I have the great good fortune of living in Guatemala, a country in which a 5,000 year old tradition of paganism and witchcraft is still very much alive and flourishing. I have had the privilege of studying with a very gifted Ajk’ihab’ ("daycounter", or Mayan priest), and of having met many others. Since even Mayan priests read newspapers and see the telly now and again, they are exposed to our kwashru (craziness), and occasionally they have asked me, "What is this about a 2012 Mayan Prophecy? Do you know anything about it?" I explain to them that it's not anything serious, just a lot of New Age silliness which enables foreigners to exploit their culture to make money (they understand that concept very well).

The fact is that the Mayan Long Count calendar, which is a 5,000 year cycle, indeed ends and resets itself on December 21, 2012. However, this has no more significance for the Maya than Y2K had for us (indeed, there were some people back then trying to make a big brouhaha out of that one too). But there are lots of so-called Mayan Prophecy "experts" out there now, not one of whom is Maya, not one of whom speaks a Mayan language or has every spoken to (much less studied with) a Mayan priest; and, as far as I know, not one of them has set foot in Guatemala. What the so-called Mayan Prophecy is all about is how gullible New Agers are, and how easily they fool themselves.

In contrast to the self-appointed "experts" on the Mayan Prophecy, true Mayan priests are chosen by the Mayan gods themselves and everybody knows it. Unlike so many of our spiritual leaders, Mayan priests are not self-important phony-baloneys. Most of them are subsistence maize farmers from the countryside - humble, truly spiritual people (which is why the gods chose them) - and yet they possess a commanding dignity and presence. When they put on their ceremonial bandanas and begin their rituals, they are filled with Ahau - the Spirit. They are completely self-effacing: not there, and yet utterly assured and masterful in a way which makes most of our spiritual and religious leaders seem ugly and hypocritical by comparison.

Unlike the so-called "experts", the Maya make a true connection with the spirit world. This connection is made in the daily life of the Maya by respecting the natural world and propitiating its guardian spirits - by daily practices which cultivate the awareness that we live in a world which vibrantly oozes life and demands respect. The connection between humans and spirits is polished at Mayan ceremonies in which priests perform healings and channel messages for participants. Unlike our church services, which are basically social functions, Mayan ceremonies are magical invocations in which the spirits are called upon to provide healings and useful information. The spirits really do come, and pretty much everybody can feel their presence (although not everybody can interpret their messages as well as the priests do). The healings and information are channeled directly by the priests, who also closely observe the behaviour of the ceremonial fire to deduce information about the participants. This information is very down-to-earth. As an example, once during a ceremony Don Abel Yat, my teacher, stopped and said to me, "You are about to face a huge land problem." Sure enough, several weeks later, a big dispute over land began which dragged on for three years and cost me a tremendous amount of money and grief. The point is, the messages which Mayan priests channel are quite specific and to the point, not vague generalities.

By contrast, the so-called "experts" are touting their Mayan Prophecy for 2012 as a New Agey version of the Evangelical Christian rapture - a miraculous transformation by which the human race will escape the coming tribulation by being swept up to the Pleiades. Unfortunately, things don't happen like that in real life. If a fundamental transformation in human consciousness happens, it will probably occur over the next decades and century as the environment deteriorates and our unsustainable society inevitably collapses. And in that crisis people will draw together, and open up their hearts to one another, the way they do in the face of any natural disaster such as a flood or earthquake. The system will only change when people lose their faith in it and begin listening to what their own hearts - and the spirits - are telling them.

Our society is in the midst of a great spiritual crisis. We possess much more wealth and more personal opportunities than the Maya do; but for what? To buy this instead of that? To vote for Tweedledum instead of Tweedledee? To be nothing more than producing / consuming robots trapped in an endless spiral of insatiable desire? Where our society has lost all sense of spiritual purpose, Mayan society has not. The Maya had the most advanced civilisation in the Americas at the time the Spanish conquered them, and they have largely maintained it in the face of five centuries of persecution and oppression. The Maya possess the dignity of people who know their place in the universe. They possess a sense of rootedness and connectedness which is in sharp contrast to the empty materialism and phoniness of our society. The Maya know in their hearts and souls that nature is sacred; they are broken and humble; they are still capable of feeling wonder and awe. As seen through Mayan eyes, our behaviour is crass, boorish, and profane - completely devoid of manners and culture.

There is a great deal which we can learn from the Maya - not by mindlessly aping the outward shibboleths of their traditions (with none of the core) - but by taking a good, hard look at our own personal assumptions and behaviour. If humanity is going to survive the crunch which is coming, it will have to find some other way in which to motivate people besides capitalistic greed and unbounded selfishness. It will have to provide people with a true sense of connection to the divine - not the empty pie-in-the-sky blah-blah of most conventional religions. This is a more logical path for human salvation than silly and irresponsible "prophecies", or the short-sighted avarice and pipe dreams which materialism offers. There is no Mayan Prophecy for 2012, but there is a Mayan prophecy of sorts, which can be found as well in the Christian bible: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Author's Bio: 

Bob Makransky is a systems analyst, programmer, and professional astrologer. For the past thirty-eight years he has lived on a farm in highland Guatemala where he studied Mayan shamanism and astrology with his teacher Don Abel Yat Saquib until Don Abel's death in 2009. For more information on the Mayan calendar and astrology, download Bob’s free Mayan Horoscope software from: http://www.dearbrutus.com/body_mayan_text.html. To subscribe to Bob’s free monthly astro-magical ezine, send an email to: MagicalAlmanac-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, or check it out at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MagicalAlmanac.