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Culture History
Culture: Apocalypse 2012!
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Tuesday, 25 March 2008 Written by R. Scott Peoples


The person elected to the White House this year will be the one sitting there, either as a lame duck or a president-re-elect, on December 21st, 2012.  This has special significance, since a great many prophecies seem to converge on that particular day – it's been slated to be the End of the World by seers from Ancient Mexico to Renaissance France.

In short, the next President will be in office when life as we know it, allegedly, comes to an end.

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And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
- Rev., 6:13-17
(tonight's Revelations brought to you by the folks at Holy Bible, King James version)


I'd love to take a long, exhaustive look at each of the prophecies that foretell our doom four-and-a-half years hence, but this is too important not to have the candidates weigh in immediately.  As proclamations of ruination seem to be de rigueur around these parts lately, I think it's imperative that we raise awareness of the looming apocalypse by demanding of our presidential hopefuls their End-of-the-World Response Plans.  Each and every candidate – I especially want to hear from Mike Gravel on this – should report back promptly with a detailed accounting of what he or she plans to do to ready our civilization for Ragnarok.  Candidates are further reminded that every vote counts (with exceptions for the 9 citizens on the Supreme Court who get to vote twice, of course) and that mine is riding on the quality of the answer s/he delivers.


Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!  - Rev. 8:13


As things now stand, it's difficult to discern the candidate's positions on which theory of the End of the World he or she believes the most correct, and even harder to tell what programs will be put in place to counter it.  As a Potential Left-Behinder, should I ready myself for a Plan A: Noble and Stoic Demise, a Plan Bush: Make No Plan, or a Plan Z: Panicked Exodus to the Stars via Improvised Spacecraft - or something in between?

Furthermore, consider the economic implications of a definitive date for the end of the world.  The next president, given a favorably terrified Congress, might be able to go on a spending spree the likes of which the world has never seen – after all, who wants to be the sucker that still has an available balance on his credit card on December 20, 2012?  On the other hand, should such spending even be encouraged – "The Stimulus Before the Silence," or something like that – or ought the president's role be one of urging frugality and caution?  

Speaking of pants-pissing Congresses, think of what the next President will be able to do with the Apocalypse as a talking/bullying point.  George Bush had them by the short hairs with nothing more than a handful of lunatic terrorists and a single Pearl Harbor-type attack – imagine the power a president could wield when the job requires one to protect the citizenry from nothing less than the full-on wrath of God.  

Perhaps equally important will be the president's ability to look sheepish and reassuringly apologetic if it turns out some ancient Maya astronomer forget to "carry the two" and wound up getting the date wrong.  For those who follow the economic advice listed above, having the world survive to the 2012 Inaugural could be a disaster – think of all those Y2K-era bomb shelters that are still being paid off.  Will the Fed be there to back up all the bad investments we collectively make, or is end-of-the-world-based capitalism only the province of your Bear Stearnses and J.P. Morgans?


And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not – Rev., 2:21


Whatever goes down on December 21, 2012, we won't be able to say we weren't warned.  As far back as the time of Ancient Rome – and probably long before that – Maya astronomers were calculating eclipses into the far future and creating a series of linked calendars way more accurate than the clumsy Gregorian thing with which we've encumbered ourselves – and they saw the end of one of their Great Cycles of the Long Count as occurring in 2012.  According to some, this set of glyphs represents the "end" of the Maya calendar, and doom for us all:

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This all gets a little mathematical for my taste, but if I'm remembering my Mesoamerican cosmology right, the Maya had two main calendars: the Tzolk'in, made up of 260 days (13 "trecenas" of 20 days each), and the 365-day Haab', broken into 18 months of 20 days, plus five "nameless days" at the end of each year.  It helps to think of them as two gears with intermeshing teeth; the numbers are such that the two calendars share the same date only once every 52 years.

Maya Time Keeping divides huge periods of time into more manageable segments.  First, they had their Long-Count Calendar, which starts at a fixed point (August or September, 3114 BCE, for those keeping track), and works on a more-or-less linear fashion.  The Calendar Round system described above kept track of the years along the linear progression of the Long Count, and as it did so, it broke the years counted into something akin to decades and centuries – though the numbers involved are quite different, as the Maya mathematical system was, with a few exceptions, vigesimal, or based on 20.

A Tun, broken down into 18 Uinal of 20 Kin (days) each, was a year, or one revolution of the Haab.  20 of those together made a Katun, and 20 Katun, or 144,000 days (394.52 Gregorian years), made 1 Baktun.  Add 20 Baktuns together, and you get one type of full cycle of the Long Count called a Pictun, representing about 7885 Gregorian years.  The Maya, being the type of folks who saw cycles within cycles to (literally) the nth degree, also had words for 20 Pictuns (Calabtun, or 157,703 years), and for 20 Calabtuns (Kinchiltun; 3,154,071 years), and even for 20 Kinchiltuns (Alautun, or 63,081,429 years), though they usually didn't have need for measures of time larger than a Baktun.  Most of Classic Maya history, for example, occurs within Baktun 9 (435-830 C.E.); our current Baktun – ole, faithful Baktun 12 – began in 1618.

It is that 12th Baktun that ends in four years, at which point the two calendars will reset to their starting dates, much like the digit changes involved when our calendar passes a millennium or century mark.  Baktun rotations may occur about 4 times less frequently than do changes of century on the Gregorian calendar, but the cycles of which they are a part churn on regardless.  The Maya calendar does not "stop" at December 21, 2012, any more than the Year 2000 "ended" the Gregorian calendar; it simply moves on to the next Baktun, with a Long Count date of 13.0.0.0.0.  We still have about 3000 years to go on our current Pictun, and Quetzalcoatl knows how many left before the current Kinchiltun and Alautun cycles roll over.

Today, by the way, is 4 Caban 0 Uo on the Calendar Round; 12.19.15.4.17 by the Long Count.  Folks signing and dating tax returns today will want to note that "March 23, 2008, can also be written 14 Cumku. 12 Cimi

Weird Historical Sidenote:  Those 5 "nameless days" of the Haab', called Wayeb' in the work-in-progress reconstruction of Classic Mayan, were a time of fear, superstition, and ceremony – not unlike a specifically haunted night in the Ancient European experience.  A citation in Wikipedia article on the Maya Calendar from David Foster...

During Wayeb, portals between the mortal realm and the Underworld dissolved. No boundaries prevented the ill-intending deities from causing disasters.

...has some odd parallels to the History Channel's take on Halloween (though it's worth noting that Samhain and Wayeb' would fall about 7 weeks apart, given that the Maya New Year was the Winter Solstice):
Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.

In other WHS news, Maya Long Count dates are written like this: baktun . katun . tun . uinal . kin.  Think of it as you historio-cosmological IP addy.  Additionally, if you're the type who digs playing with glyphs and dates, you might check out this Maya Calendar Tools site.



And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:

Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts – Rev., 9:20-21


The Maya were far craftier about matching their math to their calendar than were, say, medieval monks, who considered the figuring of angel-to-pinhead ratios legitimate science.  Beginning with the Olmecs of deep antiquity, Mesoamerican astronomers watched and recorded the movements of the stars and planets, using the observations to develop their array of cyclic calendars.  They had a special fixation on Venus, but also noted the motion of the Earth in relation to the Ecliptic Plane, as well as the solar system's movement relative to the Galactic Plane.  So it is that their calendars were matched to cyclically-occurring events along these lines – especially the really rare ones, like the alignment of the sun, Earth, and the "dark rift" at the center of the Milky Way that happens every 26,000 years.

The Maya called that "dark rift" Xibalba (Wikipedia entry), a search for which quickly leads to the New Age wing of the Internet, as well as some pretty breathless conjecturing about the relationship of the precession of the equinoxes to the Mayan underworld.  Indeed, if the Popol Vuh, a Quiche Maya text written during the Spanish Conquest and translated into Spanish 150 years later under the title Historias del origen de los Indios de esta Provincia de Guatemala, is to be believed, the underworld is a pretty crappy place: first you have to cross rivers of scorpions, blood, and pus before arriving at the city, then its 10 Lords publicly humiliate you before sending you on to any number of horrific tests of skill and feats of strength.

So it is that on December 21, 2012, the entrance to Xibalba is gonna be lined up with the Earth and the Sun, and all manner of solar flares, sudden changes in the Earth's magnetic field, and vast paradigm shifts are being predicted as a result.  Given how the enormous alterations in consciousness foretold with the coming of the Age of Aquarius and the Harmonic Convergence of 1987 all came true, it's little surprise that 2012 is being seen as a major interstellar event:

Scholar and author John Major Jenkins reports, "On 13.0.0.0.0, the December solstice sun will be found in the band of the Milky Way. We can call this an alignment between the galactic plane and the solstice meridian. This is an event that has slowly converged over a period of thousands of years, and is caused by the precession of the equinoxes. The place where the December solstice sun crosses the Milky Way is precisely the location of the "dark-rift in the Milky Way...'xibalba be' - the road to the underworld."

On the winter solstice of 2012, the noonday Sun exactly conjuncts the crossing point of the sun's ecliptic with the galactic plane, while also closely conjuncting the exact the center of the galaxy.

Jenkins further proposes that this grand cross in time is symbolized by the Mayan Tree of Life, found at the core of Mayan cosmology.

The Living Prophecy

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In fact, a cottage industry – a good bit of it is collected at The Mayans and 2012 - has grown around this ending of cycles, complete with prophets, sacred sites, and a body of "research" to back up the zeitgeist's assertions.  In addition to the Popol Vuh, one of the more oft-referenced sources of prophecy is the Sarcophagus of Pacal II, a Maya king entombed within the Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque, in present-day southern Mexico.  As early as the 1970s, researchers were noticing that Pacal might be riding a Chariot of the Gods, but it took present-days Mayanists (sic) to unearth the revelation that the lid-carvers were in fact speaking explicitly to our generation:

This cosmic interpretation of the Maya Tree of Life is then compared to a map of the galaxy, with the result being something like this:

img
Map from Lord Pakal Ahau's Maya Diaries, an
interesting site – the proprietor is apparently in
direct contact with Lord Pakal Ahau, a Baby Boomer reincarnation
(b. 1952) of K'inich Janaab' Pakal, a/k/a "Pacal
the Great" of Palenque's Temple of the Inscriptions
fame.  He's the guy that was buried under a sarcophagus
lid that Erick van Daniken construed as "proof" that
the great king (r. 615-683 CE) had ascended into the
heavens in a spaceship – and omg, you must check
out the t-shirt logo - makes one wonder if xochitl
is really Nahuatl for "Have a Nice Day."
All this math and astronomy and stuff are a fertile playground for people who like to make numbers do weird things.  Here's an example of where 2012-related discussion can go, if you let it:

As Venus orbits closer to the sun and faster than Earth it will pass Earth so that a line can be drawn through the Sun and both planets. If Venus and Earth are on the same side of the Sun this is called an inferior conjunction; if on opposite sides it is a superior conjunction. Either way, the next one will be 583.9 days later, and both planets will be exactly 216 degrees around in their orbits. This is called a synodic cycle. Note that 216 is three times 72, and five times 72 is 360 degrees, a complete circle. A series of five of these cycles takes 7.99 years.  A diagram showing the orbits with lines going out from the sun at the conjunctions will have five lines each exactly 72 degrees from the next. If you then draw exterior lines connecting the points of intersection with Earth’s orbit, you will have a regular pentagon like the one in Washington, D.C. the latest addition to the sacred geometry of that city. Draw internal lines from point to point and you have that most powerful of magic symbols, the pentagram, or five pointed star. Note that the ancient Egyptians portrayed stars as having five points, and the human body has five major projections: a head, two arms, and two legs. Here is embodied the key idea of astrology, the connection between us and the stars. As above, so below.

This Age Ends in 2012 on the Winter Solstice




And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth – Rev., 11:18


The beauty of basing research on tortured interpretations of half-understood ancient cosmology and languages is the freedom it gives the "researcher" to "interpret."  Here's an example of such outcome-based investigations, courtesy of Lord Pakal Ahau:

...the reader will find our proposed match reading of the right-side section with the corresponding glyphs, after Stuart and Gronemeyer. In our revision, Lord Pakal Ahau included the syllable Ek (meaning dark or black) in the reading of the fourth row glyphs. (T89 glyph, FAMSI Dictionary of Mayan Hieroglyphs) to extend the translation and explain what will happen at the end of 2012: there will be darkness or a dark event presumably effecting Earth and transforming the whole humankind.

Did you catch that?  If part of your source material is unintelligible, simply insert a glyph that fits what you wanted the translation to say in the first place!  Man, this is some ground-breaking stuff going on here!

That sort of half-assed quasi-intellectualism, coupled with differences over the evolving New Age philosophy as a whole, has also led to disagreements around Sedona-area drum circles as to what the grand alignment actually represents: fire and destruction; a vast, sudden, transformation of consciousness; or some other kind of cosmic reset button.  Comforting, yet frightening at the same time, is the knowledge that this has, apparently, all happened before (and yes, everyone else who can't wait for Battlestar Galactica's new season, it will all happen again), but fortunately – as predicted by the highly prophetic and vastly underrated Stargate: SG-1 - the Asgard have our back:

The simultaneous polar reversal in earth and sun will throw the solar system out of whack. That will cause massive upheaval in the earth. At that point of time, the extraterrestrials will officially show up and put "cosmic seat belts" around us as they apply the superpower of the Hyperspace to bring the solar system back to what it is today.

This has happened before. The extraterrestrials take care of the earth and the solar system whenever the solar system faces challenges like that.

December 21, 2012 - are you ready?

Indeed.


And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name – Rev., 13:16-17


The Greek root of the word "apocalypse" doesn't translate as "death and destruction," but rather to "lifting of the veil," so perhaps our presidential candidates will be tempted to wait for revelation to come to them, rather than going out on a limb and getting ready for the doom of humankind.  If so, they may be pursuing a policy of grave miscalculation – publishers of the works of historical seers and modern would-be prophets alike have a vested interest in promulgating interpretations that have the potential to turn populations into either resigned, subservient slaves or hordes of frenzied mobs.  To wit:

  • Lost Book of Nostradamus - basing it predictions on numerology and rather grasping interpretations of an anonymously-written book that may or may not have been illustrated by Nostradamus' son, the History Channel claims the great seer of Renaissance France set the end of time at December 21, 2012.

  • José Argüelles, founder of the Thirteen Moon Calendar Change Peace Movement heavily promoted the Harmonic Convergence and ever since, has tried to direct as much attention as possible to his "Neo-Mayanism" and a 13:20 calendar that he thinks is more universally conscious than the Catholic 12:60 one.

  • Gordon-Michael Scallion needs to be in every End Times president's Department of Cartography, as he's been selling maps of post-cataclysm America since 1993.  Several of his predicted doom dates (for pole shifts and such) have already come and gone, leaving him to explain, via proxy and in a very Bush-league way, "all (or at least most) of the maps "could" have been "right" when they were done, but our consciousness changes our future and potentially the shape of our planet in this future scenario."

  • A Magnetic Pole Shift, if the predictions are correct, would be disastrous.  Think of Y2K's computer code glitch – millions of buried lines of code that had to be rewritten – only this time it's the hard-wired (if you will) polarity of every magnet on Earth we're talking about.  Thankfully, one is reminded (incessantly, in the case of reading New Age sites) that the Chinese character for "crisis" includes the one for "opportunity."  Me, I'm putting my money on pre-reverse-polarized, apocalypse-ready magnets.

And what will our presidential candidates do when the phone predictably rings on that fateful December 21st?  Who knows?  They're certainly not talking about it – which would lead any sensible person to conclude that the candidates all plan on keeping mum until the appointed hour, then riding out the apocalypse in a fortified bunker in an undisclosed secret nonredundant location.


Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time – Rev., 12:12


The Earth Changes theories and prophecies of destruction are one way in which the passage of our planet before Xibalba might play out, but there are others.  Some scholarly sorts are predicting that a least a few of us will be transformed into energy-creatures when the pole shift comes, but that the ride isn't going to be easy:

According to prophetic and channelled writings, the pole and dimensional shifts are simultaneous (but this may not necessarily be the case-as in all things, discernment of all information is the key). About 5 - 6 hours before the actual shift happens, an extraordinary visual phenomenon should take place. The third and fourth dimensions actually begin to interface. Third dimensional consciousness gradually recedes away from us as we approach fourth dimensional consciousness. As the third dimensional grid begins to break down, synthetic objects disappear (say goodbye to your brand new Hi Fi & TV !!). This is one reason that even though there is a 500 million year history of advanced life on this planet, there is virtually no evidence of it. In order to survive a pole-shift, objects must be made purely out of natural materials like the pyramids and the Sphinx—natural materials that are in resonance with the Earth. Even then virtually everything on the planet will be blown away.

Want to Know what areas the Psychics say it will be safe ?

And so I ask you, Mrs. Clinton and Mssrs. McCain and Obama, what in the hell are you doing to prepare us for that?!  You were thinking you were just going to slip off into the fourth dimension while the rest of us dealt with our buildings, cars, and silicone breast implants disappearing out from under us, didn't you?  Not a chance, pals and pal-lina – I want answers.

We've faced down the trouble of End Times dates before, and Americans have always risen to the occasion.  We survived the Second Coming of Jesus in 1844, described thusly by Library of Date Setters of The End of the World!!! (subtitled Over 200 predictions and counting!):

William Miller was the founder of an end-times movement that was so prominent it received its own name-- Millerism. From his studies of the Bible, Miller determined that the second coming would happen sometime between 1843-1844. A spectacular meteor shower in 1833 gave the movement a good push forward. The build up of anticipation continued until March 21, 1844, when Miller's one year time table ran out. Some followers set another date of Oct 22, 1844. This too failed, collapsing the movement. One follower described the days after the failed predictions, "The world made merry over the old Prophet's predicament. The taunts and jeers of the 'scoffers' were well-nigh unbearable."

I'll bet they were.  And that's the challenge upon you, Mr. and Mrs. Candidate: to enunciate an End Times policy that's neither nonchalant, nor overly scoff-worthy.  Will you deal with the "end" of the Maya calendar as adeptly as John Tyler handled the Second Coming?  Can you rise to the level of William Howard Taft, who was in office during a Haley's Comet visitation in 1910, and saw at least a few members of the citizenry buying "comet pills" to protect themselves from the toxic gasses?

We'll see, I guess – but your hitherto reluctance to discuss this critical issue does not auger well.  It is time to step up to the apocalyptic plate, get your Noah mojo working, and boldly lead us into the Fifth Creation.  Speak to us of peace and harmony, if you wish, or give us the ole' Bush-style fire-and-brimstone efforts to force the issue, but one way or another, your people need to be reassured in this time of imminent doom.


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R. Scott Peoples
 is perhaps better known as the resident historian at the liberal American web site Daily Kos, writing under the nom de plume "Unitary Moonbat." For about a year and a half his "History for Kossacks" series has been appearing most every Sunday.

His articles can be found at Daily Kos, Bits of News, Progressive Historians, and Never In Our Names