Some people are actually panicking about 2012. For years many have heard rumors that this is the end of the world. Actually, rumors about the end of the world have been going of for centuries.

The Hindus believe that the end of the world is merely part of the eternal cycle of creation, sustenance and death/destruction. When one world ends another will be created in its place. This may be why in the east few people are concerned about the end of time since they believe it is only part of the cycle of eternity.

The Roman Emperor Caligula was a mentally unbalanced 24 year old with the power of life and death over everyone in the Roman Empire. He once remarked during the beheading of one of his alleged enemies, “I wish all Rome had just one neck!” Needless to say for many in the Empire, the end of the world for them depended on what type of mood Caligula was in that day.

Norse mythology actually has an end of the world “myth,” In that scenario, the evil Frost Giants escape from their frozen prison to attack Valhalla, the very home of the Norse gods themselves. Despite a valiant battle the world ends and the gods go down fighting. Very Viking, but so far no sightings of Frost Giants have been reported. “Phew!”

The Vatican claimed the world would end in the year 1000 A.D. Just last week, Pope Benedict XVI made a speech on television and held Christmas Mass, so it looks like the Vatican was wrong a thousand years ago.

Puritans, who were asked to leave England so they could come to the New World to practice their fanaticism without interference from the British Crown, were in love with the end of the world. In the 1640’s many of them confessed and openly proclaimed they were ready for God to come down from Heaven and judge them. Of course, they believed they were  going to be judged fit  for Heaven and everyone else was going to Hell.

Ironically, it is the New World where this modern obsession with the pop culture apocalypse arises. Unknowingly, the Mayans created a framework for people who would come centuries after their demise would panic about an end to all things. However, that assumes that the people generating this Pop Culture Apocalypse actually know what they’re talking about.

The Mayan calendar is based on what archaeologists call  “ The Long Count.” The Long Count began during the creation episode in Mayan mythology. The first day of The Long Count is what the Mayans referred to as Day Zero and that was August 11, 3114 B.C. Mayan time frames were based on the “baktun” which is a period of 400 years.

A “kin” is 1 day, an “uinal” is 20 kins (one Mayan month), a “tun” is 360 days (Mayan year), a “katun” is 20 Mayan years (7,200 days) and a “baktun” is 20 katuns (400 years/144,000 days).

The Mayan system of time keeping was solar based which is why the winter solstice (December 21 in most cases) is the starting point. According to Mayan history expert Professor Russell Colgate, “Though the Maya believed that successive creations were cyclic, there is no clear evidence of what they thought would happen on December 21, 2012.”

So the date the Mayan calendar returns to Day Zero is when 13 baktuns has passed and that will be December 21 (or possibly 22) of 2012. Then a new cycle of Mayan time keeping begins and it will be another 5,000 plus years before the Zero Day is reached again. Think of it this way, is it the end of your car when the odometer rolls over?

Basically the Mayan culture was tied to agriculture, thus the emphasis on the Winter Solstice as a starting point to gauge when to plant crops.  They were also gifted with superb mathematicians and astronomers who created a very elaborate system of tracking time. But as far as claiming the world was coming to the end—the Mayans weren’t really interested in that, much less did they foretell its coming.

Not too scary huh?

Mark Anthony

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