2012: Why It's Not the End
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Article ID: 14189
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: January 9th. 2011
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A near miss with a large, previously unknown planet will cause untold mayhem on Earth. An unimaginably powerful solar flare will slam into the planet, and over the course of a day, Florida will become the new North Pole either by the crust shifting or by the planet's iron inner core flipping over. The Earth will collide with a brown dwarf called Nibiru, smashing our poor planet to bits. Generally, the end of the world as we know it. Sounds pretty bad doesn't it? According to a plethora of TV shows, documentaries, books, websites, and a big budget movie... that's exactly what awaits mankind on December 21, 2012.
If you are, you're not alone. A lot of people are at least mildly concerned about this 2012 monster. Some of the theories sound remarkably scientific and convincing, not to mention the clout the ancient Maya prophecy brings. Surely, this is something we should be concerned about, right?
The very short answer is, No. There's not a reason to worry about December 2012 any more than you'd worry about December '11 or '13. There's hardly a shred of truth in any of the 2012 theories on the market. Though we may be spiritual beings, we were gifted with the ability to discern between fact and fabrication. And 2012 does not pass intact through the trials of a discerning mind.
The way many 2012 theorists arrive at their doomsday is by latching on to the alleged end of the Maya long count calendar, that is, the end of the 13th baktun, or thirteen rounds of about 394 years and a few months. This cycle was important to the Maya, because in their cosmology, thirteen baktuns was how long the world previous to ours survived before the gods decided to make a new, perfect world, our world.
In 1957, a Mayanist scholar by the name of Maude Worcester Makemson speculated that the completion of the baktun would have been significant to the ancient Maya. It snowballed from there, transforming from a significant date to life ending cataclysm. Later researchers realized the error in the 1990s, far too late to make too much of an impression on public opinion. We might now tremble at dark thoughts of 2012, but the ancient Maya would almost surely have celebrated the date, and they would have done it outside the bunker.
But what about the prophecy? Well... there is no prophecy. Or, if there was, we don't have it anymore. What remains of classic Maya thought largely exists in a precious few manuscripts and inscribed or painted on monuments. It is largely fragmentary, and our understanding of Maya language is still remarkably young. Depending how certain passages are translated, there may be a few mentions of the 13th baktun in the various Chilam Balam prophecies. (5) On the other hand, there may not be. It really depends on who you might ask, as to whether or not it's there and what it even means. Most reputable Mayanists, however, would say that there most likely isn't a doomsday prophecy. The dearth of evidence for a prophecy as important as the exact date of the end of the world is almost damning in itself. The Maya would have surely considered such a thing gravely important. And they wouldn't have inscribed a monument for a king's reign with a date of celebration 2217 years from the present.
So, if the Maya never prophesied the end of the world on December 21, 2012, then where did all of the theories come from? They come from a lot of people, most of whom are far too alive to be ancient Maya prophets.
The first significant 2012 doomsday proponent was Terrence McKenna, who developed novelty theory and the time wave zero prophecy after taking psilocybin and DMT in an experiment, while on an expedition to the Amazon rainforest in the 1970s. Novelty, in McKenna's case, is a measurement of newness, or extropy (the opposite of entropy) . Using novelty theory and the I Ching, McKenna arrived at an end date in November of 2012. On this date, he theorized a singularity of novelty, a point at which there is no entropy and everything possible in the Universe happens all at once. After hearing of the Maya long count end date, McKenna revised the theory to coincide with December 21, 2012, which he later denied. McKenna died in 2000, but his prophecies somehow remain.
Another man with another theory is John Major Jenkins, an amateur Maya scholar and author. He theorizes that the Maya were aware of a significant cosmic alignment in 2012, when the sun would rise out of the dark rift in the Milky Way and mark a period of transformation. Many other people have based their 2012 theories on Jenkins', some suggesting that gravity or radiation from the center of the galaxy will somehow affect life on Earth in unspecified but catastrophic ways, which isn't possible for many reasons, foremost of which is that the alignment is a trick of visual perspective and has no physical impact on anything. Others have suggested a planetary alignment causing something similar, but there simply isn't any planetary alignment that happens on December 21, 2012, and even if there was, planetary alignments do not have any physical effect on earth.
Another alarming theory descends from writings by the author Zecharia Sitchin, whose body of work provides alternative theories regarding the formation of the earth, human origins, and translation of cuneiform. Sitchin says that, according to ancient Mesopotamian texts and inscriptions, a planet called Nibiru with a many thousand-year orbit collided with another planet, the debris of which formed earth and moon. Later theorists ran with his ideas and suggested that Nibiru (or some other large object in an odd orbit) will make its way back to earth on December 21, 2012. Fortunately for us, such an object doesn't and couldn't exist as described. By now, it would also be a very obvious feature of the sky as well, at the very least to those with telescopes. The Nibiru and Planet X theories attached to the 2012 date because it was quite easy to do so.
Patrick Geryl, the last I'll mention, believes that a massive solar flare will cause the already weakened magnetic field to flip, along with the very core of the planet, leading to massive tidal waves, earthquakes, and so on. A solar flare large enough to create such an effect would turn the Earth into little more than a spinning ball of magma, and is, briefly, impossible as all get out. Geryl, an amateur astronomer and author, claims that he arrived at the date and theory by decoding parts of the Dresden Codex, a pre-Columbian Maya almanac.
A milder cousin of Geryl's theory is a geomagnetic reversal caused by a solar flare, and instead of slowly changing over thousands of years, the reversal would occur almost instantaneously, again causing massive tidal waves, earthquakes, and so on. A more extreme cousin is the pole shift hypothesis, in which the actual crust of the earth would reorient itself drastically, sliding along the mantle, followed by massive tidal waves, etc. This is a misunderstanding of the definition of a geomagnetic reversal and is in fact an all but disproved alternative to the theory of plate tectonics and continental drift.
So, if almost all of what we've heard about December 21, 2012 is false, what do we even have left over? Well, we have a solstice on an important new year in ancient Maya cosmology and a lot of people who are remarkably frightened of what they heard might happen on that date. When we should honor and remember the Maya and their remarkable civilization, we have instead produced a veritable sea of unfounded eschatology.
In this day and age, it is very easy to understand why. Throughout human history, there have been people who claimed that the end was nigh. In our modern era, it is easy to see why those claims have skyrocketed. By and large, the people of the world have disconnected from nature and divorced their spiritual side. Wars and violence rage throughout the world. Global climate change and pollution threaten to forever alter so many aspects of life on earth. Sarah Palin makes the news almost every day. To many, it must seem as if humanity has all but destroyed itself. Armageddon would be a welcome relief to some.
But these problems all have solutions that do not include global destruction and the deaths of several billion humans and trillions of other creatures. Perhaps that is the real message we should take away from the 2012 phenomenon: that the world has problems that we absolutely must solve. Instead of trembling in fear for what might come, we should make positive steps towards a better future for those who come after us, on personal, societal, and environmental levels.
The future to me is not something set in stone. It is in the hands of those who choose to mold it. 2012 can be a day of fear, or it can be the first day of a new cycle in which we make better the ills of our world, when we could make a pact with our gods and ourselves to create a brighter future.
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