If you’re like me and just can’t get enough speculation about the much-hyped but poorly-defined events predicted to occur in December 2012, then Geoff Stray’s Beyond 2012 is your must-read for the decade.
Of course, doomsday scenarios are nothing new. One cult leader or another has spouted ‘the end is near’ for as far back as human history is recorded. Needless to say, they’ve all been wrong. So far.
The biggest thrill of the 2012 prophecy is that various religious texts, ancient artifacts, native mythologies, and mystics seem to agree that this one moment will see a drastic and permanent planetary change. Stray has compiled a staggering collection of these prophecies in Beyond 2012 and invites the reader to contrast and compare the theories and their sources.
The story, as it usually begins, is that Jose Arguelles discovered that 2012 A.D. is the end-date given in the ancient Mayan calendar. The calendar itself is tremendously complicated, and Stray’s explanation of the thirteen-baktun cycle upon which it is built deserves applause. In relatively simple terms, Stray describes the components of the system and how each fits together with the others. Nevertheless, it will take a clear mind and a fair amount of patience to really grasp the workings of this calendar.
As it happens, Terence and Dennis McKenna were working on an exploration of the Chinese I Ching around the same time that Arguelles was deciphering the Mayan calendar. The McKennas found that the I Ching was based upon a lunar calendar and, using a wave method that they developed, found that the I Ching waves and subwaves peak together at one point: December 2012 A.D.
In the following years, and especially now that we are nearing the date of predicted planetary cataclysm or enlightenment (depending upon which source you choose to believe), more and more correlations are coming to light. Stray provides a solid overview of most of the more significant discoveries and does his best to explain the commonalities among them. Sunspot cycles are explored, as are geomagnetic fields, the prophecies of Nostradamus and other oracles, crop circles, UFOs, traditional shamanism, and a host of other disciplines that tie into the 2012 prophecy.
Of particular interest is Stray’s final section, in which he analyzes the many prophecies thoroughly, pointing out the imitators and initiators and discussing openly the contradictions and questionable methods that occur among the various systems and self-proclaimed experts.
Beyond 2012 delivers the most coherent and thorough explanation of this phenomenon that I’ve seen. No one can boil it down to a truly understandable paragraph, not with the ever-changing array of theories and prophecies that come into play. Stray’s book is remarkable in its organization and in the sensible but not necessarily skeptical approach it takes to the subject.
For anyone interested in this topic, Beyond 2012 is a can’t-do-without-it reference, the first resource you’ll go to whenever a new theory enters your field of vision. It will also be an amusing keepsake for 2013 and after, assuming that we survive whichever of the theories turns out to be accurate.