Written by Micheal Stratford
The one reason anyone believes that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world is the end-date of the last span recorded, 12/21/2012. However, it isn’t the only end date in Mayan (aka Maya) records.
The Maya, a civilization that was long-term in thought if ever there was one, measured time via katuns (spanning 7200 days); 20 of these made up a b’ak’tun (144,000 days, 394 years). According to the Mayan document known as the Popol Vuh, we are in the fourth great world’s age; the previous three ages were worlds that failed. Our successful globe replaced them, and the calendar of the fourth age ends with the thirteenth b’ak’tun, the end-date of which is December 21, 2012.
Some apocalyptic predictors have decided that the Maya were warning of the destruction of the by-now degenerate fourth world by the gods. The Maya predicted the end by letting their calendar run out of dates, since they could predict the coming destruction.
The truth is, they couldn’t and they didn’t. Because most researchers, including such august folks as Mayanist scholars David Freidel and Linda Schele, have realized that the Mayan calendar is probably a perpetual one.
Remember perpetual calendars? You turned a wheel on them and the month, day and year would shift. That’s the conclusion not only of Friedel and Schele, but also of Maya authority Wyllys Andrews, who reminds us that a new Mayan calendar was discovered at Xultun. This new calendar travels at least 7000 years past the 12/21/2012 landmark, and shows no indication of an end-date.
The Maya, by all accounts, made their calendars in the assurance that the earth would continue in perpetuity. Their mindset, according to Andrews, was one of steadfast resistance to change, and their calendar reflects that mode of thinking.
Of course, this isn’t the first time around for humanity, the idea of a doomsday date.
Christopher Columbus believed that he had to discover his ancient lands right away and end his travels quickly—the zodiac, according to his diary, indicated that the end of the world was nigh around 1502.
The Spanish conquistadors lived in fear of the end-times, as similar astrological predictions said the apocalypse would occur around 1524, when a second Great Flood would engulf the world.
Halley’s Comet in May of 1910 caused some apocalyptic predictions, with numerous clergy and pseudo-scientists warning that the poison gases from the comet would destroy our atmosphere.
In December of 1954, Dorothy Martin of Chicago predicted that aliens from the planet Clarion would flood the world a second time—her cult was known as “the Seekers,” who quit their businesses and sold their earthly goods shortly before the fatal day. She may have been following in the footsteps of William Miller, whose cult did exactly the same thing 111 years earlier, reacting to Miller’s prediction of March 1843 as the end of it all.
Heaven’s Gate, run by Marshall Applewhite, did them all one better—his prediction that the Hale-Bopp comet would end the world drove his 39 followers to a mass suicide.
And who can forget Harold Camping? He predicted, via some rather skewed numerology, that the Bible itself set the date of the apocalypse as May 21, 2011; he bankrupted his business, the Christian ministry Family Radio, to set up nation-wide billboards announcing the end, and blamed an error in calculation when it failed to materialize.
As indeed all such predictions have failed to materialize.
So, if the Maya and their abrupt calendar are worrying you at all, just remember that history—and the probability of absolutely no disaster occurring 12/21/2012—are on your side.
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