Anniversary of the Long Count

13 August 2012

The beginning of our end – the start of the cycle that ends December 21st 2012

Here we are, 130 days away from the Maya Long Count end date of December 21st 2012 (also known as 13.0.0.0.0). The date has gained momentum in popular press, films, novels and so on, however, it often corresponds to Armageddon, whereas I believe it is more of an apocalypse. This cycle of 5,125 years (approximately. It is precisely 1,872,000 days) which comes to an end this December began August 3113 or 3114 BC depending on who’s doing the date correlations. Also, some calculate the date as August 11th. Let’s just accept that there is no conclusive date for the beginning and end of this cycle, and that the December solstice is a  significant end date. So is August 13th, as we shall see.

August 13th 1961 is the date that construction of the Berlin Wall began.

Excerpt from Canadian archaeologist Gordon R. Freeman‘s Canada’s Stonehenge

p2 “Vincent Malmström, in his 1997 book Cycles of the Sun, Mysteries of the Moon, traced the 260-day sacred mayan cycle to an earlier tropical culture at 14°8 N latitude. At that latitude, 260 days correspond to the time from when the sun passes vertically overhead on the way South on August 13, to when it returns there on the way back northward on April 30. Ingenious detective work led Malmström to conclude that the 260-day sacred almanac originated on the Pacific coastal plain in Izapa, Mexico, at a date earlier than the Maya Classic Period, and that Day 1 in the almanac was August 13, 1359 BC.”

So, the sacred 260-day calendar (popular called Tzolkin) meshes the different cycles of the Mesoamerican calendar systems. It is comprised of two interlocking cycles of two sacred numbers – 13 and 20. Interesting that Aug 13th is 130 days from Dec 21st.

For people living between the Tropic of Capricorn and Tropic of Cancer, the sun passes directly overhead (at noon), twice a year, once on its way north, once on its way south. The sun passes over the equator on the equinoxes March 21st and September 21st (give or take a day). The location in Izapa sees the sun overhead on August 13th on its way south, and then again on April 30th.

This was thought to be the origin of the 260-day calendar’s duration, although more recently it has been equated to the human gestation period (9 lunar months is 266 days, 40 weeks is 280 days).

There is much made of the astronomical significance, about planetary and galactic alignments and so on, but I have yet to find anything of significance with scientific basis. Astronomical Insignificance of Maya Date 13.0.0.0.0 for a more detailed analysis.

Given that 3114 BC didn’t see the end of the world, I have my doubts that 2012 CE will either. Mind you, there are ends of the world, and ends of the world. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima Aug 6 1945 was the end of the world for the Japanese. We are in the midst of a global crisis, the scale of which we have never experienced before. The crisis isn’t over the economy or jobs or war, but something much more fundamental that will be the cause of every other problem: we’re running out of water.

The Maya book of Chilam Balam refers to the end of this cycle due to earthquakes. We’ll have to see.

130 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Maya Lunar Calendar

28 July 2012

Survives the Ravages of Time and the Jungle in Guatemala

An interesting discovery on the walls of a structure in Guatemala – a Maya Lunar Calendar. It seems evident from the Lunar series in the Dresden codex that the Maya were keen skywatchers to say the very least, yet what we have come to know about their calendar systems make no mention about the cycles of the Moon. Definitely a strange omission.

Well, archaeologists have found a scribe’s notes which define a lunar calendar. Doo-lang doo-lang.

Maya lunar calendar notes discovered in Guatemala

 WASHINGTON (Reuters) – On the wall of a tiny structure buried under forest debris in Guatemala, archaeologists have discovered a scribe’s notes about the Maya lunar calendar, which they say could be the first known records by an official chronicler of this ancient civilization.

These notes pertain to the same Maya calendar that is sometimes erroneously thought to predict the world’s end on or about December 22, 2012. The researchers who helped uncover and decipher the wall’s inscriptions said the Maya calendar foresaw a vast progression of time, with the December 2012 date the beginning of a new calendar cycle called a baktun.

“They were looking at the way these cycles were turning,” said William Saturno of Boston University, an author of an article on the find in the journal Science. “The Maya calendar is going to keep going and keep going for billions, trillions, octillions of years into the future, a huge number that we can’t even wrap our heads around.”

The faint numerical inscriptions on the wall in Guatemala measure out time in approximate six-month increments, based on six lunar cycles, with small stylized pictures of Maya gods to indicate which deity was the patron of a specific slice of time, the researchers said Thursday in an online briefing.

“It seems pretty clear that what we have here is a lunar calendar,” said David Stuart of the University of Texas at Austin, another author of the Science article. The findings will also be published in the June issue of National Geographic, which funded some of the research.

The numbers on the wall were likely written by a scribe or calendar priest, who would have been an important figure in the Maya court, where monarchs were keenly interested in astronomy and sought to harmonize sacred rituals with events in the sky.

The wall was used the way a modern scientist might use a whiteboard, to write down frequently consulted formulas instead of having to look them up in a book, he said.

The fact that these calendar details were inscribed on the wall preserved them better than any book would have, since no books remain from the period when the inscriptions were made, probably around 800 AD, the researchers said.

In addition to the inscribed numbers, there were pictures on other walls of the structure, including an image of a king in a feather headdress, seated on a throne, with a white-garbed person peeking out from behind him. A painting of a scribe holding a stylus was on another wall.

These paintings were the first Maya art to be found on the walls of a house, the researchers said.

The structure, covered with vegetation, was detected in 2010 at the ruined Maya complex at Xultun in a rainforest area of Guatemala. Xultun, once home to tens of thousands of people, stretches over 12 square miles (31 square km), and thousands of the remaining structures have not yet been explored.

“It’s weird that the Xultun finds exist at all,” Saturno said in a statement. “Such writings and artwork on walls don’t preserve well in the Maya lowlands, especially in a house buried only a meter below the surface.”

146 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Happy Day Out of Time

25 July 2012

New Year for the 13 Moon Law of Time Calendar

The Day Out of Time is the New Year Day for the Law of Time‘s 13 month calendar (same structure as theAbysmal, just aligned to the year differently). It also uses the number/glyph system from the Maya tzolkin, although it is not a version of the Maya Calendar. It has spread throughout the Americas and has a significant following.

This is the calendar system that Jose Arguelles developed to replace the gregorian. It’s a 13-month calendar. It inserts a leap year day on the day equal to February 29th. It also renames the weekdays (Dali, Seli, Gamma, Kali, Alpha, Limi, Silio). Most significantly is the comprehensive strategy the movement has developed, which foregrounds indigenous culture, environmental issues, and living harmoniously in the world in and around us. Certainly noble goals.

This system is what got me interested in calendars in the first place, but after delving into it for some time, it left me unsatisfied. Too many new age trappings for my taste. I didn’t feel it appealed broadly enough, in no small part because the New Year occurs as per the heliacal rising of Sirius, which may have been important to the Egyptians, but has very little significance to the world at large.

Nevertheless, starting from scratch and developing new weekdays, a new new year, and a different way of looking at time is as good a way to reform our global calendar as any.

They also assign adjectives instead of the numbers 1-13 to the months. As I’ve written before I find applying words, images, and ideas to the aspects of the calendar far more telling than simply numbering them. The progression from magnetic to cosmic is meant to follow a certain development and expansion of consciousness.

Along with the 13 month structure, there is the 260-day structure, which follows the same 13 numbers (magnetic-cosmic), as well as 20 glyphs (dragon to sun) and four colours (representing the cardinal directions).

Start at the top left and follow the series down. The first, colour: red, number 1: magnetic, glyph: dragon = red magnetic dragon. The second is white lunar wind, next is blue electric night, and so on, down to the final of the series in the bottom right corner yellow cosmic sun.

Today’s day out of time is white rhythmic mirror (number 58 in the image above).

So to all the Law of Timers, happy new year.

149 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Tzolkin spins anew

17 July 2012

the 260-day Calendar of the Maya starts over at the first day.

Today is marked by the first day on the 260-day calendar of the Maya, although it is considered perpetual, and this isn’t seen as a new year. Nevertheless, today is 1 Imix (dragon), which begins the cycle  (although, this depends on the correlation one uses – not all are agreed).

It’s with a bit of nostalgia that I think back to the Summer of 2000, when I first came across the so-called Mayan Calendar. What I had come across were references to the tzolkin (a name given the calendar by mayanists, as the original name is lost to us), which didn’t include the other cycles that the Maya and Aztec observed. It took time to filter through the misconceptions, the New Age interpretations and reformulations, and start to get a clue as to what was what.

Nevertheless, the tzolkin is a sacred calendar which links itself to the civil calendar (Haab of 365 days), and the Long Count (groups days by magnitudes of 20).

Dresden Codex

this is one of the few surviving codices (books of a sort or written records, although they are also illustrated – so, comic books), it is also the most complete. It is comprised of lists of astronomical data of great accuracy, and was used in conjunction with the calendar. There are a few versions available online, including this rather huge Fostermann version. Smaller pdf downloads are available at the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. site.

Tzolkin

What I’ve come across were references to two of the sacred numbers for the Maya: 20 and 13. The sacred calendar combines these two cycles, as the numbers 1-13 and 20 glyphs, archetypal symbols. The names and images are as follows:

Each day of the tzolkin is assigned a number and a glyph. Today, for example, is 1-Imix, tomorrow 2-Ik, then 3-Akbal, and so on, until it goes through all the possible combinations and ends with 13-Ahau (i.e. yesterday). The mathematical interplay between the days, the numbers, and so on can become rather complex. Jose Arguelles lays much of it out in his book the Mayan Factor.

Although the 260-Calendar was shown to have developed on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, where the sun passed directly overhead on Aug 13th, and then not again for 260 days. It appears to have been the basis for the calendar, although others have linked it to the human gestation period (which is about 266, or 9 lunar months). Regardless of its origins, it is nevertheless an interesting calendar system.

Originally, I had incorporated a version of the tzolkin into theAbysmal Calendar, but realized that a facsimile was a poor substitute, and as such removed it in favour of using the actual calendar of the Maya instead. As theAbysmal Calendar begins at the same time as the Maya end date, they are synchronized well enough that the two are proceeding harmonically enough.

157 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Indonesian Calendars

7 July 2012

hang on to your Java

I finally decided to dip my toe into the ocean that is the mish-mash of calendars used in Indonesia. Along with their traditional systems, they’ve also added the Gregorian, the Hindu, and Muslim Calendars. Add to that that they have two names for weeks, months, years and so on (one is more formal, the other informal), and you wind up with one big mess.

At least I do. I’m sure the people in Indonesia have little problem wading through it all. The difficulty I’ve had in putting it all together, is that most sources are written for an Indonesian audience. the other is that the resources I’ve found aren’t clear or consistent about which periods start when, and so forth. I only just discovered that the Balines Pawukon (a market week calendar with 10 different time periods) began just a few weeks ago.  I try to keep on top of these things but every once in a while, they get past me (who are we kidding, this happens a lot).

At any rate, I hope that I don’t confuse this even further.

Javanese Calendar – a calendar date converter, however, the terms aren’t defined, and are not correlated in other resources.

Calendar Magic – calendar conversion software – free to download

Javanese Calendar  – an okay explanation

Kejawen – a traditional Javanese spiritual teaching, which claims that all religions are good, and may explain how so many religions have managed to co-exist relatively peacefully in Indonesia. Nevertheless, it offers a better explanation of the time periods,putting them into a more spiritual/symbolic context.

Wikipedia entries on the Javanese Calendar and the Balinese Pawukon

Balinese Pawukon

Holy Handgrenades, but this one is complicated. In essence, it is a 210-day market calendar, that combines market weeks of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 days. As 4, 8, and 9 don’t divide evenly into 210, there are special rules to make it all work. Also, the 1-day market “week” is irregular, and follows a special schedule. got all that? good.

June 17th 2012 saw the beginning of the 210-day pawukon, and the next will begin January 13th 2013.

Wikipedia has a full table displaying the pattern of days over the course of the calendar. This calendar doesn’t align itself to other calendars, and as far as I’ve been able to gather, runs 210-days consecutively over and over, without a leap year or similar consideration.

Javanese Calendars

Add the pawukon to the rest of the calendars in use in Indonesia, and it really is amazing that anyone can get anything done. Every day has several names and designations, depending on whether the date is necessary for secular, Islamic, Hindu, or other reasons.

Weeks

We may as well start with something familiar. The seven-day week is not the same as the seven-day week on the pawukon. Each day is given a different name with different significance. So it appears that there are two cycles of 7-days, one of which has two names.

the 7-day week runs concurrently with a 5-day week (not the same as the one on the pawukon either), and the two form a 35-day cycle of days.

  1. Minggu – Sunday
  2. Senin – Monday
  3. Selasa – Tuesday
  4. Rebo – Wednesday
  5. Kemis – Thursday
  6. Jemuah – Friday
  7. Setu – Saturday
  1. Kliwon
  2. Legi
  3. Paing
  4. Pon
  5. Wage

As mentioned above, each of these days has two names, but I’m only writing the informal one (I think), to save on throwing too many unfamiliar terms about. If you’re Indonesian, help me out!

Weekday Significance

Each of the seven weekdays is associated with the motion of the moon toward the earth:

  1. Sunday – standstill
  2. Monday – forward
  3. Tuesday – backward
  4. Wednesday – left
  5. Thursday – right
  6. Friday – up
  7. Saturday – down

Each of the five days of the other market week represent the positions of the moon

  1. Kliwon – stand-up
  2. Legi – retreat
  3. Paing – in front of
  4. Pon – sleep
  5. Wage – sit down

Lunar Calendar

The Muslims use a variation of the Hijri, the Islamic Calendar, with a few adjustments of a day here or there. This Calendar only runs 12 lunar months (wulan), which means that a full cycle is 354 or 355 days. Whereas the Hijri lunar months are based on observation, which can differ from location to location, some alternate between 29 and 30 day months. Although this may be easier, it is not universally accepted. This is the scheme that the Javanese apply to their own version.

Wulan

  1. Sura (30 days)
  2. Sapar (29 days)
  3. Mulud (30 days)
  4. Bakda Mulud (29 days)
  5. Jumadi Awal (30 days)
  6. Jumadi Akhir (29 days)
  7. Rejeb (30 days)
  8. Ruwah (29 days)
  9. Pasa (30 days)
  10. Sawal (29 days)
  11. Sela (30 days)
  12. Besar (29 or 30 days)

Tahun

Each tahun (a lunar year of 12 months) has its own name, and the number of days in Besar are determined according to where they fall. There are 8 tahun as follows:

  1. Alip (354 days)
  2. Ehe (354 days)
  3. Jemawal (355 days)
  4. Je (354 days)
  5. Dal (355 days)
  6. Be (354 days)
  7. Wawu (354 days)
  8. Jimakir (355 days)

Windu

Each group of 8 tahun is called a windu, and there are four of those.

  1. Adi
  2. Kunthara
  3. Sengara
  4. Sancaya

Lunar Significance

the significance of these cycles is rather interesting.

the Wulan (lunar months) is attributed an idea

Rijal/wiwit/kanda/Ambuka/wiwara/rahsa/Purwa/Dumadi/Madya/wujud/wusana/suwung

As I understand it, Rijal is the mystical power of life (birth-death). The first nine months represent gestation, the tenth month is birth into the world, the eleventh month is the end of his/her life in the world, the twelfth the return to the void.

Each tahun in the group of 8 has a word/idea associated with it as well. Stringing these 8 “lunar years” gives us the following sentence

ada-ada/Tumandang/gawe/lelakon/Urip/bola-bali/Marang/Suwung

starting a wish/make/work/fate/life/always return/to the direction/void

which makes a sentence as follows “It starts by making activities for the process of life, it always returns to the void.” This sentiment follows the cycle of birth, growth and death, as we’ve seen in other cultures. It is the cycle of life, intimately tied to the cycle of time over the period of 8 lunar years, repeated four times.

Pranata Mangsa

This is an annual calendar that has divisions of uneven but symmetrical duration which align with the seasons in Indonesia (more or less). It is unlike any other calendar system I’ve seen, and as such, makes me happy to have found it.

Pity my interest in calendars hadn’t bubble up when I visited Indonesia back in 1993.

Now thePranata Mangsa is particular to the island of Java, as it doesn’t fit with the climate in other parts of the archipelago.

The image above shows the division of the 12 periods of the year, with the date each period begins in the Indonesia version of the Gregorian calendar – it begins at the top on 22 June, then clockwise, 41 days to 2 August, 23 Days to 25 August and so on. The one anomaly is Kawolu VIII, which occurs after 3 February. It can be either 26 or 27 days, depending on whether it is a leap year or not.

Mangsa Significance

  1. Kaso –  dry season
  2. Karo – middle of dry season
  3. Katelu – end of dry season
  4. Kapat – rain begins
  5. Kalima – rain can lead to strong winds and flooding
  6. Kanem – rain leads to lightning and landslides
  7. Kapitu – peak of the rainy season
  8. Kawolu – rain still – rice grows, grubs abound
  9. Kasanga – guess what? rain
  10. Kasadasa – rain finally diminishes – and I thought Winter in the prairies was bad.
  11. Desta – dry season starts up
  12. Saddha – dry season – water starts to recede

there are attributations regarding plant, animal, and agricultural cycles within the shift from dry to rainy season. It’s a wonderful example of a local calendar, and alas, it has fallen out of use in the past century or so.

Saka Calendar

I’ve had a harder time resolving what this refers to. I’ve found resources referring to the Indian National Calendar (an attempt to normalize the abundance of calendars in India), and others that refer to the solilunar calendars in use in India, and yet another that claims it is the Hijri. Not helpful, especially considering the Balinese New Year celebration of Nyepi is based on it. From what I gather, it falls on the first day of the solilunar calendar, which was derived from similar Hindu Calendars.

As such, the New Year for 2012 was March 23rd. For 2013, March 11th.

Conclusion

The people of Java and Bali present an interesting case for the interacting of communities, cultures, religions, traditions and so on, as exemplified by the various calendar systems, including those indigenous to the archipelago, and those introduced later. It is an amazing testament to our adaptability, and one I hope theAbysmal Calendar manages to reflect to some degree.

167 Days to Dec 21st 2012


Counting down – now with numbers!

17 August 2009

1221 Days until 12~21~2012 and the launch of theAbysmal World Calendar.

MandalaN

That’s right folks. We’re closing in on the 3 year mark before the launch of the most elegant reform calendar proposal yet devised.

A wall calendar, online converter and almanac are all in the works. They shall be distributed starting this Year on Dec 21st (or thereabouts).

Details to follow.

it’s about time.


Multiple New Years

13 April 2009

Thailand and South Asia celebrate April 13th to 15th

Today’s New Year, coincident in 2009 with the Gregorian Easter Monday, was determined to coincide with the transit of the Sun into the Constellation (not to be confused with the astrological sign) of Aries. In 1930, the International Astronomical Union set the date at which the transit occurs at April 19th, however, due to the Precession of the Equinoxes, this date has likely drifted to April 20th by now (typically it falls a day later every 71 or 72 Years).

theAbysmal Calendar reforms the transit date to April 20th, which this Year bears the glyph 13~XX, the last nymber~glyph in the cycle of 260. This means that April 21st 2009 bears the first of the cycle, 1~I. This bodes well for new beginnings.

Compare the two illustrations that contrast Days of the astrological and astronomical Zodiac. The darkness of the circles represents the relative amount of Daylight at 50 N Latitude.

daylight-wheel-astrologyASTROLOGICAL BOUNDARIES

daylight-wheel-astronomyASTRONOMICAL BOUNDARIES

April 13th coincides with Easter and several New Years, as well as theAbysmal Month 4
April 20th coincides with the Sun’s transit into Aries
April 21st bears 1~I