The end of the world as we know it

Pondering the alarmist, the mystical, the way-out-there ... and the surprisingly hopeful sides of Dec. 21, 2012

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"There is a strange parallel with what the ancient Maya foresaw": author John Major Jenkins

steve@sfbg.com

It's easy to dismiss all the hype surrounding the auspicious date of December 21, 2012. There's the far-out talk of Mayan prophecy and the galactic alignment. There's the pop-culture lens that envisions the apocalypse. There are the extraterrestrials, about to return.

But even the true believers in Mayan folklore and its New Age interpretations say there's no end of the world in sight. Time doesn't end when the Mayan cycle concludes; it's actually a new beginning.

And even some of the most spiritually inclined on the 12/21 circuit agree that it's highly unlikely that anything of great moment will happen during this particular 24-hour period in history. The sun will rise and set; the winter solstice will pass; we'll all be around to see tomorrow.

In fact, instead of doomsday, the most optimistic see this as a signpost or trigger in the transformation of human consciousness and intentions. Their message — and it isn't at all weird or spacey or mystical — is that the world badly needs to change. And if all the attention that gets paid to this 12/21 phenomenon reminds people of what we have to do to save the planet and each other, well — that's worth getting excited about.

Check out the news, if you can bear it: Global warming, mass extinctions, fiscal cliffs, social unrest. Now stop and turn the channel, because we're also writing another story — technological innovation, community empowerment, spiritual yearning, social exploration, and global communication.

Both ancient and modern traditions treat the days surrounding the solstice is a time for reflection and setting our intentions for the lengthening, brightening days to come. And if we take this moment to ponder the course we're on, maybe the end of the world as we know it might not be such a bad thing.

THE LONG VIEW

The ancient Mayans — who created a remarkably advanced civilization — had an expansive view of time, represented by their Long Count Calendar, which ends this week after 5,125 years. Like many of our pre-colonial ancestors whose reality was formed by watching the slow procession of stars and planets, the Mayans took the long view, thinking in terms of ages and eons.

The Long Count calendar is broken down into 13 baktuns, each one 144,000 days, so the final baktun that is now ending began in the year 1618. That's an unfathomable amount of time for most of us living in a country that isn't even one baktun old yet. We live in an instantaneous world with hourly weather forecasts, daily horoscopes, and quarterly business cycles. Even the rising ocean levels that we'll see in our lifetimes seem too far in the future to rouse most of us to serious action.

So it's even more mind blowing to try to get our heads around the span of 26,000 years, which was the last time that Earth, the sun, and the dark center of the Milky Way came into alignment on the winter solstice — the so-called "galactic alignment" anticipated by astrologists who see this as a moment (one that lasts around 25-35 years, peaking right about now) of great energetic power and possibility. The Aztecs and Toltecs, who inherited the Mayan's calendar and sky-watching tradition, also saw a new era dawning around now, which they called the Fifth Sun, or the fifth major stage of human development. For the Hindus, there are the four "yugas," long eras after which life is destroyed and recreated. Ancient Greece and early Egyptians also understood long cycles of time clocked by the movement of the cosmos.

Comments

I'm not a high falutin book learned Astronomer and all.

As the Earth and the sun revolve around each other on a plane with the rest of the Milky Way, I suspect they align about once every 24 hours with everything in the Milky Way, including it's rich carmel center. Sometimes on, Yom Kipper, Ramadan, the vernal equinox or even Boxing Day.

Posted by matlock on Dec. 18, 2012 @ 9:48 pm

21 XII 2012 ev. - 11:11 (in US etc.) - Be in your natural vibration 8 minutes, only that counts ;-)
GAIA needs us!

Cheers and Happy New Year (and World)

Posted by polish_SHMN on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 10:16 am

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Posted by iPhone 4 jailbreak on Oct. 19, 2013 @ 1:33 am

Steven, how can you call for an end to the macro monetary system that is choking the planet while allowing your friendships with the nonprofit and labor employees locally to trump your better judgement in calling on them to end the nexus of corruption with the local 1% in the name of progressivism that is choking the San Francisco we know and love to death?

If you're allowing local friendships to blind you to make the sacrifices to discard a similarly wedged system, wedged in favor of unsustainable power, then how can we expect the massive sacrifices required to move towards a low impact sustainable post speculative economy and culture?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 11:52 am

This interesting for a blog, but not for a publication that takes its coverage of San Francisco issues seriously.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

occasional weaknesses for pot, burning man, nightclub and new agey stuff.

He's just a blissed out hippie at heart, albeit a rather ageing one. They're extinct in most places, so let's cherish him.

Posted by anonymous on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

More esoteric belief suggests that when the pineal gland is awakened or activated, as during the time prompt or 11:11 experience, there is the feeling of pressure at the base of the brain. This pressure is described as the effect of connecting to higher resonances or frequencies than normally experienced. Thus, the belief by many is that perhaps time prompts are leading us to the period of awakening in this higher reality, once often associated with increased paranormal activity and psychic abilities. The coming year 2012, with its connection to the end date of the Mayan Long Count Calendar, has been connected with the awakening of the pineal gland in the large numbers of humans, causing a huge shift in the awareness, consciousness, and perception. "As human beings continue to evolve further out of matter, on the journey from spirit to matter back to spirit, the pineal gland will continue to rise from its state of age-long dormancy, bringing back to humanity astral capacities and spiritual abilities," states the Website Crystalinks.

Not me, from a book I read. But it is rather interesting.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 21, 2012 @ 3:05 am