And no one called us to the land,
And no one knows the wheres or whys,
But something stirs and something tries,
And starts to climb towards the light…
December 21, 2012 ultimately turned into an extremely over-hyped phenomenon, so much so that I had to debate with myself a little bit as to whether I was ultimately going to address it. I mean, naturally I wanted to, but by now you’ve certainly seen countless articles about how the end of the world could come or why it isn’t going to come, and then of course the day itself happened and we’re all still here and very little proved remarkable about the day at all (save for an incredibly bizarre NRA press conference, but that’s another topic for another time).
Yet those of you who know me personally know that I have a long personal history with this date, a history that positively begs me to talk about it now. It would almost be a crime not to. For so many years, I had so much fun with the notion that the world would end on the 2012 winter solstice, which was yesterday, in case you missed it. It finally happened. This started mainly in college, during those ultra-hazy late-night conversations in which I would regale the glassy-eyed audience with tales of the mysterious and unexplainable end of the mathematically brilliant Mayan calendar on that exact date, at the conclusion of the 13th B’ak’tun, which represented an absolutely crazy amount of time. The Mayan calendar was right about everything else…so who are we to say that it’s wrong about the End of Time, the End of the World? It evolved to a more clear-eyed and day-lit version of the same tricksterism when I entered the world of the office and would present this little kernel of joy to an often hopeless director of mine: Man, the world is going to end on December 21, 2012. So you can look at it one of two ways–either we make the most of each day because there’s not much time left or, if we hate everything, at least we know it’s coming to an end. And just as he was inevitably indicating his preference for the latter option, I would grin, cackle, and walk gleefully away from his office. Just like all good office wizards would do.
And now it’s finally come and gone. Of course, in the meantime, all of my fun was ruined in 2009 when Roland Emmerich and John Cusack had to go and make a ridiculous summer blockbuster our of the whole thing. I mean, talk about a total buzzkill. Took the sting right out of my favorite eschatalogical bludgeon. What was worse was that, while I was pretty sure the brilliant (and romanticized, by me) Mayans probably weren’t wrong regarding matters of cosmic importance, I was damn sure that Roland Emmerich was definitely wrong. If he and John Cusack were saying it, it couldn’t be true.
While under less favorable circumstances, such a revelation could have been a crippling blow to an already eccentric psyche, I had already begun to move towards an entirely different understanding of the wild ancient ghost story which I had foisted on the masses.
I mean, if we want to examine this subject on an advanced level (something few sane people engage in with grate frequency), we have to examine some of the specific claims about what to expect on this date, beyond the mere fact that a strange old calendar appears to stop counting. The first is the Galactic Alignment. You see, each year, the sun travels across the sky through different constellations, which is where the idea of the Zodiac comes from. On the winter solstice each year, the alignment is such that the sun appears to line up perfectly with the center of our Milky Way galaxy. This year, since the position of the solar system itself is approaching the center line known as the “galactic equator,” the alignment is extra special. Was the black hole/quasar thing in the middle gonna get us because we’re looking straight at it? No, says NASA. Nothing in particular should happen at all because of this, although if you want to think of it as super extra cool, there’s no harm in that. The point is that, even as a wizard, I typically still mostly believe what NASA tells me–you know, since they’re the ones who know about space. In fact, the best galactic alignment of them all, actually already happened in 1998. In any case, those NASA whackos also tell me that we were not likely to crash into the mystical planet Nibiru, mainly due to the fact that Nibiru doesn’t exist. I mean, seriously, do you know any “Nibiru”? I sure don’t.
Then there’s an even more convenient fact–while the end of the B’ak’tun represents the end of a wicked long period of time, the Mayans themselves never actually said or believed it was going to be the end of the world. The thing is, there are still Mayan descendants around, and they actually tell us this. And if we’re not willing to believe them–since all Mayan descendants must be liars or something–there are professional scholars who study the Maya for a living. They agree with the descendants–the Mayans likely would have partied and celebrated the end of such a long period of time, but the only thing significant about today, December 22, would have been that it was day 1–of the next B’ak’tun. Like minutes, seconds, years, and most (all) other measurements of what we call time, B’ak’tuns have a tendency to just keep going. One after another.
And that’s the primary meaning of today. The day after December 21. Just as 2013 will be the year after 2012. Numbers are funny things, aren’t they? Counting.
From another angle, however, counting is precisely the point. In our haste (and maybe disappointment) to label the entire day an old wives’ tale, we may unintentionally overlook the fact that it’s still a solstice. A winter solstice, something that is always significant and always worth marking. In the solar sense, we’ve just passed New Year’s Day! The day on which the darkness reaches its peak, we celebrate the victory of the light. From here on out, the light will grow. We’ve got the whole winter ahead of us, yet no matter the cold or snow, the length of the daylight hours will steadily increase. So, too, will our inner and external affairs. If we move along in accordance with the time, we’ll ride the cosmic tide and consciously ascend…
But do we then strip December 21, 2012, in particular, of all higher meaning beyond marking one solstice in a procession of many? Perhaps not. I was slightly disappointed to learn this week that the Mayan B’ak’tun calendar is actually just another linear calendar like ours. Like most people, I had always figured it was shaped in a circle, so it had to be cyclical. Makes sense, right? Well, wrong. Nevertheless, the Maya believed very strongly, as does this wizard, in a cyclical conceptualization of time. So did Plato, with his Great Year. So did the Ancient Khemitians (commonly called Ancent Egyptians), who divided time into five repeating epochs corresponding with the phases of the day. These are but three prominent examples among many more. It is hardly alien to human thought to conceive of humanity (and the rest of Earth along with it) is passing through various phases in larger cycles–cycles too large for us to generally see unfolding before us. Not without the right kind of sight, anyway.
It is, therefore, indeed quite possible that this year marks a major transition point. It may, on a grander scale, prove to have been the end of one world, and the beginning of another. And should no such proof ever emerge, what harm could there be of thinking of it in such a manner anyway? What harm can ever be caused by imagining a beginning and acting as though it were a new beginning. Fresh and untainted. New rules. New ways of thinking, new ways of acting. You can have those things now, whether yesterday was more super-important than all other days or not. Why not take the opportunity? The beginning of the world is something to celebrate, no matter who you are or what you believe.
From here on out, the light grows. May it shine down on you today, tomorrow, and all other days. Happy Soltice. Happy New Year. Happy Beginning of the World.