2012:  Armageddon or Utopia? by Celinda Reynolds Kaelin ©2010 (This article was originally published in the September 2010 issue of Pathways Magazine of Washington, D.C. )  2012. How could four simple numbers come to have such an explosive impact on our modern psyche? Of course, there is the movie touting the date as the end of the world. There is also the constant barrage of “documentaries” linking this Mayan calendar date with the biblical prophecy of Armageddon. One thing I haven’t seen, however, is an interview with any one of the Mayan priests in charge of their sacred calendar. Aren’t we focusing on hysteria instead of fact? According to the Mayan author, Carlos Barrios, in his recent book 2012: Book of Destiny, “December 21, 2012, will not be the end of the world or the end of humanity. In fact, it will be the start of a period in which harmony, understanding, peace, and wisdom can reign.” I have had the great honor of working with Carlos Barrios off and on since 2000 as a member of the World Council of Elders. Carlos is also a member of the Guatemalan Elders Council, and is a Chi-Mam (Mayan priest). I remember one of my first experiences with the World Council in Guatemala, when Carlos and his brother Gerardo led a Mayan ceremony at the ancient temple of Iximche. Later that evening, the federales came and took Carlos and Gerardo away. We were all terribly concerned for them, and didn’t learn the reason for their arrest until the next morning. It seems that one of our NASA satellite images had shown the pyramid at Iximche glowing, and our government alerted the Guatemalans. They in turn interrogated these Mayan priests, accusing them of having planted some sort of nuclear device. There was no such device–it was a much higher technology, that of spiritual energy. Mayan tradition is not my “spirit walk.” I personally follow Lakota spiritual tradition. I carry the C’anupa (Sacred Pipe) and am a SunDancer, having just completed my eleventh SunDance. I am 63 years old and have eight grandchildren. I can personally attest to the existence of “higher technology,” as that is the only way I can go without food and water while dancing ten hours a day in 100 degree plus heat, for the four days of SunDance. Medical scientists will tell you that this is not possible, especially for an older woman like me. But this is precisely the point. In Lakota way, we say that all religions are like languages for speaking to the Creator.  Just as there are many different languages in the world, there are so many different ways to talk to the Creator, and we respect all that are centered in love. So it is with the Mayans. It is not my “language,” but I have seen their powers in ceremony, and I have tremendous respect for their traditions. I remember another of their ceremonies at the Temple of the Jaguar at Tikal in Guatemala. Ancient Mayan texts teach that the Mayan people are descended from the Pleiadians. Jaguar is the Mayan constellation that holds the Pleiades star cluster, and therefore its temple is a special place for intergalactic connection. On this occasion, the Mayans finished their ceremony at dusk. As darkness fell, I lay back on the grass to luxuriate in the dense panoply of sparkling stars above us. Suddenly, there was a gasp from all of the Elders as a large, bright light zipped back and forth thousands of feet above the Temple of the Jaguar. Its sharp, angular turns and reversals of direction definitely ruled it out as any type of modern aircraft. I could only wonder if the Pleiadians were acknowledging the communication made through the ceremony. This was undoubtedly another example of the Mayan’s High Technology. Carlos tells us in his book that, “December 21, 2012, is the pivotal date that everyone has heard of. According to our tradition, this is when the period of Job Ajaw, or the Fifth Sun, is expected to begin. This is of great importance because it will be a time when humans ascend to a harmonious, spiritual level.” In Mayan tradition, time is circular. Their calendars work like the cogs in a series of gears, going round and round and interlocking at key points. When their calendar completes this current 26,000 year cycle, it will begin again. It is like the clock striking midnight. It is the end of the day, but also the beginning of the next day. We are at the end of the Fourth Sun, and at the beginning of the Fifth Sun. It is not the end of the world. If we look at this calendar date in a rational, logical manner, we can assess its impact over the last four “Suns.” The Mayans tell us that at each of these 26,000 year cycles, humanity has taken a large evolutionary step. This is easy enough to verify just by examining history. To do so, we need to look at the past in increments of 26,000 years. First we will look at human evolution at 104,000 (26,000 x 4),  then at 78,000 (26,000 x 3), at 52,000 (26,000 x 2), and finally at our current cycle, which began 26,000 years ago.  These evolutionary cycles are not a light switch. They are more like the waves in the ocean, gradually building momentum until they finally crest into the next wave of the next evolutionary step. Our first evolutionary step took place about 104,000 years ago. In his book Maps of Time, professor of history David Christian takes on the ambitious project of detailing human history from its very beginnings. According to Dr. Christian, there was some singular event around 100,000 thousand years ago at the beginning of the last ice age. At that time, humans were still co- located in Africa. Something catastrophic happened, however, and only about 10,000 modern humans survived. Genetic science reveals that all modern humans are descended from these few remaining individuals. Dr. Christian also notes that evolution is facilitated in these small populations.  “If the isolated population is small, and if the ecological conditions of its new home are very different from its old home, it may diverge rapidly, because selective pressures are strong, and favorable genetic changes can spread more swiftly in small populations….This is known as the founder effect.” In addition to genetic change, this singular event propelled humans out of Africa and all across the continents of the earth. Our next giant step as humans came about 78,000 years ago. Around this time, geneticists tell us that mitochondrial haplogroup L2 appeared in humans. This signaled the beginnings of modern human behavior and is known among scientists as the “Great Leap Forward.” At this time, Homo sapiens started to demonstrate symbolic thought and exhibited cultural creativity. This evolutionary period is marked by finely-made tools, fishing, long-distance exchange and barter, use of pigments (such as ochre) for ceremonial self-ornamentation, burials, music, game playing, and the emergence of cave paintings, petroglyphs, and figurines. Clearly, our species had come to understand that we are connected to a higher power. And since it occurred around 78,000 years ago, it was right on schedule. So what happened to us next, at 52,000 years ago? Human language appeared.  Before this time, modern speech was not possible. It was about this time that humans developed a pharynx and oral cavity that are almost equal in length and are bent at right angles to each other. No other animal or early human has this supralaryngeal vocal tract. Dr. Christian tells us that “the relatively high larynx of all early hominines suggests that they could not produce the range of sounds (particularly vowels) used by modern humans.”  This was a critical point in our evolution, because human language allows us to transmit our knowledge from one person to another.  This is our distinction: unlike animals, we can learn collectively. Our knowledge is not confined to one individual, or to one generation. This allows us to build and expand our understanding of the world around us. Even though I am fairly intelligent, I couldn’t begin to create a car, invent a telephone, or fly a rocket into outer space. All of these things require collective intelligence. This collective learning leads to profound changes in technology and lifeways. Language was the key to the door of this collective learning. Finally, we entered this current 26,000 year period and began to ride the energy wave of the age of technology. Our first technological breakthrough was in the fine art of controlling fire. Humans had been using fire for warmth for thousands of years but now began using it in new ways. Dutch sociologist Johan Goudsblom maintains that the use of fire as a tool was the “first great technological transition in human history.” Fire warmed us and protected us from predators. It was used to cook our food, allowing us to eat previously unusable foods. It augmented our skills as hunters and gatherers. It was also around this time that humans built one of their first permanent settlements in Moravia, Czech Republic. Archaeologists have dated this hamlet consisting of huts built from rocks and mammoth bones to about 25,000 years ago. Women contributed to this age of technology with baby-carriers, clothes, bags, and baskets. Men contributed by developing fish nets, harpoons, needles, and saws. As the wave of this energy gained strength and crested, we now ride rockets into outer space and communicate all around the world with air waves. Unfortunately, as Carlos teaches, we have “… reached an extraordinary technological development, but [we have] forgotten the spiritual balance and the responsible relationship with Nature, which we are destroying and polluting.” The Mayan scholar, John Major Jenkins, writes in his book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 that, “The Long Count calendar is a galactic calendar because it pinpoints a rare alignment with our Milky Way Galaxy, due to occur in A.D. 2012 – a date written as in the Long Count…” and that this date in the Popol Vuh (the Mayan Creation myth) depicts this as “…a time of great transformation and world rebirth.”  Jenkins reiterates what Carlos teaches, that “The Maya believed that the 26,000-year Great Year of precession is a spiritual gestation period for humanity, and that the 2012 alignment [when the solstice sun is in conjunction with the Earth and the Galactic Heart] will catalyze the birth of what has been growing on this planet for 26,000 years.” Before we reach this cosmogenesis, however, the Mayans teach that we will undergo a period of “purification.” Carlos writes that this began with the events of 2001, and will include “major earthquakes, large volcanic eruptions (many from inactive volcanoes), floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, radical climate change, and other natural disasters.” Fortunately, however, “the purification will end in September 2010….”  Then, from September 23, 2010 to December 20, 2012 we will enter a period that Carlos calls the “definition.” Carlos is emphatic, however, that this period of “definition” does not mean the end of the world. Nonetheless, it will be a “…time of cleansing, when all of the garbage in our minds, all of our consumerism, will be cleared away and replaced with a resurgence of true spirituality and a renewed respect for ourselves and everyone else on this planet.” December 21, 2012 will be the beginning of the Fifth Sun: it is not the end of the world. As Carlos insists, “This period is of great importance because it will be a time when humans ascend to a harmonious, spiritual level.” This is an exciting time to be alive! As this transition begins, humanity will enter a period of light, harmony, and love beginning in 2014. We will have over 800 years with no more war. However, we have a grave responsibility in fulfilling this prophecy. Carlos tells us that we must use our weapons of “…meditation, sacred ceremonies, the thought of millions of people, the amazing power of mind, creating the harmony of love, respect, and spreading conscience…the answer is in the power of your heart.” Most importantly, we will come again to live in harmony with nature, to respect and nurture our Mother Earth. We are entering a time of very high technology! Celinda Reynolds Kaelin is a poet, philosopher, and historian. Her first book, Journey Song (1998), is a collection of American Indian spiritual teachings woven into a logical, timely, philosophical system rich with legends, anecdotes, and teachings from contemporary and historical American Indian spiritual leaders. Her second book, Pikes Peak Backcountry (1999), surveys the richly detailed history of the western slope of Pikes Peak, from the geographic and geological background of the area, through the influx of prehistoric and indigenous people into the environment, to the influence of American expansionism upon the region. Her latest book, American Indians of the Pikes Peak Region, was released in May 2008.   Kaelin is proud to be an adopted member of both the Ute and Lakota American Indian Nations.