The Union of Cosmic Mother and Father on the Maya Calendar End-Date in A.D. 2012

John Major Jenkins
(written in early 1998, first published in The Sacred Union journal of Pagosa springs, April 1998)
back to

We are approaching a time prophesied by ancient Maya mystics to be an era of global transformation and consciousness evolution. The end of the Maya Great Cycle of Creation, a period of over 5,125 years, will end on the December solstice of 2012. Why was this date chosen? In my book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, I tracked down Maya mysteries and offer one single, relatively simple, answer to this question that explains why our world is currently experiencing a tremendous acceleration of change and growth.

The early visionary prophets of the Maya were astronomers, shamans, and calendar-priests, and they gazed deeply into cosmic mysteries that we are just beginning to unravel. Over 2000 years ago, Maya calendar priests invented a calendar called the Long Count, and began to date carved monuments with it. Some of the earliest monuments that archaeologists have found dated in the Long Count calendar are from the first century B.C. The dating system of the Long Count has five place values, each one building upon the previous place value:

place         number
value:        of days:

kin             1
uinal           20
tun             360
katun         7,200
baktun       144,000

The largest place value is called the baktun, which is a period of just under 400 years. A typical date in the Long Count would be written, for example, This indicates that 9 baktuns, 16 katuns, 4 tuns, 1 uinal, and 1 kin have elapsed since the fabled beginning time in 3114 B.C. - when all Long Count place values were set to zero. Maya scholars understand how the Long Count is placed in real time, such that we know that the Long Count date given above corresponds to May 7th, 755 A.D. Projecting forward to the 2012 end-date, we find that December 21, 2012 equals in the Long Count. As a result, the early Maya astronomer-priests were telling us that the December solstice of 2012 A.D. would be the moment when 13 baktuns were completed, and a new World Age or era of humanity would dawn. But again, the question remains - why 2012? Why the December solstice?

The ancient Maya knew the answer to this question, but it was eventually forgotten and buried in the crumbling ruins of Mesoamerica, lost in the ocean of shifting debris of temple stones, disintegrating kingdoms, and fragmented lives. It is true that many of the ancient Maya traditions survive today in the remote regions of highland Guatemala, Chiapas, and Yucatan, but the knowledge encoded into the Long Count calendar was forgotten long ago, smashed to pieces by the genocidal tactics of the Conquest. Fortunately, the fragmented artifacts of this lost calendar wisdom, the implications of which have direct bearing on our immediate future, have now been retrieved and reassembled so that we can fully understand the profound scope of what the ancient Maya cosmologists accomplished.

To get right to the point: A rare astronomical alignment of a galactic nature occurs on the 2012 end-date. I must emphasize that this alignment does not involve planetary alignments of the sort astrologers are familiar with. It involves the earth's orientation to the larger galactic frame of time as defined by the Milky Way. The Milky Way, observed as a white band of light arching across the night sky, is our home galaxy. Like many galaxies, it is spiral shaped with a central nucleus, and thus one can notice the part of the Milky Way that contains the bulging, bright, and wide center of the saucer (see the shape of the Milky Way in Diagram 1). This region of the Milky Way is the bright and wide part that runs through Sagittarius and Scorpio. When we look at this area of the Milky Way, we are gazing into the center our galaxy, the Galactic Center, the rich cauldron of creation out of which everything in our galaxy, including us, has sprung. The unique property of the Long Count end-date is that at that time the December solstice sun will be conjuncting the Galactic Center, an event that takes places only once every 26,000 years.

Diagram 1. The Galactic Alignment of A.D. 2012.

Diagram 1 shows the convergence of the December solstice sun with the Galactic Center over 5,000 years. Position A shows the location of the December solstice sun 5,000 years ago - quite far from the Milky Way. Position B shows the solstice sun 2,500 years ago, and position C shows the conjunction of the December solstice sun with the Milky Way's central bulge in A.D. 2012. This convergence phenomenon, called "precession of the equinoxes," is caused by the "precession" or slow movement of the earth's solstices and equinoxes, an astronomical cycle of some 26,000 years. This movement results from the Earth's slow wobbling on its axis, similar to how a spinning top begins to wobble as it slows down. The effect of this wobble is that it changes our orientation to the larger backdrop of stars and constellations. In Western astrology, precession and the shifting of World Ages is tracked by the equinox sun moving into a new zodiac constellation. As such, it is well known that the Age of Aquarius will dawn in the next 200 hundred years or so, as marked by the March equinox sun beginning to rise in the constellation Aquarius, rather than in Pisces as it has for the past 2000 years. Zodiac constellations thus serve as markers in the 26,000-year cycle of precession. The Maya, however, were tuned into the larger galactic context, and recognized the Milky Way as the most compelling marker for this cosmic cycle. In fact, the Maya intuited that when the December solstice sun aligns with the Galactic Center - the bright and wide region of the Milky Way running through Sagittarius and Scorpio - consciousness evolution on earth will be stimulated. Indeed, all forms of organization would be accelerated, including technological change as we can see in the recent advent of space flight, computer technology, microbiology, and so on. Remember, just fifty years ago these things were pipe dreams of science fiction writers, and now they are reality - and who knows what things will look like by 2012?

Okay, so why should we believe that this solstice-galaxy alignment of 2012 has any effect at all for us on earth? Perhaps all this hoopla and excitability currently flowing over the globe is just millennial fever, simply that end-of-the-century or end-of-the-millenium excitement that people tend to succomb to? I've searched the prophetic traditions of many cultures and found that the era we currnetly live in has intuitively been identified as a rare time of great change and transformation for life on earth. The Judeo-Christian tradition as well, with its year 2000 millennial marker, seems to point to our era as a rare calendric shift. But I've found that it is only the Maya, with their advanced cosmology and galactic calendar, that identify the empirical reason why. And, as I have reconstructed it, it involves astronomy and our changing relationship to our cosmic heart and source, the Galactic Center.

Maya mythology helps us understand how to think about this profound alignment in A.D. 2012. We can think of the Galactic Center as the Cosmic Mother's womb, from which everything has sprung. For that is, in fact, what it is. We may think of the December solstice sun as the Cosmic Father, for without the solar rays of life from Sol, our cosmic father, life on earth would not exist. Though the Maya were scientifically and astronomically advanced, they also conceived of astronomical objects in these cosmological or mythological ways. For they did not separate science and religion. In fact, as I explore in my book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, the First Father deity in the Maya Popol Vuh Creation myth, called One Hunahpu, symbolized the December solstice sun. In the Popol Vuh, One Hunahpu is resurrected at the end of the World Age, and is instated as the new World Age ruler. This, I argue, is a mythological telling of the astronomical convergence that occurs on the 13-baktun end-date in 2012. One Hunahpu's rebirth occurs when the December solstice sun is "reborn" at its conjunction with the Cosmic Mother's womb (the Galactic Center). And a new World Age then dawns. Likewise, although I can't go into the mythic dimensions of the end-date cosmology in detail here, the Maya thought of the Milky Way as the Cosmic Mother. These mytho-astronomical ideas are recorded on monuments at the early Maya site of Izapa, the place where both the Long Count calendar and the Popol Vuh Creation myth were created about 2,000 years ago. For example, Izapa Stela 11 depicts the First Father deity (One Hunahpu) in the "mouth" of the Milky Way deity (i.e., the Galactic Center). Amazingly, this 2,100 year old carving is a mythological portrayal of the 2012 alignment.

Diagram 2. Stela 11 Izapa:

What seems clear is that the end-date alignment was envisioned as a sacred union of the Cosmic Mother principle (our Milky Way's Galactic Center) with the Cosmic Father principle (the solstice sun). Based upon this end-date alignment, the Maya devised an entire belief-system that I've termed the Galactic Cosmology. It's reasonable to suspect that we human beings will resonate with this cosmic alignment, and feel in the depths of our own beings the union of the creation principles that originally created us and continue to sustain us. In fact, according to Maya insights, it is the periodic union of Cosmic Ma and Pa at 26,000-year intervals that propels the evolution of life on earth to higher levels of complexity and fulfillment. This may have special significance for the consciousness-endowed life-forms on earth, who can respond in sympathy to the subtle energy shift that will attend the Galactic Alignment of 2012. The alignment of 2012 will bathe us with energy emanating from the Galactic Center. In a sense, a doorway will open between the local reality on earth and the transcendent, eternal reality of our cosmic source. A return to our source is the ointment which heals our spirits and allows us to grow in union with Earth, Sun, and Galaxy.

Finally, I must address the question of "what really is going to happen in 2012?" I'm a realist. I don't believe the earth is going to blow up or that radical cataclysms are going to occur in 2012, as some writers have suggested. If any kind of pole shift is going to occur, I believe it will be a pole shift in our collective consciousness, such that the delusions of Western civilization that are indeed driving us toward apocalypse will give way to a revised and renewed approach to life. Our civilization's current values of global domination and resource drainage are expiring, they no longer serve life, and we must as a civilization reorient ourselves toward life-affirming values, toward a future life of humanity within the galactic context. We must believe that humanity is going to survive and go forth into the galaxy, into higher domains of consciousness as we, as a species, evolve and grow spiritually. As a result of our 2012 encounter with our cosmic heart and source, we may develop latent capacities and abilities that have been our galactic birthright all along. But we don't have to wait until 2012.

The nature of the phenomenon that causes the sun to conjunct the Milky Way in 2012 (precession) is so slow that we must think of the "era of the 2012 alignment" rather than a momentous event to occur on just one day. It might be appropriate to think of fifty years on either side of 2012 as the "alignment zone." And one hundred years is just a nanosecond in the life of the earth. As such, the 2012 alignment-era, even if it lasts a hundred years, can be understood as the collective birth moment of the human spirit, birthing us into a higher plane of being, so that our minds will see the connections between apparently disparate events. What this means is that we are in it now! People are beginning to see magical connections in their lives, synchronicities, so much so that it's not even surprising anymore. Our perceptions are, in fact, being enhanced. It is this kind vision that sees the interweaving relatedness of everything in the cosmos that we need to nurture, and that is trying to be born as we pass through the 2012 nexus. We need to reclaim the full multi-dimensional capacity of our minds and spirits, for we are truly multi-dimensional beings who have settled for a lot less. Now the increased energies of the 2012 alignment are offering us a chance to grow, heal, connect, and build relation with each other and other beings in our galaxy. The dominator style of human culture that has limited us for five millennia is poised to give way to the ancient Maya knowledge that we are cosmic beings who, with the help of the Sacred Union of Cosmic Mother and Cosmic Father, will grow to the next level in our journey to light. So how can we best approach the increased energies of the Maya cosmic alignment of 2012? With healing, ceremony, and co-creation.

Diagram 3. Maya King-shaman being birthed from the Great Mother's womb, the Galactic Center.

I anticipate that ceremonies at sacred sites can facilitate a beautiful experience of being in nature and connection with our higher selves. Upcoming solstices and equinoxes will be times of setting new intentions and releasing old ones. On these key dates in the solar cycle, a resonation with the solstice-galaxy alignment of era-2012 will open the door to connection with each other, with nature, and with our cosmic source. Ritual and ceremony, poetry and dance, healing and being, can all come together under starry skies in Mayaland.

John Major Jenkins is a leading voice in elucidating the mysteries of ancient Mesoamerican cosmology. As an independent researcher, he has authored five books, several booklets, and over a dozen articles on the Maya. His research is directed toward the cutting edge of what is known about Mesoamerican cosmology and calendrics, in an effort to understand more deeply the worldview of the Maya.

Since 1986 he has journeyed to Mexico and Central America five times, thoroughly exploring the ancient sacred sites and the contemporary indigenous cultures. During an international relief project in 1990 he spent six weeks helping build a school in the Tzutujil Maya village of San Pedro, on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. In 1994 he delivered relief supplies to a beleaguered Quiché Maya community in the western highlands of Guatemala, and established a relationship with a Quiché Maya daykeeper. Throughout this period he researched the inner workings of Mayan calendar science, writing his first book Journey to the Mayan Underworld in 1989. He founded Four Ahau Press that year, to publish and distribute his research. His book Tzolkin: Visionary Perspectives and Calendar Studies, which reconstructed the Mayan Venus Calendar and established that the "True Count" of the ancient tzolkin calendar is still being followed by Mayan daykeepers today, was published with Borderlands Science Research Foundation in 1994.

Since 1994, John has published over a dozen articles on Mayan cosmology in various magazines. In August of 1997, he presented his pioneering research on the astronomy of the Mayan calendar end-date in 2012 at the prestigious Institute of Maya Studies, associated with the Museum of Science in Miami. In March of 1998, he presented his reconstruction of the true meaning of the Pyramid of Kukulcan at The Cosmic Serpent of the Ancient Maya conference in Merida, Mexico, having been invited to speak by the Indigenous Council of the Americas and the Mayoan Council.

I believe that human civilization is passing through an era of great transformation. Ten years ago I began seeking answers to big questions, questions involving human spirituality, human history, and the lost wisdom of ancient civilizations. My search brought me to the Maya. Mayan cosmology contains within it the explanation for our current global transformation, and possibilities for how we can survive it. My work has been to reconstruct the lost Galactic Cosmology of the Maya, to identify Izapa as an initiation center, and to stimulate the renaissance of Indigenous Cultures in the New World.

Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 is based upon my realization, in 1993, that the end-date of the Long Count calendar in 2012 pinpoints a rare alignment in a vast cycle of time called the precession of the equinoxes. Wanting to establish evidence for this, and to ascertain how and where the ancient skywatchers discovered and mapped this cycle, I devoted myself to an in depth study of Mesoamerican astronomy, cosmology, culture, and ethnography. I sought the answers to key questions, and pieced together - primarily from academic literature - my progressive interpretation of Mesoamerican history and cosmology. The exciting thing to consider is that this knowledge reemerges at a time when we really need it, for the 2012 end-date looms before us.