The short answer to this question is NO. The World will not end in 2012. This silly concept has been brought about by a “so called prophecy” of The Mayan people of South America.
However, no such prophecy exists and is news to the modern Maya in Guatemala and Mexico. Instead, they view the burgeoning end-of-the-world 2012 industry with a mixture of confusion, exasperation and anger at what is perceived as a Western distortion of their traditions and beliefs.
“There is no concept of apocalypse in the Mayan culture,” said Jesus Gomez, head of the Guatemalan confederation of Mayan priests and spiritual guides.
Cirilo Perez, an adviser to Guatemala’s President Alvaro Colom is a prominent ajq’ij – literally a “day counter”, a wise man who makes predictions and advice on the most propitious dates to marry, plant or harvest. He decried the commercial exploitation of Mayan culture by outsiders.
“This has all become business but there is no desire to understand,” he said. “When foreigners, or even some Guatemalans, see us, they think ‘Look at the Maya, how nice, how pretty’, but they don’t understand us.”
Mayan elder Chile Pixtun recalled how he was bombarded with questions about the end of the world during a recent trip to Britain. “Man, they had me fed up with this stuff,” he said, his frustration clear.
The Maya make up about half of Guatemala’s 13 million people and many live on less than $2 a day as subsistence farmers – an unimagineably far cry from the colossal budget lavished on 2012, which stars John Cusack, Woody Harrelson and the British actress, Thandie Newton.
In neighbouring Mexico, the Maya are concentrated in the Yucatan peninsula, a popular tourist destination but where local farmer are struggling with drought-like conditions.
“If I went to Mayan-speaking communities and asked people what is going to happen in 2012, they wouldn’t have any idea,” said Jose Huchim, a Mayan archaeologist in the Yucatan. “That the world is going to end? They wouldn’t believe you. We have real concerns these days, like rain.”
The ancient Maya, whose civilisation reached its height from 250 to 900AD, were noted for their intricate architecture, mathematical and astronomical expertise and their sophisticated cyclical calendars.
One of those, the Long Count calendar, began in 3114 BC and is believed to end on the winter solstice in 2012, although that date has been the subject of debate among Mayan scholars.
Some New Age groups believe the expiration of the Long Count cycle will correspond to a global “consciousness shift” and spiritual “rebirth” for mankind. But others have developed a doomsday interpretation, citing increased solar sunspot activity and polar realignments as indications that Earth faces a much more dramatic scenario at the end of 2012.
Although the theories may sound more out-of-this-world than end-of-the-world, books and websites promoting the apocalyptic analysis are proliferating.
Sony Pictures has capitalised on all the attention on 2012 with controversial viral marketing campaign for the film based around a website for the fictional Institute for Human Continuity that lists doomsday prospects for the Earth. As the film’s trailer puts it, “How will the governments of the world help six billion face the end of the world? Answer: They will not.”
The US space agency Nasa has condemned the website after receiving hundreds of inquiries from people who believed it was genuine – including some from teenagers who said they were contemplating suicide because they did not want to experience the end of the world.
With so many wild claims and theories running rife on the Internet, Gary Baddeley, a British writer and producer who runs the New York-based Disinformation Company, produced the documentary 2012: Science or Superstition.
“There can certainly be harm in scaring people that the world is going to end and we’re trying to allay some of those fears by explaining what the focus on 2012 is about,” he said. And for the Maya, he believes that perhaps the year can bring opportunity rather than curse.
“To the modern Maya in the Guatemala highlands, 2012 means very little and they have not used the Long Count calendar for a long time,” he said. “But perhaps they can turn this to their advantage by encouraging understanding of their culture and bringing in some much-needed tourist dollars. It could help put them back on the map.”
Although there is no apocalypse in the Mayan culture, the Book of Revelation in The Bible does contain apocalyptic events in the form of runaway climate change. There are 14 events in all which span a period of seven years and begin in 2017.
You can download the explanation of these events by clicking on the banner at the bottom of this page.