The End of the World

Did you know that in 351 days the world is supposedly going to end? Well, at least that's what some people say as they have decided to interpret the Mayan Calendar in a way that says that on Dec 21, 2012 (in the Gregorian Calendar) the world will end. Now in the event you don't remember your grade 8 social studies too well the Mayans were the culture that lived in what is now Northern Central America and Southern Mexico approximately 2500 years ago.

Essentially what is going on is that the 13th baktun ends around about December 21st 2012 (but could be December 23rd too). A baktun by the way is one of the primary calendric units, and corresponds to 144, 000 days or 394.25 years. The baktun are subsets of the Mayan long-count calendar which starts in 3114 BCE (in August in case you're curious), which when the world was created according to Mayan legend. Because this is the end of the 13th baktun it would be interesting to know what people back on September 10th 1618 thought about the end of the 12th, but it's unlikely we'll ever know. Other baktuns in the last 2000 years have been, which sort of reinforces the idea that nothing will happen this time either. Unfortunately some people are rather difficult to convince.

Baktun    End Date
13th          Sunday, December 23, 2012
12th          Wednesday, September 10, 1618
11th          Monday June 10, 1224
10th          Tuesday March 11, 850
  9th          Saturday, December 10, 455
  8th         Wednesday, September 9, 0061

Now you may ask why there is some confusion as to whether the date is the 21st or the 23rd. Some people think that because the 21st is also the winter solstice there is some significance, but there is no evidence of any kind to support this as other baktun endings haven't fallen on other important astronomical dates. The 21st is also supposed to be an important date due to a galactic alignment, however this is not based on any credible astronomical evidence either.

A fair amount has been written about the Calendar Stone or the Sun Stone (see photo below), however this object is of Aztec origin, and has absolutely nothing to do with the Mayans.  The calendar stone doesn't say anything about any special dates in 2012, and there are no records that event indicate that the Aztecs even knew about the Mayan date.

Aztec Sun Stone from the early 15th Century
Some may wonder how the 2012 myth came to be so popular. Well the person who did the most in this area is Jose Arguelles who wrote The Mayan Factor in 1987. Mr. Arguelles' other ideas / accomplishments include such things as organizing the first global meditation in 1987 known as the "Harmonic Convergence". He predicted that great social changes would follow this meditation, however were still waiting. Then again he also believes the Maya were inter-galactic travellers, and says he is able to channel a 7th century Manyn ruler known as Pacal Votan.

In any case it is true that 2012 would have been a special year for the Mayans, as it does indicate the end of what is comparable to the end of one of our centuries. How many of you remember all the predictions and other silliness related to Y2K?



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