Reflections on the Life of Jose Arguelles

 “Everything is Perfect. Love Everyone. Hate No One.”
---Jose Arguelles’ words as he left this dimension

By Elizabeth Whitney, Blue Solar Eagle

        When I learned that Jose Arguelles had died an image came into my mind of a move on a chess board—the L-shaped move the knight makes in two directions at the same time, leaping over pieces and seeming to land out of nowhere. To me, Jose had leaped into another dimension, a shock but no surprise. “He will now be assisting us from the other side of the veil,” were the words that accompanied the news from Australia from his partner, Stephanie South. The specifics of his death were simple. On March 23 (Red Spectral Moon), “He slipped away in complete peace after a short illness.”

        Among his last public communications were lectures to two conferences in 2010, one in Germany and one in Kazakhstan, that he had planned to attend in person but instead chose to do so via videotape. In each case he described his decision to withdraw from public appearances until after December 21, 2012, and delve more deeply into meditation. He explained to the participants, “I saw that my responsibility was to continue to go within to cultivate higher states of mind, states of mind that will approximate the noosphere, that would activate my capacity for telepathy.” He had recently toured regions of shocking poverty in Kenya and India and I heard in his tone of voice in these announcements a heartbreaking world-weariness with the physical state of our planet with its wars, poverty, pollution and political polarization.

       Jose Arguelles, whose spiritual name was Valum Votan, spent the last 24 years thoroughly enmeshed in the world, traveling, speaking, teaching, writing, networking and activating. He was a man possessed by his mission and unflagging in his dedication to it. He wrote prolifically, leaving behind a catalogue of books describing a new science, the science of the fourth dimension of time, along with artwork and illustrations that will entrance scholars far into the future. He was paving the way to a new reality with cosmic stepping-stones that caught the eyes of seekers in every country who were ripe for a modern times round of metaphysical revelation. The cornerstone of his work was his amplification of the mathematical codes embedded in the Mayan Calendar, information anchored in a consciousness achieved during deep states of meditation. The Mayan Factor: Path Beyond Technology, the book he wrote in 1987 to accompany the message of the Harmonic Convergence, boldly stated that the Mayans were “intergalactic navigators” who came to this planet to correct our notion of time. This interpretation was enough to set him apart from all conventional academic and anthropological views on the Maya. From this point forward, his following and his future lay well outside the establishment.

Harmonic Convergence: 1987

       The call for the Harmonic Convergence on August 16 and 17, 1987, blasted him into the public eye and forever labeled him a “New Age” phenomenon. He showed up at a time when sensitive people were staggering under the weight of the rekindled dark age of the regressive Reagan years and Cold War paranoia after the mind expansion explosion of the 1960s and 1970s. The message that seeped through the information channels of its time—copy machines and small spiritual publications in New Age bookstores—was electrifying. The call came to gather at two sunrises when energies coming from the center of the galaxy would be channeled into the planet through the sun and could be received through the human chakra system for an evolutionary energy boost. No one really knew what on earth was going to happen and The Mayan Factor was like freeze-dried food—you could only absorb it in small bites. There was virtually no name recognition for Jose Arguelles, although his first important book, Mandala, co-written with his wife Miriam in 1972, was a seminal book in counter-culture circles.

       The influence Arguelles had in communicating the message of the Harmonic Convergence was not coming from his persona but from the information itself, information that, as one person I met in those years said, “rang true.” The idea resonated—“sounded again”—against an inner truth and was inherently believable. This is the only explanation for the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people all over the planet who took it to heart and found their way to places that were sacred to them, whether it was a world-renown sacred site or an intimate idyll with personal significance, and followed the simple instruction to “be in your integrity” for those two dawn sunrises. In some locations there were large ceremonial dances and meditations and in others spontaneous expressions of interconnectedness with nature and whatever mysterious force might actually be penetrating our plane from the galactic dimension. And that was it.

       Like most of the efforts of Jose Arguelles’ phenomenal life, his affect was not given much regard by the mainstream media or establishment intellectual community. Arguelles himself noted that the Harmonic Convergence was rarely mentioned again and certainly did not make any lists of the great achievements of the 20th Century, even though nothing like it had ever happened in the history of the planet. It was in the Mayan Factor that the countdown to 2012 was revealed, first as a five-year “unwinding of history” (1987-1992) and then segueing to the final 20 years of the 5125-year long count. Arguelles has been given credit for bringing this information out of obscurity.

       Interestingly enough, the Union of Concerned Scientists published a letter in 1992 stating that, left alone, the activities of humans on the planet would make it uninhabitable for our species in 20 years. “If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. “[] You could argue that this letter signed by 1700 international scientists—including many Nobel laureates—was the first-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it prediction. After a few years, however, the flurry of interest in the Mayan mystery that came into New Age currents following Harmonic Convergence gradually subsided. As one bookstore owner told me, “People are into Tibetan Buddhism now.”

        For those, like me, who had been woken up by the Harmonic Convergence in an immutable way, the path beyond technology was going to prove long and steep and often lonely. Jose himself experienced the tragedy of losing his son in an auto accident two months after Harmonic Convergence and disappeared into a deep personal retreat with his wife Lloydine. In 1988, a book called Surfers of the Zuvuya appeared in an entirely different writing style, a light-hearted dialogue between Jose and Uncle Joe Zuvuya, his fourth dimensional double. Finally, at the end of 1991, word came of something called the Dreamspell and a new emphasis on living by a 13-based calendar using Mayan mathematics—Jose Arguelles was returning to the public eye. Like so much of this Aquarian’s eccentric modality, the Dreamspell kit was not available commercially and was instead presented as a gift to launch the beginning of a teaching program to re-entrain people to live in natural time. The kits were beautifully designed and timelessly complex. We all entered galactic kindergarten together and the sorting out process of who was going to stick with it began.

The 13 Moon Calendar Change World Peace Plan

       Jose and Lloydine then hit the galactic highway and began an arduous life of travel, teaching, proselytizing, and trying to faithfully get the attention of every influential person who came across their path, from Russia to the Vatican to the halls of academia to the cutting edge of new science probers of reality. It marked stage two of his mission: spreading the revelation that the whole planet, in essence, was living an error in time, divorced from the natural rhythms of all creation and forcing a false time-is-money value system on human beings. Changing back to a harmonic calendar based on a solar round of thirteen 28-day “Moons” was emphasized as the essential first step to any planet-saving transformation.

       The Thirteen Moon Calendar Change World Peace Plan was launched and became the focus of a movement that gradually did circumnavigate the globe. Calendars of all shapes and sizes were produced by inspired artists, teachers and designers, and gatherings took place all over the world, networked eventually by the Internet and facilitated by dedicated young people who once again heard the resonant frequency in the information. We lived by the code “Time is Art” and we saluted each other with the Mayan phrase “In Lake’ch”--“I am another yourself.” We used our kin identities based on translating our birthdays into their Dreamspell calendar “galactic gateways” and gathered at large teach-ins in Brasilia, Mexico City, Chile, Tokyo, Costa Rica, Oregon, and eventually all over Europe, South and Central America, Japan, Australia and Russia.

       Meanwhile, the depth of Arguelles’ revelations went far beyond galactic kindergarten. There were more teaching kits, the Telektonon prophetic revelations, the Twenty Tablets of the Law of Time, the Seven Years Mystery of the Stone and finally the launching of the seven volume Cosmic History Chronicles. Teaming up with various brilliant graphic designers, the galactic downloads that Arguelles was receiving morphed into compelling and wonderfully bewildering artifacts. We were allowed not to understand them but let them work within us to awaken our awareness of the texture of creation cast into spiraling mathematical models. The final stage of his work was focused on bringing these textbooks for the physics of the future into reality, an effort that required a partnership that could match the intellectual intensity of these transmissions. The yogic bond with Stephanie South, the last powerful female partner in Jose Arguelles’ creative life, supported this intense work. They moved to Australia (and briefly New Zealand) to be in harmony with the energy they were fielding, once again dipping out of view and access.

       As the new century unrolled, the 2012 date began to take shape on the cultural horizon and many writers and cultural channelers took a stab at its significance. The movies, books, documentaries and television specials, not to mention the jokes and the derision and the religious fervor, have put those numbers into most people’s consciousness. Many present-day Mayans are speaking their truths and parallel prophecies are all receiving attention. A plunge into the Internet will take you from one extreme to another, a wild ride that leads, essentially, nowhere. In most cases, you will believe what you are conditioned to believe, because in this kind of time, there are no indisputable facts and nothing external resolves the internal turmoil. Meanwhile, the Earth herself is speaking with event after event breaking through our modern world and proving that we are as vulnerable as we have ever been to nature, if not more.

A Vision from the top of the Pyramid of the Sun

       Arguelles started something of a comeback toward public presence a couple of years ago. He spoke at two Prophet’s Conferences in 2010 and he and Stephanie South made appearances to promote her biography of him, a work that documents his evolution to the mystic and shaman that he ultimately became. He was born on January 24, 1939, in Rochester, Minnesota, elder of two identical twins. His father was Mexican and his mother was of German parentage, born in Minnesota. His early years were spent in Mexico and then the family lived in Los Angeles and returned to Rochester when his mother was diagnosed with tuberculosis. When he was 14, his father brought his two boys back to Mexico for a visit, and it was on this trip that Jose had his first life-changing experience, a visionary altered state from the top of the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan. In the autobiography-biography co-created with Stephanie South (2012: Biography of a Time Traveler) he provides this description of the experience:    

There it was! The magnificent Pyramid of the Sun! So grand, so monumental, the pyramid shimmered in full sunlight like a fantastic dream. Joe suddenly bolted ahead, racing at top speed toward the pyramid, where he eagerly climbed the steps of the immense earthen structure. He wanted to be the first to reach the top. Breathless, he found himself virtually alone on the great platform atop the Pyramid of the Sun. Something inside of him shifted. Everything took on a crystalline clarity, unusually sharp in focus; the fine details of faces and clothes on the people all the way down to the end of the Avenue of the Dead were suddenly clear. A deep knowing stirred within him. He fell silent. Teotihuacan: place where the seekers of the One Creator God listen in silence to the songs of creation. Joe looked around. Sky—brilliant and blue. Mountains everywhere echoed the forms of the pyramids. Teotihuacan: place where the Toltec warriors receive the light of a distant star. He saw the great stretch of the Avenue of the Dead and the Pyramid of the Moon up to the right and, down below, the humans of the present era. Teotihuacan: place where the people receive their godly powers. A few college students in white-sleeved shirts and a sprinkling of tourists talked to each other as if oblivious to where they were. Teotihuacan: place of the teachers of the geometry of time. Where were the great masters who had designed and built this city with such profound perfection and geometry? As Joe gazed around, this question penetrated his being. A shining white light, emanating from within things, bathed everything in a soft glow. And then the earthly world disappeared.

       As a young man he was swept into various artistic, bohemian and counter-culture subcultures. He changed his name from Joe to Jose, experimented with peyote and marijuana, made a pilgrimage to San Francisco in homage to the Beat culture, fell in and out of love, and began carving a career path in academia that had art and art history as the center of it. In 1965 a fellowship gave him the opportunity to study in Paris where he first sampled LSD and delved into a variety of mystic explorations. These years were full of youthful excesses, strange accidents and agonizing relationships. He began his academic career as an assistant art history professor at Princeton and returned to his own art that was now taking a cosmic direction, reflecting influences he was soaking up all around him. He met and married Miriam, the first woman he established a deep collaborative creative relationship with and began family life as an art history professor. Together they wrote and illustrated Mandala [1972] and The Feminine: Spacious as the Sky [1977], published by Shambhala Publications.

       In 1968, the needle on Jose’s compass pointed west, and Arguelles and his wife left Princeton for the freewheeling climate of California and a position at UC Davis teaching art history. These fertile years were characterized by initiations of all types, Arguelles meeting virtually all the luminaries of the psychedelic era: Laura Huxley, Charles Tart, Ralph Metzner, Ram Dass, Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg. He caught the attention of some of the most important figures of the transformational times: Buckminster Fuller, Dane Rudhyar, Chippewa medicine chief Sun Bear and the yogi Baba Hari Dass, all of whom wanted him to be their protégé. It was Chogyam Trungpa, the first Tibetan teacher who came to America who eventually was his major mentor, and Jose completed cycles of intense meditation practices with Trungpa at his center in Boulder, Colorado. The roots of his subsequent creations, like Dreamspell, can be seen in these practices and he once referred to the Dreamspell teachings as “advanced Shambhala transmissions.” He also met Tony Shearer, a Native America poet, scholar and storyteller who planted the seed of the work that would finally capture Arguelles’ whole being: The Thirteen Heavens and Nine Hells prophecy of Quetzalcoatl. Jose’s account, dictated to Stephanie South, puts it cryptically:

Tony explained that each of the thirteen heavens and nine hells refers to a 52-year cycle. Thirteen 52-year “Heaven” cycles lasted from AD 843 to 1519, the beginning of the conquest of Mexico. Eight 52-year “Hell” cycles occurred between 1519 and 1935. The ninth hell, Tony told Jose, began in 1935 and ends August 16, 1987. “Thirteen heavens of decreasing choice, nine hells of increasing doom.”
“But then what?” Jose asked.
“We must get ready for the cleansing of the world and for the end of the Great Cycle.”

Founding the Whole Earth Festival at UC Davis

       UC Davis was the site of the infamous Whole Earth Festival in 1970, a project of Jose’s art history students who were instructed to create their own final exam. By then, his reputation as being the radical teacher on campus was firmly set. The environment was right. Human be-ins were happening, the first Earth Day was brewing and the administration had no idea what was about to explode on their campus. Just this very spring (2011, at the 42nd annual Whole Earth Festival, a former student, Sunny Shine, penned her commemoration of that event in the Festival program:

Our assignment for the year? Create a Festival to celebrate the very first ever Earth Day. We had no idea. Then he’s showing us slides of sacred sites from ancient cultures around the world, talking astrology, Hinduism, Buddhism, Mayan calendar, physics, traditional initiations from indigenous peoples—on and on and on with long interludes of silence, seated in the lotus position on his grey Formica institution-sized teacher’s desk, bare feet, Native American flute resting gently in his lap. Not like any teacher we had ever seen or imagined. “This world is magic, is sacred, is precious, you must care for her, love her.” What was he talking about?! The more we did not know, the more we knew he was giving us the Truth. He was passing on something sacred and ancient, something that connected us to every being who had ever taken the journey before us. We wanted to learn this dance, it had been resting in our bones forever, and he was the Pied Piper to start us out on our own heart path.

       All hippiedom also descended on the Whole Earth Festival and, in terms of career path, after the outrageousness of the event, 31-year old Arguelles quickly realized that he and conventional academia were heading toward irreconcilable differences. Over the next 10 years he had a series of interesting teaching gigs (Evergreen State College, San Francisco State University, the University of Colorado and the Union Graduate School), but finally in the late 70s his next big move took him to the feet of his formative teacher, the Tibetan crazy wisdom teacher Chogyam Trungpa. The years at Naropa were the stage for intense meditation trainings and the battle for his soul as years of increasing alcoholism finally caught up with him, unraveled his marriage and forced him to face his darkest demons.
When he emerged from his descent with a clear head at 42, he met the next formative feminine partner, Lloydine Burris, a fellow student at Naropa. Lloydine was by his side for the years leading up to the Harmonic Convergence and shared the great push to spread his insights and discoveries all over the world, co-shepherding the flock of “kin” who were forming the 13 Moon Calendar Movement. Their meditation experience gave them a common frame of reference as they collaborated in the creation of Dreamspell, which bears both their names.

       They had settled in Hawaii after Jose’s son’s death and it was amid the beauty and power of that island that the pieces of a new creative surge were formed. Together they had also explored the Museum of Time in Switzerland where Jose had the revelation that our notions of time connected with the clock were about mechanical time and had little to do with time as a dimension of its own, a dimension of the mind. Jose formed his theories then about the mechanization of time being the root of the industrial age. Clock time forever speeding up leads us to the present day when all the ailments of modern society converge into total alienation from natural rhythms and harmonics.

       The absurdity of the present-day calendar with its irregular and meaningless months is another theft of the soul, he also cited, where we are ruled by the economic clock of time is money and holidays are shopping days, not holy days. Nothing, in fact, is holy in the world we have manifested in the cycle of history, which began when Babylonian priests imposed a 12-month calendar over the natural timing led by the moon and kept by all indigenous people. The link between our estrangement from the natural world, celestial and terrestrial, and the imposition of an authoritarian calendar is the radical idea that Jose Arguelles and his wife Lloydine discovered in their explorations. This was the message that they brought to light in 1992 when they introduced Dreamspell: The Journey of Timeship Earth 2013 into the world.

Dreamspell Kits Arrive

       The giveaway of 500 Dreamspell kits in San Francisco in the spring of 1992 was a chaotic and exciting affair, most people completely unprepared for what they took to be something of a game to share with their consciousness-expanding friends, like the Transformation Game that was popular at the time. It turned out to be more like the opening day of cosmic science school—a learning paradigm that took concentration, patience and dedication to understand and probably a lifetime to truly master. People needed to work on this together to get it and keep at it. Dreamspell kits had a way of finding their true owners, being passed on until they reached hands and minds that were ripe for the exploration. There was a book, several boards with graphics on every panel, a galactic compass for converting dates from the Gregorian to the Dreamspell and various other visual aids. All were crafted impeccably and boxed in a study box with brilliant primary colors.

       That such a brilliant piece of craftsmanship and intricate teaching would suddenly drop into the world from the sky, so to speak, was one of the many magical acts that Jose Arguelles created in his lifetime. I have my original Dreamspell kit, one of the first 13 that were flown to the continental US (Turtle Island) from Hong Kong where it was produced, and it is still intact, not worn out, and, other than being well-used, still as vibrant as it was the day it was put in my hands 20 years ago. These days, people compute the date conversions on the Internet sites with clicks of the mouse, but I still compute them with the Galactic Compass, a circular slide rule-like device, and in the process I see how the patterns work and continually discover little internal rhythms. One of the themes of the tools that Jose produced was remembering that we learn through all our senses not just our eyes glued to a computer screen. Folding and unfolding the boards, laying out the little tiles with the glyphs, putting together the chromatic time atom...all these exercises return us to an embodied intelligence that we were designed to use until the modern mechanized era. We’ll see when the time comes which tools are still in our hands when the predicted technology/cyber era yields to a quantum shift in 2012-2013.

       In a matter of years, Dreamspell kits were translated and produced and distributed along with many variations of the 13 Moon Calendar, large and small, in many languages. The Japanese were the first to produce color calendars and beautiful little daybooks with sturdy covers. As production costs lowered and digital processing from the personal computer got more sophisticated, the calendars flourished. One year I was with Jose when he returned from a trip at the turning of the year (which is celebrated on Gregorian July 26, the heliacal rising of Sirius) and found all the 13 Moon Calendars of the world waiting for him—a tribute from all the calendar makers. He put them up all over the walls and looked at the whole display. The 13 Moon Calendar movement had truly gone round the world. The next phase of Jose's creative work was looming and it required another agonizing split and realignment with a new feminine partner. Stephanie South, the person who had emerged from the ranks of his students as his true apprentice, gradually assumed that role.

      In 2002 Jose and Stephanie, also known by the spiritual title Red Queen in reference to a Mayan temple discovered in 1994, commenced their collaborative creative work. The Cosmic History Chronicles project began; seven volumes to be published in the seven-year count down to 2012. These books are like none other on the planet, elaborate elucidations of a radical new science and a radical new history. “The philosophy of Cosmic History is that the universe exists as the vehicle for the involution and evolution of the soul as a single unifying circuit of all evolving divine consciousness regulated by the Law of Time.” (Vol. 1; Book of the Throne). Valum Votan and The Red Queen identify themselves as transmitters and receivers—“We are but the secretaries. The authors are in eternity.” The Cosmic History Chronicles are a wild and compelling read, to put it mildly.

       In these volumes—all now completed—and in the last major communications given by Jose Arguelles, it is clear that his whole being was firmly grounded in a deeply spiritual perspective. He saw our human journey as a journey of spiritual evolution and was convinced that the end of the cycle of history, December 21, 2012, (which he called Harmonic Convergence 2012: the Convergence of All Prophecy), would be an awakening from a dream—if not nightmare—of a profane history and a re-entrainment of humanity into cosmic consciousness. He brought forth the term “noosphere” from key thinkers of the past and defined it as the collective state of mind that will launch a new age in 2013, the Psychozoic Era, in which we will share the awareness of the connectedness of all beings. He proposed a global meditation as an experiment in bringing a mental visualization into a physical reality, converting the energies coming into the planet into a rainbow visible night and day around the planet. The Rainbow Bridge Meditation is being shared via Internet and is the cornerstone of the commitment to carry on his work and inspiration among those who value what they learned from Arguelles over the last two decades.

       Jose’s death on Red Spectral Moon (March 23, 2011) in Australia was another unifying event, a compression of mind and heart energy as hundreds of thousands of people who were affected by his teaching and his radical insights stopped and remembered their experiences with him. We were part of a movement that never had any money, that eschewed the conventional New Age marketing, that produced books that were challenging and unorthodox, books that never got any publicity (“too new for the New Age” was my report to Jose after yet another magazine rejection) so the news of a new book was an underground event. We keep a calendar together that most of our friends and relatives don’t keep so we either have it as our own secret passageway into a vast new land of relationship and synchronicity or we seek out other kin as best we can wherever we are. The Law of Time website [] is our connection point and, with the news of his passing, a tribute page formed and honored his 49-day bardo cycle. There were postings from people who lives crossed at an exotic gathering somewhere on the planet where Jose was teaching and who use images from Dreamspell for their Facebook profile. The voices came in from far and wide, sharing love and respect and gratitude for the life-saving teachings that made living in a crazy, out-of-control time-is-money world less of an ordeal.

        In the spring of 2011, a handful of kin gathered at the 42nd Whole Earth Festival to once again introduce people to the work and the calendar and to speak words in memory of Jose Arguelles at an intimate ceremony in the midst the cacophony of the festival and its music. Ceremonies have been taking place all over the world among other groups of followers, honoring the teacher, honoring the teaching and rededicating the kin to the path articulated in so many mind-expanding creative works. He was a pathfinder of epic proportion, an intellect that had few peers, and a shamanic presence on the world stage—whether the world knew it or not. As the days roll on toward the prophetic end date of history, those who have studied his writing and listened to his lectures are tuned in to the extraordinary and expecting nothing but the extraordinary. As Uncle Joe Zuvuya would say, “Surf’s Up!”

Elizabeth Whitney is writer living in Point Reyes Station, California. Her connection to Jose Arguelles began in Boulder, Colorado, a few days before Harmonic Convergence in 1987. She has kept the 13 Moon calendar since 1992.

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