Uphill Climb to 2012:
Messages from the Mayan Milieu
©- Copyright 2002 by Steven McFadden
early Autumn 2002, Carlos Barrios journeyed North from his home
in Guatemala to the Eastern edge of the Four Corners. In Santa Fe,
NM, at the tail of the Rocky Mountain spine, Mr. Barrios spoke in
a knowledgeable manner about the Mayan tradition and the fabled
The Mayan calendars are an object of intense interest for many thousands
of people right now, because they focus upon the watershed date
of Dec. 21, 2012. Everything changes by then, it is said.
With a cultural heritage including thousands of pyramids and temples,
and a calendar that has proven itself to be astronomically accurate
over millions of years, the Maya tradition is widely considered
to be a mystic key to the soul of Turtle Island (North America).
public talks and in private interviews, Mr. Barrios laid out his
account of the history and future of the Americas, and the larger
world, based on his understanding of the Mayan tradition as both
an anthropologist and an initiate. He spoke also about the path
he sees ahead from now until the Winter Solstice of 2012.
The range of teachings and insights offered by Mr. Barrios must
be considered in the context of the realpolitik in his American
homeland. The Maya of Guatemala, their pyramids, and their calendar
have endured not in a new-age Shambhala of love and light, but in
a milieu of treachery, beatings, torture, rape, and mass murder.
For 30 long years right-wing Guatemalan governments supported
both overtly and covertly by the US government waged a terrorist
war against the people of the land, murdering over 200,000 citizens,
many of them indigenous Mayan people.
When the war finally wound down in the 1990s, the United Nations
Truth Commission conducted an 18-month investigation.* The
UN found massive violations of human rights by the government of
Guatemala with the complicity of the US government. The UN report
stated that acts of "aggressive, racist and extremely cruel"
violence descended to the level of genocide directed against the
country's indigenous Mayan population.
When Amnesty International studied the Guatemalan situation in recent
years, they came to an arresting conclusion. They wrote that real
peace could come only through confronting Guatemala's "Corporate
described this corporate Mafia state as an "unholy alliance"
of certain national and international economic actors, who work
alongside sectors of the police and military and common criminals
to control black industries such as drugs, arms trafficking,
money laundering, car theft rings, illegal adoptions, and kidnapping
About the great dark shadow that has hung over the south-most part
of Turtle Island, Mr. Barrios observes: "These injustices began
five hundred years ago and continue to this very day in all the
Americas. The Indian Wars have never ended...I think the power holders
in the developed world see it as necessary to destroy the indigenous
peoples, or at least to destroy their culture, because they are
not consumers. The American Dream is built on the back
of the Third World...But that is a false distinction for there is
no Third World. There is only one world. We are all part of that
one world, and we are all due respect."
While Guatemala has ostensibly been at peace for the last eight
years, it is a disturbed peace. The war continues to have a residual
impact on the people. Human rights violations still occur regularly,
and even international human-rights monitors have been under threat.
Still, in the view of Mr. Barrios who came of age during the war,
there have been improvements. "There are no armed guerillas,
and the police and army are more decent, more respectful,"
he observed. "Because there is more human respect now, we can
try to find a new life."
One eventual consequence of Guatemalas long-enduring climate
of terrorism, has been mistrust and criticism. From this few are
immune. Accusations are often aimed at people who purport to speak
of the Mayan traditions. Mr. Barrios is enmeshed in this matrix
of uncertainty. He criticizes others, and he is criticized himself.
He has become a figure of controversy for some traditional Mayan
The World will Not End
Carlos Barrios was born into a Spanish family on El Altiplano,
the highlands of Guatemala. His home was in Huehuetenango, also
the dwelling place of the Maya Mam tribe. With other Maya and other
indigenous tradition keepers, the Mam carry part of the old ways
on Turtle Island (North America). They are keepers of time, authorities
on remarkable calendars that are ancient, elegant and relevant.
Mr. Barrios is a historian, an anthropologist and investigator.
After studying with traditional elders for 25 years since the age
of 19, he has also become a Mayan Ajq'ij, a ceremonial priest
and spiritual guide, Eagle Clan.
Years ago, along with his brother, Gerardo, Carlos initiated an
investigation into the different Mayan calendars. He studied with
many teachers. He says his brother Gerardo interviewed nearly 600
traditional Mayan elders to widen their scope of knowledge.
"Anthropologists visit the temple sites," Mr. Barrios
says, "and read the stelas and inscriptions and make up stories
about the Maya, but they do not read the signs correctly. Its
just their imagination...Other people write about prophecy in the
name of the Maya. They say that the world will end in December 2012.
The Mayan elders are angry with this. The world will not end. It
will be transformed. The indigenous have the calendars, and know
how to accurately interpret it, not others."
Mayan comprehension of time, seasons, and cycles has proven itself
to be vast and sophisticated. The Maya understand 17 different calendars,
some of them charting time accurately over a span of more than ten
The calendar that has steadily drawn global attention since 1987
is called the Tzolk'in or Cholq'ij. Devised ages ago
and based on the cycle of the Pleiades, it is still held as sacred.
Mayan Cholq'ij - an image of the Mayan Tzolkin calendar used
on the Altiplano. Image courtesy of Saq'be.
the indigenous calendars, native people have kept track of important
turning points in history. For example, the daykeepers who study
the calendars identified an important day in the year One Reed,
Ce Acatal as it was called by the Mexica. That was the day
when an important ancestor was prophesied to return, "coming
like a butterfly."
the western calendar, the One Reed date correlates to Easter Sunday,
April 21, 1519 the day that Hernando Cortez and his fleet
of 11 Spanish galleons arrived from the East at what is today called
Vera Cruz, Mexico. When the Spanish ships came toward shore, native
people were waiting and watching to see how it would go. The billowing
sails of the ships did indeed remind the scouts of butterflies skimming
the ocean surface.
In this manner was a new era initiated, an era they had anticipated
through their calendars. The Maya termed the new era the Nine
Bolomtikus, or Nine Hells of 52 years each. As the nine cycles
unfolded, land and freedom were taken from the native people. Disease
and disrespect dominated.
What began with the arrival of Cortez, lasted until August 16, 1987
a date many people recall as Harmonic Convergence. Millions
of people took advantage of that date to make ceremony in sacred
sites, praying for a smooth transition to a new era, the World of
the Fifth Sun.
From that 1987 date until now, Mr. Barrios says, we have been in
a time when the right arm of the materialistic world is disappearing,
slowly but inexorably. We are at the cusp of the era when peace
begins, and people live in harmony with Mother Earth. We are no
longer in the World of the Fourth Sun, but we are not yet in the
World of the Fifth Sun. This is the time in-between, the time of
As we pass through transition there is a colossal, global convergence
of environmental destruction, social chaos, war, and ongoing Earth
changes. All this, Mr. Barrios says, was foreseen via the simple,
spiral mathematics of the Mayan calendars.
"It will change," Mr. Barrios observes. "Everything
will change." He said Mayan Daykeepers view the Dec. 21, 2012
date as a rebirth, the start of the World of the Fifth Sun. It will
be the start of a new era resulting from and signified by
the solar meridian crossing the galactic equator, and the
earth aligning itself with the center of the galaxy.
At sunrise on December 21, 2012 for the first time in 26,000
years the Sun rises to conjunct the intersection of the Milky
Way and the plane of the ecliptic, describing in the sky a great
cross of stars and planets. This cosmic cross is considered to be
an embodiment of the Sacred Tree, The Tree of Life a tree
remembered in all the worlds spiritual traditions.
Some observers say this alignment with the heart of the galaxy in
2012 will open a channel for cosmic energy to flow through the earth,
cleansing it and all that dwells upon it, raising all to a higher
level of vibration. This process has already begun, Mr. Barrios
suggested. "Change is accelerating now, and it will continue
If the people of the earth can get to this 2012 date in good shape,
without having destroyed too much of the Earth, Mr. Barrios said,
we will rise to a new, higher level. But to get there we must transform
enormously powerful forces that seek to block the way.
A Picture of the Road Ahead
From his understanding of the Mayan tradition and the calendars,
Mr. Barrios offered a picture of where we are at and what may lie
on the road ahead:
date specified in the calendar Winter Solstice in the year
2012 does not mark the end of the world. Many outside people
writing about the Mayan calendar sensationalize this date, but
they do not know. The ones who know are the indigenous elders
who are entrusted with keeping the tradition.
will continue," he contends, "but in a different way.
Material structures will change. From this we will have the opportunity
to be more human."
are living in the most important era of the Mayan calendars and
prophecies. All the prophecies of the world, all the traditions,
are converging now. There is no time for games. The spiritual
ideal of this era is action.
powerful souls have reincarnated in this era, with a lot of power.
This is true on both sides, the light and the dark. High magic
is at work on both sides.
will change, but it is up to the people how difficult or easy
it is for the changes to come about.
economy now is a fiction. The first five-year stretch of transition
from August 1987 to August 1992 was the beginning
of the destruction of the material world. We have progressed ten
years deeper into the transition phase by now, and many of the
so-called sources of financial stability are in fact hollow.
banks are weak. This is a delicate moment for them. They could
crash globally if we dont pay attention. One critical period
is October and November 2002. If the banks crash in these months
then we will be forced to rely on the land and our skills. The
monetary systems will be in chaos, and we must then rely on our
direct relationship with the Earth for our food and shelter.
North and South Poles are both breaking up. The level of the water
in the oceans is going to rise. But at the same time land in the
ocean, especially near Cuba, is also going to rise.
Call for Fusion
he met with audiences in Santa Fe, Mr. Barrios told a story about
the most recent Mayan New Year ceremonies in Guatemala. He said
that one respected Mam elder, who lives all year in a solitary mountain
cave, journeyed to Chichicastenango to speak with the people at
The elder delivered a simple, direct message. He called for human
beings to come together in support of life and light. Right now
each person and group is going his or her own way. The elder of
the mountains said there is hope if the people of the light can
come together and unite in some way.
Reflecting on this, Mr. Barrios explained: "We live in a world
of polarity: day and night, man and woman, positive and negative.
Light and darkness need each other. They are a balance. Just now
the dark side is very strong, and very clear about what they want.
They have their vision and their priorities clearly held, and also
their hierarchy. They are working in many ways so that we will be
unable to connect with the spiral Fifth World in 2012."
"On the light side everyone thinks they are the most important,
that their own understandings, or their groups understandings,
are the key. Theres a diversity of cultures and opinions,
so there is competition, diffusion, and no single focus."
As Mr. Barrios sees it, the dark side works to block fusion through
denial and materialism. It also works to destroy those who are working
with the light to get the Earth to a higher level. They like the
energy of the old, declining Fourth World, the materialism. They
do not want it to change. They do not want fusion. They want to
stay at this level, and are afraid of the next level.
The dark power of the declining Fourth World cannot be destroyed
or overpowered. Its too strong and clear for that, and that
is the wrong strategy. The dark can only be transformed when confronted
with simplicity and open-heartedness. This is what leads to fusion,
a key concept for the World of the Fifth Sun.
Mr. Barrios said the emerging era of the Fifth Sun will call attention
to a much-overlooked element. Whereas the four traditional elements
of earth, air, fire and water have dominated various epochs in the
past, there will be a fifth element to reckon with in the time of
the Fifth Sun: ether.
The dictionary defines ether as the rarefied element thought to
fill the upper regions of space, the Heavens. Ether is a medium
that permeates all space and transmits waves of energy in a wide
range of frequencies, from cell phones to human auras. What is "ethereal"
is related to the regions beyond earth: the heavens.
Ether the element of the Fifth Sun is celestial, and
lacking in material substance, but is no less real than wood, wind,
flame, stone or flesh.
"Within the context of ether there can be a fusion of the polarities,"
Mr. Barrios said. "No more darkness or light in the people,
but an uplifted fusion. But right now the realm of darkness is not
interested in this. They are organized to block it. They seek to
unbalance the Earth and its environment so we will be unready for
the alignment in 2012. We need to work together for peace, and balance
with the other side. We need to take care of the Earth that feeds
and shelters us. We need to put our entire mind and heart into pursuing
unity and fusion now, to confront the other side and preserve life."
Be Ready for this Moment in History
Mr. Barrios told his audiences in Santa Fe that we are at a critical
moment of world history. "We are disturbed," he said.
"We cant play anymore. Our planet can be renewed or ravaged.
Now is the time to awaken and take action."
"Everyone is needed. You are not here for no reason. Everyone
who is here now has an important purpose. This is a hard, but a
special time. We have the opportunity for growth, but we must be
ready for this moment in history."
Mr. Barrios offered a number of suggestions to help people walk
in balance through the years ahead. "The prophesized changes
are going to happen," he said, "but our attitude and actions
determine how harsh or mild they are."
need to act, to make changes, and to elect people to represent
us who understand and who will take political action to respect
the earth. Meditation and spiritual practice are good, but also
very important to be clear about who you are, and also about your
relation to the Earth.
yourself according to your own tradition and the call of your
heart. But remember to respect differences, and strive for unity.
wisely. A lot of food is corrupt in either subtle or gross ways.
Pay attention to what you are taking into your body.
to preserve food, and to conserve energy.
some good breathing techniques, so you have mastery of your breath.
clear. Follow a tradition with great roots. It is not important
what tradition, your heart will tell you, but it must have great
live in a world of energy. An important task at this time is to
learn to sense or see the energy of everyone and everything: people,
plants, animals. This becomes increasingly important as we draw
close to the World of the Fifth Sun, for it is associated with
the element ether the realm where energy lives and weaves.
to the sacred places of the earth to pray for peace, and respect
for the Earth which gives us our food, clothing, and shelter.
We need to reactivate the energy of these sacred places. That
is our work.
to Mr. Barrios reading of the Mayan calendar, if war happens
in November 2002 or after, then its bad, but not catastrophic.
But if it happens between April and November 2003, it will be
catastrophic. Really bad. It could eventually result in the death
of two-thirds of humanity. "So stay active," he said.
"If we are active, we can transform the planet. The elders
watch to see what happens."
Mayan elders and knowledge keepers may be eliminated in the next
few years. For the first half of the current Katun (20-year period)
the dark side has a lot of power. But that will pass 3 to 4 years
from now. The tide can turn. Amazing things are going to happen.
simple but effective prayer technique is to light a white or baby-blue
colored candle. Think a moment in peace. Speak your intention
to the flame and send the light of it on to the leaders who have
the power to make war or peace.
We Have Work to Do
According to Mr. Barrios this is a crucially important moment for
humanity, and for earth. Each person is important. If you have incarnated
into this era, you have spiritual work to do balancing the planet.
He said the elders have opened the doors so that other races can
come to the Mayan world to receive the tradition. The Maya have
long appreciated and respected that there are other colors, other
races, and other spiritual systems. "They know," he said,
"that the destiny of the Mayan world is related to the destiny
of the whole world."
"The greatest wisdom is in simplicity," Mr. Barrios advised
before leaving Santa Fe. "Love, respect, tolerance, sharing,
gratitude, forgiveness. Its not complex or elaborate. The
real knowledge is free. Its encoded in your DNA. All you need
is within you. Great teachers have said that from the beginning.
Find your heart, and you will find your way."
Barrios is the author of Kam Wuj: El Libro del Destino, a
book published in Spanish that explores Mayan teachings. His book
is being translated into English for future publication.Mr. Barrios
can be contacted via Saq Be -- Organization for Mayan
and Indigenous Spiritual Studies: P.O. Box 31111, Santa Fe, NM 87594
Ph: 505-466-4044. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
photo of Mr. Barrios at the top of this page was taken by, and is
republished with the permission of, Saq' Be' http://www.sacredroad.org
For Background See these Reports:
UN Truth Commission Report on Guatemala
Twenty Years Crying for Justice
Past Impunity and Renewed Human Rights Violations
General resource for information on the Mayan calendar
General resources for information on 2012