From Y2K catastrophes to the coming of the rapture in 2001 to a 2007 nuclear war, it seems like every year there is a different prediction for the end of existence. And yet, here we are, long past these previously predicted Doomsday scenarios, nearing 2010 and alive to talk about it. With that in mind, let’s relax and have a look at the next milestone on our Armageddon radar. Though we all know it’s the subject of a new movie being released today, what exactly is so special about the year 2012?
The madness (and genius) of Mayans
We like to think of ourselves as the pinnacle of human existence and ingenuity, but don’t discredit our “primitive” predecessors. Ancient Mayans could add without calculators – and predict planetary transits! Enjoying over 2,000 years of dominance in parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras before Spanish conquest in the 16th Century, they built pyramids, did complicated mathematics and were masters of astronomy. And unlike Galileo, they didn’t even have to cheat by using a telescope!
So where does the 2012 prophecy come from? Well, whereas we understand time as a linear experience, the Mayans believed that it was cyclical. They had two major calendars that worked in conjunction with one another — the Tzolk’in and the Haab’. Used to determine religious dates and ceremonies, The Tzolk’in calendar was 260 days in length. The less detailed Haab’ calendar was used solely to keep track of the seasons. Neither Mayan calendar had set dates or years attached to them, so in order to determine specific times in the past or future, they used another system altogether. And it is there, with “Long Count” where the 2012 tale was borne.
According to scholars, the beginning of the Long Count calendar (translated into our calendar terms) was August 11, 3114 BCE. Since an entire cycle of the Long Count is said to take 5,126 years to complete, the first cycle would be set to end on December 21, 2012. Many believe that since the Mayan calendar ends there, that this date is the date of the end of the world. But contrary to popular belief, the Mayans did have dates further in the future! Additionally, they perceived a passing of an entire cycle as a great accomplishment and time of rejoicing. Translation: there is no recorded prophesy saying definitively that they believed the world was going to end.
Finally, there is no questioning that December 21, 2012 is (in astronomical terms), a very significant date. Why? It will be the first time in roughly 26,000 years that the Sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Hence, there is scientific inspiration for the on-going debate. That said, rather than worrying about doomsday and the end of the world, it makes more sense to think about a shift in consciousness. A whole school of scholars and New Age experts have begun embracing the idea of 2012 as a chance for rebirth. In fact, as humans reconnect with the Earth (in much the same manner as the ancient Earth religions did), we can already see this sort of change occurring — from the popularity of going green to increasing global consciousness.
Finally, if you can’t get your mind around the hooplah surrounding our impending destruction in 2012, take a deep breath. Nostradamus didn’t think the world would end until 3797.
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