by Steven McFadden
In 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 Mayan calendars.
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
In public talks and in private interviews, Mr. Barrios laid out
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
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 Mafia State."
They 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 for
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 Guatemala’s
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 criticized himself. He has become a figure of controversy for some
traditional Mayan elders.
The World will
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. It’s 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 million years.
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
the Pleiades, it is still held as sacred.
Mayan Cholq'ij - an image of the Mayan Tzolkin calendar used on the
With 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
In 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
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
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 world’s 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.
"Change is accelerating now, and it
will continue to accelerate."
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
The 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
"Humanity will continue," he
contends, "but in a different way. Material structures will
change. From this we will have the opportunity to be more
We 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.
Many 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
Things will change, but it is up to
the people how difficult or easy it is for the changes to come
The 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.
The banks are weak. This is a
delicate moment for them. They could crash globally if we don’t
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.
The 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.
A Call for Fusion
As 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
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 group’s understandings,
are the key. There’s 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
The dark power of the declining Fourth World cannot be destroyed or
overpowered. It’s 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."
To 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
can’t 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."
We 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 action.
It’s very important to be clear
about who you are, and also about your relation to the Earth.
Develop yourself according to your
own tradition and the call of your heart. But remember to
respect differences, and strive for unity.
Eat wisely. A lot of food is corrupt
in either subtle or gross ways. Pay attention to what you are
taking into your body.
Learn to preserve food, and to
Learn some good breathing
techniques, so you have mastery of your breath.
Be clear. Follow a tradition with
great roots. It is not important what tradition, your heart will
tell you, but it must have great roots.
We 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.
Go 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.
According to Mr. Barrios’ reading of
the Mayan calendar, if war happens in November 2002 or after,
then it’s 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."
Many 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.
One 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
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
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
"The greatest wisdom is in simplicity," Mr. Barrios advised
before leaving Santa Fe. "Love, respect, tolerance, sharing,
gratitude, forgiveness. It’s not complex or elaborate. The real
knowledge is free. It’s 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."