From Everything Shii Knows, the only reliable source

This website is an archive. It ran from 2006-2010. Virtually everything on here is outdated or inaccurate.

In Mayan astronomy, 2012 is a date set with conscious but unclear purpose. If you don't understand why I'm paying so much attention to it, read the Mayan astronomy article for an introduction.



Tortuguero Monument 6

The text
Tzuhtz-(a)j-oom u(y)-uxlajuun pik (ta) Chan Ajaw ux(-te') Uniiw. (on) Four Ajaw, the Third of Uniiw (K'ank'in). Uht-oom ... Y-em(al) ... Bolon Yookte' K'uh ta ...
The Thirteenth (Bak'tun) will be finished (on) 4 Ajaw, 3 K'ank'in. ... will occur. (It will be) the descent(?) of Bolon Yookte' K'uh to the...
The academic explanation
Bolon Yokte' K'uh is a god of war, conflict, and the underworld. However, he appears on this monument for a different reason. (I'm going by the abstract because I haven't pulled up the original yet.)
Source: Eberl, Markus and Prager, Christian. "Bolon Yokte' K'uh - Maya conception of war, conflict and the underworld." Wars and Conflicts in Prehispanic Mesoamerica and the Andes. Peter Eeckhout and Geneviève Le Fort (eds.), BAR International Series 1385, 2005. ISBN 1 84171 706 1, pp.28-36.
The 2012 researcher explanation
"Bolon Yokte's mere presence suggests that 2012 was thought of as a Creation, a worldrenewal that, after all, makes perfect sense in the context of a World Age doctrine that sequences forward in intervals of 13 baktuns. This may seem to go without saying, but in fact my work has been criticized for characterizing 2012 as a 'cosmogenesis.' Here the scholars are one step closer to understanding 2012 for what the Maya knew it to a be: a rebirth and the beginning of a new World Age."
Source: John Major Jenkins. http://alignment2012.com/bolon-yokte.html</p>

Tizimin: Makemson vs. Edmonson

The text
Ti can Ahau ual e ti tz'oc u botic ob u liksah katun ca yumob ual e. Ma ix a u alic ex a u abaulil ex katun c u talel e ...
Makemson: "...in the final days of misfortune, in the final days of tying up the bundle of the 13 katuns on 4 Ahau, then the end of the world shall come and the katun of our fathers will ascend on high ... These valleys of the earth shall come to an end. For those katuns there shall be no priests, and no one who believes in his government without having doubts...Pay heed to the truth which I present to you in the katun of dishonor. Shall my intercession, my pleading be in vain? I speak to you! I Chilam Balam, the prophet of the Jaguar! I recount to you the words of the true gods, when they shall come." (167)
Edmonson: "... In the katun period 13, in 4 Ahau again, which completes the payment for the raising of the wars of these fathers. And don't say that it is your lordship of the katun..." (194)
Makemson's interpretation
"It is entirely possible that there is a copyist's error here and that thirteen baktuns were intended, since the katun cycle began and ended with 11 Ahau, we are told elsewhere, and the thirteen baktun cycle ran from 4 Ahau to 4 Ahau." (167)
Source: Maud Worcester Makemson. The book of the Jaguar Priest. Schuman, 1951.
Edmonson's intepretation
"The baktun or Long Count dating system does not appear directly in the Tizimin."
Source: Munro S. Edmonson. The Ancient Future of the Itza: The Book of Chilam Balam of Tizimin. University of Texas Press, 1982. pp.195, xix.

Tizimin: Found only in Makemson

The text
[...] licutal oxlahun bak chem, ti u cenic u tzan a ceni ciac aba yum texe [...]
"The Nine shall arise in sorrow, alas ... And when over the dark sea I shall be lifted up in a chalice of fire, to that generation there will come the day of withered fruit. there will be rain. The face of the sun shalll be extinguished because of the great tempest. Then finally the ornaments shall descend in heaps. there will be good gifts for one and all, as well as lands, from the Great Spirit, wherever they shall settle down. Presently Baktun 13 shall come sailing, figuratively speaking, bringing the ornaments of which I have spoken from your ancestors. Then the god will come to visit his little ones. Perhaps 'After Death' will be the subject of his discourse." (Makemson 1951:30)
Makemson's intepretation
"I believe that it refers to the tremendously important event of the arrival of 4 Ahau 3 Kankin in the not too distant future." (219) (She believed that date to be 1752 AD.)


Coba Stela 1

The text
The academic explanation
"the ancient Maya recorded the creation date with twenty units above the katun". The 2012 date is only 4 Ahau 3 Kankin on the Tzolk'in, rather than 4 Ahau 8 Cumku when the Long Count calendar began (

Source: Schele, Linda; and David Freidel (1990). A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya. New York: William Morrow. pp. 430-1. ISBN 0-688-07456-1. OCLC 21295769.

The 2012 researcher explanation
"The levels above baktun are only symbolic."

Source: Geoff Stray. http://www.diagnosis2012.co.uk/sit.htm


Winter solstice

"There was, however, nothing arbitrary about the fixing of the end of the Long Count era. Victoria Bricker has pointed out to me that 4 Ahau 3 Kankin corresponds to an astronomically correct winter solstice: December 21, 2012 A.D. (Julian day number 2456283). Thus there appears to be a strong likelihood that the eral calendar, like the year calendar, was motivated by a long-range astronomical prediction, one that made a correct solsticial forecast 2,367 years into the future in 355 B.C."

Source: Edmonson, Munro S. (1988). The Book of the Year: Middle American Calendrical Systems. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. p. 119. ISBN 0-87480-288-1. OCLC 17650412

Why a winter solstice?

Xibalba and World Tree

"At sundown Xibalba [the underworld] rotated above the Earth to become the night sky." (Forest of Kings p. 66) Specifically, the black band in the Milky Way-- the galactic equator. (Popul Vuh)

"This [World] Tree was the conduit of communication between the supernatural world and the human world: The souls of the dead fell into Xibalba along its path; the daily journeys of the sun, moon, planets and stars followed its trunk. (ibid. p.90)

"Linda Schele provided a clue in the recent book Maya Cosmos. Probably the most exciting breakthrough in this book is her identification of the astronomical meaning of the Mayan Sacred Tree. Drawing from an impressive amount of iconographic evidence, and generously sharing the process by which she arrived at her discovery, the Sacred Tree is found to be none other than the crossing point of the ecliptic with the band of the Milky Way. Indeed, the Milky Way seems to have played an important role in Mayan imagery. For example, an incised bone from 8th century Tikal depicts a long sinking canoe containing various deities. This is a picture of the night sky and the canoe is the Milky Way, sinking below the horizon as the night progresses, and carrying with it deities representing the nearby constellations. The incredible Mayan site of Palenque is filled with Sacred Tree motifs and references to astronomical events. " JMJ

Galactic Alignment

JMJ Galactic Alignment theory is that 12/21/2012 is purposefully the Sun's conjunction with Xibalba. The Maya probably knew about the procession of the equinoxes, but did they devise their calendar to include it? We don't have any hard evidence for that. JMJ includes a lot of drawings and interpretations thereof to support his theory. Two big blows to this theory:

  1. The Maya were way more concerned with everyday lives of their kings than planning for a date 1500 years in the future.
  2. There is no evidence from inscriptions that the Maya cared about equinoxes at all.

Identify of Bolon Yokte' Kuh

JMJ theory on Bolon Yokte' K'uh is that it's a pun on balan, "jaguar", explaining that jaguar foot that often appears at the bottom of the World Tree. This is speculative at best. [1]

A better reading of Bolon Yokte' K'uh is "nine foot tree", corresponding to the Bolon-ti-ku. "Bolon-ti-ku, or Nine Gods, appear to be treated as one god. We find them represented in the inscriptions, and it seems likely that they represent the nine underworlds and correspond to the Nine Lords of the Night of the Mexicans. (Cf. J. E. Thompson 1929, p. 225, and Seler 1923, p. 31.)" [2]


Evidence suggests that the Maya believed that the underworld, Xibalba, is ruled by a god, Bolon Yokte' K'uh. We know for a fact that they believed Xibalba rotated above us every night, and the dark patch of gas in between us and the Milky Way is the "road to Xibalba". According to the Tortuguero inscription, they also believed that on December 21, 2012, the god of the underworld would descend from Xibalba and land on Earth.


Beyond this all is divination. If anyone tries to tell you that the Maya had definite psychic forecasting powers, stop them immediately: they'll jinx it.

There is all sorts of pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo associated with 2012, most of which I enjoy reading solely for my own amusement, but some of it belongs here despite its irrelevance to academic work.

Terence McKenna attempted to developed a "novelty theory" that placed one bound at Hiroshima and the other at 2012-12-21. It certainly was novel, because it was based on his own interpretation of the I Ching. He actually had to rewrite the math in 1997 because obvious errors were pointed out. (The software seems to have been updated to reflect the new equation.)

Here's what McKenna thought would happen in 2012, according to a website that was up long before any other New Agers had written on the subject:

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