John Major Jenkins - new age visionary (i.e. subjective) 'perspectologist'
A recent SOTT Focus article "The 2012 Collective Shift & the Secret History of End-Times Prophecies", written by yours truly, received some expected criticism. One such commentator was the renowned John Major Jenkins, himself. I was honored that Mr. Jenkins would consider little ol' me worthy of the hassle, to be honest. But as he has raised some complaints, the SOTT editors suggested that I respond accordingly. It's only right, after all.

John Major Jenkins, for those of you who don't know, is the principle architect of the December 21st, 2012 buzz. By his own admission, the idea didn't begin with him exclusively, however, Mr. Jenkins has taken the 'transformation 2012' concept to new heights with several books (eight, by my count) and a great deal of lectures and presentations, including at the Institute of Maya Studies, the Society for American Archaeology, and various universities - at least that's what he tells me. He has published and presented in a wide spectrum of venues and written a rather impressive number of essays on the topic. Mr. Jenkins has provided material for Joseph Gelfer's 2012 anthology (released in 2011), in a forthcoming anthology on archaeoastronomy by Benfer and Adkins (University of Florida Press), and his work has been debated in a discussion sponsored by Dr. Ed Barnhart at the Maya Exploration Center. AND - I'd like to mention in good will - his love of the Mayan community prompted him to help build a school in San Pedro, Guatemala.

It's safe to say that Mr. Jenkins is a heavy hitter in the "2012" arena, and that he has done his homework. I'm betting there is nothing I could possibly say that could contend with his expertise on the topic. So why the fuss about a few claims I made in an article? Surely a nobody like me poses no threat to the empire Jenkins has built? Well, as Laura Knight-Jadczyk has assured me on more than one occasion, and knows all too well: "Being attacked often means you're doing something right."

Maybe I hit a little too close to home implying that Jenkins may be a COINTELPRO agent or an unwitting gullible asset set into place to plant a seed and cultivate misguided seekers to fall into a trap of credulity surrounding the 2012 phenomenon... a point Jenkins has yet to contend or address in anyway, despite two complaints in the comment thread following the article in question and two emails to the SOTT editors asserting the errors in my claims. Seems sort of an elephant in the room by my reckoning, and maybe to him too?

So, let's take a moment to examine what has put Mr. Jenkins off.

First, Jenkins was affronted by the notion that I linked his work so concisely to Munro Edmonson's work. Jenkins went so far as to insist that I was implying that he plagiarized Edmonson. Nothing of the like was the case, as evidenced in my statement as it is written:
"...the Maya somehow managed to note when this alignment would take place - as per a theory first proposed by anthropologist, Munro Edmonson, in 1988, and furthered by independent researcher, John Major Jenkins, who claimed that the Maya were aware of where the ecliptic intersected the Great Rift (a band of dark dust clouds in the Milky Way), and gave this position in the sky a special significance in their cosmology. - Jenkins, "What is the Galactic Alignment?"
Jenkins initial argument to this, prior to accusing me of alluding to plagiarism was:
"Munro Edmonson noted, in his 1988 book, that the period ending in 2012 falls on a solstice. This suggested to him a possible intentional placement, in which the ancient Maya would have had to have had an accurate knowledge of the tropical year period (365.2422 days). That's all. I cited Edmonson in my 1992 book called Tzolkin."
I feel like this is some pretty wiggly semantics on Jenkins' part. He is not necessarily proving me wrong in what I have stated, but rather he simply prefers to take ALL the credit - it seems. Which is fine by me, and only further proves my point that this whole 12/21/2012 jazz began with Jenkins - rather than the Mayans. If he wants to insist that it was ALL HIM and his brilliant "unprecedented" discovery, then fine. Let him own it! But he might not like what I have to say about it.

Edmonson's book "The Book of the Year: Middle American Calendrical Systems" (1988), which Jenkins is citing in his comment, and which I had referenced to corroborate my statement - does put forth a theory which alleged that the Maya based their calendar on certain astronomical observations. Perhaps I didn't word the sentence as Jenkins would have - highlighting Jenkins' achievements and down playing Edmonson's - but the statement is not untrue. I did not actually state that Edmonson came up with the whole "galactic alignment" idea, I was only illustrating the trail from Edmonson's work to Jenkins' - that Edmonson had a theory linking the Mayan calendar to 2012, and that Jenkins apparently made good use of that theory. As the article is an editorial essay on a much larger spectrum surrounding the "2012 phenomenon", and NOT an academic thesis on the specifics surrounding Jenkins' OR Edmonson's work, I felt no need to burden the reader with every single, rather irrelevant detail. It is already a rather long article, after all.

The rest of my statement is very accurate per the link to Jenkins' own work, which I provided in the essay under the statement (see above). Where it could be cause for trouble - in the pettiest way possible - is to suggest that Jenkins' work followed Edmonson's - though in chronology it had. The statement in no way specifically suggests or even implies plagiarism or that Jenkins based all of his work on Edmonson's observations. I merely indicated a fact that Edmonson was the first to link any significance to the Mayan calendar and 2012. Jenkins' complaint that I am accusing him of plagiarism seems a gross overstatement to say the least, and idle threat at worst. This type of MO is right out of the COINTELPRO handbook, incidentally: ignore what is actually said and redirect to some overblown and fallacious declaration in an effort to discredit the source. And before I am accused of making baseless assertions myself, allow me to confirm that I am only stating an interesting observation - not a fact that Jenkins is COINTELPRO.

Jenkins also had trouble with my claim that: "the concept of a 'galactic alignment' stems exclusively from the New Age version of the 2012 Mayan 'prophecy'."

Apparently he doesn't like being pinned as a 'New Ager', but would prefer to be thought of as an independent researcher. Fair enough. Though in context to the rest of what was being said, the statement didn't actually have anything to do with Jenkins. I was referencing the irony that the "galactic alignment" idea as it pertains to the 2012 Mayan hype does not appear in Mayan writings - that the Maya did not have a glyph which represents the word "galaxy" or "galactic alignment" or any such equivalent, as attested by Archaeoastronomer Anthony Aveni in his book, The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012 (2009, University Press of Colorado)

Besides, I don't think it is a secret that most assertions about the 2012 phenomenon form part of a non-codified collection of New Age beliefs about ancient Maya wisdom and spirituality, and are packaged and sold as such by the likes of Terrance McKenna, Daniel Pinchbeck, David Wilcock and others.

In one of his emails, Jenkins is clinging to the notion that "the first allusion to the galactic alignment was by MIT science historians Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend in their 1969 book Hamlet's Mill." This is vaguely true, except that no scientist that I have ever heard of would be caught dead using the term "galactic alignment" and expect to be taken seriously, which is evidently why Jenkins carefully chose to reference the book's "allusion to the galactic alignment" - however arbitrary that "allusion" may be. What Jenkins fails to mention in his defense is that the book was severely criticized by academic peers on a number of grounds, not the least of which being tenuous arguments based on incorrect or outdated linguistic information; lack of familiarity with modern sources; an over-reliance on coincidence or analogy; etc. Several scholarly reviewers remarked:
"As will presently be apparent, my reaction to this book is hostile [...] 60 percent of the text is made up of complex arguments about Indo-European etymologies which would have seemed old-fashioned as early as 1870." - Edmund Leach, anthropologist, 1970
"The cowed reviewer is soon reduced to wondering whether mere critical prose should even be expended on something that obviously solicits the suspension of disbelief [...] This is not a serious scholarly work..." - Jaan Puhvel, Indo-Europeanist specializing in comparative mythology, 1970
"...amateurish in the worst sense, jumping to wild conclusions without any knowledge of the historical value of the sources or of previous work done. ...there is heavy dependence on the fantasies of Rydberg, writing in the last [19th] century, and apparent ignorance of progress made since his time." - Dr. H. R. Ellis Davidson, antiquarian and academic, 1974
In other words, Jenkins is citing tripe for corroboration and conveniently hides this fact by bolstering the authors of Hamlet's Mill as acclaimed MIT science historians. All of Jenkins' claims in the SOTT comment and his emails only either unwittingly support what I am saying or present, where he differs, "corroboration" of his OWN WORK or dubious sources. Clearly, I have cited multiple sources, which Jenkins has neglected to note, conveniently.

Jenkins further complains with regard to my "brashly asserted" statement: "there is no conclusive evidence that the Maya realized the axial precession." He accounts for this with the following:
"Such an assertion is disproven by the work of Grofe (Archaeoastronomy Journal, Volume 24 and in the Cambridge IAU Vol. 278), and the work on the 3-11 Pik formula by veteran Maya scholar/epigrapher Barbara MacLeod (presented at the Maya Meetings in Austin), and such an assertion is also mitigated by the material I've cited in my 1998 book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, involving scholars such as Gordon Brotherston, Marion Popenoe Hatch, and Eva Hunt. Not to mention my own work on the Long Count, Tortuguero Monument 6, La Corona Block V, and the archaeoastornomy and iconography at Izapa as presented at the Institute of Maya Studies and the First Izapa Round Table conference."
First of all, nothing has been "disproven", only speculated, and, guess what? Michael Grofe's and Barbara MacLeod's source for their commentary on the topic appears to be Jenkins himself! - no surprise there, and a bit too circular to be called "corroboration". Secondly, Jenkins' book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, - "involving" scholars - was published in 1998. This is significant in context to the statement in question because I was citing the 2006 work of Archaeologist James Aimers and Anthropologist Prudence Rice. {"Astronomy, ritual and the interpretation of Maya E-Group architectural assemblages, Ancient Mesoamerica" 17 (1):79 - 96, Aimers and Rice, 2006} Aimers and Rice had noted that there is no evidence - archaeological or historical - that the Maya placed any significance on solstices or equinoxes and thus their awareness of a much more complex concept of a 26,000 year axial precession is dubious at best. Like I said earlier, Edmonson drew the conclusion that because the calendar (if indeed it ends 12/21/2012) ends on a solstice, this implies that the Maya may have been aware of the tropical year, but certainly is not hard evidence of their knowledge of the axial precession.

Furthermore, Jenkins once again neglects to acknowledge the context of the statement: "...there is no conclusive evidence that the Maya realized the axial precession, though we cannot rule it out either." It seems cherry-picking is something of a praxis for Jenkins.

Jenkins' next complaint is in regard to my statement: "It's pretty hard to pin a definitive 'galactic alignment' prediction on a People who did not seem to note anywhere in their writing, nor any astronomical or chronological table, a galaxy whose center we are to align." He retorts with the following bizarre hodgepodge:
"The birthday of GI at Palenque, the birthday of Lord Jaguar, the heir designation rite of Kan Bahlam, the solstice ballcourt alignment at Izapa, the symbolism of the Starry Deer Crocodile and its mouth at numerous sites, the base position of Venus heliacal rising in the Dresden Codex, and other examples, all point to alignments (of Venus or the sun) with the nuclear bulge of the Galactic Center being a central feature of Maya cosmology. We can thereby understand how alignments to that part of the galaxy, and the alignment in 2012, was known and embedded into many different types of traditions and representations. The basic references to the Galactic Center/dark rift/Crossroads location is found in the Popol Vuh, as can be seen in Dennis Tedlocks notes to his translation, and which I also cited and summarized in my 1998 book and my other books and articles and interviews."
Again, and as I have stated in my article,
"Personally, I have no problem whatsoever trusting that ancient cultures looked to the skies and utilized these observations in predictive ways. Where it gets sticky is in the speculations promulgated by Jenkins and many thereafter - apparently based solely on Jenkins' assertions - that the Maya specifically indicated the spiritual transformation of humanity to occur upon this event. While discerning an alignment with the celestial axis is an impressive feat for a culture who - as far as we know - had little technological capacity, there is less than adequate evidence to suggest, in the first place, that the Mayas implied any great significance to the event, apart from the fact that it would happen. And secondly, there is no conclusive data in existence as to the precise position of the galactic equator, even today with our very best astronomers on the case. [...]

"I am not excluding the notion that the Maya may have had methods of seeing things more precisely than us today - whether mystical or technological. We cannot objectively rule this out anymore than we can certify many of the ideas put forth on the topic. As outstanding as it is that the Mayan Long Count calendar ends somewhere in the relative vicinity of this alleged precessional alignment, it remains that whatever moved the Maya to their conclusions - whatever those conclusions may have been - it is not actually a "prophecy"; it is an astronomical prediction! And whatever we may infer from that prediction requires information which is not available from the Mayan culture, despite the fact that the Maya People still exists today! One may be left to infer, rather, that it was not so important to them as it is to the New Age authors and Hollywood moviemakers. Interesting that!"
The point being: "It is not so much that we must disbelieve the concept of some sort of great change coming upon us, perhaps both auspicious and destructive, but instead we must realize that the specifics of the process and the outcome are as yet unknown. As such, it is shortsighted and imprudent to delay our responsibility to appropriate action on the highly speculative basis that we will all be enlightened or saved by some highly hypothetical, and even dubious event. Remember, a lot of people are placing their lives at risk this way; it is serious!"

One of Jenkins' many statements to the contrary:
"The ancient Maya understood something about the nature of the cosmos and the spiritual evolution of humanity that has gone unrecognized in our own worldview. This understanding involves our alignment with the center of our Galaxy, our cosmic center and source, and identifies A.D. 2012 as a time of tremendous transformation and opportunity for spiritual growth, a transition from one World Age to another."
I am not arguing that something is definitely going on. I am not throwing the baby out with the bath water on Jenkins' claims, and to be honest, I admire some of his insightful observations, and - in a sense - I very much hope that he's right! But facts are facts and we have to face them. If we are to become enlightened, for example, foremost, we must not lie to ourselves!

Thus I concur with Joe Quinn's (a Senior Editor at SOTT.net) reply to Jenkins' comments. My statements about Jenkins and his work are not meant as personal defamation, but rather are directed at getting to the bottom of what we recognize to be - possibly/most-likely - a fallacious assertion.

A good presenter and prognosticator of popular ideas will most-always mix truth with lies and errors (knowingly or unknowingly). Again, criticizing Jenkins is not to throw the baby out with the bath water, but he doesn't consider the implications of making claims about 'transformation 2012' and he ignores inconvenient facts; maybe because it would encroach on his reach, or maybe possibly because he is an unwitting victim of his own hopefulness and lack of discernment - it happens. Yet by this standard Jenkins fails to account for each variable and therefore his theories are incomplete and amount to speculation - even if eloquently presented.

We must remember that even lovely ideas that are compellingly conceived and presented are not necessarily true - it may only appear that way. However, we must also acknowledge that a truly brilliant person will not cherry-pick and will not expect to correct someone else with logical fallacies. We are never free to recognize what is true and what is not until we master discernment.

Jenkins states in Tzolkin: Visionary Perspectives and Calendar Studies:
"I primarily wish to promote a visionary [i.e. subjective] approach to these matters, as there is much more to the Sacred Calendar than can be seen with the rational intellect [and that these visionary perspectives] can more closely touch the spirit of the calendar [than does the anthropological literature]."
Again, I don't have a problem with Jenkins' ideas about the possibility of the Maya having access to higher states of consciousness or an awareness of a shift in our Time, per se. The issue I have is in presenting the topic as incontrovertible evidence of a Collective Awakening or even that the Maya were, without a doubt, predicting our future, et al., particularly when it is based on the "visionary perspective" of one person.

Furthermore, I hazard to imagine it would take eight volumes to explicate a topic on which the Maya themselves had very little to say and from greatly limited extant sources. Even with our modern scientific/astronomical advancements - which Jenkins tends to dismiss on the grounds of inherent limitations - it hardly seems necessary to produce an entire "milieu" of theory simply to assert a rather straightforward point. Hey, the guy wants to sell books, I get it. But this mode of things seems more-or-less a means of hiding the actual facts amidst an overabundance of generally superfluous and convoluting data.

This is a great tactic for prognosticators of fluff and fantastical ideas, because it affords them the contrivance - as we see from Jenkins' complaints - of insisting that commentators have not sufficiently reviewed the data, or are too insipid or vacuous to comprehend it. Well, Mr. Jenkins, that is not the case here! I subscribe to the general notion - though remaining humbly available to be found incorrect - that if it looks, sounds and quacks like a duck, most likely it's a duck! Thus far, no tangible - or remotely succinct - proof of Jenkins speculations has come to light. I am also partial to the maxim left by Einstein, that "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Of course, the implications of this statement can also easily be misattributed to oversimplifications of New Age platitudes, but this is certainly not the case in Jenkins' endless and labyrinthine abyss of 'reasons' to trust his ideas. As plainly evidenced, I have deconstructed Jenkins' argument in but a single subsection of my article. I do not deny that I have simplified the language to be intelligible to the average person; nevertheless my points are clearly made and truthful - within the order of being argued by semantics alone.

Jenkins would do well to take a note of the efforts of a real historian and scholar, Laura Knight-Jadczyk, who has managed to explicate an impossibly behemoth topic, The Secret History of the World, in as little as 800 pages! Does Jenkins, a seemingly intelligent man, not possess the capacity to expound one basic concept - give or take some preface, context and corroboration - with a little more brevity?

It seems rather intentional of Jenkins to disguise the forest amidst the trees. Which leads one to naturally wonder, why? And he complains to boot about interviewers not understanding his claims. Go figure.

Well, selling books and seminars is a good way to make a living... and why not, everybody is doing it! Sure beats bussing tables at IHOP or data processing in a 4x5 cubical for a soul-sucking enterprise. What most people don't realize is just how industrious Jenkins actually is; he has a great deal of business interests in Mesoamerican tourism - for example. That's interesting.

So, Mr. Jenkins, you seem like a fairly courteous man with some quite profound ideas, albeit a bit bemused and blinded by the love of your own Frankenstein's Monster. For this I have compassion for you. But more so my concern is for the millions, if not tens-of-millions of credulous persons that you are misleading, and who cling desperately to your claims - a feature which you actively promote. There is little difference between your claims and those of any religion - which is not to bash religion, only to distinguish it from science or anthropology. But you seem to ascribe a great deal more weight to your work.

As you can see in my essay in question and from my reaffirmations herein, I agree with some of your proclamations, in general, and I readily support the notion of a coming 'shift' - affecting us collectively - likely of "biblical"/cosmological proportions. The difference being that I clearly state that no one can know for sure either way, which I know you tenuously allude to as well, albeit with far less fortitude. And for the sake of all, this is something you may wish to reconsider.
"For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all." ~ Matthew 10:26
To which I would add: "although many probably won't like it."