4 Ajaw 3 K’ank’in (December 21, 2012): Oxlajuj B’ak’tun

Dear reader,

For this auspicious date, 4 Ajaw 3 K’ank’in (13.0.0.0.0), it is appropriate to publish a Maya point of view. The following is a partial translation into English of a Maya manifesto by the Guatemalan group known as the Collective for the Revitalization of Maya Science.

Here appears the title page, followed by a page of participating organizations, and then the English translation. To download the original manifesto in Spanish, click here.

See you next era.

Oxlajuj B’ak’tun
The Change of the Cycle and its Significance from the Maya Point of View
by
Collective for the Revitalization of Maya Science

PREFACE

We have arrived at the end of the Thirteen B’ak’tun count, which was bequeathed to us by our grandmothers and grandfathers.

It had great importance to them, who calculated and recorded it with such great precision. In spite of their writings and teachings, as grandchildren we have had limitations fully understanding this science.

It has given rise to other people studying our heritage recorded on our stelae, bones, books, buildings and a range of materials.

It is said that our grandparents recorded all their knowledge, but the invaders took and destroyed all they could. Also it is known that Diego de Landa burned the documents that contained the sciences, although later he attempted to rewrite them. But his reproductions were not faithful to the original. They contain the spirit and ideas of a foreign people.

It is remarkable the number of studies by other peoples about our sciences and our grandmothers and grandfathers, investigating their knowledge of the stars, plants, medicine, and buildings. However, some have done it superficially, or in a scattered fashion, or with excess imagination.

In some places they are making commercial use of Thirteen B’ak’tun. Private companies and state institutions are promoting tourism with exhibitions of art, dance, ceremonies, sports and others.

These kinds of events derive from a misunderstanding or from a lack of the true sense of the profound significance of Thirteen B’ak’tun, and they reduce our chances of eliminating the gaps of inequality that prevail in our society.

As Maya granddaughters and grandsons, we have witnessed all this and up to now have remained silent. We have not spoken out. Therefore we now ask ourselves “Is this good what is happening in Guatemala? Does our position make sense?” We, the Collective for the Revitalization of Maya Science, ask permission from our grandmothers and grandfathers to have our say, to express our feelings and our knowledge that they have left to us regarding Thirteen B’ak’tun.

Therefore, in this document we present two or three ideas about Thirteen B’ak’tun. This is one approach in which we can discover some facts about cycles of time and the worldview of our people. How should Thirteen B’ak’tun be understood? What does it teach us? These questions are addressed by the document in your hands. Study it and share it.

Thank you.

METHODOLOGY

The growth of knowledge in Maya culture has always had a communal character. The ancient documents have come down to us thanks to the efforts of men and women of knowledge, dedicated to conserving the information and searching for the way to carry this forward to the new generations. This is the case, for example, with the Popol Vuj, whose authors make reference to an ancient text that is no longer available to the community.

Following this tradition, which is very dear to our people, this document Thirteen B’ak’tun has followed a communal process. It was constructed in a collective and participatory way, deriving from experience, from life, from interviews with grandmothers and grandfathers, by group meditations, and by consulting with our ancestors through means of the fire ceremony. Our intention is to provide a Maya perspective on this theme that by means of this document will reach the distinct towns and villages of the Maya people.

In the collective compilation of this document, institutional representatives as well as individuals from various linguistic communities participated. In numerous working sessions they shared a concern and the necessity for a collective voice on the topic of Thirteen B’ak’tun. In addition they brought their learning and other resources to make this initiative a reality.

The participants in the Collective expressed their concern over the different emphases put on Thirteen B’ak’tun, not only in Guatemala but also in the international community. The diverse uses and opinions flowing out of the web, written sources, and videos, among others, in general distort the sense of the change of this grand cycle of time and what this event means for the Maya people.

For a number of months, the Collective has worked intensively on the construction of this document. No time or effort was spared for this commitment. We remain steadfast in order to have new initiatives from our collective efforts and from voluntary contributions, both individual and institutional.

Among the activities on which the Collective achieved consensus and that were created within the framework of this document, it is well to point out the following: bibliographic research, meetings of Maya specialists, collective reflection and analysis, systematic recording of the internal dialog of the Collective, and consultation with the ancestors in various Maya sacred places.

The document has four parts: The introductory part joins with the Accord on Identity and Rights of Indigenous Communities, to reaffirm the power of who we are and the historical record, as well as the mandate of the structural changes in the country. Afterward, it makes reference to the concepts of Oxlajuj B’ak’tun (Thirteen B’ak’tun), Maya No’j (Maya worldview), and the origin of the cycles of time, and then, the most essential part, the understanding of Thirteen B’ak’tun and its significance. The last part refers to certain challenges to the Maya people and others.

Each one of the parts required a distinct form of construction, but constant throughout was the dialog and consensus over the content and form.

May this contribution benefit the understanding of the nine generations, with the necessity to continue and deepen the computation of time begun by our grandmothers and grandfathers. We invite, therefore, all of you to benefit from this effort.

INTRODUCTION

Thirteen B’ak’tun is the name of a cycle of the Long Count of the Maya system of marking time. It is mentioned with more and more frequency all over the world as we approach December, 2012, along with numerous explanations and interpretations of its meaning from different interests and different contexts.

For example, science fiction literature has thrived on using Thirteen B’ak’tun as a theme, from which has derived cinematic productions with an apocalyptic focus, completely turning the public’s attention away from the true sense of Thirteen B’ak’tun and trivializing the profound cosmic significance that this change of the cycle has for the Maya culture.

Another example, tourism promoters and other power groups, both national and foreign, are taking advantage of the extraordinary character of this event in order to make profits at the expense of the cultural knowledge of the Maya people. Curiously, they give great weight to the event without acknowledging the experts who invented the scientific system that serves as its base, that is to say, the wise and scientific Mayas of antiquity, and even less do they make reference to the living Maya who are their descendents.

Some Western scientists go even further. Applying their ethnocentric methods of investigation, they have done very little to verify their facts, and even less, to go to the keepers of this ancient knowledge, the living Maya, regarding subjects such as these.

In all cases, there has been a co-opting of Maya science on the part of Western science, whose principal benefits are in the service of capitalism. While taking the information from Maya science, they declare it extinct. And moreover, they state that the living Maya are not really Maya, that they are not truly linked to the original Mayas of this grand civilization and that the indigenous people who inhabit our national territory have lost their connection with their ancestors.

Nevertheless, in spite of the invasion, colonialization, and exploitation, the Maya people live and have their own voice to communicate their science regarding the new dawning.

MAYA WORLDVIEW

Worldview is the way in which peoples and cultures conceive and understand life and the world, it has its own way of categorizing and ordering reality and explaining its internal relationships, ways of creating and re-creating knowledge. Therefore, Maya worldview is a way to feel, live, think, analyze, and act, and to understand the relationship between beings that co-exist in the universe. “Nature is the mother that feeds us, maintains us, protects us and shelters us as we live and die” (Commission on Sacred Places, 2002:20).

Loq’olaj Kaj – Loq’olay Qate’ Ruwach’ulew (Kaqchikel). The Sacred Mother Earth sustains us materially and spiritually to live better. The unity that exists between the earth and the natural elements is unbreakable and must be maintained. This is a principle of life and thought sustaining Mother Earth maintained by the communities since numerous B’ak’tuns ago up to today.

A proper life and useful existence that in the Maya language K’iche’ is expressed as Raxalaj K’aslemalil[1], for the Maya people is a system of life that includes the community, the collective, common space, values of harmony with nature, and a vision of the beauty of diversity and multiculturality.

In Maya Kaqchikel, Pa Q’u’ch (mutual help), Pa K’ex (mutual exchange), Pa Pixa’ (counsel), and Pa Komon (community) are social practices and policies that contribute to the realization of a full life, collective happiness, and which can only be the result of an integrated vision compatible with a spiritual as well as material life.

Maya time is conceived as a vibration of universal harmonization and synchronization, based on which all cycles of time are synchronized. It is not a lineal frequency but a synchronized register of cycles that tend to reappear in time and space. Time is cyclical, with cycles that flow and are expressed in the form of ascending spirals.

THIRTEEN B’AK’TUN AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR OUR LIVES

We affirm that Thirteen B’ak’tun is a cycle of space-time movement that affects in a special way processes of natural changes, cosmic and energetic. This process allows all people to become true man/woman, illumined beings for human completeness.

The completion of the cycle Thirteen B’ak’tun is an opportunity to experience and live through the changes, changes that should be made in the sociopolitical and economic lives of the communities and of the people. As contemporary Maya we are entering a new cycle of 5,200 Tuns with strengthened identity, in a way that we can leave to the next nine generations a design for living, a Maya culture reinvigorated that permits us to see ourselves as the heirs to the Maya ancestors from the time when Tikal, Wajxaktun, Chichen Itza, Zaqulew, Iximche’, Copán and other cities were in their splendor.

MOTHER EARTH IS SUFFERING THE DAMAGES THAT HUMANITY IS CAUSING IT

The new cycle of the B’ak’tuns gives us the possibility to elevate human consciousness to recognize itself. To raise the consciousness means to understand that the life and existence of a human being ought to be understood as co-existent with other species who are co-participants in nature, that is, a complete relationship in the context of the ecosystems. This life with nature comes from the cosmogonical essence of life and from the universe. It is the teaching of the sacred calendar that profoundly unites us all as beings in the cosmos, with Heart of Nature and Heart of Creator/Shaper

Thirteen B’ak’tun is an expression of space-time in constant motion. In this dynamic of space and time we are an essential part of the beings who inhabit the cosmos, the human beings that by reaching a higher level of consciousness are responsible for the present and the future of the cosmos.

CONCLUSIONS AND CHALLENGES

December 21, 2012 will have completed a cycle of 5,200 Tuns, to begin another B’ak’tun cycle on the winter solstice. It is the seating of a new cycle of Thirteen B’ak’tun.

We are in the last K’atun of Thirteen B’ak’tun. The new B’ak’tun brings great events, expectations, and hopes for the life of humanity and the planet. It is possible to turn to harmonization with the cosmos and ourselves.

Humanity will continue to living on Mother Earth, but needs to see it in a different way, in thought, in feeling, in acting, in living.

We are living in the most important moment of the calendars and registers of time of our Maya ancestors, the closing and the opening of a cycle of 5,200 Tuns. Everything converges now. There is no time left for games. The spiritual ideal for the new cycle is action. Action is movement, is to act.

To be in synchrony with the changes of Thirteen B’ak’tun, understand and perceive the energy of each one of the beings: minerals, plants, animals, and human beings. We must be directed to sacred ancestral ceremonial sites that guard Mother Earth to give thanks for life and opportunity to live through this event, and to make offerings for happiness, unity, and peace. Maintain respect for the earth that gives us food, clothing, and shelter. We need to continue strengthening the energy of life in the sacred places. To be in them is to fill up with energy.

As humans we need to promise ourselves to care for the water, the earth, the fire and the air, as primary elements for the fulfillment of the conditions of life. Care for and maintain the health of the oceans, lakes, rivers, stones, mountains, volcanoes, animals and humans.

We need to re-learn that the cosmos is the essential fabric of life, the interarticulation of stars, planets, Mother Earth, nature, soil, underground, water, fire, air, plants, animals, human beings, fungi, bacteria, sand, and cosmic and spiritual energy.

As humans we live in a cosmic context. We don’t make the essential fabric of life, we are only part of it. We are a synthesis of cosmos and therefore necessarily we need to understand how to live together and share with all the elements.

We need to learn to feel the relatedness and the unity of diversity, to learn to be in harmonic equilibrium with Mother Nature. And most of all, we need to learn to seek consensus among humans in order to preserve ourselves as a species.

The message of our grandmothers and grandfathers is clear, that our origin is cosmic and that we are permanently connected to a central source of energy and information, which shows us that in the cosmos, including human beings and life in general, there exists an order and a synchrony of space and time. Therefore, the change in the grand astronomical cycle implies changes of the individual being and collective humanity.

We conclude that Thirteen B’ak’tun is an opportunity to overcome the socioeconomic, political, cultural, and spiritual divisions that affect us as human beings.

It is a propitious moment for the re-flowering of the Maya sciences, arts, culture and spirituality. We accept the commitment to regain Maya science, our ancestral wisdom, and to continue with the registration of time.

The grandmothers and grandfathers say “nothing is going to happen in Thirteen B’ak’tun if you don’t do anything.” Thirteen B’ak’tun gives us the guidelines to transform from the bosom of one’s family, the foundation for the changes in the Maya communities and in the country.


[1] Cochoy Alva, M. F., et al. (2006). Raaxalaj Mayab’ K’aslemalil. Cosmovisión Maya, plenitud de la vida. Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Dasarrollo (PNUD).

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