The end of the world as we know it - Page 2

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

Fueled by insights derived from mushroom-fueled shamanic vision quests in Latin America, writer and ethnobotanist Terence McKenna developed his "timewave" theories about expanding human consciousness, using the I Ching to divine the date of Dec. 21, 2012 as the beginning of expanded human consciousness and connection. And for good measure, the Chinese zodiac's transition from dragon to snake also supposedly portends big changes.

In countries with strong beliefs in myth and mystical thinking, there's genuine anxiety about the Dec. 21 date. A Dec. 1 front page story in The New York Times reported that many Russians are so panicked about Armageddon that the government put out a statement claiming "methods of monitoring what is occurring on planet Earth" and stating the world won't end in December.

Here in the US, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was also concerned enough about mass hysteria surrounding the galactic alignment and Mayan calendar that it set up a "Beyond 2012: Why the World Won't End" website and has issued press statements to address people's eschatological concerns.

So what's going to happen? There are authors, scholars, and researchers who have devoted big chunks of their lives to the topic. Two of the most prominent are Daniel Pinchbeck, author of 2012: The Return of Quetzacoatl and star of the documentary film 2012: A Time for Change and John Major Jenkins, who has written nearly a dozen books on 2012 and Mayan cosmology over the last 25 years.

"I never proposed anything specific was going to happen on that date. I think of it as a hinge-point on the shift," Pinchbeck told me.

But there are those who hope and believe that the end of 2012 marks an auspicious moment in human evolution — or at least that it represents a significant step in the transformation process — and they seem fairly patient and open-minded in their perspectives on the subject.

"The debunking type isn't some rational skeptic. They are true believers in the opposite," Jenkins said. "We don't know what's going to happen. We've been filtering 2012 through some kind of Nostradomus filter."

Jenkins and others like him have been clear in stating that they aren't expecting the apocalypse. Instead, they emphasize the view by the Mayans and other ancient thinkers that this is a time for renewal and transformation, the dawning of a new era of cooperation.

"I think the Maya understood that there are cycles of time," Jenkins said. "2012 was selected by the Maya to target this rare procession of the equinoxes."

If the ancients had a message for modern people, it was to learn from our observations about what's going on all around us. As Jenkins said, "They recognized their connection to the natural world and the connection of all things.

ACHIEVING SYNTHESIS

Many Bay Area residents are now headed down to Chichen Itza, Mexico, where the classic Mayans built the Pyramid Kukulkan with 365 faces to honor the passing of time — and where the Synthesis 2012 Festival will mark the end of the Mayan calendar with ceremonies and celebrations.

"It's probably one of the most pointed to and significant times ever," Synthesis Executive Producer Michael DiMartino told me, noting that his life's work has been building to this moment. "As a producer, I'm very focused on the idea of spiritual unity and events with intention."

DiMartino told me he believes in the significance of the galactic alignment and the ending of the Mayan calendar, but he sees the strength of the event as bringing together people with a wide variety of perspectives to connect with each other.

"We're at a crossroads in human history, and the crossroads are self-preservation or self-destruction," he said. "Synthesis 2012 is the forum to bring people together into a power place."

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