José Argüelles, Earth Day, Whole Earth Festival Founder, The Mayan Factor


José Argüelles montage


by Angel Tenez / XM - 11/23/11

LOS ANGELES — With the absence of media attention, a tremendously influential Mexican American artist, author, and visionary leader of huge importance to the environmental movement, indigenous ethnic, and New Age spiritual communities, Dr. José Argüelles quietly passed away on March 23rd, 2011.

Perhaps best know to most as the author of his controversial book entitled The Mayan Factor, a discourse with intricate diagrams often cited as a leading cause for the current frenzy of discussion about our ancient Mayan culture; Dr. Argüelles was a central figure responsible for contemporary society's renewed interest in many things concerning our ancient Mayan ancestors, most especially the Mayan calendar and its 13th Baktun long count cyclical end which is quickly approaching its zenith on Dec 21, 2012. Yet, beyond his influence on a renewed interest in the ancient Maya, Dr. Argüelles also had a great impact on many aspects of other issues additionally vital to humanity's evolutionary growth. This legacy too, will live on.

The Life of an Obsure Thinker with Musings Well-Known But Rarely Understood

Born as Joseph Anthony Arguelles in Rochester, MN, on Jan 24, 1939, as a very young boy José Argüelles lived in Mexico for several years before moving back to the Midwest at the tender age of seven. Like so many Mexican Americans before him and to this day, young Argüelles experienced a great amount of anti-Mexican prejudice growing up in the United States, which prompted him to stop speaking Spanish as a youth. However, in 1953 at the age of fourteen, Argüelles took a trip back to Mexico where he visited Mexico City and the pyramids of Teotihuacan. This important excursion would produce a tremendously "profound" feeling in him for a reconnection with his roots. It would also lay the foundation for a deep exploration of our ancient Maya culture, its calendar, and cause huge reverberations to be felt around the world.

Because of this new found pride in his Mexican heritage, as a young man Argüelles stopped calling himself Joseph opting instead for Jose. As he began to study the ancient Maya more closely, he came to intuitively believe in many of their key concepts and practices which are radically different from most Western orthodoxy and the core of our traditional Judeo Christian beliefs. Most specifically, he would come to appreciate the great Maya love for our planet and their sense of total respect for and connectedness with nature - a sentiment which is universally shared amongst all of the indigenous tribes and civilizations of the Americas. Thus, early on Argüelles rejected the mass exploition of nature prevalent in most of the corporate cultures existing in the large industrialized nations today. This along with his natural abilities as both a gifted artist and teacher are what ultimately drove Dr. José Argüelles to later become one of the main originators of the Earth Day concept and also create one of his most lasting legacies to the world, the Whole Earth Festival (WEF). Below is a WEF quote on its origin:

"Whole Earth Festival was born when an art class taught by Jose Arguelles had an “Art Happening” on the University of California, Davis campus in 1969. The students used art to involve those that attended in an educational process that dared to transcend the typical system of standardized tests and impersonal lectures. Following the United Nations declaration of 'Earth Day' in 1970, the second 'Art Happening' (1971) was renamed 'Whole Earth.'.. the Whole Earth Festival has evolved over 3 decades into what can be seen Mother’s Day weekend on the U.C. Davis campus every year."

Both Earth Day and the Whole Earth Festival are the vibrant living legacies of Dr. Argüelles reconnection with his Maya roots. In reassociating with the essential core beliefs of our Native American ancestors, the Maya had given Argüelles a pronounced sense of his deep innate psychophysical connectedness with our planet and all of its life. Thus, with the development of his feelings for oneness with the planet and all of its inhabitants, an inclination to utilize the ancient Mayan beliefs in association with a fast growing community of New Age adherents eager to find new (and/or rather renewed) holistic approaches for the betterment of our Earth would dominate throughout his life. ( page 2 )

José Argüelles, visionary artist, author, spiritualist, and friend of the Earth.