News Article2012 by KYSdIX0L


									                                                          On Dec. 21, 2012, the Mayan calendar
                                                          reaches the end of its 5,126-year epoch,
                                                          which is a cause of consternation among
                                                          some end times adherents and amusement
                                                          among some descendants of the Mayan
                                                          culture.                     (Getty Images)

                             The End of the World as We Know It?
                                           By Kathleen O’Brien
                                             The Star-Ledger
                                              Dec. 30, 2011
         Here we go again.
         Fresh from having survived one end-of-the-world prediction – a two-stage affair covering 2011's
drop-dead dates of May 21 and Oct. 21 – we now plunge into the countdown for End Times 2012. And,
yes, there's an app for that.
         Should you be inclined, you can use your smart phone to check how many days are remaining
before a date that was carved into rock by a pre-Columbian civilization. Blame – or credit – the Mayans
for the commotion, or more likely their New Age adherents, or Capitalist opportunists, to the north.
(Apocalypse teddy bear, anyone? $19.95 batteries included, at Really.)
         Sure, the ancient Mayan calendar does technically end at Dec. 21, 2012. But Mayan experts say
it's simply a case of one long Mayan epoch – of 5,126 years – coming to an end, in much the same way
the 1900s came to an end. It's sort of like saying that while all your old checks listed a year of "19__," it
hardly meant your bank thought the world was going to end come December 1999.
         "I don't think the Mayans put a picture of Porky Pig at the end of their calendar and said, 'That's
all, folks,'" said Jefferson Harman, a Pompton Lakes "intuitive," or dream-interpreter, who runs a
workshop called "Beyond 2012."
         All this calendar talk comes as news to Firmo Choc, a 39-year-old Mayan farmer who lives in a
rural village in Belize. The first he heard of the New Age crowd's fuss over his culture's ancient calendar
was last week, when his American employer told him about it. Not only was Choc taken aback to hear the
end of the world prediction attributed to his people, he was surprised outsiders are even familiar with the
calendar. After all, he, his family, his friends, and neighbors all use the standard Western calendar.
         "The Mayans who surround me have no idea that some calendar their ancestors created indicates
that a great change is to occur in 2012. They are just hoping their corn and cacao crops will be plentiful so
their family won't starve in 2012. That's the reality here in the bush," says Choc's employer, Anne-
Michelle Marsden, a Rutgers University professor who lives in Belize. About a decade ago, she spent her
sabbatical year in Belize producing a documentary called "The Living Maya," which became a part of the
Belize school curriculum. She eventually became an online instructor in the Department of Labor Studies
and Employment Relations. She arranged for Choc to be interviewed by phone.
         Choc travels to the coast by bus along unpaved roads twice a week to work as her grounds-
keeper. It's a 2½-hour journey from his village of Pueblo Viejo in the Toledo district, "the second-to-the-
last village (on the way) to Guatemala." He has eight children. The oldest boy had to stop his schooling to
help on the family cacao farm. He's Catholic but participates in the Mayan Deer Dance ceremony when it
is celebrated in his village. He and his family speak Q'eqchi' Mayan at home. Choc is not concerned about
the world ending any time soon. He's mostly concerned about supporting his family. School fees are very
expensive, wages are low, and job prospects for non-farmers are poor.
         Mayans in parts of Guatemala and Mexico do still refer to the ancient Mayan calendar, consulting
it in part because of the belief that certain glyphs, or pictures that accompany the days, influence events in
much the way astrological signs are said to hold sway.
         The Mayans wouldn't be the first civilization to come up with an increasingly complicated system
for tracking time. The most obvious way to mark time is by using the moon's cycle. This fact, however,
doesn't match up neatly with the solar year, or the time the Earth takes to circle the sun. So every culture's
calendar has had to insert little amendments along the way to account for those burps and hiccups of time.
Christians tinkered with the length of the months, dumped the Julian calendar (for the most part), and
threw in Leap Year. Jews insert a lunar month every now and then. Muslims simply decided against
trying to have each month fall during the same season every year. The Mayans just kept adding to their
equation of time, creating a dizzying combination of Round and Long Form calendars, peppered by little
symbols, or glyphs, and presaging New Math by counting in base 20. Some interpret the calendar to
include 13 "tones," or characteristics that affect the day.
         Over the years, this has proven to be a veritable cottage industry for archeologists, anthropologists,
and numerologists, who have been throwing out theories of interpretation since the turn of the (previous)
century. With very little in the way of written documentation from the calendar's originators, the theories
are hard to prove or disprove.
         The "end times" proposition has been floating around for 30 years or so by New Age spiritualists
like the late Terence McKenna, who claimed it signaled the start of a period of broader human
consciousness. Denise Saracco, a self-described shaman and massage therapist who runs a workshop
called "Demystifying the Mayan Calendar" out of the Peaceful Paths store in Butler, learned about the
calendar as part of her two-year shaman apprenticeship. (There is no formal certification for the job title.
"The spirits did away with paperwork a long time ago," she says, laughing. If your "guides," or voices
from another world, call you a shaman, you're a shaman, she says.) Between the calendar's 20 glyphs and
13 tones, "it can get crazy complex," she said. She feels 2012 is a key date, although she stops short of
predicting what will happen.
         "Is it the end of the world? No. It's the end of the world as we know it," she says.
         She foresees a shift in collective priorities, away from materialism to a simpler life of more mutual
respect and less divisiveness.
         Harman, who also offers his workshops and individual sessions out of the Peaceful Path store, said
he sees 2012 triggering many of the same anxieties as Y2K did. (And the lousy economy certainly doesn't
help, he said.)
         "We have all this anxiety about what's going to happen on Dec. 21, 2012. Meanwhile, some
people are having trouble paying their bills right now. So why are they thinking about December? One
thing at a time!" he said. His workshop instructs people on how to redirect their thoughts away from the
         Both Harman and Saracco see peace and harmony down the road. But it might be a bumpy ride
before we reach that state, Saracco says. "We've really polluted the Earth, so if we have earthquakes or
tsunamis, she's just doing what she needs to do to heal herself. Every dream I've had lately, I've seen
tsunamis. East Coast, West Coast, Florida," she said. As for the spiritual changes, she sees those already
happening. Occupy Wall Street is a perfect example, she said, of a group expression of discontent that
will be the hallmark of 2012. "It's already happening. It's like all of humanity is having a midlife crisis."


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