Dear, Cherished and Precious Children of the Earth,
Winter Solstice is here again. It’s been three months since the Fall Equinox and the great Wheel of the Year is turning. The longest night of the year, that holy and silent night is upon us. After Solstice, the sun will be born anew, strengthening its light till Summer stretches into the longest day. Since we are all human, we’re affected by this cycle whether we think about it or not. As the dark increases we grow anxious, we need more sleep, more time with loved ones. We fully expect the sun to return, but you never know….
Our ancestors marked this time of year with merry-making, gift giving, singing and making sure everyone was included. I think there is great wisdom in that. And there is great wisdom in standing outside, under the stars, with reverence for that vast Mystery all around us.
This Solstice is becoming famous for being “the end of the world” and it does seem as if everything is becoming more extreme and polarized. If we’re not experiencing fear, we’re not paying attention. But at the same time, if we’re not experiencing hope, we’re not seeing what’s right in front of us.
In the language of astrology, we are caught between Pluto, Lord of the Underworld, Power Incarnate and Inducer of Great Fear –and Uranus, the Great Awakener, our most inspired possibilities. These two planets appear to be in a square (90 degree) angle to each other. Square aspects are always asking the question: How can these two parts learn to respect each other and co-exist?
Whether we’re talking about our individual lives or the world’s crisis, we need to find a way for our fears and our hopes to come into balance and work together.
The procession of the Equinoxes has brought us to the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. For that past 2,000+ years we have been in the Age of Pisces, a merged, co-dependent kind of consciousness that likes to feel part of something that differentiated us from the vastness of the infinite universe. Religions, Nations, Tribes…. there was a kind of security in feeling “it’s us against them.”
The Age of Aquarius is said to be a view of life that begins to include a consciousness of our individual independence and our mutual interdependence. We are all in this together. And we are all separate. Adamantly independent, Aquarius is the part of life that values freedom above all else and yet desires to collaborate and create something that works for everyone.
A “world” is ending, it’s true. We are evolving, learning, growing. Of course we are all afraid. But don’t forget the hope. Because amazingly wonderful things are being born.
Happy Solstice, Everyone.
Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness
by Mary Oliver
Every year we have been witness to it: how the world descends
into a rich mash, in order that it may resume. And therefore who would cry out
to the petals on the ground to stay, knowing as we must, how the vivacity of what was is married
to the vitality of what will be? I don’t say it’s easy, but what else will do
if the love one claims to have for the world be true?
So let us go on, cheerfully enough, this and every crisping day,
though the sun be swinging east, and the ponds be cold and black, and the sweets of the year be doomed.
“Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness” by Mary Oliver, from A Thousand Mornings.
See below for more information about the Precession of the Equinoxes, Solstice Celebrations and an interesting article from NASA. (all information to be digested with a ‘grain of salt’)
Precession of the Equinoxes Determines Astrological Ages and Mayan Great Ages
By Sandra Musser
Precession causes much more than changes in our view of the night sky. When a Mayan Great Cycle or Astrological Age changes it affects everything on earth including us, physically and psychologically. This may surprise you, but if you really think about it, the full moon has been proven to have dramatic effects at times on a person’s mood. Many doomsday prophecies are based on these sometimes massive cycle changes including the Mayan prophecies for 2012.
The common thread that creates the uncanny resemblances between the Greek/Egyptian Astrological Ages and the Mayan Great Ages is the ancient people’s knowledge of precession. Our ancestors were much closer to nature than we are today, and they realized over time that what happened in the cosmos above affected events on the earth and all life below.
Add to this the Hindu yugas, you have a number of galactic and planetary indicators that point to great change coming in and around 2012. The fact is, it has already begun.
The stars and constellations appear to slowly rotate around the Earth. This is caused by the earths own rotation within the greater rotation of the universe. Like a wobbling top, the orientation of the Earth’s axis is slowly but continuously changing as it traces out a conical shape over a 25,625 years cycle.
About every 2,160 years the sun moves into another new zodiacal constellation. The years between constellation changes, which are caused by precession, are approximate because constellations are of different sizes. Other planets cause planetary precession due to their gravitational force on the Earth. This occurs because of the small angle to Earths orbital plane, the ecliptic. These factors cause the plane of the ecliptic to shift slightly, so the Sun crosses the Equator at a little different point every year.
This movement is called precession of the equinoxes. As it shifts, the present constellation in the pre-dawn eastern sky slowly edges out the next constellation, which moves in to take it’s place. Right now we are in the Age of Pisces. The Aquarius constellation, for the Age of Aquarius is slowly replacing the Pisces constellation. It is through precession that the ancient people became aware of Astrological Ages and the Mayan Great Ages. Most ancient cultures looked to the night sky to anticipate changes that would happen here on earth.
Astrological Ages and Mayan Great Ages have many similarities.
The twelve Astrological Ages all last about 2,160 years. Each is marked by a radical change in the environment or cultures or both. A great cycle which includes all the twelve zodiac signs lasts about 25,625 years. I find it very interesting that a full Astrological Age cycle of twelve signs, lasts the same amount of time as the Mayan Grand Cycle of five ages. The Egyptians and the Mayans who recognized these cycles were on opposite sides of the world with no physical contact. Both types of Ages record the progress of precession.
The difference between the two, is the Mayas five Great Cycles each last about 5,125 years. For both, when completed, the cycle begins again in a never-ending circle of repeating Ages. The Aquarian Age also marks the beginning of the next Mayan Great Age.
Why you should care about precession and it’s effects.
Precession occurs gradually, and its influences on humankind as well as the earth also occur gradually. When one Astrological Age officially changes to the next, the influences of the coming age are felt far before the change actually occurs. But, the earth doesn’t necessarily move through the zodiac at the same speed for each Astrological Age. This makes an exact calculation of a calendar date difficult.
I’m going to give you an example of precession you can pinpoint yourself in the night sky. Right now, the star Polaris is at about the north celestial pole. Polaris is the bright star located straight up from the far lip of the Big Dipper. Over time it shifts position in our vision and other stars will eventually replace it as the North Star. It’s in a much different position now than it was before Christ. The Maya have a myth about the shifting pole star. It’s called the Popul Vuh.
The zodiac is a belt or band of constellations or star through which the Sun, Moon and planets transit across the sky. The changes we’re experiencing right now in our climate, socially, and personally are not unique. The world has gone through massive changes many times. What’s interesting…they appear to occur when the dominant constellation in the pre-dawn night sky changes through precession.
We are living in an era of change. This occurs before the dawn of the next Astrological and Great Age slated to take place about December 21, 2012 on the solstice.
Precession is the reason the Earth is changing so quickly socially, economically and environmentally.
“When we understand what the darkness of our cycle means and why it’s necessary, we begin to see the great challenges of our time in a new light…our response to the changes that come with it take on a new meaning. With these ideas in mind, it becomes even clearer that “now is the best time” for us to go through such a cycle. The reason is that “now is the first time” we have the understanding, the need and the technology to reach into the realm of all possibilities and choose the kind of future that will arise from the chaos of the present.” Fractal Time, Gregg Braden
The Maya called this moment in precession, “The Time of No Time.” It’s during this period that the completion of the transition from one Age to the next occurs. It’s not just a change in Ages either. A whole new set of values replaces the old values before the cycle begins again. The changes are more obvious in the Astrological tendencies of different Zodiacal signs in each person.
The darkest moment is just before the dawn of the next Astrological and Great Age…We are in the darkest moment right now.
The Egyptians and the Maya were a world apart. But, they were synchronized with their views on precession and it’s relationship to the earth
The ancient cultures and astrologers today believe that what happens above in the cosmos, happens here on earth. Below is a summary of significant changes that occurred from one Astrological Age to the next during our human history. All dates are approximate. A lot of this information came from a seminar I attended by Dehyana Lim Lee from Anchoring the Light called Esoteric Teachings.
The Age of Leo
ca. 10,970 BC to 8810 BC, The Golden Age.
It was believed by many geologists that the Sphinx was constructed in the 4th Dynasty. But that theory has been dispelled because the erosion patterns on the Sphinx are not of sand and wind, but clearly of water. So it’s much older than earlier thought. What is most interesting is the construction of the Sphinx pre-dates civilization. Humans were still hunters and gathers at this time. Since civilization as we know it didn’t exist then, who built it? Hmmmmmmm!
The fact that the Sphinx is in the shape of a lion with a human head gives it major astronomical significance. The Sphinx appears to have been created just prior to the beginning of the Age of Leo, the lion. Leo was the pre-dawn constellation in the eastern sky during the spring equinox an hour before dawn where the sun rose. The Sphinx gazes directly east where the constellation of Leo would have rose through precession of the equinoxes in 10,970 BC to 8810BC.
Global warming was a major event at this time causing melting of ice caps and a rise of 300 feet in sea levels. This rise in sea level eroded the Sphinx. This all makes sense when you realize that Leo is a “Fire” sign and is ruled by the Sun astrologically marking global warming. It was also during this time that carved stone oil lamps with a continuous burn were invented, which represents light and heat.
The Age of Cancer
ca. 8600 BC to 6450 BC – The Age of the Great Mother.
The feminine was revered at this time as the creator of all life…birthing, nurturing and protecting. This is the age of the goddess and is ruled by the Moon. Cancer is a water sign and people started to realize the connection between the tides and the moon. Massive loss of coastal areas was still in effect on earth from the elevated sea levels.
Civilization and the domestication of farm animals like pigs, goats and bees began at this time. Various food plants were also domesticated starting the agricultural era. Cancer is associated with the home. People started to settle into permanent dwellings.
The transition seems to have been everywhere with the development of civilization in Sub-Sahara Africa between 9000-7000 BC. These areas went from being largely nomadic hunters and gatherers to a settled domesticated lifestyle.
There’s evidence of the widespread use of boats representing Cancer’s water sign. An increase in the making of pottery signifies the protective vessel, which is one of Cancer’s archetypes.
The Age of Gemini
ca. 6450 BC to 4300 BC – The Age of Communicate, Trade and the Twins, duality.”
The role of men and women in reproduction was starting to be understood.
Adam and Eve came into being at this time, presenting duality and the division between the masculine and feminine energies within. The transition was starting to move away from the feminine as the revered symbol.
Language and symbols were coming into being, making this Age a time of writing. Trade between cultures started to accelerate. the constellation of Gemini was seen as two people holding hands, which could have been symbolic for trade and communication as well as duality.
The wheel was used for the first time for transportation. Shakti Energy (Milky Way), and how the energy moves through the signs and the chakras was starting to be understood. Also, how the Universe is the same as the body was recognized. All are connected.
The Age of Taurus
ca. 4300 BC to 2150 BC – The Age of Earth, Agriculture and the Bull.
Bull worshiping cults began to form in Assyria, Egypt and Crete. The building of pyramids began signifying the bull through solidity, stability, and attempts at eternity. Figures on Egyptian pyramids and temples had bull’s horns at this time.
Avatars were now here, and there are more attuned individuals or spiritually realized people.
Taurus is associated with the smelting of copper, tin, and bronze. Swords came into being in the early phases of this era. Papyrus was invented enabling improved writing techniques. One can envision within the Taurus glyph the image of the partially unrolled scroll.
Many of the traits representative of Taurus start to appear such as stubbornness and strength. But on the other hand, sensuality can also be seen as in the Ancient Egyptian civilizations. In fact the sacred bull, the Apis, was the Egyptian symbol of life.
The followers of Moses worshiped a golden calf when he descended from the mountains with the ten commandments in this time period.
The Age of Aries
ca. 2150 BCE and ending about AD 1. – The Age of War, Fire and the Ram.
People revered the sun in Egypt. Aries represents a Fire symbol as well as bold actions. The Ram is the patriarchal society of butting heads. This age is known for courage, initiative, war and adventure. The Chinese, Persian, Greek and Roman empires expanded during this age. Aries is associated with the metal iron, which was smelted and made into swords at this time, replacing bronze.
There was an upsurge in originality with the development of the sciences and the arts.
The earliest attempts at the idea of one God came into being with Akhenaten, an Egyptian Pharaoh about 1350 BC, when he decreed the Sun God Aten, as the supreme deity. Freud felt that Moses was inspired to embrace the idea of one God who favored his people through Akhenaten’s lead.
Hackear, the goddess who dressed like a man, built Carnack temple in Egypt. She knew the age of the goddess was coming to an end and masculine dominance was coming in. Luxor temple was built at this time. It’s the body of a human with the different chakras.
And, it’s possible that during the transition from Taurus to Aries, Moses condemned his people for worshiping the golden calf. It was Moses who used his will to part the Red Sea.
The sacrifice of Abraham’s ram occurred most likely at the end of the Age of Aries.
The Age of Pisces
Present Age: AD 1 to AD 2150 or less – The Age of Monotheism, Spirituality and the Fish.
The Age of Aquarius
Beginning about 2012 or possibly 2150 – The Age of Freedom, Technology (especially electricity), and the Water Bearer.
There is some dispute about when the Age of Aquarius begins. Some astrologers place it as far out as AD 2600.
The goal of God/The Universe is to create a perfect human being through our evolution of consciousness. At the beginning of each new age, the tendencies from history are reset and replayed. These tendencies are reintroduced with the values of the new Astrological or Great Age in a continuous cycle.
These cycles will continue till the goal of the divine is achieved. There are negative as well as positive traits to each Astrological sign and Mayan Great Age. It’s up to us to figure out which we choose to live from…the positive or the negative. What we choose will be our experience.
Research Astrological Age, Precession of the Equinoxes, John McBrewster, Frederic Miller, Agnes Vandome Age of Aquarius, – answers.com Esoteric Teachings Seminar – Dehyana Lim Lee, Anchoring the Light Fractal Time – Gregg Baden Precession of the Equinox – Western Washington University Planetarium Esoteric Astrology – by Alice Bailey
The Northern Hemisphere Winter Solstice, between December 20 and 23, is the time of year when the night is longest and the day shortest. What happened to the sun? If, in ancient times, you believed in gods and goddesses who take an active interest in human life, you might have thought it smart to do something to make the gods happy again so they might bring back the light. Why not honor them either with a great festival to persuade them to bring it back or a kind of gift-giving birthday party for the sun’s annual rebirth? This may be at the origin of the winter solstice holidays.
The Saturnalia was a major holiday for the ancient Romans, with drinking, gift-giving, bonfires, candles, role reversals for slaves and masters. It lasted a variable number of days from 3-7 or more, depending on how successful the emperor was at legislating. Saturn (Cronus in Greek) was the original creator of man in the Golden Age, when there was no winter and everyone was happy. Saturn was ousted by his son Jupiter (Zeus) and life took a decidedly downward turn. See Saturnalia.
Hanukkah – Jewish Festival of Lights:
Hanukkah (Hanukah / Hanuka / Chanukah) is a festival of lights that is symbolized by the candelabrum known as a menorah. Hanukkah celebrates a lighting miracle when one night’s worth of oil lit candles for 8 days. Special foods and gift-giving are also a part of Hanukkah. See Hanukkah.
Dies Natalis Solis Invicti :
Mithras was an Iranian Zoroastrian god who was popular with Roman soldiers. Mithras was created by the chief deity, Ahura-Mazda, to save the world. The day of the virgin birth of Mithras was December 25 (the solstice) it was also referred to as Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, which means the birthday of the unconquered sun.
Brumalia was a Greek winter holiday associated with Dionysus and wine. By the time of the winter Brumalia, the wine was ready to be poured into jars for drinking. Although a Greek holiday, the name Brumalia is Latin, bruma being the Latin for Winter Solstice.
In A.D. 354, the birth of Jesus Christ was set on December 25. The date is not believed to be accurate and is the same as the birth date of Mithras. Like the other holidays, Christmas is celebrated with festivity and gift-giving. It seems to have taken over Mithras and Saturnalia traditions.
The Hindu Sankranti historically takes place on the Solstice, although the date is January 14, which gives evidence to how much time has elapsed since it started. It is believed that people who die on this day end the reincarnation cycle, for which reason it is very lucky. Gifts are exchanged, sweets and other special food are consumed, and bonfires are lit on Sankranti eve, which is known as Lohari.
Besides light and gift-giving, food is a big part of the millennia of holiday tradition. The English Boar’s Head carol relates to the presentation of a boar’s head to royalty. In Norse mythology, a boar was presented to Freyr at the solstice. For more on the boar, and the song lyrics, see Boar’s Head Carol.
This guest article on 2012 was written by E. C. Krupp, Director of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and is reprinted with permission from Sky & Telescope Magazine. The publisher and the author reserve all rights. All opinions are the author’s own.
The year 2012 is acting like a badly behaved celebrity. Frightful rumors and gossip are spreading. Already more than a half dozen books are marketing, to eager fans, astronomical fears about 2012 End Times. Opening in theaters on Friday, Nov. 13, will be 2012, a $200-million disaster movie that seems designed to break all records for disaster spectacles — with cracking continents, plunging asteroids, burning cities, and a tsunami throwing an aircraft carrier through the White House. The movie’s ominous slogan: “Find out the truth.” Two other major movies about the 2012 doomsday are also reported to be in the works.
Anyone who cruises the internet or all-night talk radio knows why. The ancient Maya of Mexico and Guatemala kept a calendar that is about to roll up the red carpet of time, swing the solar system into transcendental alignment with the heart of the Milky Way, and turn Earth into a bowling pin for a rogue planet heading down our alley for a strike.
None of it is true. People you know, however, are likely becoming a bit afraid that modern astronomy and Maya secrets are indeed conspiring to bring our doom. If people know you’re an astronomer, they will soon be asking you all about it.
Here is what you need to know.
Birth of a Notion
We”ve had similar scares in the recent past, but none quite like this. The last time the world got all worked up over the mystical turning of a calendar was the false Millennium of Jan. 1, 2000. Never mind the actual Y2K computer-date bug. True-believer authors (and their imitators) published scary and/or hopeful books about the moment’s prophetic potential to catch an immense cosmic wave and change everything for either good or ill. Borrowing a forecast from Nostradamus, the 16th-century French riddler, author Charles Berlitz predicted catastrophe in his 1981 book Doomsday 1999. Berlitz (fresh off books on Atlantis and the Bermuda Triangle), warned that 1999 could inflict flood, famine, pollution and a shift of Earth’s magnetic poles. He also spotlighted the planetary alignment of May 5, 2000, and warned that it could bring solar flares, severe earthquakes, “land changes” and “seismic explosions.”
In the 1990s an entire “Earth Changes” movement swelled into being as the end of the century neared, with all sorts of Millennial expectations — earthquakes, plagues, polar axis shifts, continents sliding into the sea, Atlantis rising and more. In England, the Sun tabloid predicted a “marvelous millennium of joy, peace, prosperity.”
When Jan. 1, 2000, came and went with nothing worse than ski-lift passes printing the date as 1900, the focus shifted to “5/5/2000” several months later. Most believers in the power of planetary alignments forgot the failure of earlier lineups to induce disaster. The “Jupiter Effect” cataclysm predicted for March 10, 1982 (named for the 1974 book about it by John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann) commanded headlines but never materialized.
Throughout history, end-of-the-world movements missing their mark number in the “hundreds of thousands at the very least, says Richard Landes, historian at Boston University and director of its Center for Millennial Studies. But people eager for the world to end are not to be denied, and this time, of course, all will be different.
What exactly is the Maya calendar about to do? On Dec. 21, 2012, it will display the equivalent of a string of zeros, like the odometer turning over on your car, with the close of something like a millennium. In Maya calendrics, however, it’s not the end of a thousand years. It’s the end of Baktun 13. The Maya calendar was based on multiple cycles of time, and the baktun was one of them. A baktun is 144,000 days: a little more than 394 years.
Scholars have deciphered how the Maya calendar worked from historical texts and ancient inscriptions, and they have accurately correlated so-called Maya Long Count dates with the equivalent dates in our calendar. Just as we number our years counting from a historically and culturally significant event (the presumed birth year of Christ), Maya times were numbered from a date endowed with religious and cosmic significance: the creation date of the present world order. A Long Count date is the tally of days from that mythic startup. Most experts think the start point corresponds to Aug. 11, 3114 B.C.
Most of the Maya calendar intervals accumulate as multiples of 20. An interval of 7,200 days (360 × 20) was known as a katun. It takes 20 katuns to complete a baktun (20 × 7,200 = 144,000 days). Although some ancient inscriptions turn 13 baktuns into an important reset milestone, others imply that the calendar simply keeps running. For instance, it takes 20 baktuns to make a pictun.
No one paid much attention to the end of Baktun 13 until fairly recently. In 1975 Frank Waters, a romantic and speculative author, devoted a brief section to the subject in his book Mexico Mystique. He identified the 13-baktun interval as a “Mayan Great Cycle,” overestimated its duration as 5,200 years, and equated five such cycles with five legendary eras, each of which ends in the world’s destruction and rebirth. There is no genuine Maya tradition behind any of this.
Waters also miscalculated the date when the calendar would supposedly pull down the shades. “The end of the Great Cycle . . . will occur Dec. 24, 2011 A.D.,” he announced, when the world “will be destroyed by catastrophic earthquakes.” Exact date aside, the doomsday ball was now rolling.
Another book in 1975 also spotlighted the Maya calendric roundup. Dennis and Terence McKenna discussed it in The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching. That book at least got the Baktun-13 end date right: Dec. 21, 2012. It also noted that the date is the winter solstice, when the Sun will be “in the constellation Sagittarius, only about 3 degrees from the Galactic Center, which, also coincidentally, is within 2 degrees of the ecliptic.” The McKennas continued, “Because the winter solstice node is precessing, it is moving closer and closer to the point on the ecliptic where it will eclipse the galactic center.” In reality this event will never happen, but it hardly matters. The McKennas linked the whole arrangement with the concept of renewal and called 2012 a moment of “potential transformative opportunity.”
Broader interest in 2012 caught on beginning in 1987. In The Mayan Factor: Path Beyond Technology, José Argüelles (an “artist, poet, and visionary historian” according to the dust jacket) linked the 13-baktun period with an impalpable “beam” from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. According to Argüelles, the Maya knew when we entered this beam and when we would leave it, and set their 13-baktun cycle to mark our passage through it accordingly. The beam, he asserted, operates as “invisible galactic life threads” that link people, the planet, the Sun, and the center of the Galaxy. Neither Maya tradition nor modern astronomy supports a belief in any such beam. It stemmed instead from Argüelles’s personal philosophy, which emphasizes “the principle of harmonic resonance.” Argüelles also concluded that the planets are “orbiting harmonic gyroscopes” that “play a role in the coordination of the beam,” which advances the development of anything with DNA. The year 2012, therefore, will bring a rosy version of the apocalypse.
If this sounds a bit familiar, you’re right. In 1987 Argüelles and his followers predicted, with worldwide fanfare, that Aug. 16–17 of that year would bring a Maya-Galactic “Harmonic Convergence.” That event turned into a global phenomenon, with thousands gathering at Earth’s “acupuncture points” to create a “synchronized and unified bio-electromagnetic collective battery.” Unfortunately, the date passed with nothing more than colorful newspaper stories and a Doonesbury satire. (A character explains earnestly that that the alignment could bring either “mass unification of divine and earth-plane selves,” or perhaps nuclear annihilation. “Either way there will probably be a crafts fair.”)
Galactic Guessing Games
Fast-forward to 1995. That year John Major Jenkins packaged several of these themes into Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. According to Jenkins, the winter-solstice point and the centerline of the Galaxy will line up exactly on Dec. 21. Arguing that this motivated the Maya to contrive the calendar to end on that date, Jenkins concludes that it will be “a tremendous transformation and opportunity for spiritual growth, a transition from one world age to another.”
In fact, astronomy cannot pinpoint such a “galactic alignment” to within a year, much less a day. The alignment depends on the rather arbitrary modern definition of the galactic equator, and/or the visual appearance of the Milky Way. There is no precise definition of the Milky Way’s edges — they are very vague and depend on the clarity of your view. (Jenkins says that he personally established the Milky Way’s edges by viewing it from 11,000 feet, far above anywhere the Maya lived.) So to give a precise visual position for its centerline is not meaningful.
Jenkins did acknowledge that the winter-solstice Sun actually crosses the center of the Milky Way anytime between 1980 and 2016. Elsewhere he expands this approach zone to a 900-year period, and settles for an imprecise alignment to which Dec. 21, 2012, is arbitrarily and circularly assigned. Real astronomy does not support any match between the Baktun-13 end date and a galactic alignment. The advocates both admit and ignore this discrepancy.
It’s almost a sidelight that the winter-solstice sun will never actually “eclipse” the galaxy’s true center, the pointlike radio source marking the Milky Way’s central black hole. Moreover, the winter-solstice sun won’t even pass closest to it on the sky for another 200 years. What did the Maya themselves think about End Times? There is no evidence that they saw the calendar and a world age ending in either transcendence or catastrophe on December 21, 2012. Some Maya Long Count texts refer to dates many baktuns past 13 and even into the next pictun and beyond. For instance, an inscription commissioned in the 7th century A.D. by King Pacal of Palenque predicts that an anniversary of his accession would be commemorated on Oct. 15, 4772.
In all of the Long Count texts discovered, transcribed, and translated, only one mentions the key date in 2012: Monument 6 at Tortuguero, a Maya site in the Mexican state of Tabasco. The text is damaged, but what remains does not imply the end of time.
The Secret NASA Conspiracy
Some advocates for the 2012 catastrophe say that what will actually cause the devastation is an alignment of planets. There is no planet alignment on the winter solstice in 2012. Nonetheless, advocates of doom connect the fictional alignment to astrological predictions or groundless claims about a reversal of Earth’s magnetic field and unprecedented solar storms. Many internet postings and guests on all-night apocalyptic radio have elaborated on these themes.
In particular, several threads of irrational thought have created an internet phantom, the secret planet Nibiru. It’s the bowling ball, and Earth is the pin. There is no such planet, though it is often equated with Eris, a plutoid orbiting safely and permanently beyond Pluto. Some insist, however, that a NASA conspiracy is in play and that Nibiru, looming in on the approach, can already be seen in broad daylight from the Southern Hemisphere. It was supposed to become visible from the Northern Hemisphere, too, by last May, but like a fickle blind date, it stood up those awaiting it.
Others on the Web, confused about the supposed alignment of the winter-solstice sun with the Milky Way’s center, have declared that the Sun is now plummeting to the Milky Way’s center and dragging Earth with it. The predicted result? Earth’s polar axis will shift. Most of what’s claimed for 2012 relies on wishful thinking, wild pseudoscientific folly, ignorance of astronomy, and a level of paranoia worthy of Night of the Living Dead.
So maybe the Maya were on to us after all. The clock is ticking. And it’s the end of the world as we know it.
E.C. Krupp, a Sky & Telescope contributing editor, is Director of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.