Galactic Alignments in Ancient Traditions & the Future of Humanity
Mayan scholars have spent almost a century deciphering the Mayan calendar’s relationship to our own. Utilising nested cycles of 20, 360, 7200, and 144,000 days, the Long Count culminates in a World Age cycle of 13 baktuns, which equals 5,125 years. After decades of interdisciplinary analysis, Mayan scholars Joseph T. Goodman, Juan Martínez, and J. Eric S. Thompson determined that the 13-baktun cycle of the Long Count calendar could be confidently located in real time, and its end-date would occur on 126.96.36.199.0 in the Long Count, which corresponds to December 21, 2012. Because the end-date of the 13-baktun cycle of the Mayan Long Count calendar occurs on a winter solstice, I felt that the ancient Maya may have intended to indicate something with that end-date. For example, periods of time within the Long Count are named by their end-date; we are currently in the 4 Ahau katun of the Long Count calendar because the last day of this katun falls on 4 Ahau.
Generally, Mayan metaphors draw from nature. After nine years of research into the 2012 question, in 1998 I published my book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 apocalypse, presenting an astronomical explanation for the Mayan 2012 end-date. The precessional phenomenon that is responsible for bringing the solstice Sun into alignment with the Milky Way is caused by the slow wobbling of the Earth on its axis. Izapa – a progressive ceremonial site containing astronomical alignments and monuments portraying the Mayan Creation Myth – is evidently where the Long Count calendar was instituted.
My research shows that the ball court at Izapa is ground zero of the knowledge that a future alignment of Sun and galaxy would occur. This “solstice-galaxy” or “galactic” alignment has great significance within Mayan mythology and cosmology. In my books, especially Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 apocalypse, I show how this alignment scenario was encoded into basic Mayan institutions such as the Creation Myth, the sacred ballgame, and king accession rites.
My reconstruction of the true intention of the Mayan calendar end-date, though seemingly quite novel, gains support in my subsequent research, for I have discovered that such “galactic” concepts were recognised in other ancient cosmologies (e.g., Egyptian, Islamic, and Vedic).
The book, Galactic Alignment: The Transformation of Consciousness According to Mayan, Egyptian, and Vedic Traditions (Inner Traditions International, 2002 – available from New Dawn Book Service), examines evidence that the alignment of the solstice Sun with the Milky Way galaxy (the “galactic alignment”) played a significant role in Old World and Eastern religious iconography and metaphysical traditions. Tracing the galactic knowledge back to ancient Vedic India, it appears that its manifestation in Islamic, Greek, Mithraic, Celtic, and Medieval Hermetic traditions is merely a nascent resurgence of a knowledge that is very ancient indeed.
It must be emphasised that this ancient “galactic cosmology” is based in empirical astronomy. The periodic alignment of the solstices with the galactic plane is basic astronomy, although discussion of it is largely absent from astronomy text books (Jean Meuss’s 1997 book Mathematical Astronomy Morsels is an exception).
As a researcher of ancient traditions, I can point to certain interpretations and reconstructions that are implied or are even unavoidable given the facts – for example, I can say with confidence that solstitial alignments to the galactic plane were significant players in ancient traditions that addressed questions of eschatology, cosmology, human salvation, and the nature of time. For example, a chapter in my new book explores Oliver Reiser’s work that suggests the Galactic Centre is a major factor in the evolution of life on Earth. My own path of discovery suggests the following: Beyond the insatiable quest for empirical physical evidence lies the transcendent challenge of metaphysics, and our materialist paradigm could benefit greatly from a serious look at the profound insights of traditional metaphysics.
I believe that many researchers are currently focusing overmuch on ancient technologies. assumes that the presence of recognisable technology is the best barometer of how advanced an ancient culture was. However, my surprising discoveries of an advanced Mayan cosmological science suggest that what is more important to explore, and what speaks clearly to a void in modern values, is the spiritual insight we find in ancient traditions. Many of us have studied and practiced various spiritual disciplines derived from ancient Hindu, Mayan, or even Egyptian teachings. The ancient Mayan civilisation understood the universal principles that create and sustain the world. These “first principles” underlie the physical laws that modern science has used to create technological miracles, but the first principles of Mayan sacred science embraced a much larger universe in which human beings were seen to be multidimensional and capable of traveling beyond time and space, beyond the confines that limit modern science with its “laws” that are valid only in the physical three-dimensional plane. We are amazed by the ancient Maya and their baffling, complicated calendar science, and how they built their huge stone cities without using beasts of burden. The ancient Vedic civilisation is not particularly celebrated for material achievements and yet, like the Maya, they enjoyed a sophisticated understanding of celestial cycles as well as a deep understanding of human spirituality. Modern historical investigation continues to push back the dating of the origins of civilisations and the advent of material technologies. This explains the ancient Maya’s isolation and independent genius which nevertheless had tapped into the same doctrines also found in ancient Vedic and Egyptian cosmology. In part 3 of the book Galactic Alignment, I explore the metaphysical ideas of the Traditionalist school, in particular the writings of esteemed scholar Ananda Coomaraswamy and symbolist philosopher René Guénon. In the Vedic doctrine of World Ages, Kali Yuga is the final age, the age of greatest spiritual darkness, and its end signals the shift to a new World Age. Clarifying some undeveloped areas within Traditionalist thought, and drawing from the insights of various Vedic commentators, I identify the galactic alignment of era-2012 apocalypse as the key to the timing of this transition, anchoring the Vedic yuga doctrine to a real astronomical event. What if ancient civilisations were aware of the Galactic Centre and the precession of the equinoxes, and that they believed that eras of galactic alignment – like the one we are struggling through right now – somehow contribute to the unfolding of consciousness on Earth?
The larger life-wave of humanity is at stake. The metaphor is about birth and death.
Unfortunately, few spend much time reflecting on death – the Great Transformer. That teaching is encoded into the Vedic theft of soma myth, and in pursuing its underlying wisdom regarding the transformation of consciousness, all of the book’s themes are integrated into the metaphysical importance of the solstice-galaxy alignment.
This brief introduction invites readers to explore more deeply the source material that contributes to my conclusions, including studies in sacred cartography, Mithraic symbolism, the Chaldean Oracles, Islamic astronomy, Vedic and Egyptian metaphysics, Hermetic studies, South American traditions, Christian architecture and iconography, and Mayan astronomy.5
For empirical scientists, astronomy is the central key that connects these questions to hard science, and the metaphysical concepts relating to these eschatological questions are, in fact, closely related to astronomy. Yet beyond empirical concerns, the role of galactic alignments in spiritual transformation is revealed as a core concept found in all of the major ancient traditions – in both the Old World and the New World. Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 apocalypse and Galactic Alignment by John Major Jenkins are available from New Dawn Book Service.