Friday, April 15, 2011

Shut up about the 2012 predictions, already

I've been hearing a lot about this “end of the world 2012,” “mayan calendar prophecies” thing lately, mostly from hippies and drunks in the bar, and I'm getting really sick of it. The world is not going to end on December 21, 2012. If it does, it will most certainly not be because a defunct civilization's calendar was discontinued. Calm the f*ck down.

“But, but!” you say, “The sun is going to align with the center of the Milky Way and we're all going to be fried to death with a beam of cosmic energy! There will be a shift in consciousness! The Divine Masculine will become one with the Divine Feminine! A supermassive black hole is going to swallow the whole damn universe man! There will be a polar shift!! Satellites will fall out of the skies!! Lizard-people from the planet Nibiru will invade Earth and steal its gold!!!”

Tell me something – can you hear yourself? I hope there is a shift in consciousness, and that you get some common sense out of it. No, don't talk to me about “experts.” Your “experts” are full of sh*t. Unless, of course, they're experts in ancient Mayan culture. There are scholars in this world who have devoted their lives to the study of this lost civilization, and right now, they are rolling their eyes at you.

Has it occurred to you that maybe the calendar stopped because, um, you know, the civilization collapsed? I know that's a pretty big leap, but I think you can make it.

The Mayan Long Count calendar is an incredibly complex and ancient means of measuring time. You, on the other hand, are under-educated, drunk and possibly drug-addled. You are not qualified to offer an opinion on this matter.

The Mayans didn't even invent the Long Count calendar themselves – they borrowed it from other, pre-existing Mesoamerican civilizations. It wasn't the sort of calendar you'd use to see which day of the week your birthday will fall on this year. They had a different calendar – the Calendar Round – for things like that.

For about seven hundred years (circa 250 to 900 AD) the Mayans used the Long Count calendar as a means of measuring historical time (rather than, say, the seasons of the year or the years of your life). It divided history into Great Cycles of 5,125 years. December 21, 2012 marks the end of the third Great Cycle. So, according to the Long Count calendar – if I'm not mistaken – the world is about 15,000 years old.

Now, we know that isn't true, don't we?

The ancient Mayans enjoyed a rich culture and an advanced civilization, but this does not mean that they were smarter than us. It's actually kinda condescending, acting like they were privy to special knowledge, because they built a functioning society, independent of Europeans and their influence. “Wow! These people built a whole civilization! And they didn't even use wheels! They must have been a race of supermen!”

That really worked out for them in the long run, didn't it?

If I were you, I'd be more worried about this global warming thing. Just sayin.' -- Dave Pape

Update:  Recently, Boston University archaeologist William Saturno uncovered a "new" ancient Mayan calendar in a room in Xultun. The room, once home to a scribe, contained multiple calendars, including a 260-day ceremonial one, a 365-day calendar, a 780-day track of the orbit of Mars and 584-day track of the orbit of Venus. Dates on these calendars extend far beyond the year 2012, as far as the year 3500. So, there, we're all going to live. Now shut up about it already.