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Planet 9 by Tomruen; background taken from File:ESO – Milky Way.jpg – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

This year, a pair of astronomers announced they had found evidence that another, massive planet may exist in the outer solar system. This would be a planet roughly 10 times the mass of Earth. That makes it something like Neptune in size. Big.

It orbits our Sun on a tipped, elliptical path. It never gets closer to the Sun than 30 billion kilometers. That is out there.

When I first read about it, I thought “Maybe this is Planet X.”

Back in the early 1900s, astronomer Percival Lowell starting search for a planet beyond Neptune. For years, he studied the sky from his observatory in Arizona  looking for that planet. He never found it, but his calculations helped other astronomers find Pluto in 1930.

Planet X (also known as Niribu)  is a planet that some people have believed is in our solar system, even though scientists have said it’s not. You might say that believers in Planet X are also “out there” like this new planet. Believers claimed it was not only out there, but possibly inhabited. They claim it is on a huge 3,600-year orbit.

That orbit brought it into our inner solar system enough times to deliver literally Biblical catastrophes to little Earth.

In 2003, a cult following Niribu got some attention in the media until their critical May 15, 2003 date for the appearance of Planet X passed without an appearance.

The Mayan special date of December 21, 2012 (which I covered with some unserious seriousness on this blog) also passed by quietly and Nibiru was slated to crash into Earth that day which was the winter solstice. (Though I still say that the Mayan calendar was misinterpreted and was never meant to indicate the “end of the world.”)

One of the astronomers who discovered this new planet was Mike Brown who was also one of the party-poopers who helped get Pluto demoted to less than planet status. (PlutoKiller‘s team discovered Eris, a large object roughly the same size as Pluto and that discovery eventually led to the International Astronomical Union’s demotion.

Of course, this new planet is not going to be demoted, because it is very big. It would become the new ninth planet. It is a tricky call on this one because to say the planet was “discovered” when no one has seen it (even in a big telescope) is a bit of a reach.  Like other things in science, including most things that Albert Einstein was famous for, we have some evidence that something exists or is possible, but we don’t actually have it. Think about all that searching for the Higgs boson particle which was “confirmed” in 2013.

People haven’t given up on Planet X or Niribu. There are still “predictions” of disaster connected to it. And NASA has checked in to say that although their WISE survey found thousands of new stars, but no Planet X – but maybe a “Planet 9.” (Not to be confused with the wonderfully, terrible film Plan 9 From Outer Space)



In 2012: The Return of QuetzalcoatlDaniel Pinchbeck (who is described by Publishers Weekly as a “journalist and author of the drug-riddled psychonaut investigation Breaking Open the Head“) creates an Einstein thought-experiment based on the Mayan prophecy that 2012 will bring about the end of the world as we know it.

Not the “end of the world” as in poof, it’s gone, but perhaps the end of the world as we know it (as in the R.E.M. song). That is, “the conclusion of a vast evolutionary cycle, and the potential gateway to a higher level of manifestation.” Pinchbeck see us in the final stages of a global shift. From materiality to spirituality. (Further Reading? see Stonehenge, the Burning Man festival, crop circles, hallucinogens, Quetzalcoatl…)

Daniel Pinchbeck writes about the hallucinogenic drug dripropyltryptamine (DPT)  “For several weeks after taking DPT, I picked up flickering hypnagogic imagery when I closed my eyes at night … In one scene, I entered a column of fire rising from the center of Stonehenge again and again, feeling myself pleasantly annihilated by the flames each time.”

After Pinchbeck published his first book, Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism, he was considered the most significant writer on psychedelic experimentation since Terence McKenna.

The Mayan calendar’s “end date” of 2012 might be seen as having parallels to our present age. One interpretation is the end of one way of existence and not a new age, but the return of another time. That other time was one in which the serpent god Quetzalcoatl reigned, and in this interpretation of the Mayan calendar, it is an age anew. It heralds an ancient but new-to -us way of living.

And on a reading shelf nearby are books like DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor’s Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences by Rick Strassman.

I have been writing occasionally over the past few years about the Mayan Long Count Calendar that comes to an end on the solstice of December 21, 2012. You can tell by my earlier posts that, although I find the subject fascinating, I am not on the side of those who see the event as “the end of the world.” I am more on the side of believing that their calendar turns over to a new one, and that the date will signal a major shift – hopefully a good one.

The Maya were not the native people to have seen the end of an age this year. A program that I saw on the History Channel awhile back talked about Native American tribes with similar – but rather gloomy – prophecies.

Most of their prophecies focused on the destruction of the Earth by us. The Iroquois prophesied in their “Instructions” that the end of the world will be near when the trees start dying from the tops down, when there will be no corn, when nothing will grow in the garden, when water will be filthy and unfit to drink. Then a great monster will rise up from the water and destroy humanity. One of the names of that monster is “the sickness that eats you up inside.” People go pretty far afield in their interpretations of these prophecies. I found online sites saying that the Iroquois monster might be something like diabetes, cancer or AIDS.

There is a legend that Four Beings, like angels, came from the Four Directions (of the compass) and told of diseases never heard of before. Then, a great wind, more powerful than any hurricane, would cleanse the earth and return the planet to its original state. This purification of the Earth is a common theme in these prophecies.

The part of the History Channel program that I found most interesting in this aspect concerned the prophecies of the Hopi people.

The Hopi nation is located in the Southwestern United States . Their prophecies contain a belief that the world goes through periods of destruction and renewal. The Hopi believe that the earth was already destroyed three times before and that we are in the fourth Earth now, soon to enter the Fifth World.

The part relevant to this time is known as the Blue Star Prophecy which is a message from the Gods concerning the end of the world.

Although there is no date attached to the prophecy, some Hopi elders believe that the 9 signs of the end have now arrived.

The story is that a white-skinned man named Pahana will appear wearing certain symbols and a stone tablet when the time is here to help us make the transition to the fifth and final world.

There are signs that signal the end is near. One is “the coming of spinning wheels filled with voices.” This has been interpreted as possibly being the wagon wheels that brought settlers into the Indian lands. Another sign is “a strange beast like a buffalo but with great long horns that will overrun the land in large numbers” – the white men’s cattle.

The signs to follow are that: “the land will be crossed by snakes of iron” (railroad); “the land shall be crisscrossed by a giant spider’s web” (power and communication lines, including the Net/Web )

Want to interpret the last signs? The land shall be crisscrossed with rivers of stone that make pictures in the sun. The Seventh Sign is that you will hear of the sea turning black, and many living things dying because of it.

Next, is when you will see many youth, who wear their hair long like the Hopi people, come and join the tribal nations, to learn their ways and wisdom.

The last sign is that we will hear of a dwelling-place in the heavens, above the earth, that shall fall with a great crash. It will appear as a blue star. After this, the ceremonies will cease.

This is not an optimistic story. But Daniel Pinchbeck has written in “The Fifth World and the Hopi Apocalypse” that “The Hopi prophecies also tell of the return of Pahana, the elder white brother, in a real exchange of knowledge and a true communion, as the Fourth World comes to an end.” That’s about as hopeful as this prophecy might be.

One representation of what the night sky at Giza, Egypt might look like before sunrise December 3, 2012 with the planetary alignment over the pyramids

Add to all the attention that the 2012 winter solstice has gotten (and will get) because of the connection to the Mayan calendar, that there will also be a  planetary alignment of Mercury, Venus and Saturn in December.  This will take place December 3, 2012 and those three planets will be aligned with the Pyramids at Giza.

And for those following the Maya calendar and the 2012 connection, this event has greater significance.

Those who believe that the pyramids were built “to honor (or warn us about) the time marked by the planetary convergence” see this alignment matching with the layout of the Pyramids at Giza as more than coincidence. And they also connect it to the end of a 5000 year cycle in the Maya calendar which occurs 18 days later on the solstice on December 21 (12-21-12).

Of course, plenty of people online have posted refutations of the event and the interpretations. ranks it as a mixture of true and false. Generally, there is agreement that Mercury, Venus, and Saturn will all be aligned and relatively close to each other in the sky on that date. They will be 14 degrees apart which is said to be 30 times the width of the full Moon on the sky, but that is still close.

A number of astronomy fans have said that the three planets will be more vertical than horizontal (see below)

What does it mean? What will it look like that day?

A Stellarium representation of the view from Giza on December 3

a page from the Dresden Codex

Maybe you can rest easier, or maybe you can scrap that idea of a new age starting this December 21st when the solstice comes.

According to an article from The New York Times, “Painted Maya Walls Reveal Calendar Writing”, the end (of the Mayan calendar) is not due this year.

Archaeologists excavating a house buried in the ruins of a large Maya city in Guatemala discovered what might have been a kind of studio for royal scribes.

The walls are decorated with a mural, a scribes’ whiteboard for ideas, images of human figures, glyphs and columns of numbers in the form of their bars and dots (Maya used bars for the number 5 and dots for 1).

So much of what they observed in the motions of the Sun, Moon and planets entered into the beliefs of these people as recorded by the scribes and calendar priests.

Now, about that calendar…

What is interesting is that this new discovery seems to have calendars that were several centuries earlier than the Dresden Codex. That bark-paper book is from the period just before the Spanish arrived in the early 16th century.

The archaeologists haven’t found anything in these newly-discovered calendars to foretell either the world coming to an end on Dec. 21, 2012, or the dawning of a new age.

Others have said that all the attention to the Mayan calendar is based on a misinterpretation of the Maya Long Count calendar.

As for my own opinion, I wouldn’t believe an earlier calendar and would stick with the later, possibly revised, version.

I am very comfortable with no-world’s end prediction. And I am all for believing that the Maya were seeing, or hoping,  for this particular end of a cycle to be the beginning of a new and better one.

The calendrical cycles of the Maya included a 260-day ceremonial calendar, 365-day solar calendar, 584-day cycle of Venus and the 780-day cycle of Mars and the calendars seem to have 5000 year cycles.

Xultún is a 12-square-mile site with temples and monuments constructed in the first centuries B.C. Archaeologists suspect that thousands of other houses remain uncounted. These discoveries were made by a team from Boston University and were reported in the journal Science this week. The June issue of National Geographic magazine will have more about it.

We love to make the leap. We know something to be true and we leap to other conclusions. We take the expression from something in physics and chemistry. An atomic electron(ic) transition, that can be called a quantum jump, or quantum leap, is a change of an electron from one quantum state to another within an atom. It appears to be discontinuous because the electron “jumps” from one energy level to another in nanoseconds. Quantum leaps cause the emission (or absorption) of electromagnetic radiation, including that of light, which occurs in the form of quantized units called photons.

It’s a leap itself to move from that spooky science to things like looking at the ancient Maya and believing that their knowledge was passed to them by otherworldly beings who descended from the sky. Leap again and the Maya may have have known from their extraterrestrial visitors what was to come in the future. Or they may have been able to plan that future.

A non-leaping historian would point to their knowledge of mathematics and astronomy to be the same evolution that other ancient civilizations had to arrive at similar knowledge. The Mayans show city engineering despite having no metal tools and the wheel. (Did the extraterrestrials forget to leave those items?) They certainly had, as did other cultures, very good knowledge of celestial events (such as pole shifts) based on observation. They had an overly complex writing system that seems to have been developed partially so that it would only be understood by the rulers and clerics among them.

There was a American television series called Quantum Leap back in 1989-1993. It was only tangentially science-based, but it had a cult following. And, because of my interest in time travel, I had to watch it. In the show, Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) was a physicist from six years in the future who becomes lost in time following a time travel experiment. He leaps uncontrollably into the lives of other people to “put right what once went wrong”.

What I took away from the program was the idea that if we do ever break the bonds of time, it will come not from some time machine but from something done at the quantum level.


As Fox Mulder said in The X Files, “The Truth Is Out There,” and  “I Want to Believe” and I do agree that we very much want to believe – in a God, an afterlife, life on other planets, visitors from other solar systems, angels, miracles and many other things.

Mulder also said “Trust No One” and that may be the idea that also has you questioning leaps.

Look at the sarcophagus lid of Palenque’s Maya King Pakal? Is he lying in his grave or is he traveling to the Underworld? Or, is he piloting a spacecraft?

The lid of K’inich Janaab’ Pakal‘s tomb has been interpreted as showing him having an oxygen mask, adjusting controls with his hands and feet, sitting in a craft with flames shooting out from below as he travels to the Milky Way.

That’s a leap.

Certainly, the Mayan civilization dominated Central America for nearly 2000 years. Then, in the 9th century A.D., the cities were abandoned, and the people vanished. What could have happened to this advanced culture? War, a drought, disease, and overpopulation are all theories. To some, so is the theory that they left this planet for another.

The Maya were able to accurately predict shifts in the Earth’s axis every 26,000 years and they based their calendar system on it.

Isn’t it possible that they were humans with a gift for observation and knowledge and that they did it on their own? Other cultures have disappeared in time too, but perhaps they were less extraordinary, so less extraordinary explanations suffice.

Did King Pakal and others make a journey to the Milky Way? Did they leave for us to find clues to help us evolve our civilzation? did they leave a calendar to tell us when the next leap would occur? Will it be 2012?

How far are you willing to leap?

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