As lovers of all things conspiratorial and apocalyptic should be aware, 2012 may be the biggie.
Certain interpretations of the Mayan calendar appear to suggest there is no ‘time’ after 21 December 2012. Good news if you have a bank loan you don’t want to pay back, or you want to wriggle out of buying lots of Christmas presents, bad news if you rather like life and want to make the most of it in 2013. So, in excitement not known since the millennium bug failed to interfere with the working of one single computer, this is the year the Mayan calendar allegedly predicts will be our last. For those looking to battle through the various conspiracy theories, scam artists and genuine believers of this, I recommend the March 2012 issue of Fortean Times, which devotes its front cover and no less than 14 pages to doomsday 2012.
Former BBC Religious Affairs correspondent Ted Harrison gives us a good summary of how the Maya calculation was apparently reached, whilst also looking at some of the other attempts made to predict the end of the world. Special mention here must go to US evangelist Harold Camping who made a fool of himself not once but twice in 2011 by predicting the end of the world. Rather unsatisfactorily Harrison tells us Camping’s supporters have made a further prediction for 2012, but then ruins things by not telling us the date they have suggested. What a tease! For the record, it seems on-line sources are placing this third date as 21 October 2012. Perhaps Camping and his supporters are work on the old 'bullseye' approach - throw enough darts, and you will hit the bullseye eventually!
Joseph Gelfer takes a more political stance by considering the manner in which 2012 prophecies may hijack elements from indigenous cultures in a way new age activists have been doing for some time (often at considerable financial benefit to themselves) Jose Arguelles and his ‘Dreamspell Calendar' and Drunvalo Melchizedek’s use of Maori culture are both critiqued. Much to my delight John W Hoopes “The Hidden History of 2012” suggests that the big day may not be 21 December at all but the 23rd, before he takes us through some of the variations 2012 theorists have adopted. It is worth quoting one sentence from his article in full:
“2012 has become a vehicle for new mythologies, from the liberation of information to the Occupy movement. There are serious problems in the world, from global warming to revolution, but the idea that the ancient Maya prophesised change in our time is ludicrous.”
Kevin Whitesides is possibly being a tad wordy when he takes on Terence McKenna’s concept of a “balkanisation of epistemology” taking place, but he is probably on the right lines. We increasingly have a world where ‘experts’ attempt to use their theories to prove virtually anything – and in the process prove nothing. This tactic can even be adapted to suggest the exact opposite of a particular discourse – Whiteside’s article is illustrated by an apocalyptic drawing marked “The Beginning Is Near”. Ever the salesman David Icke has talked of 2012 as not the end of the world, but the beginning…… (provided of course you adopt his approach to life!
For some reason placed many pages back in the magazine, Richard Stanley relates how the small French village of Bugarach, lying below Mount Bugarach, is the reluctant home to scores of new age visitors who believe the mountain is a UFO base. Fortean Times illustrates this article with a picture of a new age group meeting in the shadow of the mountain, with most the delegates dressed in white – how long until our very own David Shayler pops up in south west France?
Jokers like Shayler aside, there can be a serious angle to such developments. As the end of 1999 approached, Israeli police in particular were on edge concerning US Christians entering the holy land who it was feared may be involved in either mass suicides or acts of terrorism. A French civil servant from its anti-cult body, one Georges Fenech, is reportedly prepared to take preventative measures should similar issues arise in Bugarach in the run up to 21 December 2012.
The Winter Solstice has rarely been as exciting – or as profitable. Whether it is actually dangerous or not is another matter entirely.