The 2012 phenomenon can easily become a form of the archetypal mass possession that has afflicted the West since at least the first millennium when thousands awaited the end of the world. While I do not discount prophecy, the turning of the ages, or the presence of new vibratory rates on the planet, the hope that some external agency will change the core of who we are is ultimately naïve and disempowering. Apocalyptic consciousness and concurrent beliefs that angelic or demonic cataclysm will fundamentally transform the earth takes on many forms, and the 2012 Mayan/Venus harmonic seems to be the latest version.
What can occur in many forms of visionary, prophetic discourse is an effort to escape from current conditions through a desperate hope that some future event will settle the scores of unjust and inexplicable happenings on earth. Although such messages may offer hope, and even a vision of what can be (and this one is certainly appealing in its expansion beyond the traditional Western, Christian world view), they also point to an inability to live in and appreciate the present moment in all of its fullness and glory. In the Biblical sense, any speculation about the future violates the commandment, “Thou shall not bear false witness;” for the future is not given to us to know, and every form of futuristic speculation takes us out of the present moment where all resolution lies.
So why do people jump in the bandwagons of Y2k, 2012, and the like, as lemmings rush down to the sea? I suspect it has as much to do with the poverty of our own lives as with intimations of a glorious rapture. The day, with its glorious sunrise and sunsets, is no longer enough. The divine songs of the birds, the rustling of the leaves in the wind, and the beautifully profound faces of people pass us by unnoticed. For beauty does not demand our attention. We are free to ignore its divine calls. Hence, we are afflicted with the fever of becoming, egged on by the media and constant economic pressure, our lives become so fast and meaningless that we need the injections of a cataclysmic hope for tomorrow.
Apocalyptic prophecy has traditionally served as a last bastion of the disenfranchised, as in the Ghost Dance period of Native America. If I am not getting a piece of the pie now, if oppression becomes overwhelming, I can project a better time to come, and allow my unwavering belief and commitment to it to get me through another day.
This is not to say that visions like 2012 do not have value. They can be tremendously helpful if we do not take them literally, but rather see them as visionary constructs that can allow us to see what kind of world we really want to create, and what legacy we want to pass on to our children’s children. Then, when we wake up on “the day after” and see that the same world is present before our eyes, and that our ongoing challenges remain, we can role up our sleeves and commit to the real work: the step-by-step purification of our lives, the visioning and creation of community, the honoring of the earth, and the humility to accept the life we have been given, receive its gifts, and offer them back to the glorious mystery of life.