Maya Calendar Hysteria—December 21st Almost Here

The long-awaited date of December 21st, 2012 is nearly upon us, with international hysteria continuing over a supposed Maya prophecy. Yet the purveyors of the hysteria (some of whom have made a fair sum of money) aren`t even in agreement. Is it the destruction of the planet or “just” the destruction of civilization? Others have presented the date as ushering in a new “cosmic consciousness”. That`s sufficiently vague to make it easier to backpedal than for those who predict something cataclysmic.

The whole thing is fraudulent, however. There is no such Maya prophecy. But since the time of Columbus, mystical qualities have been attributed to Indians by Westerners. The intriguing Maya culture, with its pyramids in the jungle, its distinctive art, mysterious writing system and its famous calendar provide a lot of grist for the mill.

The whole December 21st thing is not, for the most part, promoted by scholars of the Maya culture, nor by the contemporary Maya themselves, but by New Age gurus practicing cafeteria-style religious reasoning. They take some things from the Maya culture, but (hopefully) they aren`t practicing extinct Maya customs such as ritual bloodletting, human sacrifice, or tying boards to babies` heads to form those long foreheads seen in Maya art.

I have been able to visit a few of the many Maya archaeological sites. I`ve visited Chichen Itza, Coba, Tulum and El Rey in eastern Mexico. In the country of Belize I visited the Lamanai site, which we reached by traveling by boat on a river. I find the Maya culture and its accomplishments fascinating. However, from a Christian point of view I wouldn`t look to the Maya religion as a spiritual influence, and as a Westerner I wouldn`t look to the Maya culture as a primary influence on how to order society.

Incidentally, the oft-repeated claim that the Maya calendar is more accurate than ours is simply false. There are several Maya calendars, each with its own purpose, but their 365-day solar haab calendar has no leap year. That makes it less accurate than our current Gregorian Calendar, adopted in 1582. And it`s even less accurate than the Julian calendar, adopted by Julius Caesar in 45 B. C.  (Click here for an explanation). Nowadays of course it`s considered cool in the media and academia to hold up the non-Western as superior to the Western.

For more information on the December 21st Maya Calendar hysteria, see my previous article entitled 2012: Prophecies of the Maya Calendar which provides more detail on the archaeological aspects of the issue.

Enjoy your December 21st. There are plenty of problems in our society, but they have nothing to do with the Maya Calendar.