Lewis, Bonnie, et. al. "2012 Phenomenon & Mayan Calendar." Faithology.com. Faithology, 19 February 2013. Web. 22 May 2013.
Lewis, B., et. al. (2013, Feb 19). 2012 Phenomenon & Mayan Calendar. Faithology.
Lewis, Bonnie, et. al. "2012 Phenomenon & Mayan Calendar" Faithology, LLC. Last modified February 19, 2013.
Faithology, LLC, 2012. (Accessed May 22, 2013).. 2012 Phenomenon & Mayan Calendar.
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- Last Updated: February 19, 2013
- Originally Published: July 23, 2012
- The Faithology Editorial Staff
Note: The views expressed on the page do necessarily not reflect the views or opinions of Faithology. The following information constitutes a collection of the most widely held opinions, various hypotheses, and scientific findings surrounding the 2012 phenomenon. It is the goal of Faithology to provide accurate and un-biased information regarding the 2012 phenomenon and all topics published on this site in order that those who are seeking answers have the tools to do so.
Theories regarding the end of the world in the Gregorian year 2012 CE have received widespread attention in recent years. The issue has been a topic of speculation, debate, controversy, and even purported prophecy. With the arrival of 2012, opinions and rumors about the fate of world have reached an all-time high.
A great deal of the debate surrounding the year 2012 stems from analysis of the ancient Mayan calendar. The ancient Maya were a Mesoamerican people with a highly advanced civilization; they are known to history for their intricate written language, and mathematical, scientific, and astronomical genius. The Maya, who practiced a cosmological and ritualistic religion, had strong religious beliefs in the cycles of life, death, creation and destruction. Part of the Mayan religion revolved around blood sacrifices offered to the gods and goddesses that they worshiped. Another facet of their belief system was their well thought-out concepts of space and time. These concepts were made famous in their elaborate calendar system.
The Mayan calendar dates back to August 11, 3114 BCEin Gregorian reckoning and entails two separate calendar cycles. The shorter of the two cycles lasts for fifty-two years and is called the Calendar Round. The longer cycle, called the Long Count Calendar, lasts for 5,100 years. The Long Count Calendar ends on the corresponding Gregorian calendar date of December 21, 2012, which has left speculation on what this means for the fate of planet Earth and all of civilization. Some suggest the end of the world will occur in the year 2012, while others suggest that a newfound peace between people will be reached. Still others speculate a cosmological change will occur within the year 2012, with a potentially catastrophic outcome.
The Mayan Religion
"The Maya" refers to a large group of people who live in ancient Mesoamericaand once shared common beliefs about religion and culture. The ancient Mayan civilization is thought to have begun around 2000 BCE, reaching its peak during the Classic Period of 250-900 CE. After 900 CE, the Mayan civilization began to decline rapidly. Mayan historians generally believe the decline was due to a number of wars fought against other rising powers over lands and rivers, exhaustion of agriculture, deforestation and drought. While this area is still occupied by Mayans, it is the beliefs of the ancient civilization of Mayans that is the basis for the speculations surrounding the 2012 phenomenon.
The religion of the ancient Mayan civilization consisted of a belief in three realms: the upper world, the middle word and the underworld. The upper world was believed to be the realm of the heavens, the middle world the realm of humans and the underworld was inhabited by what were thought to be horrifying supernatural beings. Many gods and goddesses were worshiped in the ancient Mayan religion, and the Maya believed strongly in a continuous cycle of creation and destruction. Of the many gods that were worshiped by the Mayan people, Quetzalcóatl was the universal deity of Mesoamerica. He was said to be the god of creation and civilization, agriculture, and the arts. The Maya also believed that he served as a bridge between humanity and the divine, humanity and animals, and humanity and the cosmos.
The Mayan Calendar
The religious belief system of the ancient Maya, which included cycles of creation and destruction, informed their concept of time. Many historians who have studied the Mayan calendar believe that it most likely began as a type of Farmers' Almanac or divinatory tool. The Maya saw time as both linear and cyclical and had two main calendar-like systems to map these different timeframes. Like the months and the year of the Gregorian calendar, the Mayan calendar was based upon the repetition of seasons and events in the cosmos. The Maya calculated time in two cycles, a short, cyclical cycle called the "Calendar Round," and a long, linear cycle called the "Long Count."
The shorter measure of time was calculated by a calendar cycle of fifty-two years, or 18,980 days, and was called the Calendar Round. The Calendar Round was a combination of two smaller calendar measurements called the Sacred Round and Haab’ cycles, which were used for the measurements of one’s birthday as well as communal celebrations, religious festivals and agricultural cycles.
The longer phases of time were measured by the Long Count calendar. The Long Count calendar is said to record the world’s creation, even though the Mayans did not consider this to be the beginning of time. Each day of the Long Count has a unique number, commonly represented as five digits separated by periods, such as 184.108.40.206.11. Each number represents specific units of chronological measurement, largest to smallest, from left to right. The units are named baktun, katun, tun, winal, and kin. A baktun is equal to 144,000 days, a katun is 7,200 days, a tun is 360 days, a winal is 20 days, and a kin is equal to a single day. The number of days indicated by the five digits is equal to the number of days since the Mayans believed the world was created.
The Maya also recorded celestial movements, such as lunar phases, the rising and setting of the sun, and lunar cycles.The Maya believed that all planets, the moon, and the sun were divine. In addition, the cycles of the planet Venus were recorded, as this planet was thought to be the bearer of bad luck and war. They also watched and recorded the thirteen constellations of the zodiac. The Mayan calendar and other Mayan cosmic recording systems are extremely intricate.
Through mathematical calculations, astronomers and scholars have been able to convert the dates of the Long Count calendar to those of the Gregorian calendar. Scholars generally agree that the beginning date of the Mayan calendar is August 11, 3114 BCE; according to Mayan belief, this date marks the creation of the world. In Mayan inscription, this date is represented as 220.127.116.11.0, where the thirteen serves as a zero. According to the Mayan mathematical system, the calendar covers a span of time that is 13 baktun, or 187,200 days. At the end of the time span of 187,200 days, the calendar dating system will once again read 18.104.22.168.0. According to Mayan belief, this date will be the anniversary of the creation of the world, and a cycle of creation and destruction will have been completed. The parallel Gregorian calendar date is December 21, 2012, which also represents the winter solstice. However, unlike the popular beliefs of the end of the world surrounding the 2012 phenomenon, the Mayans never had an explicit prophecy regarding what would happen when the calendar ended.
It is thought by many Mesoamerican historians that the Aztec adoption of the Mayan calendar andcreated an association of the events at the end of the Long Cycle with notions of the end of the world. Historians who specialize in Mesoamerican studies assert that the Aztecs adapted and changed the Mayan calendar and philosophies associated with it according to the political needs of the time. The Aztecs believed in an end of the world scenario, mostly likely ending in an earthquake that would destroy the world and all that is in it. However, there is other evidence that the Aztecs believed that the world would end in 2012. The Long Count calendar stops at this point, yet there is reference in ancient Mayan writings to a belief that their civilization would continue beyond this date, to 4227. As these scholars point out, this was probably an adaption of the Mayan calendar for their political needs.
The Events of 2012
Those who find significance in the end of the current long-count cycle hold numerous theories and predictions regarding the date December 21, 2012. Speculations today include the end of the world, extraordinary cosmic events,world peace, and more. Others have interpreted the end of the long-count cycle of the Mayan calendar through the lens of their own religious belief system. Still others have made speculations regarding astronomical occurrences including a rare alignment of all the planets which will be the cause of numerous, destructive, outcomes, though astronomers have confirmed that the alignment of such planets on December 21, 2012 will not happen. Among the numerous speculations, there are a few that are the most popular and each also has an opposing view:
Theories based upon the Mayan religion and Mayan Gods:
||Many scholars dismiss the idea that the Maya believed that the end of the world would accompany the end of the long-count cycle. Such scholars attest that a belief in the final destruction of creation was not a part of the Mayan belief system. Author and acclaimed scholar on the Aztecpeople and culture, John F. Schwaller, holds that the Long Calendar system was only one of the calendric systems used by the Mayans to record periods of time. In fact, their belief in cycles of death and rebirth, and creation and destruction applied to the time frame of the Long Count calendar, as well as shorter periods of time. According the Schwaller, another cycle, known as the 260 Day Cycle, was very important to the Mayan civilization which is the same amount of time for human gestation as well as the planting and harvesting of corn. This never-ending cycle also marked the cycle of creation and destruction, and was thought to be an ongoing process. Thus, some scholars point out that the Long Calendar was just a larger cycle of creation and destruction made up of many smaller cycles throughout time.|
|A planet called Nibiru (commonly referred to as "Planet X"), purportedly discovered by the Sumerians, is believed by some to be headed on a collision course towards Earth. Those who hold this belief fear that it will hit the planet Earth, causing catastrophic destruction and death of all living things.||NASA’s official website declares that Nibiru is a fictitious planet and, therefore, no collision will be taking place. Instead, NASA insists that there is no threat to earth on December 21, 2012.|
The Pole Shift Theory
|The Pole Shift Theory, otherwise known as the "geomagnetic reversal," claims that the earth’s magnetic field is weakening every day. Eventually, a massive solar flarereleasing incredible amounts of energy would cause the North and South Pole to be reversed. The solar flare, combined with a weakened magnetic field, would cause the Earth’s rotation to be reversed and cause massive harm and destruction to planet Earth.||NASA does confirm that the Earth’s magnetic field has reversed its polarity over the course of its existence. Leading NASA scientists hold that the earth reverses magnetic fields every 20,000 to 30,000 years, even though it has been more than twice that long since the last reversal. NASA claims that if the Earth’s magnetic fields did in fact reverse as it has many times in its history, it will not cause any harm to Earth. They have come to this conclusion based upon the study of fossils and geological records from millions of years ago. Geologist Adam Maloof from Princeton University, a leading expert in the study of the Earth and Planetary Sciences, declares that there is evidence in fossils that confirms a shift in continental movement, but that it happened so slowly that humanity would not have noticed.|
|End-of-the-world theorists believe that massive solar storms will take place, causing an increase of earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and other life-threatening natural disasters to the planet Earth.||Karen C. Fox of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center explains that every eleven years solar activity peaks, but she insists that the next peak, estimated to occur sometime between 2012 and 2014, will be no larger than previous peaks. Furthermore, she claims that no solar flare could ever be strong enough to destroy Earth.|
The Black Hole Theory
|Some of end-of-the-world theorists believe that a black hole known as "Sagittarius A," located in the Milky Way, will collide with planet Earth in the year 2012, causing the Earth to disappear inside the black hole and cease to exist.||Scientists at NASA concur that there is only one black hole in the Milky Way and it is "calm," showing only small amounts of activity. A gas bubble is heading its way and will collide in 2013, an event that will hold no impact on planet Earth.|
The ancient Mayan calendar, very advanced for its time, holds an extensive amount of mystery. Today, scientists, religious lay people and clergy, as well as end-of-the-world theorists seek to sort out and make sense of all the factors that have contributed to the 2012 phenomenon. The Mayan emphasis on the cosmos and their concept of time, as well as cycles of creation and destruction, informed their belief system. Did the Mayan really believe that the world would end in 2012? How does their belief in cycles of creation and destruction inform speculative scientific theories concerning planets, magnetic pole reversals, solar storms or black holes? What concepts of space and time does each world religion hold that may or may not coincide with Mayan belief?