Are you fearful as we near the end of this calendar year? Does the mere mention of December 21 accelerate your heart-rate as if you were running on a treadmill? Do you foresee a coming apocalypse in the very near future -say in two weeks to be exact?
December 21, 2012 has a lot of meaning for me. Yes, everyone is a buzz about the Mayan calendar ending on that date. But for me that date was the beginning of a new relationship a couple of decades ago. I was an only child for a large part of my childhood. I was fairly independent, precocious and smart. I entered spelling bees. I entered story-telling contests. I won many of them. One year, I wrote to Santa Claus and won a country-western radio station letter-writing contest based on that letter. As a result, I went a bit crazy at Toys R Us. I had that Memory board game for years.
Yet, despite all that early success and having a great playmate in my mom, I kind of wanted something to play with that had a bit more energy. So, in my letter to Santa I asked for a sister or a brother. And, no I actually didn’t believe in Santa Claus at that age. I just thought, as I had previously won storytelling contests, that I could win this radio letter-writing contest as well. And, indeed I won the contest and I got a little baby sister on December 21. Little did I know decades later her birthday celebration would become a world-wide phenomenon.
The French agency, the Interministerial Mission for Monitoring and Combatting Cultic Deviances (Miviludes), has been very busy lately. Of course, when I hear the name of this agency I totally think of Torchwood and Captain Jack storming into town looking oh so spiffy in that uniform. Miviludes has been carefully watching the activities in the town of Bugarach which lies at the foot of the French Pyrenees. The town has about 200 people but on December 21, 2012 that number may multiply by the 1000s. The town has these mountains with vast peaks that may, according to some alarmists, house UFOs. See, the peak is also called the “upside down mountain” as the top layers of rock are older than the lower layers due to uplift of the Pyrenees and it thusly causes a strange rock configuration. For many, this odd geographical configuration in the town of Bugarach will serve as protection from the looming predicted apocalypse that will occur on December 21, 2012.
Why December 21, 2012? Well, that is the solstice date. But more importantly it is perceived by many as the “end of the Mayan calendar” and consequently many suggest it will bring about a catastrophic destruction of the world. While I do not subscribe to that school of thought, December 21 is a significant date in my own personal timeline and did represent a radical renovation of my own human consciousness-as that date decades ago changed me from an only child to one with a sibling. I was no longer the cute precocious little girl that was the apple of my mom’s eye. I was now an older sister. I was not to be pampered but to take care of another being. For many individuals growing up as an only child to then be in a sibling role is a shock to the system. Psychologically, a person may still be considered an only child, however, may have half-siblings or step-siblings who come along considerably late (after they reach their teens). That integration of this other into one’s self-concept is a tricky thing to navigate.
Back to the December 21, 2012 and winter solstice date. This specific date is simply marks the last day of the current Mayan b’ak’tun cycle, a period of 144,000 days roughly equivalent to 394 years. However, New Age enthusiasts have adopted this date, as one of major significance, with great fervor. The best known of the New Age movements tied to the 2012 date is that led by José Argüelles, a Mexican-American spiritual teacher who claims that he that he has come into communication with what he called Telektonon, a “Talking Stone of Prophecy”. For Mr. Argüelles and other similarly-minded shamans the 2012 date represents the dawn of a new spiritual awareness for the world. Many believe that the Maya “came from the stars” and then “disappeared, without any apparent reason, hundreds of years ago.” Of course, there are many Mayans that live throughout South and Central America. Even in Vermont, there is the International Mayan League which serves as Mayan cultural revitalization group that is run by Mayan refugees.
In looking into Mayan history and beliefs, I found some similarities to my own upbringing. Specifically, there has been a great emphasis on the narration and interpretation of dreams. These long-told narratives served to validate Mayan traditional religion and worldview that was in conflict with catholic and protestant worldviews. Apparently, beginning in the 1950s, Protestant evangelicals and Roman Catholic sects made direct attacks on Mayan dreaming and dream interpretation as a form of dangerous paganism. As has happened historically in other cultural-conflicts historically, Mayan communities were fractured as a result. But the emphasis on dreams and trying to understand them continued long past those attempts to wipe out those cultural rituals.
In the South Bronx, where it was mostly Puerto Ricans, there was a wide emphasis placed on dreams and their interpretation thereof. In my house, there must have been at least 10 dream interpretation books at any given time. Every year, for Christmas I would give my mother a new one. Just the other night, when I awoke I wrote down immediately what I had just dreamt but had no book in which to look it up. It is not the same thing to look up a dream’s meaning and symbolism on the web. Growing up as an only child, I did start to dream of having a sibling. I also had this recurring dream of losing that sibling a supermarket. I never did look it up in a dream encyclopedia but as an adult I understood what the dream meant. Apparently, throughout the Mayan region it is common to awaken one’s partner in the middle of the night in order to narrate a dream and in some communities mothers ask their children about their dreams every morning. I do remember, however, my mother warning me that if I had a horribly bad dream (death, illness and so forth) I was not to tell the dream until the sun was fully out. Narrating a bad dream when it was dark out was asking for trouble. Till this day, I follow that advice-or rather-heed that warning.
The earth appears frequently within Mayan myths and dreams referring to both the physical features of the landscape, including mountains, hills, volcanoes, valleys, and caves as well as spiritual beings who inhabit those earthly habitats. From here and the Dresden Codex (the most complete of the three supposed Maya codices) probably sprang the myth that the town of Bugarach would serve as a safe haven for the supposed coming apocalypse. Within the Codex, there is a well-known myth in which the Chaacs (or related Rain and Lightning deities) go about opening a mountain in which an important maize was hidden. There are now many who believe that the mountains (the upside-down mountains) of Bugarach serve as a garage for UFOs, because they believe alien spaceships are parked in caves in the mountain. The mountains will part and therein will be the hidden maizes. There are already videos on Youtube that claim to have come across these mythical garages. To each his or her own. Some people claim that “Bugarach is like California in the ’60s”. If so, that could possibly be an interesting experience for me as the Berkeley I attended was most definitely not a mystical experience. I could venture out to Bugarach this December 21 and undergo a supposed Berkeley experience. However, considering it’s only two weeks away and I have a lot of other business travel to still do, I probably won’t make it to Bugarach this year. Perhaps next year? I can go visit it post-apocalypse.
For me, December 21 is not the end of the world but marks the radical revolution of my personal human consciousness. G. Stanley Hall was one of the first experts to give only children a bad reputation when he referred to their situation as “a disease in itself.” And in China, those only children with behavioral issues are diagnosed with “little emperor syndrome.” Oftentimes, only children are perfectionists and I definitely kept that trait. But for me and for many others that date represents “una nueva era de la luz” (a new age of light). Going forward, we can all use that day to reflect on what the coming year will bring and what we will bring forth taking an active role in the pursuit of our own dreams while caring for others.