Thursday, October 1, 2009

The world will end on Dec 21, 2012

Have you seen the promos and trailers for the upcoming Sony Pictures movie "2012"?

Are you worried that the world is going to end on Dec 21, 2012?

Were you also worried that the world was going to end on Dec 31, 2000?

Yeah, crazy calendar dates are a tricky thing. So where does 2012 come from? And why Dec 21? To begin to answer those questions, I'll need to start you off with a story. Actually, an allegory.

Here's a synopsis of Plato's "Allegory of the Cave":

Plato imagines a group of people who have lived chained in a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to seeing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not constitutive of reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners. 1

That's going to make more sense in a little bit. Think of the shadows on the wall as celestial constellations. Ancient people believed these to be gods that help us humans divine some meaning to our lives.

We were, over centuries, observant enough to recognize that twelve main constellations dominate our night sky (in the northern hemisphere). And we recognized that these constellations appear to "travel" across the sky over long periods of years. We gave each period of time a designation of "age" that roughly works out to around 2162 years. And we even calculated that constellations would "rise" and "fall" relative to each other over these periods of time (ages).

We personified these constellations. And we often deified them. We used them as the basis to develop measurements of time and calendars. What we did not know until very recently is that it was the earth that moved, not the constellations (relatively speaking). It was the earth that revolved around the sun, not the other way around.

But the damage was done. We have a daily clock broken into two 12-hr cycles (one rising in daylight and one declining in daylight). We have a 12 month calendar broken into 4 seasons (the first two rising in daylight and the last two declining daylight). And major religions are rife with illusions to "12", like 12 disciples of Christ and 12 tribes of Israel.

If you ever read the Bible cover to cover and then see a picture of a zodiac, you'll also see other odd similarities. You'll see Bulls, Rams, Fish, Twins, Scales, Water Bearers, Scorpions, and all sorts of other things. And you'll see these images match key time periods in the Bible. If you really know your stuff, you'll even recognize parallels with the description of each of the 12 disciples with that of the characteristics of each constellation in the zodiac.

Now think back early parts of the Bible with references to twins or duality, specifically Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel. Jump ahead to Abraham and consistent imagery of the Bull. Or Moses through the time of Christ with imagery of the sheep/ram. During Jesus's time in the New Testament, much talk was given about Fish. And he warns his disciples to be on the lookout for the one who will follow Jesus - a man will pour out water (Water Bearer).

The progression of Adam & Eve (Twins/Gemeni) to Abraham (Bull/Taurus) to Moses (Ram/Aries) to Jesus (Fish/Pisces) and to the "Second Coming" (Water Bearer/Aquarius) is a pretty clear reference to the constellation pattern in the zodiac. And a few slots down the line we have Libra, or the scales... this is often considered by western culture to be the age of judgment.

Well, that's all a nice way of tying a religion to celestial events. This is going to still rest on a matter of faith, because no one really knows if these references were inserted at a time after the original scriptures were written, or if these scriptures were complete fabrications altogether. What we do know is that these religions were tied to a belief that the earth is young and we're nearing the end of the cycle of ages.

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What does this have to do with the world ending on Dec 21, 2012?

Nothing. And Everything. The Mayans had a celestial calendar that restarts on Dec 21, 2012. Based on their observations and interpretations of the shapes in the night sky, they view the transition from what western cultures call Pisces to Aquarius as the end of their calendar. Western cultures typically designate an end to their calendar during the Libra age.

Incidentally, western cultures pick up a new celestial cycle with Virgo (virgin, virgin mother with child).

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I guess the bigger question is, why do the Mayans want to destroy the world and how did Europeans get it all so wrong!?!

To answer that, first consider what happens at the end of every day. It's already dark and the clock strikes midnight. Uh oh. But wait, we're now approaching 1am. And then the day begins and it gets brighter and brighter... Or its December 31 at 11:59pm. Jeez, better crawl into the bomb shelter, right? Nope, we just start over again on January 1.

And that's exactly what will happen with the Mayan calendar. It just starts over.

Now I know, it isn't as fun to say the sky won't fall. That's so boring! The thought of the world ending just sends people into a wingbat frenzy as they go to buy batteries and flashlights and all sorts of things that would supposedly help them if the world were to explode. In fact, I should start selling canned goods, ham radios, and bomb shelter kits. I could make millions.

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Okay, so now you get the whole general calendar concept thing. I bet you've still got a nagging question about the particular date of Dec 21. Why not Dec 31? Well, let's go back to our annual cycle and see what happens.

Every year around Dec 21, the Sun reaches its lowest peak point on the horizon. This is considered the "death" of the sun. For the following three days, the sun remains fixed at this low point. After this period of time, on Dec 25, the sun begins to rise again. This is considered the "birth" of the sun. (Comparisons to Christmas should be made... Dec 25 was an ancient holiday which celebrated the "sun" god. Early Christians took cover in this holiday so that they could worship the birth of Jesus without being executed).

So back to the Mayans... In the year 2012, the twelfth age of their celestial calendar ends marked by the lowest point of the sun during that particular year. Hence Dec 21, 2012 (12/21/2012) is the "end" of the Mayan world. However, on Dec 25, 2012, a new world is born.

I would not be at all surprised if the upcoming "2012" movie infuses Christian imagery by ending the worldwide destruction on Christmas day. Oops, that could be a spoiler alert.

Bonus points for the first person to recognize the brief shot of a symbol as the homepage loads for 2012 (site).

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Well that's all for now. I've got to go back to digging my "end of the world" shelter.

- Jim

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