The End…or Not
You may not have realized it but we are not really here. No, there isn’t a theoretical physics problem. The world, as we know it, ended on December 21, 2012. At least, many felt it was supposed to, according to the Long Count calendar, of three calendars of the Mayan culture.
The Mayan are the original inhabitants of Mexico and Central America. They have lived in what today we call the Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Tabasco, and Chiapas regions in Mexico and in Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras in Central America.
The Mayan civilization developed as early as 7000-2000 BCE, the Archaic Period, as a hunter culture. Crops such as maize and beans flourished and animals such as dogs and turkeys were domesticated. (I have no idea why someone would want a pet turkey but …) Archaeologists have unearthed villages dating back to 2000-1500 BCE.
The Olmec Period or Formative Period was 1500-200 BCE and represents the time when the Olmec culture appeared. One of the oldest cultures in Mesoamerica, the Olmec lived along the coastal lands of the Gulf of Mexico. They built great cities of stone and brick and were artists of great caliber regarding the art of sculpture. The ruins of their temples and houses indicate the Olmec were of great stature and evidence shows that Shamanic religious traditions were common. It remains a mystery exactly their origin and the reason for their demise.
In an area now called Monte Alban in the region of Oaxaca lived the Zapotecs. The Zapotec Period dated from 600 BCE to 800 ACE and the Zapotecs laid the groundwork for much of what we call Mayan culture. The Mayans would later refine and adapt the Zapotec art of writing, mathematics, and astronomy. Other periods followed with great cities constructed.
As we explore the mythologies of South America, we need to recognize and then perhaps discard existing opinions. Many consider these ancient cultures little more than tribes of cavemen. The three Mayan calendars are just one example that these people were so much more than mere cave dwellers or ignorant people living off the land.
Mayans organized dates by the use of three calendars, thee very different calendars. The civil calendar was known as the Haab and contained 365 days per each cycle. A year consisted of eighteen months of twenty days each and one month of only five days. The Tzolk was a divine calendar for religious services and had 260 days per each cycle that were broken down into twenty sections, each with 13 days. The third calendar was the Long Count calendar. An Astronomical calendar, it contained 7885 years per cycle. The Mayans believed that the world would both end and be reborn at the end of each cycle of the Long Count calendar.
As 2012 approached, a new myth circulated on the Internet. This myth used the Mayan Long Count calendar and encouraged people to go to a small village in France to escape the “end of the world”. The surge of tourism to Bugarach helped local businessmen but nothing more. It does serve to remind us of the power of a myth…and gossip.
There is nothing in nature that simply ends. Death is but a step of many. The buried become a part of the soil much like the spirits of the Australian Dreamtime. The cremated and buried at sea become a part of nature’s cycle; their bodies are reborn into nature’s tomorrow.
Between December 31st and January 1st, our year both ends and is reborn. We also can and should this every day. The ending of one aspect of life is the birth of another. Whether it be an hour, a day, or a new phase of life, time does more forward, offering us a chance to try, to struggle, to learn, and yes, to become victorious in living. The world is not ending. It’s really just beginning!