Misconceptions about 2012, the Maya, and the Galactic Alignment
John Major Jenkins. December 2002

This essay has been translated here: http://webhostinggeeks.com/science/misconceptions-word-ht. Thank you, friends!

General Clarification:

Two general misunderstandings of my work have required persistent clarification over the years: First, although Terence McKenna wrote the foreword to Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, my work is not based upon or derived from his I-Ching-derived Timewave Zero theory that culminates in 2012. This conclusion would be obvious to anyone, for example a reviewer, who read my book, yet was overlooked by Magical Blend magazine when they reviewed it. Both Terence and I were so astonished at this faux pas that we both wrote letters to the editor to clarify the situation. Second, my work is also in a different category than the visionary musings of José Arguelles, and is not inspired by them. An undefined reference to a “galactic synchronization” in Arguelles’ writings does not really say much about the solstice-galaxy alignment, let alone the ways in which such an alignment was encoded into Mayan tradition. My work to reconstruct and elucidate the presence of the end-date alignment in several core traditions of the Maya, to survey the monumental message at Izapa, as well as flesh out the astronomical and esoteric dimensions of several other fragmentarily understood Mesoamerican traditions, is a quite separate enterprise. And, this enterprise was not based upon, derived from, or inspired by the work of Arguelles.


Persistent Misconceptions About the Maya Calendar and 2012:             

I’ve reduced many to six primary ones:


1. 2012 is a New Age creation.

Wrong. I was surprised when more than one person asked me this. I believe this derives from the claims, or happily received projections, of certain New Age calendar makers, and the media attention around Harmonic Convergence in 1987. Though 2012 is an authentic Mayan artifact, the association in the public mind between it and Harmonic Convergence celebrities is hard to unravel, to the detriment of serious research.


2. The Maya tzolkin calendar is hopelessly confused and no reliable day-count can be found.

Misinformation; a bit of obfuscation projected primarily by Dreamspell followers. I’ve addressed this since 1992 in various formats, including my book Tzolkin, on Yari Jeada’s website, and  most recently in a piece called Following Dreamspell. The fact remains that the surviving day-count among the Quiché and other Mayan groups is equivalent to the Classic Period day-count; it represents the unbroken survival of a day-count correlation that is at least 2,600 years old (see Edmonson’s Book of the Year, 1988).


3. The Maya disappeared (and/or re-ascended into the stars).

Not really. After being asked this question by too many interviewers, I am resigned that no amount of clarification will dispel this misunderstanding, propagated insistently in sensationalist documentaries. There are six million Maya living today in Chiapas, Yucatan, and Guatemala—possible more than lived at any given moment in the Classic Period! The question really relates to the disintegration of centralized Mayan authority in the Peten, which was caused by greed and famine.

There is an interesting, and probably more accurate, way to understand this cherished notion. The Mayan people were shamans, their culture was shamanistic, and they may have opened a clear conduit into a transcendental wisdom that certainly appears otherworldly to the mundane preoccupations of the modern consciousness. In a sense, Mayan civilization was animated by regular contact with a multidimensional vision. If the shamanistic techniques or the permission to engage in those techniques was lost, then what the Maya were really about did, in a sense, retract into the transcendent realm that resides at the heart of all manifestation. This interpretation provides a higher-dimensional metaphysical framework for understanding the more literal adumbration that persists in popular consciousness, resulting in a fragmented shadow-understanding. Modern consciousness is so program with literalness, and the need for tangible frameworks, that the more subtle yet essential root causes are submerged. For example, to think of "myths" as falsehoods, or to think of the "underworld" as being under the ocean, is poetically compelling to the modern mind, but insists that the more subtle dimensions of human experience can be mapped onto the physical domain. This results in a delusion that is equivalent to the impossibility of talking about the ineffable. The absurdity of this situation should be readily apparent, and that such frameworks of interpretation pass for conventional wisdom is a pathetic testimony to a degraded modern consciousness that is fixated upon a literalist materialism.


4. The Long Count was invented in 3114 B.C.

Wrong. Zecharia Sitchin promulgated this extremely odd conclusion in his Art Bell interview of late 2000, seriously calling into question his analytical abilities which are so lauded. The same error was stated on the book jacket of The Mayan Prophecies. It doesn’t take very much reading of the literature on 2012 to dispel this fallacy. The Long Count originated around the second or first century B.C.—the 3114 B.C. “beginning” date was a back calculation.


5. The Galactic Alignment is related to our solar system’s 280,000,000-year orbit around the Galactic Center.

Wrong! Recently, a well-known radio personality summed up my book with this perspective, and I gasped for breath. It is true that our solar system orbits the galactic hub, and this orbital period is hundreds of millions of years in length. However, the 26,000-year precessional cycle shifts the apparent position of the sun, on the December solstice, backward through the signs of the zodiac. This leads to the observation (as viewed from the earth) that the December solstice sun is moving “around” the Galactic Center, coming into alignment with it once every 26,000 years. This is the galactic alignment. Precessional shifting is not equivalent to orbital period. Related to this misconception is the description by Arguelles (in The Mayan Factor) that we will soon be passing through (or leaving, depending on where you read it) a “galactic beam” or “photon belt”, and this impending situation is related closely to a “galactic synchronization” to occur in 2012. Brian Swimme’s oh-so scientific interpretation of these concepts, as we find them in the preface to Arguelles’s book, takes the perspective of the 280,000,000-year cycle and discusses different “density waves” that astrophysicists have proposed exist in different sectors of the galaxy. Note, however, that even though the context of Swimme’s discussion is Arguelles’s terminology and concepts as found in The Mayan Factor, the precession-defined Galactic Alignment (of solstice meridan and Galactic equator) is not even mentioned! This, I believe, is the root of a great deal that is misunderstood about 2012 and discussions of the Galactic Alignment, because an accurate understanding of what the Galactic Alignment is has been submerged under completely unrelated concepts, ones that have nothing to do with the Mayan understanding of a Galactic Alignment in 2012.


6. The Gregorian calendar is 3 or 5 years in error, and this throws the Mayan end-date into error.

(My exploration and clarification of this idea is in the context of a response to an e-mail, which follows)

Now for the question of the Gregorian calendar and 2012 being a mistaken calculation that needs to be adjusted several years. Your question has come up often, and I welcome the opportunity to try and clarify how I understand the apparent dilemma. The bottom line, as I hope to convey briefly here, is that no adjustment is needed. Or, if we do make an adjustment, we are merely creating a secondary system that has its own internal consistency. We don't actually gain or lose 5 years, and so there's really no imperative need.

As you note, historical reconstructions have shown that Jesus was actually born in either 4 b.c. or 6 b.c. Thus, since the Gregorian calendar is based on starting with the year of Jesus's birth, then we need an adjustment. This could certainly be argued, and then the year formerly known as 2012 would be called either 2015 or 2017 (making a 3 or 5 year adjustment, because there's no "zero" year). But notice that no actual shifting of real time occurs; it is simply the arbitrary overlay of a new system being used. 2017 would then be equal to 2012 in the "pre-adjusted" system. A "corrected" year of 2017 would correspond to 2012 in the "old system". You would have to count five more years to get to the equivalent 2012 year. (There would be five more years that would be counted.)

It is really important to understand where the December 21, 2012 date comes from—as you note it comes from the interdisciplinary work of three scholars. They worked with dates recorded on long count monuments C-14 dated between 300 a.d. and 900 a.d. The correlation of the Mayan calendar and Gregorian calendars is based upon this range, and gives us December 21, 2012 as equivalent to In other words, the data comes from a context after 4 b.c. so there is no need to correct for a 3 or 5 year gap of "uncounted" time. More to the point, if for example the Long Count date was determined to be equal to May 7, 755 a.d. in the Gregorian calendar, a predictable number of days would have to elapse before was reached. That number of days brings us to December 21, 2012. If we had implemented an adjusted system to correlate our own year counting with the actual birth year of Jesus, the same number of days would have to elapse but the date would be called, not December 21, 2012, but December 21, 2017. This seems to be a very roundabout and belabored way of clarifying something that is basically not really an issue. If a researcher proposes that the end-date is "really" in 2017, or some other year, and the argument is based upon an adjusted system to account for the true birth year of Jesus, then that adjusted year must be designated as the "adjusted year count" and if we looked at how it correlates with the old "pre-adjusted" Gregorian calendar, it would correlate with the year 2012. It's not that time is skipped or missing—the entire frame of counting is simply shifted 5 years.

[Note: not all variant end-dates are compelled by the adjusted Jesus dating; for example, Calleman's 2011 end-date is based on a faulty premise that came to light in our extensive debate last year: http://Alignment2012.com/debate2001.html]

With this clarification, I don't believe that "the Mayan chronology is entirely self-referent and the Christian dating system is also self-referent, as well as in error, so it is somewhat arbitrary when anyone tries to equate the two to one another." It's not that the Christian dating method is "in error" in the sense that it tracks the passage of time inaccurately, with mounting error as the years pass, it's only that its foundation date could feasibly be adjusted to generate a new dating framework that would run alongside the previous system with complete point-by-point consistency. The only issue is being clear on what system is used, and then the correlation of these two Gregorian systems with the Mayan calendar would be preserved with equal consistency. Case in point as to how such an adjustment is feasible while preserving an accurate correlation, is the Julian-to-Gregorian shift of 1582, in which 10 days were actually skipped! There is thus the pre-1582 Julian system and the more accurate post-1582 Gregorian calendar. We might thus say that all pre-1582 dates are "in error" but the calendric convention used has its own internal consistency, so for the purposes of chronology, it works perfectly well. It would be meaningless to back calculate the Gregorian system into pre-1582 historical contexts; although some historians might do this it can result in confusion if the system used is not stated clearly. The correlation of different calendars, such as Mayan with Gregorian, Chinese with Judaic, Islamic with Cherokee, can be a complicated endeavor, but correlative formulas do exist and do not by any means have arbitrary results.

I've looked at the correlation question very closely since 1991. I just re-released by 1994 book Tzolkin on CD-Rom, with about 400 pages of aditional material added (http://Alignment2012.com). The issue you bring up doesn't really effect the correlation of the Mayan and Greorian calendar; it only effects that way that we chose to name the years in our own Gregorian. We don't gain or lose five years. So for these reasons, no, I don't believe that "the 'match' between the Mayan equivalency established in 1927 needs to be questioned and/or revised."

I don't believe there is a discrepency between 2012 and your intuition that something big might happen in 2007. As I discuss in a chapter from my recent book, Galactic Alignment (Inner Traditions, 2002), the range for the alignment zone can be reasonably thought of as 1980 to 2016 a.d. As I wrote above, there are no doubt various trigger points within this time-frame, some perhaps caused by astrological or sociological or even ecological factors. So, a range of time defined by the solstice-galaxy alignment, with trigger dates inside. However, there is a very good reason for supposing that December 21, 2012 could be a specific date of something very big, but it would be in the realm of indigenous revolution and sociological factors. I hope it's not going to be something like Heaven's Gate, where deluded fools decide to drink the spiked cool-aid at dawn to make the big journey together. That would pull the blanket of paranoid obscurantism further over the 2012 discussion. So many books are promoting the end or the superwave or the asteroid arriving! Perhaps that is appealing, and seems so real, because people map their own inevitable deaths onto a handy calendrical end-date.


I have collected together from various exchanges and correspondence, mostly from scholars, several general criticisms about my work. These include critiques of my methodology, my working hypotheses, and my conclusions. They represent the most typical and common of responses, and indicate where clarification is needed in order that my work can be treated seriously. Such clarifications can be found in my publications, but are often overlooked or not integrated. It will perhaps serve clarity to collect them and respond to them all in one place: Critique Clearinghouse.

John Major Jenkins. © 2002. http://Alignment2012.com