random reflections on Mayans & the End

Welp, it’s noon on December 21, 2012 and the world is still here…so far anyway. The obsession with dating the end of the world fascinates me. I can recall a young me circa 1975 sitting on the shiny gym floor at school, clad in that blue one piece elastic around the thighs gym suit and white tube socks waiting for something cataclysmic to happen. I had been listening to an aunt who was a Jehovah’s Witness tell me the world would end that year and I believed her. Young people generally believe most things the adults in their lives tell them and this was no different.  So I sat there and waited. Thirty-seven years later most of us are still here. However, that aunt has since passed on to the other side.

Later in Sunday school we were forced to memorize that verse in Matthew 24 –

No man knows the day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

I attended a live radio broadcast Wednesday night and an astrologer was one of the on-air guests. He talked about horoscopes and signs, moons and new moons. Stuff I don’t know much about. Naturally, his presence attracted like-minded people, new age talk filled the room as he read the horoscopes of volunteers from the audience. A woman in the crowd invited my mom and me to a winter solstice “party with the gods” on 12-21-12. The invite said we should adorn ourselves in royal whites. Well, I’m known to joke at inappropriate times (perhaps a nervous condition of mine) so I said to the woman, “oh, you guys are partying your way out at the end of the world?” She took my question quite seriously and said “oh no, the world is not ending” and she began a longer than I was ready to listen to explanation of what was going to happen today. She talked about a new dimension, the ending of the old and the beginning of the new. “The old is passing away and the new is arriving.” She said it was only the end of the Mayan calendar but the commencement of a golden age. She told me to relax, not to worry, that this was a good thing. I released a sigh of relief as I chuckled to myself with half-rolled eyes and a polite thank you.

Whatever today is, however the stars and moons are aligned, whatever the 70’s singing group, the Fifth Dimension meant by “this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius,” I have decided that I like the idea of the old passing and giving way to the new. Leader of the Bolivian world, Evo Morales of the Aymaras interprets the Mayan calendar this way:

“And I would like to say that according to the Mayan Calendar the 21st of December marks the end of time and the beginning of no-time. It is the end of the Macha & the beginning of the Pacha. It is the end of selfishness & the beginning of brotherhood. It is the end of individualism & the beginning of collectivism… the 21st of December this year. The scientists know very well that this marks the end of an anthropocentric life and the beginning of a biocentric life. It is the end of hatred & the beginning of love. The end of lies & the beginning of truth. It is the end of sadness & the beginning of joy. It is the end of division & the beginning of unity.”

Evo Morales, President of Bolivia speaks to the UN General Assembly, 67th Session, 2012

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About Calenthia Dowdy

Calenthia Dowdy (PhD, American University) is a cultural anthropologist and youth ministry educator who focuses on urban youth and culture in the U.S. and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Alongside teaching, speaking and writing on youth, cities, race, gender, and faith, she serves as the director of faith initiatives at a comprehensive community health center that specializes in HIV/AIDS care