We live in unprecedented times. Just ask my cat Shiva. We sit in the sun together, pondering the brilliant sunshine. To my long-haired white cat Shiva, this is unprecedented, for her human servant rarely tarries: I’m so busy. We’re all so busy. We rarely pause to simply purr, watch and sense the larger movements of nature, the dance of stars, planets and moons, but I think it’s time we do.
And it’s about time. Time is the real art we are all married to.
From my backyard here on the Big Island, where the coming winter solstice, December 21, will be almost as warm as summer solstice, and thus easier to replicate the open-air observations of the ancient Maya, who studied and mapped the structure of the galaxy and greater cosmos nearly 4000 years ago. With profound precision, they pondered not only the Sun, but the precession of the solstices — how the winter solstice sun would rise at different spots on the horizon.
Over time, the Mayan shaman-astronomers realized that every 26,000 years, a major alignment would occur: the Solstice Sun will align with the Dark Rift in the Milky Way, which the Maya called the Mouth of the Crocodile, or “jaguar-toad,” on December 21, 2012.
Living now, during the end-times, was to these ancient astronomers, mathematical geniuses, so extraordinary that they chose our unique time as the transformation point of the sacred calendar, the Tzolkin, based on the cycles of the Pleiades, encompassing a vast parade of time — 26,000 years.
Linguistic alchemist and plant medicine pioneer Terrence MacKenna was one of the first to notice the incredible time-keeping system of the Mayans, which was actually a combination of several cycles that meshed together, marking the movements of the Sun, Moon and Venus. “The Maya believed, for reasons which are perhaps forever lost, or perhaps soon to be revealed, that the coincidence of winter solstice sunrise with the part of the Milky Way that they called the xibalba be would not be, as some have stated, the end of the world, but its moment of true creation.”
The Mayan visionaries, like their contemporaries the Vedic philosophers in India and pre-classical metaphysicians in Egypt, found in astronomical processes the bedrock truth of nature, and they devised inventions like the Tzolkin Calendar to teach us, their heirs, about these celestial energies, to help us push through or midwife sometimes difficult evolutionary changes. The Mayans seemed to want us to know that we are entering an Alignment Era, a time of transformation, and if we can sense it, we might feel in the spiral structure of our own molecules the spiral structure of the galaxy, and therein find our real liberty. Petty politics and WikiLeaks are symptoms, not the cause of our human problems. They obscure the real issue of realigning with nature.
Through their myths and elaborate ceremonies, the Maya honored the cosmic waltz of time, the sacred relationships of planets and stars in their cosmic waltz, dancing in the skies. For one moment, now, feeling Shiva’s fur as we count our blessings in the garden, I notice the dancing. This dance as we know it, the dance of life in our universe, has been twirling its celestial choreography for at least 13.5 billion years, the estimated age of the universe.
So what’s a little 26,000-year-cycle? One of my mentors, Jose Arguelles, wrote in The Mayan Factor, “The emergence of humankind – Homo Sapiens – represents a particular stage in the evolutionary cycle of a star system, a stage in which the purposive integration of the four levels of consciousness becomes a distinct planetary possibility. The stage, Homo Sapiens, has a duration of 26,000 tun or five great cycles of 5,200 tun each. The 26,000-tun cycle is roughly equivalent to the so-called Platonic Great Year. The 5,200-tun cycle is but the fifth or last stage of the current evolutionary cycle. What we are experiencing is the climax of our particular species and evolutionary stage – the very last 26 (now 2) years of a cycle some 26,000 years in length!”
Indigenous people all over the globe would confirm what MacKenna and Arguelles have perceived. The ancient time-keepers foretold that human lives were bound with nature, and that if we step too far away from nature or caring for the planet and each other, we can not reasonably stay in balance.
Ah, but Nature gave us options. Nature is giving us support. On this December 21st Solstice, the heralded solstice Sun will rise in concert with a rare eclipse of the Full Moon which begins on the evening of Monday, December 20th, an event that occurs only once every 120 years.
The beauty of this moment is that the Earth’s shadow — the ego’s negativity, anger and indulgence, which creates war, racism and greed — will eclipse the fullness of our singular Moon. During its overnight dance in the skies, as the Earth’s shadow moves past the Moon, I think all the wounds and pettiness of human nature can fall away too. I plan to pitch my own sly and prideful cellular negativities into the proverbial bonfire. I hope you will too.
Let the power of the visual architecture and incredible choreography of the celestial spheres carry us home to ourselves, knowing our dignity, generosity and enthusiasm for life as gracefully on Earth as the sky is above. “As it is above, so it is below,” say the ancient teachers.
And as it is below, so it will be above, in a transformed state. The passion of singers like the Puna Men’s Chorus, futurists like Richard Koob, Jim Berenholtz, and Mark Kadota, musicians Boaz and Tony Selvage, and dancers Yoko, Janelle and myself, to co-create joyful ceremony at places like Kalani Honua on the Big Island, arises from this: an abiding belief in the rejuvenating power of this poignant time, and the regenerating energies of the sacred space of Kalani, so near the outpouring of lava from Kilauea Volcano.
Whether you can celebrate this amazing time, this New Alignment Era, with us on the Big Island, or you plan to find your own transformational event, party or meditation, realize that as we bless and appreciate these significant – and also ordinary – moments in time, our sacred reflections and intentions refresh the music of the spheres.
Cleansed and renewed by the Solstice Moon Eclipse, we can choose to set our sights for the next two years, to Winter Solstice 2012, and beyond that, into the flowering of human consciousness around the one wheel of life. The time is upon us for this reunion, to quicken our pulse with the rhythms of nature, to re-bond with the earth, water, sky, fire and ether that permeate life. We’re zooming into the Floral Age, and if we reaffirm our oneness with nature, it will be the most powerful time for transformation and renewal our planet may ever face.
“As we struggle with the vastness of the universe of space and time and our place in it,” said MacKenna, we follow in Maya footsteps. In doing so, we should celebrate the wisdom of the Maya and ponder its depths, and wonder after its most persistent perception: that the world is to be born at last on December 21, 2012.”
Petting my cat Shiva while this afternoon’s Sun showers us with light, I recall how I named her after the dancing god of India, the destroyer or transformer of the Hindu Trinity of divinity. Shiva is often depicted as Nataraja, the lord of the dance, dancing the Tandava upon Apasmara Purusha, the demon of ignorance, stamping out greed, anger and delusion.
The Solstice Eclipse this December 20th at Kalani will be a chance to dance with Shiva and renew the ancient light of our true nature. Please join in, wherever you are.