Well, this is it folks. We’ve reached the end of our countdown (and quite possibly the end of mankind, the Earth and perhaps existence itself).
What’s so special about 2012? Well, nothing. Then again, a lot. If you have spent a year on a very remote island with no Internet access and just logged on today (you were wise to come here first) there are two things you need to know about 2012 online. Gangnam Style and the apocalypse, two things that may or may not be related
Think of “Apocalypse, December 21, 2012”. What is the first word that pops into your mind? Let me do a psychic reading…. I’m picking up
Uncanny how I just knew that, isn’t it? That leads me to think that before we visit our friends the Mayans, we should foray into parapsychology. Meet Terence McKenna.
McKenna is perhaps best known for his advocacy of drugs as a means to spiritual enlightenment. However, he also worked on a theory which described the universe as a result of the amount of “novelty” in it.
Basically, Timewave zero claims that the Universe is being “pulled from the future toward a goal that is as inevitable as a marble reaching the bottom of a bowl when you release it up near the rim…it comes to rest at the lowest energy state, which is the bottom of the bowl. That’s precisely my model of human history.” Got that? Well, what if I told you that it is based on an undisclosed numerological analysis of the King Wen sequence of the I Ching?
There are many people who claim that McKenna was simply trolling people with this theory. Considering his interest in Alistair Croweley and Robert Anton Wilson, who both could be magnificient trolls, this is far from impossible.
Now, according to McKennas theory, sometime in late November 2012, the novelty function would reach 0 which, supposedly would kick off some grand transformation of things. McKenna later moved the goalpost to have his end date coincide with that of the Mayan calender.
I won’t go into detail about the calendar itself since this has been covered extensively by most everyone already. However, there is one important fact I’d like to stress.
The Aztec calendar doesn’t “end” until 2027 so if you miss your apocalypse/spiritual awakening this time around (it’s already December 22 i New Zealand for instance), you’ll have another chance in just 15 years.
So why did these theories become so popular? First of all, doomsday predictions aren’t a recent invention in any way. “A Brief History of the Apocalypse” has a very nice summary of Doomsday dates – past and present.
And it’s easy to see why people are prone to Doomsday thinking. After all, we have a hard time picturing a world without ourselves in it. Yet we know we are all going to die. Then the thought of being special as in “the Last Generation” is a comforting thought.
Like with most conspiracy narratives, once an idea has reached critical mass it becomes hard to stop. And the Mayan 2012 prediction had many appealing aspects. Not only did it promise people of the 21st century that they were special, it also feeds into the idea that ancient civilizations are automatically wiser than modern humans. Nevermind that our best scientists can’t predict the time for the Universe’s ultimate demise through heat death, let alone to a specific date. The Mayans, Sumerians, Egyptians or Atlanteans probably could, somehow.
There are other 2012 doomsday theories as well. While most of these are made later than and dependant on the Mayan calendar theory (picking a date has to be one of the hardest aspects of formulating a Doomsday theory, which one would you pick?). There are some who seem to predate and/or have been made without knowledge of the Mayan calendar.
The mentioned I Ching from China and the Brahma-Vaivarta Purana from India both seem to hint at some sort of change coming in or around 2012. And the New Age theory about the Age of Aquarius certainly did help prepare people’s minds for the idea that a major change, discoverable through celestial interpretations, was imminent.
But these are all vague theories and have been vastly outcompeted by the Mayan calendar. Thus spake the market forces of ideas. If you’re interested in these ideas, check out this sweet Bollywood style summary
There are prophecies that came very close to 2012 as well. In 1139, St. Malachy allegedly published his prophecy of the popes. While this was almost certainly a much later fabrication (it was first published in 1595 and the initial predictions
are suspiciously correct prove that this is true). In the prophecy, a list of future popes is presented, ending with pope 268, “Peter the Roman”. We are currently on pope 267 (whose name “Glory of the Olive” supposedly hints to St. Benedict who had an olive branch in his crest as well as being the inspiration for the current pope’s papal name). Of course this theory will be massively popular once the current pope is succeeded but it sure would have got more traction should this had happened in the recent past.
And then of course there is Peter Gersten, the “Leap of faith guy”
I’ll leave you with Neil deGrasse Tyson. I’ll see you, my dear sheeple here next year (knock on wood, still some December 21 left to overcome) for more Tinfoil Fun! Have a Merry Solstice and a Happy New Pole Shift.