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December 21? What's All The Fuss About?

Should we be singing "it's the end of the world as we know it" with REM or "it's just another day" with Paul McCartney?

So yeah … we’ve all pretty much heard about the end of the world as depicted by “the” Mayan Calendar. But really, what the heck does it all mean? What is “the” Mayan Calendar and what was chiseled on that piece of stone that made everybody go all whacko with apocalyptic fears?

“The” calendar is NOT the Aztec Stone of the Sun that is usually referenced as the December 22, 2012 doomsday forecaster. Though it is based on the much earlier Mayan calendar, Aztecs, it seems, were a bit like some of today’s conspiracy theorists and their art depicted the fiery doom of their enemies at the hands of angry gods and human sacrifices made to prevent the end of the world. Yeah. The apocalypse. It's not JUST in the book of Revelation. 

The Mayan Calendar, with a bit more artistry and more fluid hieroglyphics, has its origins around 500 years before the Aztec society existed and encompasses timekeeping that could go well beyond this year's Winter Solstice.

What does "THE" Calendar show? What does it mean? And does it have an end?

Actually, the Mayans incorporated 3 separate sets of telling time. One calendar covers 365 days (a religious calendar) and one 260 days (a more “secular” calendar) so that each day had two names and these calendars reset every 52 years. The third is a “long count” system that adds a numeral to the end of each cycle to keep a count that’s pretty similar to an odometer on a car. And it’s this feature that allowed Mayans to create a calendar that extended all the way to AD 2012, rather than just resetting to zero at the end of each cycle.

According to Maya record keeping, December 21, 2012 ends a full cycle, so bring out your best bubbly and ring in the new cycle starting on December 22!

Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer at LiveScience.com says that the Mayan's "Long Count Calendar may not predict doomsday, but it is good at covering long periods of time. Here's how it works: Dates are written out as five numbers separated by four periods, such as 13.0.0.0.0. (The ancient Maya represented these not with numerals, of course, but with their own hieroglyphs.)”  

Based on the numbers available in each of those positions, Pappas explains that  “Dec. 21, 2012, on our calendar marks the end of the 13th b'ak'tun of the Mayan Long Count Calendar. In other words, it's the day the count will read 13.0.0.0.0. On Dec. 22, it will read 13.0.0.0.1.”

Longwood University archaeologist, Dr. Walter Witschey, an expert on all things ancient Mayan says that  “the date 13.0.0.0.0 was just a marking place in their cycle. On this date, the Long Count will roll over from cycle 12 to cycle 13, like our calendar rolling over from 1999 to 2000. We’re somehow captivated by these low-order zeros, and so were the Maya. It’s this phenomenon that has drawn attention to Dec. 21. It also happens to coincide with the winter solstice.”

According to Witschey, the 13.0.0.0.0 date appears in only two known Maya inscriptions - at Tortuguero, among a set of ancient ruins in Mexico, and the other at La Corona, a Maya site discovered this year in Guatemala.

In neither instance was the reference to the end of times.

According to Witschey, the date was in reference to “a very important king, who was living when the inscription was written.” This king was such an important man that it was like that “he would still be worshiped in 13.0.0.0.0.”  It’s a bit like how we still talk about the importance of leaders such as George Washington in a thousand years.

Need some good news?

Mayan Elders, Priests and Shamans believe that this date marks the beginning of a new era of enlightenment, harmony, and peace - but there are some forces of dark and light and we we must find a balance within the materialism of our everyday lives. Dr. Carlos Barrios, a ceremonial priest and spiritual guide in Guatemala says "Mayan Daykeepers view the Dec. 21, 2012 date as a rebirth, the start of the World of the Fifth Sun. It will be the start of a new era resulting from and signified by the solar meridian crossing the galactic equator, and the earth aligning itself with the center of the galaxy."

On December 21, 2012, the Sun rises to an ecliptic intersection with the Milky Way in a cosmic cross that is considered to be the embodiment of the Sacred Tree (Tree of Life). "Some observers say this alignment with the heart of the galaxy in 2012 will open a channel for cosmic energy to flow through the earth, cleansing it and all that dwells upon it, raising all to a higher level of vibration."

I'm not sure what it all means, but it sounds significantly better than an apocalypse.

Still need some more scientific reassurance?

NASA has debunked the claims of apocalyptic and catastrophic astronomical events on that date. There are no threatening asteroids heading towards Earth; the reversal of the Earth’s magnetic poles will take more than a day to accomplish (takes an average of 400,000 years); this year’s solar flares are considered a bit wimpy by otherwise active standards; and there are no planetary alignments scheduled by either nature or NASA in the next few decades.

OH! And my personal favorite, the planet Nibiru that's heading our way? Doesn’t exist. Didn't in May of 2003 and still doesn't. There IS a small planet called Eris that is real ... but it will likely remain in the outer solar system. About 4 Billion miles away. That's BILLION ... with a "B".

What can you do? 

Go ahead and put that Christmas tree up; pay your mortgage on time and make plans with your family. And plan to party like it’s 1999 … or 13.0.0.0.0.! 

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Monroe, Ga Patch.

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