New Age Apocalypse 2012

2012: A Y2K for the New Age

‘Around … 2012, a large chapter of human history will be coming to an end, and a new phase of human growth will commence.’

Scholars rarely love popularizers, and nowhere is this enmity more evident than in the battle over 2012—a date which, depending on your view, will coincide with the end of the world, the transformation of global consciousness, the end of the Mayan calendar, the beginning of another cycle of the Mayan calendar … or nothing at all. “I don’t pay any attention to this stuff because it’s bunk,” says Anne Pyburn, an anthropologist at Indiana University who studies the Maya. Among followers of New Age religions, though, and particularly among those who like to celebrate the equinox at the Mayan ruin Chichen-Itza on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula, the belief that the year 2012 will mark a global transformation is widespread. In bookstores, on shelves marked “magic” or “divination,” numerous volumes promote this view—and many more are on their way, from publishers as big as HarperOne and as small as Bear & Company, a New Age publisher in Rochester, Vt. Around Thanksgiving, Sony Pictures plans to release “2012.” The trailer for the movie shows the oceans washing over mountains that look like the Himalayas while the face of a monk registers terror. One of the most popular authors in the 2012 category is John Major Jenkins, a self-described “independent researcher” whose 1998 book “Maya Cosmogenesis 2012” helped usher in this craze. “Around the year we call 2012,” he writes, “a large chapter in human history will be coming to an end. All the values and assumptions of the previous World Age will expire, and a new phase of human growth will commence.”