Still Riffing as we leap over the Two-Day Abyss
The riff on the Shape of History so far:
- theAbysmal Shape of Time
- the Shape of History to Come
- the Missing Well
- Stay Golden, Historical Ages
- Never a Waste of Time
- theAbysmal Synoptic
As a framing device, the 260-Year historical age continues to structure history – at least as far as the Americas are concerned – continues to resonate with events. As I’ve stated before, this isn’t an underlying “truth” that I’ve discovered, it’s Years of thinking in terms of the waves and cycles of the Maya calendar (and so, theAbysmal), and seeing civilization from their perspective. It has taken years to sink in to this point, where it’s like I’m having a “eureka” moment as these ideas all cohere into a vivid image.
What’s remarkable about all this is that it continues to follow a particular pattern (in my personal life as much as the historical age). And this pattern, time and again, seems to work well with the number 13.
13 – Thirteen has nothing to do with luck
13 is the number of major articulations in the human body: 2 ankles, 2 knees, 2 hips, 2 wrists, 2 elbow, 2 shoulders, 1 neck. I find that getting back to the physical, biological basics a familiar starting point. If nothing else, it’s a mnemonic we carry with us. And if we map ideas onto a particular image or symbol (the taijitu, the cross, the colour red), which we associate with our body, we carry the means of recalling it with us wherever we go. Along with our increasing portable access to the Digital Commons Web (DCW aka an internet unbroken by business interests), I have no idea what potential we might achieve.
I first came across talk of the Maya calendar and the Dec 21 2012 date sometime in 1999.
There wasn’t much available about it (I don’t speak Spanish, which would have made it a lot easier), but I leapt in and was utterly befuddled by what I could find, which was more New Age interpretations, the Mayan Factor, rather than real archaeology for newbs. In the end, I’d read everything I could get my hands on. The Mayan Factor covered a lot of numerology and prophecy. Numerology counts for a lot in calendar systems, the prophecy, as always, is open to interpretation, certainly based on how one views historical events.
So the progression of 13: imagine yourself standing in a comfortable stance, hands at the sides. Now imagine a progression from your foot up the leg, up your arm, across your shoulders and head, down the other arm, down the leg. Through the 13 articulations, the movement is up and across and down, then begins again. A crude, open circle.
If you imagine walking while this progression from foot to head to toe takes place, the motion describes a spiral.
It’s a very simple thing, walking, yet it is how we have mostly moved through time for the majority of our existence. If you believe in evolutionary timelines, then we consider ourselves to have been Homo sapiens for about 200,000 years. The huge majority of this time we’ve spent as hunting-gathering, migrating bipeds. Walking on two feet is what makes us distinct from animals. The hands/tools/brain followed.
Without hampering down the image with the biomechanics of walking, let’s just consider the progression up one side, down the other (although it could be left leg, right arm, head, left arm, right leg, or if one’s arms were raised, it could progress from foot-leg-hip-neck-shoulder-arm-hand – regardless of those details the progression remains up across down in an open circle).
Now that I’ve let this image, this sense of movement sink in, here’s how I view the organization of the progression of 13 as a numerical entities. 1, 2, 3 represented by the articulations of one leg form the first chunk, 4, 5, 6 represented by an arm the next, 7 is the midpoint the neck/spine/head, 8, 9, 10 the other arm, 11, 12, 13 the other leg. Up from the ground to our highest point, back to the ground. The earth.
As with everything, these stages are means of looking at what is otherwise a smooth progression of moments, which we try to bind and review to make sense of. I think the Maya took what the Olmec had begun and made an unparalleled work of art with it.
This year moreso than previous years, I feel the rhythm of theAbysmal Calendar, and so see the world through a very different lens than people whose sense of time is limited to the linear progression of events. It’s very much the difference in dimensional perception. Imagine someone who has only ever adorned themselves with single coloured threads when they first see a woven blanket with elaborate designs and tassels. It’s certainly enriching in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I feel more deeply engaged.
20 – Score one for us
The other key number in Maya calendar systems is 20. This is again mapped to the body as the digits, all fingers and toes. Again, it makes use of our body as a mnemonic. Grouping years by twenties instead of decades gives us a longer perspective on historical time. We think in decades and centuries, the Maya in 13s, 20s, 260s, 400s. They see things develop differently. (This can also be said of any culture that follows a Moon-based calendar).
Seeing that it took 13 years from first thinking about calendars, the stages can be broken down like this:
1, 2, 3 Define (What is it, exactly, that you want to accomplish?)
4, 5, 6 Design (How do you want it to look?)
7 Shine (the essential, accomplished and polished)
8, 9, 10 Refine (here it is open to widespread interpretation)
11, 12, 13 Resign (encode what’s best to keep, and hand it forward to the next cycle)
I’m sure each step can be further defined, step 1 what is needed? step 2, what’s available? step 3, what’s next? or anything along those lines.
What’s really curious about this, is that this is exactly what the Mayanist, Law of Time people were constantly talking about, however, because it was in New Age terminology (which for me is the aesthetic sibling to bureaucratic jargon) I found it impenetrable.
However, having explored the worlds of anthropology, psychology, neurobiology, chronobiology, astronomy, astrophysics, astrology, history, and calendrics, I finally understand the wave structure intellectually, which has sifted through to my emotional-physical parts, in that I can intuitively sense this rise and fall, and have been following the very progression I’d so easily dismissed. theAbysmal Calendar came together as a means of trying to better understand these advanced notions of time. Or, more properly, calendrics, or my preferred term, Daykeeping.
I did come across a book, Fractal Time, which I had thought was exactly what I was looking for. It turns out, it really was the opposite. In terms of fractals, the point I wish to highlight is the self-similarity over magnitudes of scale. If you zoom in or out, the same structures repeat themselves. The numerical structures based on 13 and 20 create this very structure in the Maya Calendars, particularly the Long Count. They have explicit measures of 13, 20, 260, 400 days, years, and measures above and beyond. [N.B. I’ve never discovered how the Maya divided the day, but that’s less my focus.] These same numbers repeating themselves.
With the Gregorian and Julian calendars in particular, there are a dearth of regularly repeating cycles, even when compared to other solar calendars, the Persian in particular, but also the Coptic and Ethiopian. The Gregorian is less regular due to its particular Leap Day rules. As a result, we have the day that repeats itself as the basic unit (86400 seconds), then the 7 Weekdays, the irregular months, the year. 365 has two factors: 5 and 73. Were it not for the Leap Day, each year would begin with a different weekday in the same progression: i.e. Year 0 begins Saturday, Year 1 Sunday, Year 2 Monday, etc. However, the Leap Day makes it jump a day every four years, and the exception further disrupts it three centuries out of every four. It has lead us to having such a blase view of the calendar that we haven’t even bothered to update the month names (september, october, november, december at the very least), or harmonize the weekday names (they vary quite a bit from language to language and culture to culture). I think it’s this indifference to alternate views of time that have lead us down the linear road to the future.
We view time in one dimension, moving in a single, linear direction.
Whereas, if one sees cycles within cycles, one sees it as a woven tapestry. At least, I do. I recall first looking at the image of the tzolk’in, the sacred 260-Day calendar. It combines a cycle of 13 numbers with 20 glyphs, and is unique to Mesoamerica.
Start at the top left and work your way down the columns. I’m still not entirely sure what the “Galactic Activation Portals” are supposed to be, however, they do leave an Abyssal column down the middle, at the midpoint of the progression of 13. I have yet to hear a compelling explanation of the origins of this image, particularly the space invader figure described by the black squares. The Maya Factor plays a lot with numerical patterns, numberology, tying to I Ching and other esoteric systems.
It took me a while just to understand how interlocking cycles not tied to the Gregorian Calendar (which is the only one I’d ever seen to that point). I had to rewire my brain according to the structures of the calendar. And so I’ve changed my mind. And feel the world to be richer, more engaging, and benevolent beyond all measure.
Our travails of short-sightedness, on the largest possible scale, no doubt are due to living in an empoverished temporal atmosphere. One that had sought to create workplaces where we functioned linearly, consistently (as tempered by piped in muzak by all the Gods), without break. Increasingly, our workplaces demand consistent, regular production and sitting. Neither of these things are true to our nature, and we have suffered greatly for it.
Mothers of Nations ed. by D. Memee Lavell-Harvard and Kim Anderson
Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman
Indigenous Healing by Rupert Ross
the Light Book by Jane Wegscheider Hyman
Space, Time and Medicine by Larry Dossey
The Time Paradox by Philip Zimbardo & John Boyd
Rhythms of Life by Russell G Foster & Leon Kreitzman
the Body Clock Guide to Better Health by Michael Smolensky & Lynne Lamberg
Introducing Biological Rhythms by Willard L Koukkari & Robert B Sothern
I won’t belabour the point about time, health, and the seasons, however, if we were to schedule our year and holidays around our local seasons, then we would be living less linearly, and see time more circularly. If we observe it this way over years, we’ll start to feel it cyclically. If we observe it this way over years and years, we’ll live it fractally.
That’s when the slap of our collective facepalms forms the percussion to a new form of music.
If we as individuals follow these patterns when we walk, then larger, collective actions, whether they be sporting contests, villages, cities, kingdoms, nations, civilization might follow from the collective wave-patterns. If we resonate with one another, move in the same direction, then our collective achievements will be more coherent, less broken by competing, mutually-exclusive interests.