Mayans were expert astronomers who kept a close watch at the movement of celestial bodies. Thanks to their vast knowledge of astronomy, they were able to create a minutely detailed and accurate calendar which comprised of multiple cycles. Among these was the Long Count calendar which Mayans used to measure dates thousands of years in the past or future.
Mayans recorded many future dates using the Long Count. New Age authors in the 20th century have frequently interpreted these dates, and the Long Count calendar itself, to be tied to vital prophecies which will be fulfilled soon. Notable among these prophecies was the predicted apocalypse in December, 2012.
The Mayan calendar is at the centre of many prophecies which New Age authors have ascribed to the Mayans in recent times. The Mayan calendar was a piece of astronomical marvel, utilising three separate cycles. One of these was the solar cycle, the second was the solar cycle and the third was the Long Count calendar.
The total iteration of a single cycle of the Mayan Long Count spanned over 5125 years. Since the beginning of the Mayan calendar was fixed by a Mayan priest at 3114 B.C., it had been theorised that the end of the calendar in December 2012 marked the end of the world as well.
The Long Count cycle of the Mayan calendar ended in December 2012. Mayans believed that the world was created in several phases and that at the end of every precious phase, the world was destroyed by gods who were not satisfied with their creation.
Mayans believed that they were living in the fifth such cycle and that the Long Count pointed to the movement of the cycle. Although Mayans believed that the humans and the world created in this cycle was to the gods satisfaction, New Age authors forwarded theories that the end of this cycle was, yet again, the end of the world as had happened during previous creation cycles in the Mayan mythology. Naturally, December 2012 passed without any notable incident.
While many New Age authors deemed of the Long Count as the end of the world, others have pointed out that this merely marked a new cycle, an interpretation which is closed to the Mayan cosmic view. This theory states that the end of the Long Count merely means that one long and significant period in the history of the world has ended and another has commenced.
Proponents of this theory interpret Mayan texts to mean that we have entered a new age where humanity will reach a new height of consciousness. And that this new age will finally reveal the hidden secrets of the universe to human knowledge, letting humans finally comprehend the purpose and original nature of the universe.
The conclusion of the Mayan Long Count calendar was considered a major event by New Age authors. Since the Long Counts zero day was pegged by Mayans at 3114 B.C., it ran to the end of its cycle in December 2012.
Although no Mayan sources directly mention the end of Long Count in relation with any impending doom or any event of notable significance, some sources do mention the end of the calendar. One of these mentions a Mayan god, interpreted the deity representing death and underworld. Another Mayan historical source mentioned the end of calendar simply in relation to a Calakmul King in the 7th century.
Mayans did not directly make any prophecies regarding the end of the world. None of the extant Mayan sources contain any prediction of an apocalypse or an end of the world as envisioned by the Mayans. Many believe that the interpretation means a new beginning such as a new enlightnment for mankind.
The Mayan Long Count calendar marked a period of time according to Mayan mythology. Mayans did not believe that the end of the calendar would bring about the end of the world. To Mayans, the end of the calendar would be the end of another period of time and the beginning of another. As such, Mayans celebrated the start of every new period of time, every few decades, by sacrificing to their gods.
The earliest claims of the Mayan calendar being tied to a predicted end of world scenario were forwarded in the 20th century. This happened when New Age author started taking interest in Mayan studies. As a result, many symbols and motifs of Mayan mythology were incorporated into New Age literature. This soon led to the interpretation of the Mayan Long Count calendar as a calendar which prophesied the end of the world.
Millions of people around the world believed this interpretation of the Mayan calendar and came to consider that the Mayan prophesied the end of the world. Before December 2012, thousands of websites related to Mayan prophecies and possible apocalypse sprang up on the internet. Significant portions of populations in Russia, China, US and Turkey were reported to have believed the predicted doomsday scenario.
As no significant events of cataclysmic nature took place in December 2012, may New Age authors have modified the interpretation of the Mayan calendar to mean that it heralds the beginning of new age for mankind. According to this interpretation, the end of the Long Count is the beginning of an era where humans will be cosmically aligned with the universe itself and will eventually attain the knowledge of the cosmos.
Mayans were expert astronomers who created a highly accurate calendar comprising of three cycles. One of these, the Long Count calendar, came to an end in December 2012. Before the said date, many New Age authors claimed that the date marked the end of the world.
The Mayan calendar was interpreted as a map for the worlds timeline in light of the Mayan mythology. While the Mayan mythology states that the large four great periods ended in the destruction of the world, no direct Mayan texts prophesize the end of the world at the conclusion of the previous Last Count cycle.