The Eternal Fire of Transformation by John Major Jenkins PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 26 March 2010 08:45

Mayan Temple

The Eternal Fire of Transformation
John Major Jenkins

Throw your illusions into the fire. Sacrifice that which prevents you from seeing, and being part of, the big picture. The ancient Maya teaching that sacrifice is the key to successful transformation and renewal is still known to the modern Maya, and is being practiced today among traditional Maya groups in highland Guatemala.

In February this year, traditionalist Maya leaders led the 8 Batz ceremony in Momostenango, and invited visitors to participate in the ceremonies. The 8 Batz ceremony is initiatory in character, and operates on many different levels. It can even serve to introduce non-Maya outsiders to experience the fire sacrifice, to help them understand how transformation and renewal is best catalyzed by the eternal fires of sacrifice. These Maya spiritual guides welcome this possibility. The outer offerings --- candles, incense, flowers --- are external symbols of the inner act of humble sacrifice, which is intended to “feed” and awaken the higher being, placing you back into correct relationship with the whole.

In 1987, and again in 1994, when I sat near the shrine of Paclom in Momostenango and watched the day-keepers chanting and burning incense, I could see that the essential spiritual teaching of sacrifice and renewal had survived centuries of persecution. It was striking to me that period endings in the calendar were being utilized as the times to perform the rituals. I knew from my studies that the ancient 260-day sacred calendar survived intact, but the Long Count calendar that gives us the 2012 date had long been forgotten by the Maya. The last time the Long Count was carved in stone was in the tenth century AD. For the modern Maya, the last 500 years have been difficult and much has been lost while living under the yoke of Conquest. As recently as the 1980s terrible genocidal tactics were launched against the Maya.

Today, I am happy to report that a new non-profit organization that I helped found called The Maya Conservancy is facilitating educational trips with Maya leaders and spiritual guides, sponsoring their visits to temple sites such as Tak’alik Abaj and Iximche, to do ceremony and reestablish the ancient temples as sacred doorways through which the connection with the whole can be reawakened. This summer, a historic return of Maya spiritual leaders to Izapa, the origin place of the calendars, will take place.

At Izapa, over sixty carved monuments are preserved, dating back some 2,100 years to the time when the Long Count calendar was created. The stories of the Maya Creation Myth were later recorded by Quiché Maya elders in the 1550s. They tell of World Ages and the exploits of the Hero Twins, trying to defeat Seven Macaw and resurrect their father, One Hunahpu. It is in this dynamic between Seven Macaw and One Hunahpu that we find the original true prophecy for 2012, but it must be read in its deepest symbolic meaning. As a student of Joseph Campbell, I’ve offered in my books an archetypal reading of the Maya Creation Myth, putting it into universal terms that connect it with spiritual teachings in a wide variety of traditions. It is this: Seven Macaw is a vain and false ruler who appears at the end of the cycle, and he represents megalomaniacal egoism. One Hunahpu, the god of rebirth, is consciousness reborn into a full awareness of its eternal, divine nature — aware of the big picture and how we are all parts of a whole. The proper relationship between these aspects of our humanity must be restored, and it must be done through sacrifice.

The modern world is in crisis. As I’ve illustrated in my two decades of work with Maya time philosophy, and especially in my recent book, The 2012 Story, the “Seven Macaw system” is running corporations, hijacking governments in Third World countries, and ruining the environment for short term profit. These events are the fulfillment of the Maya prophecy for 2012. But that’s only half of the prophecy. The second half involves the call for human beings to sacrifice their allegiance to Seven Macaw, sacrifice their illusions that bind them to limitation. As we study the Maya calendar tradition we find that this prophecy, and the spiritual teachings that go with them, are actually aspects of an amazing astronomical science, one which perceived human beings moving through vast cycles of time. According to my reconstruction of ancient Maya cosmology, the Maya knew that in 2012 the December solstice sun would be lining up with the dark rift in the Milky Way — the rebirth place in the sky. This is the so-called “galactic alignment” and it is the key to the Creation Myth, the Maya ballgame’s symbolism, and king-making rites. It’s amazing how the astronomical science goes hand in hand with the spiritual teachings in the Creation Myth, and both are embedded in the carved monuments and astronomical orientations at the sacred site of Izapa.

But these ideas, these reconstructions of authentic ancient beliefs and teachings, are misunderstood, or are utilized in the 2012 marketplace for nefarious purposes. The 2012 marketplace is rife with exploitation and misinformation — about doomsday, about what the ancient Maya believed about 2012, about the galactic alignment and about Maya prophecy. The mainstream media is a wasteland of disinformation. Books on 2012 are appearing which very often barely even mention the Maya calendar. Imagine that! This situation is the shadow of the high spiritual promise of 2012, threatens to occlude the transformative power of the thing-in-itself, and we must not feed the shadow. It should be no surprise that 2012, a most profound opening for positive transformation and renewal, will be immediately co-opted by the minions of Seven Macaw, subsumed into the consumerist nightmare of self-serving capitalism and rendered distorted and depleted.

This is a problem. The solution is to study the authentic, primary sources of 2012 wisdom and to pay attention to what the Maya are doing and saying. They’re doing fire ceremony, rituals of sacrifice at the end of the cycle that will help us move into a transformed new era. But we must identify the illusions within our own hearts before we can throw them into the fire. For now, let’s meditate on this. In Vancouver, let’s talk about what needs to go into the fire. Then, without even waiting until 2012, let’s do it.

JOHN MAJOR JENKINS is a pioneering voice in the evolving 2012 discussion with over twenty years experience defining and debating key issues in the 2012 movement. Informed by innovative field work at key archaeological sites and inspired by living and working among the Highland Maya, Jenkins’ comprehensive work covers media misconceptions, assessments of 2012 theories, consciousness studies, Maya shamanism, archaeoastronomical research, and the crisis of sustainability faced in the modern world. His own unprecedented “galactic alignment theory” is now receiving new support from recent discoveries in the Maya inscriptions. While integrating the scientific and spiritual viewpoints, Jenkins honors contemporary calendar Maya tradition and the ancient Maya vision of a unified cosmos.

His work has been featured since 1998 in media produced by ABC Nightline, U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, The History Channel, and NBC’s SyFy Channel.Advisory director and founding member of The Maya Conservancy, a non-profit foundation dedicated to education and preservation of ancient Maya sites. National Fellow member of The Explorer’s Club. Director of The Center for 2012 Studies. Manager of and Author of "Maya Cosmogenesis 2012", "Galactic Alignment", "Unlocking the Secrets of 2012", "The 2012 Story".

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