Friday the 21st of December is the winter solstice. It is also the end of the world.
Or so they say.
If you are reading this on the 22nd or after it probably means that fears about the Mayan prophecy concerning that date have not materialised.
It was always a false prediction in any case. It was based upon a complete misunderstanding of what the Mayan calendar actually represented, made by Western commentators who had nothing to do with the culture.
Indeed, one of the most famous of them – James Redfield, who wrote the Celestine Prophesy – went so far as to suggest that the Maya had disappeared off this planet in mysterious circumstances centuries ago.
He was wrong. The Maya are still here. They represent the indigenous communities of several Central American states, including Guatemala and Mexico.
One of the great ironies about the prediction is that the Maya themselves were never consulted about it. In the huge industry that has grown up around the prediction, the Maya have been almost entirely ignored.
Tens of thousands of people from countries all over the world will be gathering in the great Mayan sacred sites on Friday; but the Mayan Indians themselves – the people whose ancestors built these extraordinary temples – have been excluded. Excluded from a celebration of their own heritage.
This is no accident. The Maya are not predicting the end of the world at all, but merely the end of a cycle. Ends predicate beginnings, and the Mayan interpretation of the future is not at all what the prophets of doom and the profiteers of indigenous culture would want you to hear.
In fact the most famous of the Mayan groups, the Zapatistas of Mexico, are the people originally behind the anti-capitalist movement of recent years. Far from being prophets of doom, their message has always been one of hope and renewal: of an end to capitalist exploitation, and the beginning of a new relationship with our world, and each other, based upon mutual aid and mutual respect.
Let’s hope that this prediction, at least, comes true.