As we approach the auspicious date of Dec 21, 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar, we have all heard the hype about the end of the world. The calendar the Mayans produced represents an era of time. Had this society been allowed to flourish, around now, their priesthood/astrologers would have produced a new calendar for the next era. However, thanks to the Christian Spaniards these people were slaughtered, enslaved and subjugated. Therefore, we will hear a lot of people saying the Mayans were wrong about predicting the end of the world. I must write this in block letters: THEY WERE NEVER PREDICTING THE END OF THE WORLD!
Before I continue I must for the sake of simplicity in this article, use Pagan to describe polytheistic religions. The word Pagan originated from the early Christian Roman Empire meaning “country dweller” or more along the lines of “country hick”. The term came about in during the dark ages after the Christian cult became the state religion of the collapsing Roman Empire. It was primarily a trendy city religion and while the people in the country held on to their old beliefs in the various gods/goddess and entities. They then became known as Pagans and in modern times this term came to mean all older religions where the Abrahamic god is not worshipped. The only exception is Hinduism, which is a polytheistic religion which managed to survive the violent oppression the monotheists. Many modern Pagans or Neo-Pagans also acknowledge the gods of the Hindu religion as the deities have similar functions and attributes of the European and American gods.
In the Pagan religions, be it Greek, Roman, Asatru (Viking), Celt, Egyptian, there is no end of the world mentioned in their writings. The astute reader may point to the Viking religion and their apocalyptic event, the Ragnarök, where all the old gods will be killed in a battle with the giants. In this the cosmos comes to an end and Baldar the god who was slain by Loki comes back to lead the gods into a new era. By the end of the Viking era the Vikings were worshipping both religions, Asatru and Christianity, before they finally converted to Christianity. If you examine the Armageddon in the Book of Revelations in the Bible and this story, it become quite apparent that this is not an original Viking story but a later addition to bring it closer to the Christian beliefs of their neighbours. But even then, the world didn’t really end but a new Era begins.
In many older religions, there were beliefs of reincarnation, but most of them had a final destination for the human soul and that was the Underworld where we headed for processing. The gods and goddesses associated with the underworld consisted of Hades, Hecate, Hel, Osiris, and Mictlantecuhtli just to name a few. The thing is all people end up in the underworld. It wasn’t until Christian times when people created a special place for people who follow the rules of the new religion and a horrible place for those who do not. This in modern days would be classified as a propaganda campaign. Seeing that people were not as educated in the old days and the church required more followers and less competition, the church leaders recruited people by fear. Adolf Hitler perfected this technique in the modern world.
Meanwhile the typical Pagan belief system is one of cycles as can be seen in the story of the Ragnarök where Baldar leads the world into a new era. Typically, older polytheist religions grew out of the understanding of astrology. There are short and great cycles in astrology but they wheel starts again. If we look at an astrological wheel it starts from the sign of Aries goes around to Pisces but because it is a wheel it comes back to Aries. In the Great Year, which is the precession of the equinoxes, it goes backwards from Aries to Pisces but back to Aries. We have all heard of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. It will not to come for another few hundred years but we are at the dawning of it and about to end the age of Pisces. For the spring equinox to occur in the same place in the sky it take approximately 26, 000 years. This is far greater than the current humans inhabiting the Earth have been around but we’ve been through various eras such as this one.
A book which examines humanities fascination with apocalyptic events is Apocalypse NOT by John Michael Greer. He examines the apocalypse phenomena and traces the entry in modern times via Zoroaster the found of Mithraism which is the precursor to modern Christianity. Christianity adopted much of the ceremonies, hierarchy and philosophies of Mithraism. And the Europeans, and subsequently the Americas have been facing the apocalypse through the ages, from the end of first millennium to end of the second (Y2K), from World War I to World War II, from UFO cults to extreme religious cults.
So in conclusion, the Mayans are not going to be wrong since they never predicted the end of time in the first place. Just like we will throw away our 2012 calendar in January, this calendar will come to an end. Like we buy a new calendar for 2013, the Mayans would have drawn a new calendar showing us what will happen in the new Era if some violent invaders did not eradicate their culture. The western believers of apocalypses are the ones that are wrong as they are looking at a different culture through their own lens, much akin to watching a basketball game expecting it to follow the rules of football. However, we will no longer need someone to draw a large impressive calendar as there are several Mayan astrology software programs out there to draw new calendars for us.