“The Maya Keepers of Time know the opening of this new cycle to be transcendental, as it is the beginning of the Fifth Sun and brings with it the possibility of great spiritual awakening, insight, and realization for all of humanity.”—Nana Mercedes Barrios Longfellow, Maya Mam elder
Contrary to what you might hear or read in the media, the Maya never predicted that the world would end on December 21, 2012. Never. That’s a complete misinterpretation of the ancient Maya teachings, which have been handed down and preserved by indigenous Maya lineage carriers. The Maya cosmovision brought forward by the Maya elders of today speaks of the end of one cycle or Sun and the beginning of another, one filled with light. This is a time of transition, possibility, and expansion, not apocalypse.
Over the past eight years, I have had the opportunity and honor to learn about the traditional Maya teachings from Nana Mercedes Barrios Longfellow and other Maya elders from Guatemala. A number of us have traveled with the elders to Guatemala and participated in traditional fire ceremonies at Maya sacred sites there. Gatherings and fire ceremonies with the elders have also taken place in the United States, often at Rowe Center in the mountains of western Massachusetts.
Nana Mercedes’ teaching always involves a discussion of the Cholqij, one of the twenty sacred Maya calendars. The Cholqij is used as a guide for the spiritual growth and evolution of human beings, thus its particular importance at this time. The calendar consists of a 260-day cycle, each day of which carries a different frequency. In Nana Mercedes’ words, “Spirit speaks through the energy of the day. If we attune to the frequency of the day and begin to obey the laws of the universe, that day that sacred energy will fully support us.” Using the calendar on a daily basis helps humans to live with a conscious awareness of the larger cosmos that we are a part of here on Earth.
Over the years, I have learned so much from Nana Mercedes: about slowing down and getting in touch with the flow of each day’s energy (through meditation/prayer); about living life with humility and respect for all beings; about being of service to others and being grateful for the blessings we receive every moment on this beautiful planet. To spend time with Nana Mercedes is to experience a deep connection to a profound and wise way of living in the world. “We are one heart,” she has always said, and for me that is one of the most beautiful of the Maya teachings. I feel it profoundly when I am present at a Maya fire ceremony and also when a group of us—some longtime friends, others new friends—comes together to hear the wise teachings that have been handed down for thousands of years.
In September, about 30 of us spent four days at Rowe Center with Nana Mercedes and Nana Regina (who is also from Guatemala). Afterward, my heart was full, and I felt the ancient wisdom and light embodied by the Maya, and other indigenous peoples, shining forth powerfully and helping with the global awakening of all beings to universal oneness. More and more, I see evidence of that awakening, in spite of the huge challenges the planet faces today. The Great Shift—this transition to a new era, or new Sun, which the Maya have foreseen—is with us now. And it’s not about one date, or even one year. As we release old ways based in separation and fear, the cosmic energy will carry us forward beyond time and space into full immersion in the realm of the heart. As Nana Mercedes herself has said, “We are destined to be evolved beings, living in harmony, with great gratitude for the miracles of life.”