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End times coming? Don’t blame Mayans

By Albert Nerenberg

In case you were wondering: We’ve got little more than 500 days left to live.

That’s according to the Mayan prophecy that says the world will end Dec. 21, 2012. That’s pretty soon, when you think about it.

That means one Christmas left before doomsday. Then we start preparing for earthquakes, wall-to-wall cataclysms and the long slide into the roiling seas. This according to “experts” who say the Mayan calendar predicts time itself coming to a conclusive end in mere months.

Naturally, as the date approaches, 2012 fever is growing. It’s burning into Hollywood blockbusters, headlining bestselling books and drumming up an army of voices channelling ancient Mayan prophecies.

But has anyone actually asked the Maya? They’re still around, by the way, all six million of them.

Author and Mayan cultural expert Mark Van Stone has, and he’s come to a different conclusion. Van Stone is one of the world’s top experts on reading ancient Mayan hieroglyphs and is author of 2012: Science and Prophecy of the Ancient Maya. He says the whole thing is best described as a load of crap.

“I have come to a different conclusion,” said Van Stone, a professor of art history at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, Calif. “I found not a shred of evidence the Maya thought the end of time was coming or that there would be a new beginning. But I found evidence that they thought life would go on as before.”

Hmm. That’s weird. No super volcanoes, no sky-cracking disasters, no tidal wave the size of mountains.

Although he scoured the jungles and Mayan artifacts of Mexico, Van Stone, who can read and write ancient Mayan, said he could not document a single era-appropriate written reference to doomsday.

“The ancient Maya said nothing about the world ending,” he said.

Van Stone has also talked to the living Maya. If you’ve gone to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, you’ve probably run into some. Generally speaking, they’re lovely, hospitable people.

“Most of the traditional Mayan people, if you asked them about 2012,” Van Stone said, “they’d go, ‘What?’ “

Although the Mayan calendar does seem to end in 2012, that doesn’t necessarily mean the universe does, too. “The last time the Mayan calendar came to an end,” Van Stone said, “it just stopped and started again.”

Van Stone also searched for references to the popular softer 2012 predictions — a prophecy of massive necessary cultural change or a stunning dawning of a new era. No dice.

Van Stone says he has uncovered one genuine, documented Mayan prophecy, however: “They do have a more recent prophecy that the world would revert to the Maya and the white folks would get kicked out of Mexico.” That prophecy doesn’t seem to generate much excitement.

This isn’t to say the thriving business of native prophecies is all bunk. Many aboriginal cultures seem to have potent relevant mythologies and world views with profound predictive capacities. It’s just that the 2012 prophecy may not be one of them.

Van Stone says he hopes those attracted to the supposed futuristic Mayan prophecies might discover the real Maya instead, noting that they’re very interesting.

Now this might surprise you: I do believe something is going to happen in 2012. Not because the Mayan calendar predicts it, but because so many people think something is going to happen. We have a way of bringing on our own crises.

Take Y2K. An intense amount of millennial anxiety built up around the fabled Y2K bug and the disasters it would unleash. Nothing really happened at Y2K. But months later, in 2001, something did. In effect, a major shift did occur at the turn of the millennium, exactly as predicted.

And there may be good reason to be apprehensive about 2012. Because of climate change, things are starting to resemble some of the 2012 predictions, albeit on a far subtler level. This year, we’ve had record floods around the world, and by 2012 we could have more. We’ve also had a seeming rash of earthquakes lately in many parts of the world, including our own. While these events may just be part of the normal state of affairs, there are stronger arguments being made that as massive glaciers melt, you get more seismic activity. And that could bring on earthquakes and even tidal waves.

Floods, earthquakes, tidal waves — you have the 2012 trifecta. Throw in extra human anxiety and a few more ecological disasters and you’ve got some serious weirdness on the schedule. Add the fact that reality could start resembling “prophecy” and heads could start exploding.

But I predict it won’t be because of the Mayans or any inevitable cosmic destiny.

It’ll be because of us.

Calgary Herald

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