The prophecy is based on the "precession of the equinoxes" -- a process in which the earth's axis draws a circle across the sky. It takes about 25,765 years years for the earth to complete each cycle. This is called a "Great Year" or "Platonic Year."
As a result of this extremely slow wobbling of the earth's axis, the pole star (a.k.a. north star) changes over time: the star Thuban in the constellation Draco was the northern pole star circa 3000 BCE. Polaris is the current pole star, being only about a half degree offset from the north celestial pole. 1,2 If we wait for about 21,000 years, Thuban will again be the pole star.
For millennia, most astrologers have divided this circle into twelve parts, each called an "Astrological Age," "Precessional Age," or a "Great Month." Associated with each age is one of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Each sign takes about 2,150 years to traverse. 3 We are currently somewhere near the end of Pisces -- the fish -- and near the start of Aquarius -- the water bearer.
Astrologers are an independent lot. The transition from the Age of Pisces to "... the dawning of the age of Aquarius" 4 has been variously estimated as happening on a date between 1447 and 3621 CE. However, many astrologers believe that it has recently happened or will occur in our near future -- perhaps in 2012.
Incredibly, the Babylonians, Cherokees, Egyptians, Hopi, Mayans, Sumerians, and Tibetans all were aware of this 26 millennia-long cycle. Each developed calendars based on this Great Year.
The calendar developed by the ancient Mayan civilization is receiving a great deal of attention today. Rather than divide the Great Year into twelve sections, they used only five. These were called "World Ages," "Creation cycles," "b'ak'tun cycle," or "Great Cycle of the Long Count." Each lasts about 5,125.36 of our years. Each of the cycles is in turn subdivided into 13 "Baktun."
Their calendar expressed dates as a series of five numbers. For example, the date: "184.108.40.206.5" means:
- 6 Baktun,
- 19 Katun,
- 18 Tun,
- 1 Uinal, and
- 5 Kin
|Number in the series ||Name of the time interval ||Length of the time interval ||Similar to an interval in our calendar lasting |
|1st ||Baktun ||144,000 days or 20 Katun ||4 centuries |
|2nd ||Katun ||7,200 days or 20 Tin ||One generation (19.7 yr) |
|3rd ||Tun ||360 days or 18 Uinal ||Year |
|4th ||Uinal ||20 days ||Month |
|5th ||Kin ||1 day ||Day |
This date represents 1,007,305 days from the start of their calendar.