What’s supposed to happen on December 21, 2012? Back in 2009, the Hollywood movie 2012 stirred up fear in some, amusement in others and curiosity among the rest of us. I wanted to know what was behind it all. Where did those premonitions of doomsday come from? So I plunged myself into the world of controversy and debate among Maya scholars while writing the article, “2012: Just a Lot of Hype — Or Dawn of a New Era?” now published in the Nov./Dec. issue of Bella Spark Magazine.
And what’s the actual meaning of the word apocalypse, anyway? There was so much to say in that article, I couldn’t take space to explore the various definitions. Here’s an interesting view from mythologist Joseph Campbell: “Apocalypse does not point to some fiery Armageddon but to the fact that our ignorance and our complacency are coming to an end.”*
Maybe for some the word conjures images of the Four Horsemen from the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. Or maybe it’s easy to think of it simply as “universal or widespread destruction or disaster,” one of the definitions on Dictionary.com. But Dictionary.com also gives this definition:
“a prophetic revelation, especially concerning a cataclysm in which the forces of good permanently triumph over the forces of evil.” According to some scholars, this may be in line, at least to some degree, with how the Maya saw the transition from the end of one large astronomical cycle to the beginning of the next.
The Maya definitely didn’t think of December 21, 2012 as a time of complete annihilation, but many scholars believe they did see it as marking a time of major transition and transformation on the planet.
What does all this mean for us? It’s pretty clear that various crises, wars, natural disasters and problems caused by climate change or overpopulation will continue well past 2012. So, whether or not it relates to anything the Maya noted in their calendar, the road ahead isn’t likely to be smooth. And if there is some major crisis to occur, I’m intrigued by Joseph Campbell’s words.
So here’s what I’m seeing now, as we keep on facing whatever we have to face in the one-on-one, nitty-gritty circumstances of our lives: We can choose to turn our heads and let the”ignorance and complacency” (that Campbell refers to) dominate, along with fear and greed. Or we can try choosing tolerance, respect, compassion and generosity, which hold huge potential to spark constructive change — and maybe even the first embers of transformation.
*The Joseph Campbell quote appears in From Science to God by Peter Russell, in the chapter entitled “Apocalypse–Premonitions of Transformation.”