I would like to reflect upon the end of the Mayan Calendar on December 21, 2012. Even though I did not really think there was anything to it, somehow I got psyched into believing this would be a “deadline”—either the end of the world or the transformation of humanity through a kind of divine intervention.
There were all kinds of dire prophecies concerning this date. Solar flares would destroy the earth. The earth’s magnetic fields would turn upside down and cause all kinds of havoc. An evil tyrant would rule the planet and be usurped by the Great Spirit. Peak oil, environmental destruction, global warming, a nuclear war would utterly wipe out the human race.
Perhaps it would be some Christian version of the Ascension and Jesus would take all the people who have been good to heaven and wipe out the wicked.
With bated breath, like many other dupes, I waited for midnight, lit a candle, and waited for the worst to come—or some ‘great transformation’ that would save us in the nick of time. But nothing happened, which I actually expected.
And I have to admit I felt disappointed.
I think there is something in the collective consciousness of the human race that hopes for some kind of Doomsday—something to change the direction of where things are going, something new rather than the same old status quo.
Doomsday/transformation fantasies are quite common in recent decades. We have lived through the 1987 Harmonic Convergence prophecy—which was also a calculation of where the Mayan calendar would end along with astrological lineups of the celestial bodies. A lot of people gathered for that one, too, and I’m sure they were sorely disappointed when nothing happened.
Also, the ending of the 2000 millennium was a ‘big date.’ Not only were there Christians see this neat date as the time for the return of Christ and the Ascension, but everyone was worried about the effects of Y2K that would crash all the computers in the world and nothing at all would work anymore.
(I actually bought a bunch of propane tanks and a short wave radio to listen in on all the bad news).
We’ve lived with the Energy Crisis of 1973, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963, 9/11, hurricane Katrina…
These doomsday dates are usually set on some kind of “neat” date. In the year 1000 AD, there were a lot of Christians expecting that to be the Resurrection of the Dead, but of course nothing happened. The end of the Mayan calendar was “force-fitted” to end on a winter solstice with the alignment of the Earth with the “dark galactic center” which actually takes hundreds of years to happen.
No one really knows what the Mayan calendar was all about, and it is really a lot of conjecture. It’s a very weird calendar. There are periods of 260 days, which are akin to thirteen “months” of 20 days each. Or perhaps they were considered long weeks; each day has its own name. My guess is the Mayans came up with the 20-based system by counting all their fingers and toes.
It would seem a bit more logical to create 13 lunar months which come up a day or so short of the year. So maybe that’s how 13 became a “special number” to them. They did have a kind of ‘fast forward’ day to compensate for the extra day to 365 over the long run.
Then there are huge ages, somewhat analogous to our millennia, of 144, 000 days, called Baktun, and there are 13 of them. The entire Mayan calendar goes from August 11, 3114 BC to December 21, 2012 AD. When the calendar ends, the whole thing is reset to zero to start all over again. Or perhaps this is considered the End of Time—or the Renewal of Time.
Exactly what happened in the year 3114 B.C. is never mentioned in the books about this calendar. The Mayan civilization wasn’t even around then; the stone carvings we have are around 600 AD or so. Then around 900 AD that civilization collapsed, and “date-keepers” passed the time from generation to generation.
When the conquistadors encountered the Aztecs, the dates were still being recorded, and from that, they linked the current Mayan date to the current calendar of Europe. Later, this is how archeologists and Mayan scholars extrapolated the beginning and end dates.
It is unclear whether the Mayan priests had any particular prophecies about this time, other than this would be the end. The hieroglyphics on the Mayan stones can be interpreted many ways. Frankly, I think those interpretations are pretty ambiguous.
They also resemble psychedelic art. For all we know, the carvers were tripping their brains out on some kind of natural psychedelic, a mushroom or the secretions of a gland from native toads. There are a lot of pictures of toads there, usually spitting out a Mayan priest with arms stretched out.
Quite a lot of schlock has been made out of all this. We have all these movies about 2012, a profitable venture up until now. Self-appointed prophets have made money creating workshops. Survivalists are buying all kinds of things, making money for some shrewd companies.
We have “Mayan shamans” coming down from the mountains to give us the “real scoop.” Interestingly, a few of them say this is going to be gradual, not some instantaneous event happening on the Big Day.
Oddly, I stopped hearing about “2012” since the actual beginning of that year; people probably became skeptical getting closer to the big date, and nothing very imminent seemed to be happening. I hardly see much in the news about what happened on December 21, 2012; I feel sorry for those who did sit around waiting for something to happen. (I am writing this on December 24, 2012).
I wonder if they will start selling Mayan calendars this coming year. Undoubtedly, some “experts” will make a re-interpretation of the date—and move it forward a decade or so.
It’s pretty obvious that if we go on living the way we are, wasting resources, fighting wars with weapons of mass destruction, overpopulating, over-consuming and such—there WILL be an end to civilization as we know it. That has been a very real possibility for the past 50 years, and whatever you believe, it is best to have a sense of intense urgency to forego this.
Yes, we do need to go through a transformation, but that must start from within before it can be effective outwardly. I do sense there is something going on that is gradually transforming us, guiding our evolution.
Let’s not get pessimistic here. As recently as the past few centuries, there have been some very positive changes, for better or worse: all over the world, democracy has replaced kings.
Slavery, legal ownership of people, has been banned.
Women got the vote. We have social security and we are on the verge of universal health care. The government is taking care of the poor, elderly, and disabled.
The efforts of Martin Luther King have succeeded, blacks don’t have to sit at the back of the bus, and now we have a black president.
For the first time in history, people started opposing going to war back in the 60’s and those efforts continue.
Solar panels are going up on roofs, wind power generators are being built on mountaintops, hybrid electric cars are available, and people are making very serious attempts to rebuild the energy infrastructure.
So the transformation of human consciousness is happening, has been happening, and will continue to happen. Yes, we have a long way to go, we need improvements, and each of us has the responsibility to work on that both in our personal lifestyles and re-building. It is not going to be easy and people will have to give up a lot of personal comforts they are used to.
We will need to live in smaller spaces closer together.
We will need to consume less, repair what we have, and recycle materials from the old civilization. We will need to give up traveling so much, stay local. We will need to have fewer children and educate them on how important sustainability is.
We will need to develop a strong sense of consideration towards nature and others. We need to transcend violence and possessiveness. It could even amount to a genetic change. Perhaps the desire to change our nature will literally make it so.
Whatever you believe, this is a very ideal Window in Time to send positive vibrations to the entire planet. It is a time to visualize and even pray for a better world. Whether or not it seems realistic, attempt to picture a world without war, without national boundaries, a world where we are at peace within and with one another. Picture a world in perfect ecological balance. Picture a world where all people have just what they need—and no more; we all watch out for one another and share rather than compete.
Imagine humans being so evolved that we no longer need governments, laws and we are really and truly free. Imagine a world without money, private property, all living on common ground with a certain amount of personal space.
Don’t think about the details now, just visualize a perfect world. In the meantime, make a serious effort to make a low-impact lifestyle, live in moderation, and keep pushing for change. We can do it now!
John Forrest is a trickster mystic who likes to ask embarrassing questions.
Asst. Editor: Jennifer Townsend