Maya Time as Being Cyclical, Even the Long Count Calendar
David Stuart in The Order of Days does a remarkable job at explaining the cyclical nature of the Maya Long Count Calendar, and addressing many misconceptions concerning ancient Maya culture.
What gets repeated ad nauseam by guides that guide people through Maya sites (ruins) is that the Long Count Calendar began on August 11, 3114 BCE, not so. A couple tour guides I commissioned at Tulum and Becan went so far as to say that the ancient Maya believed that the Creation date was 3114 BCE. The Creation date, no. A Creation date, yes.
August 11, 3114 BCE was a “base date,” a starting point of the previous 13 bak’tun cycle. (Stuart 2011: 169). There are 144,000 days in a bak’tun. The full Maya Long Count Calendar actually encompasses nearly seventy-two octillion years from beginning to end. (Ibid: 241).
While the Maya Long Count Calendar, unlike the Round Calendar, (the two calendars, topics for another time) appears to be a purely linear system, it also has a cyclical nature. A Creation date August 11, 3114 BCE was 188.8.131.52.0. The first bak’tun after 184.108.40.206.0 was 220.127.116.11.0; rather than 18.104.22.168.0.
Hence, the bak’tun sequence was not allowed to progress beyond 13; it reverted back to 0ne—its basic cyclical nature. (Ibid: 241-43).
Maya’s Concept of Time and Prophecy
The calendars of the ancient Maya Peoples were intertwined with attempts to understand and divine nature, as well as human fate. (Ibid: 114). Another way to look at it was the ancient Maya soothsayer shamans were excellent statisticians.
Diligently assessing and documenting patterns and probabilities. They mastered marrying the intuitive brain with the mathematical rational diligent mind.
To put it simply, 13 bak’tun 22.214.171.124.0 (Long Count, the 5 represented periods are abbreviated or a shorthand for a “Grand Long Count Calendar”) 4 Ahaw 3 K’ank’in (Round Calendar) or December 21, 2012 was a “mathematically predetermined recurrence of the date of ancient Maya Creation,” 126.96.36.199.0 (Long Count Calendar) 4 Ahaw 8 Kumk’u (Round Calendar). (Stuart 2011: 169).
They looked to the past to assess what may happen again, as well as assessing the current “variables;” to then prophesize what was to come. While no ancient Maya writings have been found that assessed what was to come 13 bak’tun, December 21.2012, we do know that the ancient Maya understood this date to be the end of a cycle.
And we can inscribe-create meaning to the end of this cycle as the new Maya soothsayers.
Will you create your meaning to the end of this cycle, or say nothing and allow someone else to define your reality?
Aldana, Gerardo. The Apotheosis of Janaab’ Pakal: Science, History, and Religion At Classic Maya Palenque. Colorado: University Press of Colorado, 2007.
Stuart, David. The Order of Days: Unlocking The Secrets of The Ancient Maya. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2011.