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Fractal Time

by Gregg Braden

During my careers with innovative corporations such as Martin Marietta Aerospace, Phillips Petroleum and Cisco Systems, I recognized a powerful principle that seemed to apply to everyday life as well as the corporate workplace. It’s simply this:

When we see something that

doesn’t make sense,

It’s generally because we don’t

have all of the information.

For me, the fear and controversy regarding the year 2012—the end of the present 5,125-year-long cycle of the Mayan calendar—doesn’t make sense. The predictions for the 2012 time period range from an era of chaos and destruction to a thousand years of peace and cooperation. So which is it? What can we realistically expect as we approach this mysterious date, and beyond? When I began my personal exploration into the 2012 end date, I quickly discovered that the answer to my questions lives as the message coded into an ancient map of time. In Fractal Time: The Secret of 2012 and a New World Age I share what I have found.

This book is the result of a quarter century of research and discovery regarding our relationship to cycles of time. Because cycles tend to repeat, if we know where to look in the past, we know what we can expect in our future. Fortunately, Nature has given us a way to do just that! Using the unique Time Code Calculator illustrated throughout the book, anyone can easily pinpoint the dates in their personal or global past that hold the conditions that can be expected when the cycle repeats. From love, betrayal and success to the mystery of 2012, what makes this view of time so important is that each cycle also carries a window of opportunity—a choice point—that allows us to select a new outcome for the returning pattern. It’s these understandings that guide us away from the destructive choices that we may have made in the past. They also show the way to the greatest possibilities of our lives.

I wrote Fractal Time with one purpose in mind: To help us to become better people, and to build a better world. In the midst of so much fear and uncertainty that has developed around 2012 and even beyond, this book offers solid, fact-based insights into what we can realistically expect when the Mayan Great Cycle ends in 2012. I invite you to join me as we embark upon a powerful new way of thinking about time and our future. If you have always searched to answer the question, "Does history repeat itself?" you will love this book!

The following excerpt is taken from the book FRACTAL TIME; The Secret of 2012 and a New World Age, by Gregg Braden. It is published by Hay House (March 15, 2009) and will be available at all bookstores or online at: www.hayhouse.com

The Secret of 2012 and a New World Age

By Gregg Braden


“For I dipped into the future, far as human eye could see,

Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be.”

— Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892), poet

We’re living the end of time.

Not the end of the world, but the end of a world age—a 5,125-year cycle of time—and the way we’ve known the world throughout that time. The present world age began in 3114 b.c. and will end in a.d. 2012. Because the end of anything also marks the beginning of what comes next, we’re also living the start of what follows the end of time: the next world age, which ancient traditions called the great cycle.

From the epic poems of India’s Mahabharata to the oral traditions of indigenous Americans and the biblical story of Revelation, those who have come before us knew that the end of time was coming. They knew, because it always does. Every 5,125 years, the earth and our solar system reach a place in their journey through the heavens that marks the end of precisely such a cycle. With that end, a new world age begins. Apparently it’s always been this way.

For at least four such cycles (or five, according to the Mesoamerican traditions of the Aztec and the Maya peoples), our ancestors endured the changes in global magnetic fields, climate, diminishing resources, and rising sea levels that come with the end of time. They did so without satellites and the Internet or computer models to help them prepare for such a radical shift.

The fact that they lived to tell the story stands as a powerful testament to an undeniable truth: it tells us beyond any reasonable doubt that the inhabitants of our planet have survived the end of world ages in the past. Beyond simply surviving, our ancestors learned from the difficulties that can accompany the change. In the words of their day, they did their best to tell us what it means to live such a rare moment in history. It’s a good thing they did, because such events are few and far between. Only five generations in the last 26,000 years have experienced the shift of world ages. We will be the sixth.

The present world age isn’t something that will simply fade away into the sunset of a time that seems to perpetually linger somewhere “out there” in our future. Just the opposite: our world age has an expiration date. It ends at a specific time, with a specific event, on a day that was marked on a calendar more than 2,000 years ago. There is no secret about that date. The Maya who calculated it also inscribed it as a permanent record for future generations. The date is etched into stone monuments that were built to last until the end of time.

When the date is translated to our familiar system of time, the message becomes clear. It tells us that our present world cycle will conclude with the winter solstice that takes place on December 21 in the year 2012. It’s on this date that the mysterious Maya identified the astonishing astronomical events that will mark the end of our age . . . and they did so more than two millennia ago.

The reason: Physically, our solar system is moving through shortest part of an orbit that looks like a flattened circle, an ellipsis whose far end carries us to the most distant point from the core of our home galaxy, the Milky Way.

The physical effect: Both ancient traditions and modern science tell us that our location in this cyclic orbit determines how we experience the powerful sources of energy, such as the “massive magnetic fields,” which radiate from our galaxy’s core.2 Recent studies suggest that it is precisely such cycles that may explain the mysterious patterns of biodiversity—the rise and fall of life on Earth, such as the mass extinctions that happened 250 and 450 million years ago.3 Additionally, modern discoveries confirm that Earth’s position throughout the journey (orbit, tilt, and wobble) create the ever-changing cycles that influence everything from temperature and climate to polar ice and the magnetic fields of the earth.4 Details of these effects will be discussed throughout the book.

The emotional/spiritual effect: As we travel farther from our galaxy’s core, our distance from the energy located there was described by ancient traditions as the loss of a connection that we sense both spiritually and emotionally. Scientific links between the quality of Earth’s magnetic fields, how they’re affected by cosmic conditions, and our feeling of well-being seem to precisely support such ancient beliefs.5

In the same way that Earth’s rotation makes the darkest part of the night appear just before the dawn, our position in the heavens is such that the darkest part of our world age appears right before our heavenly orbit begins the return that brings us closer to our galaxy’s core. With that return, we experience relief from the cataclysmic forces of the cycle’s darkness. And just as the night must pass in order to get to the new day, the only way to arrive at the light of the next cycle is to finish the darkness of this one.

We all know that dark experiences definitely exist in our world, and we don’t need to look far to find them; however, there’s also more to life than the suffering that the ancients foresaw—much more. Even in our time of great darkness, the polarities of peace, healing, love, and compassion are alive, well, and abundant.

Our ancestors had an amazingly deep grasp of just what our experience of cosmic cycles means on multiple levels. Somehow they knew that Earth’s position in the heavens would affect the physical conditions in our world, as well as the emotional and spiritual experiences that we need to embrace them. Through myth, analogy, and metaphor, they reminded us that the farther we travel away from the source of such powerful energy, the deeper we are in darkness and the more out of sync we find ourselves with the fields that influence life here on Earth. From the traditions of the Hopi to the ancient Vedas, it’s this experience of separateness that is credited with our sense of being lost as well.

Our ancestors cautioned that at the most distant point in our cycle, we would forget who we are—our connectedness to one another and the earth. They told us that we would forget our past. It’s precisely this disconnected feeling that seems to be the consequence of the cyclic journey that carries us to the far end of our galactic orbit. It’s also the fear that is spawned by such feelings that has led to the chaos, war, and destruction at the end of cycles past.

The key to 2012 and our time in history is to understand the language of nature’s cycles and to use that language today to prepare for the future. Ultimately we may discover that our ability to understand and apply the “rules” of Fractal Time holds the key to our deepest healing, our greatest joy, and our survival as a species.

Chapter Five

History Repeats in Love and War:

Fractal Warnings for the Future

“There are cycles in everything. There are cycles in the weather, the economy, the sun, wars, geological formations, atomic vibrations, climate, human moods, the motions of the planets, populations of animals, the occurrence of diseases, the prices of commodities and shares and the large scale structure of the universe.”

— Ray Tomes, contemporary philosopher

“The eternal flow of time goes through cyclical periods of manifestation of the universe . . .”

— Alexander Friedman (1888–1925), Russian cosmologist

The look on my teacher’s face that day is something I’ll always remember. She was obviously shaken as she walked into our classroom and asked us to remain calm, collect our coats and supplies, and walk quickly to the buses that were waiting for us outside. It was the middle of the day and much too early for classes to end. I remember thinking that our teacher knew something she wasn’t telling us. Why else would she be wiping tears from her eyes while asking us to stay calm?

It was a different world in 1963. The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the U.S. was at its peak. The frightening image broadcast around the world of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev holding his shoe and pounding it against a desk while shouting to America, “We will bury you!” was still fresh in my memory. I remember thinking of it each week as our class practiced dropping to our knees and ducking under our desks to protect ourselves in the event of a surprise atomic attack. I also remember thinking that if we were ever actually bombed, my desk probably wouldn’t be much protection from the force of an atomic blast!

Only a year earlier, in October 1962, everyone had breathed a sigh of relief as the two superpowers backed away from one of the Cold War’s most visible confrontations and the brink of nuclear war—the Cuban missile crisis. The girl in the seat next to me remembered it, too, and whispered that maybe the “missiles were back.” We all knew that something had happened. We just didn’t know what. It’s with the backdrop of such a world that I joined hundreds of thousands of other children across the country who left school early that day. It was November 22, 1963.

As we filed toward the only door leading out of the classroom, the last thing I heard was my teacher’s voice attempting to provide some kind of explanation. “Your parents will have to tell you what has happened,” she said. “We’re not allowed to do so in school.” And just like that, I walked with my classmates to our buses with absolutely no indication of when, or even if, we would return.

When I arrived home, our family living room was like a replay of what I had experienced at school. My mother’s eyes were red from crying, and she was obviously frightened. “Here, take a look at the television,” she said. Together we watched our family’s tiny black-and-white TV as the unthinkable unfolded. Each station was showing the same images, with the same story: the President of the United States had been assassinated. The nation was in shock. There were so many unanswered questions. Who did it? Why? How could such a thing have happened?

Déjà Vu, 100 Years Later

Just a couple of days after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, our local newspaper printed a story that rekindled my fascination with patterns. While I was moved by the life, ambition, and vision of Kennedy himself, the story was about the curious circumstances that surrounded his death. I read it and reread it. The title of the article was “History Repeats Itself.” Its focus was on the eerie set of “coincidences” that connect the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy to another that had occurred nearly 100 years before—that of Abraham Lincoln. While I had always been interested in patterns and cycles, I had never really thought of them in terms of things like the deaths of Presidents.

At first I simply skimmed the statistics out of curiosity. While they were interesting, they seemed so generalized that I was unconvinced that there was any great mystery. My thought was that any similarities were just that: parallels that the staff writers were drawing to create a flashy story. Both Presidents, for example, had been deeply involved with racial equality and civil rights. Both had wives who had lost children while living in the White House. Both had been shot on a Friday. Both had died from a gunshot wound to the head.

All were certainly uncanny coincidences, but not enough to convince me that anything out of the ordinary was being revealed. The more I read, however, the more specific and bizarre the parallels became.

Lincoln, for example, was sitting in box number 7 of Ford’s Theatre when he was killed. Kennedy was riding in car number 7—the make was a Lincoln offered by the Ford Motor Company—when he died. Both were with their wives at the time. Before his presidency, Lincoln had been elected to Congress in 1846. One hundred years later, in 1946, Kennedy was elected to Congress. Lincoln became President in 1860, Kennedy 100 years later in 1960. The last name of the men who replaced them in office was the same—Johnson—and both Johnsons were born 100 years apart. Andrew Johnson was born in 1808, while Lyndon Johnson was born in 1908.

As the comparisons continued, the similarities certainly seemed to be more than coincidence. They even went beyond the assassinations themselves, weaving their way throughout the personal lives of the men, their families, and their friends. Both Presidents had four children, and both had lost two of them before they reached their teens. Both had lost a son while they were serving in the White House. The doctors for Lincoln and Kennedy had the same name: Charles Taft. The name of Lincoln’s private secretary was John (Kennedy’s first name), and that of Kennedy’s secretary was Lincoln (Abraham’s last name).

The patterns even extended into the lives of the men who killed them—into their personal histories, their motivations, and their captures. A law-enforcement agent named Baker, for example, detained Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. An officer who was also named Baker held Kennedy’s shooter, Lee Harvey Oswald, in custody.

It seemed that the patterns were endless. But perhaps more important, they are undeniable. Regardless of why or how these two events separated by 100 years could be so similar, the fact is that they are. While this example could be chalked up to some sort of bizarre karma between these two men, the reality is that it exists. Whether we like to admit the similarities or not, the answer to our question of whether or not history repeats itself appears obvious. For at least these two events, it appears to be yes.

Along with our answer comes an even deeper question: Are the similarities that we see between the assassinations of two American Presidents separated by 100 years part of a greater pattern? If so, what is the pattern, and what does it tell us about the cyclic nature of time?

The 20-Year “Curse”

In the same way we search for patterns to find meaning in the mysterious events of our day, scholars do the same thing with historic moments of the past. Following the tragic death of President Lincoln in the 1860s, for example, historians began to suspect that his assassination might be part of a pattern that was emerging. Little more than 20 years earlier, another President had tragically died in office. In 1841, William Henry Harrison had become ill and died of pneumonia.

With President Harrison’s death, it seemed that the seed had been planted for a pattern of such tragedies. In the years that have followed, the suspicions of those early scholars have been confirmed. For reasons that are as eerie as they are mysterious, in the nearly 160 years that followed Harrison’s death approximately every 20 years the U.S. President has either died in office or has survived an attempt on his life (see Figure 14).

With the unsuccessful attempts to assassinate Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, the conditions of the pattern seem to have held true. The question that historians are now asking is whether or not their survival after these assassination attempts has put an end to the “20-year curse” of American Presidents. The presidential cycle of 2020 will tell the story. When we look at the statistics, however, they seem to speak for themselves.

Year Elected President Event

1840 William Henry Harrison Died in office

1860 Abraham Lincoln Assassinated

1880 James Garfield Assassinated

1900 William McKinley Assassinated

1920 Warren Harding Died in office

1940 Franklin Roosevelt Died in office

1960 John F. Kennedy Assassinated

1980 Ronald Reagan (Survived assassination attempt)*

2000 George W. Bush (Survived assassination attempt)**

*The wounds from the gun used by John Hinckley, Jr., were serious but not fatal.

**Bush avoided injury from a grenade that was tossed in his direction during a 2005 visit to Georgia, the former Soviet satellite state.

Figure 14. Since the election of the United States President in 1840, the country has lost a sitting President to illness or violence every 20 years. (The election years given for McKinley and Roosevelt are for reelections.)

Whether we’re talking about the 100-year coincidences between Kennedy and Lincoln or the 20-year presidential “curse,” three facts are obvious:

Fact 1: There are cycles underlying both events.

Fact 2: Both cycles are “triggered” by a seed event.

Fact 3: The conditions of the seed event repeat at regular intervals.

The facts are undeniable. The question for us is, what do they mean? What are such obvious cycles telling us about the nature of our lives, our world, and even time itself?

We may find that the message encoded into a 3,000-year-old manuscript holds the answer. But, as is so often the case, with it we open the door to an even greater mystery.

The Seeds of Love and Betrayal

The cycles of nature apply to our personal lives as well as to global events. While we probably know this relationship intuitively, it often shows up in our lives in ways, and at times, that are the least opportune or that we least expect. For example, we’ve all heard of people who leave their relationships, jobs, and friends and move to a new city for a “fresh start.” You can probably guess what often happens to those of us who do.

While a change of scenery can sometimes be just what the doctor ordered, it’s not uncommon to find that while the people, weather, and skylines are altered, the circumstances that we thought we were leaving behind us may not. Why would they? The cycles of our world and our lives are made of time and space, the stuff of the universe that cannot be bound by a building or a city. When we think about our lives from this perspective, it should come as no surprise that the cycles that play such a powerful role in the world play an equally powerful role in our personal lives. Once again, the key to uncovering such patterns is to recognize where they begin.


The house felt different that morning. Although it was a Saturday, a day that my father normally used to catch up on the sleep he’d lost from working long hours earlier in the week, he and my mom were up early. Even though I could hear them in the kitchen, it just didn’t feel like a typical weekend. There was no singing from my mom as she went about her endless routines of homemaking. The TV screen that would normally echo the news of the week was black and cold; and there was no radio blaring Peter, Paul and Mary songs from my parents’ bedroom. Even though my mom and dad were up, except for the shuffling of footsteps moving from one room to another across the hardwood floors, the house was absolutely silent.

Cautiously, I tiptoed from my room down the hallway and peeked into Mom and Dad’s bedroom. My father was there with a small suitcase open on the bed, packing his crisp corporate shirts. “Good morning, son,” he said as he caught sight of me from out of the corner of his eye. “Come in here for a minute. I want to talk to you.” Things had been tense in our house for a while. I knew that my parents were having a tough time, and my first thought was that I was going to get an explanation at last. I was right, but it wasn’t the one that I’d expected.

“I’m going away for a while,” my father said, “and I’m not sure when I’m coming back.” That was it. I watched as he closed his suitcase and followed him as he walked down the hallway and passed my mom in the kitchen. Her eyes were still red from crying after the conversation they’d had the night before. Together, she and I watched as my dad left our house that day. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had just witnessed the ending of my parents’ marriage. I was 11 at the time.

It wasn’t until years later that I began to understand how much that moment affected me. As I came to terms with what that day had meant to me, I realized that I had lost not only my father, but also my family—at least the way I had known them for the first 11 years of my life.

At first I believed that, except for not having my dad around, everything in my life would continue as normal—everything, that is, except those things where other boys my age had their fathers present and I didn’t. From parent/teacher nights at school and father/son weekends with the Boy Scouts, to my first public speech to our church congregation and awards presentations at my swim meets, I began to realize that something was missing in my life and that I’d lost something else on that Saturday morning as well.

The reason why I’m sharing this story here is because it offers an example of how an experience carrying a strong emotional imprint at one time in life can become the primer for the conditions of that experience to repeat throughout other times. Just as the seed event that established the pattern for “surprise” and “attack” on American soil was set 1941, the meaning that we give to a traumatic experience can set into motion a cyclic pattern that can follow us throughout our lives.

If the experience is a positive one of love and life-affirming emotions, then it’s probably not a problem. There’s certainly no need to recognize it and heal anything. My sense is, however, that we seldom complain of finding ourselves “stuck” in mysterious patterns of joy, healing, and peace in our lives. When we do, it’s probably not something that we want to change.

It’s the negative patterns that will inevitably arise from the situations of everyday life—moments of loss, hurt, and betrayal, for example—that can become the unconscious seeds for a pattern that shows up again and again. Fortunately, just as repeating cycles are also opportunities to change the patterns for war and aggression on a worldwide scale, if we know our individual cycles and how they work, they can become powerful allies in healing some of the greatest hurts of our personal lives.

Calculating Personal Cycles

The Time Code Calculator can help us find such cycles in our lives. To the calculator, a cycle is a cycle, whether it is personal or global. The key is to recognize that life follows nature’s rhythms, and our emotional patterns are part of life.

Time Code 14: The Time Code Calculator can pinpoint personal cycles of love and hurt, as well as global cycles of war and peace.

Using Mode 3 of the Time Code Calculator, we can calculate the times in our lives for the repeating conditions of any emotional experience that has left its imprint on our hearts. It’s amazing to see how deeply the experiences from one time in life—from our greatest loves to our deepest hurts—can impact other relationships after the seed is planted.

If we can identify one of two keys, then we can also bring to light those patterns and be aware of when they may repeat in our business, casual, and intimate relationships. So let’s begin with the example that we started this section with: my feeling of losing my family.

Although my mom, my younger brother, and I were still together and outwardly we still worked as a family unit, the key is that I felt I’d lost my family. In that feeling, I also experienced a sense of loss and betrayal. So just as “surprise” and “attack” are the clear descriptors for what happened on September 11, 2001, loss and betrayal are those for my personal experience. They became the seed for a pattern that would continue until I recognized its presence.

The Time Code Calculation
(actual mathematical equation excluded here but available in book)

Mode 3: Find the time we can expect the conditions of a personal experience from the past to happen again. To answer this question, we need a single piece of information.

Input: Our age when an obvious momentous event (the seed) occurred.

In the example that follows, I use my experience of loss and betrayal to illustrate this point.

From this simple calculation, it’s evident that the age of 17.798 is when the conditions of betrayal and loss that I experienced at 11 years old could be expected to repeat. As the examples of global war and peace in the preceding section illustrate, although the conditions that may lead to a repeat of the seed experience, the presence of the conditions isn’t a promise that it will. However, in my case, it did.

It was during this time that I lost two relationships in my life, both for the same reason. One was a friendship and the other was a romance; and both involved what I perceived as betrayal of trust, confidences, and promises. (If I had known then what I now understand about cycles, I might have saved myself years of asking why.)

When we use these calculations in our lives, there are seldom absolutes and rarely exact repeats of earlier situations. What we are looking for are general patterns that can give us a “heads-up” in business or romance. Following is a partial list of how the cycles of betrayal and loss continued for a number years in personal and business relationships, until they were recognized and replaced with a new pattern of clear communication and discernment.

When we look to the cycles of our lives, it’s important to remember that there are no absolutes. Because we are dealing with natural processes that follow the rhythms of natural cycles, the choices that we make at any time in our lives can forever change the course of a given cycle. When they do, we begin the new patterns of a new one.

The key in exploring personal cycles is to recognize, first, that it’s happening; and, second, the frequency with which it repeats. In doing so, we can prepare for the conditions the cycle offers while making the choices that become the new patterns of the future.

Herein we find the value of using the Time Code Calculator for the 2012 end date. Just as we can explore our personal histories to find the seeds of what we can expect in the future, we can use our knowledge of fractal patterns and nature’s cycles to discover the key dates that tell us where to look in the past for the conditions that we can expect for 2012 . . . and beyond.

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