Evolution (Essay 1)

All this talk about 2012!

2012 has been the subject of speculation for at least the past 30 years. The speculation seems to be fuelled largely by the fact that the Mayan calendar which begins in 3113 BCE is predicted to end on Dec., 21st 2012. This prediction is reinforced by a range of other myths, notably from the Hopi and Aztec peoples, and also supported from insights based on ancient Hindu lore. Such insights are not easily tested by the criteria of rational science, and therefore, tend to be quickly dismissed by millions around the world. Might this be an alternative wisdom requiring an alternative mode of discernment and analysis?

 Scientific Corroboration

 If the only basis for such speculation were these ancient mythologies, I guess the case in point would not be very persuasive. There is a measure of corroborative evidence with a certain amount of scientific backing. Two factors of cosmic proportion are often cited:

a)      The galactic re-alignment of the sun: a rare alignment of our solar system, our sun and our planet, an event which is believed to occur about every 26,000 years. Some astronomers claim to have evidence for such an occurrence in or around 2012, probably accompanied by severe storms and extensive disturbance in weather patterns.  

b)      There seems to be more substantial evidence for the reversal of the earth’s magnetic poles, 14 of which occurrences have happened in the past 4.5 million years. Gregg Braden (2007) outlines the evidence suggesting that such an event may happen in or around 2012.

Simon (2007) outlines a range of other theories and ideas on the preoccupation with 2012. Most persuasive for me, is the prediction of a serious crisis in fossil fuel reserves; already many futurists predict that oil supplies could strike an all-time low in 2012. Among the theories reviewed by Simon (2007), is that of a shift in consciousness which has characterised recent decades. Change has accelerated enormously; information has exploded; wisdom is outpacing rational information.

 Indeed, 2012 may be a critical year in several senses. Equally, it may be a metaphorical date for an impending crisis almost sure to impact within the next twenty years. Despite the positive gloss of some commentators, of a breakthrough in consciousness -especially for humanity - history indicates all too clearly that the breakthrough will not happen without a preceding breakdown. That is the more painful issue to consider and explore, and particularly since there are no obvious signs on what it will be or how it will impact upon the human race. 

Grim prospects ahead

The reversal of the magnetic poles would be dramatic, and would certainly push humanity in a new evolutionary direction with some daunting consequences. It is suggested that such an event would reverse the spin of planet earth with the sun rising in the West instead of the East. This would radically change every aspect of our man-made technology. To evolve the new technology, and do so at the desired speed and efficiency,  is something that humans in our current competitive and violent climate are unlikely to achieve.

Some speculate that technology would come to an end and we would revert to a more organic way of being and living. In my opinion this is an unlikely outcome. A more ecologically friendly type of technology would certainly be the desirable outcome, in a planet where prevailing weather patterns may then favour the South rather than the wealthy North. As a species we are likely to opt – eventually – for the better outcome, but not without a serious crisis intervening.

It is reasonable to suggest that the preoccupation with 2012 is a type of cultural psychological displacement, a collective rationalisation of a crisis we would rather not confront, or even think about. Whatever about the predictions enumerated above, it is far clearer that many of our major institutions – economic, political, social, religious – are heading for serious breakdown within the next few decades. Chaos – and consequent violence – is likely to be widespread. The patriarchal mode of governance is grinding to a halt, leaving humanity and the planet with a dangerous cultural vacuum.

Birthing a New Myth


Assuredly we will need a new quality of technology and a new strategy for governance, but these will be born out of a new consciousness which is certainly coming to birth in our time. This is a more benign, organic and sustainable way of living as cosmic, planetary beings, precisely what many of our indigenous peoples, past and present, have attempted in a more exemplary way. Not surprising therefore we seek to reclaim their ancient wisdom, not out of nostalgia, but because intuitively we sense a deeper wisdom which we will need for the precarious times ahead.

And let’s not take that wisdom too literally. Robert K. Sitler (in Simon 2007, 89-107) provides a sobering overview of the Mayan prediction for 2012. Most of this insight comes, not from Mayans themselves, but from others who have studied and analysed their material at a distance. Contemporary Mayans, like several other indigenous peoples, are not interested in some kind of “new age” speculation, but in the threatened status to their own cultures. Often immersed in uncertainty and fear, they envisage a fearful future for both themselves and the wider human family.

If the speculation about 2012 helps to birth a new myth offering greater wisdom, courage and hope for the future, then by all means let’s embrace it. More important than any myth, however, is the cultural urgency now facing humanity and the battered earth itself. The storm is gathering force with increasing rapidity - and time is of the essence! Humanity is facing a major crisis. It may not be in 2012, but it certainly will be within the next few decades. Vision and creativity will be crucial to see us through!



Joseph, Lawrence E. (2007), Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation into Civilisation’s End,
Laszlo, Ervin (2006),
The Chaos Point.
Simon, Tami (2007) ED,
The Mystery of 2012, Boulder, CO: Sounds True.
Stray, Geoff (2005),
Beyond 2012: Catastrophe or Ecstasy, Sussex UK: Vital Signs.


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© 2010 Diarmuid