I first became aware of Mardyks' work when an article of his appeared in the
same issue of Mountain Astrologer that my article "The How and Why of
the Mayan End-Date in 2012 A.D." appeared (December 1994 issue). I noted in
reading his article that he mentioned the solstice-galaxy alignment, even suggesting
that it corresponded to the Maya 2012 date. As a researcher, I am always glad
to correspond with other researchers, interested in what is going on elsewhere.
I wrote him and shared some of my evolving ideas about the Maya 13-sign zodiac.
He replied cordially though cryptically, and sent me copies of a few of his
previous articles. Some of these articles mentioned the "galactic alignment"
and explored the spiritual and astrological implications of a variety of astrological
phenomenon including such an alignment, drawing primarily from Old World constellation
lore. I realized that this astrologer's approach to the alignment material was
quite different from my own. I was interested in looking into academic source
material on the Maya from various fields such as archaeology, ethnography, astronomy,
and iconography to prove that the Maya had discovered the future alignment of
solstice and galaxy and intended their 2012 date to mark it. My 1994 Mountain
Astrologer article had already proposed several connections along these
lines that had not been suggestion before by either scholar or astrologer. Namely,
that the Quiché Maya's xibalba be (the dark-rift in the Milky
Way) was a birthplace related to how the Maya thought about the end-date alignment.
Also, I expanded some of the ideas of Maya scholar Linda Schele to show that
the Sacred Tree concept, which corresponds to the cross formed by the Milky
Way and the ecliptic, could easily apply to the cross in Sagittarius (where
the solstice sun will be in era-2012). And so I had already developed my core
approach and key insights into the end-date alignment before I was even aware
of Mardyk's work.
A source of anxiety for Mardyks probably derived from the fact that in my earlier book Tzolkin: Visionary Perspectives and Calendar Studies (Four Ahau Press 1992; Borderland Sciences Research Foundation, 1994) I called into question the Dreampell system created by Jose Arguelles, based on the Maya calendar. The most apparent problem with the Arguelles system is that the placement of the daycount it uses does not correspond with the surviving tzolkin count in the highlands of Guatemala, a traditional daycount which has an unbroken genetic lineage of almost 3000 years. My correspondence with Dreamspell followers sought to clarify this point. Many people had noticed this problem on their own, while still more rationalized or ignored the facts I presented. During this time, between 1992 and 1996, many people devised and marketed Maya calendars based upon the Arguelles/Dreamspell system. Naturally, for a person like myself, who wants the ancient Maya calendar to be honored and acknowledged, this seemed like the New Age going to hell in a hand basket. One writer who marketed a Maya calendar oracle/calendar book utilizing the erroneous Arguelles daycount was Ray Mardyks. Animosity towards me can be traced to our differences in our opinions about which daycount one should track. The choice, of course, is between the Arguelles count and the Maya count. Clearly, this was an intractable dilemma for those who had invested years into an oracle that wasn't what it appeared to be. Well, I went through various phases of accepting the situation, being incensed at New Age ignorance, and so on. I had a hard time myself believing that a genius like Arguelles could have gotten it wrong on such a central point of the Maya calendar. Could he intentionally have chosen a different count? For what reason? Was it just sloppy research? Or was it a somewhat ambiguous search to find a count that worked? After many years I feel that his new daycount resulting from 1. a Mexican artist's erroneous work in the 1970s (not Tony Shearer); 2. being unaware of the surviving count in Guatemala; 3. a desire to synchronize the Toltec Calendar Round with the Maya Long Count. The new count then took on a life of its own.
When one works with an oracle, having give and take with it over months and years, it begins to structure ones life. Or, one begins to see patterns in ones life according to the permutation of days. Any oracle will respond when energy and attention is poured into it. Thus, the comment from many Dreamspellers that they believe in the Arguelles count "because it works" is certainly true. But what of the Maya? Doesn't it seem that the Maya then get eclipsed by our enthusiastic creativity and rediscovery? In 1995 I met with Mark Valladares who had been a knowledgeable person within the Dreamspell movement. Like increasing numbers of people, he had become disenchanted with the movement, with people in the movement, and with a type of "disciple disorder" that was running rampant through the movement. He attributed this to the stance taken by Jose himself, and described for me the disappointing experience he and his partner had in meeting up with Jose in Mexico. (This encounter was published in Wacah Chan newsletter in 1996). It seemed clear to me that it was time to try and speak to the Dreamspell movement with a voice that they could understand. I took it upon myself to engage in a literary exercise that became "The Key to the Dreamspell Agenda." (See the Old City.) The point for me was to no longer ignore the devastating effects that a conflicting ritual count could have on the traditional Maya count. My sarcastic tone has been criticized, but the approach worked. Finally, people started to realize that the traditional tzolkin count of the Maya survives and deserves to be honored. Please read that sentence again. Isn't it completely absurd that such a thing even needs to be stated, let alone fought for? A more straightforward piece on this clarification is A Manifesto for Clarity, written for the Institute of Maya Studies. And so I became the messenger that some hold-outs became determined to crucify. Those who might be most angry at my championing the "True Count" would be those who had invested time and money in developing products for marketing, like Ray Mardyks.
Through friends of mine who are astrologers, I learned that Mardyks was casting aspersions about my work. In 1998 Mardyks accused me of stealing his work, making bizarre and disturbing (and untrue) proclamations. For example, I never claimed to be the first person to "discover" the solstice-galaxy alignment. And I don't even evade the question - there's an entire Appendix in my book devoted to the history of this concept. And yet I am accused of this. In my book I also note that the most precise alignment of solstice and galaxy takes place, according to modern astronomical calculations, around 1998-1999. And I was accused of misleading readers on this point. A problem here, I believe, lies in our misplaced need for precision when in fact the very slow and gradual movement of precession is involved. Finally, in early 1999, Mardyks attempted in an extremely arrogant way to blackmail me into giving him a positive endorsement for his forthcoming book. Needless to say, his unprofessionalism was upsetting. He brought to my attention several articles he had written; I acknowledged the articles that he had written on the topic of the solstice-galaxy alignment, and offered to summarize and link to his website. But this was not enough. He wanted me to publicly apologize for something that was not true. The work of Mardyks has contributed nothing to my reconstruction of Maya cosmology. A comparison of our respoective work will reveal that we have very different approaches, and the new reconstructions that I argue for with acadmeic source and documentary synthesis have no precedents in the academic literature, let alone in the work of Raymond Mardyks.
In Appendix 1 of my book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, I trace my encounter with the Galactic Alignment concept and mention other researchers who have explored the concept. Mardyks is mentioned. Along with others like Daniel Giamario, James Roylance, and Terence McKenna. So, I did not exclude Mardyks from the rather large list of other commentators on this topic. I must emphasize that these writers, though acknowledging the importance of the solstice-galaxy alignment, have not endeavored to reconstruct its presence in Maya institutions and traditions as I have. There appraoch is usually astrological. i'm interested more in the scientific dynamics of our changing orientation to the Galactic plane. And I've recently learned, and I'm happy to share it, that an aspect of this dynamic was explored by Wilhelm Reich in his book Cosmic Superimposition. But this is what I offer in my book that is new: proof that the Maya intended 2012 to mark the alignment, and detailed explications of how this alignment concept, what I call the Galactic Cosmology, was encoded into core Maya traditions such as the ballgame, king accession rites, and the sacred ballgame. These reconstructions are based in an interdisciplinary synthesis of the academic literature, resulting in a new view over Maya cosmology, whereas prior to my work we had only fragmented pieces.
A Recent Exchange with Ray Mardyks, May 2008.