Several Assumptions, Critiques, and Questions To Be Addressed

John Major Jenkins. April 2011

I. The assumption that the Maya could not be aware of the Galactic Center.


Here, modern astronomers take a precise abstract definition of the Galactic Center as a point in the sky and say that the Maya did not have the radio telemetry to identify this spot. Such a critique completely neglects the fact that the Galactic Center, to a naked-eye skywatching culture, is visually perceived as a rather large “nuclear bulge” — it is the wider part of the Milky Way between Sagittarius and Scorpio which also contains more bright stars than other sections of the Milky Way.  This is common sense, and the problem with this critique, like many critiques of reconstructing Maya astronomy, is that it forcibly applies modern astronomical terms and definitions and assumes or requires that the Maya should also have been thinking in those terms.   But what evidence is there that the Maya thought about that nuclear bulge in a way that is consistent with what the Galactic Center is?


In 1999 I sent to the academic e-list called Aztlan an “Open Letter to Mayanists and Astronomers.” (It is here: In it, I noted that the crossing point of the Milky Way and the ecliptic was a known feature in the Maya Creation Mythology and elsewhere — and it falls within the nuclear bulge of the Galactic Center. My 1998 book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 had already documented scholarly treatment of examples in Maya concepts in which this Crossroads is found, where it represents the idea of “cosmic center.” Well, that is indeed what the Galactic Center is. In addition, in my open letter I also noted that the dark rift in the Milky Way — a visually perceivable feature that the Maya call the Xibalba be — begins within the nuclear bulge and extends northward along the Milky way for some distance past the constellation of Aquila. This feature is part of a symbolic complex that includes ideas of birthing, a portal between realms. Where the ecliptic crosses over the southern terminus of the dark rift thus allows planets, the moon, or the sun, access to the “road.” Examples of solar, lunar, and planetary alignment are now being documented in the dated Maya inscriptions, reinforcing the Maya idea that the dark rift is associated with birth. Thus, the nuclear bulge of the Galactic Center was also conceived of as a birthplace. So the Galactic Center: visually perceivable as the nuclear bulge, conceived of as a birthplace and a cosmic center, concepts true to what the Galactic Center is. My open letter piece was also summarized in my 2002 book Galactic Alignment and in my 2009 book The 2012 Story.   


II: The idea that the GMT correlation is not agreed upon universally.


Yes, it’s true; scholars will always disagree. However, those in disagreement are demonstrably avoiding the evidence. Those who discount the entire “GMT family” reject the evidence and arguments for continuity of the 260-day count in Highland Guatemala. This surviving traditional count provides a litmus test for any proposed correlation, because must correspond to 4 Ahau in the 260-day tzolkin calendar. The debate between the two GMT dates, one making fall on December 21, 2012 and the other making it fall on December 23rd, basically comes from the work of Floyd Lounsbury. His work ignores the continuity test and can also be shown to be flawed, as I did in my review, posted online since 1995:


Popular writers have proposed alternate end dates, based on completely fallacious arguments. In the case of Carl Calleman’s 2011 end date, I debated Calleman in a lengthy exchange in late 2001, which is posted on Geoff Stray’s website. So, I’ve dealt with this question in all my books and in many online web pages. The misunderstandings arise from inadequate understanding of the Maya calendars, how they interface, and the importance of the surviving 260-day calendar as a litmus test for any proposed correlation.  The newest evidence for the equation = December 21, 2012 comes from looking at astronomy in the dated inscriptions. For example, in an article published in 2000 in the IMS newsletter, I showed that the date on Copan Stela C positions the sun right at the dark rift & Crossroads of the Milky Way and the ecliptic — and the iconography on the monument shows the solar lord standing in the caiman jaws (sun in dark rift). This article was also published in my 2002 book Galactic Alignment, and was summarized in The 2012 Story (2009).

III. Assumption / critique that my “methodology is free-floating.”  See


This a common trope thrown up by those who don’t take the time to actually engage with the evidence and arguments I present. It’s a lazy, dismissal off the cuff. It suggests that one just willy-nilly cherry picks what works to support ones argument from a vast array of data. If one actually looks at my arguments, one can see that I examine the artifacts and sites that should be revealing of Long Count origins or concepts connected to 2012. Thus, I examined Izapa, I examined the Creation Myth, I examined the mathematical properties of the Long Count, I examined Tortuguero Monument 6. In addition, I documented and integrate multiple sets of evidence from different disciplines to show parallel lines of evidence converging on support for my findings. This is the work of scholarship. Again, this kind of critique is a red herring, designed to distract while the critic continues to lazily avoid engaging with the evidence presented.  A good example of the cherry picking argument is found in the MEC-Facebook debate; one can read my summary in the Dec 19 post to my blog


IV. The assumption that astronomical features, such as the dark-rift, should have only one conceptual reference


This idea is simply not the way that the Maya interface with and record reality. They are always seeking multiply meanings in how they represent their experiences. The dark rift could be a mouth, a road, a cave, a birthplace, a hole, the goalring, etc. This kind of multidimensional cosmologizing is indeed a problem for many modern thinkers who are steeped in a literalized worldview in which one thing must be defined with only one designation. In conversation with some of these critics, I’ve confirmed that they don’t know what a metaphor is.  Shocking but true; the cognitive processing is just not there.   


V. Schele’s discussion of a 20th baktun reference at Palenque.


That Pakal referenced a 20th baktun in the far future in no way mitigates the importance of the 13th baktun ending, or even a 13 baktun cycle concept. First of all, there is already attested evidence for the Maya conceiving of the calendar resetting at 13 baktuns. Every single Long Count date must count back to = in 3114 BC. And the Creation texts call that date the end of a cycle of 13. The 20th baktun date was used by Pakal purely for rhetorical purposes; it means that Maya kings liked to relate themselves to big period ending sin the calendar. Bahlam Ajaw also did this with the 13th baktun on Tortuguero Monument 6. Schele posted her comments on Aztlan in 1996; my response to her was posted on my website and was also published as one of the appendices in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 (1998).   I also discussed this in my 2009 book The 2012 Story.


VI. Schele’s Orion glyph vs. my upturned frog mouth glyph (on Stela 11 Izapa).


I discussed this in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 and elsewhere. It’s basically that the frog mouth glyph means “to be born” and can be seen, in early iconographic form, on Stela 11 and elsewhere. Equally as compelling as the hearthstone argument for a Creation Place in the sky. It’s not that one is correct and the other is not; my work at Izapa showed that the early Maya at Izapa were integrated three cosmic center locations, three Creation Places — the zenith center, the polar center, and the galactic center.


VII. Why does modern science ignore this; and why did the Galactic Center not get recognized in the history of Western science and religion?


This was taken up in my book Galactic Alignment. Reconstructing ancient traditions and drawing from the unpublished work of Ananda Coomaraswamy that I secured from the Princeton University archives, I showed the galactic center was alluded to in many ancient traditions, including Vedic astronomy, Islamic and medieval astrology, and Mithraism.


VIII. The “solstice gateways” in Neoplatonic philosophy as a key. 


The gateways of Neoplatonism in the work of Rene Guenon and Jean Richer were briefly discussed in chapters in my 2002 book Galactic Alignment. A late appendix that didn’t make it into the published version of that book was posted on my website in late 2002: I also expanded this research into an examination of the Neoplatonic sources of William Blake’s symbolism in a presentation I gave in Whistler, Canada, at the first annual Conference of Precession and Ancient Knowledge (October 2004). The Neoplatonic gateways, being located at the Crossroads, was also presented in an article I wrote for New Dawn magazine in 2006 or 2007.




As can be seen, these questions have been explored thoroughly in many different books and articles. Thank you for the invitation to return to and update this page. It’s in the nature of being a creative person nurturing many different projects and obligations that some things don’t get complete. On rare occasions I’ve treated my website as a workshop in which informational web pages get tossed up and then fine-tuned over months or years. More usually, completed pages are just posted. JMJ – April 2, 2011.