2012: Mayan Prophecy and the Shift of Ages 

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2012: The New Age making of an apocalyptic movie

Philip Coppens

 

Mass suicide in the Mayan city of Tikal, Guatemala. Killer solar rays that will erupt and heat the Earth’s core, resulting in a shift of the tectonic plates. This somehow linked with the galactic alignment of the Earth, the sun and the centre of our galaxy. Welcome to the world of Roland Emmerich’s “2012”, the latest creation of a movie director with a clear apocalyptic appetite with movies like “Independence Day”, “Godzilla” and “The Day After Tomorrow” already to his credit.

Call it the alternative, esoteric or new age community: fact of the matter is that in the past decade, this community has grown from being seen as completely surplus to requirements which no-one noticed or took serious, to a new market, and one still largely untapped, except by Hollywood film writers – Emmerich prominently amongst them. His “2012” movie has highlighted that, as was the case with “The Da Vinci Code”, this genre is on the up. However, the vital question one has to ask is whether this mass publicity has created any true change for the better.

Some in the new age community are no doubt happy that the world now knows about the 2012 phenomenon. At the same time, however, the message is one of utter doom and gloom, on a far grander scale than anything ever portrayed. Is that the message the new age wants to send out to the world?

Another question should also be asked, which is how Emmerich arrived at this apocalyptic vision of the future. The premise of the film is that the Mayans predicted the end of the world, for December 21, 2012. Though it is a highly popular opinion, fact of the matter is that they did not. The problem of the movie and the common misunderstanding of the 2012 phenomenon is this: three 2012 theories have been piled on top of each other, thus creating a monster that has also spawned this movie – and has sown confusion across the world. I recently learned how a ten year old child asked her parents whether it is indeed true that there is an ancient prophecy that the entire world will die… in three years. I know of another child that, having seen the movie, is now obsessing over the same worry. Is this what we want our children to worry about?

The first contributing theory to this misunderstanding is that the Mayan calendar is somehow linked with sunspot activity. This notion was popularised in 1995 by Maurice Cotterell in “The Mayan Prophecies”. The dust jacket claims “The present world will end on 22 December 2012”, to continue in smaller lettering “So prophesied the Maya 5,000 years ago”. Cotterell had argued as early as 1986 that the Mayan calendar of 1,366,560 days contained knowledge of the sunspot cycle and that the Mayans encoded this “wisdom”, as this cycle had a direct effect on the welfare of the human race. In the book, Cotterell predicted a sudden reversal in the earth’s magnetic field, a notion central to the “2012” movie, where the somewhat pioneering work of Charles Hapgood on the subject – popular in many catastrophic theories – receives repeated exposure too.

The second theory is that the sunspot activity will have disastrous effects on planet Earth. This doomsday thinking as related to 2012 was aired by Cotterell, but popularised by Belgian author Patrick Geryl. The author of a number of books on the subject, Geryl has also founded a non-profit organisation, the “Official Survival Group 2012 - New Global Trust”. Geryl considers the 2012 cataclysm a “scientifically underbuilt global event that will dramatically change the world and only if we prepare duly, some of us may be able to survive.” His organisation is focused on providing a location and the means to survive, upon which they will rebuild a new civilisation after the cataclysm.

Geryl states that when the “sun’s magnetism reaches a crucial point, the sun’s surface will be subjected to immense storms. They will cause a super-catastrophe on earth, without equal. The astronomical Zodiac of the Egyptians described the exact dates of the previous disasters and their consequences for our planet.” Reminiscent of 19th century pyramidology, in which every nook and cranny of the Great Pyramid used to show that biblical prophecy was being fulfilled, Geryl writes that “When you combine the facts of these phenomena, you are able to prove the source of the number 666, known from the Bible as the number of the Apocalypse. It is taken from the Egyptian civilization and indicates an aberration in the sunspot cycle, which lays the foundation for the forthcoming world cataclysm.” Geryl is an apocalyptical preacher, often wagging his finger in the face of disbelieving 2012 phenomenon observers, whom he chastises for “not believing him”. His forecast clearly inspired Emmerich, for Geryl identifies this as the cause for the catastrophe: “upheavals in the sun’s magnetic fields will generate gigantic solar flares that will affect the polarity of the entire Earth. The result: our magnetic field will reverse all at once, with catastrophic consequences for humanity. Massive earthquakes will demolish all buildings on the planet, and instigate colossal tsunamis and intense volcanic activity. In fact, the Earth’s crust will shift, sweeping continents thousands of miles away from their present positions.”

In “How to Survive 2012”, Geryl considers the challenge to survive 2012 as being on par with Noah: “It is a blueprint for all of you who want to re-live the story of Noah. I explain thoroughly all the problems we are going to encounter and which precautions we need to take. I expect to inspire enough people so that together we can resume life on earth in a new civilization.” Clearly, Emmerich took note, for the means of survival in “2012” are indeed a flotilla of giant arks.

The third theory is that 2012 is linked with the galactic alignment, whereby, from the Earth’s perspective, the sun will align to the Galactic Centre. This theory was put forward by John Major Jenkins in “Maya Cosmogenesis 2012”. Nowhere, however, does Jenkins link this with doomsday scenarios and he is furthermore explicit that this is a slow process, whereby December 21, 2012 is one calendar date for a much longer – and geologically harmless – phenomenon. Still, what the “2012” movie has done, is take all three separate theories together, and mix them into the spine of the story, whereupon Emmerich and co. have equally reworked parts of “Deep Impact”, “War of the Worlds” and “The Poseidon Adventure” to create a 158 minute long story that on more than one occasion is totally unbelievable.

Emmerich also seems to have gotten inspiration from other new age sources. With a title like “Apocalypse 2012”, Lawrence E. Joseph might have subtitled it “an optimist investigates the end of civilization”, but his ten page description of the Yellowstone supervolcano clearly inspired large segments of the movie. The movie also relies heavily on the myth of Atlantis: “Jackson Curtis” has written a mediocre novel on the destruction of the civilisation. The lost civilisation features prominently in “The Mayan Prophecies” and in Geryl’s theories. Of course, the destruction of a civilisation by violent earthquakes and floods – which is supposedly how Atlantis’ demise occurred – is precisely the manner in which the earth succumbs in “2012” too.

It is therefore clear that the alternative community and its authors created this modern misunderstanding about 2012. “We” have sent out a message to the world that the world will end in 2012. “We” cannot blame anyone else. Furthermore, the methodology of theory building used by Geryl and Cotterell to substantiate their theories are typical of “our” community. It is the same number crunching and code-breaking that made “The Da Vinci Code” famous. But it is not science. And it is often based on totally misguided notions.

I will be the first to argue that the 2012 phenomenon is extremely interesting. But the majority of those involved are absolutely non-apocalyptic in their approach. Alas, the vociferous and doomsday preachers have largely taken centre stage, with television documentaries riding on the coattails of the movie interested in imaginary Nostradamus’ prophecies for 2012 or devoting endless hours to an “2012 apocalypse”. Alternative authors are given a stage to step in the limelight to have their voice heard, even though it may not be in their own best interest, or the message the alternative field should send into the world. “We” may have set the stage for three years of the world pondering the idea whether, indeed, the world might end in 2012 after all. A fear based on a mistaken notion. And hence, those who often identify themselves as truth seekers, have contributed – knowingly, unknowingly or innocently – to another lie. That is not a good thing.