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It is six months until the winter solstice on December 21, 2012. It occurs every year, but this one is connected to the Mayan calendar.

The Mayans lived in what are today Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador and Southern Mexico (Yucatan, Campeche, Quintana Roo Tabasco and Chiapas).

I have been reading about and listening to programs about all the strange connections that theorists have found in the Mayan calendar’s 5000 year cycle ending on this year’s winter solstice. Coincidence or knowing prediction?

There are theories out there about asteroids, solar eruptions, aliens who helped the Mayan people, and also the dawning of a new and better age.

­The Mayans were the first of the Mesoamericans to keep any sort of historical record, and the beginnings of their calendar. they used stelae, or stone monuments, to carve their civil events, calendars and astronomy knowledge. They also inscribed their religious beliefs and mythology on pottery.

They weren’t the first civilization to use a calendar, but they created four separate calendars that lasted for discrete time periods. Depending on their needs, the Mayans used different calendars or some combination of two calendars to record each event. Their “Long Count” calendar is the one that expires in 2012. One interpretation is that this means an apocalyptic event will occur.

Certain numbers held great significance in Mayan culture. For example, the number 20 ( a uinal was a period of 20 days) was significant because it signifies the number of digits a person has — 10 fingers and 10 toes. (Our decimal system has the same significance, by half.) The number 13 refers to the major joints in the human body where they believed disease and illness enter and attack us (neck, two shoulders, two elbows, two wrists, two hips, two knees and two ankles).

They also believed that the date of your birth determines the characteristics you’ll show in your later personality. Not so different from people who believe in astrology.

The Maya couldn’t measure the time it takes for the sun to make a complete cycle (a solar year) with their one calendar, so they created another calendar to track the length of time that we consider as a full year.

Mayan calendar carved in stone © Photo: Olga Utlyakova – Dreamstime.com

Their Haab calendar is actually similar to the Gregorian calendar that we use today because both are based on the cycle of the sun. The Haab calendar has 18 uinals, giving it 360 days, but Mayan astronomers noticed that 360 days wasn’t enough time for the sun to make it through a full solar cycle. The astronomers wanted accuracy, but their mathematicians wanted to keep things simple, in increments of 20, just like their math system. The compromise was to use 18 uinals, with five “nameless days” called the wayeb.

The original Tzolk’in and Haab calendars were combined to form the Calendar Round which has 18,890 unique days, a time period of around 52 years. But  Mayan historians wanted to record their history for future generations and needed a calendar that would take them through thousands of years,  and so they created the Long Count calendar.

The conclusion of the Long Count calendar on December 12 or 21 (both dates have been calculated) in 2012 made doomsday theorists predict the worst. However, Mayan scholars generally dismiss the apocalyptic theories, and say that the calendar reaching its end would be regarded as a time of celebration, like our own New Year or millennium celebrations.
Of course, if you take into account that at the 2012 winter solstice, for the first time in around 25,800 years, the sun will align with the center of the Milky Way galaxy. That sounds significant, but astronomers claim that it won’t have any effect on the Earth.
Check back for my post on Saturday, December 22, 2012 when the next Great Cycle begins.
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