Do you want to know the real answer to the burning question if the world will end on December 21, 2012? I consulted a Mayan scholar who has unveiled the secrets of the Maya in his book, 2012 Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya, and what I learned definitely shed some light on the subject.
The world will end on December 21 or December 23, 2012, depending on how you interpret the Mayan calendar...and if you believe that when their calendar ends, life as we know it will, too.
I wish I had the ability to predict the future as many people feel the Mayans could and can do with accuracy down to the date of significant events. So when it comes to figuring out the future, who better to consult than an expert in Mayan-ology, if you will - Dr. Mark Van Stone - author of 2012 Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya.
Mayan scholar, Dr. Mark Van Stone peels apart the Mayan calendar on the pages of his book for those wanting to learn the translation of the symbols and the meaning behind the myths. While going through the appendices, I was interested to find out facts about how the Mayan system of counting is a base-20 because people in the tropics didn't wear shoes, and they used both their fingers and toes to count! These are the kinds of interesting tidbits you will find scattered throughout his book.
Although this collection of essays is technical in nature, the introduction is very helpful in mapping out a way you can navigate the book. Van Stone recommends reading it out of order, selecting chapters of your choosing, which may strike your interest on a personal level. I loved this presentation, as I'm all for trying things in unconventional ways. Reading a book out of order made this interesting to me, and I liked being able to sit down for five or ten minutes at a time to digest independent, but related nuggets about Mayan civilization, knowledge, and predictions. (Plus, the way my days go, I rarely have time to sit for a spell without interruptions. Reading short excerpts of a technical nature made this publication easy to digest in several sittings.)
Right from the get-go, Dr. Van Stone confirms and dispels many of the predictions that scientists and mythologists have perpetuated over time. He does corroborate that there will be a galactic alignment of the earth and sun during the solstice along the Galactic Equator, but places it in perspective, as this event has happened several times before, since the dawning of time.
He also acknowledges that the Mayan monuments contain errors, and the Maya believed that if you made a mistake, you don’t erase it. So… we can deduce from that, what you read in the Mayan culture is not necessarily accurate – and it’s always open to interpretation. Add to that, that their calendar is in a way cyclical, and as Dr. Van Stone puts it in his book, “much more is missing than is there” when it comes to accounts of Maya myth, and you certainly have a mystery. Cyclical to the Mayans isn’t what cyclical truly means to us, though. We think of our calendar as starting over with each new year. For the Mayans, when one era ended, it was just making way for a new era, that would be much greater than the one that had just passed.
When you add in the knowledge that different Mayan city-states had different methods of time keeping, just as they had differences in their language and building materials, this just makes it all that more difficult for those translating their stories to do so with complete accuracy.
One of the compelling elements of 2012 Science & Prophecy of the Ancient Maya is the capture of photographs of the glyphs and the diagrams of what the symbols mean. Just as we have a calendar we use in modern times, remember that the Chinese have a rotation of animals marking time, and other cultures differ in their methodology as well. When December 31 on the Gregorian calendar approaches each year, does the world end? When the Chinese complete a year of the Rat is it destined to repeat, or will life as we know it cease to be? When you put the Mayan markings into a framework like this, then maybe we can begin to understand and appreciate a society that was so astrologically advanced beyond their time, that time, was not just measured in days, but centuries beyond what they could see.
The Mayans, in their wisdom, also predicted what was to happen on their calendar date 188.8.131.52.0 (the equivalent of 21 December 2012). There is a Mayan document that refers to this date and says that a god, Bolon Yokte’ will “descend”. The problem is, the glyphs that spell this out – are broken. So no one knows what this god will do once he descends, and it’s anybody’s guess as to the details. This is where legend begins and factual support ends. The best that experts can explain what Bolon Yokte’ is, is that it’s a god of change, destruction, and period endings. S/he wasn’t written about very often, either.
One thing that is for sure is that the Mayan date 184.108.40.206.0 does correspond in real time to 2012, and according to Mayan inscriptions, this “will be a time of great change.” Change, is constant. Great change is subjective and open to interpretation.
What else is interesting is that in other Mayan glyphs, they refer to time in notations of billions and billions of years – whether referring to the future or the past. Dr. Van Stone hypothesizes that the Mayans did this “simply because they could”, and they also did it to express religious awe – sort of like how the Bible marks people of its time living for over a hundred years. If this is the case, the Maya chronologized events that would happen long after December 21, 2012, and that infers they believed that life would go on, for a long time afterwards.
Also, Dr. Van Stone mentions the possibility that 220.127.116.11.0 on the Mayan calendar could be the equivalent of “when your car odometer rolls over to a million,” and suggests that this date could have been like any other date, just like the year 2000 was to us in recent times. We all panicked over Y2K, and after it happened, it wasn’t a cataclysmic event like some thought it would be.
After reading this, I asked myself, is the Mayan story of the end of a period of time any different from Revelations in the Bible? Is it a way that a civilization chose to record their thoughts about the end of an era or the end of human kind? Is the Maya legend the focus rather than the measure of when these events were predicted to occur?
The Mayans loved to write about the ends of previous eras, or worlds, if you will. According to them, mass destruction of life had happened many times before, so why wouldn’t it happen again? When they wrote about their versions of Armageddon, the destruction of these worlds in the past was very complete. At the same time, the Maya wrote about new beginnings. Aside from some animals surviving, the new eras were complete do-overs. So if the Mayans meant that on December 21 life as we know it would end, well, you can be assured that they meant total destruction. And if a new cycle was to begin again, it would be from the bare-bones on up, starting with the re-creation of the Sun and the Moon.
As a writer, I have to ask myself – did the Mayans limit themselves to non-fiction writing? Or did they like to embellish, tell stories, and venture in to the fictional as well? Scholars like to regard the glyphs as historical accounts with some semblance of accuracy. However, even as children we learn to use our imaginations and can be very good story tellers in the realm of fantasy, drawing upon truthful experiences so others can relate to our tales.
As a novice epigrapher, I looked at the Mayan glyphs in the novel as an artistic presentation of their language and relied on the English translation of their broad meanings. But if you are more scientifically inclined, this is a reference tool that can engage the most sophisticated translator in deciphering the meanings of the Mayan markings.
So, will the world end on 12/21/2012? You’ll have to read Dr. Van Stone’s book to find out. I’ve always believed that coincidences are not just coincidences. There’s a reason why we notice patterns. It’s all just a matter of the correct interpretation to understand what these patterns mean.
And if we are still here on May 9, 2013, Dr. Van Stone has graciously offered to give 10 of TheLadyinRedBlog.com readers free electronic copies of his book during the Red Hot Birthday Bash. If you can't wait that long, check out his interactive edition for the iPad. It's amazing with its use of video and graphics as exemplified in the video below.