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The Winter Solstice: Beginning of a New Era

2012 winter solstice

This Friday is the shortest day and longest night of the year: the winter solstice. In many cultures and wisdom traditions, the winter solstice is celebrated as a major celestial event and a potent time for prayer and ceremony. Especially this year, 2012, there have been many prophecies about this date. Popular within mainstream media are tones of fear-based doom, catastrophe, and ruin. While working on a documentary film in Guatemaya on the Maya, I had the honor to experience the living wisdom and ways of the indigenous Maya. During my times there, I participated in sacred fire Mayan ceremonies at Tikal and other ancient Maya sites throughout Guatemaya.

As Tz’utujil Mayan Daykeeper Tata Pedro Cruz says, ‘there is no world that is going to end’, but rather we will experience a return of ancestral wisdom. This date of December 21, 2012, a movement from the 4th world to the 5th world, was prophesized nearly 1,400 years ago by the Maya and falls on the Winter Solstice 2012 on the Gregorian Calendar. This date is viewed as a rebirth, and the beginning of a new era, the 5th World of the Sun. It is prompted from, and signified by, the solar meridian crossing the galactic equator, and the earth aligning itself with the center of the galaxy.

For the first time in 26,000 years, at sunrise on December 21, 2012, the Sun will rise to join the intersection of the Milky Way and ecliptic plane, resulting in a great cross of stars and planets in the sky. This cosmic cross is seen to embody the Sacred Tree, the Tree of Life, known in most spiritual traditions across the globe. It is speculated that this alignment within the center of the galaxy will allow a pathway for cosmic energy to move through the earth, cleansing the earth and all life, resulting in a raised level of consciousness.

winter solstice

Traditionally, on the solstices, the rays of the sun directly hit two tropical latitude lines. The Maya, the most accomplished astromoners of ancient time, pin pointed it and other celestial events with profound accuracy and also charted the planets and other celestial bodies well into future time. Many of the Mayan temples are aligned with the sun during sunrise and sunset of the solstices and equixones. For example, at sunrise on the summer solstice, the sun is directly aligned with the center of the Tulum Temple opening. Their temples and structures were constructed in alignment with the movement of the cosmos and this natural time in order to enhance their connection to and understanding of the Earth and the Sky.

Within the calendrical system of the Mayan Long count (a ‘mathematical year’ of 360 days used to be used to track larger cycles of time), we are ending a 13 Baktun (A Great Cycle of 5,125). Simultaneously practiced, the Mayan’s Tzolkin calendar follows a cycle of 260 days, comprising of 20 glyphs (day signs) and 13 tones (numbers), each pairing up and cycling through until a new calendar year. It consists of 13 months, each with 20 days. It’s evidenced that this cycle has been followed unbroken for roughly 3,000 years, assisting to align those who follow it with the cycles of the Earth and the cosmos. This cycle is viewed as sacred and important for several reasons. For one, it corresponds to the 9 months gestation cycle of human beings. It also correlates to the Venus cycle and its emergence as a morningstar. The 20 day signs also relate to our ten fingers and ten toes. It is a living system that allows your natural rhythm to match the Earth’s natural rhythm.

According to the Maya, we are beginning a New Era. That cycle will collectively encourage a transition from duality and separation, to unification within ourselves, each other, and the planet. It is my understanding that, rather, it is a time to listen to the great messages of the Earth and to consider our contribution and service to the greater whole when we make choices, not just our own personal gain. For some of us, this concept may be challenging to grasp, while for others, this is a welcomed relief. Wherever one is in their life, they can begin to move from ego-based living to heart-based living. What that means will vary for each of us. It’s not always easy, yet the rewards can be deeply fulfilling and a true testament to the courage and power of the human spirit. Ultimately, it’s remembering that we all have the blood of the Earth running through our veins and are one humankind, here to help lift each other up, not break each other down.

It may often sound like an arduous or idealistic task, but we have witnessed society begin to stand their ground even just in this past year. From the OCCUPY movements across the United States, to empowering social media tools, to a more independently-operated presence on the internet, to increased interest in natural medicine, yoga, and acupuncture, people seem more apt to voice their opinions about our current state as an individual and a society. Tz’utujil Mayan Elder Tata Pedro says, “To have peace in the world, we must first find peace within our communities.”

The Maya and many other indigenous cultures have been wildly misunderstood and they have much wisdom to impart with us that our society has been searching for in unquenchable ways. Their guidance is richly steeped in ceremony, history, tradition, science, and connection with the Earth. The astronomical and scientific events taking place signify this transformation of consciousness.

There will be many celebrations across the globe this day. Ceremony will be taking place at Tikal and all across Guatemaya. Please join us as we move towards a healthier planet for all life and within ourselves. We are the opening to a new way.

If you would like more information about how you can be involved and learn more about the ancient Maya, please contact me.

Photo Credit: Whitney Kear
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