1284 shopping days until 184.108.40.206.0 4 Ahau 3 K’ank’in.
A Note on the Notation
For a couple of years now, I’ve been posting Mayan Long Count dates as the headlines of many if not most of my posts on this blog, previously on my old blog at Salon, and also intermittently on Twitter and Identi.ca, the two “social tools” I use. As far as I can recall, only one, maybe two people have asked me the what and why of that.
The Mayan Long Count is a dating system used by the Ahau, the priest-kings of Maya city-states of the “Classic” period (roughly 100 to 900 CE). The “Burden of Time” was and is central to Mayan cosmology, theology, and political ideology, as indeed it is to most Meso-American cultures.
The Maya were masters of observational astronomy and used sophisticated mathematics in order to keep their “Count of Days” as accurately as possible. Maya theo-chronology is quite complicated, involving two intersecting cycles of time keeping, one of which is the Long Count. The Long Count is what I employ for my own purposes, so I leave the rest of the gorgeous complications to your googling pleasure.
What the Mayan Long Count provides me is an arbitrary countdown date, 220.127.116.11.0/December 21, 2012, the completion of the 13th baktun. A baktun is a period of 144,000 days/394.3 solar years/40o ha’ab (360 day Mayan years). For reasons unknown, the Long Count initial date, the 1st day of the 1st baktun, falls on August 11, 3114 BCE. This is comfortably before the first recorded Long Count date, 8.4.o.o.0/July 15, 120 CE.
As indicated above, 18.104.22.168.0 falls on December 21, 2012, i.e. the winter solstice, a nice “coincidence.” Yes, I’m counting down to the winter solstice of 2012, using the Long Count, for my own purposes and amusement. Dr. Omed’s First Law is “First, I amuse myself. After that, the rest of you are on your own.”
As far as I can determine, there is no real evidence that the Maya intended that date to taken as a doomsday, though there is plenty of noise on the innertubes citing “ancient Mayan wisdom” to the contrary. 22.214.171.124.0 is not the end of the world in the Mayan chrono-theology; it’s the end of the 13th baktun and the start of the 14th.
Since the Long Count is vigesimal, i.e. base 20, it would make more sense to have the end of the world at the end of the 20th baktun, which is not until 4872 AD. That’s not to say that the Maya did not consider the “turn of the baktun” to be an important occurrence, fraught with meaning and peril. They did.
I dote on Mayan mathematics and am fascinated by the Mayan concept of time; however, I use 126.96.36.199.0 as a convenient place holder, not as doomsday. I simply think that by the end of 2012, we will have a pretty good indication as to how things will turn out, concerning our survival as a culture, as a civilization, and as a species, as well as the ongoing deleterious effects of human activity on the Earth.
So. Just about 3 and a half years to a sorta kinda judgement day. Big party on December 21, 2112. Everyone’s invited. BYOA–Bring Your Own Apocalypse.
All moons, all years, all days, all winds
reach their completion and pass away.
So does blood reach its place of quiet,
as it reaches its power and its throne.
Measured is the time in which we can praise
the splendor of creation.
the blaze and warmth of the sun.
Measured is the time in which
the phalanx of stars will wheel.
and the gods trapped within the stars
watch over us.
Book of Chilam Balam