Additional to the slim chance that a few people with guts and intelligence might stand up to intimidation from the Abrahamic hordes and defy the taboo on critical thinking about faith issues, as suggested in the previous article, what other prospects might we envision for the Maya endtime?
Having pondered this matter for quite a few years, I am convinced that some kind of momentous shift is indeed immanent on this planet, although it will not, I believe, transpire in a sudden, spectacular way. In many respects, it is already unfolding, and has been for some time: it involves a progressive transformation, rather than a sudden, once-and-for-all breakthrough. I believe this is the view held by a good many people now writing and talking about 2012, such as Daniel Pinchbeck, but there is also a building expectation of a particular breakthrough tied to the date December 21, 2012. The progressive transformation underway might be compared to breaking the sound barrier in a jet: a steady acceleration up to the specific moment, BAZOOM, when the barrier is passed. (I went through the sound barrier twice on the Concorde, which used to level off at a little faster than Mach 2: you don´t feel or hear a thing, but the world outside gets seriously bazoomed!)
We may well wonder, Since when has the steady acceleration to 2012 been in effect, and detectible?
It might be helpful to think of December 2012 as a nodal moment around which events are clustered, before and after. I have found this concept consistently useful in my studies of historical patterns, plotted against stellar and planetary cycles. For instance, 1821 is the nodal moment of the Romantic movement. Constellated around that moment, before and after, are the key events that defined the movement. A nodal moment signals a vortex in time—a “dissipative structure,” to use the odd term proposed by Ilya Prigogine—where the innate evolutionary potential of the human species undergoes review and reworking. Some potentials (reflected in cultural tendencies, discoveries, currents of thought and behavior) dissolve into the vortex, others emerge, simultaneously. Patterns of change anchored in the nodal moment can be imagined as event-ripples that spread around the temporal vortex. (Obviously, current ideas of autopoesis, emergence, and fractality enter into this analogy, prompting us to consider how historical patterns might have self-similar and self-ordinating properties.)
1821 is a nodal moment in a pattern of 172-year intervals, following the cycle of the uranus-neptune conjunctions. It comes ahead to 1992-3, the last time such a conjunction occurred. (The middle node between 1821 and 1993 is 1907, the vortex moment of Modernism.) From 1993 to 2012 is 19 years. Could this be the period of sensed acceleration? Perhaps, but I propose a further permutation of the nodal dating: make 1993 the nodal year between 2012, which is 19 years ahead in time, and 1974, which is 19 years back in time. Then we arrive at the interval 1974 – 2012 (with the midpoint at 1992-3, a key pivotal moment) for the acceleration into the Maya endtime. Readers of Not in His Image may recall that in the last chapter I trace the co emergence of Gaia theory, Goddess studies, and the Gnostic revival ahead to today from around 1974.
One good thing about this timeframe is that it encompasses just one generation, which is neither too long nor too short an interval. People who were working out their world view in 1974 can relate to people coming into their world view on the approach to 2012. The interval is manageable in terms of generational continuity. The experiential lessons accrued by many people in this period of time can be compared and shared by direct interpersonal communication, one generation interfacing with another, without reliance on books, recordings, or other second-hand sources. This is a huge advantage for plotting and navigating the slope of the acceleration.
The mythical date arrives if a series of circumstances combine to produce the event. Unlike the profane date, the sacred one is not a measure but a living reality, charged with supernatural forces, which is incarnated in determinate places.
Octavio Paz, The Bow and the Lyre (1967)
What makes 2012 important is that it has been identified as a sacred date, to be distinguished from mundane calendric time. Arguelles originally pointed out that we are entrained by the linear scheme of the Gregorian calendar—along with the patriarchal salvationist program attached to it, I might add. Thus he attempted to introduce a 13-moon, 28-day calendar related (he claims) to biological time, as an alternative way to keep track of what we´re doing. Arguelles´s calendric reform has been dismissed as a distortion of Maya calendrics (true), but it has value by reminding us to reground in lunar and biological timing. A sacred time-keeping device must incorporate both seasonal and (human) somatic rhythms, including, of course, the macro-rhythms of Gaia.
Octavio Paz points out that a sacred date is “not a measure but a living reality.” One problem with Maya calendric speculations is that, once 2012 is identified as a sacred date, it is treated as a measure, factored down, permutated, analyzed, etc. I suggested in the previous essay that such computations can draw attention to themselves and away from what we need to discover in the progression to the endtime. The solution to the Long Count in historical and experiential terms will not be found in the Count itself, i.e., in some grand scheme encoded in it, but in the “living reality” of the eruptions and occlusions of human potential that are right now constellating around the forward nodal moment, 2012.
How, then, to read these “eruptions and occlusions of human potential”? It is tempting to jump imaginatively into a prospective stance and make an inventory of all kinds of events and tendencies that reflect the slope of acceleration. To some extent, this appears to be what I am doing here, but not really… To clarify my approach, I propose a metaphor that locates endtime developments within a single, comprehensive frame of reference. That way, rather than merely pile up an inventory of supposed endtime developments, we can each place ourselves in the developing wave. The language for this metaphor is: the discovery of Next World, compared to Columbus´s discovery of the New World. But with this qualification: Columbus did not merely discover the New World, he discovered the native peoples who inhabited it. Likewise, the discovery of 2012 depends on meeting the natives who inhabit the Next World, the endtime tribes.
Acceleration to the Maya endtime entails discovering the tribes of the Next World, in which human community will survive when civilization as was know it so far has dissolved into the temporal vortex of 2012.
The New World was discovered in 1492, so the old story goes. Not such a trustworthy story, we suspect, but there it is. To this sorry old tale let´s now add a futurist ending: the Next World will be discovered by 2012. This discovery unfolds as we meet the natives of that world, finding the endtime tribes among us, and ourselves in the tribes. As a mythologist dedicated to translating received myth into existential terms, I like this formulation because it says concisely and precisely all we know about what the Maya themselves must have thought of their calendar cycle: that in 2012 one world would end and another one would begin. By “world” they understood a world age, a long-term planetary cycle.
The end of a world age is not the end of life on this planet, it is the transition to another way of living here. This is the glorious promise of the Maya endtime.
Joseph Campbell had a term for the nodal moment or temporal vortex: he called it the mythogenetic moment. On the first page of Creative Mythology, he signaled the12th century as the last great mythogenetic moment in the history of Western civilization. (In the series, An Alternative History of the Grail, I have dedicated a lot of cyberink to this era, the seminal epoch of the troubadours, the cult of Amor, Arthurian legend, and the Grail quest.) Campbell felt passionately that the transition into the 21th century could be a mythogenetic moment morally and spiritually equivalent to the 12th century, and possibly even resonant with it. I find a lot of veracity in this view.
In Maya-Aztec calendrics, the current world is called Ollin (on left) and designated as the Fifth Age or ” Fifth Sun.” This is a close equivalent to the Kali Yuga of the Hindus. Not much is said of Ollin except that it will end with “movement,” possibly meaning earthquakes, crustal shift of the earth´s mantle, collapse of ice sheets, rising of sea levels, etc. Ollin also means “shift of consciousness, mind movement.” Curiously, this glyph recalls intertwining strands of DNA, with the three-prong, four-notch motif suggestive of three-letter codons composed of four bases. Okay, so tell me I’m fabulating, but perhaps not. One of the several mysterious features of DNA is the shifting of histones, the chief proteins in the chromatin that act as spools around which DNA winds, keeping genes in place. In effect, histones lock or seal the genetic code, and when they move, they unseal it. This biochemical action is the equivalent to the mythological concept of the apocalypse, “the lifting of the seal.” The apocalyptic moment when histones shift cannot be determined, because biologists are uncertain what makes histones shift. Could histone-shift happen massively for the human species at a particular moment—say, due to the traumatic impact of massive life-threatening events? No one knows, but it cannot be ruled out.
Whatever the Aztecs made out of it, I strongly maintain that we today can regard Ollin as an icon of genomic and phylogenetic shift, linked to the 2012 endtime. I will have more to say on this idea in the third article of this sequence.
Ollin is a day sign in the Aztec calendar. One of the better websites on MesoAmerican calendars (www.azteccalendar.com) gives this definition:
The protector of day Ollin (Movement) is Xolotl. This is an auspicious day for the active principle, a bad day for the passive principle. Ollin is a day of the purified heart, signifying those moments where human beings may perceive what they are becoming. A good day for transmutation, which arrives like an earthquake that leaves in its wake the ruins of rationality, order and the preconceived.
Which sounds pretty damn relevant, I´d say. The allusion to Xolotl (Sho-LOW-tul) is telling. He is the twin or double of Quetzalcoatl, the mythological figure most often associated with the Maya endtime. Xolotl is the evening star (Venus, appearing after sunset), the Lord of the West, a shapeshifter—that is to say, a sorcerer and master of occult powers, siddhis. I will return to this theme at the close of this article. (Right, Xolotl from the Codex Borbonicus.)
So, we are deep into a mythogenetic moment when human potential is arising in new expressions, simultaneously with the dissolution of old expressions, and this dynamic, two-way escalation, up and down (Ollin), is revealing the outlines of the Next World when the planet earth will be inhabited by the endtime tribes. Mythological figures such as the Gnostic Sophia and the Aztec Xolotl loom over the emergent tribes and in some manner preside over the birth of a transmuted, transmigrant humanity. Each such mythogenetic moment holds in solution a constellation of powerful choices, but the magic of the moment only becomes real when these choices are actually defined and made, one person at a time. Following the metaphor I’ve proposed, the essential choice we each face on the accelerating approach to 2012 could be stated like this:
Who do I want to be among in the Next World—Columbus and his crew, dumbfounded before the native tribes, or the tribes themselves?
“The mythical date arrives if a series of circumstances combine to produce the event” (Paz, cited above).
If some readers are now on board and find the language in use acceptable, how about we expand the guiding metaphor? To paraphrase Paz, “The mythical date 2012 arrives when a series of discoveries combine to produce the immanent event, i.e., the emergence of the Next World.” These discoveries are all of one kind: social, interpersonal, and intimate meetings between people, members of tribes who recognize each other. To foster this recognition, it would be helpful to have a tentative sketch of the tribes. I characterize them by these names: the Originals, the Orgiastics, the Sustainers, the Evolvers, and the Visioneers.
Ceremonial dancers, Kamiura tribe, Xingu River, Brazil
The Originals are the first peoples of the earth, or what´s left of them. They live in reflective symbiosis with the places where they live, which gives them a special grounding power. At the same time, they are vulnerable to being uprooted and displaced by predatory societies driven by the double ideology of conquest and entitlement. Members of such societies believe that the planet belongs to them, materially, and they have an entitlement to claim it by force from any peoples who may be inconveniently sitting on resources they would like to possess for themselves. Their sense of entitlement is enforced by the belief that they are made in the image of a paternal deity who gives them permission to breed like lice and dominate the earth.