So the doomongers have been proved wrong once again. I don’t think a month, most definitely a year, goes by where some pseudo-soothsayer predicts the end of the world. Most can be dismissed as complete nutters but the danger is that many of them tend to be extremely charismatic and dupe the easily lead into their realm of fantasy. The 2012 Maya Prophecy somehow transcended the usual religous apocalyptics. Indeed the volume of books dedicated to this date has been unprecedented in modern history with even NASA releasing a statement and a video debunking the many theories of how the world would end. Not since the year 2000 and the y2k bug has the general populace taken an end of the world theory to its heart.
You are reading this post therefore one can safely say that the world didn’t end and there was no change in world consciousness. No messiah nor no supreme being waved a magic wand and destroyed the non-believers and made the lives of the believers spiritually enhanced. The Sun did not bathe the Earth in lethal radiation; the poles did not flip; ice caps did not melt; a black hole wasn’t formed at Cern; Planet X didn’t fly by and fire did not consume us all. Indeed we all still had to buy Christmas presents.
What was all this based on? Well apparently the winter solstice 2012 marked the conclusion of a b’ak’tun (the 13th – which is probably why many Westerners have such an easy time believing something bad will happen), a time period in the Mesoamerican long count calendar equivalent to 5,125 years, (in truth the precise end of this b’ak’tun is in dispute as it is not a precise art to deduce when the b’ak’tun began).
So the Maya believed that this would mark the end of the world? No. There is no suggestion that they even viewed this more momentously than the turn of a year. So whence did the ‘Mayan 2012’ prophecy industry germinate? Probably it says more about our own Western Apocalyptic view of the world, driven by the major monotheistic religions added to our Newtonian view of time as an arrow without any comprehension of the meaning of time to the Maya or any understanding of their culture.
Was this a wide known belief of the Maya? Actually no. There is but one stele in the relatively obscure provincial town of Tortuguero that mentions (it is the only mention) of the end of the 13th pik (b’ak’tun) unfortunately there is a large chunk of it missing and so anything that anyone infers from the remaining words is open to a large dollop of conjecture. If you actually read peer-reviewed translations of the stele (which I must rely on as my knowledge of the language of the Maya is non-existant), you get a completely different picture to most airport paperbacks. ‘[On 18.104.22.168.0] will happen, the witnessing/attending of the display of Bolon Yokté in the great impersonation (envelopment in costume and regalia).‘ For me this is reminiscent of a more contemporary source: ‘Say, say, two thousand, zero, zero party over oops, out of time. So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s nineteen ninety nine.‘ However it seems that to date it may only be me that has realised the connection between Prince and the Tortuguero stele. My theory (which is as valid as any of the other eschatologists) is that Prince is a time travelling Maya from the planet Nibiru come to save the world with his purply music – or indeed has saved the world with his purply music (that’s the trouble with time travel). Think I may have missed the market with that one though.
If you needed any more convincing before today that it was all a load of tosh, then there are many inscriptions mentioning future events and commemorations that occur on dates beyond the completion of the 13th b’k’tun. There is an inscription on the west panel at the Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque that refers to the 21st October 4772 A.D. Another at Coba gives an impossible date that is 41 octillion years in the future (this date is 2 quintillion times the current estimate for the age of the universe). So let us not get dewy-eyed over the infallibility of Maya (or any other) prophecies (or indeed the interpretation of ancient manuscripts) and hope that the 1000 or so (I wonder if there are as many as 2012) eschatologists that have filled our bookstores with tomes about the 2012 apocalypse have put enough of their savings away to see them into their old age.
Unless Harold Camping (or indeed another prophet who has not yet appeared on my doomsday radar) issues another apocalypse countdown, the next date for your doomsayer diary is Tuesday 19th January 2038 (the so called Y2038 problem) but we have nearly 25 years to sort that one out and friendly linux programmers already are on the case. So, tonight rest easy in your beds and look forward to Christmas and the year 2013.
Peace and Love