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Mike Harper, Poitou-Charentes, asks:
Dear Editor,
Could you possibly enlighten us about the extraordinary symbols and codes described as “Mayan Long Count” that you print every week at the right of your Week Ahead box? – I’m unable to make any sense of them, and I imagine many other readers must be equally perplexed.
Assistant Ed’s reply
Dear Mr. Harper,
Thank you for asking this. The reply is far too long for the letters page and it’s a good thing to have started a new web page to deal with such enquiries.The Mayan calendar is a vogue topic with many interpretations. It has come increasingly into popular view with the approach of December 21, 2012, the date equivalent to the Mayan Long Count of 13.0.0.0.0 and also the point at which the Sun, the Earth and the centre of the galaxy align. It’s rather complicated.

The elements carried each week in the paper are:
the long count: e.g. 12.19.17.12.0 (September 3, 2010) which represent four cycles of a count of 20 and one of 18.
the Tzolkin: e.g. 9 Ahau (which the strange symbol, the glyph, illustrates) a 260-day cycle made up of 13- and 20-day cycles corresponding to the human gestation and crop growth. The glyph Ahau is the last of the 20 day-names and signifies: South, yellow, flower and ‘light ancestors’. The ‘9’ before it is the 13-day count. Since 13 and 20 have no common denominator, this system gives a unique identity to each day of the cycle.
the Haab: e.g. 13 Mol. The Haab is a set of eighteen twenty-day ‘months’ plus an extra five days, equivalent to our year. While the Tzolkin was used for more elevated aspects of life, the Haab was used for more practical matters. This week lies in Mol, water.

Below are some links explaining the calendar itself, and some on related themes.

Hermetic calendar studies – the Maya
Authentic Maya
The Mayan Calendar – Ian Xel Lungold
2012 and The Mayan Calendar
Why the Maya picked 2010
Timewave Zero and Language (Terence McKenna)
Foundation for the Law of Time РJos̩ Arguelles
The Mayan Calendar PortalApart from differing opinions on the calendar itself, there are many views on its significance, running from a prophecy of the end of the universe, through second comings of religious figures, to an emergence into a new human consciousness. Considering the possibilities, it is odd that neither Ladbroke’s nor government services have much to say about it.