The soon-to-be-released Indiana Jones movie has got quite a few people up in a huff about crystal skulls. You know, because real-life Mayans worshiped faceted, stylized skulls today. While there has never been any evidence that ancient Mayans worshiped the skulls at the height of their civilization from about 200 to about 900 AD, a few of the existing skulls can be dated to very close to the time of Spanish contact. It remains unclear whether or not the current Mayan skull-worship is a result of that contact or predated it.
So, what are the facts we do have? The Mayans had a complex calendar system involving days, months, and two types of years. They made funerary and ritual masks in a variety of shapes and substances, quite a few in jade and other stones that looked something like skulls. Astonishing, no?
So what’s with the hocus-pocus and theories? The Mayan calendar is winding down. The longer cycle of years, or ‘Long Count’, which lasts about 5,000 years, is almost over. According to what we know of Mayan legend (i.e., what we can glean both from current tradition and the incomplete Mayan glyph translation of monuments and codices that we have), at the end of the Long Count, something happens to change everything. Some people interpret this as a cataclysmic event, or the end of the world. Others say that at this time, something needs to happen to save the world – perhaps the reunification of thirteen ‘original’ crystal skulls, most of which have been lost. For the Maya, no doubt it had extreme significnace beyond the turning of the year, even beyond what the turn of the century would have for us. My personal belief is that we’re all looking for answers, and any idea that still has meaning with modern dates (since Nostradamus was wrong) is going to have a variety of followers.
Me, I’m content to wait. After all, a day like today is bound to cycle around again. Eventually.