A few days ago John Major Jenkins (JMJ) posted a text he has entitled “Heretics: Truth Tellers Who Upset the Protectors of Consensus Lies.” In the text he attacks those people that have criticized his ideas. I am not mentioned by name but I am sure he sees me as a “protector of consensus lies”. The text is interesting in that it reveals once again that JMJ sees himself as an extraordinarily thinker. In this particular piece he associates his “fate” with the fate of people like Bruno, Copernicus, Galilei, etc. Once considered heretics they turned out to be winners in the long-term. Clearly he sees himself as victorious in the long run. Whereas Copernicus and Galilei changed the worldview in a profound way, one has to be trapped inside one’s own thinking if one is to believe the galactic alignment theory will revolutionize our worldview. It could potentially change Maya studies and in fact only a tiny part of Maya studies for that matter.
I have said this before, and I repeat it here, I have no major problems with his galactic alignment theory as such. In my first published article (2000) I even referred to it. I quote myself:
Jenkins (1998) believes that the Maya calculated when the winter-solstice sun (as the First Father) will rise in a dark area in the Milky Way (which symbolised the First Mother’s vagina). This will happen on 21 December 2012, and the Maya may have believed that a new Long Count cycIe would be born through this cosmic fertilization. In this view, the Long Count was a sort of countdown to the end of time and its rebirth. If this was the case, the Maya or other peoples may have had this knowledge long before the earliest Long Count inscriptions around 37 B.C. [should be 36 B.C.].We now know that large and hierarchical societies existed in the Maya lowlands in the Middle PrecIassic at Nakbe and even earlier societies among the Olmecs.
Since then I have become more familiar with Maya cosmology and with the New Age associations I found in later readings of JMJ’s work. I do believe that the Maya understood the precession of the equinoxes but I do not believe it was the crucial part of the Long Count. Neither do I believe there were multiple World Ages associated with the precession (for the Maya area) and the Long Count. Those are issues that one can debate from a scientific point of view.
What I reject with JMJ’s work is the part that links the galactic alignment with what he terms “very profound metaphysical ideas”. It is here he sets up a dichotomy between “perennial philosophy” and “scientific materialism”. Apparently the latter term is self-evident in JMJ’s view because he does not explain what it means. I highly doubt that any of JMJ’s critiques are what the truly limited concept of scientific materialism means. Instead JMJ uses it as a straw man in a derogatory manner. It basically only exists in his own writing, which ironically, is the same thing he criticizes John Hoopes’ term “Mayanism” for. The difference it, of course, that Hoopes has a much broader perspective and defines the way he uses the term (and it is not a “concentration camp”).
JMJ writes that “sometimes one even senses a lingering prejudice about the ancient Maya being “primitive” and incapable of sophisticated thinking”. Well, “senses” is in the eye of the beholder. One can easily turn that argument around. Why is JMJ’s view of Maya cosmology/astrology deemed to be advanced because it includes calculations and abstract thinking (qualities that we find in “scientific materialism”…)? Only a tiny part of the Maya archaeological record has anything to do with JMJ’s beloved celestial sphere. Most Maya were farmers and the remains of their activities are far more extensive than those made by ancient astronomers, but you have to walk away from the pyramids and range structures to see them. I have a “sense” that JMJ, in his transcendent metaphysical ivory tower sees the knowledge by farmers as “primitive” and “materialist”, not worthy his pioneering attention. Without the knowledge and skills of the Maya farmers there would not have been an infrastructure that could develop the Long Count in the first place. The farmers also survived the divine kings…
“Traditional” materialism is simply an inverted form of (German) idealism. The step from Hegel to Marx is not far. JMJ’s “scientific materialism straw man” is not defined so I cannot tell how it relates to the perennial philosophy he proposes. I have a hunch that they are mirror images of each other and therefore they are intertwined. By necessity JMJ’s idea is connected to a primordial truth associated with the galactic alignment. However, necessity is not necessary. There is no necessity in cosmos. This is not something told by “scientific materialism”, because that “paradigm” (whatever JMJ believes it is) is also based on necessity but of another sort. There is one way out of this dilemma and that will be revealed after the winter solstice has occurred.