Addendum: Pakal as Pretender to the Palenque Throne


John Major Jenkins


Written as an Addendum to “Lord Jaguar’s 2012 Sacrifice: Astrotheology and Magical Invocations in a 7th-century Maya Inscription”, Clavis Journal, Vol. 3, November 2014.


It may seem unwarranted to suggest that Lord Jaguar’s goals could have any relevance for us today. However, anyone who has studied the 7th-century events at Tortuguero and Palenque and compare the interpersonal dynamics to what has unfolded in the lead-up to 2012 will see clear parallels. There are people in academia as well as in the 2012 Maya calendar movement who champion Janaab Pakal, but it is now emerging that he was set up as a usurper and did not have a direct claim to the throne. What I’ve perceived is that the family of Pakal were threatened by and set against Lord Jaguar, who did have and did claim a legitimate dynastic descent from the early Palenque kings. Furthermore, Lord Jaguar was ideologically committed to preserving and celebrating authentic and ancient Maya doctrines. He revived and used a profound core idea at the root of the Long Count / Creation Myth paradigm (the galactic cosmology of alignment and renewal). Pakal, on the other hand, refused to acknowledge the 13th Baktun (he skipped counting it in his Temple of the Inscriptions text). He never mentioned his cousin kingdom to the north, and yet he appropriated a strategy similar to Lord Jaguar’s, even trying to upstage Lord Jaguar by claiming the far-future 20th Baktun (in 4772 CE) as his own legitimizing agent.

The crux of the matter is that the 20th Baktun ending claimed by Pakal was an unorthodox counter-tradition, with no precedent in the Era Base or Creation Myth inscriptions, whereas the 13th-Baktun Era concept is found in over twenty Creation Myth Era-Base texts and must have been embedded into the calendar by the creators of the Long Count. I say ‘must have been’ because I’ve parsed out the possible scenarios and an intentional embedding is the only possible scenario short of an incredibly unlikely quadruple coincidence.[1] The temporal parallel between the late 7th-century and the decades leading up to 2012 is actually quite striking and involves, generally speaking, the efforts of self-serving and corrupt usurpers, ‘pretenders’ to the throne of legitimate knowledge and authority, to prevent the revival of an ancient perennial wisdom that can restore kingdom and world. The forces of limitation and obfuscation always try to subvert the inflow of a higher truth, which alone can transform and renew.

We might point to the resonance between the date (in 652 CE) and our times, or perhaps the parallel is best seen between the 13th Katun ending (in 692 CE) and the 13th Baktun ending (in 2012) — a parallel that is stated and used for its numerological quality on the one other ‘2012’ inscription we know of, from the Classic Period site of La Corona in Guatemala. The Calakmul king who commissioned that 2012 text also seems to have used his birthday astronomy as a literary device, so to speak, just as Lord Jaguar did. We might recall here that it was Calakmul that attacked Palenque twice around the time of Pakal’s birth (603 CE). Perhaps that was because they saw the coup of unorthodoxy that was taking place there, and objected to it. Eventually, in also utilizing the 2012 date the king of Calakmul aligned with Lord Jaguar’s efforts at celebrating and reviving authentic ancient traditions. Perhaps the Classic Maya kingdoms were already losing touch with their power and greatness, were sliding into corruption and cultural sterility. If so, these efforts at revivifying their authentic roots and countering the unorthodox behavior of rogue pretenders is understandable. 

If it’s any consolation to Pakal’s fans, it does seem that his sons began to adopt the solar-Dark Rift alignment paradigm, as we see in Kan Bahlam’s statements in the Triad Group (dedicated in the 690s, after Pakal’s death). For example, see the discussion around Figure 3 above. It seems that Kan Bahlam (or some other acolyte) attempted to support Pakal’s legacy with posthumous monuments, but Kan Bahlam himself seems to have, eventually, embraced the orthodox cosmological ideas championed by Lord Jaguar, his older contemporary at nearby Tortuguero. Perhaps there was some divided allegiances during Kan Bahlam’s rule, between the old vanguard and the sons. Later structures such as Temples XIX and XXII, built by Kan Bahlam’s brothers and successors as king, reference deity narratives similar to those in Kan Bahlam’s Cross Group that reiterate the birth of the deity GI, who was born on November 8, 2360 BCE when the sun was positioned right at the Dark Rift / Crossroads.[2] Such an accurate alignment calculation into the distant past, clearly in evidence in this example, could easily be reversed and projected into the future, to target the alignment in 2012. 

In all of this a curious story can be teased out of the mass of facts and evidence and insinuating circumstances. Pakal himself may not be exactly who we have thought he was, unless we want to believe the unorthodox rhetorical inscriptions he had commissioned about himself. 




About the Author


John Major Jenkins is an independent scholar of Maya calendars, astronomy and metaphysics, world religions and mythology. Since 1985 his interpretations have been informed by innovative field work and interdisciplinary study. As the evidence continues to mount, his reconstruction of the ancient Maya astronomy and ideology associated with 2012 has emerged as the only ‘2012 theory’ to have survived 2012. He is the Director of The Center for 2012 Studies and the author of over a dozen books on Maya time philosophy and cosmology.


[1] See my comments in a forthcoming essay, excerpted and summarized in ‘Lord Jaguar and 2012’ and ‘Intentional Embedding or Quadruple Coincidence?’ at


[2] This important discovery comes from the work of Dr. Michael Grofe, ‘The Sidereal Year and the Celestial Caiman’, 2011 (actually released in August 2012).