Author Topic: Debunking Nuage Lies About Mayans  (Read 11651 times)

Offline educatedindian

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Debunking Nuage Lies About Mayans
« on: July 09, 2007, 08:08:21 pm »
"There is no shortage of pundits who make dubious claims about the "secrets of the Maya".  Some are merely guilty of  sloppy research, but many owe more to UFOlogy and western occultism than Maya traditions. 

These days, even purveyors of  "ancient wisdom" and occult metaphysics usually wrap themselves in scientific jargon, and make claims they assert can be justified by fact and logical deduction. These claims are my target here. I'm interested in exposing bad science (science done poorly) and pseudo science (unscientific claims packaged to look like science).

Does science reveal all truths? The claim that it does is, well, unscientific. I don't want to get into the debate about the ultimate relationship between science and religion. It's not necessary here. Traditional Maya spirituality still flourishes, and may  have lessons for modern civilization, but misleading claims about what the Maya thought and knew diminish their true contributions."
"Maurice Chatelain is best known in UFOlogy circles. He is identified at hundreds of web sites as  a former "NASA Chief of Communications".  He claims to have been privy to secret messages  from Apollo 11 astronauts who allegedly saw UFOs on the moon.  The truth is somewhat different:
"when James Oberg contacted Chatelain's employers he learned that Chatelain was no longer employed by them when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. . . .  he could not have been present in any so-called "secret room" where he could overhear the confidential communications of the astronauts on the lunar surface. He was a low-level engineer who worked for a NASA sub- contractor . . . . His status as the "head of communications" . . . is entirely false". 
Chatelain's foray into Maya astronomy was brief,  but it is a text-book example of pseudoscientific numerology --- a primer on how to prove anything by manipulating numbers.
Maurice Chatelain's contribution to Maya studies was part of a 1971 masterpiece of pseudoscience entitled Our Ancestors Came from Outer Space.  In the course of treating his readers to accounts of Atlantis and extraterrestrial colonization of our planet,  Chatelain also managed to revise the Maya calendar....
By grasping at what most of us would dismiss as a coincidence, Chatelain showed that he had at least one thing in common with the Maya scribes. Like Chatelain, they believed nothing occurs by coincidence, and might well have been intrigued by the fact that Jupiter/Saturn conjunctions occur about a katun apart.
The scribes did occasionally  record planetary conjunctions,  but it is unlikely that  conjunctions had anything to do with fixing the length of the katun. The length of the katun was dictated by the base-20 number system used by the Maya.  It is 20 long-count years (tuns). No other explanation is required. (For more information about the long count and Maya mathematics, check  Note on the Maya Calendar).
....It is even less remarkable when you realize that Chatelain was free to pick and chose between multiples of the "katun" and synodic period of Mercury to find a best fit.
Such are the follies of numerology."
"In their best-seller,  The Mayan Prophecies, Adrian Gilbert and Maurice Cotterell attempt to prove that the end date of the Maya Calendar in 2012 AD will be marked by a global cataclysm. They claim to base their argument on Maya prophecies in the Dresden Codex and Books of Chilam Balam. But they owe far more to occultist Edgar Cayce, the Atlantis myth, and Cotterell's theory of sun spot cycles than to the Maya.
I plan to put a fuller discussion of  this unfortunately very popular book on line, but for now I'll just refer you to the comments of John Major Jenkins:
Gilbert's astronomical misconceptions and looseness with the data is disturbing. Major conceptual errors were made, reducing the revolutionary value of Mayan Prophecies to nil. Likewise, Cotterell's work, especially where it relates to Mayan astronomy and calendrics, is based upon assuming too much about a conscious intent not necessarily present in a coincidence of numbers.
Read Jenkins' complete review of The Mayan Prophecies on line."
"Von Daniken's Maya Astronaut
"Palenque is a place in Mexico, and there is a large stone in the temple and on the stone is a kind of being sitting like in a rocket."   -- Erich Von Daniken
 Von Daniken's 1968 best seller, Chariots of the Gods, claimed that ancient civilizations from Mexico to China were visited by a space-faring race. His Maya astronaut was presented as a critical piece of evidence, the smoking gun that proved his theories: Here, he claimed,  was a graphic image of an ancient astronaut, looking very like John Glenn lying in the Mercury capsule that took him into orbit in 1962. 
Of course, on closer inspection, the resemblance isn't nearly as convincing as Von Daniken suggested. And we might have expected extraterrestrials who traveled light years to reach our planet to have space ships somewhat more advanced than 1960's earth technology. 
"Well I certainly don't see any need to regard him as a space man. I don't see any oxygen tubes.  I see a very characteristically drawn Maya face".
(Maya glyph expert Ian Graham)...
But the biggest problem with Von Daniken's fantasy (apart from the sheer implausibility of it all) is that his "astronaut" is one of the most-studied of Maya sculptures. It is no spaceman at all, but a Palenque ruler named Pakal. 
Left:  Sarcophagus lid, tomb of Pakal (Pyramid of the Inscriptions, Palenque).  This image is of a reproduction, which can be purchased at Maya Art Stones
Why bother with Von Daniken?  The arguments and evidence in Chariots of the Gods have been refuted in detail many times since the book appeared in 1968.  See for example Robert Sheaffer's on-line review Chariots of the Gods: Science or Charlatanism?  A criminal conviction for business fraud did nothing to help Von Daniken's reputation.  But  he keeps recycling his ideas.  The latest  of his 26 books (published 2002) is titled The Gods were Astronauts.  There seems to be new life in his discredited fantasies:
In the past few years, his ideas have again started to become popular in a culture fascinated by programmes such as The X Files.  He is also working on a huge theme park in Switzerland, called the Mysteries of the World, and money is gushing into the project. (The Real Erich Von Daniken)
The theme park project is the centre piece of  Von Daniken's "official" website.
Von Daniken's "large stone in the temple" is the lid of Pakal's sarcophagus. On it, Pakal is depicted on a cosmic journey, but he is not traveling in a space capsule. The inscriptions on the tomb tells us that Pakal has "entered the road": He has died and is falling along the axis of the World Tree into the Underworld.  Glyphs about the sides of the tomb name his ancestors, other rulers of Palenque, who he is going to join. 
The World Tree is the most common Mesoamerican symbol of the creation and ordering of the "Earth-sky". At its foot  (which Von Daniken took to be the rockets) is the face of the Maya water monster, a symbol of the entrance to the Underworld.  Atop the World Tree is a celestial bird, representing the northern pole of the heavens.
   Other images of the Maya World tree
Left: Palenque, Temple of the Foliated Cross 
Centre: Izapa Stela 25
Right: Madrid Codex
Cosmic symbols? Yes. 
Space ships? Certainly not.
The basic fallacy of Von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods is failure to give credit to the abilities of  non-western, pre-industrial peoples.  His argument runs something like this: "Look at the Egyptian pyramids, the astronomy of the Maya. How could these primitive people have done these things without modern science and technology? They must have had help from a more advanced civilization!"  But it's not really necessary to invoke ET. 
Maya astronomy was remarkable,  but its achievements came from careful naked eye observation, not ET.  We aren't sure exactly how pyramids were built -- but construction required nothing more than practical mastery of ropes, pulleys, and ramps.  In fact, pyramids were among the earliest stone buildings constructed in many parts of the world because they are the easiest to build:  A broad  mound of stone and rubble tapering upward is a natural choice for early experiments in architecture. The Maya were accomplished builders, but their stone-age technology was simple.  They  never discovered how to construct a true arch.  You'd have thought ET would have shown them how!" 

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Debunking Nuage Lies About Mayans
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2007, 08:12:51 pm »
One page just about Arguelles.
"An exchange something like this occurred recently on a web forum I sometimes visit: 
Question: "Can people still keep the Maya Calendar and  use it daily?" 
Answer:  "Try Jose Arguelles.  It's New Age, but it may be what you are after."
Response:  "Thanks.  I'll get Arguelles' book, Mayan Factor, and get started with my Dreamspell experience <<Grin>>" 
WARNING!  Contains material offensive to the intellect. If you're reading this page because you are interested in the Maya and haven't yet come across  Arguelles' Dreamspell,  you may not want to waste time on the topic.  I've posted this page for people who have read Arguelles, and now want to know how much of it has anything to do with authentic Maya traditions. 

Arguelles' 1987 book, The Mayan Factor,  was an eclectic mix of Maya calendrics and new age philosophy.  Unfortunately, Arguelles didn't make clear how much of the calendar he described, and later named "Dreamspell",  was Maya, and how much was his own.  Although it contains much that is dubious, it offends primarily because it has given a lot of people a very mistaken impression of the real Maya calendar.
In 1992, Arguelles announced The Thirteen Moon Calendar.  This is  much more egregious nonsense. Arguelles claims that only adoption his calendrical innovation can save the world from disaster as we approach what he calls the "harmonic convergence".  In 1998 he declared that  "Arguelles is dead",  reborn (or at least renamed) "Valum Votan",  some sort of successor to the great Maya ruler Pacal (Pacal Votun to Arguelles).

Tzolk'in and Dreamspell: How Arguelles distorts Maya traditions The Thirteen Moon Calendar: More European than Maya? Harmonic Convergence: The pseudoscience of the end time
Tzolk'in and the Dreamspell: How Arguelles distorts Maya traditions

"The Dreamspell calendar is based upon the ancient Mayan reckoning of time. Dr. Jose Arguelles reinterpreted the Mayan cycles in a modern context and named it the Dreamspell calendar. There are a total of 20 "Glyphs" and 13 "Tones" which change successively each day until moving through all possible combinations of each glyph (Solar Seal) paired with each tone. This total is 260, which is the number of days in the "Tzolk'in", the Mayan's galactic year. In addition to a glyph and a tone, each day has one of four colors: red, white, blue, or yellow. Starting with the first tone and the first glyph, the first day of the Tzolk'in is called Red Magnetic Dragon . . ."  (Dreamspell Calendar Page)

Arguelles' Dreamspell calendar is a rather free form interpretation of the Maya sacred round of 260 days, the tzolk'in. (See the Note on the Maya Calendar on this web site for a description of the tzolk'in as the Maya actually knew it at the time of the Spanish conquest). Each day in the tzolk'in is assigned one of 20 day names and one of 13 day numbers. Arguelles uses the Maya glyphs for the day names. His translations of the day names are rather fanciful, but seem to loosely follow older but reputable sources. For example, the usual glyph for the day Imix, Arguelles' "Dragon",  illustrates a waterlily pad, and Imix is usually interpreted to mean "waterlily."  But  since lily pads decorate images of the crocodilian monster at the foot of the Maya World Tree,  Imix been interpreted by some scholars as a symbol for "waterlily monster". Gates' out-dated Dictionary of Maya Glyphs (1931) comes closest, translating Imix as "water dragon". (For meanings of other day names, see Heart of the Sky's tzolk'in page).

.Tzolk'in Cycle The rest of Arguelles' Dreamspell appears to be his own invention. 
Nothing in authentic Maya sources suggests that the day name glyphs are "solar seals", or that the day numbers are "tones". The four day names on which New Year may fall were associated with colours and directions, but colours do not alternate in the fashion suggested by Arguelles. Just where terms like "magnetic" [dragon] and "cosmic" [monkey] come from is not at all clear, but the source certainly isn't Mayan.
Several explanations of the 260 day length of the tzolk'in have been proposed. It likely represents something the Maya observed directly. For example, an early Spanish missionary report suggests it was chosen because 260 days is approximately  the period of visibility of Venus as morning star. In any event, there is no evidence from Maya sources that it represents Arguelles' "galactic year".
The Maya tzolk'in was used to make auguries. We know quite a lot about tzolk'in augury. The Books of Chilam Balam, written by Maya priests after the Spanish conquest, contain lists of auguries. Much of the Dresden Codex.and other pre-conquest glyph books are composed of tzolk'in almanacs. The Quiche Maya of Guatemala still keep the tzolk'in (Quiche ch'olk'ij), and Quiche "day keepers" still use it to make auguries. 
The Dreamspell calendar assigns properties to each "tone" and "glyph", making it possible to read the meaning of each day in the cycle. But Dreamspell readings do not follow Maya tradition. In fact, they seem to have been indirectly derived from the Chinese I Ching, another topic on which Arguelles has written.
Tzolk'in almanac (Dresden Codex)

Thus, for example, the Chilam Balam merely report that the tzolk'in date 1 K'an is lob k'in, a "bad day." Dreamspell provides  a fanciful "oracle"  for the day, telling us that "Yellow Seed (Kan) targets and emphasizes flowering (ideas) . . . ." and that "tone 1, magnetic, [signifies] creative power and unifying purpose. . . ." (See Starrroot's Dreamspell page). There is simply nothing in authentic Maya divination that remotely resembles this "oracle.". hing nothing in nothing

Auguries in the Books of Chilam Balam  are usually simple indicators of the character of the day, identifying each as k'in utz (good) or k'in lob (bad).   According to anthropologist Barbara Tedlock who studied with a Quiche day keeper, Quiche practice is more complex, and more personalized. Thus a day might be judged  "good for you to travel,"  but "bad for you to get married on."  See Maya Augury and Prophecy in the Books of Chilam Balam for more information about authentic Maya divination.
 Finally, the tzolk'in count kept by Quiche "day keepers" and recorded in glyph books and inscriptions does not match the Dreamspell count proposed by Arguelles. For example, 6 September 2002 is the day "blue cosmic monkey" or 13 Chuen in the Dreamspell calendar. A Quiche shaman would tell us that this day is 2 Imox (Imix in Yucatec). According to the Quiche, the nearest occurrence of 13 Chuen is 50 days later, on 26 October. Although this discrepancy has been pointed out to Arguelles, he has failed to provide a coherent explanation of the correlation he adopts between the tzolk'in and the European calendar.
By Quiche reckoning, the Dreamspell calendar is in error by 50 days.
Whatever else it may be, the Dreamspell calendar does not accurately preserve and respect the authentic calendrical lore of the Maya. Arguelles believes that the world view of modern technological civilization threatens the survival of humanity. He may well be right. His desire to create a new consciousness, a "dreamspell", is no doubt attractive to many people. But to do so by distorting and misinterpreting the traditions of a great aboriginal civilization is simple intellectual dishonesty.
The correlation issue.  Most scholars accept the GMT correlation between the dates recorded in Maya hieroglyphics and the Gregorian calendar.  There is an uncertainty of three days in the GMT correlation, but the version favoured by many Mayanists matches exactly with the count still kept by the Quiche Maya (see discussion of The Correlation Question on this web site).  Just where Arguelles' correlation comes from is unclear. He has claimed that "Dreamspell . . . is a precise expression of the prophetic tradition of the Chilam Balam,"  but his correlation does not appear to match any of the dates from the Books of Chilam Balam.  In addition,  the Maya calendar made no allowance for leap year.  Arguelles  does.  In the result, every time a leap year occurs in the Gregorian calendar, the difference between the Dreamspell and Quiche/GMT count is reduced by one day.  See J. M. Jenkins criticism of Arguelles' correlation and distortion of native calendrical traditions, The Key to the Dreamspell Agenda, and Geoff Stray's discussion of Arguelles' use of Maya sources, Investigating the The Origins of Dreamspell.

Perhaps in response to critics who have pointed out the obscurity of his correlation,  Arguelles has changed his  explanation of the origin of the Dreamspell count more than once.  Initially, he seems to have presented Dreamspell as simply the "correct" version of the ancient Measoamerican calendar, presumably used throughout the Maya zone.  Later, he suggested that the difference between the Quiche and Dreamspell counts reflects differences between Maya tradtions in highland Guatemala and the Yucatan. Elsewhere, he has claimed that his count was a post-Conquest revision of the Yucatecan tradition by the Chilam Balam.  Most recently, he has taken credit for the revision himself.  He now claims that Dreamspell "is indeed a modern application of ancient science, and is DISTINCT from the form of the 260-day count that the living Maya in Guatemala and surrounding areas utilize."  (See Distinguishing Dreamspell from the Traditional Mayan Calendar at Thus he claims he is not guilty of  "cultural misrepresentation." Unfortunately, this disclaimer flatly contradicts what Arguelles has plainly asserted in The Mayan Factor  and other works.
The Thirteen Moon Calendar: More European than Maya?

"A 13-Moon Calendar is the logical and natural way to count the 365-day year cycle. Instead of 12 months which are 28, 29, 30, or 31 days long, the year is instead measured into 13 months, each one an even 28 days. 13 moons of 28 days each gives 364 days - plus 1 "day out of time," a day of celebration and forgiveness, to acknowledge the passing year and welcome in the new year" ( FAQ page) 

Despite Arguelles' claims to the contrary, his Thirteen Moon Calendar has little to do with Maya concepts of time.  The Thirteen Moon Calendar closely resembles the "pagan" or "wiccan" calendar, a modern  attempt to reconstruct the calendar used in northern Europe before the Christian era. These calendars count 13 months of 28 days, and are examples of lunisolar calendars, an Old World tradition unknown in the Americas. The synodic or lunar month (the time between new moons) is about 29.5 days. It is likely that the month was adjusted to 28 days in some pagan European calendars so that a whole number of months would approximate the solar year. (Arguelles, however, justifies the 28 day month as the average of the synodic and sidereal months. The latter is the period of the moon's revolution about the earth, about 27.3 days).
European 13 Month Calendars.  Arguelles claims that 13 month calendars were once wide-spread.  Perhaps because of the example of the wiccan calendar,  he assets that the most common calendar in pagan Europe counted 13 months.  In fact,  while a 13 month calendar was probably known to  some pagan Europeans, it does not seem to have been in wide-spread use. 
Robert Graves, basing himself on Welsh and Irish sources,  argued that the Celts kept a calendar of 13 months, which he called the Ogham Tree Calendar.   However, the only Celtic calendar that has survived intact, the Coligny Calendar (named for the French site where it was discovered) is a lunar calendar with alternating 29 and 30 day months. The "normal" year is 12 months, but is only 354 days long. About every 3 years, an additional month was added to the year to resynchronize with the solar year.  Such calendars were used throughout Europe. The Greeks, and the Anglo-Saxons,  for example, used similar systems. 

Some Germanic-speaking pagans may have counted 28 day months, though months of other lengths are also reported in German and Viking sources.  The 28 day month was likely adopted so that a whole number of months would approximate the solar year.  A 13 month year (28 x 13 = 364 days) could have been kept, presumably with an additional day to make up 365, and perhaps with a periodic leap day to stay in synchronization with the true solar year. 

13 month calendars may not have been widely used in ancient Europe,  but there is a modern precedent that seems to have influenced Arguelles. Auguste Comte proposed a 13 month calendar in 1849.  A calendar reform movement based on this proposal persisted until the 1930's, and for a time had considerable support.  Comte was the founder of modern positivism.  He believed that time- keeping has deep cultural significance.  He proposed his calendar as part of an agenda to replace religion and superstition with science and reason.  Ironically, Arguelles' proposes an identical calendar to  counter the positivist world view Comte helped shape! 
There are many "natural" ways to keep time.  The Gregorian Calendar  used by most of us is a solar calendar, contrived to stay in step with the seasons. Since the solar year is nearly 365 1/4 days long, solar calendars must intercalate a leap day about once in every four years. The Islamic Calendar  is a lunar calendar: Each month begins with a new moon, but the year does not stay in step with the seasons. Lunisolar and solilunar calendars are compromises that try to stay in step with both the moon and the sun, though they inevitably do a better job of one than the other. The Thirteen Moon calendar does a better job of keeping in sync with the sun than with the moon. Solilinar calendars that keep better track of lunar months (the Jewish Calendar and Celtic Coligny Calendar are examples) use quite complicated intercalation rules.

Months in the Thirteen Moon Calendar do not begin with new moon, but it does preserve the average number of lunar months that occur (in whole or part) in the solar year. With addition of an extra day at year end, it  counts 365 days. Arguelles' also adds a leap day,  but calls it a "void day", outside the normal count of days in the year.

What about the Gregorian Calendar?   Arguelles has claimed that the Gregorian Calendar is an "unnatural" system of time-keeping  imposed by the Catholic Church.  In fact, it is a  revision  of the Julian Calendar adopted by Julius Caesar in 45 BC.   Pope Gregory sponsored the revision  in 1582 to resynchronize the calendar with the seasons.  Recently, Arguelles' followers seem to have muted  criticism of the Church, and focused instead on Caesar: "In truth, Rome's purpose in imposing the Julian calendar on the people they conquered was to take away [their]  power . . .  Invariably, this calendar was imposed on people who were utilizing the 28 day, 13 moon calendar system. These were people who were very in tune with nature, because of their connection to time as a natural cycle. . . .  Caesar imposed a false time upon them. A time which would take them out of step with nature."  (The Dreamspell Story)
In fact, the Gregorian Calendar in based on the "natural cycle" of the solar year.  The 1582 calendar revision was made because the length of the solar year is a bit less than 365.25 days, and the error had accumulated since Caesar's time.  The leap year rule adopted by Pope Gregory ( which omits leap year in century years not divisible by 400) keeps the calendar year to within .003 days of the true solar year.  Because the 13 Moon Calendar has a less sophisticated leap year mechanism, it does a poorer job of keeping in step with the seasons. 
The only arbitrary feature of the Gregorian Calendar is its months of unequal length. The months are a lunar element carried over from  an older Roman calendar. This was, like the Greek and Celtic calendars, a lunar calendar with alternating 29 and 30 day months to approximate the 29.5 day lunar month.  Because 12 lunar months of 29.5 days amount to only 354 days,  Caesar's astronomers made calendar months a bit longer than lunar months.  Interestingly, the Julian months originally alternated between 30 and 31 days (though February was 30 days only on leap years). Thus each calendar month was one day longer than the months in traditional lunar calendars. Augustus Caesar upset this harmony by renaming a month for himself (August), and stole a day from February to make it as long as Julius Caesar's month (July).

13 month calendars solve the problem of fitting lunar months into the solar year by adding a month and making the months shorter (rather than longer) than the true lunar month.  While this is perhaps neater, it is as arbitrary as Caesar's solution.  The Celts who devised the Coligny calendar did a better job of keeping track of new moons, but they did not use a 13 month calendar.  Neither, for that matter, did most of the other peoples conquered by Rome.
. The Maya kept track of many calendrical and astronomical cycles. The core of their calendar was the Calendar Round, which combined the 260 day tzolk'in and the 365 day haab. Although the Maya kept track of the solar cycle,  the haab made no provision for leap days. It was set to exactly 365 days to make it more easily commensurate with other calendar cycles. The Maya also kept track of the moon, counting lunar months of alternatively 29 and 30 days to keep in step with new moons, as in Old World lunar calendars.  But the lunar months were distinct from the haab, which was divided into 18 winals of 20 days (with a five day period, the Wayeb, at year end).
Maya astronomy and calendrics was motivated by an effort to make all the cycles of time tracked by the scribes commensurate.  The Maya approach to this task was fundamentally different than the methods adopted by Western calendar reformers from Caesar to Arguelles. Rather than attempting to make other cycles fit into the year, the Maya sought to discover common multiples of cycles. They did not, for example, try to adjust either the year or the lunar month to fit a whole number of lunar months into the year. Instead, they observed the moon long enough to discover that 405 lunations = 46 tzolk'ins (260 x 46 = 11,960 days). If new moon occurs on (for example) the tzolk'in date 1 Imix, it will occur on the same date exactly 46 tzolk'in cycles later. There is nothing similar to this approach in Old World calendar theory, or in Arguelles' 13 Moon Calendar.
Arguelles' characterization of leap days as "void days" outside the normal count of days in the year appears to be an effort to equate his 365 day year with the haab.  But since leap days are not ignored, they still throw the haab and Arguelles' calendar out of synchronization.  The Maya approach avoids the need to intercalate a leap day at all.  The relationship between the haab and the true solar year was fixed by them by the equation 1507 solar years = 1508 haabs (365 x 1508 days), not by introducing the concept of the leap year.
The Thirteen Moon Calendar bears only a very faint resemblance to the Maya calendar.

The haab and the solar year.   Since the 365 day Maya haab  makes no provision for leap years, its starting date in the Gregorian Calendar advances by one day every four years.   The beginning of Arguelles' year is fixed to July 26.  Thus his  count of days departs from the haab as it was known to Maya scribes before the Spanish conquest.  Arguelles claims that the Thirteen Moon Calendar is synchronized with the calendar round.  Clearly, it is not. 
Arguelles' misunderstanding of  the Maya calendar is explicable.  He  found the July 26 date in the post-Conquest Books of Chilam Balam .(which record it as July 16 in the old Julian calendar). Though it was not part of their calendar, the Maya measured the solar year as the time between summer zenith passages of the sun.  These occurred about July 16 in the 16th C. Yucatan.  The Maya realized  the European calendar is a true solar calendar, and thus a convenient tool for  keeping track of zenith passages.  For this reason, the Books of Chilam Balam record July 16 rather than January 1 as the beginning of the Christian year.  The haab remained distinct as long as the traditional calendar was  in use.  But  calendrical knowledge was proscribed by the Church, and gradually lost in the Yucatan.  Thus it is not surprising that the last revisions of the Books of Chilam Balam  (likely in the late 18th or early 19th Century) confused  the haab and Christian year. 

Ironically, Arguelles was misled by  a Christianized and confused remnant of the Maya tradition.  The Quiche of Guatemala  still retain much of their calendrical knowledge. They still know the relationship between the haab and tzolk'in, and celebrate New Year at the beginning of the haab,  which is still fixed in the calendar round,  not in the Christian year.   A Quiche shaman  would not see the point of Arguelles' "void days", which simply distort the traditional count of days and the auguries made using it.
The Harmonic Convergence: The pseudoscience of the end time
Despite its clear departure from Maya calendrical ideas, Arguelles claims that the Thirteen Moon Calendar is essential to prepare for the culmination of the cycles of time kept by the Maya. The end date of the Maya long count  will be reached in 2012 AD. According to Arguelles, Maya prophecy confirms the apocalyptic visions of the Koran and Book of Revelations.  This he calls the "harmonic convergence". He claims that the "galactic Maya" returned in 1987.  We must now  prepare for the end of the epoch by adopting the Thirteen Moon calendar. Arguelles initially warned that the new calendar must be in place by 1995, but now seems to tacitly allow more time. 

"If the human race does not reject the current twelve-month Gregorian Calendar and replace it by the new Thirteen Moon 28-Day Calendar by July 26, 1995, it will very soon bring about its own self-destruction.
Changing calendars . . .  is a planetary ultimatum. The Thirteen Moon Calendar Change is the spearhead of a peace plan that calls for a universal cease-fire on July 25, 1995 . . . and a five-year follow-up program, Pax Cultural Pax Biospherica . . ."  ( Manifesto of the Thirteen Moon Calendar Change Movement)

The end of the long count. Classical Maya creation accounts suggest that the present world began after dissolution of a previous world that had lasted 13 baktuns (about 5125 years).  The long count  measures the time elapsed since creation.  It was reset to zero at creation of the present world. It will reach 13 baktuns again in 2012 AD.  Although no Maya text actually tells us explicitly what the Maya believed would transpire in 2012 AD, the end of the cycle was no doubt regarded as a highly significant time of transition between epochs.  Arguelles nevertheless claims to know what 2012 AD will bring.  He tells us it is  "the closing out . . . [of]  the evolutionary interim called Homo Sapiens. . . . At last, Earth will be ready for the emergence into inter-planetary civilization.  [A] great voltage will race through this finally synchronized and integrated circuit called humanity. ???  Whatever else can be said of this, it is not something Arguelles learned from the Maya.

Why is changing the calendar the key to our salvation?  According to Arguelles:. 

"The clouded mental field of humanity operating at the artificial, accelerating machine frequency of 12:60 is actually at conflict with the innate 13:20 timing frequency of the planet and the galactic whole. The Earth's resonance is registered at 7.8 Hz. This number is a fractal of 78, which is a multiple of 13 (x6), and hence, a function of the 13:20 timing frequency. Unless humanity shifts its mental frequency it will bring about a greater and greater dissonance, resulting in the type of disaster that destroyed the planet Maldek, producing the asteroid belt. . . . The Thirteen Moon Calendar Change [is] . . . the first stage of Earth ascending to its sacred dimension". (Arguelles,  "Earth Ascending and the Arrival of the Galactic Culture")

What can be said in response to this kind of fantasy? It certainly has nothing to do with Maya calendrics or prophecy except that the numbers 13 and 20 appear frequently in the Maya calendar. How division of the year into 12 months and the hour into 60 minutes could somehow interfere with the "innate timing frequency of the planet" is far from clear. But let's just focus on how Arguelles "discovers" that the Maya/13 Moon calendar corrects this dissonance. Arguelles' argument turns out to be an exercise, like Maurice Chatelain's revision of the Maya calendar, in numerological slight of hand.
Arguelles assigns a "7.8 Hz resonance frequency" to the Earth. The numerical value of a frequency depends on the units chosen to represent it.  The Hertz (Hz) is an arbitrary unit of measurement defined by modern physics. Even if the Maya knew something about vibrational frequencies, they would hardly have measured them in Hertz.  Arguelles manages to link the magic number 13 to the "innate timing frequency" of the Earth only by  first specifying this frequency in modern units. But even if we allow this, his mathematical manipulations to get from 7.8 to 13 are highly suspect. 

 He first multiplies 7.8 by 10, because, he says, 7.8 is a "fractal" of 78. Actually, of course, it is a decimal fraction, not a fractal (which is a very different thing. See the fractal pattern graphed at the left). This may seem innocuous enough, just "getting rid of the decimal",  but a number and its decimal fraction have a special relationship only in our decimal (base 10) number system, an Old World invention unknown to the Maya. The Maya used a base 20 number system in which 7.8 and 78 have no special relationship. Finally,  for reasons that aren't clear (except that it gives the answer he wants), he divides 78 by 6 to produce 13. 
 I suppose Arguelles might have multiplied by 20 rather than 10, and then divided by 12 to get 13 --- but wait, I guess he couldn't do that --- 12 is a "bad" number!
Worse yet, the Hertz is defined in terms of  "cycles per second", and the second is of course defined as 1/60th of a minute, which is 1/60th of an hour. Thus the critical value of 7.8 Hz that Arguelles converts to 13 through dubious  number juggling takes it meaning from the "12:60"  time measurement Arguelles finds so objectionable. The whole exercise is circular nonsense.
 Schumann resonance frequency. The "resonance"  referred to by Arguelles appears to be the Schumann resonance frequency, a component of the natural electromagnetic radiation (radio waves) in the Earth's atmosphere. This Background radiation is the source of much of the static heard on radio receivers, though the Schumann component, produced primarily by lightening strikes, is too low frequency to be picked up by ordinary receivers.  See Schumann Resonance at Space Physics.
SRF is much variable than Arguelles suggests.  SRF is produced by waves resonating between the Earth's surface and the ionosphere, which reflects radio waves.  A well defined cavity like an organ pipe produces a pure "tone" and "over tones", but  because the height of the ionosphere varies with time and place, the resonance in the Earth's atmosphere produces a  lot of "noise",  a more or less continuous range  of frequencies.  There is usually a peak at about 7.8 Hz, but others occur at 14, 20, 26, 33, 39 and 45 Hz. 

This "Schumann resonance frequency"  is hardly the "innate timing frequency of the Earth", much less the galaxy. It is only one among many natural electromagnetic phenomena.  Nor could the Earth be destroyed by "dissonant frequencies".  Arguelles seems to have in mind the shattering of a wine glass by a strong vibration (such as a sound wave) that is resonant with the natural vibrational frequency of the glass. But SRF is not analogous.  SR  waves are radio waves, not vibrations in matter.   In any event,  the timing of our activities  with the Gregorian calendar and clock does not produce radio waves either resonant or dissonant with SR radio waves.  Time-keeping produces no radio waves at all."

Offline educatedindian

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Re: Debunking Nuage Lies About Mayans
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2007, 08:24:39 pm »
A book review about Nuage claims about Mayan prophecies. I broke some of the paragraphs into shorter ones to make it easier to understand:
Review-Essay of Mayan Prophecies by Gilbert and Cotterell, Element Books 1995

Book Review. October 18th, 1995
by John Major Jenkins
c. Four Ahau Press

Mayan Prophecies presents new ideas which attempt to identify why the end date of the Mayan Calendar in A.D. 2012 will be attended by cataclysm. The book was written by Adrian Gilbert (co-author with Robert Bauval of The Orion Mystery) and Maurice Cotterell, an independent researcher from England. This book follows in the tradition of The Orion Mystery and Graham Hancock's Fingerprints of the Gods by chastising academia for their intolerance and refusal to hear out the ideas of outsiders. New ideas with the potential for contributing to a field of study should be put on the table for judging, and if serious new advances are being presented, they need to be tested and weighed by those who are knowledgeable about the field in question. In the case of Mayan Prophecies, there are so many internal inconsistencies and misconceptions that I wish the authors had taken the time to do more extensive research in the field themselves, to weed out the sophomoric mistakes which seriously damage this book's credibility. The book has to do with Mesoamerican creation mythology, ancient astronomy and the Mayan calendar. Definitive books on this subject, such as Maya Cosmos (1993; Linda Schele, David Freidel & Joy Parker) or Gordon Brotherston's Book of the Fourth World (1992) were not used as source material. Instead, archaic studies such as Ernst Förstemann's work on the Dresden Codex were consulted to derive half-true statements about Venus and the Mayan Long Count system of timekeeping. In general, the arguments by Gilbert and Cotterell do not stand up to even moderate standards of sense making. Since they have striven to get an airing of their theories for critical evaluation, and dislike being ignored by scholars, I've taken the time to carefully go through the book and point out the mistakes.

Gilbert and Cotterell try to answer the question of why 2012 was so important to the Maya, but they each take slightly different viewpoints....The closeness of these numbers is supposed to demonstrate that the Maya were aware of sunspot cycles, solar magnetic field reversals, and that is why the Long Count pinpoints 2012 A.D. as a cataclysmic World Age destruction. "From his studies... Cotterell has concluded that the Maya prophecy for the end of the fifth age concerns a reversal of the earth's magnetic field - around 2012 A.D." (192)....The obvious problem here is that the next magnetic shift should take place 3553 years after 627 A.D., not in 2012 A.D.

Also, their major premise regarding the Mayan knowledge of sunspots and field reversals is not well grounded. The key to Mayan cosmo-conception is the 260-day cycle, which allowed the Maya to predict eclipses and at least the movements of Venus and Mars. Because the 260-day cycle is an ingenius key to many if not all cycles of the solar system, it can also be used to find the conjunction cycles of Uranus and Neptune. It is also related in a very simple way to eclipses: 3 eclipses "half-years" occur every 2 periods of 260 days; thus the Maya could predict eclipses without even having a heliocentric model of the solar system. A key cycle giving rise to larger sunspot cycles is the 26-day rotation of the sun's equator (the sun's poles have a 37-day cycle). Obviously, 26 is a key factor of 260-day Mayan Calendar. Likewise, 16 cycles of 260-days equal 11.39, the sunspot cycle. This doesn't mean that the Maya were aware of sunspots, Uranus, Neptune or field reversals, they just had discovered the key to the cycles of the solar system and used it to whatever extent they could. Gilbert and Cotterell jump to an unnecessary conclusion, and the deception increases every time they mention it: "...then perhaps we would know for certain the truth of the Mayan civilization and how they came to understand so much about sunspot cycles" (177).

Sadly, this kind of half-truth is characteristic of much of the book....throughout the entire book, Cotterell uses 584 days for the Venus cycle, which is wrong. The average synodical cycle of Venus is 583.92 days. The slight difference may seem like nitpicking on my part but, on the one hand, it's critical for Cotterell's mathematical gymnastics, and on the other hand it shows how superficial the research was. Learning the true synodical cycle of Venus is one of the first lessons in studying the Mayan Calendar....

Gilbert's misrepresentation of Mayan astronomy is even more disturbing. Gilbert apparently wanted to find something more astronomically compelling for the end date in A.D. 2012, something that might tie into his work with the Orion constellation. Gilbert's idea is that the beginning of the Long Count represents a so-called "Birth of Venus"

....Based upon this faulty observation, Gilbert begins referring to the Long Count zero-date as "the Birth of Venus." Gilbert not only never explores where, when and by whom the Long Count was devised, he just takes the first circumstantial piece of data he stumbles across and begins to weave fantasies around it. And this deception, too, increases with certainty each time it is mentioned: "It is generally agreed that the Long Count began with an event known as the Birth of Venus on August 12th, 3114 B.C." (184). And "The Birth of Venus has strong calendrical connotations, for it marks the start of the Mayan Long Count calendar in 3114 B.C." (204). This is completely false, but it is required for Gilbert's lame summary of his theory in the final chapter. Before we look at this, I should mention that Gilbert committed similar blunders and inaccuracies when he explored the movements of the Pleiades on pgs 131-133.

Gilbert's summary is apparently supposed to reveal one of the miraculous breakthroughs that the book promises. But his observations are not very compelling. In general, his indulgence in Atlantean and Caycean rehash is just boring....

These astronomical observations are not very illustrative of vast World Age shiftings. If a new precessional cycle is being highlighted by Mayan myth and calendar, then an astronomical situation dependant on precessional movement itself should be evident. And indeed it is, as my work with the astronomy of the end date demonstrates (sources given below).

In his research, Gilbert fails to make some very simple though profound connections. Earlier, Gilbert writes that he was surprised to learn from a guide at Palenque that the Maya followed the movements of Orion. His visit to Palenque took place in December of 1994 - less than a year ago. Schele & Freidel's book Maya Cosmos was published in 1993, and is the classic text on these matters, exploring the role of Orion and other constellations in Mayan creation mythology. This just shows that Gilbert didn't do his homework. If he had, he might have also come across my book Tzolkin: Visionary Perspectives and Calendar Studies (1992 & 1994), got in touch with me, and I would have sent him my research into the astronomy of the end-date. In fact, I sent my material to Robert Bauval and received a cordial reply from him last May. As Gilbert is apparently an astrologer, he might also have come across my article on the "How and Why" of the Mayan end date which appeared in The Mountain Astrologer (December 1994). My reconstruction is quite straight-forward and involves precession and the fact that the winter solstice sun is right on the Milky Way in the years around A.D. 2012.

....We are on the verge of a new 26,000-year precessional cycle. Gilbert suggests this himself, but for the wrong reasons. My work on this is detailed in several essays, including "The How and Why of the Mayan End Date in 2012 A.D." (in The Mountain Astrologer, Dec. 1994) and a 110-page monograph with full documentation called The Center of Mayan Time (Four Ahau Press, 1995). So, with my own research behind me, I can presume to speak with some authority in clarifying the many misconceptions and factual errors in Gilbert and Cotterell's Mayan Prophecies.

Now, I'd like to sweep through the text once more and point out these errors, at least the ones I haven't already mentioned. This is done in the spirit of independent researchers helping each other out rather than in the name of academic intolerance because, first of all, I'm not an academic and second, publishing a book with presumptions of pushing untested ideas as revelatory breakthroughs begs for correction.

1) The inner jacket cover reads: "The present world will end on December 22nd, 2012...So prophesied the Maya 5,000 years ago..." The cultural tradition known as "the Maya" did not exist 5000 years ago and furthermore the Long Count calendar begins appearing in the archaeological record only 2100 years ago. This kind of disinformation is an insult to the intelligence of anybody who knows anything about the Maya.

2) Note 14 from Chapter 1 gives a completely false impression: "The term `Olmec', though still in general currency, is no longer used in academic circles. The preferred and more accurate term is proto-Mayan" (214). This is absurd. I would like to know where Gilbert got this erroneous information, but Mayan Prophecies is generally light on the documentation. Two pages of sources listed are almost all pre-1988, almost all non-academic, thus neglecting significant recent breakthroughs made in understanding Mayan mythology and calendrics. Another source conspicuously missing is José Argüelles' The Mayan Factor (1987), which discusses sunspots and the Mayan super-multiple 1366560. Even among independent researchers, one must compare your ideas with the work of your colleagues and make an effort to find out if your own "discoveries" have already been written about. Overall, Mayan Prophecies is very poorly documented, although all the tables and graphs give it an air of scientific respectability.

3) The chronology of Mesoamerican civilizations in Figure 1 (on page 4) is inaccurate, placing the Zapotecs and Teotihuacanos in the wrong era by 600 years. The Izapans, Olmec and other significant cultures are ignored.

4) Chapter 2, Note 4. False information. The Maya did, in fact, know about the true solar year by way of the "year-drift formula" in which 1507 true solar years (of 365.2422 days each) equal 1508 haab, or "vague solar years" of 365 days each.

5) Page 33. `Birth of the Long Count = Birth of Venus.' Wrong.

6) Page 37. Dates given for the beginning and end of the 13-baktun cycle of the Long Count don't match the ones given earlier on page 2.

7) Page 39 (also page 284). The average synodical cycle of Venus, best used for long-range calculations, is 583.92 days rather than 584 days....

11) In the discussion of Pacal's lid, Pacal is not holding a leaf. In untampered-with renderings of the lid carving, this is clearly a background design, part of the World Axis tree itself. Cotterell's identification of the figure on Pacal's lid as Chalchiuhtlicue, the Aztec Water-Goddess, is very unlikely. Perhaps I should go into this lid thing. In the first chapter, Gilbert introduces the work of Cotterell in "deciphering the code" of Pacal's lid. This is the famous stone carving from Palenque which von Daniken suggested was a spaceman seated in a spaceship. Cotterell's work with this lid involves making copies of the designs around the edges of the rectangular carving, flipping them over and edging them together with the original design to produce new patterns. In the derived design Cotterell sees bats, faces and hidden glyphs - an interesting exercise but too much importance is placed by the writers on this technique of picture-play. The hidden faces and so forth are clearly ambiguous and are based on the same principle of finding meaning in music played backwards....

13) Chapter 9. The Maya did not "disappear" around 440-814 A.D.

....In summary, Mayan Prophecies is very poorly researched and the "breakthroughs" presented don't stand up to mild cross-checking with facts. It's sad that U.K. publishers are willing to spew garbage in the name of bankability. Gilbert had solid success with The Orion Mystery, and he is now cashing in on his success.

In fact, he doesn't appear to have been very well informed about the complex ethnographic and archaeological history of Mesoamerica. As Gilbert readily admits at the beginning of the book, he knew practically nothing about Mayan culture and cosmology when he first met with Cotterell in May of 1994. By December he had "read a lot" on the subject and went to Mexico. Six or seven more months of writing and Mayan Prophecies is ready for the printer. As such, the radical breakthroughs promised fall short of credibility, primarily because the research and writing was done so spuriously that the authors didn't have the time to ask themselves the right questions. Mayan Prophecies is partly a long, poorly researched book report, partly untested speculations, and partly a venue for the impressively complex theories of Maurice Cotterell. But that doesn't matter to a publisher, as long as the formula is right and the project is deemed sellable.

Cotterell, for his part, neglects to ask the right questions to test his own theories, and impatient reactions from scholars are therefore understandable. Cotterell's theories as they relate to Mayan astronomy and calendrics require major adjusting, correcting or even abandonment....

But Gilbert's astronomical misconceptions and looseness with the data is disturbing. Major conceptual errors were made, reducing the revolutionary value of Mayan Prophecies to nil. Likewise, Cotterell's work, especially where it relates to Mayan astronomy and calendrics, is based upon assuming too much about a conscious intent not necessarily present in a coincidence of numbers. The effort to figure out what the end date is all about is commendable, but new perspectives concerning the astronomy of the Mayan end-date have already been published and point to a different and much more thoroughly tested and documented hypothesis - a hypothesis quite compellingly simple. As outlined earlier, my hypothesis is simply based on the astronomical alignment that occurs on the Long Count end date - the winter solstice of 2012 A.D.

Overall, Mayan Prophecies has the marketing advantage of riding on the success of The Orion Mysteries, but on close inspection it was clearly slapped together with little care or thought for testing these ideas which are wrongly presented as the result of serious research.

Offline debbieredbear

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Re: Debunking Nuage Lies About Mayans
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2007, 12:03:48 am »
Someone gave me one off arguelles' books. BARF!