© 2010, Jonathan Zap edited by Austin Iredale
Halloween costume 2011 Pearl Street Mall Halloween in Boulder—Note the costume shows the ubiquitous Aztec Calendar Round which people think is an image of the Mayan calendar.
The cycle end-date of the Mayan Long Count calendar, an authentic artifact of an ancient Mesoamerican culture worthy of serious investigation, has also become the focus of contemporary psychopathology and cultural projection in a way that is fascinating as its own artifact worthy of serious investigation. At the time of this writing (December 2010), 2012 seems to glitter in the popular imagination like a giant disco ball, a spherical mosaic of mirrors reflecting myriad fears and hopes. Some mirrored tiles throw back images of fire and ice, earthquake, tsunami, pole reversals, solar flares and other splintered images of global calamity. Others shimmer with ethereal pastel hues and reflect images of rapture, transcendence and bliss.
Ever more obscured within the disco ball is the core, the ancient artifact, the cycle ending of the Long Count calendar, and its archetypal meaning. In the course of this essay, we will look briefly at the core, but mostly I will point the reader toward the best sources for encountering it in rigorous depth. I am much more interested in the reflections from the mirrored tiles, the contemporary phenomena of 2012, and what it says about the collective psyche.
Of course the reader must ask him or herself the same question that I must ask myself: Who am I to examine the projections of my contemporaries when I am just another person who projects his own images into the world? There is no degree, credential or qualification that closes that question. To proceed with any legitimacy, I must acknowledge my own bias and be vigilant in separating my own projections from those of the collective. The results will be imperfect, and I’ll assume that the reader is taking my words with a grain of salt, as they certainly should, since one person trying to analyze the projections of other people is a maximal case of subjectivity.
Having said that, I can at least state that I am more qualified to write about the reflections from the mirrored tiles than I am to make any contribution toward the study of the core—the artifact of the ancient Mayan culture. I don’t have any qualification to add anything to Mesoamerican archeology, but I have been writing about contemporary mythology from a mostly Jungian perspective for over thirty years.
Another disclaimer: My understanding of the core is biased toward the work of John Major Jenkins who is both a close friend and colleague. His key books, Maya Cosmogenisis 2012, Galactic Alignment and The 2012 Story, as well as our many dialogues and lengthy correspondence over the years, our travel to Mayaland, provide me with most of my perspective on the subject. Where there are disputes between John and other serious Mayanists I do not have the skill set to judge the merits of the arguments and counter-arguments. I have, sometimes at least, been able to observe which party is following basic rules of fairness, evidence and consistency in their arguments, but I do not claim that even those observations are unbiased.
On the other hand, the reader should not assume that I agree with John on every point. In some of the areas where John’s work explores some of the same terrain I cover with my work on the Singularity Archetype, there are some fundamental differences. The most important of these differences is that for John, the Doctrine of World Ages, an essential part of what Aldous Huxley called the Perennial Philosophy, a set of core beliefs found in many cultures including the Maya, is a foundational truth. Essentially, the Doctrine Of World Ages finds human evolution to be cyclical, with great cycles of progression and regression of human consciousness and technological development. For me, the Doctrine Of World Ages is an open question, and while I am impressed by some of the work of Michael Cremo, an independent archaeologist who documents evidence to support the Doctrine of World Ages, I am also impressed with those who document a more linear model of human evolution, the proponents of the spiral dynamics evolutionary model such as Ken Wilber, and the model put forth by Teillhard de Chardin in his seminal book, The Phenomenon of Man. Also, although John has written about Ken Wilber’s pre/trans fallacy (I’ll define that fallacy and have more to say about it later) in The 2012 Story, I feel that some of the comparisons John makes in his writings between ancient indigenous cultures (on which he heaps praise) and Western culture (on which he heaps scorn) are on the wrong side of the pre/trans fallacy.
I’ve never read in depth any author with whom I find myself in 100% agreement so it’s not surprising that I find differences with aspects of John’s point of view. Overall, however, I feel that John has the most comprehensive and penetrating view of all angles of the 2012 topic, and has made more essential discoveries about it than any other investigator. An excellent, concise survey of 2012 subculture can be found in the facetiously titled New York Times Magazine article, “Final Days.” The author of the article points out that, “As much as Jenkins has made a place for himself in the 2012 discussion through his independent research on the Maya and precession, he has made an even greater impact by applying academic rigor to the theories of his contemporaries and exposing, in his books and on an extensive Web site, their inconsistencies with established Mayanist scholarship. Jenkins was the first to reveal a major flaw in the synchronization between Argüelles’s Dreamspell and the Maya day count…” The article contrasts John’s rigorous approach to the fevered imagination that so many others bring to the subject.
Before we proceed in our discussion of 2012, we need to briefly define the core, that which is authentically Mayan about 2012, before we examine all the notions that revolve around the core. The core of 2012 is like the nucleus of an atom, it contains most of the mass, but it is minuscule in volume compared to the shell or cloud of electrons that surround it in uncollapsed probability waves.
December 21, 2012 is the cycle-ending date of the 13-Baktun period of the Mayan Long Count calendar date: 22.214.171.124.0 ( 4 Ahau 3 Kankin). A cycle-ending date does not mean that the Mayan calendar ends! Like all calendars, the Long Count calendar is perpetual. December 31, 1999 was a cycle-ending date in our calendar, but our calendar managed to survive. If you hear someone talk about what will happen when “the Mayan calendar ends” you are hearing someone who hasn’t done even the basic homework on the Maya and is about to offer his fantasy projection. The surviving information on the Long Count calendar is extremely fragmentary, and no one has ever found anything specific that the Maya said about what to expect on that date, though we do know what they thought about cycle endings in general. So if you ever hear anybody say something like “According to Mayan prophecy…” followed by anything specific, you are hearing a fantasy projection. The Maya viewed cycle endings as a time of rebirth, not of doomsday, so if you hear anybody attributing doomsday to 2012, you can be sure that he is under the spell of Christian apocalypticism and his fantasy projections have zero connection to the ancient Maya.
The most crucial thing that John discovered is that the Maya apparently intended this date to roughly correspond with a rare, optical, galactic alignment: “…the alignment of the December solstice sun with the dark rift in the Milky Way” (The 2012 Story, 140) .
(Note: parenthetical notations hereafter that refer to The 2012 Story will have only a page number. I encourage everyone to read The 2012 Story for the most complete and engaging treatment of the topic to date).
Please note John’s exact definition of the galactic alignment, because there are many other types of galactic alignment with which this one is endlessly confused. John also adds the disclaimer: “In identifying the galactic alignment as the key to why the Maya placed their cycle-ending date on December 21, 2012, I am not implying that the galactic alignment is a scientifically provable causative agent of change” (143). Also, the galaxy and the dark rift have fuzzy edges, so there is no exact center or exact moment when we align with it. John has always acknowledged that with careful disclaimers:
“In order to emphasize the fact that no precise year can really be identified, and that an alignment zone is the best way to think about the galactic alignment, I took the width of the sun (1/2 degree), noted that this equalled 36 years of precessional motion, and suggested a 36-year alignment window between 1980 and 2016 (1998 ± 18 years)” (146).
One reason why the Maya are a target for so many fantasy projections is another great misconception, their “mysterious disappearance.” The Maya never disappeared, they have continuously inhabited the same area of Mesoamerica, and are presently there in larger numbers than when they were at the height of their civilization. They gradually abandoned some of their larger cities which fell into ruin, and that has been mythologized into a mysterious disappearance.
What the Maya did provide, and what has much archetypal depth, is their version of the Doctrine of World Ages. The surviving record we have of this is found in The Popul Vuh, a document recorded by Quiche Maya elders in the 1550s. Essentially, it tells us that humanity cycles through a sequence of World Ages and at the end of each cycle there is transformation and renewal. The related inscriptions depict period-ending rites involving sacrifice and transformation. At a minimum, the transformation would involve a relinquishment of some illusions and a movement from ego toward the Self (as Jung defined it). The ego transformation idea comes from Mayan prophecy related to the mythological character Seven Macaw from their Hero Twin Myth.
Since we are in a time of accelerated transformation, a case could be made that perhaps the Maya got the cycle-end timing right. If we go with that assumption we can make all kinds of interesting speculations about the nature of the transformation and renewal, but these should be clearly labeled what they are: speculations.
What many people like to do, however, is take their speculative imaginings and make them appear substantial by stamping them with the cool icon “Mayan.” Most of this material has as much to with anything Mayan as the guy in the coffee shop wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt has anything to do with Cuban Marxism. To be fair, Biblical prophecy authors and other ancient prophecy-makers had a common practice of back-dating prophecies and attributing them to an ancient person or source to give them that respectable patina of antiquity.
To illustrate how this works, we might as well start with José Argüelles, the self-proclaimed voice of the Seventh Century Mayan king, Pakal. Certainly José is the king of 2012 misinformation, and if he really is the voice of Pakal we can only assume that although this Mayan king knew very little about the Mayan calendar, he was remarkably prescient about New Age hype of the present era.
José is probably best known for the “Harmonic Convergence” of August 16-17, 1987. José’s source for this date was Tony Shearer’s 1971 book, Lord of the Dawn, Quetzalcoatl: Plumed Serpent of Mexico. John notes that on page 184 of this book, “…we read that, according to Shearer’sreconstruction of the ancient calendar prophecy, the modern nightmare of hellish materialism will end on August 16, 1987. No other details are presented in the book on how this date was derived” (83).
Shearer worked solely with the ubiquitous 52-year calendar round, an image that is often marketed as an artifact of the Mayan calendar, and can be found reproduced on T-shirts, posters, rings, pendants and so forth. The Calendar Round, however, isn’t Mayan; it’s Aztec and is not related to the Mayan Long Count calendar or 2012. Once something is turned into a marketing icon, however, it really doesn’t matter where it comes from, it can be attached to anything. For example, Land of Lakes margarine:
Is there a culturally authentic connection between a native American woman and hydrogenated margarine? There doesn’t need to be if things look cool next to each other. The Aztec calendar round looks cooler than any single Mayan calendar artifact, but otherwise the Mayan brand is hotter, so, no-brainer, just team them up. Similarly, José took a date that Tony Shearer got in some unknown way from the Aztec calendar, merged it with the Mayan 2012 date and heralded it as milestone in the 25 year countdown to 2012.
Although the “nightmare of hellish materialism” did not appear to end on the Harmonic Convergence, disconfirmation has never inhibited the business of prophecy. In 1991, José’s Dreamspell group began promoting the “next Harmonic Convergence,” scheduled for July 26, 1992 (103). This date also was irrelevant to anything significant in the Mayan Long Count calendar, but I do see a very logical connection between the timing of both Harmonic Convergences—they both fall perfectly midsummer before school vacations are over and are therefore perfect dates for summer festivals.
José’s next most famous contribution to Maya misinformation was his Dreamspell kit, a kind of board game or teaching tool that included a game board and a dial for calculating your “galactic signature.” (85) The kit was printed in China and was in frequent use in New Age circles throughout the Nineties and early post-millennium years. The supposedly Mayan day count promoted by José in both his book The Mayan Factor, and in Dreamspell, was completely out of synch with the authentic Mayan day count still in use to the present day. The Dreamspell system also fails to adjust for leap years which means it does not even have internal consistency (104). Deceptively, the early Dreamspell literature labeled it as the “Maya calendar” (107). In the many encounters I’ve had over the years with Dreamspell practitioners, not one of them had any awareness that they were following a system completely out of synch with the authentic Mayan calendar. When I would try to inform them of this fact, some people were receptive, while others reacted with incredulity, anger and haughty contempt.
In late 1995 John posted “The Key to the Dreamspell Agenda” on his website, a document that rigorously elaborated the many flaws and deceptions of the Dreamspell system and José’s purported “Maya Calendar.” In response to the public challenge, “The spin doctors stepped in pretty quickly, of course, and the Dreamspell count was soon identified as the preferable ‘Wizard Count’ or ‘Galactic Count’” (108). In later writings, José makes the distinction between his Wizard Count and the Maya calendar as if he had never said otherwise, and without the slightest acknowledgment of the earlier deception or egregious error. (107). Many Dreamspell followers never noticed the new qualifiers, and remain in ignorance that the calendar they are following is not Mayan.
In a long email dialogue with John from a few years ago, I narrated an actual confrontation I had with an irate Dreamspell fundamentalist at a large gathering. Here are some excerpts from our exchange:
(read the full exchange: http://zaporacle.com/wp/categories/collectiveunconcious/on-dreamspell)
From: Jonathan Zap
To: John Major Jenkins
Subject: Dreamspell at the Gathering
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2003
. . . By the way, I forgot to tell you about my encounters with Dreamspell at the gathering. All of the Dreamspell practitioners I ran into were very receptive when I told them that it was an interesting oracular system but shouldn’t be presented as “Mayan” since it is more an artifact of José than of the Maya or their calendar that is still being kept to this day. I directed them to your website and told them about the online book available there . On one occasion though, I ran into a Dreamspell honcho who was trying to make a big impression at the gathering. He got rather irate and said that Dreamspell is based on an authentic “wizard count” that José was initiated into by “Mayan Elders.” and that José has an “obsidian staff.” ( Unless I’ve seen somebody back down a Balrog with their staff that doesn’t seem like much of a credential, and I’m always suspicious when I hear talk of “Elders.” A Hopi Elder may often turn out to be someone of vaguely Native American ancestry in his fifties.)
Anyway, in an arrogant tone he said, “We already had John Major talked to by sister so-and-so at the Prophecy Conference in Flagstaff[?]. At the end of the talk John Major admitted that, ‘he was only a man.’” I told him that I thought that was an appropriately humble admission as compared to José—who thinks that he is more than a man, who claims to be the reincarnation of a Seventh Century Mayan King. The crowd standing around laughed with my closing comment. Is there any validity to this “wizard count”?? —Jonathan
From: “John Major Jenkins”
To: “jonathan zap”
Subject: RE: Dreamspell at the Gathering
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003
I don’t remember the term “wizard count,” but a letter Argüelles wrote in 1989 reports that he got his count from an artist in central Mexico in the 1970s (not Tony Shearer and not “Mayan Elders”). People hear what they want to hear. I certainly may have said something to the effect that I’m not enlightened, or am only a man, which I would have intended to put into relief Argüelles’s pompous posturings, but I don’t recall being instructed in the wisdom of Argüelles’ ways and then bowing in deference to the revealed High One as the person seems to have implied. There was a woman at the Portland conference who wanted to find some shared space of reconciliation, which of course I’m always open to, and she came from a Dreamspell background. In fact I rewrote my controversial Key to the Dreamspell Agenda essay at her request. …My documentation on the Dreamspell camp, which includes correspondence, essays, etc, now runs thousands of pages. Very little of it is posted on my website; most of it is on my Tzolkin 2 CD-Rom book (see link at http://Alignment2012.com ).
From: Jonathan Zap
To: John Major Jenkins
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2003 6:27 PM
Sounds like you hit on the actual conversation. This person was hyper arrogant, like a key disciple defending God from heathen heresies. After he said you were “talked to” I told him that you were obviously not convinced because I had talked to you only a week before. Dreamspell seems to have become a New Age fundamentalism and you can’t get through to the true believers… —-Jonathan
From: John Major Jenkins
To: Jonathan Zap
Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2003
Yes, it’s a Catch-22. And the Dreamspell virus is pretty pervasive in that it’s invaded the culture at large—many people first hear-tell of the Mayan calendar through the Argüelles material, or someone telling them about it, and as a result I have to deal with layers of falsity and illusion. As a conference speaker it’s quite daunting and as 2012 approaches, I only see deeper levels of popularized distortion around the 2012 theme. I’ve learned to discern and accept much of this as creative exegesis on the end-time archetype and other metaphysical themes, which is fine, but the unique thing about the Argüelles camp is the presumption of revealed truth and the cultic adulation of Arg himself —it is, as you say, a kind of uncompromising fundamentalism.
Every victory I’ve made in defending the authentic tradition, such as simply promoting the fact that it still exists, has been accepted and incorporated into Dreamspell dogma as if it was always there, and in some cases as if Argüelles himself always said as much. For example, now Argüelles is very careful to distinguish his Dreamspell count from the traditional “Quiché Maya” day-count, a proviso you never would have found in his literature prior to my much-criticized “Key to the Dreamspell Agenda” essay of late-1995. His is a carefully presented public relations exercise that obscures the source of that clarification—which is telling of his narcissistic attitude. He makes it seem like he’s always made that distinction, when in fact he pompously touted his system as “the” Maya calendar and asserted (wrongly) throughout the early 1990s that no authentic tradition survived today… In the end, it’s not a question of impugning the man (or reincarnated Mayan king or whatever he is), but of simply making a sober examination of the efficacy of his system. Shouldn’t every new philosophical system or model be tested? John
From: Jonathan Zap
To: John Major Jenkins
Sent: Friday, July 25, 2003
Almost like the flak of aluminum fragments dropped by fighter planes to confuse enemy radar, fragments of Dreamspell, like ribbons of rainbow-hued Mylar from discarded candy wrappers, pervade the collective radar… Also what I’ve noticed about Dreamspell, what makes it so virulently contagious, is that everyone gets a self-description from it that is so fantastically complimentary, so glowing with cosmic superlatives (everyone seems to be something like a purple-cosmic-world-bridger-silver-wizard…) that it is like super-sticky fly paper for the narcissistic personality type, the personality type of our age…
From: John Major Jenkins
To: Jonathan Zap
Sent: Friday, July 25, 2003
In a 1989 letter to an astrologer who asked Jóse about his source for his day-count, Jóse responded that he derived it from the work of a Mexican artist working in the 1970s… And yes, the info comes direct from a letter Arg wrote to an astrologer friend of mine who had discreetly and persistently queried Arg on the source of his day-count. I have a copy of the original letter. So the “wizard count” interpretation is just another in a long series of apocrapfull spins.
Although I’ve focused in on José as the most high-profile offender, there are many others. Carl Calleman is another person who projects his own quirky system onto the Mayan calendar. Traveling in British Columbia in the early post-millennium years, I found many Dreamspell followers and one older man who had based his whole life around Calleman with cultic devotion. His eyes glowed with beatific inner knowing whenever he talked about Calleman and his predictions.
To really get the full survey of who is saying what in the 2012 subculture I refer you, once again, to The 2012 Story. But there is one other person whose strange contribution to the 2012 phenomenon I cannot omit, a larger-than-life figure who was my first introduction to the topic, the person through whom I met John, the visionary genius beckoning me and everyone to become the Magellans of dark continents of interior space, the great raconteur of hyperdimensional self-transforming machine elves, the one, the only, the late, great Terence McKenna. And if my intro reveals a bias in his favor, as you will soon discover, I will not be letting him off the hook for some of his unreliable trespasses into the 2012 phenomenon.
John and I have co-written a lengthy, but still unfinished, narrative of how we met through Terence:
An excerpt from the above will be included as it is highly relevant to our discussion, and reveals key psychological pitfalls that have had a huge impact on 2012 and other areas of esoteric research. But first we need to know a couple of things about Terence’s connection to the 2012 story. I will provide a modest outline, for a better introduction to Terence and a thorough treatment of his contribution to 2012, I refer you, once again, to The 2012 Story. Essentially, in Colombia in 1971, under the extreme influence of psilocybin mushrooms, Terence heard a voice that posed a life-changing challenge: “What is the meaning of the King Wen sequence of the hexagrams of the I Ching?” The King Wen Sequence is an ordering of the 64 hexagrams that is traditionally dated back to the 12th Century, BC. It is not at all obvious why the hexagrams are in this order, and eventually Terence came up with a fractal pattern that could be graphed. Terence came to believe that this fractal pattern was a revelation of how seasons of time (from the epic to the minuscule) fluctuated between two great variables he called “novelty” and “habit.” Ultimately, this theory became a software program called Time Wave Zero that purported to show, on any time scale, when things would tend to stay about the way they were and when there was likely to be transformation, and the creation of new forms and a greater density of interconnectedness. When Terence mapped out this fractal graph to show the present era, he found that there was a descent into infinite novelty on December 21, 2012.
Or that’s how he would usually tell the story. But he did, at one point at least, admit that his original calculation was November 17, 2012. It was when he later heard about the Maya end-date that he re-calibrated and found this date worked even better.
Here ends the modest outline, a vast oversimplification of Terence, but it should provide you with enough context to understand the following excerpt from “Mutant Nexus”:
Sometime in the Spring of 1994 (I think) a synchronicity occurred that caused me to take Terence’s time theories more seriously. I had just met Terence for the first time in lower Manhattan, and was reading a newly reprinted edition of True Hallucinations—the book he wrote with his brother Dennis about their adventures in the Amazon in the early Seventies. I was reading the book in the office of my chiropractor and my concentration was being disrupted by some annoyingly super-loud social small talkers (what I sometimes call “squawkers ). I told the receptionist that I was going out to my car, parked just outside the front door of the office, to read in seclusion, and asked if she could open the door to let me know when it was my turn.
Reading in my car, I had just gotten to Terence’s first encounter with the 2012 date, which also (while I was reading) was my first encounter with the cycle-end date of the Long Count calendar. Terence and Dennis were in the Amazon, and somehow the revelation of this date was related to an eclipse. I was absorbed in what I was reading, but the surface of the book seemed to be growing dim. I looked through the windshield of my car and saw that the sky had gotten unbelievably dark as if the mother of all thunderstorms had suddenly swept in. At that point, my chiropractor came out to get me and he told me that I was witnessing a major eclipse! Then my chiropractor told me that he was glad I had asked someone to come and get me because he had forgotten about the eclipse and this was going to be the most complete one until 2012! That information turned out to be wrong, but it was absolutely amazing that he told me that given what I had just read. This was the strange and shocking manner in which I first encountered the 2012 end-date.
But there is a trickster aspect to synchronicities and revelations from the unconscious, and as Terence was speaking before an auditorium [in Boulder in May of 1996], and attempting to show that the first three months of 1996 really had been a zone of heightened novelty, I began to notice that lots of sloppy fudge factors had crept into his thinking on this particular subject, and that his definition of novelty, and how he located it in time, was being shifted here and there to be more convenient to the predictions of Time Wave 2000. For example, the beginning of the first Gulf War was supposed to be a zone of novelty, but before the war (in a taped workshop at Omega Institute I had listened to) Terence pointed out how it paralleled the birth of Mohammed, so that it looked pretty bad for our side. But now that Desert Storm had come and gone, he pointed to it as a zone of heightened novelty and said the novelty was about increased density of interconnectedness, cooperation and communication, this whole complex coalition working together, etc. Sometimes he located novelty at the birth of some historic person, at other times he conveniently located the novelty to correspond with when some historic person, later in their adult life, or even after their death, began to have an effect on the collective. After his talk there was a chance for some Q&A, and I thought it would be too undiplomatic to ask about the Gulf War inconsistency, or the inconsistent Time Wave version of the Great Man theory of history, so I asked a different question, one that I thought might get him thinking about his fudge factors,
“Terence, you seem to be justifying the novelty of this three month period based on comet Hale-Bopp, new discoveries in nano-technology, and various events reported on in the media and apparent to the collective. But what if the novelty were something that began in a completely latent form during this time—-perhaps a certain number of babies were born during this three month period who have a far higher degree of endogenous DMT in their brain chemistry than has ever occurred before, but the novelty-generating difference in their consciousness won’t be apparent till much later?”
Terence acknowledged the point graciously, though I can no longer recall his exact wording.[The next day at a workshop in Gold Hill, Colorado]
There were only about forty people attending the workshop, and I had a chance to show the infinite respect I had for Terence as a visionary genius in the way that I am mostly likely to express love and respect—–which is to engage the beloved person in aggressive Socratic Dialogue. I felt that Terence’s work on so many subjects was incredibly valuable, but that Time Wave 2000 as a predictive tool was his area of unproductive obsession, the bête noir that haunted and distracted him. On the other hand, I agreed with him on the underlying concepts. I thought his insight into the I Ching as a map of the fluctuations of habit and novelty through time was amazing, but I found his ways of proving the predictive value of Time Wave 2000 to be something less than amazing. During the morning Q&A I tried, straining my limited capacity for diplomatic restraint, to get him to confront the fudge factors in his thinking about novelty and how he located it in time. Terence responded with gracious open-mindedness and just before a break made more of an admission than I had even hoped for and said,
“You’re right, novelty is a slippery concept.”
(End of excerpt from “Mutant Nexus…”)
The synchronistic way that I encountered the 2012 date during an eclipse outside of my chiropractor’s office, is a natural segue into my analysis of the psychological forces that distort the 2012 subculture, as well as many other esoteric subcultures. I find these obscuring forces to be so classic and ubiquitous that I’m going to define them as a numbered list, beginning with:
1. Esoteric researchers vastly underestimate the trickster aspect of the unconscious and synchronicity.
A long time ago I coined this same principle in a more Biblical-sounding way to be sure I remembered it (since I’ve fallen prey to it plenty of times myself):
2. Wherever you cast your obsessive attention, there shall you find weird patterning.
I wrote about these first two principles recently in a document very relevant to the present discussion:
Here is an excerpt:
Wherever you cast your obsessive attention you are bound to find weird patterns that are hard to explain as coincidence and that will tempt you to explain them in ways that confirm your obsession. For example, it’s a bit of a weird pattern that the terrorist attack in Spain apparently occurred 911 days after 9/11. Does that mean the choice of this date to come up with that number was intentional? If you are a 9/11 Truth Movement True Believer then the answer is a resounding Yes! because all weird patterning and synchronicity is interpreted in that direction. But I’ve got some politically incorrect news for true believers everywhere: Weird patterning and synchronicities are to be found everywhere you cast your obsessive attention!
Here’s an example of weird, synchronistic patterning—-I just saw a magazine ad put out by a tire company. The ad tells you how to know if you have enough tread left or need to replace your tires. The test is you take a penny, put it between the treads and see if Lincoln’s head is covered. It turns out that Lincoln’s head is exactly one sixteenth of an inch from the outer edge of the penny. OK, but here’s the spooky part that probably proves that Illuminati operating through the Federal Reserve control every aspect of this country: Lincoln just so happens to have been our sixteenth president! Does this mean that Illumanati, secretly controlling the tire industry and the U.S. Mint set up that parallelism for some nefarious purpose? I think it means that weird coincidental or synchronistic patterning occurs everywhere, and will light up wherever you cast your obsessive attention.
As great a visionary genius as Terence was, I think he was fooled by principles 1 & 2 on the 2012 topic. His fractal timewave descended into infinite novelty so close to December 21st, 2012 there had to be a connection. Similarly, I was astounded by the multi-layered synchronicity that occurred during my first encounter with the 2012 date outside of my chiropractor’s office, but I also sensed the joke, sensed the trickster aspect toying with me. Just to underline this even more let’s turn this into a third principle:
3. Synchronicities do not necessarily mean that you are on the right track with esoteric research.
Synchronicities are endlessly fascinating, but be careful how you interpret them. It is easy to read too much into them.
Somewhere, right now, there are a couple of high school students who have been reading Aleistier Crowley, playing Led Zeppelin records backwards, and doing bong hits with their fingers nervously touching the planchette of a Ouija Board. They are experiencing mind-blowing synchronicities and all sorts of uncanny occurrences, but this does not mean they are on the right track with their esoteric studies!
4. The unconscious includes active, sometimes sinister, intelligences that are aware of your attention and have their own agenda.
As Nietzsche put it: “If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
Exploring the unconscious is a treacherous enterprise. Jung said the only way to do it was with a strong moral stance. You don’t go deep-sea diving without the right equipment, and a moral compass is indispensable equipment for exploring the unconscious.
5. Esoteric studies are perilous without a strong moral compass.
You need a strong ethical stance to explore the unconscious without being consumed by it! If you are exploring the unconscious because it’s trippy, or because it inflates your sense of self-importance you are likely to remain lost in the unconscious. According to Terence, when shamans go into the realm of the ancestors to heal somebody they go in there, do what they have to do as quickly as possible, and get out as quickly as they can so as to minimize the danger.
6. Work with trustworthy mentors/spiritual allies who will give you rigorous reality-testing and Socratic dialogue. Avoid sycophants, disciples, and true believers!
If you’re going to do deep-sea diving you want some highly experienced, reliable people in the boat on the surface who are watching your oxygen lines and who can help pull you out of the abyss. When I began writing on esoteric subjects as a nineteen-year-old undergraduate in the late Seventies, I had mentors and spiritual allies. After a couple of years, I realized that wasn’t enough and also began a rigorous six-year Jungian analysis. I have always worked with mentors and spiritual allies who have strong reality testing and no hesitation to tell me if they think I’m on the wrong track or getting too full of myself. If you seduce people, or have people attaching themselves to you, who give you uncritical adulation for your discoveries, then it is like you have added heavy lead weights to your diving suit. Very likely you will never make it back to the surface and the clear daylight. And this brings us to one of the most classic pitfalls of esoteric research:
7. Archetypes and other forces in the unconscious are powerful, high energy, obsessively fascinating, and pose dangers of ego inflation, literalization and possession.
Many take what they experience literally, failing to recognize the trickster aspect and the need for interpretation. This can lead to becoming possessed by unconscious contents. It is very easy to identify with the forces, archetypes and entities you encounter during unconscious exploration and you may find your ego becoming monstrously inflated. Key red flags include: you feel you have seen something no one else has ever seen; you feel filled with a sense of special destiny, perhaps messianic fervor; you feel an intense need to proselytize and convert others to your new vision.
This gets a bit tricky because some of those red flags could be up and you could still be onto something valuable. To be honest I’ve been aware of some of those red flags in me since the Seventies. I am also well aware that I am a narcissistic personality type, the ruling personality type of this age (though I have never had narcissistic personality disorder, a much more serious condition). Very gradually I’ve made progress realizing how my narcissism and self-importance work, how they distort many things, and how to compensate for them so that I am not constantly acting them out in destructive ways. The self-monitoring and efforts at compensation for my narcissism are an imperfect, moment-by-moment struggle. Typically, I am self-monitoring the words I write and that come out of my mouth, scanning them for the thousand flavors and faces of my narcissism. When I sense my self-importance heating up, I try to reign myself in. Is what I am writing/saying of moral, informational and/or entertainment value to others or am I merely caught up in self-promotion? The price of freedom from unconscious possession is eternal vigilance. There is, however, one red flag that presents such a serious warning that you need to stop right in your tracks and confront the dark force before you take another action:
8. If your esoteric research, discoveries, etc. cause you to think that you are entitled to certain sexual privileges, that you are imbued with some special powers such that sex with you is an evolutionary catalyst or spiritual initiation: STOP! GET HELP! YOU ARE BECOMING AN EVIL ASSHOLE!
Some have suggested that the era of the sexually abusive guru might be coming to an end because of the internet. Anyone can get on line and find out about their abuses. I’m not so sanguine. Some people are magnetically attracted to darkness. Some psychoanalysts I knew in the Eighties told me that at the height of AIDS, their gay male patients reporting being hit on by supposedly straight men much more than they had ever experienced before. I interpret this as an aspect of the mysterious connection between sex and thanatos (roughly, a death drive). Some people want someone to dominate and deceive them and sometimes even to lure them into death
9. Sex, money and power tend to flow together. Many of the most revered, exalted gurus, prophets, religious leaders and spiritual teachers have been horrible sex, money and power abusers. Tolerating that in yourself or someone else means you have crossed over to the dark side!
Buddhist and Hindu gurus who came to the U.S. in the Sixties were particularly notorious for such abuses, though, of course Catholic priests are in a class by themselves, or should be. Chogyam Trungpa, a spiritual genius who founded Naropa here in Boulder, is a very notable example of this syndrome and his case ties in directly with Argüelles as we will see later. I discussed the problem with Trungpa and his “crazy wisdom” approach in my 2007 essay: Dynamic Paradoxicalism—the Anti-Ism Ism http://zaporacle.com/dynamic-paradoxicalism Here’s an excerpt:
In acknowledging a place for darkness and irrationality, the dynamic paradoxicalist must be very wary. This acknowledgment can all too easily slide into the indulgence of sophisticated rationalization, where one excuses foolishness by acknowledging that darkness has its place alongside light. This is no small pitfall. This type of rationalization excuses the sadistic and/or hedonistic antics of abusive gurus, for example, by claiming that they are “crazy wisdom teachers.” Dynamic paradoxicalism is a philosophy best suited for those who are grounded in a strong, Warrior stance.
The dynamic paradoxicalist must take full responsibility for discerning where he needs to be in relationship to the paradox. If you find yourself leaning toward the dark, lunar, irrational side of a paradox, be very wary about your motives, and see if this is what the totality of you really needs to do. There should be a heavy burden of proof on the decision to abdicate rationality and discipline.
Spiritual genius and abusive guru Chogyam Trungpa is a classic example of sophisticated rationalization. He defined crazy wisdom in the following way:
“But this craziness is not so neurotic; it’s just basic craziness, which is fearlessness and not giving up anything. Not giving up anything is the basic point. At the same time, you are willing to work with what is there on the basis of its primordial wakeful quality. So that is the definition of crazy wisdom, which is sometimes known as wisdom gone wild.”
Huh? Another explanation is that the Buddhist emphasis on vertical transcendence may often mean a neglect of the horizontal plane of development, such as integration of the shadow, which can then rule the personality as an unintegrated autonomous complex. Trungpa’s crazy wisdom path involved sexual abuse of students and drinking himself to death at the age of 48. His chosen successor spread AIDS to some of his young disciples.
Trungpa’s most famous dysfunctional moment occurred when he drunkenly plowed a sports car into a joke shop in Dumfries, Scotland, an accident that left him partially paralyzed. Trungpa seemed almost proud of that occurrence, a great cosmic joke, but what he should have gotten from this episode is a respect for the trickster aspect of the unconscious. The trickster aspect of the unconscious is what so many mystics and metaphysical explorers always seem to miss!
In The 2012 Story, John reminded me of something I had either never known or had completely forgotten—that there was a very strong link between Trungpa and Argüelles. Once I thought about it I remembered that shortly after I arrived in Boulder in 1995 I met a very charismatic man whose first name was Bill, and who was a close personal friend of Trungpa and Argüelles. We mostly talked about Trungpa, whose warrior writings I had studied, and Bill told me some of the back story about what he was like up close. I often wondered whether Bill’s alcoholism—he was quickly drinking himself to death—was encouraged by Trungpa’s fatal alcoholism. Noting my connection to the I Ching, at one point Bill said I reminded him of his friend Argüelles, a comparison I obviously don’t relish.
For all these reasons I was fascinated to read the following in The 2012 Story:
“In the 1970s Argüelles lived in Boulder, Colorado, and he was involved in the founding of Naropa College in 1974. He was a devoted student of Trungpa Rinpoche, who was known for a spiritual teaching style called Crazy Wisdom. This school of thought, and its leader, became famous for techniques that disrupted the rational mind. The methods were unorthodox and, in retrospect, highly questionable. Some of its ‘graduates’ have claimed that it left them in states of severe confusion. Author Sam Keen had this to say about the proliferation of Wisdom teachers:
“One of the things I frankly don’t like about your magazine [What is Enlightenment] is the holding up of these people who are supposedly “in the absolute” and totally liberated. I don’t know whether you remember, but for many years I was the person at Psychology Today who interviewed all these gurus. And so I’ve had a good bit of experience with a fair number of them—Chögyam Trungpa, Oscar Ichazo, Muktananda and others. And if these are all examples of people who are totally liberated, I say give me slavery because they were people with enormous illusions and who were cultivating enormous illusions in their followers. By and large almost all of them were totally unclear about three important things: sex, money and power. And they could play like they were liberated as long as they had a whole cult of disciples who did everything for them except wipe their asses—and probably that, too. And most of them were on enormous power trips. So I think the idea of total liberation is an idea that is more crippling than helpful” (112-3).
John adds: “Argüelles, in his biography, discussed the extreme, yet often endearing nature of Trungpa’s character, and remembers that he benefited from learning presence of mind by practicing dharma art projects, with Trungpa’s guidance, in the late 1970s. In my opinion, a devaluing of facts and rational assessment might have been instilled in Argüelles at this time and Argüelles’s own predilection for creative process and model-making took precedence. The irrational teachings of the Crazy Wisdom school may in some way underlie the unorthodox presentation of Dreamspell, which is, as I discussed, irrational and internally inconsistent.” (113)
One of the major fallacies Argüelles and many others like him fall prey to is the pre/trans fallacy I mentioned earlier. This fallacy was observed and incisively described by Ken Wilber. Essentially, the pre/trans fallacy notices a common tendency to confuse pre-rational states with trans-rational states, since both are non-rational. The “reductivist” version of this is the tendency of “scientism,” which reduces all transrational mystical states to prerational infantilism, and dismisses authentic spiritual experience as “superstitious nonsense.” Freud clearly fell for this half of the fallacy, especially in The Future of an Illusion. The “elevationist” version of the fallacy, ubiquitous in the New Age, is to elevate prerational states to the transcendent and to demonize rationality. From this side of the fallacy, babies are thought to be Buddhas, and anything tribal or aboriginal is romanticized and inflated as infinitely superior to anything modern or rational. Promiscuity is seen as a daring rebellion from antiquated taboos, even though it is usually in high conformity to what peers are doing. There will be a recognition of the conventionality of the older sexual morays of the past, but a failure to recognize that the rebellion into promiscuity is part of a vast conventionalism of the present, and that this new conventionalism is actually based on a still more primitive level of development than the old conventionalism. Regressing to pre-rational hedonism, indulging every impulse and irrational notion is seen as enlightened, post-conventional and transcendent. This is the state of the typically goofy New Age person who never heard an urban legend or bit of mystical-sounding nonsense without adopting it wholesale. This type of person is fiercely anti-intellectual and anti-rational, so it is impossible to talk them down from their absurdities. Even the attempt to do so casts you, in their minds, as this clueless rationalist stuck in his ego. They believe they have transcended rationality, while forgetting that to transcend something you first have to achieve it!
—One reader wanted to know why I said in this principle that “tolerating in another’ also meant you had crossed over to the dark side. Good question. A toxic guru may personify the active side of the dark force, but someone who accepts the rule of such types is part of the passive aspect of the dark force. While not as bad as the perpetrator of darkness, the willing victim of darkness is a key participant in the system of darkness. I emphasize willing, because some who grew up in a toxic system, or who has been potently brainwashed, may not have the free will to resist. There is also the principle: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.” Some have suggested that the era of the abusive guru might be coming to an end because of the internet. Anyone can get online and find out about their abuses. I’m not so sanguine. Some people are magnetically attracted to darkness. Some psychoanalysts I knew in the Eighties told me that at the height of AIDS, their gay male patients reporting being hit on by supposedly straight men much more than they had ever experienced. I interpret this as an aspect of the mysterious connection between sex and thanatos (roughly, a death drive). Some people want someone to dominate and deceive them (strange as it sounds) and such willing victims have also crossed over.
10. Beware, beware the pre/trans fallacy! (see above)
11. Once you abandon rigorous reality testing and rational discernment, you end up deceiving yourself and others.
Once you abdicate rationality and discernment in favor of supposedly intuitive free-flowing imagination, you have contracted a virulent and progressive disease. The person who has stepped into this lunar anything-goes mode has taken up permanent residence at the bottom of the ocean buffeted by this force and that, deceiving himself and manipulating and deceiving others.
It seems hard to believe now that Argüelles was once a Princeton art history professor. If you listen to him now, for example his April 1 (yes, some Gregorian calendar irony, April Fools day) 2009 interview on Coast-to-Coast AM with George Noory, it’s hard not to notice that he’s just become a total buffoon.
Upon hearing his interview, I wrote the following blog:
I finally summoned my will to listen to George Noory’s interview with Jóse Argüelles on April 1st and it was both torturous and unintentionally hilarious on Jose’s part. Jóse mentioned the significance of all sorts of dates, including that one of his books was released on Good Friday, but didn’t care to notice that his big interview was happening on April Fool’s day. Any grounded person listening to this interview would have to recognize the cosmic appropriateness of this date, or that, at least on this occasion, Jóse was a fool.
Some of my quotes may be off by a word or two as a perfectly accurate transcription didn’t seem warranted.
George introduced the interview by quoting Daniel Pinchbeck:
“I suspect that Jóse Arguelles will come to be honored as one of the most important thinkers in human history.”
Jóse appeared with Stephanie South, an apparent groupie, who lives with him in Australia and who was introduced as his “biographer.” She said she had met Jóse several times in her dreams before meeting him on the 3D plane. The “biography” is entitled 2012, Biography of a Time Traveler. Early on George asked, “Are you a time traveler or is that just a broad scope of what you do?” Jóse responds, “I am a time traveler.” Stephanie chimed in, “Jóse is indeed a time traveler.” Considering that Jóse believes himself the reincarnation of a Seventh Century Mayan King, a claim that Stephanie supports on the first page of her biography (you can read the first few pages on Amazon), perhaps this isn’t a surprising claim.
Jóse talked about “the 90% of the brain we don’t use.” I’ve been debunking that since the early 80s but now it’s been debunked everywhere as a medical urban legend—we use one hundred percent of our brains. See http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/tenper.html Perhaps Jóse was using the royal we?
Jóse said he was deeply affected by Hoagland’s face on Mars when he first saw it in 1983 and said that he immediately realized, “I know that, I remember that, I was there, I know where that came from.” He added that he was weeping with the power of this revelation and began “spiraling through time” and “unnecessary levels of knowledge began falling away.”
Jóse said the Harmonic Convergence of 1987 definitely worked, and the first evidence he offered was that just two months later the stock market had a big crash.
To my amazement, Jóse went on at length about “the big 2007 N.Y. Times article” (apparently “Final Days,” the 2007 article I referenced earlier that specifically credits John for debunking Jóse) as though it was a huge vindication of his work. He said the article represented a “big acknowlegement by the collective unconscious that 2012 was on.”
Stephanie was asked what we should expect as we got close to 2012, and she replied that, “There will be a big transference of karma from Mars and Maladek.” She added, “There will be a clearing of karma from all the world’s systems, God willing.”
When asked what were the most important things we can do to prepare, the first thing she recommended was ” a series of colonic irrigations.” Jóse chimed in his support and pointed out that David Icke wrote about the cosmic insights he had after such a series. I could imagine that colonic irrigations would be very powerful for either of these most important thinkers as they might cause the momentary release of their heads from colonic eclipse.
In the last hour Jóse offered the intriguing theory that overpopulation was the result of technology speeding us up. This might explain why the high-tech Third World produces so many babies, and the low-tech First World countries have zero or less than zero population growth.
If a face on Mars’ time-traveling spiral hasn’t caused you to shed unnecessary levels of knowledge, you may find John’s work on 2012 to be a bit more credible…. Of course some of you may be offended and will think I am being needlessly sarcastic and polarizing. I do not believe that reality testing and critical thinking are examples of unnecessary knowledge that we need to shed to make progress on the evolutionary spiral. Sometimes a fool really is fool and that needs to be pointed out.
(End of blog from 2009.)
Similarly, there are a number of high-profile esoteric researchers, some of whom I know personally, who once had incisive insights. But sometime in middle age their thinking shockingly deteriorated after spending too much time in an atmosphere of credulous anything-goes New Age fantasy projection. When I hear them speak now I cringe with embarrassment for them.
This type of decline relates to how some once talented, sincere people gradually become full-blown charlatans:
12. Once you get addicted to the excitement, attention, adulation, and income from esoteric work (and many other forms of work, sport and creative activity) you are in danger of crossing every ethical line to keep the goodies coming.
I’ve written about this in my essay: “The Path of the Numinous—Living and Working with the Creative Muse” http://zaporacle.com/the-path-of-the-numinous-living-and-working-with-the-creative-muse/ Once an esoteric researcher, a writer, etc builds an ego identity, and possibly an income and social/sexual status from whatever they are doing, they feel entitled to play that role forever. Consider the case, for example, of a writer complaining of “writer’s block.” Is that an actual pathological condition? Yes, but not in the way the writer thinks. It means his ego identity, and perhaps budget, has formed a dependence on the continuous flow of the creative muse and he feel wronged somehow when the creative flow turns off. Was “writer” stamped on his birth certificate? The creative muse is more likely to turn off if you presume upon it.
If you’ve built up an identity, and an income, as a prophecy expert or New Age seer or whatever, then you want to keep that going. So when the 2012 bandwagon rolls into town, and you can see that it’s a really hot, sparkly bandwagon, suddenly all these people who know even less about Mesoamerican archaeology than I do, are suddenly on board as 2012 experts, and are pumping out 2012 product and hyping it every chance they get.
For example, for the last fifteen years I have watched while John’s rigorous work on Mayan cosmology and galactic alignment has been co-opted and misappropriated by every snake oil salesman and his brother who stole it from some other charlatan who found it on some sketchy website somewhere and they are often genuinely ignorant that it originated with John.
Some people and organizations putting out 2012 product never even had an original core of sincerity that got corrupted, but are just crass opportunists from the get-go. Sex, money, power and celebrity are highly attractive addictive substances that are often in short supply. Some people, and some corporate entities will lie, steal, manipulate and even murder to get the goodies. Wherever there is a concentration of any of these goodies, you will find that a disproportionate number of psychopaths, and what I call “situational psychopaths,” will be attracted like moths to a flame. I discuss this phenomenon extensively in my essay “Foxes and Reptiles—Psychopathy and the Great Financial Meltdown of 2008-9.”
An example of crass, opportunistic corporate exploitation of 2012 and what I would call apocalypse porn are some of the sensational, deceptive cable television “documentaries” on 2012, Nostradamus, etc. I recently tried to watch one of these on the History Channel and found them endlessly exploiting the little trick of taking nonsensical assertions and posing them as provocative questions of the, “Could the Maya have been taught pyramid building by extraterrestrials?” Within a ten minute period there were dozens of these Could? questions and an almost complete absence of declarative sentences.
13. Where opportunities for money, celebrity sex and power concentrate there shall you find psychopaths and situational psychopaths.
Wall Street and other centers of high finance, high-profile media venues, organized religions and cults are places of particular concentration. As L. Ron Hubbard is so often quoted: “If you want to make a little money, write a book. If you want to make a lot of money, create a religion.” Making your own religion, however, is a lot of work, so many charlatans will settle for a book, board game, documentary or whatever. A cult is just a recently minted religion with an income that is smaller but concentrated into fewer hands.
14. A key warning sign that you or someone else is moving toward cultic manipulation is the adoption of special names, titles and past-life identities.
We all know that one of the quickest ways to become a movie star is to be the son, daughter, brother or sister of a movie star. If you don’t have such an opportunity, perhaps you can remember that you were once an occult star like Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, a Mayan King, or whatever.
I get very wary when I hear someone has put “Master,” “Grandfather” or “Elder” in front of his name. This has much bearing on the 2012 topic because we are hearing about “Mayan Elders” and their prophecies about 2012. When some New Age people hear “Hopi Elder” or “Mayan Elder,” they imagine some gnarled figure stepping out of the mists of time imbued with the wisdom of the eons. For someone like me, a middle-aged, secular Jewish white guy from the Bronx, to dare to hold an “Elder” to reasonable standards of evidence, etc. is presumptuous, offensive and sacrilegious. If we look into it we might find that the “Hopi Elder” is a middle-aged guy about my age who is one 1/16th native American and thinks young New Age women are really hot. The Jews have been around for thousands of years, probably longer than even the ancient Maya, so doesn’t that make me a Jewish Elder? But, wait, “Jew” has been an unpopular brand for several millennia, so maybe I’ll rebrand myself as “Cabalistic Elder Jonathan Zap.” I once skimmed a trade paperback book on the Cabala, and if anyone challenges my cabalistic knowledge I can call him anti-Semitic and say he is disrespecting my ancestral lineage. Anyway, this is how the game is often played. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t sincere, humble indigenous elders out there, but it often turns out that these personable folks are ignorant of their own heritage and have picked up most of their notions from recent New Age material.
For many years I have heard New Age people talking in hushed tones about “Hopi Elder Prophecies.” I need to do some research to confirm this, but I’ve heard that Hopi Elders asked (and were granted) permission to speak to the United Nations General Assembly in the Eighties to share their prophecy that a great cataclysm was coming later in the Eighties. I’ll have to look into that, but something I witnessed myself is the huge build up to Hopi Elders speaking on Coast-to-Coast AM with Art Bell on June 16, 1998. Someone has posted a transcript here: http://www.oneprayer.org/hopi_elders_art_bell_talk.html
I’m going to include some excerpts because this interview has some close parallels to some of this elder fallacy going on with the Maya.
(GF1=Grandfather 1, GF2=Grandfather 2 – younger, translated for GF1, GM =Grandmother, GW=Robert Ghost Wolf AB = Art Bell.)
AB: We are being honored with the presence of two Hopi Elders, Grandfather 1 who is speaking Hopi and Grandfather 2 who is translating for us. They’re in the Phoenix, Arizona area. In the Black Hills of South Dakota, we have Robert Ghost Wolf and we are discussing the details?..specific details?..of Hopi prophecy,
With regard to what may be changing, Earth changes, is the time now very short?
GF2: [Asks, then translates.] It is time for the end times here, that was prophesied and through the dreams that were given to us also. Through those dreams, we are learning that we are getting very close to the end times.
AB: Might we ask how old Grandfather 1 is? His age?
GF2: [Asks?] Seventy-five. 75 years old.
AB: 75 years old. And, how old are the prophecies that we are talking about now?
GF2: [Asks?] He doesn’t know exactly what the age of these teachings are. He says they were given to them before Christ. It is mainly by word of mouth that it has been handed down.
GF2: [Asks?] Through the Elder’s teachings and wishes. The Elders wanted to let this become public at a time when we were close to the end times. So, he had decided to take this upon himself to let go of these things, in hopes that there would be a number of people that would understand and realize what is going on and start praying. We ARE very close to it and we are, right now, going through hard times. He wants to set some people aside?..their lives?..so that some lives may be spared.
Actually, there are a few that he thinks are important things that will be coming up pretty shortly. There’s one thing for sure that we are going to come upon is that World War III is….it will take place….and starvation is definitely a part of this thing, where we will hit starvation.
AB: When does Grandfather think the very serious parts of the prophecies, another world war and mass starvation……when will these begin to manifest? How far away from these are we?[Grandfathers One and Two talk back and forth in the Hopi Tongue.]
G2: Well, it’s been said that there is no exact time and date for these things…events…to take place, but the year 2000 is a …I would say…that is a close approximation of the time that all of this will start to take place.
T: [Asks?] From these teachings that were given to him, he has understood that the solar axis itself, of the Sun, is going to change. The places that normally have cold weather will have hot weather. You know, the weather itself is going to get even worse. The temperatures are going to rise even higher, and that will burn up the crops and dry up the Earth, so nothing will be able to grow. It is true that the Sun itself is being affected by this also.
AB: In farmer’s fields around the world, in many, many places in the world…as a matter of fact even tonight, for the first time ever in the state of Virginia, there is a very complex crop circle. These are strange formations in farmer’s crops. Does Grandfather know anything about what these may be, and why they happen?
GF2: [Asks?] He has heard about these. He has seen pictures of the crop circles that have been out there. These are, in his own mind, teachings also, and they’re telling us what is becoming of our time and where it is leading us. He has had a chance to look at a few of them, and he does understand what they’re trying to put through?…the message in the circle itself. It is telling us that we are very close to it…
AB: Do you also believe, as we have heard from Grandfather One, that Hopi Prophecy is now telling us that the end times are very, very near?
GM: Yes, uh huh. Yes, that is true.
AB: Alright. Would you ask Grandfather to give us some few things that we should all watch and look for to happen in the next say…18 months…or year and a half.[Grandfathers One and Two confer.]
G2: Okay, he says that these earthquakes are imminent but there is no real date as to when these will take place. That big earthquake that was supposed to hit California had been altered, in a way, by the Tibetans who had heard about that and they did a lot of prayers there and they helped in altering the intensity of the earthquake that took place in California. That is, you know, something that we should look for is a large earthquake that would take place. It’s going to be real big. It’s going to be devastating.
Many New Age people I ran into during this period were just awed by these Hopi Elders. It never seemed to occur to them the Hopi Elder’s brains were no bigger than their brains. For them, indigenous=above reproach, voice of nature, channeler of the cosmos. The other thing to notice in the transcript is that alongside the claims of extreme antiquity (“before Chirst”) for their prophecies, there are also sprinkled New Age memes—crop circles, Tibetans meditating away Californian earthquakes, and throughout it all, the extreme influence of Christian apocalypitcism.
When some New Age people hear “indigenous Elder,” they imagine someone who grinds maize with a stone and steps out of a cave every few hundred years to announce prophecies. In reality, many of the indigenous people who step forth as spokespersons for their heritage are also steeped in Christianity. For example, in 1996 I worked as a volunteer on a Navajo (Diné) reservation near Big Mountain, Arizona. The father of the family I stayed with, and helped with agricultural work, was a real, working Navajo medicine man. He and his family told me many stories about Skinwalkers, rituals, healings and so forth. I witnessed Navajo arriving in battered pick-up trucks from long distances to visit with him for his services.
In addition to many Navajo artifacts, the medicine man’s house was also filled with all sorts of American Christian kitsch of the sort you find lingering in thrift stores—sun-faded bad color reproductions of a blue-eyed Nordic Jesus at the Last Supper laminated onto wood-grained particle board, etc. Although many fundamentalists, particularly Christian and Islamic fundamentalists, have this extreme exclusionary religious identification, much of the world does not, and will gladly adopt elements from whatever sorts of religion they come in contact with. When some New Age people encounter the words of an indigenous Elder, it may not occur to them that what they are hearing is often a pastiche of New Age memes, Western popularized notions of what their cultural heritage was supposed to be, and Christian undercurrents.
In The 2012 Story, John describes some of his painful confrontations with the elder fallacy. John quotes an interview with a Maya teacher Carlos Barrios, who speaks scornfully of “…‘anthropologists’ and ‘other people’ who write ‘about prophecy in the name of the Maya’” (180). Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
“Anthropologists visit the temple sites,” Mr. Barrios says, “and read the steles and inscriptions and make up stories about the Maya, but they do not read the signs correctly. It’s just their imagination…”
Carlos obviously has contempt for anthropologists and people like John who read the signs but are not indigenous Maya. After this description of how outsiders misread the signs Carlos pontificates on what real Mayan Day Keepers know about 2012 and proceeds to relate (without citing) John’s theory of galactic alignment in terms that appeared to be directly paraphrased from his books and web pages! Barrios, without crediting John, adopted his galactic alignment scenario in a book he published in 2004. Adding insult to injury, Barrios wrote, “Many outside people writing about the Mayan calendar sensationalize this date, but they do not know. The ones who know are the indigenous elders who are entrusted with keeping the tradition.” (182-3)
Scholar Robert Sitler who investigated the 2012 phenomenon also ran into the elder fallacy: “Upon interviewing modern Maya spokespeople, such as Don Alejandro, he found that whenever they said anything about 2012, it could be traced to modern authors such as Jóse Argüelles.” (214)
Once again, it is not the indigenous that I am singling out for criticism, but the blind spot some people have for special titles. I also don’t like automatic reverence for Bishops, Imams, Ayatollahs, Rinpoches, etc. I’d throw in a Jewish term, but the Jewish religion doesn’t have much of a hierarchy, if it did, I’d be annoyed with whatever terms it came up with. People should be evaluated, on their individual merits, and a few syllables in front of someone’s name only says to me that person carries around a claim of special status which immediately makes me wary.
While we’re on the subject of blind spots, there is a whole list of those I’d like to run through that have particular relevance to esoteric research and 2012. A year or so ago I read a few books on the subject of blind spots, which are the cause of many unfortunate and even tragic outcomes. One of the most classic is called “loss aversion” and may explain why Terence remained so committed to his Time Wave theory despite some disconfirmations and successful challenges to its mathematical integrity. My general descriptions of blind spots are excerpted from a card I wrote for my online oracle (the “Zap Oracle”) entitled “Blindspots.”
Here is the entry on loss aversion:
Captain Jacob Van Zanten was one of the most accomplished and experienced pilots in the world with a spotless record. He was the head of KLM’s safety program. Nevertheless, during a day of acute frustrations, he made the impulsive decision to take off in a foggy, unfamiliar airport without tower clearance and plowed into another jet resulting in the death of 584 people. Captain Van Zanten was motivated by one of the most classic blind spots known as “loss aversion.” Many studies show that people are far more motivated by preventing losses than they are by achieving comparable gains. It is loss aversion that keeps someone at the casino table trying to recoup losses until his life savings is gone. Captain Van Zanten had an excellent on-time record that was being undermined by a series of mishaps that day, and he couldn’t stand the thought of the loss of his good record. His co-pilot, who warned him that he did not have tower clearance to take off, went along with the impulsive decision because of another classic blind spot — the tendency to override your own better judgment out of deference to a person of authority. (end of card excerpt)
Both John and I last saw Terence alive early in 1999 at the Whole Life Expo in Denver. I remember Terence speaking with a somewhat weary Captain Ahab-like determination about his Time Wave theory. One sentence stuck in my mind as haunting, and it still resonates as such today. Terence said (approximately), “I’ve spent thirty years working on this theory and if it turns out to be wrong I’ll spend the next thirty years working on why I was so obsessed with it.” Unfortunately, Terence did not have a next thirty years. In a few weeks he had his first seizure and a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer.
Terence had staked so much of his time, reputation, sense of special destiny, etc. on his theory that he felt he couldn’t walk away from it even when there were disconfirmations and people like me pointing out flaws in his thinking. Unlike many lesser minds, Terence did not spurn such challenges, he welcomed them. He would often tell people that they should be suspicious if a truth was so holy you were supposed to avert your eyes and accept it without question. Terence encouraged people to prod, probe and test every purported truth. “The truth can take it.” he would add.
Although Terence welcomed challenges to his theories, most are not so welcoming. Someone who has built a reputation and identity for himself as a Dreamspell astrologer, for example, cannot so easily admit he was deceived or hoaxed and walk away. When someone is invested in a belief system that gets challenged, more likely than not they will hunker down, fight back, and even increase their investment of time, money, and vehement commitment.
15. To progress with esoteric research you must be willing to walk away from pet theories and cherished assumptions.
Your commitment needs to be the truth, not to any particular hypothesized version of it. I can never be sure of my willingness to give up favorite theories, and I question myself about it frequently. This brings us to our next blind spot:
Need for Closure — Studies show that creative people are better able to live with ambiguity, but many cannot bear it. To overcome ambiguity, doubt and uncertainty people reach premature closure on important decisions, convincing themselves they have reached the correct verdict. Time and/or social pressure increase this tendency. People who surrender to fundamentalisms and absolutisms are often trying to permanently immunize themselves from the threat of ambiguity.
The need for closure is a deadly temptation in esoteric research. Esoteric research often involves the study of ambiguous phenomena that cannot be reproduced on demand. Out of the hundreds or thousands of books the ancient Maya wrote, only four remain and what’s left related to the Long Count calendar is particularly fragmentary. (76, 81) One has to look back through the mists of time at the fragmentary evidence left by an exotically different culture. Some areas of irreducible ambiguity may never be closed. Part of the temptation is that closure often brings status. People are magnetically attracted to people who have definite conclusions and are completely sure of themselves. As Bill Clinton pointed out, “Strong and wrong beats weak and right.”
In ufology, for example, I have found that the most intelligent and diligent researchers (such as Jacque Valle) are the ones least likely to give you fixed conclusions. It is the ignorant and the charlatans who rattle off the names of everyone on the Pleidian high council, and have ready answers for everything.
16. Avoid closure until you really know. Your powers of observation and thinking increase with your ability to tolerate ambiguity.
Next blind spot:
Wishful Thinking — The formation of beliefs and the making of decisions according to what is pleasing to imagine rather than through evidence or reasoned consideration.
The New Age is rife with this. 2012 is anything you want it to be—a sudden end to materialism plus infinite abundance, plus world peace, plus time travel, plus…
17. Be aware and very wary about what you want to believe and hold such beliefs to even higher standards of evidence and critical challenge.
Halo Effect — The first traits we recognize in others influence our interpretations and perceptions of later ones because of our expectations. For example, good-looking people are judged as having better personalities and skills than those of average appearance. Celebrity endorsements improve sales of products that the celebrity knows nothing about.
2012 is a virtual festival of halo-effect abuse. People take their own quirky notions and rebrand them as Mayan, indigenous, ancient and so forth. If the spokesman of a 2012 theory is charismatic and/or is genuinely an expert in some area, this doesn’t entitle him to a general authority that can be abused to promote a notion about 2012 on which he is not an expert, etc.
18. Know the halos you are influenced by and compensate for their influence.
One of the best-looking groups of people in the world are pharmaceutical sales reps. Big Pharma has them in both genders to appeal to doctors of whatever gender preference. If someone is attractive, realize that the halo effect may give that person outsized influence. Evaluate people and ideas on a case-by-case basis and independent of attached halos (Elder, Rinpoche, etc.). Be very wary of researchers who insist on attaching halos to their stuff: “My deep inside sources tell me…” “Elder so-and-so initiated me in the following mystery teaching.” Other classic esoteric halos include unsubstantiated claims of extreme antiquity and exotic cultural origins for their material, etc.
The above blind spots are classic ones recognized by mainstream psychology. Here are a couple I’ve come up with that are relevant to 2012:
The Amazing Success Formula Fallacy — The belief in hyped-up one-size-fits-all success formulas. Dieters, multi-level marketing folks, and power of positive thinking/ you-create-your-own-reality absolutists are especially prone to this delusion — The Secret, many self-help books, surefire methods to get rich quick, etc. When asked the secret of his success as a composer, Philip Glass responded: “My secret — I get up early in the morning and work all day long.” Even that isn’t a success formula, because Philip happens to be a genius who works all day long.
There are many versions of 2012 as magical success formula: Just wait till 2012 and all injustices will be righted or you will be swept away in a New Age Rapture. Conversely, if you’ve got a pole-shift doomsday scenario, then worries about the mortgage, cleaning up your diet, etc. get brushed aside because by 2012 none of that will matter.
19. Be extremely wary of esoteric products and persons who have an answer and success formula for everything. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The Real Life Up Ahead Fallacy — This isn’t your real life right now, you’re working toward your real life up ahead when you find your soul mate, perfect weight, career, dream house, etc. If nothing else, aging painfully exposes this fallacy. The antidote: “existential impeccability,”—focusing in on the nowever as the time that really matters.
After 2012 the real life will start, right now I’m just in the lead up phase, this is all preparatory, 2012 is when things will really climax. We will discuss this blind spot in more depth later when we discuss how countdown dates bind you to linear time and suck vitality out of the present. Other esoteric researchers play similar games. For example, for decades certain ufologists have hyped that “disclosure is just around the corner,” and their inside sources confirm that the “disclosure year” is constantly upon us. David Wilcox is notorious for this with adamant insistence that his inside sources in both the government and the “Iluminati” confirm that Obama will soon hold an news conference with extraterrestrials standing beside him.
20. Avoid any esoteric product or person that depends on some big drama event up ahead. Authentic esoteric material should deepen your awareness and appreciation of the present.
Global dismissal of out group member—This person doesn’t have scholarly/scientific credentials, there’s something New Agey about them, they’re just a clueless rationalist stuck in the old ways so anything they say is invalid and can be dismissed in advance.
There are reliable and unreliable types amongst credentialed scholars, skeptics, New Age types, independent researchers, indigenous folk and every other human group that has ever existed.
21. Evaluate people individually and be careful about dismissing entire groups. Do not put a halo around certain groups or globally dismiss others.
I know I do a lot of negative stereotyping of New Agers, but on an individual basis I have found many who are sincere, open-minded and have valuable knowledge and insights.
The last blind spot will also be a segue into our next major section on the “gatekeepers of 2012.”
The Objectivity Bias and Skeptic Fallacy —You or someone else appropriates the mantle of objectivity without any evidence that he is not prone to the subjective factors that influence all people. The self-proclaimed objectivist will then, from a position of assumed superiority, critique the subjectivity of others. The most comically absurd personification of this type is
Ayn Rand and some of her disciples. (See the superbly researched Rand biography: Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller)
22. Be wary of yourself or anyone who claims “objectivity.” Claims of objectivity generally involve enormous blind spots about irreducible areas of subjectivity.
Most of us do this to some extent, but some people are real abusers. Nobody owns objectivity, but many think they do. There is an irreducible amount of subjectivity involved in almost everything esoteric, and psychological subjects usually involve multiple layers of subjectivity. When someone makes claims of being “objective” or a “skeptic,” it usually means they have put a halo around themselves as supremely rational observers immune to the subjectivities that riddle others. Some scientists and academics fall for this fallacy, and so far every spokesperson for the so-called skeptic community that I have encountered falls prey to this.
This leads us to the skeptic fallacy. The skeptics were originally a school of Greek philosophers who believed in tolerating ambiguity without resorting to premature closure. They felt that their observational powers were increased if they withheld from conclusions. Notice that the self-proclaimed professional skeptics are the exact opposite of that. They are debunkers—true believers in a negative. They are priests of scientism rather than science. They have a-priori assumptions that paraspsychological phenomena, UFOs, etc. do not exist, and without questioning their own motivations they set about to discredit any people or research that runs counter to their scientismic assumptions. Dr. Raymond Mood, who is an M.D. and has PhDs in both philosophy and psychology, has pointed out the ignorance and faulty logic of skeptics who say things like, “I’m a skeptic about NDEs, I think they’re just the result of an oxygen-starved brain.” In other words: “I’m a true believer in a reductive, easily disproven explanation of NDEs.”
I recently confronted professional skeptic Michael Shermer with this fallacy. He had just spoken about what motivates people to believe irrational things. I pointed out that he is certainly not a skeptic and that he never mentions or seems to examine his own subjective motivations—- that he has built a whole ego identity and substantial income around being a professional skeptic, and it would disrupt his whole life, identity and income if he were to admit that here is valid paranormal research, etc. His answer was a personable confection of glib evasions. Other people are subject to irrational beliefs, but as a professional skeptic he’s immune to that sort of thing. His scientismic assumption of himself as objective observer is an old-fashioned attitude that has been an obscuring force in science, esoteric research and many other fields for some time:
“The main concern is that the claims of a few scientists are fiercely disputed by most of their peers, not on the basis of research, but a priori not even with rational arguments, but with emotional motives. Emotional motives with their aftermath of ridicule, contempt, and insinuation, based solely on an unphilisophical attachment to a closed system. It seems barely credible!” Dutch author and Psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden said that in 1894.
The 2012 Story documents many cases of the above fallacies perpetrated by the “gatekeepers of 2012”—academics, archeologists, epigraphers, astronomers and skeptics who arrogate to themselves the role of final arbiter on what the Maya intended about 2012. For example, although many academic gatekeepers adamantly insisted for years that there was not a single Mayan inscription about 2012, in April of 2006 a translation was released by the University of Texas of a Mayan inscription on Tortuguero Monument 6 about 2012. While it looked to many as if it were a new discovery, in actuality Mayan epigraphers had been keeping it to themselves because they feared “creating a monster.”
This is typical gatekeeper behavior. The public can’t handle the truth, and if it is inconvenient to our stated positions we can just keep it under wraps. John points out that, “Another well-known scholar elsewhere likened the 2012 people who actively interject their observations and comments on the academic e-mail forums to ‘a pit of vipers.’” (218-9)
Although there is plenty of poor quality doomsday 2012 product out there, not everything produced by independent researchers is apocalypse pornography. Many of the 2012 gatekeepers do not take the trouble to make that distinction, and will globally ridicule all nonacademic 2012 material as doomsday pseudoscience. Ironically, the first published connection of 2012 with apocalypse came from an academic! John quotes an excerpt from Maya scholar Michael Coe’s 1966 book The Maya:
“There is a suggestion that each of these [time periods] measured thirteen Baktuns, or something less than 5,200 years, and that Armageddon would overtake the degenerate peoples of the world and all creation on the final day of the thirteenth.”
“The use of Christian terminology to describe Maya eschatology is quite surprising. ‘Our present universe’ he continues, is ‘to be annihilated…when the great Cycle of the Long Count reaches completion.’ This is the kind of language that Maya scholars today find so offensive, and rightly so. As I’ve been saying for two decades, the Maya Creation Myth itself does not espouse an idea of a final cataclysmic end to the universe. In a cyclic time philosophy, it’s all about transformations and renewal.” (229-30)
In May of 2004, John posted to his site an acrimonious exchange he had with an astronomer:
John asked if I would read it and give some feedback on what was going on. I responded by email and John included a large excerpt from one of my two emails in The 2012 Story (232-3). The full exchange is linked above so you can judge for yourself whether my comments are warranted. Here is the complete text of the relevant part of the emails:
That was a classic (if emotionally toxic to engage in) dialogue with a debunker priest of the scientism religion. You’ll find the identical attitude at Psycop and the Skeptical Inquirer. As I’m sure you realize, a debunker is not a skeptic, but a true believer in a negative. Scientism is their religion, and they have a brittle, neurotic power complex that feeds off of this identification. They are the aristocrats of truth wearing a purple mantle and carry the imprimatur of science (in their neurotic imagination). Those who are representatives of the vast truths and areas of perception that their brittle and hollow neurotic persona cannot bear to engage are the subject of such comic shadow projection that, like a Medieval Monarch who cannot bear even the thought that a commoner should gaze at them or directly address them, the very thought of an actual dialogue with a member of this group makes them squirm with nauseated distaste. You have violated this man’s core psychic intentionality by daring to engage in a rational discourse with him (as they see rationality as their sovereign territory that those not part of their priesthood can’t dare to trespass on). You have forgotten what your role is supposed to be in their mind: Passive Straw Man. The esoteric person is supposed to make a series of absurd points, be a cliché or stereotype with no rational ability to engage challenges, and they are supposed to be the monarchs of objectivity, authoritatively casting down idols and buffoons for the general public. With the comical and unwarranted disdain with which he addresses you as “a” John Major Jenkins and “your kind”—a phrase so often applied by racists to blacks and Jews—this guy completely reveals the intense irrationalism and psychological projection that are at the core of his point of view. This type of debunker is more brittle and irritable than even many fundamentalist religionists because even their worldview has more depth than that of debunking scientism. Psychologically, someone of this type is a humpty-dumpty teetering on top of a slippery wall above an abyss. Their own unconscious is so aware of the vast hollowness of their affectation of objectivity that they live in a toxic world of irritated disdain of most of reality, projecting their own intense irrationalism on most everyone else, and even their power complex takes on a nerdy, introverted and impotent form—instead of being real scientists, actually taking bold strides into the unknown, all they can do is take pot shots at the straw men of their own imagination.
Another aspect of your exchange with the debunker is its obvious connection to the documentary and to the 2012 phenomenon in general. The 2012 field, in the collective psyche, is heating up and attracting irrationalisms. A classic aspect of this debunker is that he wants to be a bottom feeder. He wants to find the most inferior version of esoteric material to suit his purpose of having a straw man to knock down and thereby inflate his shaky ego identity. This is a parallel theme related to the TechTV interview you wisely backed away from. Lots of people want to either deify the esoteric person into a cult figure (as in some of José’s disciples) or conversely put clown make-up on them as they lead them to the gallows. This is true of celebrity in general—kick em’ while they’re up, kick em’ while they’re down. We love to deify celebrities and we also love to see them deflated and shamed by scandals or other crashes.
A giant deception is being set up (in unconscious cooperation) by two groups: The unground cheerleaders of 2012 and the debunkers. There is the potential to create a Y2K fiasco for esoteric research by setting up 2012 for inflated expectations which (because inflated expectations are almost impossible to realize) can be a great triumph for the debunkers. Your position on the subject is, therefore, anathema to both camps, which despite their differences of style are two sides of the same coin, two versions of the ego playing a masturbatory game with itself. (End of email)
Although, I’ve focused here on gatekeeper abuse, I am not at all trying to dismiss the crucial, invaluable contributions to the 2012 topic made by scholars and astronomers. John makes his appreciation of their work very clear throughout his books and websites. For example, he writes:
“I realize that I can be critical of scholars and New Agers in equal measure, but in this section I want to make it clear that I have been inspired and informed by Maya scholars past and present…
“Scholars whose perspectives I disagree with and critique are also the same scholars who have provided insights and breakthroughs” (240).
Finally, I realize I have spent a large part of this essay angrily casting down idols and haven’t said quite enough about what the whole phenomenon means for the collective psyche besides all the individual blind spots and fallacies that go into lighting up the glittering disco ball. Momentarily I will discuss the psychology of apocalyptic prophecy, but the largest perspective I have on the meaning of the 2012 phenomenon relates to my work on the Singularity Archetype and I will save a quick introduction to that for last.
The following brief passage from an introductory work on the Singularity Archetype entitled White Crows Rising will explore one of the major reasons why prophecy is so unreliable and why apocalyptic doomsday material is perennially popular:
One of the reasons that prophecy has been so unreliable relates to the perpetual confusion in the human psyche between the inner world and the outer world. The confusion is only to be expected given that there is often a blurred boundary between inner and outer. Inner and outer converge through synchronicity and through many causative mechanisms such as self-fulfilling prophecies. The most classic confusion of inner and outer is interpersonal projection. We project some disowned part of ourselves on to another or others. For example, a man may project the disowned feminine aspect of his soul onto a beautiful woman he sees walking down the street. He looks at her and feels this sense of eternal recurrence—she was meant for me, I’ve known her from other lifetimes. In a sense, the perception is correct, this aspect of his soul is meant for him, and it has been with him from time immemorial. The incorrect part, and it can be disastrously incorrect, is the confusion of the inner and outer, the acting out interpersonally of what is intrapsychic. Most interpersonal violence, as well as genocide and other forms of collective violence, occur in a state of shadow projection, where disowned and dreaded parts of oneself, or of the collective, are projected onto a despised other or another race, etc.
Anything with a strong emotional charge in the psyche, and especially if the charge is strong and uncomfortable, will be projected outside. One of the strongest charges in most psyches is anxiety about death. A classic projection is for a person to feel their own mortal vulnerability, the imminence of their own death that may come at any time, and to attribute that feeling to the world. I can feel it, this is all temporary, this world is going to end; I am living in the end times! Again, the perception is correct except for the confusion of inner and outer. Every mortal is always living in end times, death is always imminent and even if any of the many possible causes of premature death are avoided, the years left are still only a one or two digit figure. The uncomfortable feeling of perilous temporal fragility must go somewhere and an end of world prophecy is like a lightning rod for this intensely uncomfortable inner charge.
Like a fractal or a hologram, the life cycle of the individual to some extent recapitulates the life cycle of the species. An individual has a certain limited life span before they cross the event horizon of death, and a species also has a limited life span before it becomes extinct. I’ve heard that the average life span of a species is a 100,000 years. Because of the parallelism, it is easy for someone to confuse the imminence of personal death with collective eschaton. This confusion is also well motivated as it seems to displace much of the individual anxiety about death, which is usually faced alone, onto a “we’re all in it together” general event that has strong elements of high drama and excitement associated with it. Instead of a feeling of powerlessness about the inevitability of one’s own death, the prophet feels empowered by his sense that he has been privileged with secret knowledge withheld from the common person. Also, the ego is very concerned about its place in the social hierarchy and is appalled by the idea that it could cease to exist while others continue to live. If everyone checks out at once, however, then death involves no such social humiliation. Even better, if there is some sort of Rapture, where the ego is part of an elect that becomes immortal while others of the sort the ego doesn’t like are annihilated or left behind to deal with the Antichrist and Armageddon, then personal anxiety about death gets channeled into an all-satisfying scenario. For these powerful psychological reasons, prophecies of the end of the world usually seem to be conveniently scheduled to occur before the end of the prophet’s expected lifespan, allowing the eschaton to upstage anxiety about personal death.
2012’s popularity as projection screen for apocalyptic expectations is enabled by the convenience of its chronological nearness. Few people have heard that Sir Isaac Newton spent the last few decades of his life trying to decode Revelations and finally came up with an end-date of 2060. Why don’t we hear more about this? It’s not a sexy date yet because it’s too far away. Nobody wants to wait half a century. I’ll offer a prophecy of my own: Some time around 2050 we’ll start seeing books and movies coming up with titles like “The Newton Code.”
Many years after I formed this hypothesis I heard of an episode that gave it anecdotal support. In the 1960s there was a well-known woman psychic (but not Jean Dixon) who had a nationally syndicated newspaper column. She had a vision that a gigantic earthquake would destroy most of California on a particular date and reported this in her column. In copycat fashion, other psychics began to predict a quake on the same day. This woman was sincere in her prediction, and at great expense she relocated her family from the Bay Area to Nevada. On the predicted date there was no earthquake, but the woman died of some rare disease. (I have one published reference to this story, but have not been able to establish the psychic’s name or many other details, if anyone has any leads please send to [email protected]) (end of White Crow excerpt)
If I have been pretty tough on false prophets and those who are always trying to get us to countdown to some exciting or terrifying date, one of the reasons is that the countdown lifestyle causes tremendous psychological and spiritual damage to people. A few years ago I wrote a page and a half article on this entitled “Clocktime Metastasizes Toward 2012” :
“Time is what keeps the light from reaching us. There is no greater obstacle to God than time. And not only time but temporalities, not only temporal things but temporal affections; not only temporal affections but the very taint and smell of time”. —Meister Eckart . (c. 1260–c. 1328)
Eagerly awaiting 2012 feels like hurrying toward tranquility. We are beset with time sickness, and the reset of that orientation is not to be found in time, but beyond time.
In his book, The Perennial Philosophy, Aldous Huxley points out that the religions and political philosophies that are framed in linear time are the ones that cause violence and generate suffering. The progressive may seek radical means to create a future world where conditions are more ideal. The reactionary may take repressive measures to turn the clock back to some imaginary earlier time, when “traditional” values reigned. Both seek to find their salvation in time, in the temporal world, and both will employ temporal means to get there, usually claiming that the ends justify their dubious means.
The more we identify with our mortal, aging bodies, the more we descend into clock-time, as our bodies are bound to clock-time in so many obvious ways. Conversely, our spirits are timeless, and therefore our psyches, which might be said to occupy a middle plane, have an inherently amphibious nature. Huxley describes the duality of our psyches as being able to live in both clock-time and eternity.
I’m trying to ground this distinction, and find a way to integrate it into my awareness while living in this clock-time driven realm. I’m not much of a meditator, and can’t recall any definitive experience of release from the temporal into the eternal. If I were to adopt an ambitious program of meditation to achieve that goal, I would, of course, be binding myself once more to a linear time track. I can’t travel toward eternity; as John Major Jenkins suggests, attuning to eternity is more comparable to breathing in or out than traveling toward a destination.
The method I’ve found to be the grounding, integrating conduit for withdrawing from clock-time can be expressed in a two word phrase I coined some years ago: existential impeccability. Existential impeccability means being impeccable right now, not striving to achieve some distant aim or goal. but simply to be impeccable for its own sake. When I seek to transform myself using the temporal, it always seems to back fire, just as when intelligence agencies seek to control the temporal they encounter blowback.
From the stance of existential impeccability, we are path-oriented, not goal-oriented. We stay centered in an axis mundi of empowerment and actualization by focusing on impeccability in our relationship with ourselves in the now. With this focus, we are always at the center of our circle of influence and inner independence. With our focus on existential impeccability, we are also as effective and harmonious as possible with all outer relationships.
The forms of violence done by temporally bound imperialist governments and evangelical religions each have their analog in our personalities. If I focus on capturing the Hottie, I descend into the nightmare of history, in this case the personal history nightmare of the adolescent soap opera. I live out of the moment in anticipation of the phone ringing, etc. This is the insight shared by an 80-year-old woman who said that she had now learned that striving to be loved was less fulfilling than to be love. When I get ambitious about anything: capturing the Hottie, becoming a celebrity, or writing a book, I step out into the flatland clock-time world; I find myself rushing toward a Precious in search of a wholeness that, had I but slowed down and turned inward, I would have found within.
I trick myself with clock-time when I accept galling privations now to achieve a goal, or when I indulge now and imagine that tomorrow I will turn over a new leaf. Reaching for a stimulant like coffee can be a way of binding metabolically to clock-time—I sacrifice existential impeccability to get something that speeds me up now and slows me down later. This is the classic pattern of temporal means. There is always the archetype of the Devil’s bargain: buy now, pay later; and you always pay more later than what you got now. But really you don’t just pay later, you pay the instant you make the decision, even before you act on it, because you have damaged your inner relationship to yourself and tied another binding knot to Maya or the linear time bound matrix. Tie enough of those knots and, as Jung put it, “the life giving rhythm of the aeons becomes the dread ticking of the clock”.
Finally, the Singularity Archetype, the largest perspective I can offer for the 2012 phenomenon. My upcoming book will be the most thorough treatment of the subject, and will also include a study of some of the 2012 material in a section on what happens when the Singularity Archetype pathologizes. I will conclude with some links to writings on the Singularity Archetype for any readers who want to investigate it before the book comes out. Here is my attempt at a one-page summary of a vast subject:
What is the Singularity Archetype?
The Singularity Archetype is a primordial image of human evolutionary metamorphosis that emerges from the collective unconscious. The Singularity Archetype builds on archetypes of death and rebirth and adds information about the evolutionary potential of both species and individual.
A Composite Picture of how the Archetype Presents
A rupture of plane event occurs, usually threatening the survival of the individual and/or species. The event is a shock that disrupts the equilibrium of body/physical world and also individual/collective psyche. It is an ontological shock that will be viewed as the worst thing possible by individual/ collective ego.
There is another rupture of plane, which may actually be the same rupture as above, but seen from a cosmic rather than a personal view. The shock is revealed to be a transcendent evolutionary event. The revelation of the transcendent aspect will often involve spiral motifs and unusual lights. Consciousness and communication metamorphose and with them core aspects—ego, individuality, connection to linear time, corporeality, gender identification, social order, etc.—- fundamentally transform. There is a vision or actualization of release from some or all limits of corporeal incarnation and the emergence of “glorified bodies” that have enhanced powers and various degrees of etherialization. More visual and telepathic modes of consciousness and communication emerge and this is part of a transformation of individuality into “Homo gestalt”—a new species where individual psyches are networked telepathically.
The SA may occur as a dream, vision or fantasy about eschaton—an end point of the species. The SA may also be experienced and even actualized to various degrees by an individual through transcendent and/or anomalous experiences such as NDEs, UFO/abduction/close encounter experiences, kundalini and psychotropic episodes.
As with encounters with all archetypes, individuals and groups will attach idiosyncratic material to it such as particular end dates and scenarios. But the SA cannot be located in linear time and is not reducible to a premonition of particular outcomes or predetermined futures. It could, however, be viewed as a “strange attractor,” a not fully formed pattern associated with the future that is affecting individual and species in past and present. Another way of defining the SA (in its collective form) is as a resonance, flowing backward through time, of an approaching Singularity at the end of human history.
Here are three links to documents (in ascending order of length) on the Singularity Archetype:
(This article was published in Australian Magazine New Dawn on December 1st, 2008, and is reproduced with their permission.)