12.19.19.2.10; 18 Pax 6 Oc; 309 days left . . . 

All good rumors start with a whisper of truth.

Discovering that truth is the gift that travel brings, because nothing compares to gaining knowledge first hand, on site.

So far, my journey through Mexico has taken me to the place where the Maya calendar began, as well as the place of origin for the many myths about ancient Maya beliefs. All I needed now was to read the original doomsday prophecy that so many people are talking about.

A good researcher always wants to get back to the primary source, which is exactly what brought me to the state of Tabasco and the vibrant city of Villahermosa. Despite all the speculation, urgent discussion and global hullabaloo around the so-called “Maya doomsday prophecy”, there is only one actual written record of such an event.

That record is contained in Monument 6 from the Maya archeological site of El Tortuguero, located in the Mexican state of Tabasco about 30 miles southeast of Villahermosa. Due to rising worldwide interest in the prophecy, the stone tablets were recently moved to Villahermosa and are now on permanent display at El Museo Regional de Anthropologia de Carlos Pellicer Cámara (named after the Mexican poet and traveler who first discovered the inscriptions in 1958).

The museum is open to the public from Tuesday through Sunday—thus I arrived first thing on Tuesday morning, just as the guards were unlocking the front doors. I found the general lack of fanfare around the tablets a bit odd, given the worldwide excitement around the Maya prophecy.

“Yeah, it’s upstairs,” yawned the docent, pointing up a floor. And there it was, bolted onto the wall, a flat piece of off-white stone that most of us would skip right past in most museums.

The whole of Monument 6 consists of three rectangular slabs, which were originally placed on the back wall of a ceremonial building in Tortuguero in a T-shape (a symbol that represents the wind in Mayan iconography).

The decorative narrative of Monument 6 details the life and times of “Lord Jaguar” Ahau Balam, who was born in 612 A.D. and ruled from 644 to 679 A.D. Events from the past are also highlighted on the stone, such as wars, the dedication of new buildings, a great fire, and the opening of a steam bath.

It is the final passage of Monument 6 that draws so much interest, specifically the countdown from Lord Jaguar’s life to the “final date” of the 13th baktun, or 13.0.0.0.0. According to the Maya long count calendar, that date is December 21st, 2012.

Staring at the actual carved inscription of the final passage of Monument 6 was both exciting and a little underwhelming. Like any history buff, I find any bit of old writing pretty thrilling, but as a traveler in search of hard facts, I found the handful of Maya glyphs offered me very little to go on.

When all is said and done, the Maya “doomsday” prophecy boils down to eight carved characters, of which half are crumbled and unclear. Academics still debate their specific meaning, but the translation offered at the museum is as follows:

The thirteenth baktun will end on the day 4 Ajaw; 3 K’ank’in; Will occur the descent of the god Bolom Yokté.

That’s it.

No fire and brimstone, or planetary collisions or global floods or polar shifts. Only a reference to Bolom Yokté, who is one of the Maya gods associated with the creation of the universe. Naming this particular deity opens up a whole new field for interpretation and speculation, since Maya gods can represent a whole host of meanings and events.

I had traveled all the way to Villahermosa for the true source of the 2012 prophecy — What I found was a damaged stone, like a tattered corner ripped from some old newspaper, printed with outdated headlines and one final cryptic sentence. Seeing the prophecy for myself popped the doom-and-gloom rumor balloon that surrounds 2012, but like all good clues, it left me with new questions.

Specifically, “Who exactly is this Bolom Yokté and what does his prophesied appearance mean for us?”

That is a very big question — one that I will try to answer as I continue to explore Mexico’s Mundo Maya.

Comments

  1. The Doomsday Prophecy - tDiscuss
    February 16, 2012, 9:50 am

    [...] All good rumors start with a whisper of truth. Discovering that truth is the gift that travel brings, because nothing compares to gaining knowledge first hand, on site. http://digitalnomad.nationalgeographic.com/… [...]

  2. Comalcalco: Cosmovision – Digital Nomad
    February 16, 2012, 11:31 am

    [...] recently, the only record of the doomsday prophecy was at Tortuguero Monument 6, but three months ago, Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) reported [...]

  3. [...] (who suggested the carvings represented an “ancient astronaut” flying a spacecraft); Tortuguero, which has the only Maya carving carrying the date of 13.0.0.0.0.0 (the end of the Maya Long [...]

  4. [...] The Doomsday Prophecy Feb, 15, 2012 (3) Digital Nomad » [...]

  5. william newton LEE
    douglas. arizona usa
    February 17, 2012, 2:06 am

    they have rebuilt and swiped clean Palenque since i was there in 1962 .. i had my picture took there at the tomb before they open it. it was wild and wonderful back then. yes space man or dentist chair. one of the best place i been to tell there was a great people here. long before the world we know today.

  6. Edzna: Sun God – Digital Nomad
    February 22, 2012, 9:37 am

    [...] with an army of jaguars who will eat up all mankind. How this scenario coincides with the 2012 Maya “doomsday” prophecy and coming of Bolom Yokté, I do not know, but it was at the ruins Ednza that I learned of this [...]

  7. Uxmal: Rain God – Digital Nomad
    February 24, 2012, 11:32 am

    [...] sun, I pondered the politics of water. Among the many scary scenarios painted by this year’s doomsday prophets, I have yet to hear anyone predict how we humans might simply run out of clean water. A [...]

  8. [...] minute I am blowing up snowdrifts, the next I am dusting away the secrets of Mesoamerican doomsday prophecies, rapping in Japanese, or cuddling wolves. Every day is different and unexpected—as travel should [...]

  9. Corazor
    St. Franciville Louisiana
    August 23, 2012, 4:44 pm

    thats cool that you got to the heart of that stupid mayan 2012 prohecy

  10. Ryan Johnson
    Eugene, OR
    October 11, 2012, 7:28 pm

    “as well as the place of origin for the many myths about ancient Maya beliefs.”

    When you say “many myths about ancient Maya beliefs,” what you mean to say is “many things which I believe to be untrue about Maya beliefs.” In actuality, the word ‘myth’ refers to a sacred narrative, one which shapes the worldview of the people who tell it. The Bible, for example is a myth. I see no purpose for National Geographic to try to “mythbust” New Age beliefs that incorporate Mayan prophecy and rather I think these beliefs should be featured, as they are indicators of Mayan influence on contemporary spirituality.

  11. [...] to southernmost Mexico and retracing the history of the Mayan calendar in anticipation of the final day in the final year of year of their final baktun. All year long I wandered the globe, seeing as much [...]

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    An interesting blog post correct there mate ! Thank you for posting !