No That’s Not What We Meant

Mayan-CalendarFriday, December 21st, 2012 has come and gone without any apocalyptic event, and perhaps to the chagrin of many hyper-dooms-dayers.  Much of the fears and predictions are fortunately based in the misunderstanding of the Mayan calendars and how they worked within the 250 – 900 BCE civilization.  Attempting to project contemporary ideas of time onto the ancient Mayan methods of time would be like attaching square wheels to your car — it is a show of ignorance.

The Mayans had three circular calendars, each with a different purpose.  The first calendar was their Tzolk’in calendar, or Sacred calendar.  It consisted of 260 days and was used for scheduling religious ceremonies.  When the calendar was exhausted it would simply start over again.

The second circular calendar was their Haab’, or Secular calendar.  This consisted of 365 days but did not account for the extra quarter-day it takes Earth to cycle around our Sun.  Our miscalculated modern Western calendar corrects this by adding a leap year about every four years then removing the extra February day the following three years.

The third circular calendar and the one receiving most of the hoopla is the Long Count calendar.  This calendar consisted of about 5,125.36 years and completes its major cycle every December 21st.  Once exhausted, another 5,125 years will begin again.  What astronomers have since learned in the last several decades is that our Sun indeed aligns with the center of the Milky Way, however, pinpointing the exact date cannot be determined in any particular year.  What forms the “Milky Way center” is still a debate among scientists.  They also gladly report that there is no alignment-phenomena of planets or the Sun that will pull Earth’s crust apart or shift its magnetic poles on a specific date.

Our solar system, our planet, and much of the cosmos are cyclical; things ebb and flow, collapse and morph into new creations over and over.  What most scientists, astronomers, geologists, and the like do agree on is that there are any number of catastrophic possibilities that could change our lives on Earth as we know it.  This is a common fact.  It could happen on any given day, but to prophesy an exact date and time is as likely as you picking winning Lotto numbers.

For a good logical scientific explanation of the Mayan calendars, read the article at Live Science.

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