Definition: [Astrological Ages] The idea that the
current 'age' of the Mayan 'Long Count' calendar was designed by them to end on
21-Dec-2012 because that is the date of a Winter Solstice alignment of the Sun
and the Galaxy. This idea was first promoted by John Major Jenkins in his book
Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 [published in 1998]. The steps of the argument
appear to be as follows:
1: The Maya used what is now called
a 'Long Count' calendar, of which the current longest cycle is dated to end on
the 21 December 2012.
2: The Maya particularly picked an end date of this
cycle [rather than a start date] because they had calculated that on that date
the Sun would be in the 'exact center of the Milky Way, the Galactic Equator'
. In Mayan thought this 'dark cleft of the Milky Way'  had particular
3: In order to set this end date the Maya must have
been able to calculate very exactly the Precession of the Equinoxes, because it is
this phenomenon which appears to move the Winter Solstice Sun around the
Ecliptic to be in the
significant place in 2012.
I am not qualified to comment on
arguments (1) and (2). However, as to argument (3) Mr Jenkins notes that 'The
Maya are not generally credited with knowing about the
Precession of the Equinoxes' . And
indeed we have absolutely no evidence that the Maya knew anything about
However, we can at least look at
the described 2012 alignment in two ways: (a) Is there in fact a Galactic
Equator alignment of the Sun at Winter Solstice in 2012, and (b) if there is,
is this something we should find significant?
Is there an Alignment
between the Galactic Equator and the Sun at Winter Solstice 2012?:
In fact there is an
alignment between the Sun and the Galactic Equator at the time of Winter
Solstice, but it has already happened. It happened back in 1997 [21st
December 1997 AD 14h 43m GMT]. So, if the Maya did go through the sequence of
the argument given above, their astrological predictions were out by some 15
years. [Which actually would be pretty good, seeing as they didn't have
computers or astrological software to help them.]
So the good news is if you
were in any way worried about what might astrologically happen in 2012, don't
worry: it already happened back in 1997.
[Note: the Sun never
aligns with the Galactic Center itself, because the Sun's path through the
heavens, as seen from Earth [the
Ecliptic] lies more than
5° above the Galactic Center. This is something that Mr Jenkins himself has
pointed out, but the fact has become garbled in subsequent coverage of his
Winter Solstice Animation 1992 - 2020.
How to understand the Star Map: The line which goes top left to bottom right is
the Galactic Equator. The Sun starts slightly to the left of the Equator at the
time of Winter Solstice in 1992 and at Winter Solstice 1997 reaches alignment.
By 2012 it's 15 years past alignment, and the disc of the Sun moves completely
off the Galactic Equator by 2020. [The horizontal line is the Ecliptic and the
other features are nebula which lie in this area of the Milky Way].
[Warning this animation is some 400 kB in size.]
Consider an Alignment between the Galactic Equator and the Sun to be
It seems very
The Sun's movement through
space, as seen from our view point here on Earth, passes across the Galactic
Equator once a year. So from our viewpoint this alignment happens every
year. [See the 2005 example on the right.]
The only thing that's
different about the 1997 coincidence of the Sun - as seen from Earth - and the
Galactic Equator is that it happens at a particular time, the time of
the Winter Solstice. Why should this be significant?
Well.. there is no very
good reason. The Maya may [or may not - again I am not qualified to comment on
this] have found the Winter Solstice significant, as it marks the Sun's lowest
top point in the daytime sky each year as seen from Earth. [Think of how the
Sun never seems to get high in the sky in Winter.] But now we know that the
Sun's movement in this way is just an optical illusion. It's caused by the tilt
of the Earth's axis, with respect to the
Why would an optical
illusion of the Sun's movement have any significance? Answer: no reason
Sun Alignment with the Galactic Equator in
2005. The Sun can be seen from the viewpoint of Earth to align with the
Galactic Equator once every year. The particular example above is for 21 Dec
2005, 21 h 19 m UT. [Winter Solstice times in this and the above figure taken
from Planetary and Lunar Coordinates 2000-2020, HM Nautical Almanac
Office, and from US Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department
Other Maya 'Ages':
A number of other authors have published books which contain
other end dates, and/or calendars, for the current or recent Maya cycles.
However, none of them seem to claim a specific astrological connection, so I'll
mention them only very briefly here:
Carl Johan Calleman:
in Mayan Calendar: Solving the Greatest Mystery of Our
Time [published 2001], gives a date for the end of the current longest
cycle of the Maya calendar as 28 October 2011, based on 'the correct tzolkin
count and a corrected ending date.'  Dr Calleman and Mr Jenkins have had a
long and public disagreement on their subject of their two differing ideas .
Dr Calleman has published a more recent book, The Mayan Calendar and the
Transformation of Consciousness [published 2004], with a forward by Mr
Argüelles: in The Mayan Factor: Path Beyond
Technology [published 1987], produced a version of the Maya calendar,
called the Dreamspell. Dr Calleman reports that Mr Jenkins 'exposed the
calendar proposed by Jose Argüelles, the Dreamspell, as a calendar
that had never been used by the Maya,' in the 'so-called true count debate that
was posted on the Internet in 1995.' 
in Lord of the Dawn: Quetzalcoatl - the Plumed Serpent of
Mexico [published 1971] and Beneath the Moon and Under the Sun: A Poetic
Reappraisal of the Sacred Calendar and the Prophecies of Ancient Mexico
[published 1975] calculated the date of something now called the 'Harmonic
Convergence'. This is stated to have occurred in August 16th - 17th, 1987 -
though its exact date is now the subject of much debate . The date(s) of the
'Harmonic Convergence' is (are) based on calculating nine of a
particular Maya calendar cycle since the arrival of the infamous Spanish
conquistador Hernando Cortez on the Yucatan peninsula in AD 1519.
Convergence has since been further popularised by Mr Argüelles, who is
quoted as saying that it was 'the point at which the counter-spin of history
finally comes to a momentary halt, and the still imperceptible spin of
post-history commences'.  However, as not a lot notably changed in 1987, the
'Harmonic Convergence' now seems to be have been relegated in importance
to the start of the build up to the 2012 date discussed above.
Stone bust of Quetzalcoatl. Aztec, AD
Click on the
above to see a larger version.
I can't refrain from commenting on
this one... The idea behind Mr Shearer's work seems to be that the Maya god
Quetzalcoatl is supposed to have prophesied his own return. After which
there would be nine calendar cycles - which are supposed to have now ended. The
later Aztecs mistook Cortez for the returning Quetzalcoatl, which Mr
Shearer took as providing the start date for these nine cycles.
Er... yes, but surely the important
point is that the Aztecs mistook Cortez for Quetzalcoatl - a
mistake which Cortez was able to use to great advantage. Quetzalcoatl did
not in fact return, and has in fact not returned... Doesn't this
rather destroy the argument for a 'Harmonic Convergence'?
Originally published in the Dec-Jan '95 issue of Mountain Astrologer.
http://www.diagnosis2012.co.uk. See the discussion between Dr Calleman and Mr
P.S. Does the Age of Aquarius
Begin in 2012:
Because of the current
concentration on 2012 AD, there's been some confusion between this and the
Age of Aquarius start year. The
Age of Aquarius begins in about 2600 AD. From
the archeological evidence we can safely say that the Maya never used
Greek constellations in their view of the heavens; so it's not possible that
they could have had an Age of Aquarius
Publishing and Precession
© Dr Shepherd Simpson, Astrological
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