacal’s famous sarcophagus lid. He looks like a spaceman in a flying ship, operating controls, flying into outer space. Is this true? Well, in a sense. But not in the literal way Von Däniken — and our own literalist programming — would have us believe. Pacal was a shaman who did engage in flying into the many-tiered levels of the astral world. He “flew” into the multidimensional universe of the human psyche and spirit, touching the same archetypal energies that illuminate the stars.

                The spiritual importance of our changing relationship to the Great Center is elucidated prosaically by Norelli-Bachelet:


            . . . at this time, we are given the means whereby we can know the so-called esoteric truth of our System and its evolution, and the part the Earth plays therein, as well as each of its inhabitants. We can go so far as to know that there is a great Centre to which we in our System are related and which determines our course, because it is this Centre that finally holds the key to the Precession of the Equinoxes. It is this Centre that makes of the axis Capricorn and Cancer the Evolutionary Axis of our planet. And through our study we can know that in ourselves, in our very bodies, we can find the exact reproduction of this Galaxy which then gives us the revelation of the Supreme Herself” (1978:160-161).


                The Evolutionary Axis described between Capricorn and Cancer is the Galactic Center — Galactic Anticenter axis. In public slideshows and talks I have described this as the Galactic Chakra axis, and during alignment eras the shakti or evolutionary energy emanating from the root chakra — the Galactic Center — awakens all of the consciousness centers along the axis, including Earth and the Pleiades. Elsewhere Norelli-Bachelet writes that evolutionary Avatars (like Aurobindo and the Mother) incarnate on earth every 6,480 years, and we are in one of these evolutionary zones right now. This clearly refers to one-quarter of a precessional cycle. Four times every precessional cycle, one of the seasonal quarters lines up with the Galactic Center. We are currently in the precessional window in which it is the December solstice that lines up with the Galactic Center. The profound integrative conclusion to be grasped is that this situation heralds  the shift from descending Kali Yuga to ascending Kali Yuga.     

                The Gnostic Circle is an amazing intuitive work that anticipated my explication of this very same Galactic Cosmology among the Maya. Significantly, earlier we found the concepts of the solstice gateways and the Capricorn-Cancer axis in Jean Richer’s work with the sacred geography of the Greeks. There, we saw how the polar Axis Mundi was mapped onto a north-south axis centered on Delphi that symbolically corresponded to a Capricorn-Cancer “solstice” axis. The topographical axis Richer reconstructed stretched from the temple site of Taenarum in the south (Cancer), through Delphi (the navel or Omphalos), to Mt. Olympus in the north (Capricorn). Notice that Mt. Olympus, abode of the Gods, where a convocation was held every winter solstice, symbolically occupies the Capricorn or Galactic Center position.  Notice that these ancient schemes point not only to a spot in the sky, but also specific times within the precessional cycle. The solstice at zero degrees of Capricorn refers to an astrological era that corresponds to the unadjusted tropical zodiac still used by Western tropical astrologers. In that system the Galactic Center is at 27 degrees Sagittarius, or 3 degrees from zero degrees Capricorn. Now, precession has shifted the frame of the zodiac some 21 degrees such that the true sidereal position of the solstice meridian is actually in early Sagittarius.


--end of excerpt from my work in progress (The Ancient Galactic Cosmology: Recovering a Lost Evolutionary Science).


Copyright. May 2000. John Major Jenkins. All Rights Reserved



End document here


Now, for a general summary of my next book, here’s an excerpt from the Introduction:


Introduction: Recovering the Forgotten Galactic Paradigm


It is now the first year of the third millennium, as dated in the Judaeo-Christian calendar. During eras of endings and new beginnings, it is natural to cast back over the previous age and fathom its mysteries. Science believes it has reached a pinnacle of understanding and achievement deeper and more comprehensive than anything that has come before. Past histories and past accomplishments of the human race have been neatly assessed, categorized, pigeon holed, labeled, and, so we believe, understood. It is granted that perhaps we don’t know all the details of ancient traditions and belief systems — many of which certainly do not agree with the materialist foundation of our paradigm — but we are taught that ancient people were basically more primitive, less refined than we are in this modern era of high technology. And thus we must be more “civilized.” And yet, it is a great mistake to assume that modern human beings are by nature more, how should we say it — more human.  If by human we mean a person that is conscious, compassionate,  and open minded — how many of us fit the bill? If we reduce the requirements and say that to be human is to be mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy, do more than half of us pass for human?

Let’s just take one simple criteria — a  very simple one — to measure our humanness against people of, say, ancient Egypt. This is a quality that is an important prerequisite to being free, and freedom is universally considered a basic human right. That criteria is: openness. Open to the night skies, open to fellow humans, open to possibilities, to growth, to love, to change. I would wager that the average citizen of ancient Egypt far outweighs the modern counterpart in this important and basic measure of humanness. 

                My  point here is to illustrate that ancient people and,  by extension, ancient belief-systems, may have been much more advanced than we, and our science, may like to accept. There is a great deal of evidence — a growing mountain of evidence — to support a fairly radical idea about the ancient worldview: It recognized where the Galactic Center is. Furthermore — and this is where we tread on territory that makes the modern scientist either cry or laugh:  Ancient humans — some of them, anyway — apparently believed that Earth’s periodic alignments with the Galactic Center stimulate change and human growth. Sound wild? Far-fetched? Outlandish? Absurd? Take note that I have no need or desire to invoke space-aliens, Atlanteans, or anything else from the New Age’s bag of tricks to present evidence for my theory. Furthermore, notice that I am not requiring that we must believe such a thing ourselves. Mine is an attempt to reconstruct the true scope of ancient knowledge and worldview. And, yes, like it or not, the Galactic Center is a key player. The rationalist doubts and argues against this idea, usually making vociferous and irrational declarations that people without radio telescopes could not have recognized the region of the Milky Way that contains the Galactic Center as being special. These modern Intellectuals are about as reasonable as the doubting Church officials who refused to gaze through Galileo’s telescope for fear of being infected with demonic illusions. In showing how the Galactic Center was a central player in the cosmologies and mythologies of Greece, Egypt, India, Mesoamerica, and the British Isles, I will present simple facts and perform minor feats of deduction.

What I have learned from writing seven books on Maya calendrics and cosmology and presenting my progressive work to scholars at both academic and more mainstream venues is this: The emperor must be wearing clothes because the emperor says so.  This is just to say that one who truly steps beyond the limiting confines of mainstream paradigm maintenance will get absolutely no help from the institutions and minds that society empowers to do just that. And this is true even if you are truly making inroads into unknown territory and expanding knowledge within accepted methods of scientific deduction. I should add that this is true especially if, like myself, you don’t have university credentials. But in what sense do “credentials” apply if one presents a body of work, in print and on paper (or online), for the scrutiny of the experts that supposedly can identify faulty logic? I’ve been engaged in email dialogues with scholars who have a professed knowledge and interest in all-things-Maya. Some took me up on my invitation to discuss the basic premise of my theory. Simply stated: the ancient Mesoamericans who created the Long Count calendar intended its 13-baktun cycle end-date (December 21, 2012 A.D.) to target the rare alignment of the solstice meridian with the plane of the Galaxy.  And I would not be so bold had I not devoted twelve years to studying a broad range of Mesoamerican disciplines, surveying academic positions and findings, and writing many research-oriented books, monographs, and articles on the subject. My recent offering, Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 (1998), is a study of some 450 pages, with six appendices, end-notes, and 24 pages of academic sources to support my claims. And this is a reduced version of the original prototype study, finished in mid-1997. It is this work and body of evidence that I attempted to bring to the attention of scholars who might be willing to comment, credit, or discredit my theory. What I found in my dealings with scholars, supposedly an intellectual bunch, is a complete inability (or unwillingness) to track and follow basic lessons in Mesoamerican astronomy and calendrics.  Without this, dialogues cannot go very far and end in a beginner’s lesson followed by silence. Or to save face, it ends with a loud complaint about some miscellaneous and irrelevant typo-like error.

 The cornerstone of my reconstruction of what I call the Galactic Cosmology is the recognition of the Galactic Center as a formative player in ancient Mesoamerican cosmology. In addition, it is our periodic alignments with the Galactic Center — alignments that come and go within the great 26,000-year cycle of precession —  to which the ancient Maya anchored their conceptions of time, World Ages, and human evolution. This information sounds to the modern ear so astounding, compelling, and progressive that the average rationalist immediately rebounds with a huff of veiled indignation and skepticism.

                In the year-and-a-half since the release of Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 — three years since the bulk of its contents were complete — other studies have come to my attention that reveal to my eye a galactic knowledge in old Europe, Renaissance alchemy, Greece, Egypt, and Vedic India. The intention of this book is to assemble this material and, with a modicum of interpretive effort, reveal the galactic dimensions of these traditions. An abridged treatment of my work with the Mesoamerican Galactic Cosmology will be undertaken in Part Two, the third section will treat the myths, and the last (fourth) section will address some of the ideas, issues, problems, and implications of this work.

                I work under no pressure from institution or government. I work from the guidance of my intuition, conscience, guardian angel, and discerning intellect. I work in a cellar-like basement in northwest Denver, usually late at time, after the spirit-enslaving occupational obligations of the day are done. The tedium of stating and restating the same discoveries that have run me through ten years and ten books can at times be daunting. And yet I am buoyed by the positive and grateful responses that I do get from people.

Luckily, still being in my thirties I can burn the midnight oil — probably more than is really good for me, given that I need to arise before the sun for the daily paycheck toil-in-a-cubicle. It is my hope that the straightforward presentation of this book, especially in parts one and two, will alleviate some of the confusion about ancient traditions caused by New Age speculators, self-help peddlars, and whole-system redesigners. This is no time for a lack of clarity.  -end of excerpt-


For more information on my research, visit http://Alignment2012.com


Copyright. May 2000. John Major Jenkins. All Rights Reserved



χαίρε θεών μήτηρ άλοχ’,
Oύρανοΰ άστερόεντος



Hail, Mother of the Gods,

Goddess of starry Heaven