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21 December, 2012

Happy New Baktun

The moment of the winter solstice has passed, and with it the change from the 13th to 14th baktun of the Mayan long count calendar. Look for Jaguar Eagle to do well in the next state elections in the Yucatan, but for the rest of us, things may look pretty much the same as yesterday. 

The last time the baktun rolled over, about 1618 AD by the calendar of modern Americans, it hailed an era of accelerating decline for the peoples who had lived in the New World. Not that the 12th Baktun had been all that greaty for the Maya, who had long since slipped into post-Classic decline, but the arrival of colonists in el Norte harkened a more darkened outlook still for the 13th. 

Not being Mayan, and having a shorter attention span, my interest has always been in the annual solstices. Not so much the equinoxes, which although they capture a moment of balance, are just place markers. The solstice is a true transition. Today, the daylight stops decreasing, and it is night's turn to cede ground every day for the coming 6 months. Personally, I went through a fairly major transition on the summer solstice, and look forward to this one, to longer days and a brighter future. 

Most Americans tend to pay more attention to Christmas, which comes in a few days. It's hard to believe that December 25th was the original intent, since the symbolism of a new birth and hope fits so well with the Winter Solstice. But once doctrine gets hold of something, sense may as well give up. 

Even the people who heed the celestial and seasonal calendars these days tend to do so without much understanding of what it once meant. In the post-modern world, we borrow bits and pieces of ancient knowledge without much awareness or regard for the total systems, and call it New Age. At this moment, there are people spending time with supposedly sacred crystals that came not from a personal quest into the mountains, but from a store, and ultimately as the lucrative by-product of industrial mine. The stones don't tell them that they need to check the garlic stash for sprouting, or start weaving this year's berry basket, or even to check the elk movements; they are remarkably free of information and inspiration that would have been useful to almost every other generation of human. 

But then, who am I to criticize? Making some attempt to connect to something bigger is usually a good thing (Nuremburg '36 being a counter-example, and come to think of it, Schicklegruber was a fan of wacky occultishness), and I guess if a sense of personal well-being comes from a crystal. Likewise, if you go to sleep tonight feeling relieved and blessed to have survived another End fo the World, then good for you. 

Me? I'm gonna go check the garlic.


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