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As the year 2012 approaches, apocalyptic visions of the year has achieved newfound popularity. In this MA-thesis, Sacha Defeche investigates the roots of the esoteric apocalypse in 2012 in psychedelic and New Age subculture, and looks at the different types of apocalyptic visions, from Jose Argüelles to David Icke.
"You are going to witness in your life a place where it looks like it is just over", the spiritual sources of prolific New Age author and teacher Drunvalo Melchizedek warn us, referring to the imminence of a 'great shift' in or around the year 2012. Melchizedek, best known for his popular series of workshops and books titled The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life, is clear about it. Millions, if not billions of people will not survive the coming apocalypse. Life after this event will be reserved for the happy few, those who will have been best prepared, spiritually and physically, for the enormous changes that are awaiting us in just a few years' time.
These statements were made by Melchizedek in an interview in February 2007 and absolutely perplexed me when I first read them. Although such rhetoric, of a 'shift of the ages' that is either already taking place or just around the corner is a commonplace, not to say fundamental aspect of New Age ideology, such a physicalist and remarkably literal interpretation of the notion of an imminent apocalyptic shift is quite remarkable, and illustrative of a growing corpus of books and websites devoted to speculation concerning the year 2012 in an apocalyptic framework. In this thesis we will see that Drunvalo Melchizedek is by no means alone in his apocalyptic expectancy and that although he is perhaps one of the more pessimistic and catastrophist voices within what I will refer to as the 2012 phenomenon from hereon, we are in fact dealing with a rapidly developing genre of contemporary esoteric literature.
Although the discipline of millennial studies is already quite well established as a field in its own right, I feel that the 2012 phenomenon as I have sketched it above has hardly received the scholarly attention it deserves, both as a relatively recent form of apocalypticism and as a religious and esoteric phenomenon in itself. Take for example the collection of essays that was published in 2006 under the title Expecting the End; although it contains many interesting pieces of information and methodological discussions concerning the study of millennialism, and offers a comprehensive overview of the various forms of apocalypticism the 20th century has seen, nowhere in this book even a passing reference is made to the apocalyptic narrative that has emerged concerning the year 2012.
Even scholars who are focusing on New Religious Movements in general or the New Age in particular have apparently seen no reason to look in depth at this fascinating piece of contemporary apocalypticism. To my knowledge, the only (!) academic paper devoted specifically to this subject at this point in time was written in 2006 by Robert Sitler in Nova Religio. Although it is a good, critical and much-needed piece of research, it focuses exclusively on the occurence of the year 2012 in Mayan calendrics and the way it has become an important aspect of New Age philosophy and religion. The problem with Sitler's article is that its scope is too limited, and reading it one might get the idea that 2012 speculation is restricted to a "New Age Appropriation of an Ancient Mayan Calendar" alone.
This is certainly not the case.
While it is true without a doubt that some of the roots of the 2012 phenomenon can be found in (fringe) archaeological research on the Maya of the Classic period, as we will see, throughout the years it has developed into a complex and almost infinitely diverse movement. The restrictive interpretation offered by Sitler is further reflected by the way in which the 2012 phenomenon has been represented in the mainstream media, which often remain stuck at one-liners such as "Fringe groups predict the end of the world on December 21st 2012" or "Mayan calendar ends in 2012".
This is hardly surprising given that looking for accuracy in the popular media is like searching for polar bears in a desert, so giving an accurate account of phenomena such as these will be one of the primary goals of scholars in this field. I am convinced that studying the 2012 phenomenon in itself, taking a close look at the history of its development, its characteristics, and possibly shedding some light on the reasons for its gaining popularity will have been well worth the effort put into it. Students of New Religious Movements and the New Age Movement simply cannot afford to ignore what I consider to be an important aspect of contemporary esotericism.
See Skepsis.com for the thesis...
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Registration date : 2008-09-15
If the LHC does go wonky and spit out an armageddon particle, some suggest that it would be 4 years from now before we saw signs of the earth's imminent demise.
Sometime in 2012.
Sometime in 2012.
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Registration date : 2008-08-12
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