End of the World? Hopeful View of 2012 Mayan Calendar

"Maya Cosmos" - painting by Jim Papp - © 1998


By James K. (Jim) Papp

February 2012

Note:  This is an update to Jim’s 1998 article 21 December 2012, The Mayan Calendar End Date: Information Made Easy for the Everyday Earthling to Understand. If you would like to re-post all or part of this article or the “Maya Cosmos” image, please give Jim credit and include a link back to this page: http://www.inquirewithin.com/2012-beyond . Thank you!

“2012 Mayan Apocalypse: Will World End Today?” is a fake newspaper headline which appears in the February 2012 Chevrolet Super Bowl XLVI ad which depicts a world destroyed by spaceships, volcanoes, and who knows what else, complete with the “post-Apocalypse” image of frogs raining down from the sky.  Meant, of course, to be entertaining (and money making), this ad and the blockbuster movie 2012 are examples of recent pop culture creations which do not at all convey a Mayan perspective.  In fact, they disrespect the Mayans and their beliefs.  They do, however, display and reinforce our anxieties and fears about the future.

The last 25 years have seen increasing focus on the approaching Mayan calendar date of 21 December 2012.  Now that 2012 has finally arrived, what do we do and where do we go from here?  We’ve been curious and, if we’re honest, a little uncertain and even scared about the future.  We’ve wondered what’s going to happen on December 21st, mostly due to the amped-up hype created by non-Mayan people.  Most of what is written on the subject talks about great changes that do not address actually living in 2012, 2013, and beyond.  If times are changing, as many are speaking of, how are we going to gracefully participate in this new world – this new way of being on the Earth – when times seem so tough and hope is flickering?  How can we make the transition to what the Maya call the Fifth Sun?

My 1998 article 21 December 2012, THE MAYAN CALENDAR END-DATE: Information Made Easy for the Everyday Earthling to Understand has received hundreds of thousands of views on the Internet and been reposted on hundreds of websites.  Its readers tell me it is informative and inspiring.  But crossing the lake of initial understanding will not help us climb the great mountain of living in Spirit, of truly living in community.  I am revisiting the article to update you with what we know now that we didn’t know then.

Since 1998 I have been blessed to learn from several Mayan teachers, as well as sages from other traditions, who have profoundly affected my values and my approach toward living.  The ancient wisdom available from the indigenous lines is crucial at this time of change and transformation in our world.  The basic, universal practices and ways of being they have maintained for millennia have great value for us at this time when we need to find our balance and cultivate more harmony so that we may live fearlessly and joyfully in the world.

I would like to share some of what I have learned from the Maya and move from poetic inspiration into the actual work we are being called to do at this cultural crossroads we are experiencing.  Whether we realize it or not, we are being asked to overcome our challenges and help birth the new world that is coming, a world where we live with greater kindness and respect, for ourselves, for one another, and for the Earth.  It is about balancing self-interest with our common interest, which necessarily includes our community and the planet that supports us.  It is time not only to study and meditate to find our calm center within, but to take some kind of action.  Let’s start by getting our bearing with the Mayan calendar.

Many of us are talking about the “end” of the Mayan calendar.  We see it in jokes and articles, ads and movies.  From Y2K to The Rapture, and now the Mayan 2012 date, we seem to have a thing about “ends.”  Let us be absolutely clear that the Maya tell us their calendar does not end on 21 December 2012.  Rather, a long Mayan calendar cycle of just over 5,125 years finishes, and on the next day a new great cycle of 5,125 years begins.  If you are interested in the fine details, this 5,125 year cycle is equal to the following Mayan units of time: 13 Baktuns, or 260 Katuns, or 5200 Tuns, or 1,872,000 Kin (days).  The breathtakingly harmonic calendar works as wheels within wheels within wheels that keep turning.   The great cycle ending on Winter Solstice 2012 began in 3,114 BC and is called the Fourth Sun by the Maya.   There were three Suns before the Fourth Sun and there is another one coming…the Fifth Sun.

To get more specific, the Fourth Sun actually ended on 16 August 1987, a day marked by the worldwide ceremonial event known as Harmonic Convergence, and we have been in a sort-of 25 year gestation period leading up the Fifth Sun.  On 21 December 2012 we finish this transition period and on 22 December the Fifth Sun is born, a new 5,125 year era that will be governed by a balance of male and female energies.  The Fourth Sun was governed by male energy.

Carlos Barrios, shaman and member of the Mayan Elders Council, deeply and eloquently presents many aspects of the calendar and its importance to us in his superb The Book of Destiny: Unlocking the Secrets of the Ancient Mayans and the Prophecy of 2012.  He writes compellingly of the energetic changes occurring at this time in history and details what we need to do, inwardly as well as outwardly with our actions in the world, in order to overcome our challenges and return to what he calls the “Natural Order” as we move into the Fifth Sun.

Many doomsday scenarios are circulating that predict terrible apocalyptic events for 2012, from solar storms to planetary alignments to earthquakes, magnetic pole shifts, end-of-the-world Armageddon, and more.  It is worth noting that the word apocalypse originates from the Greek apokalypsis which refers to revelation – to the “unveiling of new or unseen ideas.”[1]  Yet the concerned fear-based cultural viewpoint seems to believe there is nothing we can do about the coming “end of the world,” and so there is no reason why we should try or even hope for a better world to live in.

Another of the unhealthy messages propagating, even if accidentally, is that we have to wait until 21 December 2012 for something (hopefully) fantastic and life-changing to happen.  This message puts humanity in a passive role.  Yes, the calendar date is indeed significant however the largest part of the life-changing is up to us.  We can make the “leap” to higher consciousness at any time – at any moment – through our spiritual practices and through knowing who and what we really are.  We don’t have to wait for 21 December 2012.[2]

According to Mayan prophecy, the arrival of the Fifth Sun heralds a return to harmony; it is about a transformation in consciousness and not about continents sliding into oceans or things going kaboom.  Hunbatz Men, another shaman and Mayan elder, says we Westerners are preoccupied with violence and destruction.  We are being called to overcome our addiction to the idea of Apocalypse by getting down to the task at hand: practicing mutual respect (starting with self-respect), sharing what we have (for our challenge is one of distribution, not lack of abundance), and being thankful to each other and to the Earth for all that we are given.  The recipe for harmony is really very simple.

One could say we have been pregnant with the Fifth Sun since the Fourth Sun ended in 1987 and, just like any pregnancy, there can be challenges.  Birthing is a lot of hard work and everything does not always go easily every step of the way, and so it is with the process of birthing this new Sun, this new age, this new epoch where male and female energy will work together, in balance.   When we examine the pushback happening around the planet against what is perceived as lack of fairness, we see evidence of the changes happening.  It is coming in many forms; from movements to preserve clean water and air for our children’s children, to the toppling of governments that do not serve the people, to the Occupy movement that simply asks for each individual to be counted.

Key values we have always held within us such as fairness, respect, and interdependence are manifesting more fully in our world.  Underneath these values lies the reality of our energetic, and even spiritual, interconnection with everyone and everything.  We cannot stop being who we really are, a planet of interconnected, interdependent beings, and that reality is behind the forces driving the changes surfacing now among us.

Yes, times are tough for many of us…that is clear.  There is great disparity between the so-called “haves” and “have nots.”  Yet we are all part of nature and share the same humanity, as well as the same need for food to eat, clothing to wear, and beds to sleep in, and we are all relying on other people to provide these needs.  Therefore, it is logical for us to respect and appreciate each other, rather than casting ourselves within a made up, us-and-them, survival-of-the-fittest world where there is simply not enough to go around so we have to compete for it.  Our issue is not one of circumstances but of perception and the consciousness which informs our values and influences our way of being in the world.

Carlos Barrios tells us that the arrival of the Fifth Sun will not be an “Aha” moment and that changes will be gradual.  After 21 December 2012 he details four periods of thirteen years each through which we will grow into the Fifth Sun.  We will have thirteen years of infancy in our new way of being on the Earth (2012 to 2025), followed by 13 years of toddler-ship where we are just learning how to walk (2025 to 2038).  Then we will have 13 years of adolescence (2038 to 2051) followed by 13 years of young adulthood (2051 to 2064), and then we will have matured into our new way of living in harmony.

In 2004, Carlos Barrios spoke in Sedona, Arizona.[3]  He said the first lesson of the elders is that it is easy for us to lie to ourselves.  We must start here, where we are, and be honest with ourselves, he said.  We must ask ourselves if we are doing the best to work for change, to plant a seed of consciousness in others.  Mr. Barrios advised it is good to meditate but we also need to take action.  We need to stop the destruction of the environment in a big way, and the only thing the elders ask of us at this time is that we take action.  If we don’t, the dark forces of materialistic power will destroy humanity and the environment.

We are now in the “time of the prophecies” which is playing out in these “end times” leading up to 21 December 2012, Mr. Barrios explained.  The dark forces are very organized and they know exactly what they want – to maintain the current materialistic power structure at all costs, even if it means destruction.  But the light forces – the light workers – all have their own ideas about what the best action is to take and they are not organized or coordinated.  The light workers pick and choose from traditions but need to honor the whole tradition, he said.  We must learn how to negotiate and save Mother Earth, for She wants us to create peace and balance.

What else can I share from the Mayan teachers?  Dear sister Mary Magdalene of the Cross taught me the value of humility as a starting point for living in Spirit, and she challenged me to always “Make sure everything is as it should be.”    Dear brother Pedro López shared in quiet conversation and led me to find a deeper level of myself as I communed with the trees and streams and temples around Palenque (in the Mexican state of Chiapas).    When he performed our Mayan marriage ceremony, Elder Hunbatz Men welcomed us when he advised that “To be Mayan is not the color of your skin.  It is your consciousness.”  He counseled Lisa and me to be happy, that “a happy body makes a happy spirit, and a happy spirit makes a happy body.”  He told us it is so important to help each other to be happy by smiling.  Hunbatz Men’s books, Secrets of Mayan Science/Religion and The 8 Calendars of the Maya give further glimpses into the depth and wisdom of the Maya by examining how their symbols, temples, and calendars are informed by the Mayan cosmic vision.

I have found Carlos Barrios’ Book of Destiny: Unlocking the Secrets of the Ancient Mayans and the Prophecy of 2012[4] to be an extraordinarily timely and relevant resource for all of us at this time.  As a tool to help us understand our life purpose and excel during our time on Planet Earth, it is highly recommended.  To me this book is currently the clearest and most useful resource regarding the incorporation of Mayan wisdom into our daily lives – a great starting point if you are looking for one.

In the 1998 article I wrote some pretty flowery words about the “galactic alignment” scheduled for 21 December 2012.  This alignment of our Sun with the center of the Milky Way galaxy, as viewed from Earth, is a wonderful idea that captures the magnitude of these times but it is only partially supported by science The date is off, astronomically, as our solstice alignment coincided most closely with the galactic center in 1998.[5]  Also, an EarthSky articles states that, “as seen from Earth, the sun crosses the galactic equator twice a year, every year.”[6] It has not been shown that the Maya based their 5,125 year calendar cycle on the 21 December 2012 date.  In fact Hunbatz Men commented that this as a Western idea that originated in the ranks of archaeology.

Astrologers tell us we have entered, or are entering, the Age of Aquarius.  The Mayan elders tell us of the great importance of the upcoming Winter Solstice date and the opportunity for humankind to transition into a more holistic way of living that will sustain us.  I stand as strongly as ever behind the importance of the Winter Solstice 2012 calendar date, but my view on the reasons for its importance have shifted as I’ve learned more along the way.  It is proper to respect what the Maya themselves have to say about their own calendar.

I also stand by the conclusion of the article I wrote thirteen years ago, repeated here for you now.  “The ancient carved stones and the stars themselves tell us we are on the brink of a new world age. There is no reason not to take a leap of faith into imagining what may be in store. We may trust that it is time for humanity to awaken into a true partnership with each other, with the Earth, and the Cosmos. By accepting this partnership we may claim our birthright and become Galactic Citizens who care for and sustain the planet, thus sustaining ourselves. This is clearly the challenge of our times. Yet, arriving just in time and on schedule is the Winter Solstice dawn on the day we may remember that we are truly Children of the World.”

I have received a lot of emails and even some phone calls from people worried about what was going to happen on 21 December 2012.  One email really hit me, from a mother whose two daughters had come home from grade school, crying because they had heard the world was going to end.  The mother was distraught; “What can I tell them?” she asked.  This caused me to think about writing a book on what the Mayan people have to say about 2012 and the times we are living in, in order to help provide some sanity and counteract such negativity and misinterpretation.  Thankfully, it turned out that a much more qualified person, Carlos Barrios, provided that service and more with his incredible The Book of Destiny.

After much contemplation, and talks with teacher Mary, I realized that those who contacted me with questions about my 1998 article were looking for more than information about the Mayan calendar.  They were looking for hope and a way forward.  So, I wrote Inquire Within: A Guide to Living in Spirit, profiling eleven tried-and-true practices (such as prayer, meditation, gratitude, kindness, being with nature, and more) which we have used for hundreds and even thousands of years for creating and maintaining balance and harmony in life. There are masterful books already written on each practice I present, so I created a “Spiritual Practice 101” of easy-to-understand introductions to each of them in a single volume.  My book is greatly inspired by what I have learned from my beloved teachers. Inquire Within includes an extensive appendix of resources that lists the in-depth books, videos, and websites by writers, healers, and other experts that relate to each chapter. You can receive free chapters of Inquire Within: A Guide to Living in Spirit at www.InquireWithin.com.

Please feel free to contact me with your questions or feedback on the “About & Contact Us” page here or leave a comment after the article.  I am happy to hear from you.

May the blessings be with you always!

Jim Papp


Barrios, Carlos, (translated by Lisa Carter) – The Book of Destiny: Unlocking the Secrets of the Ancient Mayans and the Prophecy of 2012, 2009, HarperCollins Publishers, New York

Freidel, David, Linda Schele and Joy Parker – Maya Cosmos: 3000 Years on the Shaman’s Path, 1993, William Morrow and Co., New York

Jenkins, John Major – The How and Why of the Mayan End-Date in A.D. 2012, 1994,  The Mountain Astrologer, Cedar Ridge, California                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, 1998, Bear and Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico

MacAdams, Cynthia, Hunbatz Men and Charles Bensinger –  Mayan Vision Quest, 1991, HarperCollins Publishers, New York

McTaggart, Lynn – The Bond: Connecting Through the Space Between Us, 2010, Free Press, New York, New York

Men, Hunbatz – Secrets of Mayan Science and Religion, 1990, Bear and Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico                                 The 8 Calendars of the Maya: The Pleiadian Cycle and the Key to Destiny, 2009, Bear & Company, Toronto, Canada

Papp, James K. – 21 December 2012, The Mayan Calendar End Date: Information Made Easy for the Everyday Earthling to Understand, 1998, PlanetPapp.com, Seattle

To re-post all or part of this this article, credit James K. Papp, Bellingham, Washington 98228 USA and include link back to this page: http://www.inquirewithin.com/2012-beyond.

[1] Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.com).
[2] Roger Aldridge (letter to author, 2009).
[3] Carlos Barrios (Sedona, Prophets Conference, 2004).
[4] Carlos Barrios (translated by Lisa Carter), The Book of Destiny: Unlocking the Secrets of the Ancient Mayans and the Prophecy of 2012 (New York, HarperOne, 2010).
[5] Brian McLure (Brian McLure’ Astronomy Page, www.idialstars.com/egp.htm)
[6] EarthSky: A Clear Voice for Science (Will Earth Pass Through the Galactic Plane in 2012?, http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/will-earth-pass-through-galactic-plane-in-2012)
By | 2012-03-24T20:54:35+00:00 February 15th, 2012|


  1. Crystle Scarsella February 20, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Hi there,
    Thanks for the great information.
    Where is your RSS Feed?
    I would love to subscribe to it so I don’t miss any updates.

  2. Jim Papp February 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Hello Crystle –
    Thank you for your feedback. Yes, we need an RSS Feed. Good suggestion. We’ll have our web designer work on that soon.
    Thanks again and best to you.

  3. Chiao Kee Lim February 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    LOVED the article. I would like to add that light workers (which I believe most of us are) are now learning the rules within which the dark forces work and play, to get our message and mission across. This has always been a contentious issue for me. I personally am a hippie dressed in a yuppie’s clothes and I get worked up when I see new age-ist with genuine light and kindness who wants to change the world go about it in haphazard and ineffective ways (protests being one of them). All they perpetuate is the stereotype that these light workers are hippies who don’t shower and wash their hair, who are unproductive members of the society, or who live on government handouts.

    My philosophy has always been, if you want to change the system, you have to know and learn all the rules of the system and play the game better than all the existing players in the game. The most simple example is personal change. We all resist it when our parents or elders forces us to change some aspects of ourselves. And yet, when it’s change that comes from within, we are more than willing to embrace it. My views.

  4. Jim Papp February 22, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Chiao Lee ~

    Your thoughtful post is most appreciated; thank you for your contribution on the value of doing the work from the inside out. It is a proven path and our brother Gandhi’s sage advice to “Be the change you wish to see in the world” rings ever true. With commitment, patience, and practice our Light is revealed to shine ever more brightly, gracing our world with inspiration and the simple beauty of Being.

    Wonderful to connect with you ~ Jim

  5. Marie di Palma March 24, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    It is wonderful to be in the place we are meant to be when we are meant to be there. Thank you for your sharing your understanding and Truth.

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