- Category: Reviews
The Mystery of 2012:
Predictions, Prophecies, and Possibilities
by Gregg Braden
Sounds True, 2007
Ever since a handful of Middle Eastern visionaries started proclaiming that their messiah was going to show up and teach those rotten Babylonians a thing or two, the end of the world has been a hot topic. There’s always a background hum of catastrophic predictions moving through the crawlspaces of our collective imagination, but every so often one becomes the apocalypse du jour.
The ancient Maya were remarkable people, and the intricate astrological calendar they shared with most of the other native cultures of Mesoamerica equally so. Mayan timekeepers juggled huge periods of time with ease — the largest of their divisions of time, called an alautun, amounts to more than 63 million years — but one of the most important cycles in their system is the Long Count cycle of 13 baktuns, equal to a little over 5125 years. The current Long Count started in 3114 B.C.E, and will end on December 21, 2012. On that date – 188.8.131.52.0 in the Mayan dating system — Mayan legends predict disasters and the descent of a god from heaven.
Over the last few years that prophecy has become the launch pad for some remarkable flights of speculation, ranging from total human extinction to the dawn of a new golden age. As the date draws closer, we’re likely to hear much more about these predictions — remember the way that predictions centering on the Y2K crisis swelled in volume as the last months of 1999 ticked away? — and some sort of guidebook to the emerging mythology of 2012 may just turn into required reading over the next four years.
The Mystery of 2012 is a good current version of that guidebook. It’s a collection of short pieces on 2012, many of them by leading figures in the emerging movement. You’ll find essays by José Arguelles, who launched the Mayan calendar into the modern mass market with a widely read book in the Eighties; Daniel Pinchbeck, whose 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl has become a bestseller on the New Age circuit; John Major Jenkins, who first demonstrated that the end of the current great cycle will coincide with an alignment between the sun and the center of our galaxy, as seen from earth; and many more.
It’s a grand tapestry of hopes and fears. How will they look in the rearview mirror when December 21, 2012 zooms past and the great Long Count odometer rolls over from 184.108.40.206.0 to 0.0.0.0.1? At this point, of course, it’s impossible to say, but a good general introduction to the furor will if nothing else make the way there a good deal more entertaining. For those interested in popular culture, contemporary spirituality, and modern myth, as well as those who just want some idea of what all the fuss is about, this book is indispensible.
JOHN MICHAEL GREER.
RATING: 4 Broomsticks
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