Wednesday, August 15, 2012

2012 and the Mayan Calendar
Can I Become Two?

View from the deck, Ocean View Fishing Pier, by Stefano Davanzo, used with permission.
           My wife Jala and I were having a birthday celebration supper-for-two on the top deck of the Ocean View Fishing Pier in Norfolk the other night when we recalled that the 25th anniversary of Harmonic Convergence was only days away. Older heads will remember Harmonic Convergence. It occurred on August 16-17, 1987, and, thanks to world-wide media coverage, revealed for the first time to masses of people that a shamanistic, Mayan, stone-carved calendar would run out of future dates on December 21, 2012.

            The man who brought Harmonic Convergence to the world’s attention was Jose Arguelles, a Mexican-American philosopher with knowledge of things most esoteric. I know because I read his book, The Mayan Factor. It was about as easy to understand as modern physics. Some accused him of making it all up out of his fevered imagination. Whatever the case, I think I grasped his general drift.
            Of course, the world will not end on Dec. 21, 2012. Whoever says that is out of touch.
            However, while Jala and I reminisced—looking out over the Bay from the open deck above the Pier, nursing our $2-bottles of Dos Equis—a lot of what I’d read back in 1987 came back to me.
            The Mayans plotted their calendar sometime in the 7th or 8th century AD. It tracked a single cycle in the age of the Earth, which is the cycle they were living in and we are about to see end. That cycle, much like the months and years of our western calendar, has many repeating sub-divisions but as a whole it’s about 5,000 years long.
            The Mayan calendar we hear so much about began on August 13, 3113 BC and ends on December 21, 2012. The dates are exact because they are calculated according to the regular motions of the heavens, similar to our western calculations in any standard ephemeris.
            So from the Mayan point of view, 2013 will be the first year in the next 5,000-year cycle, which begins only a short four months from now.
            Arguelles goes on to say that at Harmonic Convergence—August 16-17, 1987—Earth received the very specific galactic signal that the last phase of a 5,000-year cycle had arrived. From then on, with rapid acceleration over a period of 25 years, the shift into the next 5,000-year cycle would take place.
            Most experts thought Arguelles was mad, but his theories always made a certain sense to Jala and me because even in the late 1970s we noticed an apparent acceleration in the pace of life, “Time is speeding up,” we used to say because that’s the way it felt.
            But if something is beginning, we asked ourselves—sipping our beer as we watched evening fall over the Bay from the deck of the Pier—what’s ending? Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference. Can we think of any new thing that happened around 3000 BC that could give us a clue?
            I remembered reading that people in Assyria, which is modern Iraq, invented writing then—the beginning of recorded history in the West. Whatever happened before can be interpreted only through non-verbal records, whether by science, legend, myth, or scripture. That means that western civilization as we have come to know it began around 3000 BC with the invention of writing.
            Some say that in ages before 3000 BC civilization was matriarchal. Women had equal or dominant status with men, and societies were far less violent and destructive than in our historical age, when warring civilizations rise and fall in tireless waves. Some few of those matriarchal traditions have survived in isolated pockets of indigenous communities around the planet. While their lives change little from generation to generation, their general well-being significantly exceeds our own in the West, if I can believe what I’ve read or seen on TV and in documentaries.
            But matriarchal civilizations get little attention in the history of our age, which would never claim to be matriarchal.
            What kind of an age has it really been?
            For that, we can only learn from history, which tells us that the passing age has been about individuals who rise to positions of prominence and leadership in their societies and make the proverbial difference, for better or for worse. Until very recently, history has been about them almost exclusively, with an emphasis on their achievements in war and administration.
            It has been an Age of Individualism. If it had a number, it would be the number One.
            Lately, in all the media vetting of Paul Ryan since Romney appointed him, it’s been said more than once that he stands for Individualism. That’s also a key virtue in the writings of Ayn Rand, one of Ryan’s philosophical mentors.
            Now here’s where it gets intriguing to me. If the Mayans are right and an entire great age, the Age of Individualism, is over, the Republican Party is currently, unabashedly declaring itself to be the Party of the Past. It would be as if, at this dawn of a New Age, Republicans are proudly proclaiming themselves in defiance of the cosmos.
            This is not my opinion, or if it is it’s also a plain fact. If the Mayan calendar can in any way identify times of great change, we are quite conceivably at the end of the 5,000-year Age of Individualism.
            From there Jala and I began to wonder what things would look like if Individualism is no longer the organizing paradigm of civilization. What would we be shifting toward as we go into the next 5,000 years?
            She said, “Two.” If the Age of Individualism relates to One, then the coming age could logically relate to Two. (Unless we’re headed backwards toward Zero, in which case all bets are off.)
            Two stands for the Other. So it will be very cool, we agreed, if the New Age is about one another—the Age of Relationship.
            In the Age of Relationship, if only at first for purposes of survival, we Earthlings will eventually decide to drop our masks, lay down our arms, and begin work on the much more interesting task of establishing harmonious relations with one another across all present barriers.
            It’s just a poetic theory, perhaps, which Jala and I conjured between us as the silky evening rose from the Bay and we celebrated my 72nd birthday a few days late and looked ahead another few days to the 25th anniversary of Harmonic Convergence.
            But maybe there’s something to the theory. Maybe it’s even a working hypothesis.
            In any case, we’re sure to observe it, for it’s also the 25th anniversary of my mother’s memorial service at the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Lancaster, PA. She was a new-age information addict who died on August 13, 1987, the same day the present Mayan age began in 3113 BC.
            Obviously, however things turn out, for Jala and me Harmonic Convergence and the Mayan calendar will stick in our memories for as long as we can remember.


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