Information upon Maya-calendar and 2012


Review of the book: The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012 (Paperback) von Anthony Aveni (Author)

Anthony Aveni is one of the best known scholarly archeoastronomers in the United States, having conducted a lot of research on Mesoamerican pre-Columbian cultures.  In his book "The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012," Aveni dives very deep into the 2012-hype.  Though it's still almost three years away, the 2012 "event horizon" has already swamped not only internet and book markets but also the cinemas, with the November 13 release of "2012".  In Aveni's nine chapters and starting with a personal vantage, he presents a User's Guide through all the (weird) 2012 prophecies.  J. Argüelles, J.M. Jenkins, and D. Pinchbeck are some U.S. epigones, C. J. Calleman an European, to which I can add one more: Tibor Zelikovics. The prophecies foretell anything from catastrophes caused by astronomical phenomena such as impacts and rays from outer space, to spiritual influences, temporal steps, magnetic and even precessional shifts, briefly: TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) is coming!  Aveni soberly reviews each of these scenarios, juxtaposing them against Mayan creation myths and their relation to timekeeping, culture, rituals and name-giving practices wherein an Mayan's personal name included the birth date as a calendrical repetition of different periods after only 52 years (52 x 365 = 260 x  73 = 18,980 days). Time and its calculation seemed to have been much more part of a Mayan's personal identity than in most of the world where birth-dates are given according to the Gregorian calendar and subsequently printed in travel passports, identity cards, and U.S. driver's licenses. But why 2012? The author explains it with the "Jewels of the Maya Crown", i.e. the three timekeeping systems, haab, tzolkin and the Long Count, each employing the unique mathematical Mayan counting system similar to our decimal numbering but based upon the numbers 13, 18, and 20. The latter, the Mayan Long Count, seems to conclude with the end of its longest period of 144,000 days (about 400 years), i.e. the end of the 13th Baktun, and would stop on the Gregorian calendar's date of December 12, 2012. According to Mayan creation myths, the count begins August 11th, 3114 BC. Obviously, both the December and August dates mark significant times in an ordinary solar year--the first as the winter solstice and the second as the annual moment when the Sun passes overhead in its zenith passage in the Mayan region, which is an event that cannot occur North of the Tropic of Cancer. It is a pity that Aveni does not explicitly explain how the convergence of the Mayan with the Gregorian calendar was first discovered and thus how 3114 BC was actually calculated as the beginning of the Mayan story of time.  Also worthy of note would have been the temporal coincidence of the Mayan civil collapse at about 830 CE, together with the end of the 10th Baktun (or 1440.000 days after 3114 BC).

In an excursion into the philosophy and cosmology of European antiquity, India, and China, Aveni wonders if myths perhaps speak a forgotten language of astronomical events of past ages and thereby he touches the linkage of the change in cultural idols as well as the story-plot of great myths, which he reasons, could have a celestial rather than a terrestrial origin.  Therefore Aveni cites Hamlet's Mill by Giorgio de Santillana and Herta von Dechend, but he does not make clear, if he belittles or takes this book serious.  Here, Aveni seems in a huge dilemma, because I know from another of his books wherein he stated, "Our recent myth we call 'science'", what contra-wise would sound, that the ancient science we call myth now.
As an astronomer, Aveni makes a reality check on the possibilities of the scientific realities surrounding the celestial happenings of 2012 and, of course, can find no evidence of unusual events.  Thus, planet Earth will be not affected by any unusual cataclysmic event, according to Carl Sagan's reminder: "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".  No asteriod, no dangerous cosmic rays, no cataclysmic galactic region can be seen in our immediate future.  If, in fact, an unexpected event did happen, it would, perforce, be unexpected--surely also by the Mayans--otherwise the Mayan civilization would actually hold the title as the grandmasters of prophesy.  As they say in my Austrian home-county known as "Styria", " we tell prophecy always in hindsight".
The last chapter of Aveni's 2012 nevertheless reveals a daring doom, which is based in a Western, Christian philosophy and culture steeped in Jewish, Christian, and Moslem myths.  Countless doomsday predictions, which, of course, have all failed to actuate, are proof of only one thing: the human power to create self-fulfilling prophecies.  The doomsday sect practice of ritual suicide to prepare for or in fear of the end is just one example.  Or, what of the expectation of a good future, a paradise, a second coming of Christ, Mahdi, heaven-on-earth, etc.?  Perhaps Aveni is right to warn us: prophecies do, indeed, have consequences in the burden of the prophets.  As a European my reading of Aveni's "Mayan Mystery" helped me understand the roots of the United States, which were sewn by baiters of the Christian Churches.  Aveni does a good job of tracing these roots through American history, culture, and the emergence of religious groups during the 18th and 19th century, when "so many oddball Yankee social and religious movements swept over the so called Burned-Over District" where Aveni lives.
In the time of Israel's kings, prophets were socio-political reformers predicting and promising new land, a better life, the "New Jerusalem", piety, etc.  The Judeo-Christian prophetic tradition continued in the establishment of the United States through marginalized religious groups such as the Mormons, the Shakers, Quakers, etc., but we also see fomenting change in socio-political groups and parties such as the Greenbacks, the Equal Rights Party, and others.  After the Great Awakening of colonial America's 1730's and 1740's, the United States at last has come to the Great Disappointment.  Pointing out that prophecy is historically a motor of social evolution, Aveni cites Guenon, saying "We are victims of suggestion" and "self-interest is a motive for predicting the cataclysmic events", where, like all eschatological groups, our time is the time, and we ourselves inherit the Apocalypse, or Revelation, loosely based on various interpretations of the end time through the visions of John of Patmos, who was not an apostle, as Aveni mistakenly claims.  "Millennium and apocalypse go together like Christmas and Santa Claus", writes Aveni, and this is at the crucial point of the parallel of Y2K and Y12 that he considers the 2012-hype.  Because the millennial step did not bring the end, it must be now deferred to the end of another event horizon, the next calendrical end-point event: 2012.  Like a depressive psychotic, who sees no way out other than death, the current Western climate seems to desire a cataclysmic end to our recent global situation. Simple-mindedness equates time with time-keeping, or is humankind testing by the end of the calendar of the gone Mayas  what happens if a timekeeping runs out, doing the same with the Gregorian next? In truth, Aveni unconsciously traipses a carpet under which, hidden in centuries-old literature, medieval astronomy, and ancient cosmology, lies a time bomb: the concoction of the Anno Domini count. 
This yearly count was invented in the 6th century with the pretext or secondary effect of dating Easter rituals.  More importantly, however, the yearly count was constructed around what was believed to be an eschatological alignment of all classical planets, which in fact occurred in May of 2000.  By placing the date of Christ's incarnation 2000 years before this and due to the medieval precession value 666/10°, the A.D. calendar actually attempts to foretell the end of the age and with it the end of time.  What is ironic is that the count actually does correspond with the beginning and end of the age of Pisces, which is represented by the ICHTHYS, or Greek fish, which became the first Christian symbol and has been discovered in the catacombs of ancient Rome.  The fact that no pole shift happened in May of the Gregorian calendar's year 2000 could perhaps be interpreted as a complete failure of the Anno Domini count, except that a shift did, in fact, occur.  It was not just an astronomical shift, either, but a religious one as well.  Yes, there was the shift of the equinox constellations from Pisces to Aquarius and this is actually a time bomb able to blast a "Black Hole" into the fundamental Christian weltanschauung.
I do, however, recommend Aveni's book for anyone interested in history and astronomy, and I owe him much respect and tribute; his style is wonderful, the books notes and index are perfect, and the glossary is useful for any newbie to the field.
Sepp Rothwangl, CALENdeRsign, Austria
edited 26.11.09, CEP 243.000