More articles by Thomas Razzeto

Why the Maya Picked 2012 : The Sacred Triple Rebirth of the Sun and the Sacred Tree Over the Maya

Did Extraterrestrials Create the Maya Calendar?

2012 and the Psychedelic Shamans


It is a scientific fact that the astronomy that will unfold in the sky on the precise day of the winter solstice of 2012 will place the sun in front of the dark rift, as seen from earth. While this essay will not focus on the astronomy, I do want to present one important picture so that you will quickly understand what I mean by “the triple rebirth of the sun.” Don’t worry about the astronomy being too hard to understand; this is more like art than astronomy! You can do this! (See picture below.)

In my essay “Why the Maya Picked 2012” [essay or video], I show that this astronomy can be used as an excellent foundation for the metaphor of rebirth since the dark rift was seen by the Maya as the birth canal of the mother of creation. In that essay, I explain the triple rebirth of the sun as follows:

1) The daily rebirth of the sun at sunrise
2) The yearly rebirth of the sun on the day of the winter solstice
3) The yearly rebirth of the sun on the day when it is in the middle of the dark rift

I call these three rebirths:

1) The daily rebirth
2) The solstice rebirth
3) The galactic rebirth

A triple rebirth of the sun happens when all three rebirth occur on the same day.

Here is what it will look like on that special day:

[Here are two astronomical notes for those who are so inclined: First, the dark rift is a swath visible to the naked eye in the band of stars made by our Milky Way galaxy. While the sun will be in front of the dark rift, it will “look” like it will be “in” it so that is how I often state it. But don’t get the wrong idea! The sun will not be engulfed in darkness! These stars will simply provide the very distant background for the sun. For more information, see my essay, “How Did the Maya Know Which Stars Were Near the Sun?”

The second note is this: the solstice rebirth occurs every tropical year and the galactic rebirth occurs every sidereal year. Yes, astronomers have two different types of years! A sidereal year is about 20 minutes longer than a tropical year and this difference is caused by the very slow wobble of the earth, which is called precession. It is this wobble that brings the solstice rebirth and the galactic rebirth together onto the same day in the years around 2012. Yes, this happens in many years in the time around 2012. Eventually the day of the winter solstice will occur before the day in which the sun goes in front of the middle of the dark rift. 26,000 years from now, they will come together again.]

Not Doom and Gloom, Not World Peace But a Timeless Metaphor of Rebirth

Stela 6 in Izapa – A shaman in a canoe journeys into the underworld with the help of the
5-MeO-DMT from the Bufo toad. Photo: Garth Norman, Brigham Young University.

My views about 2012 are both simple and very deep. My thesis holds that the Maya did not create the calendar as an alarm for danger or as a time marker for a sudden upward shift in human consciousness. They created it to point to the stunning astronomy of the winter solstice of 2012, which they used as the foundation for their supremely important metaphor of transformation and rebirth. Yet this is a timeless metaphor that was as important to them two thousand years ago as it can be for anyone at anytime. I think that message of 2012 is about the fundamental nature of reality rather than the outer conditions of our world in the time of 2012. It is about a deep truth that is valid at all times, not specific outer conditions that will eventually change.

Before we get off on the wrong foot, I’d like to mention that just because I don’t think that the ancient Maya themselves created the calendar to predict world peace at this time does not mean that we can’t create a beautiful world right now. Truly we all can do our part in that work. I like to explain it like this.

If I write a poem about enlightenment and spiritual awakening and use the sunrise as a metaphor since that is the event that fills our dark world with light and we are all awakened from our physical slumber, the poem should be taken as a reminder that spiritual awakening is possible in a general sense. It certainly should not be understood to say that we are all going to become enlightened during the next sunrise, although that may happen. If people focus on the event of the sunrise because they think enlightenment will happen because of that event, they will have missed the point of the poem. The same thing is true for the sacred triple rebirth of the sun in 2012. It is a reminder that we can all awaken to a new spiritual level at any moment. Focus on the concept of spiritual rebirth, not the time of the event that was used as the basis of the rebirth metaphor.

By the way, it is helpful to remember that almost all calendars are based on astronomy and that many ancient people passed along their deepest spiritual beliefs by way of metaphors. But what is the core meaning of the Maya’s metaphor of transformation and rebirth? What is the real message of 2012?

In order to understand the message of 2012, I think that we need to look at the clues that the Maya left us in Izapa, Mexico, the birthplace of the Long Count calendar. It is in this general region that the oldest stone carvings of Long Count dates were found. In the sacred ceremonial site of Izapa, we find several references to the astronomy of the triple rebirth of the sun and we also find the key to understanding the message of 2012: we find the Bufo toad. This toad provided the chemicals that allowed the ancient shamans to have profound psychedelic experiences. Stone statues of this toad were used as altars in this sacred site, which emphasized that it was supremely important. It could not have been given a higher place of honor! If someone talks about 2012 and they don’t talk about the Bufo toad, they are missing the most important clue of all!

The Real Message of 2012: The Stages of Personal Spiritual Development

Archaeological evidence shows that people in Mesoamerica over three-thousand years ago began to track not only the stars and the planets but also precession. At that time, they also began to explore the full nature of reality via psychedelic rituals. The knowledge and wisdom from both of these things developed for over a thousand years and then came together in the creation of the Maya Long Count calendar.

Some people will point out that the use of mind-altering chemicals will not help you find out anything at all about reality; it will only help you find out about hallucinations. This point is worthy of much discussion but for our purposes now, I will simply offer one point for contemplation. One experience that the shamans reported was direct, personal interaction with spirit entities, often repeatedly with the same entities. If you were a shaman, could you imagine an entity from the other world greeting you with the following words: “So you have decided yet again to visit me and still you wonder if I am really real. But I have a question for you. How do you know if your own world is not just happening in your head? How do you even know if you yourself are not just an illusion?”

While I do find those questions interesting, let’s get back to our subject. The shamans could have also experienced astral projection. While this subject is fairly complex, it is very clear that in the opinion of those who do this, these experiences leave no doubt that a materialist worldview is woefully incomplete. Just this realization would be worthy of the rebirth metaphor yet I believe that the Maya shamans went much further than this.

In his book Tryptamine Palace, James Oroc describes the effects of the psychedelic chemical from the Bufo toad. By the way, this chemical is called 5-MeO-DMT and it has different effects from other types of DMT from different sources. Now, it is important that I clearly point out that this chemical is both illegal and risky. Used incorrectly, it can lead to a sudden and fatal heart attack. Remember, it comes from the poison gland of a large toad. Because of this, I strongly recommend meditation rather than psychedelics as a tool for self-discovery. But let’s continue. Oroc states that he had the experience of being “consciousness without identity.” Since this is sometimes reported by others who have used this drug, it is extremely likely that at least some of the ancient Maya shamans also had this experience and it is my opinion that this experience can lead to the deepest awakening of all: the direct, personal discovery of the true, fundamental self – the One Awareness – which is much deeper than your personal consciousness, which is part of what Oroc calls “identity.”

Your True Self

In other words, what you think of as your personal consciousness is simply the One Awareness looking out through your own eyes! This is happening to you right now and it has been happening to you your entire life! What was created when you were born was not a new personal consciousness but a new viewpoint from which the One Awareness experiences the world! Your true self is the One Awareness, not the sentient being you have considered yourself to be all your life.

Now, not everyone who uses the chemicals from the toad awakens to this new understanding of the self, which is a core ingredient of what some people call “enlightenment.” Yet the people that don’t wake up to the true self often still wake up to the idea that there is a greater spiritual reality behind our ordinary physical reality. This is like waking up or being born into a spiritual world. This is why it can be said that the unfolding of this spiritual understanding has three births. Let’s take a look at them.

Your Three Births

Books by Thomas Razzeto

Mystical 2012: Did the Maya Shamans Discover a Mystical View of Reality?

Mystical 2012: Did the Maya Shamans Discover a Mystical View of Reality?


Astronomically, the first rebirth is the daily sunrise. This is just the sun reappearing to us in our physical world. Likewise, with our physical birth, each of us also appears in our physical world. Both the astronomical rebirth and the biological birth are very common. One happens every day, the other happens to everyone. With this birth, some people take on a materialist view of reality. Since they haven’t had any spiritual experiences, it makes perfect sense for them to see the world devoid of an unseen creator God or any spiritual aspects at all.

The next stage of development is when the materialist has a personal experience that is beyond the explanation of their current understanding. This could easily come about through the use of the chemicals from the Bufo toad. With this new understanding, the physical world is seen as a denser expression of a more energetic yet unseen spiritual world. The flow of this spiritual energy gives rise to what comes into existence in our physical world. These spiritual energies can often be felt by people who work on tuning in to them.

The final stage unfolds when you realize that you are pure awareness – the One Awareness – and that you are not the combination of your body, mind, soul, personality and personal awareness. This re-identification as the One Awareness is the deepest shift that a human can go through. When you are born, you get an apparent identity. When you awaken to this understanding, you are reborn in the most profound way possible. Very few people have this happen to them yet I think that it happened to at least some of the ancient Maya shamans and that they intentionally created the triple rebirth metaphor and placed it on top of the astronomy of 2012 for the express purpose of helping people understand these three stages of spiritual development.

The three stages of spiritual development are:

  1. Your start with a materialist’s view
  2. Your shift into a spiritual understanding
  3. Your awakening to your true self as the One Awareness

As I mentioned before, many people think that 2012 is about a shift into a new golden age of world peace. Just because I don’t think that the ancient Maya themselves created the calendar to predict world peace at this time does not mean that we can’t create a beautiful world right now. Your desire for world peace arises from your strong feelings of compassion and love but we should not impose our desire on others. We should also be humble and acknowledge that we do not have the power to make someone else happy; we do not have the power to make someone else be at peace. That is up to them and to them alone.

Yet perhaps your attitude and action will inspire others to create deep peace and lasting joy within themselves. In this way, we all can work towards a more peaceful world. Your inspiration and offer of a helping hand to build a better world together can reach out in ways whose limits are unknown. So never give up hope and always do your best to transform both yourself and the world around you into yet an even more beautiful reflection of the divine love that comes to us all from the Source of Everything. Now, let’s get back to 2012.

You Are Eternal Like the Sun

I think that the Maya personified the sun because you are like the sun. From our perspective on earth, the sun is born when it rises and it dies when it sets. But from a perspective out in space, we see that the sun is never born and it never dies; it is essentially eternal. Similarly, from the perspective of our ordinary reality, it appears as if we are born and then later, we die. Is there a different perspective, a larger framework, that reveals that our true self, our fundamental unconstructed self, is indeed also without birth or death? Are we also eternal? As I mentioned before, at birth, you get an apparent identity. When you re-identify with your true self – your pure, unchanging, eternal awareness – you are reborn in the most profound way.

I think that the Maya used a timeless metaphor on purpose to help you understand that you, too, exist beyond the boundaries of time itself. You exist as pure awareness, and time, space, energy and matter are all created within you. While many people have heard that the world is an illusion, few people have heard someone say that they themselves are also an illusion. Yes, indeed! Your personal self is an illusion!

When people hear me say that their personal self is an illusion, they think that I have just said that their personal self is not real. But remember, all illusions have a reality to them; it’s just that they trick you into believing a false idea. In this case, there are at least two false ideas. One is that your personal consciousness arises out of the biochemistry of your body and brain and the second is that each personal consciousness is separate from all the others. Those ideas are completely false. Nor are you a drop of water in the ocean of God; you are the entire ocean! You are the fundamental principle of reality!

As I say in my book, Mystical 2012:

Yes, it seems like you are a separate, mortal, sentient being but you are not a being of any kind; you are sentience itself! This is the formless divine essence! This is what the gnostics focus on when they say, “Know yourself and you shall know God!”

Many of us have heard it said, “You are not a human being having a spiritual experience, you are a spiritual being having a human experience.” Of course it is wise not to put the cart before the horse but perhaps you now see why I say that you are neither the cart nor the horse! You are the awareness that holds both the human being and the spiritual being! Your eternal nature is looking out of your eyes right now, shining forever, just like the sun!

If you find my comments intriguing, perhaps you will enjoy my book, Mystical 2012: Did the Maya Shamans Discover a Mystical View of Reality? You can buy it at or read more of my free essays. If you like my material, please spread the word! I would rather have many people enjoy my work for free than just a few who decide to purchase it.

Well, thanks for reading my essay! Have a great day!