We may have made it through 2011s Rapture unscathed but hold onto your hats folks, were not out of the woods yet. At least according to popular lore. Fans of eschatology (that would be the study of End Times) might have watched last Mays predicted deadline for a delivery of fire and brimstone come and go with mild amusement (or, more likely, disappointment) but as apocalyptic prophecies go The Rapture was pretty bush league. For all the headlines it garnered, Harold Campings dime-a-dozen doomsday prediction is firmly ensconced in the realm of the amateur.
The real heavyweight of end-of-world predictions comes this year, on Dec. 21, 2012 to be precise, the supposed end of the Mayan calendar. So ominous is the date, its had the superstitious among us running for cover for decades now. Even Hollywood got out ahead of the curve with a mediocre blockbuster thats been collecting dust in the DVD bargain bin for years.
Regardless of religious, spiritual or intellectual bent, the 2012 prophecy seems to have piqued a much wider interest simply because... well, actually we werent sure. Seeking answers, WE turned to our own syndicated astrology columnist Rob Brezsny for the skinny on whats behind the 2012 phenomenon and whether you should be worried. The verdict? You can relax.
I think its a distraction, says Brezsny, speaking by phone from his California residence. Come Dec. 22 of this year, the astrologer of 30 years is confident you can bet on waking up in the morning as you would on any other day. However that doesnt mean the 2012 phenomenon wont leave some damage in its wake. I regard it as a debilitating force in culture and a phenomenon that really takes us away from doing the real work, he says.
Civilization is at a turning point that will bring challenges throughout the coming years, Brezsny explains, but it has little to do with the Mayan calendar which, he points, out doesnt actually end on Dec. 21, rather it moves into a new phase akin to New Years Eve times a hundred. The trials humanity is up against in the coming years are much less likely to do with the timekeeping of an ancient civilization than with climate change, civil unrest and the need for a drastic overhaul of the way governments control populations and the economy. Having hopes, predictions and fears pinned on one date offers a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card to those looking to shirk their personal and collective responsibility on the planet, Brezsny says, hence its widespread appeal.
Having this fantasy date, which is treated irresponsibly by a lot of self-described prophets... makes us think theres this one particular moment when things are going to change; that we dont have any power over it, and its such a fuzzy idea about what the transition is that its basically just confusing. It causes fear and it rivets the attention of a lot of people who dont really think clearly, and thats just a lethal combination.
Brezsny suspects the modern roots of the 2012 doomsday myth date all the way back to 1987, when American author José Argüelles popularized the concept of Harmonic Convergence globally synchronized mediation and tied it to the Mayan calendar. From there other self-described prophets with varying degrees of credibility jumped on the bandwagon contributing to the mass of mixed messages and predictions surrounding the date.
Make no mistake, however. Brezsny says we cant escape the apocalypse; in fact, weve been living through it for decades already and thats not necessarily a bad thing. The original meaning of the word apocalypse meant awakening or revelation. It didnt refer simply to the demise, the breakdown, it also referred to a waking up. In that sense were living through the apocalypse in both senses of the word. Biologists say were living through a mass extinction event. What could be more apocalyptic than losing species of plants and animals at a rate that hasnt been matched since the demise of the dinosaurs? But at the same time there have never been anywhere near as many millions of people devoted to building a new world as there are now.
Based on what the stars and planets say, Brezsny expects the true phenomenon of 2012 will be in the continuation of movements like the Arab Spring and Occupy, which can be expected to ramp up as Pluto and Uranus dance into a series of relationships over the next three to four years not seen since the mid-1960s, the last notable time of great social change. I think we can look forward to a lot more of that in the coming years, he says.
Hear that? Years. Weve got a lot of time on our hands here kids, so Brezsny thinks wed better learn how to play nice.
Hey Rob, howd you get that job, anyway? WEVancouver.com has an extended Q&A with Rob Brezsny about his journey from teenage academic to syndicated astrology columnist.