The World Tree
Calleman has a unique take on what makes the Mayan calendar important. Unlike Argüellés, he doesn't think it is the special harmonics of the calendar system that are responsible for its uniqueness. According to him, the causal agent is not the calendar itself, but a growth process that derives from a world tree lying behind it. This is seen as something like an oscillator driving forward this wavelike progress of the calendar.
The pulses of the world tree are what move history forward in a way that is then coordinated by the different periods of the calendar. The two together create a holistic system of evolution. The idea of time emanating from the growth processes of a world tree is very different to the modern idea of time as a quantity to be spent or purchased. To better understand this idea, we have to go back to the mythological roots of the world tree idea.
World Trees in Various Cultures
There are many myths of the world tree to be found in different cultures. A notable one is Yggdrasil in Norse mythology. The Maya also have a strong tradition of the world tree. In fact, there is a sacred ceiba tree for each of the four directions that act as a world tree supporting the sky. There is probably one more tree for the center. This is the fifth direction that is represented by the color green. Though not visible in representations of the directions, Mayan myths talk extensively about this central world tree. The terrestrial world of the four directions that we exist in could be seen as a product or fruit of this original cosmic world tree that lies behind it as a primary source.
A good example of the Mayan world tree can be found on the famous inscription on the sarcophagus lid of Lord Pacal of Palenque. This relief depicts the great Lord Pacal reclining and looking upward toward a cross of four arms. It is considered to be one of the masterpieces of Mayan art and was discovered completely intact inside the Pyramid of Inscriptions at Palenque.
Calleman's description of his world tree is something quite different. His idea is that the world tree actually corresponds to a meridian of longitude. This is one of the vertical lines used to circumscribe the world, much like the International Date Line or the Greenwich meridian. This world tree is visualized as a hypothetical midpoint on the planet. From this point, he theorizes that the seven waves of history expand outward organically. So the closer geographically a culture is to the meridian of the world tree, the earlier it will be influenced by the wave of history.
The location of this meridian is placed at the longitude of 12 degrees east. This line bisects Rome and Scandinavia and is noticeably distant from the Maya's world. Calleman's reasoning for the choice of this particular longitude is that he thinks it best fits the observed phenomena of history. This idea of a world tree is very different from anything that has been recorded about Mayan belief and seems to have much more in common, at least in location, with the Norse world tree. Calleman has admitted he is influenced by this idea and that, being Scandinavian, “feels the pulse of the world tree more strongly than most.”