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Home >> 2012 >> 2012 Articles

Mayan Mythology and the End of the World
Mayan Calendar - The End of the World Mayan mythology is part of Mesoamerican mythology and comprises all of the Mayan tales in which personified forces of nature, deities, and the heroes interact with each other. The end-of-times creation myths are very much inter-meshed with astronomy and creation myths.

Like many Meso-American peoples, the Mayans pictured a universe consisting of heavens above and underworlds below, with the human world being a realm that exists in between. Most anthropologists agree that this culture believed in thirteen heavens that were like thirteen layers stacked above the earth, and the earth rested on the back of a turtle or reptile floating in the ocean.

Four brothers called the Bacabs, possibly the sons of Itzamná, supported the heavens. Below the earth lay a realm called Xibalba, an underworld in nine layers. Linking the three realms was a giant tree whose roots reached into the underworld and branches stretched to heaven. The gods and the souls of the dead traveled between worlds along this tree.

The oldest myths date from the 16th century and are found in historical sources from the Guatemalan Highlands. The most important of these documents is the Popul Vuh (known as the “Book of the Council.”)

The mythology to do with the end of the world has very much to do with how the world was created for Mayan culture in the first place. First were animals, then wet clay, wood, then last, the creation of the first ancestors from maize dough. Maize is just simply another word form corn. They sprung from a Sacred Tree of Life.

Like the Aztecs and other Mesoamericans, the Mayans believed that the present world is only the most recent in a series of creations. The earlier ones perished or were destroyed one after the other, just as this world will one day come to an end too.




Heroes were also created from the maize, including bird demons that created disease and Gods of Thunder and Lightning such as Hunahpu and Xbalanque. A lot of the deities in this culture had the ability to turn into birds, bees, or bugs. In this culture, the Sun and the Moon were also thought to be married.

This culture was also fascinated with astronomy and in particular constellations, such as the Pleiades and the Milky Way from which they felt all life had sprung. They built huge temples that doubled as place of sacrifice and worship. They also acted as places from which to view the stars.

The Mayans also intertwined time and reality by name five distinct worlds. According to both Native American Hopi mythology and Mayan mythology, the current world we inhabit is the "Fourth World." In both belief systems, time is cyclical, and the end of one world is the beginning of the next.

The coming Fifth World (where our present World is presented as the Fourth) is said to arrive following a cycle in nature affecting our entire Solar System, where our Earth births an egg (sometimes called the Mystery Egg or Hidden Egg) and then moves "up" within our system to reach its crowning place. All of the Earth's life is then said to be "raised" to its perfected-eternal form.

Some tribes refer to this period of change as "Purification Time." During this period of purification, time is said to change where we must choose between the natural time we have now upon our Earth (meant for humans top live in) and an unnatural time structure, which removes us from nature and our opportunity to reach the Fifth World. It is told that everyone will have to choose between the two time frames - one leading to the Fifth World with our Earth, and the other (which will be very alluring, deceiving many) which will remove us from our Earth, taking us to oblivion.



Like other Mesoamerican cultures, the Mayans used a writing system based on symbols called glyphs that represented individual syllables. They recorded their mythology and history in huge tablets and books made out of paper known as codices. Although the Spanish destroyed most Mayan documents, a few codices have survived.

The Mayans also had their own unique calendar.  They not only had days and years similar to our own, but they also had galactic days We are living today in the cusp of the Mayan end times, the end of a galactic day or time period spanning thousands of years. One galactic day of 25,625 years is divided into five cycles of 5,125 years.

The Great Cycle of the Mayan Long Count calendar ends on the winter solstice of 2012 A.D. Following Mayan concepts of cyclic time and World Age transitions, this is as much about beginnings as endings. In fact, it was considered by the ancient Mayans to signify the creation of a new World Age. We are almost at the end of the fifth and final 5,125 year cycle!

There is a very important symbol associated with the end of the world called the Sacred Tree. Many astronomers do not see this as a “real tree,” but a reference to a celestial configuration in the sky. Drawing from an impressive amount of iconographic evidence, and generously sharing the process by which she arrived at her discovery, the Sacred Tree is found to be none other than the crossing point of the ecliptic with the band of the Milky Way.

Another important image in this culture is the Milky Way. Many images found on Mayan artifacts show a canoe with various deities in it make its way across the Milky Way to the “next world,” which is presumably the Fifth World.

It is important to note that not all Mayan archeologists and scholars agree that it is the Fifth World that is next. Some say it is actually the Sixth World and that we are in the Fifth World now.






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