Although most people have heard stories about the “end of the world” through cataclysmic events happening on December 21, 2012, that is not the main current in the history of 2012-phenomenon. It rather deals with enlightenment and a transformation of consciousness, which sometimes is preceded by cleansing catastrophes. Here I follow up my post from yesterday with the more recent development of the 2012-phenomenon that is part of the broader field of “Mayanism”. What you could see in the previous post is that the Western “invention of a sacred 2012 tradition” is falsely claimed to have originated in another culture. When this invented tradition filters back into Maya culture we have a hermeneutic feedback loop known as the “pizza effect.” The galactic alignment, crystal skulls, and the Five Suns are now part of the esoteric teachings of some of the Maya Elders. We also have a newer generation of Western New Agers who attempts to legitimize their ideas by quoting the Maya Elders’ “primordial wisdom.” This is a bad form of recycling. How did this particular 2012-circus begin?
In answering that question I largely rely on a recently published paper by Kevin Whitesides and John Hoopes, who I claim are the leading experts on the 2012-phenomenon/2012-mythology. What they argue, and what I agree with, is that the 2012-phenomenon “was created in 1966, in the context of Cold War fears, and most of the elements of 2012-related mythology can be construed as a hallucinogen-inspired legacy of the Sixties” (p 53).
Whatever happens in 2012 it is a New Age that is believed to be on the rise. In this view there is a collection of triggers or psychotechnologies that will change our consciousness (such as meditation, sensory deprivation, biofeedback, hypnosis, yoga, astrology and Tarot). The mistreatment of scientific concepts like quantum and galactic is also part of psychotechnology. The trigger Whitesides and Hoopes (p 52) focus on is the “ability to overcome cognitive dissonance (a sense of discomfort that comes with the recognition that one holds beliefs that are contradictory to one another).”
Flawed perceptions of both ancient and living Maya create this dissonance when New Agers, through their own spiritual revelation, believes that “an internalized reality of an indigenous culture as savage, violent, or “backward” cannot possibly be reconciled in the face of evidence for their “superior” technology. The revelation frequently takes the form of a belief that there must have been a decline from an ancient, highly sophisticated, superior knowledge to contemporary decadence, accompanied by the sense that our own culture has been similarly debased” (P 52).
This dissonance leads to yet another dissonance. What is taught in universities is therefore not the real story according to New Agers. Scientists are either deceitful or duped. People who share the esoteric explanations are deep, insightful, awake, and truthful. The path to spiritual enlightenment begins by rejecting academic/scientific knowledge. If you want an example of this, take a look at John Major Jenkins’ review of David Stuart’s book The Order of Days.
Let’s take a quick journey through the history of academic Mayanist research related to the Long Count. Joseph Goodman (the G in the GMT correlation) worked out the basic workings of the Maya Long Count in 1897 and he correlated it to the Gregorian calendar in a successful manner. He also launched the idea that the Long Count was cyclical (73 cycles in total). Later, Ernst Förstemann (1906) discussed the events described on the final pages of the Dresden Codex as representing a Great Flood and an apocalypse but he did not link it to the future 13 baktun ending. However, like other Mayanists back then, Förstemann could not read the hieroglyphs apart from the calendars. The Great Flood in the Dresden Codex is a questionable interpretation but it has survived in the esoteric literature.
It was Michael Coe who first tied the correlation of the future Long Count date to a universal catastrophic event in the first edition of The Maya (1966). He linked this event to the Aztec cosmology of Five Suns. This fifth world is destined to be destroyed by earthquakes (ollin/movement). He miscalculated the “end date” or “Armageddon” to December 24, 2011. Coe was apparently “playing on Cold War fears to grab the attention of his readers” (P 55). For this the astrologer Raymond Mardyks claims Coe should be charged for crimes against humanity… Now we shall shift focus back to Mayanism again.
1975 is an important year in the history of the 2012-phenomenon. Four influential books were published by the authors Frank Waters, Terence and Dennis McKenna, José Argüelles, and Alan Landsburg. Waters cited Coe’s erroneous date but combined it with ideas from plenty of esoteric writers like Blavatsky, Cayce, Donnelly, and Le Plongeon, some of which I mentioned in the previous post. The latter authors were used to support ideas regarding Atlantis. Waters’ hyperdiffusional ideas created connections between the Maya and the Hopi as well, which is a recurrent theme in 2012-mythology. Waters’ main contribution is his use of the precession of the equinoxes, ideas later used by both Raymond Mardyks and John Major Jenkins (“the galactic alignment guys”). Waters followed Coe’s use of the Aztec Five Suns mythology but argued that five Long Counts creates a Platonic Year (roughly 26,000 years).
Alan Landsburg produced both a documentary and a book about outer space connections which are ideas prevalent in the 2012 mythology. I have covered Terence McKenna’s ideas on the Timewave before and I will not repeat them here. That blog post is also one of the most commented upon on this blog. I will add that Whitesides and Hoopes say that McKenna’s first version of the Timewave was based upon events in his own life (such as his birthday and later his mother’s death date). Not until he became aware of the “correct end date” (December 21, 2012) did he change the end-date of his Timewave to this date.
In 1983 the Mayanist Robert Sharer provided readers with the December 21, 2012 in his revised version of Sylvanus Morley’s The Ancient Maya. Eventually this new and “correct” correlation filtered into the esoteric camp as well. Argüelles, who died last year, has had a biography written by his fourth wife. There it is stated that he has been committed to 2012 from the very beginning (in 1975). This is not true because he began to focus on 2012 after he met McKenna at the Ojai institute in April 1985. There was no mention of a specific day in Argüelles writings before this meeting. This is a common strategy when one attempts to invent a sacred tradition, they change the historical trajectory in hindsight. After the meeting Argüelles wrote up a manuscript that discussed both the “Harmonic Convergence” (August 16-17, 1987) and December 21, 2012.
McKenna’s interpretations were tied to psychedelics and he claimed the Maya consumed psilocybin which revealed hidden knowledge. He was in favor of technology whereas Argüelles was technophobic. We find the same divergent tendencies regarding technology in other 2012-related literature. However, what all 2012 prophets share is that they “fail to achieve accuracy or consistency and often appear to bank on the hope that readers simply will not check them on their facts. The concern is with mythmaking, not objective reality” (P 67). This is a scenario that fits all 2012ers I have encountered so far.
One could list a multitude of literature and prophets that have emerged since the mid-1980s but that would take too long. I have also covered several of these 2012 prophets before on this blog. I conclude here, with a quote from Hoopes’ article I covered yesterday, that the 2012-phenomenon is “a contemporary projection of Western ideas with roots in European and more ancient Jewish and Christian cosmology and eschatology onto the ancient Maya for the purpose of achieving goals of individual renewal, self-improvement and self-actualisation” (Hoopes 2011:55).
Whitesides, Kevin A. and John W. Hoopes (2012). Seventies dreams and 21st century realities: The emergence of 2012 mythology. Zeitschrift für Anomalistik 12:50-74.
Psilocybe tea to wash down the pizza effect, anyone?