Feature article by Will Black

Will Black in an English anthropologist and journalist with particular interests in the anthropology of religion, medicine, mass media and anthrozoology. His postgraduate work placed Jose Arguelles’ Planet Art Network and Dreamspell calendar in the context of both 2012 mythology and the history of apocalyptic thought. Considered alongside the history of religion, Arguelles and his movement looked rather superficial and inconsequential to Black.

Consequently, Black was been extremely critical of the focus of PAN and Arguelles’ followers, arguing that such shallow New Age appropriation from the Maya not only distracts people from understanding complex Mayan religious ideas but also deflects attention from the brutal realities of contemporary Central American life, including the drug wars tearing communities apart.

By de-sensationalising 2012, Will Black seeks to concentrate attention on the plight of those who the calendar has been “stolen” from and on real possibilities of revelation in a world where a single tweet can lead to a revolution and important ideas can be disseminated in a way that would have been unimaginable to the most ambitious prophet of the past.

Extract of Will Black’s
Beyond the End of the World – 2012 and Apocalypse
(published in 2010)
Find the book at Amazon.com

The Mayan civilization predicted that on December 21, 2012 something will happen to change civilization, value systems and the way we know human civilization forever. According to scientists and technologists something strange is happening behind the scene. The terrestrial and solar polar reversal peaks are coming within three weeks of that day. Innumerable UFOs are scouting our skies regularly and increasing as we approach that day. The tectonic plate shifts, underwater volcanoes, earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis are increasing at rates never seen before.

Milly, an internet user, responding to an online question about what the classical Maya expected to happen in 2012.

It is extremely troubling to me that so many people want to talk about the ‘Mayan calendar’ and what they think Maya believed and believe, without making any effort to find out about the lived experience of the contemporary Maya. In discussions about 2012 and the Mayan calendar, it often becomes rapidly apparent that some people assume the Maya to be long-dead - along with woolly mammoths and dodos. Given the fact that many such discussions happen on the World Wide Web, it strikes me as rather like talking about a person who is in the room as though they are dead. Sometimes the assumption that they are long gone allows the Maya to be discussed with a sense of bewildered awe, as though speculating about the mythical lost people of Atlantis - or elves.

When I typed this simple enquiry into Google “What do the Mayans believe will happen in 2012” the top site in the list was a Yahoo Answers question posted in 2007. The specific question posed on Yahoo was: What do the Mayans believe will happen at the end of their 5,000 year-old calendar, on Dec.21st 2012? The answers reveal much more about the ignorance of those responding to the question than about the Maya themselves or the sophistication of their calendrical system. It’s quite fascinating and also disturbing to me that people are so happy to share their incredible ignorance to the world as though it was based on anything real. It is also alarming that this sort of misinformation is the first - and perhaps only - thing many people will read about this complicated subject before passing on their newly garnered wisdom to others.

An abridged representation of the Yahoo discussion, with some particularly bad spelling corrected for clarity, follows. I have not changed the style of contributors writing. Readers will note that the person posing the question (Peternal) has been permitted to decide on what constitutes the best answer, which got elevated to the pride of place at the top of the page, despite it being, in the main, nonsense. However, to be fair to Barbara, who gave the ‘best answer’, readers will note that there were many much more ignorant and bizarre answers than the one she offered. Readers will notice that not only do some assume that the Maya are an extinct people but one person appears to also believe that Australian Aborigines and Hawaiian people no longer exist.

Question by Peternal: Okay, what DID the Mayans believe will happen?

Best Answer, by Barbara (chosen by asker):
Actually the Mayan civilization was gone 600-800 years before Europeans showed up. It was the Aztec that the Spanish wiped out. Mayans still live in the forest, after the fall they went back to living with nature instead of trying to control it. The Mayans believed we were in the fifth and final age. They saw something about the sun that disturbed them so much they ended the calendar. 2012 is a solar maximum year. Our civilization is very vulnerable to solar flares because of computers, damage to the environment, the ozone layer in particular.

By Somathus:
The transition to another world age. The Mayans prophesied that from 1999 we have 13 years to realize the changes in our conscious attitude to stray from the path of self-destruction and instead move onto a path that opens our consciousness to integrate us with all that exists. Fat chance of that happening.

By Nolajazz:
The Mayans do not exist in this world anymore. The ending of their calendar on that date actually signifies the END of this age/era in time, and the beginning of a brand new era, which will be part of the golden age.

By AC:
Mayans believed 2012 to be the last era and therefore the end of human consciousness, which can be interpreted in many ways i.e. apocalypse. Look at the current state of the world and see if you think we're going to make it longer than that.

By Kalikina:
The Mayans never disappeared, there are Mayans living in Mexico, Guatemala, and other countries in Latin America. There is no proof that the Mayans thought something would happen that day.

By Marcus R.
There are no more Mayans, so their calendar outlived their civilization.

By Asker Guy:
They believed the world will suffer a massive flood. It’s kinda scary cuz they predicted a lot of things that has happened in recent years, even though their civilization has been gone for hundreds of years.

By Lou C:
Without doing a lot of research to back me up I'm pretty sure that the Mayan civilization was killed off by the early arrival of Europeans many centuries ago much the same as the Aztecs, Hawaiians and Australian Aborigines.

In the hope of correcting some of the ignorance about the Mayan culture and history, I would like to make some general points about Mayan religion and myth before outlining some contemporary Mayan ideas about 2012 and the codes alluding to the year. By articulating some contemporary Mayan views about the calendar and the cycle end date I can at least demonstrate that they actually still do exist, in case any of the Yahoo users quoted above happen to stumble upon this book.

Mayan religion and historical influences

It is critical to point out that the culture of Central America has been highly dynamic as far back into the past as archaeologists and anthropologists have felt able to speculate about. This dynamism has had an extremely interesting impact on the development of religions. The Maya are just one of a number of communities appearing in the region that descended from shamanistic Asiatic nomads. It seems most likely that the ‘Indians’ who populated the Americas came into North America on foot across an area called Beringia, a now-vanished land bridge that led from Siberia to Alaska.

The last time a Bering land-bridge crossing was possible was around 12,000 years ago, during the last glacial period. By the time the great Mayan pyramids were built in Mesoamerica, ‘Amerindians’ had spread all over the continent and developed a vast network of cultures, traditions, languages and mythologies. A focus on the Mayan calendar offers us a sense of the dynamism of Amerindian culture and highlights how religions emerge and are refined by taking elements from those of other communities. No religion develops and spreads in isolation — it only does so in the context of culture, history and other religions.

The Mayan calendrical system appears to be based on elements of a system used by different groups in Central America from over 2,500 years ago. Earlier Mesoamerican communities, including the Zapotec and Olmec, used calendrical codes which appear to have laid the foundations for the Maya system. Similarly, the Aztecs and Mixtec societies, which peaked after classical Mayan culture subsided, used elements of both Mayan and Olmec calendrics. Sometimes millenarianists make the error of suggesting that prophecies about the Mayan cycle end date must be true because there are similarities between the Mayan system and other Mesoamerican calendars. However, this is extremely flawed logic. The reason that the calendars are similar is because they copied one another, often badly. It should also be noted that most of the societies that used these related Mesoamerica prophetic calendars are now extinct, which raises questions about effectiveness of the systems in predicting the future.

The Maya, along with other Mesoamerican Amerindians, employed and still use a system in which numerous calendrical cycles are repeated indefinitely. There should be a clue to those of an apocalyptic persuasion that these cycles continue relentlessly without any actual suggestion they will end. A good way to visualise the endless cycles of the calendar is like many different sized cogs turning in an old fashioned clock or watch.

In some ways the Mayan calendar echoes our familiar Gregorian system, in that our cycles of months are repeated indefinitely. However, there are also important differences between the systems. With the Gregorian system we get to the end of December and, with hangovers following excesses of fun and intoxicants, start the cycle of days and months again. As was the case in 1999, some people get anxious or incredibly excited about new millennia, just as they have done about Mayan cycles ending in 2012. One key thing that contrasts Mayan calendrics from ‘Western’ calendrics is the connection the closing of cycles has with birth and death mythology.

Within the Mayan tradition, the ends of calendrical cycles are associated with mythologies about death and the actions of particular supernatural entities or Gods. Just as, within the Tzolk’in count, different days have a spiritual character, different spirits or Gods are associated with large cycles and with the movement from one cycle to another. We know that the classical Maya clearly took such cycle endings or ‘world endings’ seriously as they marked the occasions by going to the trouble and expense of erecting colossal pyramids and other monuments.

As each epoch or ‘world’ was created by and overseen by certain Gods, offerings were made to those deities, including human sacrifice. This is an indication of how fragile the continuation of the world and how powerful divine forces appeared to be to classical Maya and other Amerindian communities, such as the Aztecs, who also practiced human sacrifice. It would seem unlikely that societies perform ritual human sacrifices unless there is a widespread belief in deities and a perception that these are so wrathful or capricious that they need to be appeased with blood. Marxists and other atheists might argue that those at the top of the society may not have actually believed in Gods requiring appeasement, but instead used human sacrifice as a way of scaring and controlling the masses. However, the depictions of elite groups undergoing extreme pain, probably in the quest for visions, more than hints at a widespread belief in powerful spiritual forces or Gods.

The mystical significance placed by classical and some modern Maya on calendar cycles may seem, at first glance, extremely different from our view of the Gregorian calendar. However, it is worth remembering that the annual event of Halloween is rooted in the belief that humans are especially vulnerable to supernatural entities at certain times. Halloween has emerged from the Celtic festival of Samhain and relates to anxiety about moving from the warm and bright part of the year to the dark, cold months. The Celts appear to have held the belief that the barrier between the human world and the ‘otherworld’ of supernatural entities was weaker on Samhain. This presented the danger that such beings, some of which were malevolent, would gain entry into the human world and cause harm. Consequently the Celts did what they could to ward off harmful entities by welcoming protective ancestral spirits. Clothing and masks were donned to repel attacks by evil spirits and sacrificial offering were made to welcome ancestral spirits. As well as Halloween providing evidence that points on the Gregorian calendar are associated with supernatural events, we should remember that supernatural mystical significance was also attached to the year 2000.

Like many people in Latin America, the Maya have merged elements of their traditional religion with Catholicism. This is reflective of the skill of Catholic missionaries in drawing on local beliefs in their efforts of proselytising. Rather than simply denying local beliefs and risking opposition, missionaries encouraged Amerindians to draw parallels between their own complex spiritual system and the rich tapestry of Christian stories and characters. This is perhaps why two powerful vision-inducing and entheogenic agents, the mescaline containing San Pedro cactus and the leafy plant Salvia divinorum, have become linked to key figures in Christian faith. San Pedro is quite aptly named after Saint Peter, who guards the entrance to heaven and permits the only virtuous. The Mazatec Indians of Mexico associate Salvia divinorum (diviner’s sage) with the mother of Jesus by calling it the “leaves of the shepherdess” and “the herb of Mary”.

It is difficult to know at this stage what extent the early adoption of Christian ideas and myths was to placate missionaries, but it seems likely that elements of the religion would have resonated with the pre-existing beliefs of the Maya and other Amerindian groups. If one reads the work of the Joseph Campbell, a fascinating scholar of mythology, it would come as no surprise that parallels could be found within the stories of the Bible and beliefs already held by pre-conquest Maya. In his books, particularly The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949) and The Masks of God series (1959 to 1968) Campbell draws on psychology, anthropology and history to show interesting links between religious myth systems and motifs from around the world. In any case, the success of missionaries is demonstrated by the fact that Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador have among the highest percentage of Catholic devotees in the world.

For the typical tourist visiting Mayan regions, it is likely that the clearest, and perhaps only, connection noticed between contemporary Maya and the Mayan calendar is the sale of items in gift shops. Shops across Mexico are crammed full of factory made ‘stone carvings’, T shirts, jigsaw puzzles, tea towels, key rings, belts, posters and even baby bibs decorated with both the Mayan and Aztec calendars. Very often such shops are on tour bus excursion routes, so they consequently receive regular 15 minute influxes of sweaty tourists heading to or from some ruin, resort or water park. In my own visits to Mayan areas I have enquired about the significance of the calendars and what the shopkeepers believe will happen in 2012. Sadly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, most shopkeepers I met were much more interested in selling products than explaining the calendars to an annoyingly inquisitive tourist. However, it would be wrong to conclude, from the reticence of busy shop staff or the popularity of Catholicism in Central America, that the Maya have entirely abandoned their pre-conquest religious beliefs or lost all interest in their calendar.

A key Mayan figure who has worked tirelessly to reclaim the calendar for his people and dispel the fantasies, half-truths and fabrications peddled by some New Agers, is Carlos Barrios. Mr Barrios grew up in Huehuetenango in the Guatemalan highlands and from his teenage years learned to be a daykeeper (or follower of the calendrical codes) and Mayan priest. Using the internet, Mr Barrios has issued several statements about the Mayan calendar and outlining his concerns about the misrepresentation of the system. One such statement entitled Message From the Mayan Elders, was issued in February 2006. Mr Barrios requested that his message is circulated widely and consequently I shall include a reasonable amount of it here before commenting on some key issues raised in the statement.

Within the message Mr Barrios said:

A lot has been said about this time, about the prophecies given by ancient wise visionary men. Some of the prophecies have been kept on secret books, some have been transmitted in a verbal way. Others have risen in a series of books, documentaries, articles in magazines, newspapers and especially on the internet. Some are extremely alarming, others have no basis.

All this information has wakened the interest of millions of people, but it has also created a lot of confusion and fear, since the date of December 21 of 2012 has been used as the date of the end of the world. However, this date points out the beginning of a new cycle, which is marked in the tradition of the Mayan elders as a time of harmony and spiritual growing, this cycle is called the fifth sun.

Each of these cycles last 5,200 years and they have been affected by the polarity of the masculine or feminine energy and of course they have also been affected by the elements. Today we are at the door of the end of the fourth cycle. We will be witnesses to the confrontation of the negative and positive forces, the eternal fight amongst polarity, the fight between the eternal fire and the eternal ice, rough and magical times, prophetic times.

Someone has to raise the torch of light and create consciousness; these leaders have to find their path once again and assume the responsibility that was given to them. This is the calling of the ancient Mayan elders. The wise elders are tired of waiting, they have sent this message previously and today, knowing the delicacy of this year, the violence, insanity, the tiredness of our mother earth, that regardless of the advice she has sent us (hurricanes, floods, droughts, the tsunami, etc) we are still impassive. A year ago the tsunami stunned us, fear and panic grew. Today this is just a vague memory. We have to be blind not to see we have to give a stop to this destruction.

The Mayan elders are expecting that in the next two years there will be a great explosion of magma in the Yellowstone Park. This explosion would have the effect equivalent to the destruction that several atomic bombs would cause, giving as a result a great matter of contamination and pollution. We are also expecting the imminent attack to Syria and the possibility of an attack to Iran, as well as the trying of overthrowing and putting a stop to the socialist democratic movements that are rising in Latin America. The last predictions, we can still put a stop to, but we have to use our powerful weapons, the inner magic in each of us, our fire ceremonies, meditations and any other techniques.

As a few years have passed since Mr Barrios issued that statement we are in a position to see that prophecies made by the elders, through him, have not come to pass. An interesting prediction set out by Mr Barrios was the eruption of a volcano at Yellowstone National Park in the US. It has been known by climatologists for many years that a ‘super volcano’ at Yellowstone could change the global climate as well as have a catastrophic impact regionally. An eruption could ultimately cause an ice age because volcanic ash from such an event would stay in the upper atmosphere for many years, moving around the world and shading out sunlight.

It is worth recognising, however, that geological time is quite a different thing from human time frames. The Yellowstone caldera super volcano has not erupted for around 640,000 years and scientists from the US Geological Survey and the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory stated in 2005 that there is no evidence that there will be a cataclysmic eruption at Yellowstone in the foreseeable future. However, given that air traffic was disrupted for months after the eruption, in March 2010, of the much smaller Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland, it should be apparent that humans are ultimately at the mercy of nature and are not always able to predict or control dramatic natural events.

Despite the travel chaos of spring 2010, mass panic about volcanoes has, fortunately, not set in yet. For most people in Europe and the US the biggest threat volcanoes present is the ability to disturb holidays and business trips. The tendency to minimise the impact of such events was brought home to me when an American woman, having been told by airport staff that flights were grounded because of the volcano, reportedly asked: “But it won’t affect business class travellers, will it?”

If there is an eruption of a bigger volcano and air travel becomes impossible within large regions for years, public perceptions will no doubt have to change. Volcanoes could suddenly appear more apocalyptic to even the most complacent of people. Nevertheless, we have to acknowledge that Mr Barrios’ prophecies about the Yellowstone Park super volcano have proved wrong. Had he talked about volcanoes more vaguely Mr Barrios could have perhaps gained the status of an internet Nostradamus but the specific nature of his prophecy undermined this possibility. This would have no doubt encouraged more doom-minded people to latch onto 2012.

Just as we saw in the case of Marian Keech, prophecies about cataclysms can seem plausible, frightening and exciting, but when they turn out to be false the credibility of prophets can easily be lost. However, to be fair to Mr Barrios and the Mayan elders, their overall message - that the global environment is sensitive to change and mankind destabilises the ecosystem at its peril - seems to be perfectly sensible. It may not resonate with anything one sees in Mayan hieroglyphs from the classical era but it certainly echoes what environmental scientists have been saying for decades and a few courageous politicians have more recently.

In January 2008 the inauguration of the Guatemalan president Álvaro Colom Caballeros gave the head of the National Mayan Council of Elders of Guatemala a platform from which to outline Mayan prophecies. Representing the Mayan people at the inauguration, Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj also raised concerns about inequality, the illegal drugs trade, the environment and racism. The prophecies mentioned in the speech refer to those made in recent years in response to contemporary realities rather than those inscribed into monuments by the classical Maya. Extracts of Cirilo Perez Oxlaj’s speech are included here:

We have several prophecies concerning the time we are living in. I will mention some of them: “At the time of the 13 Baktun and 13 Ahau is the time of the return of our Ancestors and the return of the men of wisdom.” That time is now.

Another one says: “Arise, everyone, stand up! Not one, nor two groups be left behind the rest”. This prophecy is in reference to all: rich or poor, black or white, men or women, indigenous or non-indigenous, we all are equal, we all have dignity, we all deserve respect, we all deserve happiness; we all are useful and necessary to the growth of the country and to make a nation where we can live with respect among the different cultures.

We the indigenous people join together in defence of the life of the human species, in defence of the life of our brother animals and the trees and in defence of the life of Mother Earth, because the life of the planet earth is in danger. We all know that what is happening in the world now is not a coincidence. As examples, the hurricanes and the heavy storms that are menacing different places in the world; the high temperatures that day-by-day rise to higher degree, while in other parts of the world the cold becomes more intense; rivers are drying out and others are disappearing; the glaciers are melting; many places in the world are suffering the effects of natural disasters; and all of these are the result of our imbalance with nature. One other thing, our country, our communities are living under fear due to the violence, the drugs, and confrontations with those who are in search for power and wealth.

It is necessary that the behaviour of human beings all over the world has to change; the life of the planet earth is responsibility of all and that is why the invitation from the indigenous people is for everyone, to help save human life, save the planet thus inheriting a healthy future to the new generations. It is for this reason that we invite everyone, indigenous and non-indigenous to understand and respect each other; we invite each one to make an effort to change the negative attitude towards the indigenous and towards women.

Alluding to the end of the cycle in 2012 and his hopes for a positive transformation of the world, Cirilo Perez Oxlaj also said:

According to the Mayan long count, we are finalizing the 13 Baktun. We are at the doorsteps of the ending of another period of the Sun, a period that lasts 5,200 years and ends with several hours of darkness. After this period of darkness there comes a new period of the Sun, it will be the 6th one. In each period of the Sun there is an adjustment for the planet and it brings changes in the weather conditions and in social and political life.

The world is transformed and we enter a period of understanding and harmonious coexistence where there is social justice and equality for all. With a new social order there comes a time of freedom where we can move like the clouds, without limitations, without borders. We will travel like the birds, without the need for passports. We will travel like the rivers, all heading towards the same point. The Mayan prophecies are announcing a time of change.

During the conclusion of his speech Cirilo Perez Oxlaj said:

Many don’t believe there is racism, discrimination, and despise towards indigenous communities, but the reality is that we feel it and we live it every moment. We experience it all the time, as workers and as citizens. I ask myself, “Why is this, if we are all humans, if we all have the same feelings and dignity, and we all are equal?” I think that there is so much to learn still, such as learning to recognize the identity, the value, and the wisdom that the indigenous nations have regarding living a good life.

To the many in this country, what we the indigenous people do, what we feel, and what we think has no importance. The concept they have is that we are ignorant people. But no, we are not ignorant. We are descendants of a millennial culture who has suffered over the years. But one that still maintains great wisdom to the point of having been able to solve our own necessities without the support of the country.

The future of Guatemala is in our hands. We can help eliminate poverty and the daily exclusion. Each one of us has a relationship with the universe and that reflects whether our attitudes with others are harmonious or not. The time for change has arrived. The time for understanding each other and to be more human is here.

This statement by Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj is brimming with millenarian zeal that would not be out of place at a Planet Art Network event. However, some Mayans have distanced themselves from the doomsday fever inspired by the cycle end date. Just as the 2012 film was being released, in October 2009, a Guatemalan Mayan elder issued a short statement, reported by the global press, dismissing the apocalyptic excitement associated with the end of the calendrical cycle. In the reports Apolinario Chile Pixtun said he had been bombarded with questions about 2012 when visiting the UK during the previous year. He stated: “I came back from England last year and, man, they had me fed up with this stuff.” He also suggested that doomsday theories about 2012 are the product of the Western imagination rather than Mayan beliefs.

Apocalypse, natural disasters and individualism

There are many troubling ramifications of the fact that 2012 mythology has been hijacked by excitable, fanciful and sometimes completely delusional Westerners. One such problem is that any evidence of change or disaster focused on, however superficially, may be used to fuel speculation that the world is about to change dramatically or end. For example, since the 2012 film was released some people have become increasingly jumpy about earthquakes. The movie has united doomsday anticipators and gullible film-goers in their frantic scanning for evidence that the world is literally breaking apart. Such people latched onto the fact that, in the months following November 2009, there were numerous earthquakes around the world. Had their interest in seismic activity been deep enough for them to bother looking back a few years, they would have found evidence supporting the strong probability that the world is not about to end. History, geology and archaeology all tell us that earthquakes, unfortunately for those people whose lives are taken or destroyed by them, are rather common.

Nobody could fail to be disturbed by the level of chaos and suffering brought about by the earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince Haiti on Jan 12th 2010, which killed over two hundred thousand people. Nor could any empathic person fail to feel sorrow for those affected by subsequent quakes elsewhere. In the few months following the release of the 2012 film there were significant earthquakes in the Caribbean, the US, Chile, Japan, Indonesia and Turkey. However, the fact is that earthquakes are extremely regular natural phenomena, as they are connected to how our planet is formed. Earthquakes have been going on much longer than human beings have existed. In fact, without perpetually shifting tectonic plates our planet would not be as richly diverse as it is. This is because change promotes evolution.

The dramatically rising population on our planet and 24-hour rolling news mean that the level of human suffering associated with earthquakes appears greater than in previous centuries. For example, if an earthquake wiped out a whole society of perhaps 20,000 people a few thousand years ago but it was not reported to other human societies, it could not fuel the apocalyptic frenzy recent quakes have. It does not mean that people were not killed in as terrifying and painful ways as those in Haiti, or important elements of culture were not obliterated. In some ways the loss and pain would have been greater as international rescue missions were impossible. Furthermore, in pre-literate societies, mythologies and cosmologies handed down by word-of-mouth would have been lost forever.
In relation to the level of horror and fear felt by some today in response to remote natural disasters, like earthquakes, there may also be something significant in the contemporary value placed on human life. In our individualistic societies it is as though we cannot quite accept that tragedy and loss can happen to us or around us without it having some epic significance. Or the Earth’s crust cannot possibly move without it being ‘proof’ that we are living at a moment of unique significance. Brutal tragedies cannot happen without some regarding them as evidence that the end of the world or a New Age in nigh. There may also be a relationship between the inflation of the self, the ludicrous farce of celebrity culture that many buy into and the assumption that our age must be special enough to be the end time. It is perhaps the temporal equivalent of ethnocentrism that makes people believe that they and the time they live in have special significance. This insight may also help explain millenarian movements going back to Christ’s own cult and beyond.

For me, another quite different, though related, concern is that a largely Western focus on the world ending prevents the subtleties of the Mayan calendar and Mayan culture being understood. Just as Argüelles’ hijacking of the calendrical codes distracted potentially interested people from the true Mayan count, a panic-struck, film-influenced focus on Armageddon diminishes the chance of many people understanding Mayan society any better than before. It could even be that after December 2012 people are so disappointed that the world did not turn into an exciting movie plot that they will completely disregard the Maya. Given the many real challenges facing those in Central America, as alluded to above, this could be catastrophic. In my view, contemporary Mayan communities are more important than crumbling relics and we should take an interest in them regardless what happens in 2012.

Just as the Mayan culture has more going for it than a purported end date that has attracted fevered speculation, it is important to recognise that millenarian ideas are an integral part of major religions. Notions of apocalypse have been key factors in the development and spread of world religions and the actions (and inaction) of followers around the world.

Copyright Notice: This feature article appears here by permission of its author. Unlike other pages on 2012hoax.org, this page is not published under the Creative Commons license. This page is Copyright © 2010 Will Black. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License