The Mayans never referred to themselves as Mayans. In fact they never even used the word. In fact the word Maya was given to Christopher Columbus in 1502. It's a complete error that they're even called Mayan at all.
we're taking about a large civilization that consisted over over 30 different ethnic groups, with just as many different languages.
but Mayans is what they're called today, and today there are more Mayans living, then there was in the past.
Of course like any groups of people, they're very complex. Thought about many things, entertained many ideas.
but as far as the mayans predicting a doomsday, or an shift awaking to happen in Dec. of 2012. Never happened.
In fact many scholars such as Prof. John Hoopes point out that that rumor started in 1966 from a book, tittled "The Maya" by Michael D. Coe it was the first widely available book on the mayan.
and is the starting point for your top 2012 authors in Meme. In that book Coe has an opinion on the mayan, whereas he makes the claim that what they believe is is that earth was created on 3000 BCE and on the 13th baktun cycle Dec 24th 2012 (although he first said 2011) there will be an "armageddon"
It's suspected that this armageddon stuff only appeared after christian missionaries began their conquest. Keeping in mind, Coe never produced any Mayan text as a primary source.
You see many authors jumping on this cultural Meme 2012 in the latest paperback sellout nonsense, acting as if the Mayan calendar is some new secret knowledge, when in fact the working of the Mayan calendar were fired out in great details over a 100 years ago by JT Goodman.
The main reason people seem so concerned with 2012 is because they might actually live to see it.
So what exactly does happen on Dec 24th 2012
The Mayan were great astronomers.
Able to measure extremely large points in time.
with the view that life happens in cycles, this measuring of time, gives one a since of purpose.
we can go out into the night sky and with our naked eye view the center of our milky way galaxy. The Mayans referred to this as the "dark rift" and or a tree, or road. a place where "stars are born"
we live in a spiral galaxy, the milky way. we're out on one of the spinning arms of this galaxy of ours. our whole solar system is moving, in an up and down wave pattern on the arm, branch of our galaxy.
when our branch of the galaxy is above the galactic equator, since the arm moves up and down. it takes 24,000 year for our arm/branch of the galaxy to flatten out, to be centered on the galactic equator, which we've been in for a while now. It takes 36 years for our Sun to pass through the galactic equator. another 24,000 years for our branch and solar system to reach bottom, and another 24,000 to be back at center again. which our solar system being billions of years old, has done countless of times.
bottom line. Being able to measure 24,000 year long periods, is quite a remarkable feat, indeed. But is completely insignificant from any other view point in the galaxy. ie. nothing happens at all. On Dec 24th 2012 we have our regular solstice, where te Sun from our perspective on Earth, because our our rotation on our axis, the Sun appears to stop, and then go the other way. where it "dies for 3 days and than is born again"
So we have a normal solstice that we do every year, and 2012 is approximately half of 36 years, but not in actuality. meaning its; not really even the day that we're actually in perfect galactic center.
I hope this clears up te Meme.
any questions, feel free to ask.