The significance of the upcoming solstice
Just a little over two weeks from today, on Friday, December 21st, we can celebrate a very special winter solstice. The winter solstice, as you may remember, is the shortest day of the year, and the longest night. The next day, however imperceptibly, the days start getting longer and the nights shorter — till we get to the summer solstice, when the process reverses itself. This winter solstice, 2012, is also one of the most significant days in the ancient — and still current — Mayan calendar: the end of an extremely long segment of time, after which a new age begins. Many have publicized the idea that this could be the day the world ends, but that’s not what the Mayan prophecy says — unless by “the world” you mean the world we think we’ve been living in. It’s a rare opportunity, in other words, to get in sync with the natural movements of the universe the Mayans studied. A spiritual opportunity more than anything else.
Here’s what one man has written on the subject:
2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl by Daniel Pinchbeck, 2006
On the winter solstice of December 21, 2012, the sun will rise within the dark rift at the center of our (Milky Way) galaxy, an event that occurs once every 25,800 years. Mayan hieroglyphs describe the center of this dark rift as a cosmic womb or “black hole” through which their wizard-kings entered other dimensions and accessed sacred knowledge. In September 2002, astronomers verified the existence of a massive black hole in the center of the Milky Way.
References to the solstice alignment of December 21, 2012 are encoded in numerous Mayan temples, structures, and ball courts. Some believe that this astronomical event, in which the solstice meridian crosses over the Galactic equator, might induce a “field-effect reversal,” just as magnetic forces operate in reverse form above and below the earth’s equator, causing tornadoes and toilets to swirl in the opposite direction. Some of the same people, and others, say that the moment we cross the Galactic equator, a new World Age could effect a transformation of consciousness in those who have prepared for it.
In The Mayan Calendar and the Transformation of Consciousness, Carl Johan Calleman says that the most important Mayan pyramids represent a model of time, from the origin of the universe to the upcoming phase-shift, in which each step, or “world” is twenty times more accelerated in linear time than the one preceding it. “The nine-story Mayan pyramids are telling us that consciousness is created in a hierarchical way and that each world stands on the foundation of another,” Callahan says. The initial level, he believes, beginning thirteen hablatuns or 16.4 billion years ago, starts with the inception of matter in the “Big Bang” and proceeds through the development of cellular life on earth. During the second step, beginning thirteen alautuns, or 820 million years, ago, animal life evolved. The third world, starting thirteen kinchiltuns or 41 million years ago, saw the evolution of primates and the first use of tools by our human ancestors. During the fourth world, beginning thirteen kalabtuns or 2 million years ago, tribal organization began among the ancestors of homo sapiens. During the next world, starting thirteen piktuns or 102,000 years ago, homo sapiens emerged and developed spoken language. The sixth world comprises the Great Cycle of thirteen baktuns, beginning 5,125 years before 2012, was when we created patriarchal civilization, law, and written language – Calleman calls this the “National Underworld.” The seventh step, dubbed the Planetary Underworld, thirteen katuns or 256 years, beginning in 1755 A.D., introduced industrialization, modern democracy, and the atom bomb. The eighth level – the Galactic Underworld – thirteen tuns or 12.8 years, began in 1999, with the development of the internet. The final step, thirteen uinals or 260 days, will lead, Calleman believes, to the attainment of “non-dual cosmic consciousness” across the earth. By the end of this Universal Underworld, humanity will have crossed the threshold of the abyss and confronted the shadow projections of the Apocalypse, becoming – at least potentially – conscious co-creators of reality.
According to Calleman’s thesis, each step on the pyramid “corresponds to a certain frequency of consciousness,” in which evolution operates twenty times faster than it did in the previous phase. For example, “in the Galactic Underworld, as much change must happen in a tun (360 days) as happened in a katun (19.7 years) during the Planetary Underworld.”
Pinchbeck believes that after this point in time “science will reintegrate with aboriginal wisdom, rights will meet lefts, the carapace of modern technology will crumble as new support systems self-organize, and there will be a momentous polar shift in human thought and values – from alienation to integration, from deformed and spatialized time to synchronic harmony, from either patriarchal or matriarchal dominance to true partnership, and from ego-based delusions to global telepathy. As a dialectical synthesis of Eastern enlightenment and Western curiosity, the Maya – voyagers overoceans of time – depart the dusty diorama of the past to await us up ahead, in a state of what Jean Gebser calls ‘time-freedom.'”
According to Calleman, there are cyclical pulsations of light and dark energies (which he calls “Days” and “Nights”) within each of the nine underworlds. Each underworld contains a pattern of seven days and six nights: thirteen stages, each represented by a different Mayan deity. The crucial forward step in the evolution of consciousness takes place on the “Fifth Day,” ruled by the energy of Quetzalcoatl, and the previous form of consciousness asserts itself through final acts of destruction during the Fifth Night that follows, ruled by the energy of Quetzalcoatl’s archenemy, Tezcatlipoca. The 256-year cycle of thirteen katuns that began with the industrial revolution, which Calleman dubs the Planetary Underworld, reached its darkest point during the Fifth Night of 1932 to 1952, the period of Nazism, the Second World War, the Holocaust, the dropping of atomic bombs on Japanese cities, and the Korean War. In the 5,125-year National Cycle that preceded it, the Fifth Night of 434 to 829 A.D. corresponded to the collapse of the Roman Empire and the so-called Dark Ages. The cycle of thirteen tuns that began in November 1999 will reach its midnight hour during the year 2008 (or 2009, according to other sources), a year during which, as various studies on the imminent peak oil crisis point out, resources of energy, food, and water may become critically stressed. Calleman predicts that this period could see a global financial and ecological collapse, accompanied by nightmarish misuses of power on the part of the ruling elite. Such a time could also provide the opportunity to circulate a new vision of what the world could be, and disseminate the tools and principles to implement it.
We’re currently witnessing the shadow of the psyche projected into material form through systemic misuse of technology, biospheric destruction, and corrupt geopolitics based on entrenched egotism and greed. We’re tempted to give way to fear and despair, as negative events follow each other at breakneck pace, but positive developments are also increasing – if the shadows appear to be growing darker, Pinchbeck says, it’s because the light that casts them is getting brighter.
The shift to a higher form of consciousness won’t happen on its own – it requires personal work and direct, precise engagement with ecological, political, psychological, commercial, technological, and spiritual aspects of reality – the complete engagement of our will and higher faculties. We have to decondition ourselves from negative programming, and give up distractions, self-justifications, and egocentric goals in order to act for the greater good. A slight intervention might make all the difference as breakdown and breakthrough happen simultaneously.
Many believe that the ball games played in Mayan temple-cities represent this struggle, with the ball entering the goal ring symbolizing the sun passing through xibalba be, the “underworld road” at the end of the cycle. John Major Jenkins describes the game players “as heroic semi-human deities whose job was to keep the sun rolling towards its meeting with the dark rift.” Like them, we can be “cosmic midwives, or vision helpers, who facilitate the emergence of the next World Age, the rebirth of the solar deity (and all life).”
José Argüelles believes we need a new calendar for navigating the new age. “A new time,” he writes, “can only come about by the rejection of the instrument that holds in place the hallucination of the old time.” The old calendar, he says, should be replaced “with an instrument of such perfect harmony that it has no history, but is truly post-historical.”
Argüelles, Jenkins, and Calleman are the three main proponents of the concept that the Mayan calendar is, as Calleman puts it, “fundamentally a time-schedule for the evolution of consciousness.” Although Calleman absorbed many of Argüelles’s ideas, he and Jenkins go out of their way to dismiss Argüelles’s work, especially the channeled Dreamspell calendar, which borrows elements of the sacred calendar of the Maya and rephrases it. The truth may lie somewhere in between, or beyond any exact model we can create.
Pinchbeck’s book brings many other topics into this inquiry, including Britain’s mysterious crop circles (many of them near the sacred center of Avebury) and the seeking of healing and enlightenment through hallucinogenic drugs. He calls iboga, one of the drugs he’s taken personally, a “primordial wisdom teacher of humanity.” According to Wikipedia, “iboga is a perennial rainforest shrub and hallucinogen native to western Africa that stimulates the central nervous system when taken in small doses and induces visions in larger doses.” A shrub or small tree with small green leaves, white and pink flowers, and orange fruit, iboga’s “yellow-colored roots contain a number of indole alkaloids, most notably ibogaine.
The iboga tree is the central pillar of the Bwiti religion practiced in west-central Africa (Gabon, Cameroon, and the Republic of the Congo), which utilizes the alkaloid-containing roots of the plant in a number of ceremonies. Iboga is taken in massive doses by initiates when entering the religion, and on a more regular basis is eaten in smaller doses in connection with nighttime rituals and tribal dances. The Bwiti religion is practiced by the forest-dwelling Babongo and Mitsogo people of Gabon and the Fang people of Gabon and Cameroon. Modern Bwiti is syncretistic, incorporating animism, ancestor worship, and Christianity. Bwiti use the hallucinogenic rootbark of the Tabernanthe iboga plant, specially cultivated for the religion, to induce spiritual enlightenment, stabilize community and family structure, and solve problems of a spiritual and/or medical nature. Iboga, used for hundreds of years as part of a Bwiti coming of age ceremony and other initiation rites and acts of healing, produces complex visions and insights considered valuable to the initiate and the community. Musicians playing drums and a traditional harp are central to the rites. Ceremonies usually begin at night and may last for days as the effects of the drug at the doses used are particularly long lasting. One of the best English language sources of information on the religion is James W. Fernandez’s book, Bwiti: An Ethnography of the Religious Imagination in Africa (1982).
Outside Africa, iboga extracts as well as the purified alkaloid ibogaine are used in treating opiate addiction. The therapy may last several days and upon completion the subject is generally no longer physically dependent. Evidence suggests that ibogaine may also help interrupt addiction to alcohol and nicotine. The pharmacological effects are undisputed, with hundreds of peer-reviewed papers in support.
Pinchbeck worked with an American female teacher, who, “citing an indigenous prophetic text, calls this ‘the time of Dreaming the World Awake.’” This reminded him of the story of Sleeping Beauty, in which a king invites twelve of the thirteen wise women of his land to a banquet to celebrate the birth of his daughter. He can’t invite the last one as he has only twelve golden plates. The uninvited thirteenth wise woman arrives in a fury and curses the kingdom, sending the court into a long sleep. The tale offers a prophetic warning, according to Pinchbeck, of what will happen when the feminine, lunar qualities of life are neglected. The number twelve, he says, symbolizes masculine solar rationality, while thirteen is connected with the moon, matriarchal matters, and the old Goddess religion.
The interplay between solar twelve and lunar thirteen is also indicated by the story of Jesus and his twelve disciples, King Arthur and his twelve knights, and Quetzalcoatl (Kulkucan), who led twelve other gods before his mysterious disappearance. The two numbers, juxtaposed whenever our culture seeks to identify a superhero figure, point to a cultural legacy that seems to be calendric in origin. The archetypal pattern always involves a thirteenth savior figure with twelve knights, disciples, or kings, who is sacrificed, then resurrected in order to save the culture.
In the Gospel of John, when the risen Christ instructs his disciples to cast their net over the right side of their boat, they retrieve 153 fish. The square root of this number is 12.369, the number of lunations in a year. The number 12.369 is also the hypotenuse of a triangle made with the proportions 5:12:13, a “lunation triangle” used in the ancient world as a tool for performing a range of astronomical tasks, including forecasting solar positions and lunar phases. The site of Stonehenge may have been chosen because it was part of an enormous lunation triangle, stretching to the Preseli islands in Wales, from which the monument’s boulders were removed, to the sacred island of Lundy, directly east of the monument.
Again and again, says Pinchbeck, these myths seem to suggest that the seemingly innocuous calendar is actually of fundamental importance, defining our relationship to reality, as Argüelles says. A calendar that doesn’t correspond to natural cycles and that fails to balance solar and lunar elements will lead to a “deformed” world. What our science understands abstractly about the evolutionary engine of the sun, moon, earth system, Neolithic man may have realized intuitively and instinctively, codifying the understanding in monumental works of stone.
Similarly, Pinchbeck believes the crop circles to be a teaching on the nature of reality, a subtle, multilayered initiation for the modern mind that offers cues on navigating the psychic nature of the new reality we’re transitioning into. “They seem to offer instruction,” he says, “in how to work with paradox by realizing that seemingly opposite sides can both be true. Paradox can thus be embraced as an operative principle.”
Pinchbeck’s teacher introduced him to the Santo Daime religion that originated in Brazil and has since spread throughout the world. He initially resisted, then accepted the hours of dancing and singing hymns under the influence of ayahuasca, a plant-based hallucinogenic drug, eventually experiencing a newfound feeling of integration, acceptance, and “the humility of devotional prayer.” Participating in the singing and dancing, he saw “the Mother of the Forest twirling over our heads with her arms outstretched, sheltering us beneath her vast umbrella. A fountain of light appeared to rise from the center of the room, a column of energy, pulsing with the harmonic mesh of the singing. I had never felt so close to the presence of the Sacred – not as an idea or a theory, but as something that filled my whole being.” Later that night, he received a “cosmic message”: “YOU GO DEEPER INTO THE PHYSICAL TO GET TO THE INFINITE.”
The Santo Daime religion originated in the visions of Raimundo Irineu Serra, a young Brazilian of African descent. While drinking ayahuasca with Amazon Indians in the 1920s, he was visited by the “Queen of the Forest,” who taught him hymns. He was told by this apparition – whom he believed to be a form of the Virgin Mary – that he had been given a sacred mission to begin a church that would “replant the doctrine of Jesus Christ on earth.” This doctrine wasn’t a set of rigid rules or orthodox ideas, but “a living matrix of consciousness. Jesus Christ planted a conscious seed in this world by his life and death, initiating a vast change in human consciousness that is now beginning to come to fruition.” The purpose of Santo Daime is to call “one by one, the many souls who are ready to awaken the seed, Christ Consciousness, in themselves.” Today, the Daime describes itself as a “spiritual and ecological movement,” seeking to create sustainable communities in the Brazilian jungle. The church grew in popularity across Brazil in the 1980s, taking root in many urban centers, and it’s developed internationally, with tens of thousands of members throughout South America, Europe, the US, and Japan.
Pinchbeck went to Brazil for a week-long initiation in the jungle that included helping to make the medicine. He says ayahuasca is brewed from two plants, combining the “force” of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, containing beta-carbolines, with the “light” of chacruna leaves, full of DMT. He notes that the Santo Daime cross modifies the Christian icon with a second, smaller horizontal line below the traditional crossbeam. His American teacher explained that the second line symbolizes the “Second Coming” of Christ – not as an individual being, but as a collective realization. “The Daime believe that the Second Coming occurs within our hearts.”
On the boat ride out of the jungle, the author says, he received and wrote down “the rest of the transmission announcing Quetzalcoatl’s return:
I am an avatar and messenger sent at the end of a kalpa, a world age, to bring a new dispensation for humanity – a new covenant, and a new consciousness.
I am the same spirit who appeared in the Mayan period as Quetzalcoatl and incarnated at various other points in human history. (Like Avalokiteshvara, the Tibetan Buddha of Compassion, Quetzalcoatl is an archetypal ‘god form’ that occasionally takes human rebirth to accomplish a specific mission.)
Soon there will be a great change in your world. The material reality that surrounds you is beginning to crack apart, and with it all of your illusions. The global capitalist system that is currently devouring your planetary resources will soon self-destruct, leaving many of you bereft. For those with open hearts and minds, there will be no problem whatsoever. What is false must die so what is true can be born. The shadows that crawl around you are the unintegrated aspects of your psyche, projected into material form. ‘Apocalypse’ means ‘uncovering,’ and in these last clock ticks of this world age, all must be revealed.
You have just a few years to prepare, so use them preciously. ‘Reality,’ as you currently experience it, is something like a waking dream. It’s a projection, or let us say an interface, disguising deeper and more intensified levels of being and knowing. For those who are ready and willing, the doors to those other levels now stand open.
What you are currently experiencing as the accelerated evolution of technology can now be recognized as a transition between two forms of consciousness and two planetary states. Consciousness is the only real or necessary technology, and unconditional love given freely maintains all. Surrender to the will of God (“the flow”). You have to anyway, so why not assent to it joyfully? Enter the Golden Age by freeing yourself from fear and attachment. The original matrix of the universe and this new world reality is the ecstatic limitlessness of your own being – not via transcendence, but immanence in the here and now. The unending task of human existence is to transform life on earth by reconciling spirit and matter. Go deeper into the physical to reach the infinite.”
As Frank Waters wrote in Book of the Hopi, “The coming of the Hopi’s lost white brother Pahana, the return of the Mayas’ bearded white god Kukulcan, the Toltecan and Aztecan Quetzalcoatl, is a myth of deep significance to all the Americas, an unconscious projection of an entire race’s dream of brotherhood with the races of all continents – the unfulfilled longing of humanity.”
According to the Hopi, we’re currently completing the cycle of the Fourth World and on the verge of transitioning, or emerging, into the Fifth World, with several more worlds to follow. In each of the previous three worlds, humans eventually went berserk, bringing ruin upon themselves through destructive practices, wars, misused technologies, and a loss of connection to the sacred. As the end of one cycle approaches, a small tunnel or interdimensional passage – the sipapu – appears, leading the Hopi and other “decent” people into the new world.
The Hopi believe we’ve received most of the signs, recounted in their prophecies, preceding the emergence into the Fifth World. These include “a gourd of ashes falling from the sky” and destroying a city, enacted in the atomic blasts obliterating Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and a spider web across the earth, which they associate with our power grids and telephone lines. According to the accounts of the elders compiled by Waters, the Fourth World will end in a war that will be “a spiritual conflict” fought with material means, leading to the destruction of the United States, “land and people,” through radiation. Those who survive this conflict will institute a new united world without racial or ideological delusions, under one power, that of the Creator.
On a brief visit to the Hopi reservation, Pinchbeck met with a Hopi elder named Gasheseoma. When he first saw him, he was a “gnarled old man in the distance, hoeing his field under the scorching sun. He seemed an iconic figure, standing alone in the arid landscape, surrounded by tiny corn and bean plants. I called out, asking if he would like to talk to us. He put his hoe down and came to greet us in a manner that was friendly, unguarded, and without surprise. We sat together in a little shelter, and I asked him about the time ahead.
‘It goes like a movie now,’ he said. ‘Soon there is coming the time of purification. But this has all happened before.’ He believes the US government is building ‘machines’ for exterminating huge populations, which would be employed as resources dwindled as part of the ‘purification.’ His tone was stoic, serious, yet surprisingly matter-of-fact. I asked him about the treatment of the Hopi by the United States.
‘Everything has been done illegally,’ he said. ‘We didn’t want a tribal council. The majority voted against it, and it was forced on us. We didn’t want the highway either.’
‘What should be done with it then?’ I asked.
‘Smash it up,’ he replied, waving at it.
For Gasheseoma, there was an obvious distinction between ‘right-doing’ and ‘wrong-doing.’ He was quite clear about what should be done about persistent wrong-doers like the executives of the Peabody Corporation that mines coal unenvironmentally on Hopi land, without giving the tribe a fair share of the profits. ‘Cut off their heads,’ he said.
As we left him, he returned to his field – a tiny, indomitable presence in the vast desert, beneath the wide, scorching sky…I felt the wound that will only be healed when our culture forges a real relationship with the indigenous people of this continent – no longer prying into their secrets or imitating their ways, but expiating our dominator guilt by acting in solidarity with them…
I have proposed that the intensifying global crisis is the material expression of a psycho-spiritual process, forcing our transition to a new and more intensified state of awareness. If Calleman’s hypothesis is correct, telescoping of time will mean a high-speed replay of aspects of past historical epochs – echoes of the French Revolution, the rise and fall of the Third Reich, and so on – before consciousness reaches the next twist of the spiral. As part of this transition, we’ll reintegrate the aboriginal and mythic worldviews, recognizing the essential importance of spiritual evolution, while understanding that it’s directly founded on our relationship to material and physical aspects of reality. The higher consciousness and conscience of our species will be forged through the process of putting the broken and intricate shards of our world back together, piece by piece.”
Calleman, Carl Johan. The Mayan Calendar and the Transformation of Consciousness. Bear & Company, 2004
Heath, Robin. Sun, Moon, and Stonehenge. Bluestone Press, 1998.
Jenkins, John Major. Galactic Alignment (2002), Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 (1998), and (with Martin Matz) Pyramid of Fire (2004), all published by Bear & Company.
McKenna, Terence. The Archaic Revival (1991) and True Hallucinations (1994), both published by Harper Collins.