Exchanges between Mark Van Stone and John Major Jenkins,
January to August 2008.

 

Compiled w/ brief notes by John Major Jenkins.
December 9, 2008
 http://Alignment2012.com

 

Note: Our exchange began as a result of John Hoopes and Elaine Schele chuckling, on Aztlan, over a promo video for an event that I would soon be speaking at in Los Angeles. . .

 

To Aztlan on Behalf Of Hoopes, John W

Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2008 3:19 PM

To: Elaine Day Schele; Aztlan@lists.famsi.org

Subject: Re: [Aztlan] 2012 Conference Trailer

 

Hi Elaine,

 

The 2012 aficionados clearly have the edge on the academic experts we know and love when it comes to marketing.  Surely that's a situation that can be remedied the usual abundance of cleverness, creativity, and questionable humor.

 

I think the time has come for a cool video on YouTube (with a rockin'

soundtrack) to promote the Texas Maya Meetings... 

 

John [Hoopes]

 

-----Original Message-----

From: Elaine Day Schele [mailto:eschele@austin.rr.com]

Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2008 3:22 PM

To: Hoopes, John W; Aztlan@lists.famsi.org

Subject: RE: [Aztlan] 2012 Conference Trailer

 

 

Hi John,

 

I love it!!!  As I watched the video, I had this awesome flashback to the Age of Aquarius back in 60's, even though the music was 1980's REM ("end of the world as we know it").  I couldn't help but think "yes, the Maya knew it all!"  But the film displays the Aztec Calendar Stone on two scenes, revealing that indeed, the claim of expertise about 2012 is a little less than the truth! Granted of course that there are similarities between the Aztec and Maya Calendar.  The video and the music is so appealing, but of course the Maya calendar experts they list are not those that many of us look to for answers about the Maya Calendar.

 

This "2012 Conference" that they are advertising will take place March 1, 2012 in California and most likely will be at the same time that the Austin Maya Meetings will be happening.  Perhaps we should ride the tails of their advertising bonanza and couch our Austin 2012 meeting the as a "2012 Conference Extravaganza - You Ain't Heard Nothing Yet - Maya Meeting Workshop and Symposium".

 

<grins>

Elaine

 

 

-----Original Message-----

From: aztlan-bounces@lists.famsi.org on behalf of John Major Jenkins<kahib@ix.netcom.com>

Sent: Thu 1/24/2008 8:26 PM

To: 'Hoopes, John W'

Cc: Aztlan@lists.famsi.org

Subject: Re: [Aztlan] 2012 Conference Trailer

            

John H. and others interested in this thread,

 

This all sounds oh so clique-ish. I'll take the high road and simply offer an observation. Up until very recently the professional scholars have dismissed 2012 as a non-topic, an irrelevant calculational accident of Long Count math. The possibility that the 13-Baktun cycle end-date might have had some meaning for the creators of the Long Count has been unanimously dismissed by every professional scholar I've communicated with since 1991, despite the fact that the best correlation candidate places the 13-baktun cycle's end-date on December 21, an accurate winter solstice. That this unusual occurrence might be an invitation for closer rational scrutiny regarding whether or nor some intentionality is present in the 2012 date has been ignored and disregarded by scholars, invoking "coincidence" as the only explanation.

 

Now that we have the un-lettered folk wondering about and speculating upon what it might mean, the avenue of academic scrutiny presents itself - let's examine the sociological phenomenon of end-time hysteria, apocalypse delusions, and the onerous stench of spiritual materialism in the modern American empire. Surely an examination of the sociological phenomenon of end-time hysteria is a valid topic for educated assessment, and it has a precedent - year 1000 for example. This response of scholars is quite predictable; in fact it's a kundebuffer response - a predictable counter-response - to the New Age frenzy over 2012. However, the scholars aren't really doing their job. I submit that scholars are continuing to neglect examining the 2012 artifact itself; e.g., how a big cycle ending in the Maya Long Count might have been involved in Maya eschatology, the World Age doctrine, Maya beliefs and spiritual teachings related to cycle endings, big and small. Scholars are being distracted by the 2012 glitz just as much as the New Age fantasts are; and both sides are neglecting to look at the thing-in-itself rationally, as an authentic artifact of Maya calendrics and time philosophy. Just some food for thought,

 

John Major Jenkins

http://alignment2012.com

 

"A giant kundebuffer is being set up (in unconscious cooperation) by two groups: The ungrounded cheerleaders of 2012 and the scholarly debunkers. There is the potential to create a Y2K fiasco for serious research by setting up 2012 for inflated expectations which (because inflated expectations are almost impossible to realize) can be a great triumph for the debunkers."

 

---Jonathan Zap 

 

 

Mark Van Stone introduces himself (offlist):

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Van Stone [mailto:mvanstone@swccd.edu]
Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2008 11:59 PM
To: John Major Jenkins; markvanstone@sbcglobal.net
Subject: RE: [Aztlan] 2012 Conference

 

 

Dear John [Major Jenkins],

     Hi, I don't think we've communicated before, but I get so forgetful in my old age... I have read so many of your postings and writings that I feel like I must have responded at some point.  I'm one of Linda Schele's last grad students, now teaching in California's southernmost community college.  With a Mexican/Central American-majority student body, there is plenty of interest in my Mesoamerican art and my Glyphs classes.  I'm happy as a pig in, uh, controversy.

    I respect your scholarship, and though I am still rather skeptical that the inventors of the Long Count contrived it to end when the sun aligned with the Dark Rift, I think that the issue is far from closed, and deserves study with an open mind. 

    I think the BEGINNING date of the calendar is much more likely to have had meaning for its inventors than the end, or a future cycle.  If the Maya calendar's inventors looked ahead instead of back, they would be unique in history... And so far, the main things that, say, Thompson believed was unique about them --for example, the peaceful calendar priests-- proved to be wrong.  Still, it is possible that they had assembled accurate enough astronomical observations to measure the speed of precession before they invented the long count, and maybe even invented it as a kind of galactic countdown.   But most linear calendars, when invented, set their start date in the distant past: Chinese, Jewish, Babylonian; even Christians didn't start using AD till, like, the seventh century, right?  Long enough after the fact that they calculated wrong and Christ's actual birthday turns out to be a few years BC.  (How embarrassing to be born before your own birthday...)  In any case, you are suggesting that the Maya had been recording with, say, a tenth of a degree of precision, the rising of the solstice sun for, say, two or three centuries BEFORE the 100 BC invention date.  Even that kind of accuracy might miss the end date by a century or so.  Is there evidence for Izapa's florescence beginning that early?

     Assuming the beginning had some meaning for them, the most interesting thing I think I've seen happening on Aug. 11, 3114 BC is that it is close to the Zenith Passage.  In your article in Tami Simon's book The Mystery of 2012 (p. 47) you say Izapa's Zenith Passages are on May 1 and Aug. 11, but those dates are not 105 and 260 days apart.   April 30 and Aug 13 are (so if GMT+2 is accepted, 4 Ajaw 8 Kumk'u's falling on 13 Aug would be no coincidence).  So when ARE the zenith passages at Izapa?  Aug 11 & May 1 (257 days apart, in which case your argument that they invented the tzolk'in is considerably weakened)? Or Aug 13 & April 30 (260 days apart, but then we might prefer to accept GMT+2, and then 4 Ajaw 3 K'ank'in falls two days after the solstice)?  Or some other day?  I don't know where to check, or I'd be writing this note to you with a more confident conclusion.

    In any case, I think it is most unfortunate that the two camps have such disdain for each other.  You must feel rather isolated, caught in the middle.  I note that you are a keynote speaker at the 2012 conference in LA.  I wonder how you relate to your fellow speakers, since they seem to have far less understanding than you for the Mayas' actual astronomical science, and their prophecies.  I would like to have come too, except I am obligated to attend the Texas Maya Glyph Meetings which occur the same weekend.  Drat!  Are you presenting at other such events?  I'd like to attend. 

     At the very least, I wish to extend my hand in respect and openmindedness.  One thing I observe of most 2012ologists: no matter that I may, as a scholar, find fault with some of their logic and credulity.  I respect their humanism, their efforts to change the disastrous materialistic course we modern humans have, for the most part, chosen.  I think that we all can agree that 2012 is an opportunity to change that, and that it is imperative that we all try. 

 

    All the best,

    Mark Van Stone, Professor of Art History

    Southwestern Community College

    Chula Vista, CA

 

 

Note: In my detailed response to Mark below, I repeat his email (above) and respond to his various points (in blue)

 

-----Original Message-----

From: John Major Jenkins [mailto:kahib@ix.netcom.com]

Sent: Fri 1/25/2008 10:16 AM

To: Mark Van Stone

Subject: RE: [Aztlan] 2012 Conference

 

Hi Mark, Thanks for being in contact. I seem to have placed my head in the guillotine and am trying to respond to a dozen detailed and challenging emails, so forgive me for being brief in my responses - below in blue.

 

Dear John [from Mark Van Stone],

     Hi, I don't think we've communicated before, but I get so forgetful in my old age... I have read so many of your postings and writings that I feel like I must have responded at some point.  I'm one of Linda Schele's last grad students, now teaching in California's southernmost community college.  With a Mexican/Central American-majority student body, there is plenty of interest in my Mesoamerican art and my Glyphs classes.  I'm happy as a pig in, uh, controversy.

    I respect your scholarship, and though I am still rather skeptical that the inventors of the Long Count contrived it to end when the sun aligned with the Dark Rift, I think that the issue is far from closed, and deserves study with an open mind. 

    I think the BEGINNING date of the calendar is much more likely to have had meaning for its inventors than the end, or a future cycle. 

 

We now know for a fact that the Classic Period Maya, at Tortuguero at least, were also interested in the cycle ending in 2012. Tort. Mon 6 contains the tzolkin-haab date 4 Ahau 3 Kankin, thus its 13.0.0.0.0 designation = December 21, 2012. Philosophically speaking, we also know that the Maya conceived of cycle endings as like-in-kind events - a general truism affirmed by various scholars including Matthew Looper in his article in the homage book to Linda Schele called Heart of Creation. Also, since the Long Count utilizes end-naming for its various periods, we must entertain that the Maya preferred a somewhat counter-intuitive notion that the interesting thing happens at the end of a time cycle or process. This possibility is supported by the observations of ethnographers. We also must consider that the many Creation monuments dated 13.0.0.0.0, 4 Ahau 8 Cumku - which refer calendrically to the beginning date in 3114 BC, are Classic Period documents, whereas the Long Count was inaugurated many centuries prior to when those monuments were carved. In my work I've suggested we should look at the culture that was involved in the inception of the Long Count and thus the iconographic and astronomical content of the carved monuments of Izapa can provide documentation on how the Long Count was originally conceived. If this avenue of rational inquiry is pursued, we find that certain astronomical features are encoded in the iconography of the Izapan monuments, reinforced by their orientation to those astronomical features. These include all the features that are involved in the solstice sun's alignment with the dark rift in era-2012.    

 

If the Maya calendar's inventors looked ahead instead of back, they would be unique in history...

 

Not true. The World Age doctrine in Hinduism, Buddhism, Norse, etc etc project their eschatological thoughts onto a future date. The Maya belief in a future transformation of the world at the end of a cycle is not unique, especially in cultures that maintained a non-Mosaic cyclical view of time.

 

And so far, the main things that, say, Thompson believed was unique about them --for example, the peaceful calendar priests-- proved to be wrong. N/A

 

Still, it is possible that they had assembled accurate enough astronomical observations to measure the speed of precession before they invented the long count, and maybe even invented it as a kind of

galactic countdown.   But most linear calendars, when invented, set

their start date in the distant past: Chinese, Jewish, Babylonian; even Christians didn't start using AD till, like, the seventh century, right? Long enough after the fact that they calculated wrong and Christ's actual birthday turns out to be a few years BC.  (How embarrassing to be born before your own birthday...)  In any case, you are suggesting that the Maya had been recording with, say, a tenth of a degree of precision, the rising of the solstice sun for, say, two or three centuries BEFORE the 100 BC invention date.  Even that kind of accuracy might miss the end date by a century or so.  Is there evidence for Izapa's florescence beginning that early?

                     

This is where a misunderstanding is projected on my thesis. I do not require a tenth-degree of precision. I observed the placement of the end date in 2012, and I observe the modern astronomical calculation of the galactic alignment (1998, with range of 1980 - 2016). I observe that they are in close proximity, in fact 2012 is within the alignment zone defined astronomically. I take this as a signal that MAYBE something is going on here. I then proceed to examine whether or not the astronomical features  involved in the galactic alignment have any meaning in Maya traditions. I find that they do, precisely in those traditions that one would expect to speak about World Age transitions, namely the Maya Creation Mythology. This is the methodology of the argument, and I do not require that the Maya were capable of the degree of precision that we observe between the end date and the galactic alignment. I've written that if they were 50 or 100 years apart, that would still be enough to make us wonder if they were, indeed, intentionally targeting the solstice sun's alignment with the dark rift.

 

From a slightly different angle, I can provide this food for thought. If we accept that the Maya who invented the Long Count were capable of calculating a future SOLSTICE date accurately (the end-date falls on December 21 in the GMT-2), then how much more difficult would it have been for them to make a fairly accurate forward calculation in precession? About twelve years ago I pointed out a parallel analogy - that of Hipparchus. Without telescopes and using star data that was only 140 years old, Hipparchus discovered precession. Although Hipparchus reflexively  stated that the Great Year must be 36,000 years (following standard notions of the "Great Year" concept  since Plato) an analysis of his data, by no less a nitpicker than Otto Neugebauer, pointed out that a very accurate extrapolation of the full precessional cycle would have been possible for Hipparchus. 128 BC.

 

Also, as I've pointed out in my books, the Olmec at La Venta were observing precessional shifting of the Big Dipper over the northern horizon, 1200 BC. This is the knowledge base and precedent that fed into Izapa.     

 

     Assuming the beginning had some meaning for them, the most interesting thing I think I've seen happening on Aug. 11, 3114 BC is that it is close to the Zenith Passage.  In your article in Tami Simon's book The Mystery of 2012 (p. 47) you say Izapa's Zenith Passages are on May 1 and Aug. 11, but those dates are not 105 and 260 days apart. April 30 and Aug 13 are (so if GMT+2 is accepted, 4 Ajaw 8 Kumk'u's falling on 13 Aug would be no coincidence).  So when ARE the zenith passages at Izapa?  Aug 11 & May 1 (257 days apart, in which case your argument that they invented the tzolk'in is considerably weakened)?

 

I don't think so; zenith observations are generalized over several days, so that level of observational precision is not useful here. Naked eye sky-watchers of solar zenith transits simply could not abide by the same level of precession that is possible to achieve with modern science. Also, it's not my argument that Izapa's latitude results in a 260- and 105- day interval between zenith passage days - that goes way back to the 1930s.

 

We should perhaps accept that the zenith passage beginning date and the solstice-galaxy end date actually were both acknowledged as like-in-kind events. This is how it works. Both dates involve the sun in a cross that represents a cosmic center. The solar zenith transit occurs in the zenith cross (the zenith is the fifth direction at the center of the quincunx symbol). Likewise, on December 21, 2012, the solstice sun is in the center of the cross formed by the Milky Way and the ecliptic. That early Maya cosmology at Izapa acknowledged three different cosmic centers (polar, zenith, and galactic) is demonstrated at Izapa via the three main monument groups.

 

Or Aug 13 & April 30 (260 days apart, but then we might prefer to accept GMT+2, and then 4 Ajaw 3 K'ank'in falls two days after the solstice)? Or some other day?  I don't know where to check, or I'd be writing this note to you with a more confident conclusion.

 

    In any case, I think it is most unfortunate that the two camps have such disdain for each other.  You must feel rather isolated, caught in the middle.  I note that you are a keynote speaker at the 2012 conference in LA.  I wonder how you relate to your fellow speakers, since they seem to have far less understanding than you for the Mayas' actual astronomical science, and their prophecies. 

 

I perceive them as extremely under-informed distorters of Maya traditions, and I've offered rational critique of their work. They don't care at all for reconstructing the fragmented aspects of a lost cosmology, which is how I characterize my work. To me, that is what the scholars should be focused on rather than taking potshots at the far extreme of how the 2012 phenomenon is playing out in the culture. Hope this helps, and thank you for your ideas and thoughts,

 

John Major Jenkins

 

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Van Stone [mailto:mvanstone@swccd.edu]
Sent: Friday, January 25, 2008 12:52 PM
To: John Major Jenkins
Subject: RE: [Aztlan] 2012 Conference

 

Dear John,

    Thanks for your detailed reply.  I can see that I'll need some time to digest...  I'm running round today with (sigh) non-Maya-related activities, but I wanted at least to acknowledge your letter.  More anon.

   Yrs sincerely, 

   Mark

 

 

About four months after this first exchange in January 2008, Mark announces on Aztlan a talk he will be giving on 2012:

 

-----Original Message-----
From: aztlan-bounces@lists.famsi.org [mailto:aztlan-bounces@lists.famsi.org] On Behalf Of Mark Van Stone
Sent: Friday, May 23, 2008 8:53 AM
To: aztlan@lists.famsi.org
Subject: [Aztlan] lecture

 

Hey, listeros,

 

 I should like to announce a lecture & workshop in Santa Fe next weekend.  In it I shall present what we have on Maya beliefs about the 13.0.0.0.0 date, and what they believed about cyclic time.  I hope to convince a few of the "true believers" that the Real Maya (and Aztecs) are far more interesting than the caricatures presented by 2012ologists in the popular press. 

 

  I'll let y'all know how it goes.

  Thanks,

  Mark Van Stone

 

Events sponsored by Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe: at St. Francis Auditorium, NM Museum of Art, 107 W. Palace Ave, Santa Fe

May 30 Friday 6:30-7:30 p.m. Free

 

It’s Not the End of the World: What the Ancient Maya REALLY Said About 2012

 

Lecture by Mark Van Stone, Ph.D., Professor of Art and Art History, Southwestern College, Chula Vista. The true meaning of Mayan prophecies discussed in light of recent evidence and decipherment of the glyphic record.

 

Contact: Tom Leech, Palace Press, 505-476-5096

May 31 Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 

 

-----Original Message-----

From: John Major Jenkins [mailto:kahib@ix.netcom.com]

Sent: Fri 5/23/2008 11:17 AM

To: Mark Van Stone

Subject: Re: [Aztlan] lecture

 

Hi Mark,

 

Since I coined the term "2012ologist" in my 2005 introduction to Geoff Stray's book Beyond 2012, and have used it since in a non-disparaging way to mean "those who study the 2012 phenomenon" - including myself, Robert Sitler, and a few others - I'd be interested in what caricatures you refer to (I'm sure we could collaborate and end up with a huge list!). I don't consider writers who simply hijack 2012 as a promotional tool to be "2012ologists" in any serious sense. These include well-known authors in the spiritual actualization field who deftly insert "2012" into their already established raps.  Nor are the underinformed pop-New Age writers serious researchers.

 

The distinction I was trying to make by using the term was separating the serious researchers - most of whom are independent investigators due to the dearth of serious treatment by scholars - from the expected doomsday alarmists and spiritual ascension cultists. Best wishes,

 

John Major Jenkins

 

 

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Van Stone [mailto:mvanstone@swccd.edu]
Sent: Saturday, May 24, 2008 2:24 PM
To: John Major Jenkins
Subject: RE: [Aztlan] lecture

 

Dear John,

    Thanks for writing.  I want you to know that I credit coinage of this term to you in the book I am working on, and I am sorry if I appeared to use your term in any disparaging way.  I will be careful to note your distinction in both my writings and lectures.  What term might you suggest for those bandwagon-jumpers who have, as you so well put it, "deftly insert" or "hijack" the 2012 event into their cosmology?

    I note some of these call themselves as the "2012 Tribe." What do you think would be an appropriate term by which to distinguish the hijackers, the uninformed, the 'others,' from serious researchers such as yourself?

    By the way, how was the LA Conference?

 

    Thanks, and all the best,

    Mark

 

 

 

-----Original Message-----

From: John Major Jenkins [mailto:kahib@ix.netcom.com]

Sent: Sat 5/24/2008 4:12 PM

To: Mark Van Stone

Subject: RE: [Aztlan] lecture

 

Hi Mark,

Dealing with the Windsor tornado damage right now; I appreciate your response. I think many other writers are opportunists, come-latelies. This topic inspires a collective excitement, or hysteria, so it's hard to not be portrayed by the media as kooky, no matter what you say to them. That's happened to me many times. It's like the tornado that ripped through my town - yes, some major damage in spots, but my friends watching the news in Denver had the sure impression that the entire town was wiped off the map. We are four blocks from ground zero and lost one tree, some shingles, and part of a fence. Some writers will actually go for that effect, so "carnival barkers", "snake oil salesman" come to mind. Careful critiques can also be offered for more cogent research.

 

What's at stake, in my opinion, is the accurate reconstruction of the origins of Long Count, and the intentions and beliefs connected with it. It is now becoming apparent to Maya scholars (Milbrath) that there was probably some kind of intentionality in the solstice placement of the cycle ending. My own theory hinges on the question of precessional knowledge. Are you aware of Barb MacLeod's recent paper on the 3-11 pik formula? And Michael Grofe's PhD thesis on precessional mechanisms in the Serpent Sequence of the Dresden? He drew from the sun-Pleiades-zenith concept, as a precession tracking device, that I identified in my 1998 book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. He identifies a level of calculational accuracy for precession that, in his view, makes the solstice-galaxy alignment of era-2012 par for the course. His work is pioneering in several respects, treated precessional knowledge seriously, and is moving the discussion forward. And implicit in his work is the fact that these abilities must have been present, not just during the post-Classic when the Dresden was written, but at the very dawn of the Long Count, since that is when its zenith beginning and solstice end dates within the seasonal cycle were fixed. Now I can dig out some unpublished research I was doing eight years ago.  Some very interesting breakthroughs happening right now.           

 

John Major Jenkins

 

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Van Stone [mailto:mvanstone@swccd.edu]
Sent: Sunday, May 25, 2008 3:08 AM
To: John Major Jenkins
Subject: RE: [Aztlan] lecture

 

Dear John,

   Thanks for writing, and good luck with the damage.  I think, if I were a religious man, I'd interpret God's will in events like this to remind the 95% of us whom the tornado missed that we are luckier than we deserve, or something.  In any case, I'm glad you're all right.

   I have to ask some questions, that I know you've addressed somewhere (I do have your book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012), but my fuzzy memory will not render up the information where to look... First, How can we be sure that the original 584283 GMT correlation is correct, vs. the 584285 GMT+2 correlation that Thompson, and Lounsbury, eventually settled on?  I know there is still some debate, but I am under the impression that the latter one (in which 13.0.0.0.0 lands on Dec. 23) was more widely accepted.  Mike Coe tells me that he was fully convinced by Lounsbury's arguments, after spending a whole semester's seminar on the Correlation topic.  If the 584285 correlation is correct, then the *beginning* date August 13 makes some sense, since that is a Zenith Passage day at Izapa's latitude, and the whole theory of the 260-day tzolk'in being invented there, suggests some importance might have been accorded that day.  One cannot have both.

   And, while solstices are cool, they don't seem to have been a major priority when choosing dates for important events such as coronations.  A Maya Ajaw had a month to six months during which to be crowned, and almost always could have chosen an equinox or a solstice day on which to do so.  Yet of 81 accession dates recorded in Martin & Grube's Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens, only one falls on either an equinox or a solstice (one in each correlation).  Neither is a solstice.  The only events ever recorded on or near Solstices are the jasaw-chan "basket-staff-dance" in 2 or 3 Yaxchilan lintels, which fall near or on 21 June.  Nothing is recorded that I know of as happening on the Winter solstice.  Nothing.  Now I know that the E-Group architecture at Waxaktun aligns with the Solstice-and-Equinox sunrises, but there are several other E-Groups in Mayaland, and I think very few of them actually align to the sunrises... as if the IDEA or SYMBOLISM of an alignment were more important than an actual one. 

     Finally, although it is cool that the Solstice sunrise lies in the Dark Rift, some 3° from the Galactic Center, it has been doing so every Dec. 21 for twenty years, and will continue for some years past 2012.  And for the previous 37 years, the Earth, Sun and Galactic Center have aligned on the morning of 20 December. And for the 37 years before that, on the 19th... In other words, the alignment of the Earth, Sun and GC, has been happening annually like clockwork for thousands of years.  And during the Maya Classic period, they were (WE were) lining up around Nov. 17th... which in 748 AD fell on a 5 Muwan, and in 744 fell on a 4 Muwan, etc.  If the Maya held this alignment as significant, I think they would likely celebrate its “antecedent” in early Muwan (or thereabouts, depending on the year), and we should look for such dates in the record.  They were wont to mark such mini-cycles, as you know. 

    I guess what I am saying (and plan to say in my lecture) is that I am not yet convinced that the Maya held either the (annual) Galactic Alignment or the (never-celebrated) Solstice as particularly important.  At least not from what fragmentary evidence we have to date.  

    I have looked at the Dresden Serpent Numbers a good deal, and I keep wondering, why do they all anchor to the 9 K'an 12 K'ayab date 34,000 years before 13.0.0.0.0 4 Ajaw 8 Kumk'u?  What is the significance of THAT date to this scheme?  This is a mystery at least as interesting as the setting of the beginning date in the first place.  It's way longer than the precession cycle, and it's about 86.3 Bak'tuns, *not* an even number (the Maya were fond of integer multiples, as you know), and substantially longer than the supposed five creations of 13 Bak'tuns each... I haven't come up with a decent explanation yet. 

 

    Anyway, as you have thought about these issues longer than I have, I welcome your opinion. 

 

    Yours,

    Mark

   

P.S. I forgot to answer your question. I had dinner with Barb MacLeod the day after she announced her 3-11-Pik research at the Maya Meetings in March.  Yes, her work is to my mind (and Mike Coe's) the first concrete epigraphic evidence of Maya celebrating Precession.  Interesting that they celebrated the mini-3-11-Pik on the 71-year tzolk'in anniversary on which the Precession dropped back one day, a kind of pars-pro-toto.... Just as any 13-Tun or 13-K'atun period ending was seen as a kind of mini-13.0.0.0.0 PE.  They did a lot of that.  Also interesting that they had an alternate way of arriving at Precession anniversary: five times the 13 Bak'tun/Pik Great Cycle is 65 Pik, just under the 25,800-year Precession, while twice the 3-11-Pik is 66 Pik, just over.  I think each was close enough that the ancient Maya used both (perhaps in rival polities). 

    More anon,

    Mark

 

 

-----Original Message-----
From: John Major Jenkins [mailto:kahib@ix.netcom.com]
Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 5:13 PM
To: 'Mark Van Stone'
Subject: RE: [Aztlan] lecture, forgot to say

 

Hi Mark,

 Thanks for engaging on this interesting topic. Please see attached letter and 2 short pdf pages. Best wishes,

 

John

 

Notes: The detailed MSWord document (the “letter”) I sent is: http://Alignment2012.com/Response-to-Mark-Van-Stone.html. The two PDF pages comprise my response to a critique from Susan Milbrath (echoing a critique by Anthony Aveni) in the pages of The Institute of Maya Studies newsletter. They are http://Alignment2012.com/Aprilpg3.pdf and http://Alignment2012.com/Aprilpg6.pdf. These links are critical to understanding the extent of information that was exchanged between Mark and I by mid-2008, calling into question why this information was not addressed in his article on 2012 that was posted to FAMSI in December 2008.   

 

 

-----Original Message-----
From: John Major Jenkins [mailto:kahib@ix.netcom.com]
Sent: Sunday, June 22, 2008 10:09 AM
To: 'Mark Van Stone'
Subject: correlation issues, 2012 astronomy, clarity, etc

 

Hi Mark,

 

I wasn't sure if my email and attachments of 5-27 were received. How did your talk go?

 

John Major Jenkins

 

 

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Van Stone [mailto:mvanstone@swccd.edu]
Sent: Monday, June 23, 2008 1:20 AM
To: John Major Jenkins
Subject: RE: [Aztlan] lecture, forgot to say

 

Dear John,

   Thanks for the reminder. I missed your original e-missive because it arrived the day I landed in Santa Fe, and in the last-minute preparations and afterward, I didn't check my e-mail for six days, and it simply got buried in the Inbox traffic. Sorry, and thanks again.  I'll read your thoughtful and long account and reply forthwith.

 

 Yours sincerely,

  Mark

 

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Van Stone [mailto:mvanstone@swccd.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 10:11 AM
To: John Major Jenkins
Subject: two questions

 

Dear John,

    I am sorry I have been too busy to give your kind letter its due attention.... And this note is just a "shower and a promise" as my mom used to say when hurriedly watering plants that needed more than just watering.  Recently, I have been re-perusing your book *Maya Cosmogenesis* and a sentence jumped out at me from  your first chapter.  You observed that the Age of Aquarius's entrance is not due for at least two hundred years, and that the transformation promised by the Maya Long Count calendar would be something different.  Indeed, assuming that the Maya-promised transformation occurs, do you expect another one when the Zodiacal sun passes into Aquarius?  Will it be the same order of magnitude?  Or were the Maya right and the Greeks wrong?

    Another observation I would like to make is that there is comparatively little evidence, beyond the Long Count itself, to suggest that the Classic Maya believed in much of a transformation to come in 2012.  On the other hand, there is ample historical records that many, many Christians expected Jesus' Return in the year 1000.  My point is that (although the world did change somewhat for them, as it has every century), I do not think, despite the firm, attested belief of perhaps a majority of Christians, that the world transformation was anywhere as sweeping as they expected it to be.  (And once you leave Christian Europe, the world's changes in the year 1000 were all over the map, from the Sung and the Chola dynasties to the Almohad invasion of Spain, to the apogee of Chichen Itza.)  Was that well-attested "prophecy" simply wrong? Did the Maya calendar-inventors have a monopoly on prophecy?

 

     Thanks,

     Mark

 

 

Note: In early July I was in Washington state and then traveling by rental truck back to Colorado. I then was sick with strep throat, and upon recovery immediately had to prepare for the Maya Tour I co-lead every summer with Jim Reed. Tornado repairs were also happening around the house and I neglected to follow-up quickly on Mark’s two questions; the ongoing exchange got lost in the shuffle for over a month. I was reminded to respond to Mark when a researcher in Bulgaria posted a question to Aztlan:

 

-----Original Message-----
From: grigsby tom <tom_grigsby@yahoo.com>
Sent: Aug 17, 2008 11:12 AM
To: aztlan@lists.famsi.org
Subject: [Aztlan] Nutall and zeniths

Listeros,
Can someone give me a citation of Zutall's work on the zenith.  If memory serves me, she was a big proponent of re-introducing some sort of ceremonial observation of that event. Muchisimos gracias,
Tomas

G.S. Rakovski St.
, No.79
Boboshevo, 2026 Bulgaria
GSM: 359 0899 784 081

 

My response to him (drawn from my online bibliography for my book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 (http://Alignment2012.com/bibbb.htm):

 

From: John Major Jenkins <kahib@ix.netcom.com>
Subject: Re: [Aztlan] Nutall and zeniths
To: tom_grigsby@yahoo.com, aztlan@lists.famsi.org
Date: Monday, August 18, 2008, 5:35 PM

Nuttall, Zelia
1928 La Observación de
l paso del sol por el zenit por los antiguos habitants de la America tropical. Publicaciones de la Secretaría de Educación Pública, 17 (20), Mexico City.

 

 

My post to the list was scrambled, as sometimes happens, and Mark Van Stone emailed me privately for the citation, which reminded me to respond to his earlier two questions:

 

 

-----Original Message-----
From: John Major Jenkins [mailto:kahib@ix.netcom.com]
Sent: Monday, August 18, 2008 4:18 PM
To: 'Mark Van Stone'
Subject: RE: two questions

 

Hi Mark,

I forgot to respond to your questions from quite a while ago. Here goes...

 

1. The Maya were "possibly" more right than the Greeks in that the Maya eschatology is anchored to an actual empirical alignment that, at least upon a quick glance, has more going for it than the mere entry of the equinox sun into a more-or-less arbitrarily defined zodiacal sign.  On the Maya side, I'm referring to the "galactic alignment" that I believe to be the reason behind the 2012 cycle ending date. Regarding possible scientific effects of the galactic alignment that may or may not be provable, these questions are interesting to speculate on, but are less interesting to me than the interdisciplinary arguments that contribute to demonstrating that the ancient Maya who created the Long Count were indeed intending their 13-baktun cycle-ending date to target the galactic alignment (the alignment of the solstice sun and the dark-rift in the Milky Way). 

 

2. The idea that the end of a cycle in the Maya calendar, whether it be a tun, katun, baktun, or a 13-baktun cycle, is attended by "transformation" is actually a fundamental principle that can be observed in the rites of katun endings and so on - all of which speak for how cycle endings were thought about. Basically - what happens (or is facilitated by the ceremonial rite) is: sacrifice, transformation, rebirth. Similarly, when we accept or understand that the 13-Baktun cycle was conceived as a World Age by the Maya (a proposition that has recently attracted an exorbitant amount of contentious knee-jerk rejection on Aztlan), then we can look to the Popol Vuh for how such an era was thought about. In that creation myth, several World Ages have come and gone; each one ends with transformation and renewal.   

 

I wouldn’t say that the Maya calendar inventors had a monopoly on prophecy, but rather that, unlike your other examples, they had anchored their eschatological or "prophetic" calendar to a real empirical (astronomical) alignment. Based on this, their views are perhaps less of a prophecy in the woo-woo Nostradamus sense and more of an insight into compelling alignments within large cycles that impinge upon and - somehow - effect earth energetically and life on it. The true basis of the cycles of civilization, we might say. Again, for me that part of the discussion is secondary to showing that the galactic alignment is the reason why the 13-Baktun cycle ends on December 21, 2012, an effort I've pursued through an interdisciplinary analysis of evidence, with a special focus on the underappreciated site of Izapa. Best wishes,

 

John Major Jenkins

http://Alignment2012.com

 

Note. That was the final email in our exchange; Mark posted some comments on unrelated matters to Aztlan in early November.

 

 

On December 9, John Hoopes posted to Aztlan the announcement of interviews we had conducted with Jan Irvin on his Gnostic Media podcast website, mentioning that Mark Van Stone’s lengthy treatment of 2012, recently made available on the FAMSI website, was “the best scholarly background for discussion of 2012”:

 

[from John Hoopes to the Aztlan list]:

Jan Irvin has now made two podcast interivews about the Maya calendar and 2012 available online, one from me and one from John Major Jenkins:

 

Podcast #004 - The 2012 Meme.  An Interview with Prof. John Hoopes http://gnosticmedia.podomatic.com/entry/2008-11-10T20_44_37-08_00

 

Podcast #008 - The 2012 Meme, Part 2.  An Interview with John Major Jenkins http://gnosticmedia.podomatic.com/entry/2008-12-08T00_07_50-08_00

 

(In his interview, Jenkins makes mention of the discussions that have transpired here on AZTLAN.)

 

I hope these will provide additional stimulus for discussion, argumentation, investigation, and insight.  I anticipate that this issue will bring many new investigators into Mesoamerican and Pre-Columbian studies.  It will be the responsibility of all of us to guide them well, teach them how to think critically, and steer them away from pseudoscience once their sincere interest has been sparked.

 

The best scholarly background for discussion of 2012 is Mark Van Stone's excellent resource on the FAMSI website:

 

It's Not the End of the World: What the Ancient Maya Tell Us About 2012 http://www.famsi.org/research/vanstone/2012/index.html

 

John Hoopes

 

 

Sandy Mielke, at FAMSI, soon indicated that Mark’s detailed treatment of 2012 was just recently uploaded and made available on FAMSI:

 

Thanks John [Hoopes], I was in the midst of writing up the announcement of our new resource from Mark Van Stone, which I will post shortly for everyone to see. - Sandy

 

Before this clarification was made, I was baffled upon reading Mark’s piece on FAMSI, because he made no reference to my work and did not respond to any of my comments that had transpired in our lengthy exchanges through the year. None of my books were cited in the bibliography, and although he mentioned several avocational writers on 2012, he didn’t mention me directly. He did, however, reference a poor definition of the galactic alignment lifted from the writings of Gregg Braden, and he did address the slow shifting movement of the precessional convergence. He, like many critics, wrote that “some writers” believe that 2012 was intended to target a galactic alignment, obscuring the fact that I originated this thesis by showing how the astronomical features involved in the alignment play an important role in the Maya Creation Myth and other traditions. He illustrated a long range of years on which the galactic alignment could be considered to occur, but didn’t address or respond to my contextualizing argument against the fallacy of precision (which was available to him through the IMS exchange I had with Milbrath, which I sent him). After reading his piece, which is detailed and extensive indeed, I quickly called out to Hoopes for some clarification (see below). This was before I was certain that Mark’s piece was a recent upload to FAMSI. Until this became clear, I was willing to entertain the possibility that his piece had been written and posted before our exchanges began in January of 2008. Now I see that this is not the case, and wonder why our exchanges didn’t factor into his treatment of 2012, which is characterized by Hoopes as the best treatment of the topic. If the post to FAMSI is merely an unedited original piece he wrote some time ago, then it’s just plain lazy that it was not augmented and updated by our relevant exchanges since January. It would have taken perhaps twenty minutes to provide some kind of update sketching some of the points we addressed in our email dialogues.       

 

Me to Hoopes, December 9, 2008:

 

Hi John [Hoopes],

 

Thanks for posting the announcement to Aztlan. Sorry about the mispronunciation of your name - I've always thought it was long oo, but Jan seemed to think that was incorrect so I followed him on that.

 

I guess since my comments in my previous email regarding Jimenez and the fallacy of the alignment not being visible was integrated into my interview, there's no need for you to respond directly to it at this point. Are you super busy with classes right now?

 

Regarding Mark Van Stone's interesting post to FAMSI. I'm a bit baffled. I was not aware that was available on FAMSI, and I'm baffled as to why he references Gregg Braden's bad paraphrase of my work to define the galactic alignment. More to the point, why does he never cite my primary arguments, or reference me at all? He relies heavily on Classic Maya (and even Central Mexican!) information, when it is important to examine the place and time of the Long Count's origin. He skims lightly over Izapa, never mentions Prudence Rice's recent book, completely ignores the solstice alignment of the Izapan ballcourt, and insinuates the same issue around precision offered my Aveni and Milbrath that I already responded to in the pages of the IMS newsletter. He seems to be taking a back door approach. I communicated with Mark back around June, and sent him an extensive framing of the 2012 issue at that time - do you think this was posted to FAMSI before that time? I find it hard to believe that he would have been completely unaware of my singular efforts to address the 2012 topic; his lack of reference to my work suggests this is so. I don’t even know how to proceed with a response to this since I've already responded to him, and his various points re the solstice, the galactic alignment, the correlation, and so on. Would you envision FAMSI as a suitable "peer review" place in which my ideas, or his ideas even, should be published?

     

John Major Jenkins

 

 

Sandy Mielke’s official announcement of Mark Van Stone’s essay on 2012:

 

-----Original Message-----
From: aztlan-bounces@lists.famsi.org [mailto:aztlan-bounces@lists.famsi.org] On Behalf Of Sandy Mielke
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 8:25 AM
To: aztlan@lists.famsi.org
Subject: [Aztlan] 2012 Resource at FAMSI

 

FAMSI is pleased to announce a new resource on our website:

 

“It's Not the End of the World: What the Ancient Maya Tell Us About 2012” by Mark Van Stone

 

Maya Scholars, in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador and North America, have been watching with amusement and dismay as self-styled experts proclaim that ancient Maya prophets foretold an earth-shattering happening to occur December 21, 2012. This predicted phenomenon gets described in contradictory but always cataclysmic fashion. Mark Van Stone explains what we actually know about (1) Maya knowledge and attitudes, both ancient and modern, (2) the date 13.0.0.0.0. and (3) their many Creation stories and prophecies.

 

http://www.famsi.org/research/vanstone/2012/index.html

 

Regards,

 

Sandy Mielke

FAMSI Web Coordinator

smielke@famsi.org

www.famsi.org

 

 

I contacted Sandy with a proposal:

 

-----Original Message-----
From: John Major Jenkins [mailto:kahib@ix.netcom.com]
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 10:32 AM
To: 'Sandy Mielke'
Subject: RE: [Aztlan] 2012 Resource at FAMSI

 

Hi Sandy,

 

I'm fascinated to read Mark Van Stone's treatment of 2012. As you may know, I've been active on Aztlan in debates about 2012, and for about 20 years have been pointedly studying the various Mesoamerican traditions and academic studies that relate to the 2012 question. I've been publishing my research on the Maya calendar, albeit in non-university publishing venues, since 1989.   

 

I was wondering, what would be the process by which FAMSI would post my official response to Van Stone's article? And what is the likelihood of this occurrence? I believe John Hoopes would be willing to endorse my proposition. Please let me know; I'm interested in moving the discussion forward in a rational way, and I believe it would be fair to make my  critique of Van Stone's observations available in the same FAMSI venue. Best wishes,

 

John Major Jenkins 

 

 

She responded:

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Sandy Mielke [mailto:smielke@famsi.org]
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 10:47 AM
To: 'John Major Jenkins'
Subject: RE: [Aztlan] 2012 Resource at FAMSI

 

Mr. Jenkins,

 

Thank you for your interest, however after reading all the discussions about this on the Aztlan list, the FAMSI director, has decided not to make this a debate forum on the FAMSI website. 

 

Thank you,

Sandy

 

 

-----Original Message-----
From: John Major Jenkins [mailto:kahib@ix.netcom.com]
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2008 11:18 AM
To: 'Sandy Mielke'
Subject: RE: [Aztlan] 2012 Resource at FAMSI

 

Sandy,

 

I wouldn’t at all see it as a debate, but a one-time response. The important factor being that, for those who wanted to have a fair assessment of the items variously addressed or ignored by Van Stone would have, presented in one venue, a comprehensive and fair access to information.           

 

John Major Jenkins