2012 - Science Or Superstition?/GH
GH: There are texts, traditions coming down to us from the Maya, which suggest that this is not just the end of a calendrical epoch, but of the end of an entire age of the earth and of everything that has been built and accumulated in the last 5,000 years - that this too, will come to an end. [Talk]
GH: It's really hard to look at any ancient mythological system without realising that they thought in cyclical terms, not in linear terms. So literally, as we would put it today: what goes around comes around.
My interest was: could there have been a forgotten episode in human history? And I began to find the evidence forcing me to look at a period about 12,000 years ago, it was the end of the last ice age. And much in the mythology seemed to suggest that the cataclysm that occurred then was in some way going to come back. And so I found that my quest was not only for the beginning of human civilisation, but also for the end of human civilisation and that the ancients seemed to be passing down some kind of warning - perhaps taking into account that human civilisation would change greatly, that cultures would change, that languages would be lost - looking for a universal system of communication.
And it seemed to me that they looked to the heavens for that system, because the stars will always be above us and have always been above us. And if it's possible to encode your message by using the changing patterns of the stars, then you might hope that at some distant date that someone else might be able to read that message. And this is when I came across the ancient Maya. [Talk]
GH: The Maya were avid stargazers and appear to have inherited a body of astronomical knowledge from the Olmecs before them. And so, it's in the Olmec monuments that we get the first hint of a calendar system. And that calendar system is perfected into a fine-tuned device by the ancient Maya. And like so much of ancient thought, it is cyclical in nature, that there are repeating periods of history - just over five thousand years in length. And it's just a fact that the latest cycle of the Mayan calendar begins somewhere before 3000 B.C. and culminates on the 21st of December, 2012.
For the Maya, the idea that what was there before is lost and then returns, would have made perfect sense. And it's this sense of a cyclical cataclysm linked to a cyclical rebirth that I found most eerie, really - and spooky - in Mayan tradition. [Talk]
GH: What is crucial is the position of our sun against the background of the stars at the winter solstice, the 21st of December. And what we find is the sun rising against the background of the dead center of the Milky Way in our time. And the Maya knew this and they knew that people would be able to observe it. And they are saying this is a very important moment - take account of this - realize that you live in a time of change and a time of transition. [Talk]
GH: The precession of the equinoxes is the astronomical process that underlies the Mayan calendar - and all ancient systems of cyclical time.
Perhaps I should just say a word about what the precession of the equinoxes is. Precession fundamentally is an observation of the heavens and an observation that at certain seasons of the year - particular markers, the equinoxes and the solstices - that if you look at the background of stars behind the Sun, you'll find that that background is very slowly changing, and it's changing at the rate of one degree every 72 years.
The view of mainstream astronomers as to why this is happening is - they hypothesise, they have not proved - that there is a cyclical wobble on the axis of the Earth, rather like the wobble of a top that has been spinning fast but it's spin has begun to decay, and the poles of the top begin to make a great circle. And this is what they believe is happening with the earth.
Now because the Earth is the viewing platform from which we observe the stars, changes in orientation of that viewing platform will cause changes in the observed appearance of positions of the stars in the sky at particular times of the year. And because it's a circular wobble, the whole thing is a cycle that in fact unfolds over a vast span of time - 25,920 years - takes you back from the starting position of the "clock" back fully around the clock to the same position again, so that the constellation that is rising behind the Sun today in our time and for a period of 2,160 years - which we're just entering into the Age of Aquarius, when the constellation of Aquarius has the Sun, it will be 25,920 years before that constellation again rises behind the Sun [on the vernal equinox]. [Talk]
GH: Regardless of what causes the process, the fact is that the process occurs. And it is just possible to become aware of it in one or two human lifetimes. But it seems that passed down to us from deep antiquity - and the Maya were one of the vehicles or channels to pass this knowledge down - was the knowledge of the precession of the equinoxes, and a very accurate knowledge of the rate at which it unfolds. I would say a knowledge at a scientific level of accuracy, and this is encoded and expressed in ancient myths all around the world, and is specifically encoded and expressed in the Mayan calendar. So, if there was a golden age in the past, then the ancient system of ideas would suggest that a full cycle of precession, a full cycle of almost 26,000 years would bring us back to that golden age again. They always saw a correspondence between sky and ground, so that what happens on Earth is connected to what happens in the heavens, and yes, what goes around, comes around and we are going through a great cycle of time and we find ourselves placed in a particular position on that cycle of time which, in the Mayan system, is very near the end of a whole age of the world, and the beginning of the next. [Talk]
GH: When a people like [the Maya], who have created a calendar system of mind-boggling complexity and accuracy, tell us that some great change is going to take place in our time, and that it is a change from which humanity will emerge utterly different, we need to take them seriously. We can't just dismiss that as the ravings of some primitive tribal culture. There is a tendency to do that in modern society because we regard every culture before our own as primitive. We have to listen to what they have to say.
One thought that has often occurred to me, since the Maya were such avid stargazers and were founding their star observations on a tradition that went back way before them - we just don't know how far back, that they may perhaps have known something that we don't know. When the Maya speak directly and specifically of a cataclysmic end, a gigantic flood, an overthrow of the world as we know it now, I don't think we should rule out the possibility that they may be speaking of real physical events which caused them to want to draw particular attention to this date in our calendar - 21 December, 2012. [Talk]
GH: This planet has at its heart a ball of molten iron with enormous mass, which is also spinning inside the Earth itself. Is it possible that there is some interruption in this spin - perhaps to do with magnetism, perhaps to do with solar magnetism - which literally capsises the Earth? I wouldn't rule it out entirely. There's much that has come down to us from the past that suggests that. [Talk]
GH: The work of John Major Jenkins is very important. It's had a huge influence on my thinking about the ancient Maya. I think he's made highly significant breakthroughs in understanding what was going on with the ancient Maya and what event in the heavens they were able to predict thousands of years ago would occur in our time and in our time only.
The Maya appear to have been able to do that thousands of years ago - to cast forward to a time which marks the end of the calendar system when the Sun appears in the dead center of the Milky Way galaxy. And I take this as a marker. They knew that that would happen. It's easy to read into it a cataclysmic end of the world in our age, but John Major Jenkins' work has been particularly helpful in showing that it's easy to read another possibility into it too, which is: Yes, the world age will come to an end. Everything that has been built for the last five thousand years will be up for grabs. We may not count on things remaining the same as they have done throughout our lifetimes - things are going to change. But also, that this is a rebirth, not a simple destruction, and that, in a way, it may be necessary to sweep away the old before something new, something more positive, more hopeful, a new guiding spirit for the next five thousand years emerges.
John has shown the astronomical correlates of this and has shown how the Sun effectively seems to emerge from the cosmic womb - speaking of rebirth. And so he draws from this a hopeful message, which I happen to share with him, and perhaps this is the best way to interpret the Mayan prophecy:
We live in a time when things will never be the same again, and it is we who will preside over that change, and it is our own choices and what we do with our own consciousness that will govern whether that change is for good or for evil. [Talk]
GH: We can learn from ancient civilisations. And so, I hope I've played some part in re-introducing the wisdom of the ancient world to the modern world and helping people to open their eyes and open their ears and hear what then ancients have to say to us. And more recently also, the recognition that the shamans of tribal and hunter-gatherer societies around the world with their systems and techniques for contacting the spirit realm directly also have a great deal to teach us. And so, I would advocate a kind of reversal of the normal order of things. It's not we, in our scientific and technological world, where everything is rooted and grounded in a material and mechanistic view of the universe, it's not we who may place ourselves above civilisations of antiquity. We may not say that we are greater than, or better than a shaman in a small village in the Amazon. Those civilisations of antiquity and those tribal shamans today have a huge amount to teach us. And we can only recover the better part of ourselves if we are willing to listen to what they have to say. That's what I've tried to do, I've tried to say, this that came before, this knowledge of the spirit world the shamans still possess today, this is what really matters about us - let's listen to it. [Talk]
GH: I think we have gone through, and are going through the final stages of a very dark age. But I also see glimmers of hope everywhere I look. I see people no longer willing to have their thoughts and consciousness patrolled and controlled by others, who seek direct spiritual contact, who recognise that the established monotheistic religions, whether Judaism, Christianity, or Islam - while they might have been instruments of liberation at some time in the past, they are now primarily instruments of oppression, and hold down and suppress the human spirit. And I see everywhere around me people reaching out to bypass that monolithic block of established religion and make their own contacts and connections with the spirit realm. I do see a new birth of human consciousness underway. When these things happen, they can happen very, very fast, so I do not rule out a all the possibility that all of us are going to be looking at the mystery of the meaning of life in a very different way, very soon. And that date, 21st of December, 2012, sticks in my mind as one that is really worthy of consideration. [Talk]