by John Lash
from MetaHistory Website
Discussion of this timing has been escalating rapidly for a number of years now, and not just in New Age circles. A great many internet sites and forums are dedicated to it. It is the main subject of Daniel Pinchbeck's book, 2012 The Return of Quetzalcoatl (which I have yet to read), and a dozen other speculative tomes.
Currently, John Major Jenkins and
Johan Calleman are slugging it out to see who will be the victorious
visionary of the 2012 countdown.
Having spent a good many years in the
practice of sky-watching and investigation into the Zodiacal
timeframe and various schemes of long-term chronology - Hindu,
Egyptian, Tibetan, Maya, Aztec, Persian, Mithraic, Gurdjieffian,
theosophical, anthroposophical, and others I forget - I feel obliged
to comment on this trendy topic.
Maya fresco thought
to depict the Flood, with volcano
The introduction of calendars to
regulate civic life and agricultural planning was a long and complex
process. In devising these systems, the calendar-makers did not
limit themselves to time in the human scale, but extended their
computations to countless thousands of years. Doing so, they
sometimes came up with remarkable figures.
This number caught the attention of Joseph Campbell, who observed that 4,320,000,000 years, or 4.32 billion years, is intriguingly close to the current estimate for the geological age of the earth, 4.5 billion years. (I apply the Hindu norm rather than the accepted geological estimate in my calculation of the age of Gaia.)
4320 is the base number that generates
the four Yugas of Hindu cosmology. It also shows up in the
chronology of prediluvian kings compiled by the Babylonian priest,
Berossus, and elsewhere. It is an artificial norm (a sacred
canonical unit, if you prefer) that also factors into various
geological, sidereal, solar, lunar, and planetary time cycles.
They calculated the cycles of Venus and the Earth as accurately as we do today, down to four decimal points. This mastery of verifiable time-cycles commands respect, and obliges us to look closely at their long-term extrapolations.
For the Maya and all other ancient peoples, verifiable and non-verifiable calculations were integral to a single system of sacred calendrics.
I see nothing woolly-minded in granting
some respect to their long-term timeframe, especially if something
can be learned from doing so.
The engravings that record the earliest dates are:
The last date recorded was January 909 CE.
The calendar uses a string of five units factored on a 20-base:
The stele or engraved stones with calendric glyphs record dates by hieroglyphs and dot and bar notations, showing the units by position.
Scholars notate the dates in five placements, from baktun to k'in, like this: 18.104.22.168.0, equivalent to June 18, 751 AD. December 21, 2012 is written 22.214.171.124.0. There are three standards of correlation and, you bet, a lot of quibbles and fine tuning in Maya chronology. (Stela drawing from Beyond 2012, used by permission. See box below.)
This is a total of 5126 years or 1,867,145 days.
This interval is close to 13 baktuns of 144,000 days each, so the
Maya Long Count is routinely called "thirteen baktuns." Not a
terribly long period of time as sacred calculations go, but long
enough to frame a vast historical perspective.
Because the Count is an increment of the full precessional cycle, it can be analyzed in parallel with the Zodiacal frame of precession.
The current debate centers on what is going to happen when the Count expires in December 2012, just five years and eleven months from now. I will be more precise: there was a new moon on the eve of the winter solstice, 21 December, 2006. This is exactly six years to the end of the Long Count. In six years there are 74 new moons (occurring on the synodic cycle of 29.53 days).
We can count down to the end-time by
lunar intervals. As I write these words, we are in the 74th moon.
So far, this has received considerably
less attention than the end date. But I would argue that outcome of
the Count will be reflected, in some manner and some measure, in the
initial conditions. If we are expecting something to end in 2012 CE,
it might be helpful to know what began, what conditions prevailed,
at the start date in 3114 BCE.
Hindu legend states that Kali Yuga, the
age of darkness or decadence in which we now live, began with the
death of Krishna on February 16, 3102 BCE. This is perhaps the most
famous date in sacred calendrics. Hindu calculations make the length
of Kali Yuga hugely longer than the Maya Long Count, but the
coincidence of start dates is striking. This is the Hindu-Maya
In Egyptian myth, the date 3102 BCE
designates the murder of Osiris, parallel to the death of Krishna.
This gives the Hindu-Maya-Egyptian correlation.
Buddhist and Hindu sources present a lot of material on Kali Yuga. In the Tantra of the Great Liberation, Shiva discourses to his consort Parvati on the deplorable conditions into which humanity will sink at the end of Kali Yuga.
Many of the things he describes are now commonplace in our world.
The prophecies of Padma Sambhava (Guru Rinpoche) from Tibetan tradition also present similar predictions, ranging from trivial social customs (people will eat standing up, and even running) to technological inventions (the metal bird will cross the skies) to spiritual decadence (guides to enlightenment will be sold on street corners).
Without evidence of what the calendar-makers believed, we are obliged to make up our own minds about the social, spiritual, and psychological aspects of the end-time. I may differ from other scholars in openly admitting that I am making up what I say about signs and prospects of the end-time.
Others more qualified than I tend to
claim that they draw their interpretations from ancient evidence, or
follow what the ancients believed, even though there is no written
account to tell us what the Maya believed.
Take what you like and leave the rest.
The death of Krishna and the murder of
Osiris represent mythogenetic moments (Campbell's term) when our
species' intrinsic access to the Sacred was ruptured. Consequently,
the cultural reflections and creative expressions of that access
began to decay dramatically.
In this perspective, Krishna is not an empowered patriarch but more like an Asian version of Eros, or a Hindu Dionysos. This view is consistent with the preponderance of Vaishnava scholarship.
(See the excellent anthology, The Divine Consort. Vaishnava is the name for cults dedicated to Krishna worship.)
Krishna and Radha,
Gita Govinda series,
Likewise, in the predynastic culture of southern Egypt, Osiris was the consort of Isis who was born at Dendera.
The supreme mother goddess of predynastic Egypt was Hathor, to whom the temple of Dendera was dedicated. Hathor was a female divinity without a male consort, except for her own offspring, Horus, who had no father. Her totemic animal was the vulture, said to be fertilized by the wind.
The Hathor-Horus myth points to the time
when men did not rule society and paternity was not the
determinative factor in social status or organization. That is, pre-Osirian
In the Denderic context, Osiris was an epiphany of the regenerative powers of nature, specifically the phylogenetic code.
Osiris represents the "ingrained" language or operating instructions of nature, the linga sharira ("long sheath") in Tantric terms, and Hathor was the ancient matriarchal guardian of his Mysteries. In Dynastic times, the priesthood who ran Egyptian theocracy elevated Osiris to status of a divine avatar, and made him the deific model of the theocratic ruler, the pharaoh.
Such is the hype typical of theocratic
scripting around the world.
With this decline, the human species
lost its gender balance, its natural moral disposition to goodness
and cooperation, and fell under the spell of patriarchal and
theocratic narratives such as the Egyptian and Babylonian fables of
divine kingship and, of course, the Old Testament tale of the Chosen
Well, here's a little trick I sometimes use in tracking historical patterns over the long term:
The 6th Century BCE was the moment when the Yahwist narrative of Genesis came into rigid formulation under the reforms of King Josiah (ruled 640 - 609), lauded as the ideal ruler in that brutal manifesto of theocracy, Deuteronomy.
Between 587 and 537 BCE a large part of
the Jewish nation was exiled to the city of Babylon. When they
returned to Canaan, the Yahwist scribes who were writing the program
of the father god merged their racial myth with Persian split-source
dualism, a world view that attributes good and evil to the same
To do so, I use the simple method of computing nodal moments:
This is as simple as it gets, yet it's amazing what kind of information this tool can generate, once you have a framing concept or heuristic phrase to tell you what to look for.
In this case, the heuristic tool is the concept "goddess-based
societies overthrown by theocratic agenda" or "nature-wisdom versus
revealed religion." The nodal moments reveal pivotal historical
events that make sense within the heuristically predefined frame.
The Code of Hammurabi (b. 1810) is the earliest surviving example of a totalitarian, male-mandated social agenda.
The transition into patriarchy gained huge momentum during
the period when the vernal point shifted from the Bull into the Ram,
Taurus to Aries, around 1850 BCE. No causality implied here, folks:
it is simply a matter of synchronal dynamics! It appears that
moments in historical time have a fractal or self-similar,
Egyptians called the Ram constellation Amon, and Alexander identified himself with Amon - that is, he deified himself. The priests at Siwa, who declared him the "Son of Amon" to appease the lonely boy's narcissistic fixation, disingenuously advised him to have himself pictured with ram's horns on coins.
These priests would have been veteran
skywatchers who knew that the horn motif matched the current
Quite often, nodal dates are amazingly precise. Note that scholars designate 731 as the exact year when Classical Maya civilization peaked out, and began to decline rapidly.
Here is an example of how a simple
time-factoring tool with no connection to the Maya calendar, and far
removed from the complex computations usually applied to it, can
generate discrete data-points consistent with the historical profile
of the Long Count.
741 saw the death of Byzantine Emperor Leo II who had successfully repelled the Arab invasion, as well as of Charles Martel, the key figure in resisting the Moorish advance into France (Gaul). With the major power-players shifting, Europe became more vulnerable to Islam, the most virulent form of theocratic fascism on earth.
The rise of Islam involved wide scale
genocide, often committed by Arabs against other Arabs, as seen
today in Iraq. In 750, Abu-Abbas al-Safah, a descendant of
Mohammed's uncle, founded the Abbasid dynasty that would establish
an Islamic empire to last for 350 years. Doing so, he massacred the
Umayyads, the competition surviving from the preceding dynasty.
Will the 2012 end-time be marked by an intensified replay of the Islamic offensive of 731 CE?
According to the Eurabia theory of Bat Ye'or, an Egyptian-born British historian who specializes in the experience of non-Muslims in Muslim countries, this is precisely the case. (See Wikipedia for an excellent article on this debate.)
While Europe Slept (Doubleday, 2006), American ex-pat author Bruce Dawer paints a frightening, tightly documented picture of the
Islamic subversion of democracy in Europe, especially in
Moslems demonstrating against what they view as intolerance toward Islam are manifesting the very intolerance they condemn, but they are succeeding in their demands for special exemption of their religion from rational criticism. Islam presents the endgame formula of patriarchy and dominator religion, the stage where it wins or destroys itself trying: the parasite destroys its host.
The initial conditions of the Long Count
culminate in the theocratic fascism of Islam with its program for
rigid social control, blind submission to revealed authority,
menacing intolerance, and sexual apartheid, all founded on a book
attributed to the creator god.
Male domination gained momentum when sacred kings were no longer anointed in rites of sexual congress with daughters of the Goddess.
(I have repeated this point numerous times on this site, and I don't like to repeat myself, but I insist that this is a key historical insight we cannot afford to ignore. Read Merlin Stone, When God Was A Woman.)
The suppression of goddess-oriented
society led to the success of patriarchy, the domination of nature,
and sexual apartheid - a pattern that can be traced in close
historical detail, if one is so inclined. All this was accomplished
by force and intimidation, of course, and by operating "by the
In the 8th century, Islam was spreading globally and Arabs battled with the Tang dynasty for control of central Asia. Moslems remained the dominant force in Transoxiana for 150 years. One consequence of the Arab-Chinese confrontation was the setting up of the first paper mill in the Muslim world.
This happened in 751 (20 years off the nodal date) in Samarkand after two Chinese prisoners of war revealed the technique of papermaking to their captors.
Immediately, Muslim scholars began to
use the new technology for translations of ancient Greek and Roman
writings, but also to produce copies of their revealed scripture,
the Koran, of course.
Then, around the "forward" nodal moment of 731 CE, Muslim scribes acquired the paper-based technology to spread their version of the story, inscribed in the Koran.
The pattern is clear:
The trick of nodal computation reveals
For women in Islamic societies, there
are penalties worse than death.
It is the mass-produced weapon of mass
destruction par excellence.
Over the last 5000 years, the entire human species has fallen under the thrall of The Book.
Not in His
Image, I propose the term narrative spell for the uncanny power of
the salvationist script that encodes the beliefs of
the three Abrahamic religions.
What they have received mindlessly,
without consent, they act out mindlessly, disregarding the free
choice of others. They behave as they believe. What they are told to
believe is inscribed in The Book (Torah, Bible, Koran).
If I recall correctly, the period of the beam matched the precessional cycle of 25,920 years.
Hence, Arguelles simply attached a
fantastic interpretation to known phenomenon of astronomical timing.
The Mayan Factor, he claimed that Maya civilization disappeared
(nodal moment: 731 CE) by dematerialization when some of the
population were teleported off the earth on that mysterious cosmic
beam, and predicted that the same would happen for many people in
2012. His theories won him two minutes of fame on CNN.
There may be a reprise of Arguelles' notion of dematerialization in some circles, but I would rather hope not.
Calls for escaping the planet will not be tolerated on this
site. I am probably out of touch with the pulsations of the new
crowd who are building expectation of 2012, but it looks to me like
the best options for the Maya end-time are erupting from the
orgiastic imagination of younger people in the counterculture,
people who are ignited with all manner of erotic, cosmic, artistic,
mantic, mythopoeic, and esoteric inspirations.
There is true mania in the air, a hint
of divine madness, a sense that fantastic things are possible in
life and art, that the world itself might be transfigured by acts of
imagination. (This is, of course, exactly what the Romantics
believed and proposed, a couple of hundred years ago.) A
multi-frequency surge of mystical confidence is spreading through
some areas of the youth culture.
We will realize the noosphere of Teilhard de Chardin, for instance. I have a gut feeling that this kind of high-toned chatter might be distracting us from the genuine possibilities of the moment ahead.
This type of speculation could be off the mark if it does not offer a message of change that specifically addresses the terminal social and material conditions of the Kali Yuga. It is one thing to claim a quantum leap into cosmic consciousness, and support it with abstruse computations that go back 16 billion years (Calleman), and another, say, to rally against the social menace of revealed religion.
The first is a mere hypothesis, glorious
or not, the second is a revolutionary stance, involving a call for
action and transformation.
If Sophia relies in some way on humanity
to achieve her correction, as the Gnostics taught, the human
condition will either contribute to that magnificent possibility, a
planetary course correction, or impede it. Any breakthrough around
2012 depends on how we view the human condition, regarding both
resistance to entering the correction, and the skill and inspiration
required to enter it.
My main criticism of the speculation is that, although it may use historical references, as seen in the close correlation of the "thirteen hells" and "nine heavens" to known events, etc., in Calleman's scheme, this approach does not identify the prevalent pathological motif of Kali Yuga:
As if millions of people around the world will wake up one day and see life in a totally different way than the day before. Such predictions of quantity are not helpful, I believe. They set up false expectations. Such a mass-scale shift could occur if it were to be triggered by an external event, such as the meltdown of the Greenland ice shelf.
Given a nuclear strike, a biological
terrorist attack, or a geological upheaval that devastates a major
urban area, the attention of the entire world would be affected, and
people would collectively and simultaneously have to adjust their
way of life to the new situation. Lacking such events, it is hard to
believe that masses of people will suddenly change their minds about
how we live on this planet.
This event could escalate into nuclear war in the Middle East, into WW III - something that may be bound to happen, if the current concatenation of historical events is not averted.
In due time, there is likely to be another terrorist event
in the USA, a biological attack on a major urban center, perhaps.
All the experts say that it is not a matter of if, but when, and a
large segment of the public are apprehensive, tensed for what is to
come. Such tension can be expected to reach excruciating heights in
the next six years.
These awful events would be happening whether or not the Count was down to its final years. They are not the result of calendric determinism, but the cumulative madness of history. They stem from initial conditions going back some 5000 years.
Elaborate breakdowns of the Count - the nine heaven periods
and thirteen hell periods, for instance - are exercises in mental
scheming, ways to impose a comfortable sense of order on events, but
such exercises do not, to my mind, prove the predictive power of the
The Count can be an heuristic tool that
allows us to frame events and learn something about the compulsive
patterns of history, as I've demonstrated above. As such, it need
not be taken for a mysterious oracle that has the power to bring
about what it foretells.
More like than not, it won't die with such elegant brevity.
But in the way we approach the
designated moment, mindful of the historical trajectory that brings
us to it, something crucial to ending the lethal spell of patriarchy
could be achieved.
These are obvious facts of modern life, but the peculiar force of Harris's argument throughout the book consists in his stating the obvious in such a way that it looks at once novel and alarming.
Once it is said, in just so many words,
that most people believe God has written a book, the belief looks
patently absurd. Yet we know this belief is universal, deep seated,
and longstanding. It determines the way a good many of people on
this planet behave.
It would also be the shift consistent with the historical profile of Kali Yuga sketched in the above paragraphs. Recall that we identified two nodal dates, 551 BCE and 731 CE, when the composition of the patriarchal agenda was highlighted. These were key dates in establishing domination by The Book:
Does the moment 2012 portend the
opportunity to disempower or even reverse those earlier moments? Are
such massive trends in psychosocial behavior reversible?
The certainty of frightening events that will disrupt or even destroy social and personal security almost totally precludes the possibility that masses of people will opt to throw off the narrative spell. On the contrary, they are likely to hunker down into it ever more deeply. They will fall on their faith when the system fails.
They will die with clenched hearts,
believing rather than liberated from belief.
Is this an elitist view of the
end-time opportunity? No, but it may be a genuine survivalist view.
If the antireligious debate signaled by The End of Faith were to escalate into an open public controversy, we would find ourselves living through an event that truly reflects optimal change for humanity. To openly challenge in public debate the sexual apartheid of Islam, for instance, would be a momentous event and a vast gain for positive change and social healing.
The problem today is, not only that
sexual apartheid exists - most blatantly in Islam, but also in the
other two Abrahamic religions, not to mention in Indian and Chinese
religion - but that it cannot be called into question, due to
perceived political incorrectness and fear of offending Muslims.
But what if this taboo also were suddenly to be challenged and overridden?
Suppose that it became acceptable to
confront and even offend people on their beliefs. Suppose the tables
were turned, and it was the offended party, not the offending party,
who must go on the defensive in the debate over religious beliefs
and faith-based principles. That would be a shift in social reality
and social syntax consistent with a breakaway from the narrative
spell of patriarchy that has dominated Kali Yuga.
This ruling introduces what could be a radical shift in the rules of discourse on faith issues. It changes the syntax of the debate over faith issues. The case concerned the leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin, who described Islam as a "vicious" religion.
Regardless of the source of the remark, it is true that offence is not incitement. Griffin did not say that Islam is a vicious religion and Muslims ought to be hanged. The latter phrase is sure-fire incitement. With the privilege of free expression comes the responsibility to use language in a sober, rational, and measured way: to be careful what you say, but not be so cautious that you never challenge or offend.
Any sane person of good conscience knows
what it is to talk incitement, and what it isn't.
I for one are offended by the use of sex in advertising, by the exploitation of children as fashion icons, by the entire educational system of Western culture, and a lot more.
The risk of being offended is a consequence of the free expression offered in an open society. Currently, it is taboo to offend Jews, Christians, or Muslims by saying anything critical or derogatory about their faith, their beliefs, and their customs, including how they dress, how they treat their children, and how they slaughter animals.
The fear of offending is not a measure of compassion or consideration, although it disguises itself as such. It a concession to the demand for special exemption exerted by members of these religions, who seek the advantage of enforcing their agenda by operating on values and beliefs that cannot, they insist, be questioned, criticized, or ridiculed.
But the demand for special exemption on
any issue whatsoever is inconsistent with the principles of an open
society (or civic society, as Harris calls it).
The society that succumbs to this demand is committing moral suicide (which is precisely what's happening in Europe, Bruce Bawer argues in his disturbing study, While Europe Slept.)
But the West, and especially European
society, has become ever more and more compliant with this demand
over the last few decades.
This is something worth discussing, not
as a mere expectation, but as a challenge for the 2012 moment.
Metahistory.org proposes belief change as the single most powerful
act that can make a difference for human life on this planet today.
Some essays on this site exemplify realistic expectations we might
hold for a positive grand finale of the Long Count: for instance,
The Promise of a Lonely Planet.
But if a society at large complies with
the demand for special exemption, the faith-based program of
patriarchal domination that got rolling into high gear at the start
of Kali Yuga will prevail, down to the last man standing.
As it stands now, anyone who even jokes
about the Prophet can be threatened with death. It is bad enough
that Muslims feel this way, but worse that infidels in the
"democratic West" are willing to appease their feelings. Freed of
the threats routinely expressed by outraged Moslems, the
antireligious debate would grow to considerable proportions, or at
least it would have a chance to grow.
Many people could then become involved
in the debate, and who knows how many might undergo a radical change
of heart regarding God, salvation, and survival? To see something
like this happening in the next six years would be one of the best
outcomes of the Long Count.
There is also another major path toward the breakthrough into a future safe for debate and difference...
I will present my ideas on this subject
in the companion article, now in development:
The Discovery of the