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mayan calendar

AN INQUIRY BY IRA KENNEDY

 

This story begins about three months ago during one of those deep, philosophical discussions with a couple of friends. I had been doing some research on theoretical physics and came across the work of Tipler, a physicist at Tulane on the "Omega Point" and from there I was pitched into the work of Terence McKenna and his "Timewave Zero". Before I return to our little philosophical discussion a little background is necessary.

According to Tipler, a physicist at Tulane, we’re headed for The Omega Point. And the instant the Omega Point is reached, life will have control of all matter and access to all knowledge. And that is the end. The Omega Point. And we can say "Howdy" to God.

Now, Tipler’s work is pretty far out but it did lead me directly to Terence McKenna’s Timewave Zero. Simply stated, McKenna input all of the known human advances into a computer to generate a graphic time-line to determine the progress of human innovation. What he discovered was that as he projected the model toward the future knowledge and invention suddenly climbs off the chart. Much like sudden Illumination. And all of this will come December 22, 2012. That coincides with the Great 26,000 year cycle of the Mayans.

On that date the linear time-based notions we all hold dear will start to collapse. A grand new cycle will commence. Time and space will be history. Even history will be history. The closer we approach to that time, the more people will experience an accelerating collapse of linear time-based conceptual structures. The Mayan Calendar’s end of time.

Now, back to the discussion. When I rolled all of this out everyone was agreeing with McKenna but not in the way I understood the implications. (Swim for your life boys, I think we're in over our heads...)

"That's right. It’s the end of the world as we know it." someone said. "If anybody survives at all we’ll be back in the Stone Age."

"Hold on!" I said, " It’s not the end of everything. The Mayan Calendar is all about cycles. At the end is the beginning of a new world." 

"Right. The New Stone Age."

When you can’t reach agreement with friends it’s best to move on and we did. Later I decided to check a few facts and turned to my library. In The Mayan Prophecies, Adrian G. Gilbert wrote:

"[According to the Maya] prior to the creation of modern men there had been four previous races and four previous ages. These had all been destroyed in great cataclysms, leaving few survivors to tell the tale. According to Mayan chronology, the present age started on 12 August 3114 BC and is to end on 22 December 2012. At that time the Earth as we know it is again to be destroyed by catastrophic earthquakes."

Reading that it’s easy for folks to fall into the notion that "The End is at Hand." But wait. Before we start hunkering down lets take a look backward and review exactly what did happen around 3,000 BC.

INNOVATION

Did cataclysmic changes occur that wiped out humanity? No. (Well, if you were Neanderthal things weren't so swell.) We know the world didn’t end because we’re still here. In fact around 3,000 BC humans experienced a remarkable period of innovation. Lets review:

Around 3,000 BC humanity enters the Bronze Age, the sun-dail is invented, the wheel and plow make their debut. And lest we forget, the first beer was brewed.

In Sumeria 3,000 BC was not the end of time, but the beginning of history thanks to the invention of the Sumerian alphabet. What else: wrestling recognized as a sport, oil lamps are in use in Sumeria right along with the inventions of bread, written poetry and coins.

Meanwhile in Egypt the construction of the first pyramids began as the Egyptian state was founded. The Egyptian calendar corrected to 365 days per year. They invented the sail, paper (papyrus), irrigation and tamed the wild ass. (Well, that seems to be an ongoing process.)

In Mesopotamia brass and woodwind musical instruments are invented as well as the chariot. While in Asia the first calculator, a primitive abacus, was invented;  they began to manufacture copper and silk and the I Ching teachings were first recorded.

In the Americas the earliest monumental buildings are built at Aspero, Peru. In Central & South Asia civilization flourishes as cities emerge. Farmers in the Americas domesticated maize and performed genetic engineering to create better crops. Peruvians started to grow potatoes on a large scale. The Llama and Alpaca was domesticated in South America.

I could go on, but you get the idea. What happened appears to me more of a new beginning than anything else.

Now, you may be wondering about the four previous ages mentioned by Gilbert in The Mayan Prophecies. Well, perhaps we might want to jump past those back to the very beginning. The longest cycle in Mayan cosmology is the 26,000-year cycle — this is the cycle of our solar system around the Pleiades star cluster. So, let’s go back further into the past.

This far back we leave anything approaching history altogether. The time-frames and the events become extremely broad and general, so our best hope is to look at 30,000 BC. That’s a hallmark period for prehistoric research in almost every field of study. Let’s review once again:

During 30,000 BC we’re in the Stone Age and he last pure blooded Neanderthals disappear from the Earth and the innovative Cro-Magnon begins the mad dash toward modern man. So what happens around this time? Lets start with human burial which implies the first stages of spirituality. Other major innovations occur as well. This is when art made its debut into the world along with jewelry, sculpture, counting devices, weapons, utensils, brushes, paints, the bow and arrow and architecture -- humans moved out of their caves, built habitats and eventually created such structures as Stonehenge around this time.

So, as preliminary research shows, the Mayan Calendar can be used to mark human innovation.

Ironically, right about here in this article another friend showed up and, being of like mind, I reviewed this information with him. He’s always good at making me look twice and suggested that despite the positive results of my research some major earth changes could have occurred. After all, he pointed out, cultural stress does produce innovation. Look for the stress. So I turned to the environment and changes in the global climate.

SUDDEN CHANGES IN GLOBAL CLIMATE

Global climate changes definitely impact culture. Current studies in reveal that there is evidence to suggest that the Earth’s climate has occasionally changed rather rapidly in the distant past, according to the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University http://www.gcrio.org/ipcc/qa/06.html

Lets remember that all change is a two-edged sword and populations usually migrate due to some significant and negative change in their environment. So let’s go back in time 30,000 years when hunter-gatherers in Asia crossed over the frozen Bering Strait to become first humans in North America.

The passage of the Bering Strait formed when the ice masses and lowered the level of the ocean between Siberia and Alaska. Not everyone agrees on the timeline for the opening of the Strait, but it is generally agreed the passage closed around 10,000 BC. What happened? Did it close suddenly? And what happened to the woolly mammoth? Did the paleo-Indian hunters wipe them out?

Several mammoths have been uncovered in the polar ice packs and a few have been discovered with half-chewed grass in their mouths. How’d this happen? In order for them to be so well preserved they had to meet their end in sub-zero temperatures where grass doesn’t grow. Something suddenly happened. But what?

Now, switching from a sudden cooling of the environment to its opposite, consider this:

The American Southwest was home to the Anasazi peoples who practiced agriculture and built cities about 3,000 years ago when the region was uncharastically cool and wet. Then, around 300 AD, everything dries up and they mysteriously disappear leaving behind valuable goods such as pottery or baskets. [Scientific American]

During this same period, half a world away, in the Sahara region of North Africa the well-watered began to dry, finally becoming a desert.

There are more causes for gradual climatic changes than I can possibly cover here. Sudden changes are another story. One theory not accepted by scientists is a Pole Shift and the other could be a large intergalactic mass impacting Earth. I’ll spare us all the details on pole shifts many of which are pretty far-out—sorta; but this little matter of a large intergalactic mass impacting Earth, as it did when the dinosaurs were wiped out is a little troubling. Lets read a little of what NASA has to say:

"Various studies have suggested that the minimum mass impacting body to produce such global consequences is several tens of billions of tons, resulting in a groundburst explosion with energy in the vicinity of a million megatons of TNT. The corresponding threshold diameter for Earth-crossing asteroids or comets is between 1 and 2 km (approximately 1 mile). Smaller objects (down to tens of meters diameter, or the size of a large house) can cause severe local damage but pose no global threat.

...At present no asteroid or comet is known to be on a collision course with the Earth. The chances of a collision within the next century with an object 1 km or more in diameter are very small (roughly 1 in ten thousand), but such a collision is possible and could happen at any time."

That’s little comfort. Every day folks with higher odds than that are called to jury duty.

CONCLUSION

As you may have figured out by now, I didn’t resolve the question. The Mayan Calendar seems to be pointing to something interesting regarding innovation. In comparison I found little direct correlation between the calendar and global catastrophes.

The Mayan Calendar hearalds a change of worlds. There are a few ways that can happen. A catastrophic event can change the world, or people can alter their world-view. Here's how that can happen and go almost unnoticed: Through some combination of happenstance and human ingenuity a new technology is invented -- say a Gutenberg comes along and creates moveable type. Now, books can be mass produced and accessable to more people. They learn to read, and new wrinkles are formed in the brain. They look like all their neighbors but like the difference between the Neanderthal and the Cro-Magnon they live in a different world and their adaptability gives them an edge on survival in the changed world.

Now, I'd like to turn this notion over to another.  Michael Rothschild wrote in Cro-Magnon's Secret Weapon:

"Four centuries and twenty generations passed between Gutenberg’s invention and the world’s first railroad networks, printing’s most powerful economic manifestation.

But just 22 years after the microprocessor’s invention, the global electronic network is beginning to remake daily life. For the first time in human existence, a single generation — this generation — must cope with the wholesale transformation of society. For today’s business leaders, this means creating organizations able to harness information technology well enough to avoid the fate of the Neanderthals."

So, perhaps the calendar and McKenna are both on target. The future is here now. It's just that some of us will arrive before others.

(P.S. The research on this article must be credited to the Internet. Without that access this could have taken weeks or months to write. Or it might not have been at all.)

Related articles by Ira Kennedy: American Indian Prophecies  /  Eclipse: Twilight of the Gods