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#191775 - 03/15/06 07:44 AM Professor challenges Mayan calendar opinion
SimonB Offline
Education Writer

The end of the world will come on Dec. 21, 2012. Or not.

While some New Age authors and teachers are touting that date as an apocalypse, a Stetson University professor is challenging the reasoning behind it.

At a public lecture at the Volusia County Library Center on City Island today, Robert Sitler plans to discuss "The 2012 Phenomenon: A New Age Appropriation of an Ancient Mayan Calendar," an article he wrote last month for Nova Religio, the Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions.

Sitler, an associate professor of Spanish language and literature, has been studying and teaching Mayan culture since arriving at Stetson in 1994. He contends the Mayan calendar has long been the subject of "gross misinterpretation" on several hundred Web sites and in a continuous stream of books.

Those postings and printings are evidence of a growing public interest in the Mayan Long Count calendar, which had fallen out of use by the Mayans of Guatemala, Mexico and Belize, long before the Spanish conquerors had arrived.

The 2012 date is the last day of the current "b'aktun" cycle, or period of 144,000 days, and the final day of an even longer period consisting of 13 such cycles. No one knows why the calendar is arranged with an end date, Sitler said. But the Mayans were known for their accurate knowledge of astronomy.

"It's a weird concept to many because the calendar seems to have a preordained ending date," said Jeremy Puma, a Seattle resident and St. Augustine native who writes Fantastic Planet, a "gnostic" blog. He noted in an e-mail interview that the Mayans used the calendar for planting crops and other purposes, but the New Age movement "seems to have glommed onto the calendar's more mythological aspects."

First and foremost, Sitler and Puma agree, is New Age author Jose Arguelles, most famed for his declaration of a "Harmonic Convergence" in August 1987. The Harmonic Convergence, Arguelles said, was the "exponential acceleration of the wave harmonic of history as it phases into a moment of unprecedented synchronization," and "a shift point into the last 25 years of the galactic beam."

Sitler says Arguelles' approach is Mayan culture with "creative abandon," and when challenged, will note that his version of a 260-day Mayan ritual calendar, which differs significantly from the actual calendar used by some Maya even today, is a version of the "Galactic Maya," rather than the indigenous Maya.

"Arguelles is merely the best-known teacher in an ever-expanding international group that includes dozens of highly inventive and often eccentric individuals reaching out to the New Age public with their ideas concerning 2012," Sitler said. He notes the existence of a Web site that features a running clock until Dec. 21, 2012, with links to another selling T-shirts bearing the 2012 date and featuring several pop-up ads.

Despite the blatant commercialism, there remains a lot of interest in the subject, said Jeff Dorian, director of the MetaScience Research Forum, a local group that meets monthly at the Edgewater Public Library. Dorian said he has long wanted to land an expert in the Mayan calendar to speak to his group.

"There is a percentage of people who believe the end of the Mayan calendar will be the end of everything," Dorian said. "There's about as many interpretations of the Mayan calendar as there are experts."

Inside an Ormond Beach New Age shop, the Crystal Connection, a thumping of drums, soft whistle of a flute and screech of an unidentifiable rainforest avian greets visitors. Books line the shelves, carrying titles such as, "The Fourth Dimension," "The Book of Thoth," and "Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma." Also available: pyramids, amethysts from Uruguay, angels and fairies (spelled "faeries", presumably to seem more Gaelic).

Roger Hollander, owner of the shop, said he doesn't believe 2012 will bring the end of the world. But, he adds: "There are many people that believe this. Some believe this strongly."

Hollander, who also owns similar shops in Indian Rocks Beach and St. Augustine, believes a change could be coming in 2012.

"The world will have a better, a deeper sense of consciousness. By then, (people) should be worn out doing it how they're doing it now. We'll either be here or we won't; we'll just have to experience it."

Sitler predicts the Mayans' culture could lend 2012 "an attractive power that may eventually even outstrip" Y2K, the hype surrounding the year 2000.

#191776 - 03/15/06 09:24 AM Re: Professor challenges Mayan calendar opinion
Otteralum Offline
Thanks Simon. Me thinks whoever is on Mayan land at the time of the apocolypse will be saved. I plan on being on AC December 21, 2012 -- who's with me?
I will have a Belikin -- put it on klcman's tab.

#191777 - 03/15/06 09:29 AM Re: Professor challenges Mayan calendar opinion
SimonB Offline
Lamanai is the place! Top of the high temple for sunset.

#191778 - 03/15/06 09:51 AM Re: Professor challenges Mayan calendar opinion
Otteralum Offline
Good point. I'll bring the cool-aid
I will have a Belikin -- put it on klcman's tab.

#191779 - 03/15/06 11:33 AM Re: Professor challenges Mayan calendar opinion
SimonB Offline
Okay Jim.

#191780 - 03/15/06 11:35 AM Re: Professor challenges Mayan calendar opinion
If permitted to join in, I'll bring the one barrel to go in the cool aid laugh

#191781 - 03/15/06 12:27 PM Re: Professor challenges Mayan calendar opinion
sandb Offline
orange barrel....windowpane...blotter...

#191782 - 03/15/06 12:40 PM Re: Professor challenges Mayan calendar opinion
ckocian Offline
So, as for this day in history:

The soothsayer's warning to Julius Caesar, "Beware the Ides of March," has forever imbued that date with a sense of foreboding. But in Roman times the expression "Ides of March" did not necessarily evoke a dark mood—it was simply the standard way of saying "March 15." Surely such a fanciful expression must signify something more than merely another day of the year? Not so. Even in Shakespeare's time, sixteen centuries later, audiences attending his play Julius Caesar wouldn't have blinked twice upon hearing the date called the Ides.

The term Ides comes from the earliest Roman calendar, which is said to have been devised by Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome. Whether it was Romulus or not, the inventor of this calendar had a penchant for complexity. The Roman calendar organized its months around three days, each of which served as a reference point for counting the other days:

Kalends (1st day of the month)
Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months)
Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months)
The remaining, unnamed days of the month were identified by counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones, or the Ides. For example, March 3 would be V Nones—5 days before the Nones (the Roman method of counting days was inclusive; in other words, the Nones would be counted as one of the 5 days).

Days in March

March 1: Kalends; March 2: VI Nones; March 3: V Nones; March 4: IV Nones; March 5: III Nones; March 6: Pridie Nones (Latin for "on the day before"); March 7: Nones; March 15: Ides


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