The Maya Calendar and the Apocalypse
According to some, the people of the world should prepare and brace themselves for the upcoming December 21, 2012 apocalypse. The end is believed to correspond with the final date of the Maya Long Count calendar, which spans approximately 5,125 solar years. Based on some calculations, creation began around 3,114 BCE.
Like many Mesoamerican cultures, the Maya inserted cosmology into their Long Count calendar cycle of time. According to their cosmology, the current Long Count reflects a fourth period of time, commonly referred to as the, “4th Age or 4th World.” The Maya believed there were three previous periods or ages of creation and failure. December 21, 2012 will mark day zero of the new “5th Age” cycle. It is interesting to note that according to the Aztec (Nahuatl speaking peoples of Tenochtitlan) calendar system; we will enter a “6th Age.” It is not entirely clear how the calendar system developed. The Olmec civilization, flourishing and disappearing under mysterious circumstances before the Aztec and the Maya, used a similar calendar system.
Theories of the Apocalypse
Most apocalyptic theories involve cataclysmic astronomical events. Some believers of the Maya prophecies claim that the Maya were aware of the impending final day, because it was revealed to them in their astronomical calculations and creation stories. One theory holds that the sun will intersect with the plane of the Milky Way. This will cause a displacement of the earth’s crust, because there will be orbital shifts within the solar system.
Another claim is that the Milky Way is the cradle of Maya creation, because it resembles the Maya sacred tree or center of life. Thus, unfolding events correlate with a new creation or new beginning. In this case, the physical earth will not be destroyed; instead, the world will enter into a new age of spiritual enlightenment.
Other theories hinge on Christian beliefs. Believers contend there are correlations between the Maya cosmological views and Biblical scripture. They see a parallel between the cross of the crucifixion and the intersecting celestial planes of the Maya crossroads (Milky Way.) Others see the prophesized return of Kulcucan, who is the equivalent of Quetzalcoatl in Tenochtitlan as an embodiment of the returning Christian messiah, Jesus Christ. Other groups emphasize the parallels between the Chilam Balam, Popol Vuh, assorted Mesoamerican codices and the Bible should not be ignored.
Scientific and Scholarly Views
Scientists and scholars view the 2012 apocalyptic prophecies with skepticism. There is agreement that magnetic polar shift occur, but it takes hundreds of years. Nor are they convinced there would be a cataclysmic impact with a celestial body, because the impending event could be seen by astronomers. They also remind us that planetary alignments have occurred in the past without disastrous results.
Scholars contend there is no archeological evidence indicating the Maya revered the Milky Way or that they intended to prophesize the end of the world. The Long Count calendar is only one of several Maya calendars. The Long Count kept track of events connected to the ruling dynasties and their cosmologies.
They argue that the Long Count would restart at day zero, just as today’s Gregorian calendar reverts back to January 1st. Additionally, it is nearly impossible to match the Maya dates with the Gregorian dates, because we have no point of origin for the Maya calendar. The Gregorian calendar is based on the perceived dates of the birth and death of Jesus Christ, giving us a fixed point of origin.
In conclusion, we’re not entirely convinced; however, one way or another we will all find out on December 21, 2012 or shortly thereafter.