The Mayan Calendar and 2012
Leonide Martin Sept. 2007
Key concepts in the importance of the Mayan calendar
1. Earth cycles, including evolution of creatures and changes in consciousness, are tied to celestial cycles of stars
2. Cycle endings are associated with earth changes and upheavals, longer cycles such as eras (shift of ages) have
3. There are repeating patterns in similar cycles, which can be predicted by knowledge of what occurred in previous
cycles. This helps us prepare for changes.
4. Shorter cycles are embedded within increasingly longer cycles. The oldest dates depicted in ancient Maya glyphs
are millions to trillions of years ago.
5. Knowledge of the true calendar allows humans to harmonize with natural and celestial patterns, to “name the
names and keep the days of the gods.”
6. The Gregorian 12:60 calendar is disharmonious and keeps humans out of synch with nature and the greater
7. The Mayan 13:20 calendar keeps the proper rhythms and harmonics of the universe.
8. A great cycle is drawing to its end around Gregorian date 12/21/2012. This includes several long cycles, one of
over 5000 years (Great Cycle) and another about 26,000 years (precession of equinoxes).
9. The Maya developed several calendars; the 3 best known are:
a. Tzolkin – 260-day sacred moon calendar
b. Haab – 360+5 day solar agricultural calendar
c. Long Count – count of days since an established beginning date, continuous and unbroken, permits
unique identification of each day using a vigesimal count (base 20) with 5 positions, except in the 2rd position which
has an 18-count (0-17 per classic Maya)
· At present, there is no completely reliable correlation between the Mayan Long Count calendar and the
Gregorian calendar. Archeologists generally use the GMT Correlation (Goodman-Martinez-Thompson) but Maya
elders do not believe it is accurate.
The Long Count Calendar
Although considered a vigesimal (20 base) system, the Maya used modifications in the 2nd Long Count position for
calendric and numerological reasons. In Classic times the counts went from 0 to 19 in all but the 2nd position, in
which they went from 0 to 17. Postclassic adaptations changed the counts to begin with 1, making them 1-20 instead
of 0-19. The term “kin” means day in Mayan.
Position Cycle Name Counts Number of Days Solar Years
5th Baktun 0-19 144000 kin = 20 Katun = 1 Baktun 394.25
4th Katun 0-19 7200 kin = 20 Tun = 1 Katun 19.71
3rd Tun 0-19 360 kin = 18 Uinal = 1 Tun 0.985
2nd Uinal 0-17 20 kin = 20 Kin = 1 Uinal
1st Kin 0-19 1 kin = 1 Kin
After 19 Kin occur, the Uinal count goes up by 1 on the next day; after 17 Uinal the Tun count goes up by 1 on the
next day, after 19 Tun the Katun count goes up by 1 the next day, and after 19 Katun the Baktun count goes up by 1
the next day.
Thus, we see this progression in the Long Count:
18.104.22.168.19 + 1 kin (day) = 22.214.171.124.0
Increasingly larger units of time beyond the Baktun are below. These were usually noted by placing 13 in the counts
larger than Baktun: 126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.0
Using increments of 13, these values signify important points in earth evolution:
13 Baktun = 5,125 years (written language, civilization appeared circa 3100 BC)
13 Piktun = 102,000 years (spoken language appeared 100,000 years ago)
13 Kalabtun = 2,000,000 years (modern humans appeared 2 million years ago)
13 Kinchiltun = 42,000,000 years (primates appeared 41 million years ago)
13 Alautun = 820,000,000 years (mammals appeared 850 million years ago)
13 hablatun = 16,400,000,000 years (universe created 15-16 billion years ago)
When a 13 Baktun is reached, this signifies the end of a Great Cycle of 1,872,000 kins (days) or 5125.2567 solar
years. But this does not signify the end of the Maya calendar.
The Maya make reference an extremely distant creation, possibly mythological or perhaps revealing profound
knowledge of the origins of the cosmos. The most distant date known is carved on Stela 1 at Coba (Quintana Roo,
Mexico). It records dates going back 20 logarithmically increasing cycles, starting with the Baktun. We do not know
what this amazingly huge number going back trillions of years signified.
On Step 4 of the Hieroglyphic Stairway, Temple 33 at Yaxchilan (Chiapas, Mexico), another very distant Long Count
number is carved, going back 8 cycles above the Baktun, many billions of years. Stela 10 at Tikal (Guatemala)
recorded another large number, over 5 million years.
Since the Maya had calculated immense cycles with progressively smaller cycles embedded, their references to
“creation” may be much more distant than during the third millennia BC. Contemporary thinkers relate greater Maya
cycles to the precession of the equinoxes (25,920 years) or the solar system’s rotation around a twin star, thought to
be Sirius/Arcturus (24,000 years). (John Major Jenkins, Maya Cosmogenesis 2012: The True Meaning of the Maya
Calendar End Date. Bear & Co., Santa Fe, NM 1988) These are variously called an Age, Era or Sun. Earth is moving
into the constellation Aquarius as the precession cycle completes.
Five Maya Great Cycles closely approximate the precession of the equinoxes:
5125.2567 years x 5 = 25,626.28 years
If the closing of the current Great Cycle and the completion of one full precession of the equinoxes happen together
around 2012 AD, then this could be a very significant date for a major transition in our planet and solar system.
However, given the above information about the Mayan understanding of immense cycles, it certainly does not imply
an ending of time. According to Maya legends, the close of one cycle of “creation” and the beginning of another was
invariably accompanied by huge upheavals on earth. The previous “creations” were destroyed by the gods because
of their imperfections, by storms, water and fire. The present “creation” is prophesied in the Books of Chilam Balam
to end by fire and earthquakes.
Relating the Tzolkin and Haab to the Long Count
The Maya sacred calendar, called Tzolkin, was developed before the Long Count. The first evidence of using 260-
day intervals appears as early as 1500 BC in Olmec centers. Primarily numeric, this calendar creates a continuous
permutation of 13 numbers with a sequence of 20 (commonly given day names). Both numbers and day names
advance together; when 13 is reached, the count begins again at 1 but the day names keep progressing until the
20th day, then the sequence starts over. This results in a 13 x 20 permutation, in which the original number-day
combination recurs after 260 days have passed. This sacred calendar spread throughout central Mexico, Guatemala
and Honduras. In the Guatemalan highlands, calendar priests can still give the correct day in the 260-day count,
which has continued unbroken for over 25 centuries. (Michael Coe, Breaking the Maya Code. Thames & Hudson,
New York, NY 1999)
The Haab calendar relates to the solar year. It consists of 18 “months” of 20 days each, called uinals, which results in
a 360-day count called the Tun, or chronological year. The numerical coefficients of the days progress from 0 to 19
(in later usage this progressed from 1 to 20). The “0” day was considered the seating of the uinal. In addition, there
were 5 “days without name” at the end of the year. These were called the “month” of Uayeb, and regarded as ill-
omened by both Maya and central Mexican cultures.
The meshing of the Tzolkin 260 days and the Haab 360(+5) days create the Calendar Round of 52 years. For the
two calendars to meet again in the same day-month combination takes 52 years. In later Mesoamerican culture,
every 52 years was a time of renewal in which they performed the “New Fire” ceremonies.
The Maya knew that the 365-day year was not exact, and that the actual tropical year was 365.2422 days (6
additional hours per year). They used whole day increments, and chose not to intercalate, or add a day to the year
every 4 years, as done in the Gregorian calendar. Instead, they let the calendar year drift through the tropical year.
This has been considered a “weakness” of the Maya calendric system, because it does not fix the dates for
equinoxes and solstices, as does the Gregorian calendar. However, the Maya used other ways for keeping track of
solar markers. When the day-name positions of solstices and equinoxes are known in the first tun (“year”) of the
count, the new positions can be calculated by counting forward by 5 in the Calendar Round position at the completion
of each cycle. Another method was fixing the solar markers to the Venus cycle.
Precession of the Equinoxes
We are amazed that the Maya knew about the precession of the equinoxes, and perplexed about how they acquired
that knowledge. Maya elders say they were given this information by priests from Atlantis, or from inter-dimensional
contacts from the Pleiades, whom the Maya consider their distant ancestors.
Ancient Maya astronomers used “horizon-based” astronomy, watching the changes in helical rising and setting of
bright stars on the horizon. Because of earth’s axis wobble, the celestial poles and celestial equator migrate among
the “fixed” stars and the vernal equinox traverses a large circle along the ecliptic. From the Maya astronomer’s
viewpoint, it appeared that the fixed stars of the ecliptic were moving in a slow circle centered on the pole star. These
fixed stars seemed to move one degree per 72 solar years (365 days), and the entire circuit took 25,920 years to
complete (precession of the equinoxes). Fixed stars rise from the horizon one day earlier every 72 years average.
The Maya calendrical system using 360 in the 3rd position of the Long Count is uniquely suited to track whole day
shifts in the rising and setting of fixed stars, because the least common multiple of the Haab and the Tun equals
exactly 72 Haabs and 73 Tuns. When 72 Haabs and 73 Tuns had passed, they knew the helical rising of Venus and
Mars would occur one day earlier.
Theories of John Major Jenkins and Carl Calleman
These two scientists/scholars have recently published books about the end-date of the Maya calendar that have
captured the public attention. Both believe 2011-2012 is a time of significant consciousness shift for humanity, and
possibly huge planetary changes that could bring disaster to some areas of earth. Their theories are complex, so
what follows is a great simplification; read their books for fuller understanding.
Jenkins: The Maya were seeking deep understanding of the place of creation in the universe, their origins and how
time was structured. After gaining understanding of precession and observing the changing pole star, they focused
on the Milky Way galaxy. They discovered the galactic center, the only stationary place in the sky from earth’s
perspective. Traveling psychically to the black hole in the galactic center, they found the source of creation. They
tracked cycles of creation by the position of the Dark Rift in the Milky Way (an area with fewer stars that appears
darker) in relation to the sun’s ecliptic. Two thousand years ago, Maya astronomers at Izapa observed that the rising
winter solstice sun was moving closer to the Dark Rift, used as a marker for the galactic center. According to their
predictions, the solstice sun would conjunct the galactic center about 2000 years in the future. They based the
beginning date of the Long Count on this calculation, so the 5125-year cycle would end when the winter solstice sun
rose through the Dark Rift of the Milky Way. Relating this event to the Popul Vuh myth, Jenkins proposes that the
present cycle of human “creation” ends in 2012, and we proceed to the next “creation” in which humans have
expanded consciousness and resonance with earth and celestial cycles.
Calleman: Using the Mayan calendar as a template for studying biological evolution, Calleman noticed that the large
numbers recorded by the Classic Maya are in close concordance with the transition dates of cosmological and
evolutionary science. The 13 steps of the “second underworld” of the 9 Mayan underworlds contained dates that fit
the major transitions of biological evolution during 820 million years, the period with multicellular animals developed
on earth. The prior huge cycle was 16.4 billion years long, close to when scientists believe the universe came into
being. Taking dates from Stela 1 at Coba, Calleman figured out a pattern that fit into evolutionary development on
earth, marking major transitions such as when the first primates appeared, spoken language and tribalism, written
language with civilization and agriculture, the age of modern nations and industrialism, the global culture with
computers and the net, moving into telepathy and extra-sensory perceptions, and finally cosmic consciousness
without limitations. Each of these “underworlds” has time acceleration by a logarithmic factor of 20 (as the Mayas
used in the Long Count). In the final “galactic underworld” from 2011-2012, humankind will prepare for membership
in the Universe society, seeking guidance to establish global peace and restore earth’s ecosystems. This will
complete the evolutionary activation driven by the Maya World Tree, and people will be in communion with nature, the
cosmos and creator.
Braga, Herve Baeza, editor (2006). Mayan Prophecies. Dante Publishers, Merida, Yucatán, México
Calleman, Carl. (2004) The Mayan Calendar and the Transformation of Consciousness. Bear & Co., Rochester, VT.
Coe, Michael D. (1999) Breaking the Maya Code. Thames & Hudson, New York, NY.
Goodman, Joseph T. (1905) Maya dates. American Anthropologist 7:642-647.
Jenkins, John Major. (1998) Maya Cosmogenesis 2012: The True Meaning of the Maya Calendar End-Date. Bear &
Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Martin, Leonide. (2006) Dreaming the Maya Fifth Sun: A Novel of Maya Wisdom and the 2012 Shift in
Consciousness. Infinity Publishing, W. Conshohocken, PA.