2012 - Science Or Superstition?/Segment/2

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Narr: Modern man perceives time as a linear progression - with a fixed past, present, and future. The Maya, on the other hand, understood time as something more fluid, and they believed that periods of time would be repeated through a series of world ages.

The Maya were far from unique in their understanding of repeating cycles. In fact, many cultures around the world have had similar ideas about world ages, with highs and lows, beginnings and endings, apocalypse and renewal.

JMJ: When my book came out in 1998 - Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, it begged the question of whether or not these profound insights of the Maya were known to other world traditions. And so I took the whole galactic alignment thesis on a world tour and looked at other traditions. Basically, it does seem that the astronomical cycles and the galactic alignment information is deeply encoded in western traditions. [Talk]

JAW: Mythologies, legends - everywhere from Asia, to the Americas, to Europe, to Africa - talk about periods of catastrophic dissolution of advanced civilisations - of civilisations in general. [Talk]

DP: A lot of indigenous cultures around the world have a coherent understanding of what this time means. The Hopi in Arizona talk about this time as being a transition from the Fourth World into the Fifth World, according to their oral prophecies. And in the classical Mayan civilisation they put forth the idea that 2012 is the end of a great cycle. [Talk]

JMJ: So you can look at Mithraism, you can look at Egypt, you can look at Islamic astrology, with the doctrine of the lunar nodes. It almost seems like this Galactic alignment information is a very ancient idea. [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]

AV: The Maya were extraordinary astronomers. They were able to foretell heavenly phenomenon centuries into the future. [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]

2012 - Science Or Superstition?/Segment/3