The End of the World and 2012

Terrence McKenna and Timewave Zero

December 21, 2012 is a date that has gained much interest and speculation as it's time draws near. As with the Y2K apprehension, there are those readying themselves for the possibility of the world as we know it coming to an end. A recent movie has depicted what could possibly happen, and there are message boards all over the internet buzzing about the subject. The question on many people's minds is... did the ancient Mayan civilization predict the end of the world using a long count calendar? More importantly, how accurate is the date?

Many scientists and even present day Mayan scholars are of the belief that the calendar ending in 2012 is not a prediction of the end of time. Information on the teachings of ancient Mayans are difficult to find and show that there was much disagreement on what the date itself meant. Whether it is the end of the world, or simply an end of one cycle and the beginning of another... it has generated much discussion in the last several years. However, it is not only in this decade that there has been discussion on this date... and one man believed he found a theory that supported this prediction in the mid-1970's.

Terrence Kemp McKenna could be described as a writer and philosopher, although his interests and studies covered many areas. He is often called the "Timothy Leary for the nineties"... even by Leary himself. He experimented frequently with hallucinogenic substances from the time he was a teenager, feeling that the natural chemicals opened the mind to many ideas. A trip to the Amazon with his brother Dennis (a trip where they hoped to find a plant which produced dimethyltryptamine, another hallucinogenic) instead led him to discover the properties of Psilocybe cubensis, or the "magic mushroom" which grew in abundance.

McKenna agreed to become part of an experiment while he was there in taking this substance to see how far the expanses of his mind could be opened. He described being in perfect communication with the divine source of knowledge and enlightenment (known to him as the Source, or by the Greek name, Logos). This experience prompted him to study the ancient philosophies of the King Wen sequence of the IChing and to develop some very controversial theories from it. His first book, "The Invisible Landscape... Mind Hallucinogens and the IChing", written in 1975, was inspired by these readings and experiences. One of these theories discussed is the Novelty theory.

In this particular context, novelty means new. Throughout the thousands of years of this planet's existence, there have been periods of time where new concepts and natural occurrences happened... with both positive and negative results. In studying the King Wen sequence of binary lines that were broken and solid (yin and yang respectively), Kemp concluded that the universe itself existed to produce new things as evolution continued. He graphed this over time to show that a geometric pattern emerged much like the pattern in the King Wen sequence. The new happenings would ebb and flow and the universe continued. This graph resulted in what Kemp called "timewave zero". It shows time points for events in history that were important, although it does not show where they take place at.

Events such as the discovery of fire and how to use it, creating weaponry for defense, natural disasters, creating machinery to hasten work times, devastating illnesses (such as the Black Plague), higher technology... all fell into a pattern, according to this graph. Kemp and his colleagues took it a step further... taking this graph into the future. In doing so, he found that the speed at which new ideas and concepts comes to a curve... in 2012. The exact date he landed on is up for debate. It is said that he used the bombing of Hiroshima as a point of reference, and he actually hit November of 2012 by his graph's standards... moving it up only after hearing of the Mayan calendar. However, he insisted that the date was December 21, 2012... the same date that the Mayan calendar ends... and he insisted he had no previous knowledge of the Mayan Long Count Calendar at the time.

So what could it all mean? Have we gained so much in technological advances that we are dooming ourselves? Does it simply show that there will come a point where technology will come to a head... and we will have to become completely dependent on it? Was it that Kemp was on hallucinogens and was just "seeing things"... or do these very hallucinogens open the mind to where it can actually be seen and make sense? According to Kemp's "Stoned Ape" theory, psilocybin was once part of evolving man's daily diet. In consuming it, evolution began to take place because psilocybin opened the mind up to do so. By this theory, when psilocybin was removed as a food source... mankind stopped evolving. Of course there are those that will say Kemp was biased, as he was a strong supporter of the use of hallucinogens... but does being biased mean he was wrong?

What is interesting about McKenna's novelty and timewave zero theory is that it does show the points in time that showed advancement and catastrophic events. Periods such as the Islamic Golden Age, The Crusades, the Renaissance, the Black Plague, the world wars... all can be seen on the graph. If the pattern continues, it shows a distinctive curve in the time of 2012... meaning from that point, it progresses to infinity. Whether that means an end to the world or a progression into further evolution is up for debate... at least until December 21, 2012!

McKenna passed away from brain cancer April 3, 2000 at the age of fifty-three. There are many that will argue that any theory conceived while under the influence of a mind-altering drug has too many holes from its inception... However in looking at the King Wen Sequence and the timewave zero graph, it does start to add up. It is true that psilocybin is a psychedelic, however that does not in and of itself disprove the theory. The fact is, when looking at the ebb and flow of new concepts, technology and disasters both natural and man-made, it is not hard to fathom that it is coming to a head... and it is not beyond possibility that 2012 is the year this will happen.

Not every doomsday prediction ends on that date... but many do. The ones that predict other dates... such as Sir Isaac Newton predicting the date as falling in the year 2060... show that this century promises to bring massive change to the world as we know it. The question is... are we ready?

Written by Angela Sangster, Copyright 2010


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