Countdown to 2012
Reflections on Kali Yuga,
the Maya Endtime,
With the turn of the new year, I found myself reflecting on the proximity of 2012, the end date of the Maya calendar. Discussion of this timing has been escalating rapidly for a number of years now, and not just in New Age circles. A great many internet sites and forums are dedicated to it. It is the main subject of Daniel Pinchbeck´s book, 2012 The Return of Quetzalcoatl (which I have yet to read), and a dozen other speculative tomes. Currently, John Major Jenkins and Carl Johan Calleman are slugging it out to see who will be the victorious visionary of the 2012 countdown.
This may be the apt moment for me to weigh in on this arcane subject. Apart from a tentative essay for phenomenamagazine.com, I´ve kept mum so far. More and more of late, friends are asking me what I think about the "endtime" and how I view what others like Jenkins and Calleman are saying about it. Those who know something of my work in astral phylogenetics (Quest for the Zodiac), stellar mythology, the World Ages, and precessional timing (Dendera Decoded), are curious about my views. Having spent a good many years in the practice of skywatching and investigation into the Zodiacal timeframe and various schemes of long-term chronology—Hindu, Egyptian, Tibetan, Maya, Aztec, Persian, Mithraic, Gurdjieffian, theosophical, anthroposophical, and others I forget—I feel obliged to comment on this trendy topic.
What follows is a short description of the Maya Long Count, with some thoughts about what might be facing us in the countdown to the endtime.
Maya fresco thought to depict the Flood, with volcano
The Maya calendar is a cultural artifact from the general category of the World Ages. Computing the long-term cycles of cosmic order was a concern in all ancient cultures from China to Peru. The introduction of calendars to regulate civic life and agricultural planning was a long and complex process. In devising these systems, the calendar-makers did not limit themselves to time in the human scale, but extended their computations to countless thousands of years. Doing so, they sometimes came up with remarkable figures.
In Hindu chronology, the number 4,320,000,000 is associated with the cosmological motif of the "Days and Nights of Brahma." This number caught the attention of Joseph Campbell, who observed that 4,320,000,000 years, or 4.32 billion years, is intriguingly close to the current estimate for the geological age of the earth, 4.5 billion years. (I apply the Hindu norm rather than the accepted geological estimate in my calculation of the age of Gaia.) 4320 is the base number that generates the four Yugas of Hindu cosmology. It also shows up in the chronology of prediluvian kings compiled by the Babylonian priest, Berossus, and elsewhere. It is an artificial norm (a sacred canonical unit, if you prefer) that also factors into various geological, sidereal, solar, lunar, and planetary time cycles.
Like the Hindu timescale, Maya calendrics runs into the range of remote, unimaginable numbers. The mathematician-priests who devised the Maya calendar recorded exact dates of events, down to the day, but they also liked to extrapolate far backward and forward in time. The precision of their planetary, solar, and lunar tables is impressive. They calculated the cycles of Venus and the Earth as accurately as we do today, down to four decimal points. This mastery of verifiable time-cycles commands respect, and obliges us to look closely at their long-term extrapolations. For the Maya and all other ancient peoples, verifiable and non-verifiable calculations were integral to a single system of sacred calendrics. I see nothing woolly-minded in granting some respect to their long-term timeframe, especially if something can be learned from doing so.
According to most experts, the Long Count dates from early
in the Classical Maya era, 200 - 900 CE, although it may be much older
in conception, possibly originating among the Olmecs in the 7th C. BCE.
The engravings that record the earliest dates are Chiapas de Corzo, Stela
2, 32 BCE, and Tikal Stela 2, 292 CE. The last date recorded was January
909 CE. The calendar uses a string of five units factored on a 20-base: k´ín (1
day), winal (20 days), tun (360 days of 18 winals), katun (7200
days or 20 tuns) and baktun (144,000 days or 20 katuns).
The Long Count is backdated to August 13, 3114, and comes ahead to December 21, 2012. This is a total of 5126 years or 1,867,145 days. This interval is close to 13 baktuns of 144,000 days each, so the Maya Long Count is routinely called "thirteen baktuns." Not a terribly long period of time as sacred calculations go, but long enough to frame a vast historical perspective.
The Long Count of 5126 years is roughly one-fifth of the full cycle of precession of the equinoxes, 25,920 years. This fits the Long Count into a verifiable frame of astronomical timing, which is impressive. Because the Count is an increment of the full precessional cycle, it can be analyzed in parallel with the Zodiacal frame of precession. The current debate centers on what is going to happen when the Count expires in December 2012, just five years and eleven months from now. I will be more precise: there was a new moon on the eve of the winter solstice, 21 December, 2006. This is exactly six years to the end of the Long Count. In six years there are 74 new moons (occurring on the synodic cycle of 29.53 days). We can count down to the endtime by lunar intervals. As I write these words, we are in the 74th moon.
Making It Up
Before looking ahead at what the Maya endtime might signify, let´s look back at the initial date. So far, this has received considerably less attention than the end date. But I would argue that outcome of the Count will be reflected, in some manner and some measure, in the initial conditions. If we are expecting something to end in 2012 CE, it might be helpful to know what began, what conditions prevailed, at the start date in 3114 BCE.
When scholars first worked out the correlation of the Long Count to the Julian calendar that we use—the Goodman-Martinez-Thompson correlation, lately improved by John Major Jenkins—some esotericists loitering on the sidelines noted that the 3114 BCE start date is close to the Hindu date of 3102 BCE, said to mark the beginning of a cosmic cycle, Kali Yuga. Hindu legend states that Kali Yuga, the age of darkness or decadence in which we now live, began with the death of Krishna on February 16, 3102 BCE. This is perhaps the most famous date in sacred calendrics. Hindu calculations make the length of Kali Yuga hugely longer than the Maya Long Count, but the coincidence of start dates is striking. This is the Hindu-Maya correlation.
In Dendera Decoded (unpublished), my study of the sacred calendrics of the Dendera Zodiac, I show that Axis D on the bas-relief at Dendera marks the date 3102 BCE, indicated by alignment of the equinoxes to the star Antares in the Scorpion. (Right now, the planet Jupiter is aligned to that star, the red giant in the heart of the Scorpion, making a lovely predawn spectacle here in Andalucia.) In Egyptian myth, the date 3102 BCE designates the murder of Osiris, parallel to the death of Krishna. This gives the Hindu-Maya-Egyptian correlation.
(For a short summary of my Dendera work, including the discovery of a
fifth, hitherto unknown axis, see Colin Wilson, The Atlantis Blueprint. Also,
What to make of the correlation between Kali Yuga and the Maya Long Count? Buddhist and Hindu sources present a lot of material on Kali Yuga. In the Tantra of the Great Liberation, Shiva discourses to his consort Parvati on the deplorable conditions into which humanity will sink at the end of Kali Yuga. Many of the things he describes are now commonplace in our world. The prophecies of Padma Sambhava from Tibetan tradition also present similar predictions, ranging from trivial social customs (people will eat standing up, and even running) to technological inventions (the metal bird will cross the skies) to spiritual decadence (guides to enlightenment will be sold on street corners).
There is no such record of what the Classical Maya thought about the way the world would be at the end of the Long Count, or if they had anything like a prophetic conception of the last days. Without evidence of what the calendar-makers believed, we are obliged to make up our own minds about the social, spiritual, and psychological aspects of the endtime. I may differ from other scholars in openly admitting that I am making up what I say about signs and prospects of the endtime. Others more qualified than I tend to claim that they draw their interpretations from ancient evidence, or follow what the ancients believed, even though there is no written account to tell us what the Maya believed.
What I make up may or may not be true, or helpful, or even interesting. The fact that I make something up—that is, devise interpretations from my own learning and imagination—may disqualify it as mere invention to some minds. Fine. I prefer to let you know how I operate, keeping my methods and pretences right out in the open. Take what you like and leave the rest.
Krishna and Osiris
Likewise, in the predynastic culture of southern Egypt, Osiris was the consort of Isis who was born at Dendera. The supreme mother goddess of predynastic Egypt was Hathor, to whom the temple of Dendera was dedicated. Hathor was a female divinity without a male consort, except for her own offspring, Horus, who had no father. Her totemic animal was the vulture, said to be fertilized by the wind. The Hathor-Horus myth points to the time when men did not rule society and paternity was not the determinative factor in social status or organization. That is, pre-Osirian times.
The roof chapels at Dendera present the most complete account in hieroglyphic writing and iconography of the resurrection of Osiris, along with the sole intact model of a working Zodiac that survives from antiquity. Osiris, the grain-god in Hathor´s cult, preceded Osiris the divine pharaoh of northern Egypt. In other words, there is a pre-theocratic Osiris in the goddess-oriented culture that left us the Dendera temple, a Ptolemaic construction incorporating some extremely ancient motifs. In the Denderic context, Osiris was an epiphany of the regenerative powers of nature, specifically the phylogenetic code. Osiris represents the "ingrained" language or operating instructions of nature, the linga sharira ("long sheath") in Tantric terms, and Hathor was the ancient matriarchal guardian of his Mysteries. In Dynastic times, the priesthood who ran Egyptian theocracy elevated Osiris to status of a divine avatar, and made him the deific model of the theocratic ruler, the pharaoh. Such is the hype typical of theocratic scripting around the world.
This view of Krishna and Osiris is idiosyncratic perhaps, but based on well-known mythological material and matching the profile of predynastic times. In this framework, I propose that the start time of the Long Count represents a break from goddess-oriented nature-wisdom, the co-optation of sacred biology for a theocratic agenda, and a consequent loss of contact with the Sacred immanent in the natural world, leading humankind into a dark age when contact with the Sacred is mediated by beliefs dictated by men who claim to speak for God.
Although the full historical picture would place its inception somewhat earlier, around 4400 BCE, the Age of Patriarchy can be synchronized with the Count along these lines. Since the dawn of that Age, communion with the intelligence of nature, embodied awareness of the Sacred, and reverence for the Divine Feminine, not to mention mortal woman herself, have all declined drastically. With this decline, the human species lost its gender balance, its natural moral disposition to goodness and cooperation, and fell under the spell of patriarchal and theocratic narratives such as the Egyptian and Babylonian fables of divine kingship and, of course, the Old Testament tale of the Chosen People.
How does this interpretation of the start date of the Long Count play against the historical record? Well, here´s a little trick I sometimes use in tracking historical patterns over the long term: Go to the midpoint of the Count by subtracting one-half of 5126 years from 3114 BCE. This comes to 551 BCE. The 6th Century BCE was the moment when the Yahwist narrative of Genesis came into rigid formulation under the reforms of King Josiah (ruled 640 - 609), lauded as the ideal ruler in that brutal manifesto of theocracy, Deuteronomy. Between 587 and 537 BCE a large part of the Jewish nation was exiled to the city of Babylon. When they returned to Canaan, the Yahwist scribes who were writing the program of the father god merged their racial myth with Persian split-source dualism, a world view that attributes good and evil to the same super-human agency.
Hence, the model of cosmic conflict absorbed into Biblical narrative, which determined all later variations of divine retribution and apocalyptic violence consistent with the crypto-fascist theocratic agenda, came to definition a the midpoint of Kali Yuga. From this nodal moment on, the paternal script has relentlessly driven humankind toward the global wars of religion that threaten the world today.
Thus I connect some specific events at the midpoint of the Long Count with my thematic overview of the significance of the Count. To do so, I use the simple method of computing nodal moments: 3114 BCE > 551 BCE < 2012 CE. This is as simple as it gets, yet it´s amazing what kind of information this tool can generate, once you have a framing concept or heuristic phrase to tell you what to look for. In this case, the heuristic tool is the concept "goddess-based societies overthrown by theocratic agenda" or "nature-wisdom versus revealed religion." The nodal moments reveal pivotal historical events that make sense within the heuristically predefined frame.
Want to try another node? Go to the midway moment between 3114 BCE and 551 BCE. This is 1832 BCE, the period assigned to the patriarch Abraham who was born, by some accounts, around 1812 BCE. The Code of Hammurabi (b. 1810) is the earliest surviving example of a totalitarian, male-mandated social agenda. The transition into patriarchy gained huge momentum during the period when the vernal point shifted from the Bull into the Ram, Taurus to Aries, around 1850 BCE. No causality implied here, folks: it is simply a matter of synchronal dynamics! It appears that moments in historical time have a fractal or self-similar, self-repeating structure.
In eonic studies of history—chronological plotting of events in the frame of the Zodiac and long-range planetary cycles—the Ram indicates the rise of patriarchy. In 551 BCE, the vernal point was transiting the head-stars of the Ram. In the time of Alexander the Great, two centuries later, it still in this region, and had been remarked by skywatchers for some time. Egyptians called the Ram constellation Amon, and Alexander identified himself with Amon—that is, he deified himself. The priests at Siwa, who declared him the "Son of Amon" to appease the lonely boy´s narcissistic fixation, disingenuously advised him to have himself pictured with ram´s horns on coins. These priests would have been veteran skywatchers who knew that the horn motif matched the current Zodiacal picture.
Coming forward in time, midway between 551 BCE (midpoint of the Count) and 2012 CE (end of the Count) is 731 CE. Just at this historical moment the Moors were engaged in massive waves of invasion against Europe and extending into the Russian steppes. The 8th century saw both expansion and defeat of Islamic aggression on several fronts. Quite often, nodal dates are amazingly precise. Note that scholars designate 731 as the exact year when Classical Maya civilization peaked out, and began to decline rapidly. Here is an example of how a simple time-factoring tool with no connection to the Maya calendar, and far removed from the complex computations usually applied to it, can generate discrete data-points consistent with the historical profile of the Long Count.
In Europe, the Battle of Tours on October 11, 731, marked the defeat of the 90,000-strong Moorish army that had invaded southern France under the command of the Yemenite governor of Spain, Abd-ar-Rahman. 741 saw the death of Byzantine Emperor Leo II who had successfully repelled the Arab invasion, as well as of Charles Martel, the key figure in resisting the Moorish advance into France (Gaul). With the major power-players shifting, Europe became more vulnerable to Islam, the most virulent form of theocratic fascism on earth. The rise of Islam involved wide scale genocide, often committed by Arabs against other Arabs, as seen today in Iraq. In 750, Abu-Abbas al-Safah, a descendant of Mohammed's uncle, founded the Abbasid dynasty that would establish an Islamic empire to last for 350 years. Doing so, he massacred the Umayyads, the competition surviving from the preceding dynasty.
The Moors occupied Spain from the middle of the 8th century until 1492, when they were expelled. The Islamic offensive against Europe was reinaugurated with the call to return Andalucia to Islam, raised in the wake of the Madrid bombings of March, 2004. Will the 2012 endtime be marked by an intensified replay of the Islamic offensive of 731 CE? According to the Eurabia theory of Bat Ye'or, an Egyptian-born British historian who specializes in the experience of non-Muslims in Muslim countries, this is precisely the case. (See Wikipedia for an excellent article on this debate.) In While Europe Slept (Doubleday, 2006), American ex-pat author Bruce Dawer paints a frightening, tightly documented picture of the Islamic subversion of democracy in Europe, especially in Scandinavia.
Currently, Islamic imperialism in Europe is rolling like a shock wave across the continent. Moslems demonstrating against what they view as intolerance toward Islam are manifesting the very intolerance they condemn, but they are succeeding in their demands for special exemption of their religion from rational criticism. Islam presents the endgame formula of patriarchy and dominator religion, the stage where it wins or destroys itself trying: the parasite destroys its host. The initial conditions of the Long Count culminate in the theocratic fascism of Islam with its program for rigid social control, blind submission to revealed authority, menacing intolerance, and sexual apartheid, all founded on a book attributed to the creator god.
Looking at historical precedents is one way to sketch out a "predictive" profile of events leading to the end of the Count. In fact, there is no prediction involved: one merely looks at the all-too-obvious consequences of recorded events. This is, please note, not the way that 2012 diagnoses are usually conducted.
To summarize: the death of Krishna and Osiris around 3114 BCE indicates a sharp escalation in the agenda of patriarchy. Male domination gained momentum when sacred kings were no longer anointed in rites of sexual congress with daughters of the Goddess. (I have repeated this point numerous times on this site, and I don´t like to repeat myself, but I insist that this is a key historical insight we cannot afford to ignore. Read Merlin Stone, When God Was A Woman.) The suppression of goddess-oriented society led to the success of patriarchy, the domination of nature, and sexual apartheid—a pattern that can be traced in close historical detail, if one is so inclined. All this was accomplished by force and intimidation, of course, and by operating "by the Book."
The factual record of history—one damned thing after another, as Henry Ford remarked—is largely a side-effect of the writing of the patriarchal narrative. Emphasis on the ideological instrument of "the book" (or Holy Writ) fits the profile I am developing here. Indeed, it supplies a main motif that can be seen reflected in many specific events. In the 8th century, Islam was spreading globally and Arabs battled with the Tang dynasty for control of central Asia. Moslems remained the dominant force in Transoxiana for 150 years. One consequence of the Arab-Chinese confrontation was the setting up of the first paper mill in the Muslim world. This happened in 751 (20 years off the nodal date) in Samarkand after two Chinese prisoners of war revealed the technique of papermaking to their captors. Immediately, Muslim scholars began to use the new technology for translations of ancient Greek and Roman writings, but also to produce copies of their revealed scripture, the Koran, of course.
So, around the "readward" nodal moment of 551 BCE, Yahwist scribes buckled down to composing the rigid doctrinal narrative of the Chosen People, the directive script for Judeo-Christian salvationism. Then, around the "forward" nodal moment of 731 CE, Muslim scribes acquired the paper-based technology to spread their version of the story, inscribed in the Koran. The pattern is clear: doctrinal narrative and printing work together in the enforcement of patriarchal domination and the Paternal Lie. The trick of nodal computation reveals the pattern.
The Holy Book (of whatever faith) is the main tool of indoctrination and behavioral control for the theocratic agenda of white male supremacy. The fact that Muslim women embrace and adore the Koran is no measure of their compliance, but an indication that they know their lives are at risk were they to do otherwise. If you are a Muslim, the penalty for dissenting from or renouncing the Faith is, according to the Koran, death. For women in Islamic societies, there are penalties worse than death.
The authority of Holy Writ is beyond human critique—quite plainly, Abrahamic religion is incompatible with a civil and democratic society that allows freedom of expression. Today, Moslems in Europe use the freedom of expression granted to them by the democracies in which they live to call for the repeal of that freedom, and almost no one dares to tell them that this tactic is unacceptable. Figure it.
The Book is, and has ever been, the sovereign tool of behavior modification, off-planet imperialism, a potent catalyst to ecocide, genocide, and suicide. It is the mass-produced weapon of mass destruction par excellence.
So, my expanded definition of Kali Yuga is: the age of darkness (ignorance) and decadence (moral and material derangement), due to the break from Goddess wisdom, the imposition of off-planet morality dictated by a father god, and the cancerous spread of faith-based religion operating on the theocratic authority of The Book (Torah, Bible, Koran). Over the last 5000 years, the entire human species has fallen under the thrall of The Book. In Not in His Image, I propose the term narrative spell for the uncanny power of the salvationist script that encodes the beliefs of the three Abrahamic religions.
The mandate of the male-only creator god has a vast, fixating power based in fear and shaming. Those who adopt the Paternal Lie, or, more often, have it mindlessly imposed on them, live it out as if they are acting under post-hypnotic suggestion. Those who are forced to believe in the story of revealed religion enact it madly and without critical reflection or restraint. What they have received mindlessly, without consent, they act out mindlessly, disregarding the free choice of others. They behave as they believe. What they are told to believe is inscribed in The Book (Torah, Bible, Koran).
The end of the Long Count plunges the entire world into the violent
drama of the culmination of such behavior.
If the ascent of The Book as a tool of mass-scale ideological programming fits the historical profile of the Long Count, how can we bring to the endtime the inspired will to challenge and repel that power? Let's consider some solutions and inspirational strategies.
Speculation about the meaning of the Maya endtime peaked briefly in August 1987 with the "Harmonic Convergence." In the debate at that time, Jose Arguelles played a central role with his declaration that the end of the Long Count indicated a moment when a beam from the galactic center would sweep across the earth and produce magical effects. If I recall correctly, the period of the beam matched the precessional cycle of 25,920 years. Hence, Arguelles simply attached a fantastic interpretation to known phenomenon of astronomical timing. In The Mayan Factor, he claimed that Maya civilization disappeared (nodal moment: 731 CE)by dematerialization when some of the population were teleported off the earth on that mysterious cosmic beam, and predicted that the same would happen for many people in 2012. His theories won him two minutes of fame on CNN.
I am not deeply enough involved in the current debate around 2012 to know if Arguelles´s ideas are undergoing a revival, but I sense that others, a younger and more creatively inspired crowd, have taken over the discourse, and morphed it considerably. There may be a reprise of Arguelles´ notion of dematerialization in some circles, but I would rather hope not. Calls for escaping the planet will not be tolerated on this site. I am probably out of touch with the pulsations of the new crowd who are building expectation of 2012, but it looks to me like the best options for the Maya endtime are erupting from the orgiastic imagination of younger people in the counterculture, people who are ignited with all manner of erotic, cosmic, artistic, mantic, mythopoeic, and esoteric inspirations.
I have not sensed anything comparable to this excitement since the Psychedelic Revolution of the 1960s. There is true mania in the air, a hint of divine madness, a sense that fantastic things are possible in life and art, that the world itself might be transfigured by acts of imagination. (This is, of course, exactly what the Romantics believed and proposed, a couple of hundred years ago.) A multi-frequency surge of mystical confidence is spreading through some areas of the youth culture.
It would be foolish to dismiss that possibility that the huge buzz around 2012 is the reflection of a collective psychic event of some kind. The question is, do the discussions, speculations, and predictions about 2012 point to that event, or do they merely draw attention to themselves?
So far, the discourse on 2012 has been dominated by claims about the evolution of consciousness making a huge jump, a paradigm shift. We will realize the noosphere of Teilhard de Chardin, for instance. I have a gut feeling that this kind of high-toned chatter might be distracting us from the genuine possibilities of the moment ahead. This type of speculation could be off the mark if it does not offer a message of change that specifically addresses the terminal social and material conditions of the Kali Yuga. It is one thing to claim a quantum leap into cosmic consciousness, and support it with abstruse computations that go back 16 billion years (Calleman), and another, say, to rally against the social menace of revealed religion. The first is a mere hypothesis, glorious or not, the second is a revolutionary stance, involving a call for action and transformation.
I, for one, begin to wonder if the promise of a sudden, spectacular shift in the collective mindset may not be deviating or undermining the actual breakthrough that is emergent as the world lurches toward 2012. What if this breakthrough is about facing the human condition, rather than skateboarding at warp speed beyond it? If Sophia relies in some way on humanity to achieve her correction, as the Gnostics taught, the human condition will either contribute to that magnificent possibility, a planetary course correction, or impede it. Any breakthrough aroudn 2012 depends on how we view the human condition, regarding both resistance to entering the correction, and the skill and inspiration required to enter it.
I sense that expectations of a paradigm shift in 2012 are contaminated by two distortions, concerning the scope and the manifestation of the shift. So far, I am not convinced that the notions circulating about the Maya Endtime offer a reliable preview either of what can happen, or the scale on which it can happen. My main criticism of the speculation is that, although it may use historical references, as seen in the close correlation of the "thirteen hells" and "nine heavens" to known events, etc., in Calleman´s scheme, this approach does not identify the prevalent pathological motif of Kali Yuga: the narrative spell of revealed religion, enshrined in the authority of The Book. .
But what if the breakthrough of 2012 involves breaking the spell of The Book, i.e., overthrowing the spiritual and moral tryanny of the Abrahamic faiths? What would it mean to disempower the narrative spell? What conditions would arise? What kind of behavior would result? How would the human condition itself be changed, radically and permanently altered?
The mystic confidence in the air is savoury and palpable—but where is the new-born confidence located? In what do we, the human species, invest our deepest confidence?
As for the scope of the coming shift, there is talk of a sudden awakening in the mentality of our species, sweeping through a vast segment of the global population. As if millions of people around the world will wake up one day and see life in a totally different way than the day before. Such predictions of quantity are not helpful, I believe. They set up false expectations. Such a mass-scale shift could occur if it were to be triggered by an external event, such as the meltdown of the Greenland ice shelf. Given a nuclear strike, a biological terrorist attack, or a geological upheaval that devastates a major urban area, the attention of the entire world would be affected, and people would collectively and simultaneously have to adjust their way of life to the new situation. Lacking such events, it is hard to believe that masses of people will suddenly change their minds about how we live on this planet.
You don´t have to be a shamanic wizard to predict that catastrophic events and more terrorist mayhem will occur in the next six years. It is widelly claimed that Israel will launch a preemptive strike against Iran, sooner or laer. This event could escalate into nuclear war in the Middle East, into WW III—something that may be bound to happen, if the current concatenation of historical events is not averted. In due time, there is likely to be another terrorist event in the USA, a biological attack on a major urban center, perhaps. All the experts say that it is not a matter of if, but when, and a large segment of the public are apprehensive, tensed for what is to come. Such tension can be expected to reach excruciating heights in the next six years.
What has all this frightful business to do with the Maya Long Count? These awful events would be happening whether or not the Count was down to its final years. They are not the result of calendric determinism, but the cumulative madness of history. They stem from initial conditions going back some 5000 years. Elaborate breakdowns of the Count—the nine heaven periods and thirteen hell periods, for instance—are exercises in mental scheming, ways to impose a comfortable sense of order on events, but such exercises do not, to my mind, prove the predictive power of the Count.
In my view, to use the Count as a tool for prediction is to misuse it. The question, "What´s going to happen?" is less helpful than the question "What is the behavior that most urgently needs to be changed in the immediate future, if we are to have a future?" The Count can be an heuristic tool that allows us to frame events and learn something about the compulsive patterns of history, as I've demonstrated above. As such, it need not be taken for a mysterious oracle that has the power to bring about what it foretells.
The forces set in motion at the dawn of Kali Yuga are now
playing out their final stage, the endgame of patriarchy, the global
showdown for theocratic fascism. It may not all end abruptly in December,
2012. More like than not, it won´t die with such elegant brevity.
But in the way we approach the designated
moment, mindful of the historical trajectory that brings us to it, something
crucial to ending the lethal spell of patriarchy could be achieved.
Against the Book
In the first chapter of The End of Faith, Sam Harris makes two outstanding observations: first, "most of the people in this world believe that the Creator of the universe has written a book," and second, "criticizing a person´s faith is currently taboo in every corner of our culture." These are obvious facts of modern life, but the peculiar force of Harris´s argument throughout the book consists in his stating the obvious in such a way that it looks at once novel and alarming. Once it is said, in just so many words, that most people believe God has written a book, the belief looks patently absurd. Yet we know this belief is universal, deep seated, and longstanding. It determines the way a good many of people on this planet behave.
Now, if suddenly countless numbers of people who hold this belief and adhere to The Book were to repudiate it, that would be an event worthy of Long Count expectations. That would be a paradigm shift to exceed the wildest prophecies of Jenkins and Calleman. It would also be the shift consistent with the historical profile of Kali Yuga sketched in the above paragraphs. Recall that we identified two nodal dates, 551 BCE and 731 CE, when the composition of the patriarchal agenda was highlighted. These were key dates in establishing domination by The Book: the Bible in 551 BCE and the Koran in 731 CE. Does the moment 2012 portend the opportunity to disempower or even reverse those earlier moments? Are such massive trends in psychosocial behavior reversible?
The End of Faith may indicate what can really happen in the endtime better than any number of prophetic tomes that purport to describe what will happen, or what is hoped to happen, such as Jenkins' speculations in his books on galactic alignment.
But is mass-scale rejection of Abrahamic faith likely to happen? Consider the certainty of world-shattering events, such as terrorist biological attacks and geophysical catastrophes, and what do you conclude? I would guess that when such events occur, most people will go scrambling for The Book, rather than chuck it away. The certainty of frightening events that will disrupt or even destroy social and personal security almost totally precludes the possibility that masses of people will opt to throw off the narrative spell. On the contrary, they are likely to hunker down into it ever more deeply. They will fall on their faith when the system fails. They will die with clenched hearts, believing rather than liberated from belief.
Yet there will be some spellbreaking in the endtime. The mass awakening of the human species may be a comforting fantasy to some, but others are perhaps more inspired by a different scenario in which a few people break through the spell that still holds the vast majority of human beings in thrall. Is this an elitist view of the endtime opportunity? No, but it may be a genuine survivalist view.
It would be foolish, I think, to expect that between now and December 2012 untold millions around the world will renounce the Torah, the Bible, and the Koran, and liberate themselves from the stupid, vicious, and irrational beliefs stated in those texts—but there may be a more reasonable expectation for the endtime. If the antireligious debate signaled by The End of Faith were to escalate into an open public controversy, we would find ourselves living through an event that truly reflects optimal change for humanity. To openly challenge in public debate the sexual apartheid of Islam, for instance, would be a momentous event and a vast gain for positive change and social healing. The problem today is, not only that sexual apartheid exists—most blatantly in Islam, but also in the other two Abrahamic religions, not to mention in Indian and Chinese religion—but that it cannot be called into question, due to perceived political incorrectness and fear of offending Muslims.
Let´s recall Harris´s second observation of the obvious: it is absolutely taboo in our society today to challenge or criticize matters of faith. But what if this taboo also were suddenly to be challenged and overridden? Suppose that it became acceptable to confront and even offend people on their beliefs. Suppose the tables were turned, and it was the offended party, not the offending party, who must go on the defensive in the debate over religious beliefs and faith-based principles. That would be a shift in social reality and social syntax consistent with a breakaway from the narrative spell of patriarchy that has dominated Kali Yuga.
It would be a tremendous shift to start offending believers and have them be accountable for what they believe, and for what is done by blind adherence to their irrational, threatening, and intolerant convictions.
A recent court ruling on religious offence in England established that "offence is not incitement." This ruling introduces what could be a radical shift in the rules of discourse on faith issues. It changes the syntax of the debate over faith issues. The case concerned the leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin, who described Islam as a "vicious" religion. Regardless of the source of the remark, it is true that offence is not incitement. Griffin did not say that Islam is a vicious religion and Muslims ought to be hanged. The latter phrase is sure-fire incitement. With the privilege of free expression comes the responsibility to use language in a sober, rational, and measured way: to be careful what you say, but not be so cautious that you never challenge or offend. Any sane person of good conscience knows what it is to talk incitement, and what it isn´t.
The argument that offensive talk leads automatically to incitement is invalid and supports the plea for special exemption that is antithetical to open debate in a free society. Likewise for the argument that offensive talk alienates the offended people from positive dialogue that could lead to social reconciliation and better integration: to take being offended as an excuse to withdraw from open social discourse is just another way to extort special exemption. The offence response is specious and rejects the creative dissonance that makes democratic society possible.
Living in an open society, we are all exposed to a lot of offence, things said and done that offend us for one reason or another, in one way or another. I for one are offended by the use of sex in advertizing, by the exploitation of children as fashion icons, by the entire educational system of Western culture, and a lot more. The risk of being offended is a consequence of the free expression offered in an open society. Currently, it is taboo to offend Jews, Christians, or Muslims by saying anything critical or derogatory about their faith, their beliefs, and their customs, including how they dress, how they treat their children, and how they slaughter animals. The fear of offending is not a measure of compassion or consideration, although it disguises itself as such. It a concession to the demand for special exemption exerted by members of these religions, who seek the advantage of enforcing their agenda by operating on values and beliefs that cannot, they insist, be questioned, criticized, or ridiculed. But the demand for special exemption on any issue whatsoever is inconsistent with the principles of an open society (or civic society, as Harris calls it).
The demand for special exemption is a disguised tactic for spreading tyranny and totalitarianism, the rule of The Book. There can no special exemptions from open social critique of any subject in a free society, least of all religious beliefs that drive social behavior and religious practices that define social identity. The society that succumbs to this demand is committing moral suicide (which is precisely what´s happening in Europe, Bruce Bawer argues in his disturbing study, While Europe Slept.) But the West, and especially European society, has become ever more and more compliant with this demand over the last few decades.
I submit that the policy of appeasement signals the terminal decadence of Kali Yuga and the end of the long countdown to a planet-wide orgy of righteous self-immolation. Defiance of the taboo against religious offence would be a true paradigm shift with worldwide repercussions for the good. This is the kind of mass behavioral change to look for in social life as the Maya endtime approaches. This is something worth discussing, not as a mere expectation, but as a challenge for the 2012 moment.
My book, Not in His Image, attempts to challenge and break the narrative spell of patriarchy. It presents a radical critique of faith in The Book. So do many articles on this site. Metahistory.org proposes belief change as the single most powerful act that can make a difference for human life on this planet today. Some essays on this site exemplify realistic expectations we might hold for a positive grand finale of the Long Count: for instance, The Promise of a Lonely Planet.
People of faith can be as offended as they want to be—that is their problem. When they make it the problem of others, they act spitefullyand destructively against the principles of open, democratic society, the very principles that allow them to hold their beliefs. It is no crime to hurt someone´s feelings, nor to discount what they have invested in their identity. In fact, it is a sign of a healthy society that this can be done without fear of reprisal. But if a society at large complies with the demand for special exemption, the faith-based program of patriarchal domination that got rolling into high gear at the start of Kali Yuga will prevail, down to the last man standing.
Breaking the narrative spell is only possible if open debate
on religious beliefs can unfold without restraint and without fear
of reprisal, in a theatre of non-threatening debate, guided
by the principle that offence is not incitement. As it stands
now, anyone who even jokes about the Prophet can be threatened with death.
It is bad enough that Muslims feel this way, but worse that infidels
in the "democratic West" are willing to appease their
feelings. Freed of the threats routinely expressed by outraged Moslems,
debate would grow to considerable proportions, or at least it would have
a chance to grow.
Breaking the narrative spell by open, non-inciting debate on faith issues is not the only way that the rendezvous in 2012 could turn into a profound healing moment for humanity. There is also another major path toward the breakthrough into a future safe for debate and difference... I will present my ideas on this subject in the companion article, now in development: The Discovery of the Next World.
January 2007 Andalucia
Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2017 by John Lash.