Tuesday, September 28, 2010

December 21, 2012 - Will the world end?



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I wish I knew if the world was coming to an end on December 21, 2012, as some believe. A catastrophic end time, throwing the world into utter chaos. For one thing, I'd pay only the minimum amount on my credit card bills. Probably max them out, too. It'd be just my luck that all the doom and gloom people were wrong, and on December 22, 2012, my credit record would be shot. Maybe we could just not have a winter solstice that year and skip the whole controversy.


I'll say up front that I'm a skeptic about all the 2012 prophecies, but I have to admit to being a tad concerned about the end of the Mayan calendar. Those guys really knew what they were doing about astronomy and making calendars, and they say that after 2012, time will no longer have the same pattern as it does today. That's why the calendar ends--because they had no system for measuring the new time flow beyond that point. What does that mean? It could mean that the Earth would be thrown off its axis, changing the speed of the day and year dramatically. Life on Earth is adapted to a 24 hour mix of sunlight and darkness, according to season and lattitude. Imagine what it would do to plants and animals if that day shifted to 6 hours! (It would have the same effect, an astronomer told me, as if the moon suddenly vanished.)

Sumerian alien carving?
I'm going to add one more thing to this discussion before saying how I came up with it in the first place. Some celebrities, among them Mel Gibson, Jesse Ventura, Montel Williams, Woody Harrelson, Shirley Maclain, and Dan Akroyd, have listed themselves as 2012 believers (http://www.december212012.com), and Tom Cruise, too. Is this grabbing onto a hot trend for publicity or a sincere understanding of what they're putting their name to? You be the judge.

In the Mortal Path series that I write, the world-building is based on Sumerian myths. That's what started me thinking about the 2012 thing. The Sumerian people believed their gods came from outer space about 450,000 years ago. Eventually the major gods got around to creating humans as their servants when the lesser gods and demons refused to do the dreary work of maintaining a world. The gods all left Earth to return to space 12,500 years ago by hopping a ride on their home planet, Nibiru.

This creation myth correlates with today's search for Planet X, also known as Nibiru, the supposed home planet of those gods. This is a huge topic with many mind-boggling theories, dubious speculations, and NO scientific backup. Such as: Planet X collided with Earth and created the moon; Planet X's huge elliptical orbit brings it close to Earth every 3,600 years (like a comet, but it's an occupied planet); the planet will return in December 2012 and is described in the Book of Revelation as the prophecy of the sixth seal; previous close passages of Planet X caused the Great Flood in Noah's time and the sinking of Atlantis. Google Planet X and you'll see what I mean. Because of the lack of astronomical evidence for Planet X, all these things are tough for me to swallow in real life, but do a fine job spicing up the mythology!

Sumerian cylinder seal with solar system
Supposedly the Sumerian gods and goddesses are coming close to Earth again after a 3,600 year absence, and they may not like what humans have done with the world since their last visit. Hence, forecasts of doom. The Sumerian gods made us once; they can throw us away and start anew. So the myth goes.

Look at the famous Sumerian cylinder seal to the left. A cylinder seal is a carving that went totally around a cylinder of clay. The cylinder was then dipped in ink and rolled onto parchment like a rolling pin, leaving a 360 degree impression of the whole scene. Sumerian big shots used them as signatures. More than you wanted to know. Anyway, this particular cylinder is famous because it contains what is thought to be a drawing of the solar system. Keep in mind the Sumerians didn't have any telescopes, so how did they know about the solar system in the first place? The drawing in the upper left contains the sun, Earth and its moon, and nine other planets, counting Neptune and Pluto (both invisible to the naked eye). To add to the mystery of this drawing, there are ten planets total, one of them being Nibiru. Hmm ...

Although I don't use this aspect of Sumerian mythology in my series, I'm wondering if I should catch the wave and plan a special book for the 2012 release. Maliha single-handedly fixes the Earth's rotation, or something like that.

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To get started with comments, how do you feel about the 2012 controversy? A skeptic? Believer? 100%-it's-all-nonsense unbeliever? What do you think about celebrities advocating the end of the world? Is it all just PR?

Happy supernatural thoughts,
Dakota

33 comments:

Durga said...

There were so many times that the world was supposed to end and i never believed in any of those. But with Mayan calendar it's somehow different. I am not digging more into the thing - i don;t think i want to know. Just from time to time i can;t stop myself and i read an article here and there...

4 points (linking on Twitter: http://twitter.com/NotALittleWitch/status/25770860106; commenting here, following your personal blog)

JenM said...

I find it fascinating that no matter how many times these end of the world prophecies are proven wrong, some people continue to believe in them. Personally I'm having way too much fun in life to ever want it all to end.

How appropriate - my word verification is "parties" - makes me think of the Prince song - Party Like it's 1999.

+1 point

Sharon S. said...

Great post. loved all the information. Is it the end of the world, again? I don't believe it. If something that cataclysmic is suppose to happen there should be signs or something leading up to it. If it is coming from space we will see it coming, at least we should with all the stuff science has put into orbit .
I worry about what all the believers are going to do. As long as the crazy people of the world keep their crazy to their selves, I'm okay . It should make for some great story ideas.

6 points for me!

lynnrush said...

Ah....no one knows when the world will end. Just be ready for it is all I can say.

Okay, if I counted right....I have 7 points.
What a fun contest.

Sable Grace said...

It's enough to get you thinking, that's for sure. However, my take on it is, the world will end one day, or my time on it at least, and I'm not sure if I want to know the exact day, time, moment that's going to happen.

My advice, live every day like it's the last and there'll be no regrets when the final moment arrives.

Bella said...

I'm a little uneasy about it ... on the one hand, there have been so many end-of-world predictions that I want to simply brush it aside without a second thought ... yet, I just can't seem to!! It's always in the back of my mind, gnawing away at my brain.

All I know is that it might make for interesting (read: scary) times if something DOES happen, for example time changing in some immeasurable way ... maybe that will be when vampires and ghosts start walking the earth, hehe ... or perhaps I've just been reading too many of those kinds of books! :P

Patricia Lynne said...

I tend to make jokes about the end of the world, give it a lighter touch because honestly I have no clue. couldn't say one way or another what will happen. I do know that most ppl have it wrong, it's like you said the mayan calander just ends. after... who knows. Till, then think I'll stick w/ my jokes and then if the world really ends, at least I'll die laughing. =)

just one point for me. =D

Helen Lowe said...

Dakota,

I am definitely a sceptic I'm afraid--my first big "end of the world" was 1984, which was supposed to have been predicted by Nostradamus. They even wrote songs about it (ok one song, but David Bowie and Tina Turner both sang it: 1984.) But not unsurprisingly (I think now) nothing happened ... and my Dad told me that he could remember sitting on his front steps at age 14 waiting for the world to end, becasue of another scare--and nothing happened. World kept going, and as he put it: "I gave up on millenial prophecies of doom after that." And I have to say, my Dad was a pretty smart guy, so I'm with him on this one. :-)

Cylver said...

Will the world come to an end on Dec. 22, 2012? Well, I'm not gonna put off doing my Christmas shopping till the 23rd on the off chance. And if I'm wrong, my bad...

Melissa said...

I used to say it was some Aztec guy with the unfortunate un-Aztec name like Frank that just decided he had enough and stopped at what he thought was a good point. However, if you take myths from different cultures you will find that many have an end date close or on the winter solstice 2012. *cue creepy music* I find that fascinating.

Many of those cultures that predict an end date also speak of a beginning. So, what is it the end of? That may be the question. If it is the end of the world as we know it *cue music from REM* it might be a good thing. Maybe what is left is all the good and all the bad went away. Just saying... there is more than one way to look at the end of something. :)


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Dakota Banks said...

Durga,
I know what you mean about the Mayan calendar ending. I want to read more about it, but I also don't want to know any more than I already do!

Dakota

Dakota Banks said...

JenM,

I've taken other end of the world predictions with a grain of salt and I'm trying to do so with this one. You can already buy T-shirts with "2012 - End of the World" on them. Who'd want to wear one of those?

Dakota

Dakota Banks said...

Sharon S.,

I worry about crazies, too. As the time draws closer, I can see a real fervor developing among believers. Riots--it's not out of the question.

Dakota

Dakota Banks said...

lynnrush,

I like your attitude. If you live each day as if there were no tomorrow, you can enrich your days and wake up to a pleasant surprise, too!

Dakota

Dakota Banks said...

Sable Grace,

You raise a good point. How many of us want to know the exact date and time we'll die? Some might say there's a certain peace in that, but I'm not one of them. I'll go for a cosmic surprise over that.

Dakota

Dakota Banks said...

Bella,

here you go! The paranormal becomes the normal in December 2012. Wait--would that put a lot of us writers out of business because our books would be so ordinary?

Dakota

Jessica said...

I don't like thinking of the world coming to an end so soon. I remember a few years ago, my astrology professor was telling us about this vaguely, and he joked that he would be long gone before that happened, scary part was that he passed away that weekend suddenly. Very scary! I don't know if all my classmates remembered us having that conversation before we went on break.

I even recall an article from awhile back that debunked the idea that the world would just end on that day. The Mayans were saying that this was when their calendar was coming to an end, a calendar that was made 1000s of years ago. The one being interviewed even said he didn't believe this date anymore and wanted people to stop saying why they were the cause of the end coming so soon--or something like that.

It freaks me out thinking that it could be true. I don't want to die yet. I'm still working on my own novel and honestly, 2012 seems a little too soon for me to get myself published, but anything IS possible!

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Bio said...

Re: cylinder seals being dipped in ink and rolled across paper -- this isn't true. The Sumerians used wet clay tablets to write on or to seal jars, and then they would roll the carved cylinder across the wet clay and make an imprint (a little bas-relief) before drying or baking the clay.

As late as Nebuchadrezzar's time, in the last gasp of the Babylonian empire, clay tablets were the preferred method of record keeping in Mesopotamia, as papyrus didn't grow there.

Some books that do a good job of describing life in ancient Sumer:

Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, Jean Bottero
Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, Stephen Bertman (this one is probably the easiest to read, as it's intended for casual readers and breaks daily life down into
Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat

While it's true that most people know nothing about Sumerian civilization, and therefore will not catch errors like this, your fiction will still be stronger if you research the culture you're writing about.

Sitchin, regardless of whether one agrees with his theory of cyclic astronomical catastrophism, is not a good source for learning about Sumerian culture. He's only a good source for understanding Sitchin's personal theory about whether or not religion began as a result of aliens came to Earth millennia ago and genetically engineered and enslaved humanity before departing once again.

GB said...

Saying the world will end on a particular date is a bit superfluous - is it 21st December 2012 in the US or NZ? If it's the US, then those of us in the Oceania region get almost an extra day. If it's the 21st in NZ, then the rest of the world gets short-changed...

Then, is it as soon as the clock hits midnight, or is it at 3.17pm?

Personally, I think it's a whole load of poppycock. And for celebrities to get on the apocalyptic bandwagon, well, look at who is jumping on that bandwagon.

If Stephen Hawking, David Suzuki or Karl Kruszelnicki agreed with it all, I might start to take it more seriously!

+1 entry

Dakota Banks said...

Patricia Lynn,

Should the world actually end, a major speculation, I hope it happens suddenly enough that you and I are caught with smiles on our faces. :)

Dakota

Dakota Banks said...

Helen Lowe,

You're the voice of reason, and I'd like to be your echo.

Dakota

Dakota Banks said...

Cylver,

That's it! Christmas shopping! Now I have a perfect excuse to do everything at the last minute. Thanks for the suggestion, although you didn't mean it that way ...

Dakota

Dakota Banks said...

Melissa,

Too true. If any change occurs in 2012, it could be a change for the better. There are certainly some things we'd all be better off without with in the world, such as deadlines.

Seriously, you're putting a good spin on this that hadn't occurred to me. :)

Dakota

Dakota Banks said...

Bio,

Thanks for the correction. I'm continually working to improve my knowledge of Sumerian culture, and all suggestions are appreciated.

You're entirely correct that the vast majority of cylinder seals were used to leave a rolled impression on wet clay that was then dried and turned into a permanent record (as long as the clay tablet didn't break). In a few cases, they were used to roll out designs on cloth or parchment (animal skin). When used this way, they were called roller stamps. You can buy a roller stamp today, roll it on an inkpad, and create a design on cloth or paper. Sorry for the error. I think my brain must have bounced over to Egypt.

Thanks also for the references. Although I have read Zecharia Sitchin's work, it's not a solid reference book for me, as you say. I do use in my series the mythology that portrays the Sumerian god Enlil (and others) as creating humans by mixing in their essence, meaning DNA. So I accept as a Sumerian cultural myth that the Sumerian gods came to Earth, created humans using some of their DNA, and then left the Earth.

Dakota

Dakota Banks said...

Jessica,

I'm freaked out too. I've got a few more books in the Mortal Path series to bring my heroine to her HEA, and I want time to write them. I'm rooting for you to see your book on the bookshelf, well before 2012!

Dakota

Dakota Banks said...

GB,

The time on December 21, 2012 is supposed to be when the Earth, the sun, and the black hole in the center of our galaxy are in perfect alignment. (Okay, don't kill the messenger--I'm just repeating Internet babble here.) What that means in terms of Earth time, I have no idea.

Is there anything Tom Cruise wouldn't believe in??

I agree, there would be a lot more credibility here if well-known physicists and astronomers were on board!

Dakota

Claire Dawn said...

I don't subscribe to the 2012 end either, but I can't say I'd really mind it. Unless I finally got apublishing deal and my book was to come out in January 2013. lol.

1 pt :)

Katie Dalton said...

The world will end at some point...but not 2012. Its just like with the 2000, bunch of hype to freak people out. :P I mean if the world ends we are all screwed anyway so really what difference does it make? lol

1 point here
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Sweet Rachel! said...

I never want it to end! I wish we didn't even have to worry about it! I do not think the world will end in 2012, and it better not! that is my wedding year!

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Sue S. said...

I don't really think the world will end on that day. I mean I hope not. But what bothers me is that they even made a movie about this. I mean who wants to think about the end of the world coming in the next 2 years? People are crazy to make a movie out of that. It's not normal. Like let's tell everyone that no matter who you are, you will die in 2 years! We'll make a fortune! (Then they die!)

So I want to say no, that it won't happen then. It will eventually, but I hope it doesn't. Not this soon.

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Mysteriousrose said...

I will have to say I'm a skeptic I really do not think that the world will end in 2012.

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heatwave16 said...

Well, I'm really hoping that the world doesn't end in 2012. I am definitely skeptical, but I also believe there is so much we still don't understand so I'm a cautious skeptic. :) I just need someone to confirm or deny it so I know if I need to go on a wild spending spree and enjoy myself.

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Crystal said...

I know I'm a little late. I haven't had a chance to get on the PC for the last few because of my son's 3rd birthday craziness. =)
But this is a good post, very informative.
I don't really worry about or think too much on 'the end of the world' though. If it happens, it happens. What can you do about it? I just live my life the best I can in the time I have. =)