I want to boil this down to the essentials. I’ll start with a simple outline of what did and didn’t happen in 2012. Then, after that, a longer narrative follows for those who want more detail. In the final section, I’ve selected a short-list of links to interviews and video resources.
My approach to 2012 has always been to try to reconstruct what the ancient Maya thought about it. This effort was ongoing since the early 1990s. Earlier, since 1985 or so, I was studying Maya culture, cosmology, and calendrics.
No professional Maya scholar took up and published on this approach until August of 2010. No book by a Maya scholar who was concerned with reconstructing what the ancient Maya believed about 2012 has ever appeared. (The several books that have appeared were reactionary and debunking in nature.)
In the popular marketplace, no other writer took this approach to heart, and instead offered clever models or systems only loosely related to the Maya ideas. Interesting ideas can certainly be found in this genre, but there was no concern with studying, researching, and reconstructing what the ancient Maya actually thought about 2012.
My approach to understanding 2012 began by studying the Maya Creation Myth and the site of Izapa, the centerpiece of a pre-Classic culture which many scholars had acknowledged was involved in the formulation of the Long Count calendar (the “2012″ calendar). This was a logical place to begin the work, and quickly produced startling results. I discovered that 2012 was targeted by the Izapan shaman-astronomers because of a rare astronomical alignment, which in turn was coordinated with a spiritual teaching of “sacrifice, transformation, and renewal,” evident in the Creation Myth’s doctrine of World Ages.
The mainstream media branded 2012 as a doomsday trigger and ignored the evidence at Izapa. Maya scholars happily and willfully conflated and confused my work with the doomsday pimps in the marketplace. Despite my attempts to clarify this problem for scholars, many continued to mitigate me by publishing factually untrue and libelous assertions, and by cleverly crafting polemical denunciations in their published writings. In several instances these baseless statements were green-lighted, unchecked, for publication in peer-review journals. My attempts to seek a correction to the defamation was rejected, which underscored the bad behavior of several Maya scholars. I responded to this under-informed and unethical behavior in my 2009 book The 2012 Story, in my website Update2012.com, and in my chapter in 2012: Decoding the Countercultural Apocalypse (2011, Equinox Publishing, ed. Dr. Joseph Gelfer).
When the Tortuguero “2012” text became widely known in 2006, it provided a test for my two-art reconstruction (“astronomy and renewal”). The text provided support for my reconstruction.
The work of Maya scholar Michael Grofe identifies evidence that the Maya were tracking the Sidereal Year, the Tropical Year, and were thus capable of calculating the precession of the equinoxes. His identification of the Maya’s methodology of astronomical calculation complements my focus on identifying the secondary evidence for the rare 2012 alignment within Maya traditions – in the ballgame, king-making rites, the Creation Myth, and in the archaeoastronomical alignments at Izapa.
Online discussion boards of academic institutions, professional peer-review journals, and individual Maya scholars adopted a policy of exclusion, censorship, and mitigation towards me and my work, which sometimes spilled over into affecting the two or three professional Maya scholars who appeared to support my work. Behind-the-scenes ultimatums regarding citing my previous work or mentioning my name have occurred.
As the year 2012 got underway, new evidence from a second “2012” text (from La Corona) provided more confirmation for the ideas I’d been advocating for years. A few scholars began to commit themselves to my own interpretations of what 2012 meant to the ancient Maya, even while several key scholars continued to deny that 2012 meant anything at all.
In December of 2012, the “Great Return” conference happened at Copan in Honduras. Myself, David Sedat, Barb MacLeod, Michael Grofe and other speakers were present. Something new was discovered by Grofe which, when it is eventually published and discussed, should help us understand how they were tracking and using the same kind of astronomy that my 2012 alignment theory elucidates.
As the evidence grew in support of my work, a few Maya scholars upped the effort to mitigate me (the usual suspects), creating a situation of great cognitive dissonance in which I was accused of proffering nonsense even while my ideas and work were being echoed by other scholars. Several Maya scholars, concerned with crafting narratives on Wikipedia and in a peer-review journal and in their essays, published false and defamatory information that was clearly intended to protect their guild from an un-degreed outsider having made a major breakthrough on a very difficult topic that they had ignored (or derided) for decades. They have actively sought to mitigate – despite the evidence – any confirmation of my work, which is a very unscientific and unprofessional stance. History should judge these “scholars” as belonging to the same anti-rational and anti-progress group that sought to mitigate the breakthroughs of Copernicus and Galileo.
The mainstream cultural milieu, and the mainstream media, failed to treat 2012 as a serious topic, and the very idea that we should try, and could succeed, in reconstructing what the ancient Maya thought about 2012 was largely eclipsed. My work was hacked and hijacked, abused by some popular writers for their own nefarious and misleading purposes, and was manipulated by the media to affect a presentation of my work that was diametrically opposed to what I was actually saying.
The reasons for this, I suspect, have to do with a deep-seated need to denigrated Native American genius, a continuation of the genocidal Manifest Destiny policy that should be a source of great shame for the Western nations of the New World (and their European parent-cultures), which sadly continues in various forms to this day. And another reason for this, on a more general level, is that any idea which challenges accepted or received beliefs, or that challenges the power structure of academia, the media, or the parent paradigm, must be appropriate, mitigated, redefined, and rendered impotent.
Because of the great egocentric ignorance of the modern world, what was discovered and revealed about 2012 (largely through my well-document research based on primary sources) was misunderstood, treated with contempt, and distorted. It’s not that surprising for a world steeped in nihilism, violence, and scientific materialism that is increasingly being dumbed down by a vapid media infotainment empire – it rejected the very thing that could redirect its addiction to destruction and unchecked atavistic consumerism.
Here’s the longer and more detailed retrospective:
Since my earliest writings on the Maya, my central concern has been to reconstruct and understand lost or fragmented aspects of ancient Maya cosmology. It seemed to me that it was a field in flux, where new perspectives and discoveries were being made. In my first book, Journey to the Mayan Underworld (1989) this pursuit involved astronomy, mythology, symbolism, shamanism, the Maya calendar, and spiritual teachings (or metaphysics).
By the early 1990s my focus turned to the enigmatic 13-Baktun cycle-ending date of the Long Count. First, I had to be sure of the correct placement of this cycle-ending date, which is the “correlation question,” but there were conflicting opinions in both academia and the popular marketplace.
Between 1986 and 1992 I investigated the correlation question and confirmed that the so-called 584283 correlation was correct, because it met the requirements of all the interdisciplinary tests. This correlation placed the 13-Baktun cycle-ending on December 21, 2012. This is a solstice date, and I wondered whether this could have been an intentional placement. The only mention of it in academia was in Munro Edmonson’s Book of the Year (1988), which I was reading in 1991-2. He only gave the thought a three-sentence speculation, that it seemed to indicate that the Maya made a correct forward calculation in the Tropical Year. This could be explained, as Edmonson suggested, by the well-known Year Drift Formula (in which 1507 Tropical Years equal 1508 Haab). Edmonson also advocated for the 584283 correlation, and the ethnographic and historical evidence he brought to bear on the question was crucial to my own understanding. That information (the confirmation of the same placement of the 260-day Tzolkin calendar in three widely separated regions, at the time of the Conquest) is largely overlooked by modern students of the correlation question, and its importance is misunderstood.
The correlation issue has been a point of great misunderstanding for scholars, because they have tended to generate an endless variety of “possible” correlations, a veritable cottage industry, by focusing on only one criteria, such as astronomy. With this incomplete data-set, you can offer the illusion that a given proposal is viable. This magic trick has been ongoing even up through 2010, 2012 and into 2013, and I must say that such a persistent effort to generate false proposals was very likely motivated (consciously or unconsciously) by scholars wishing to mitigate or confuse the 2012 discussion. You could attack the “premise” of 2012 by giving the impression that the correlation issue was not settled.
However, if you incorporate the full interdisciplinary set of tests that any correlation proposal must pass, only the 584283 remains standing: 220.127.116.11.0 = December 21, 2012 = 4 Ahaw 3 Kank’in. I’ve explained this quite clearly in many of my books going back to 1992, in exchanges with many scholars publishing on the correlation, and most notably in my recent essay “Steps in Understanding Calendar Continuity and in Verifying the Correct Correlation.”
I’ve been accused by undiscerning critics of “choosing” the 283 correlation because it landed on the solstice, which in turn supported my 2012 alignment theory. This is backwards, as I’ve pointed out to these critics who nevertheless continued to propagate their mistaken understanding of the sequence of my research. As I sketched above, I spent years on the correlation issue and confirmed that the 283 was the best correlation, and I published my position on this in my 1992 book Tzolkin: Visionary Perspectives and Calendar Studies. This was before my attention went to 2012, before I hypothesized the galactic alignment as the reason behind the placement of the 2012 date, and before I discovered the evidence for the galactic alignment in various Maya traditions (which was being worked out 1993-1994).
So, in 1994 I published my breakthrough discoveries regarding how the Maya embedded their knowledge of a rare solstice-galaxy alignment – which happens in the years around 2012 – into their Creation Myth and cosmological ideas about time and the calendar. This work was almost entirely based on studying the archaeoastronomy and other evidence at the pre-Classic site of Izapa, which many scholars had suspected was involved in the formulation of the Long Count calendar. It was thus the logical place to look, which no one had previously done.
Since then, my work has appeared in many books, articles, interviews, presentations, and websites. My unprecedented breakthrough was published in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 (1998), which contains an introduction by Terence McKenna. Here is a chapter-by-chapter summary of that book, and here is the bibliography of sources I studied and referenced in the book. The results were startling and, by the way, the Maya quite clearly did not think of the 2012 alignment as a doomsday trigger, but instead it was centrally involved in a doctrine of transformation and renewal, identifiable in the Maya Creation Myth.
The sequel, Galactic Alignment (2002) pushed the case even farther by looking at a global and ancient Old World context for knowledge of the precession of the equinoxes AND the galactic alignment, which had not been investigated before. My introduction gives a sense of what I set out to do in that book. By this time I had realized that the core, archetypal, spiritual teachings of the Maya, evident in their Creation Myth, were expressions of the same core principles within the vast Perennial Philosophy, which had been brilliantly elucidated by genius philosophers such as Kathleen Raine, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Stella Kramrisch, Rene Guenon, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Titus Burckhardt, and Henry Corbin.
Nevertheless, despite my clearly documented and written books, the marketplace and numerous exploitative fly-by-night authors have throughout the years appropriated my work for the furtherance of their own bankable doomsday propaganda. The media, including documentaries I was interviewed for, were happy to oblige the delusion and a clear presentation of my work in the mainstream cable documentary world basically never occurred. Most of the academic critics of all-things-2012 gladly (or ignorantly) nurtured and repeated this confusion. It seemed that an incredibly undiscerning and low-resolution treatment of 2012 was going on in most areas of the discussion, including the academic field of academic Maya Studies. It was an incredibly disappointing and frustrating state of affairs.
Despite the odds against clarity and despite the persistent irrational attacks, I continued the research and discovered even more evidence for the ancient Maya’s awareness of the era-2012 alignment – the precession-caused alignment of the solstice sun with the Dark Rift and Crossroads (the crossing point of the Milky Way and the ecliptic). This occurred in a most striking way via the “2012″ text on Tortuguero Monument 6, which came to widespread attention in April of 2006.
By early 2009, through my collaborative work with Michael Grofe and Barb MacLeod it became apparent that astronomy was embedded into the 13 dates on Tortuguero Monument 6, with a special focus on the king’s birthday. This provided an astronomical parallel to the 2012 date which reiterated the same astronomical alignment. It was a breakthrough understanding of the text, hit upon by Maya scholar Maya Grofe during our email exchanges and inspired by the methodology I had employed in my December 2000 essay published in the Institute of Maya Studies newsletter.
I wrote about this breakthrough discovery, which lent such great support to my work, in my book The 2012 Story (released in October 2009). I also presented, at the 75th Meeting of the Society of American Archaeology (April 2010), a fuller elaboration of the date patterns and astronomy of Tortuguero Monument 6 with a focus on the rhetorical strategy employed by Maya kings who sought to relate themselves to period-endings like 2012. The paper I presented is here. I had broken through to the Ivory Tower, thanks to the invitation of Dr. Robert Benfer. Up to this time (April of 2010) professional Maya scholars had not published one essay, article or book that attempted to reconstruct what the ancient Maya thought of 2012.
This may sound incredible, but it’s true. There were a few brief mentions and allusions to the Tortuguero date, but no discussion of its significance in published papers. The statement by Michael Coe in his 1966 book, that it should be thought of as a Maya “Armageddon”, became a rather embarrassing first instance of the 2012 doomsday meme, to be explained away as a tongue-in-cheek joke. Up until 2006 it seemed as if academia was hesitant to grant 2012 a legitimate status, as a topic of rational investigation. I’d be treating it as such since the late 1980s.
At the end of Year 2012, there were four books by scholars who simply tried to “debunk” all the 2012 ideas, including my own, but the arguments were flawed and the tactics were juvenile. There were “Y12-ers” (an allusion to the Y2K fiasco) and “2012ers” and “2012 prophets” who were “Gnostics” and “spiritualists.” The scholarly critics largely projected incorrect ideas onto my work, or just asserted incorrect premises as the prelude to torching the straw man – the classic strategy of small-minded polemics. But, by the end of 2012, there were still no books by scholars trying to reconstruct what 2012 meant to the ancient Maya.
By the end of 2012 we had not only the “2012″ inscription from Tortuguero, but also a 2012 inscription from the site of La Corona, discovered in April of 2012. I wrote three essays on this text, found an astronomical strategy similar to what was employed by the king of Tortuguero, and posted my essays at The Center for 2012 Studies. My efforts to engage discourse with a scholar about my findings was censored on his public blog and comment site.
August of 2010 saw the release of Gronemeyer and MacLeod’s monograph on Tortuguero Monument 6, which was posted on the Wayeb website. They did a thorough translation of the text and confirmed that a future event was indeed expected to occur on December 21, 2012 – a ceremonial investiture rite revolving around the deity Bolon Yokte, in which the 7th-century king, Lord Jaguar, was suppose to be supernaturally involved.
Unfortunately, the authors decided that they would not broach the subject of astronomy, which I had presented earlier that year, the year before in my 2009 book The 2012 Story, and which Michael Grofe had communicated to the authors in early 2009. By late 2010 a debate/discussion about my SAA paper was sponsored and set up by the scholars at the Maya Exploration Center, moderated by Dr. Edwin Barnhart. It was a thoroughly revealing exchange that ran to over 200 transcribed pages, and was posted as an online published book at the Maya Exploration Center. Unfortunately, its very effectiveness in revealing academic attack strategies and the cogency of the evidence for an astronomical interpretation of 2012 has rendered it as something best ignored, swept under the carpet, and none of the subsequent papers and essays published on 2012 by Maya scholars ever cited it.
As 2011 dawned, Michael Grofe presented his work at the Archaeoastronomy IX conference in Peru, and several other scholars (John B Carlson, Carl Callaway, and Barb MacLeod) also offered interpretations of what 2012 may have meant to the ancient Maya. Carlson had previously first presented his ideas, which revolved around the Bolon Yokte deity, at a museum talk in May of 2010. No astronomy is mentioned in his work, even though he edits Archaeoastronomy Journal for the University of Texas Press and has published extensively on Maya astronomy.
The presentation papers were collected and published in July of 2011, in the IAU Vol 7, no. 278 (Cambridge University Press). Apart from the earlier monograph by Gronemeyer and MacLeod, these were the first essays by Maya scholars who were endeavoring to reconstruct, deduce, and say something about what the ancient Maya may have thought about 2012.
The rest of the scholarly authors on 2012, including Anthony Aveni, Mark Van Stone, John Hoopes, David Stuart (his book was released in June of 2011), and Restall & Solari, were simply debunkers offering no proactive reconstructions. Strikingly, the pieces by Grofe, Carlson, MacLeod, and Callaway reiterated the core ideas in my own reconstruction work going back to the early 1990s – that 2012 signaled a period-ending transformation & renewal (Carlson and MacLeod), that deity sacrifice was required (Carlson), that 2012 repeated certain Creation Myth themes known from the 3114 BC Era Base inscriptions (Callaway), and that new evidence was suggestive of the galactic alignment astronomy (Grofe).
This scholarly commitment to publishing something besides reactive debunkings opened the door for a few other scholars to commit themselves. For example, at the Palenque Mesa Redonda conference in November of 2011, both Sven Gronemeyer and Marcos Pallan reiterated the “transition to a new era” concept. This may seem trivial, but I had cited the evidence and argued for this interpretation of 2012 almost two decades earlier, and it was always an easy target for critics because it resonated so easily with their perception of “new age” rhetoric (a new era). No amount of pointing out that period-endings in the calendar were indeed, for the Maya, like a new era or Age dawning, could assuage the committed debunkers, and yet, as soon as one of their colleagues said the same thing, it was accepted without question and the low-hanging-fruit of polemical mitigation via a clever semantic conflation of terminology, was not applied to them.
By August of 2012 most of the same contributors to the IAU volume of 2011 also published essays on 2012 in Archaeoastronomy Journal Vol, XXIV. Again, it was only Carlson, MacLeod, Grofe, and Callaway had anything to say about ancient Maya concepts of 2012, and again they reiterated ideas I’d been advocated for years. Several of the essays did add new details and arguments for the same conclusions; for example, Michael Grofe’s essay should be considered a major breakthrough in understanding how the ancient Maya tracked the Sidereal Year. He cited me in his acknowledgements, which I greatly appreciated.
I was able to review some of the statements in that journal in my book Reconstructing Ancient Maya Astronomy (released in October of 2012). My final work-in-progress was a book to be called Time Conscious Kingdoms, but time ran out and it remains in manuscript form. Since the first half is largely completed, I do intend on eventually releasing it.
My chapter in Dr. Robert Gelfer’s anthology, 2012: Decoding the Countercultural Apocalypse (2011) is a detailed response to my critics and a concise summary of the findings on Tortuguero Monument 6. I was also blessed to have my work featured in the documentary film 2012: The Beginning.
So, in a nutshell, the work I have been engaged in to lend clarity and sanity, as well as unprecedented breakthrough findings, was largely undercut, mitigated, appropriated, distorted, and/or abused by many of the professional scholars, the marketplace, other 2012 authors, and the media. I count Barb MacLeod, Michael Grofe, Robert Sitler, and Ed Barnhart as exceptions, who did their best to move the discussion forward.
It is my hope that these archives that I offer will help future historians understand what happened and who said what when. For now, even more smoke has been drawn over our eyes, like breath on a mirror, and those with clarity and discernment have been few and far between. There were allies along the way, however: Geoff Stray, Jim Reed, Miguel Sague, Jonathan Zap, my friends at Jades in Guatemala, to name a few. My work on 2012 continues as new evidence appears. In 2013 I’ve already written an essay on Palenque Temple XXI and Copan Stela C, and my essay on Tortuguero astronomy, written for the University Press of Florida, still awaits publication.
“Heretics as Truth Tellers” (from The Heretic magazine, Vol. 1)
“Astronomy in the Tortuguero Inscriptions,” presentation from the Society for American Archaeology conference.
Michael Grofe’s PhD dissertation, and other papers at the online research resource of the Maya Exploration Center