In the summer of 2013 I wrote a guidebook to Izapa, at the request of my friends at the Maya Conservancy. They paid Astrid Vogel, an anthropology student, to work with me on the Spanish translation. I wrote it and worked a bit with Astrid in the summer of 2013 to get it done. In March of 2014 I discovered a piece she wrote about Izapa that named me as being an inspiration for the “New Age appropriation of Izapa.” I couldn’t understand how Astrid, having already been immersed in a word-for-word processing of my work, could assert such a thing.     – John Major Jenkins   

 

 

The 2012 Story <the2012story@gmail.com>

Mar 25,
2014

 

 

Subject: Your article on Izapa and the galactic alignment

 

To: Astrid Vogel

Dear Astrid,

 

I ran across your article posted on Academia.org:

 

https://www.academia.edu/5276048/La_alineacion_galactica_del_21_diciembre_2012_en_Izapa._La_apropiacion_de_un_sitio_arqueologico_por_el_movimiento_new_age 

 

I worked through the Spanish with the aid of Google translator. My ability to comprehend written Spanish is much better than my ability to speak or write it. In any case, the English abstract was enough, since I am named in it as the inspiration for the New Age appropriation of Izapa. I hope you can clarify several points for me. 

 

In the Abstract you state that "the New Age movement" has appropriated Izapa, based on my work to reconstruct the astronomy at the site. Later in your article, and in various insinuations, you suggest that I am a member of the New Age movement. Is this a correct reading of your intention? If not, can you direct me to a place in your article where you explicitly distinguish my effort to reconstruct the astronomy and ideology of Izapa, based on the evidence at the site, from what subsequent "members" of the "New Age movement" adopted from my work?

 

A few other quick questions:

 

Are you aware that The Maya Conservancy funded and facilitated visits of Maya Spiritual Guides to Izapa in 2010 and 2012? And the 2010 visit was acknowledged and welcomed by the City of Tapachula, as a good will gesture between the local government and the indigenous contribution of Izapa to the area's patrimony? In what way is facilitating such cultural openness and exchanges a "New Age appropriation"?

 

In your article you cited a website that you accessed in October of 2013. This is well after you completed the translation of the Izapa guidebook that the Maya Conservancy asked me to write (July 2013). Did you write your article after that work was done? For example, your definition of the galactic alignment in the Abstract is inaccurate and misleading --- you could have quoted the definition I use in my books, including the guidebook that you translated? 

 

You stated that Maya scholars do not find my reconstruction work at Izapa credible. You DID NOT supply any citations. Who are these mysterious scholars? Because I've been trying to engage scholars in discussions about my work at Izapa for two decades. Are you referring to Garth Norman? If so, you might note that Garth appropriated my identification of precession astronomy at Izapa. Why don't you write an article on the "Mormon appropriation of Izapa"? They've been at it since the 1950s.

 

What part of my work is not credible? Archaeologist and astronomer Marion Popenoe Hatch argues for precessional knowledge among the Olmec and at Takalik Abaj. Izapa is acknowledged as an origin place of the calendars (especially the Long Count) by many scholars (Malmstrom, Coe, Rice, Guernsey). The presence of the Creation Myth at Izapa is likewise accepted (Pina Chan, Laughton, many others). My ballcourt solstice alignment discovery was confirmed by Aveni and Hartung's measurements. Some scholars believe that Izapa was a type of initiation place, and that shamanism was practiced there. As I emphasized in the guidebook, my work integrates accepted scholarship and offers the most likely interpretation based on the interdisciplinary evidence at Izapa. Can you point me to one published critique by any scholar that accurately summarizes my Izapa work and then provides arguments against it? If not, you are merely promoting unsubstantiated rumors --- opinions, hearsay. That's not science. Such vague unsubstantiated dismissals have been employed by other critics (Hoopes, Stuart, etc). 

 

The phrase you use ---  "the New Age appropriation of..." --- is a common trope among  the academic critics of 2012 and my work. It is in Sitler's 2006 essay (inNova Religio) and is used frequently by John Hoopes and Kevin Whitesides. Are you influenced by their articles? Do you believe you will receive accolades and approval from your colleagues by echoing their language and viewpoints? For example, the young scholar Kevin Whitesides had publishing doors and collaborations with others scholars (Hoopes) opened to him by demonstrating his willingness to construct mitigating narratives about me and "the 2012 phenomenon" --- assertions and imagined "influences" that are demonstrably false, as I showed in my review of the Whitesides & Hoopes article published in Zeitschrift fur Anomalistik (2012). 

 

You associated my work with a purported "New Age appropriation of Izapa" and do not seem to have clearly stated that this was never my intention or goal in studying Izapa. The result is a discrediting of my work, a very inaccurate and superficial appraisal of what I've published about the site.       

In Renato's article a few years ago, he correctly noted that I have critiqued the many popular writers on 2012, showing that they had agendas of inventing fantastical new systems and not following the fundamentals of the Maya calendar. This fact distinguishes my work for what it is --- the effort of an independent investigator to reconstruct the paradigm developed by the creators of the Long Count. At Izapa. When I identify a doctrine of renewal, of era-ending transformation, that is simply an affirmation of a known concept in Maya cosmology. You seem willing to identify this as a New Age idea, and effectively "put the cart before the horse" in insinuated that my work is responsible for New Age appropriations. You cited my 2002 book, which discusses Hindu/Vedic and Egyptian cosmology, as some kind of evidence for this. How does this logically follow? 

 

Please help me understand more clearly what you were trying to do in your article, Astrid. You might want to re-read Part IV of my 1998 book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. It is a concise fact-based reconstruction based on the evidence at Izapa and has nothing to do with New Age influence or ideas. Again, if you see a distinction between the New Age idiots who have distorted and appropriated my work and my intentions in devoting 20 years to the work, you should have stated this clearly. As it is, you seem to have crafted a "guilt by association" indictment of me (and the Maya Conservancy), much like a primary strategy of mitigation employed by unethical "debunker" scholars like Hoopes and Whitesides. If I am wrong in any of my understanding, please clarify. Best wishes,

 

John Major Jenkins  

 

 

Astrid vogel 

Mar 25

 

to me

Hi John

 

I hope to find you well.

 

In the article in specific I must admit that I have not made the clear distinction you mention. However in my thesis which I am looking to publish as several articles I do make the distinction quite clearly. 

 

Thank you for making your enquiry. I shall make the necessary changes to my article (the one you mention)  that was presented at a local San Cristobal de Las Casas conference.

 

Kind Regards

 

 

astrid vogel 

Mar 28

 

to me

Dear John

 

After taking into consideration all of your comments regarding my brief article about my findings related to the 21st of December 2012 at Izapa, I would like to clarify that this is a very brief paper that required much summarization due to the requirements of the conference where I presented. Also, I think that perhaps in direct translation certain nuances of the Spanish language have been lost and therefore you are misinterpreting my intention in the article. I am currently working on an English article related to my thesis work and I am certain that you would find my tone in no way insinuates what you claim to read in my work.

 

Furthermore, with regard to the above, I clearly state that what I am presenting in this paper are the discourses of the "new age" visitors to Izapa for the 21st of December 2012 and the impact that these discourses have in the local perceptions and interpretations of the site. This paper does not judge any of the versions mentioned by the visitors to the site, it merely attempts to illustrate how conceptualizations of an archaeological site can be constructed and how these affect local people's imagination with regard to "their" site, but also how these perceptions are clouded and opposed by the academic mindset - certainly, I did not go into much detail for the necessity of remaining on track, but I thought it important to mention that, especially in Mexico, your work is highly criticized (of course, going into detail why that is the case would take up an entire paper of it's own, a challenge I might consider taking up at some future point). Remember that this article was directed to a Mexican academica audience and therefore my sweeping statement about "academics" was directly related to that sphere.

 

I hope that this clarifies your doubts.

 

Kind Regards