Every day I heard more news about the 21st of December 2012. The word is spreading over the internet so fast that I think it has became dangerous really, people are really concern about it, some even on the fringe of being panic. I'm not going to quote every single theory, you can google them easily, what worries me is that according to my perception there's a mass hysteria going on in crescendo, and we still have three years for this to grow to dangerous proportions.
In 2000 there was also a little of hysteria about the end of the world, also a lot of talking about planetary alignments, earthquakes, meteorites falling, etc. The truth is that in 2000 we face a major even for human technology, in our computer-based world, but a lot of money and effort was put to make the transition to Y2k without any significant problem, but no earthquake, solar flare or end of the world happened. The thing is that in 2000 the internet access was not as widespread as today.
Now there's also the thing about money, people are making a lot of money with this, books, videos, "survival kits", all you can think about, now even a hollywood film. Search all the 2012 dedicate websites, they end up selling you something or asking for a donation for the "project", or just want to increase their visits and get more payment from their sponsors. (I don't have any in case you wondered, my blog is sponsor free)
There's little knowledge, specially in the english speaking world about the Mexican ancestors, they know that the mayans were some people who live in Mexico (when their geography lessons are good enough, otherwise they say in southamerica) and that they made human sacrifices like Mel Gibson told them... etc.
But let's talk about the issue.
One common misconception is to say that the maya calendar ends at 21-12-2012, well it doesn't, their calendar was cyclical, that is specially notice in the short count, where cycles of 13, 20, 29 365 day happened. The long count was set up for the purpose of counting astronomic events (eclipses, transit of planets, stars, etc.) that is why is so long, because is not fixed to the earth solar cycle. So it doesn’t mean an end of times, just a beginning of a new era, as the previous ones.
The popol vuh, which collects the old Mayans myths about the creation talks about four attempts to create the human race before the gods succeeded, however the concept of different "suns" was not really developed in detail by them, just mentioned as a concept of four stages.
This was "perfectionated" or better said the myth expanded by the Mexica (Aztec) civilization, even when the Mexica adopted a lot of the Mayan and Teotihuacan lore, they were very different cultures, I like to say that you imagine them as ancient Greece vs Rome, Mayans vs Mexicas, one more focus on philosophy and science the other on war and conquest, it's a good western parallel, with the obvious differences, don't buy Mel Gibson view btw is just bollocks!. According to that we are already on the fifth sun (or even in the sixth).
The first sun was the Nahui-Ocelotl (four jaguar), a world which inhabitants were giants, and this giant creatures were destroyed four times every 52 years by jaguars until there were no more. The jaguars were a totem animal of Tezcatlipoca, a war fire god. The 52 years were the Aztec count of the New fire, a ceremony of renewal of the world.
The second sun was Nahui-Ehécatl (four wind) this sun died after 7 new fires (7 times 52 years) a great hurricane kill a lot of the living things and it was also the rising of the monkeys.
The third sun was, Nahui-Quiahuitl (four volcano or fire rain) it last for 6 new fires, when a great rain of fire that Xiuntecuhtli, god of fire and volcanoes bring to the earth, most of the inhabitants of the world died, and it was the rise of the birds and turkeys.
The fourth sun, Nahui-Atl (four water) end with a terrible flood, after 3 new fires, on this one just men were allowed to survive, and it was the rise of men.
The fifth sun, Nahui-Ollin (four movement) was created by Quetzalcóatl, a wind creation god, who also is the god of wisdom and peace, for example he in the form of kukulcan was the one who stop human sacrifice of the mayans according to their legends. He give to men life with their own blood. This sun is the expansion and grown of human civilization and it started when Teotihuacan the city of gods was founded.
All this is based on the Sun stone, a great stone disk (now at the National Museum of Anthropology and History in Mexico city) of more than 3.5 m of diameter and 25 tons. You could notice that the suns have some resemblance to archaeological and palaeontological evidence, the giants being the dinosaurs and giant mammals, the rise of the monkeys as the first apes, the rise of birds the transformation of dinosaurs into birds after the extinction, the flood and the rise of homo sapiens, and the beginning of civilization.
Now, the Aztecs prophets talk about the end of the fifth sun when Quetzalcóatl returned to them, that was when the solar, lunar and Venus calendar match, and that along another prophecies and omens make them put the end of that sun in the gregorian year of 1519. (I don't remember the name in nahuatl, sorry) So when Moctezuma II take the crown of the Mexica Empire he knew the end of the world and the return of Quetzalcóatl was imminent and there are several accounts that he wanted to stop it, so a lot of sacrifices of animals, plants and humans were done, and their priests were desperate to stop the world end. Unfortunately for them their attempts were in vain since Hernan Cortes arrive in 1519 to the coast of Yucatan, two years later the capital city of Tenochtitlan capitulated in favour of Cortes and his army (btw an army mainly of indigenous people who wanted to defeat the Aztec empire). So the general agreement is that the fifth sun ended with the arrival of the Spanish, and the children of the fifth sun give rise to the new mixed race, see also theories like the cosmic race by Vasconcelos.
Now, back to the Mayans.
The Mayans have a counting system on base 20, (from zero to 19 and back again), the Arabic system that we use is base 10, it seems that the Mayans said, wait a minute, we don't have just 10 fingers, we have 20 with our feet, their mathematical and astronomic knowledge was really great, they marked the solstices and equinoxes. solar and lunar eclipses and other astronomical events from thousands of years with a real great accuracy, one example is the pyramid of kukulcan in Yucatan (one of the winners of the new wonders of the world btw) which in every spring equinox sunrise, its shadow give the impression of a serpent going down of the ladders. Or the calculation of venus cycle in 583.935 days (actual calculations give an erratic movement that goes from 583.92 to 583.94) there are a lot of evidence on that. So, the mayan calendar was not arbitrary or just based on their system of numerology, but in the actual astronomical reality and the relationships between the sun, moon, earth, venus (they put a lot of attention to it), stars, etc.
Any way, they had two systems of counting, the civilian and religious one. The civilian was divided in two, a solar one with 365 days and a lunar one of 29 days, (actually the conversions to our decimal system gives 365.24 and 29.53 which is very much accurate). The religious one was what is called as Long count, it start the 11th of august of 3114 BC. It's not clear what that beginning represents, specially taking into account that in that time there were no Mayans, actually no civilization at all in America, so certainly not the beginning of the world, nor the beginning of THEIR world.
Perhaps if we see the other way around that will be more clear. Life did not start in the 11th of August, 3114 BC; it is however around the times when great cultural and historical events begin, the dawn of civilization. 3000 BC is an accepted date for the end of the neolitic period for many cultures, on that millennia many things happened, the first Egyptian dynasty, the foundation of Troy, the construction of New grange, the construction of Stonhenge, the early dynastic period of Mesopotamia, the expansion of the first Sumerian cities, etc. So we can take that date roughly enough as a good approximation of an important beginning in human civilization. Then, the 21st of December 2012 could be the beginning of a big change in human civilization, and maybe in 5000 years (if we don’t drive us to self-extinction due to environmental issues or wars) historians will be saying that that date roughly enough was a good approximation of an important beginning in human civilization.
There is no one single archaeological evidence, codex, or even oral myth of the mayans, nor the aztecs, that talks about the end of the world on that date.
Now this all 2012 end of the world came when there were attempts to synchronize the mayan stones and calendars with the Aztec calendar, it seems that they could synchronize the year, since both have the same structure, how ever, the day of Nahui-Ollin is the fifth of may, not 12th of December (Btw on 5th of may 1519 its said that Cortes decided to conquer the Great Tenochtitlan, however there's little evidence, but in July he arrived to Veracruz and the formal plans started). So, some theories emerge about this era ending with movement (earthquakes) on 2012. After that and adding a lot of New Age rubbish, the "prophecies of the end of the world" emerge.
So, basically we are talking about a cosmological and astronomical date of great significance, yes. Probably the beginning of a new era on conciousness, very likely, at least some of us would like to see it, but a gradual one, not a change from one day to another.
So, don't worry too much about this, and better start being worried about your life, the impact you have on your surroundings, in the enviroment, in the people around you. Do you want to see a global event that could change human history forever? Yes? really?! well, start for yourself!! Be the change you want to see.