“It’s just their imagination,” says Carlos Barrios, Mayan elder, priest and spiritual guide.
Carlos’ book, The Book of Destiny: Unlocking the Secrets of the Ancient Mayans and the Prophecy of 2012, dispels the myths and discusses December 2012 for what it really is – a new era steeped in needless superstitious belief.
“Other people write about prophecy in the name of the Maya,” he continues. “They say that the world will end in December 2012. The Mayan elders are angry with this. The world will not end. It will be transformed.”
By now, NASA and others have made it abundantly clear that the world is not going to end this Friday. So what is supposed to be taking place? For the Mayan Long Count calendar, December 21 marks the end of the 13th b’ak’tun and the completion of a nearly 5,200 year cycle. The Fifth Sun begins an age of energy, of a heightened ability to come together and live in harmony with one another (so Mayans believe).
Efforts to promote better understanding of this momentous date have influenced tourism initiatives in places where Maya culture lives on. For instance, the Belize Tourism Board has been encouraging visitors to come celebrate the cycle’s end since last fall via its “2012 Passport”, which gives travelers access to archeological sites and celebrations at a special value. Visitors to Belize during these remaining weeks of 2012 will experience adventure and cultural learning side by side through overnight camping, lectures, tours, as well as a fire ceremony at Caracol and a festival at Cahal Pech marking the end of the transformation with live music, dancing, and food.
Belize’s efforts to enlighten the misinformed through meaningful travel are joined by publications such as Carlos Barrios’ book, various news stories, and documentaries touting the truth.
In some areas, however, sensationalism prevails. Doomsday disaster websites and films such as 2012 (2009) persist in furthering the end-of-the-world mindset. If you’re willing to listen to the voices of reason, the apocalyptic predictions can become a source of humor rather than dread. Despite what you may have heard, Earth is not headed for a collision with the mysterious planet Nibiru. We are not aligning with a black hole. Earth’s magnetic poles are not reversing. And we are not getting scorched by solar flares. You can refer to NASA on all of these for reassurance.
Once you’ve grasped the essential facts, it can be useful (or simply comic) to examine our paranoia through an artistic lens. The below are a few snapshots from an apocalypse-themed exhibition in a Wicker Park gallery in Chicago, all in good fun:
All end-of-world silliness aside, we could still experience a disaster of sorts. The National Council of Elders Mayas, Xinca and Garifuna recently teamed up with a Los Angeles-based production company to create a film, Shift of the Ages, that clears up rumors and misinformation surrounding December 21st, the Mayan calendar, and the end of the world. In his address to all of society in the film, the council’s leader Wandering Wolf (also known as Don Alejandro Cirilo Perez Oxlaj) notes that while the world isn’t ending, “we are seeing a series of events approaching us as never seen before. These events come charged with tremendous sufferings and pain. They will happen in different places. They will touch us equally, men and women, old and young, indigenous or non-indigenous…
“…our recommendation to avoid more suffering is this: No more nuclear testing, no more wars, no more mining and other explorations, no more use of chemicals. This is the only way the human race, the animals and the ancient trees could survive and see the new Sun. If we do not change, few will be the ones to survive and see the arrival of the 6th Sun.” (Shift of the Ages)
It’s a sobering prediction. But if by heeding this advice and thinking globally and environmentally — while learning to take both good and bad, both light and dark, into account — then perhaps we can enact a global change that all the world can benefit from.