The winter solstice of 2012 marks the end of a period of time in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, which was the calendar used in Central America before the arrival of Europeans.
Many people believe that the ancient Mayans saw 2012 as the end of an age. Some say it will even be the end of the world - as the Earth collides with an asteroid, solar activity wipes out all life on the planet, volcanic eruptions obliterate civilisation or the Earth's magnetic poles switch and cause havoc. However, most scientists say catastrophic events such as these are very unlikely, and mainstream Mayanist scholars say the surviving ancient Mayan accounts of this time don't contain any predictions of doom.
New Age philosophies instead tend to view 2012 as the start of a new era - a time when people will become more spiritually developed and enlightened. Some go as far as to say that the human race will be transformed due to the cosmic events that will take place on the December 21, 2012.
A new book calledThe Astrology of 2012 and How It Affects Youlooks at 2012 and the decades around that date from a western astrological perspective. It looks at the alignments of the planets and how they might affect the human race in general and us as individuals.
Author Marcus Mason points out that our world is definitely changing. We are not only witnessing the effects of global warming and pollution on the environment, we are also seeing social, political and economic changes all over the world. From an astrological point of view, he says we can understand what is going on by looking at the stars.
Ever since the 1960s many astrologers - and New Age philosophers - have been talking about the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. This is meant to be a time when we move away from traditional, rigid and outmoded systems and ways of thinking, and learn to live in greater harmony with each other and with the world we inhabit.
Marcus Mason sees December 21, 2012, as an important pivotal point in that change of consciousness. He says it marks the end of a 25,626-year time cycle, caused by the Earth gradually changing her orientation in space. He describes a significant alignment of planets that occurs on that date, linking the Earth to the Galactic Equator. This indicates that a big shift in perspective is possible, opening people's minds to new possibilities to help find original solutions to intransigent problems.
The book's publisher, Hay House, says on its website: "As we approach the end of one cycle and the beginning of the next, approaching astrology from the perspective of the soul's evolution can help us understand the inner, spiritual purpose behind the events and experiences of our lives. By exploring the sequence of astrological changes as they unfold, this book shows you that we are all being offered the exciting opportunity to change our perceptions, by uniting the intelligence of the mind with that of the heart; understand how we can truly connect with each other and live in harmony; remember how to honour our Mother Earth; and create a new, and infinitely more positive vision for our future."
The Astrology of 2012 also explains how this applies to individuals, based on personal sun signs. This is written in the form of a horoscope for the year to come for each sign of the zodiac. It describes what to expect, and what changes of outlook might be necessary for each of us to get the best out of the year to come - and the new age we are entering into.
As I've mentioned before, I'm always a bit sceptical about prophecies of doom and gloom, but I do believe it is possible to predict trends and influences that are likely to affect the future. I like The Astrology of 2012 because it looks at what might happen on next year's Winter Solstice in the context of significant heavenly events over the past decades and into the future.
Perhaps I'm a bit of an old hippy but, as a child of the 1960s, I grew up in an era that anticipated the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. It is a lovely idea that, in the not-too-distant future, we might actually begin to see evidence of the new consciousness promised in that famous song of the 1960s, Age of Aquarius:
"Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind's true liberation"
But, as much as I'm a sceptic about predictions of apocalypse, I'm also a bit too cynical to believe that, overnight, we will all learn to love each other, bring about world peace and probably save the whale at the same time.
I think The Astrology of 2012 hits the balance about right - seeing next year's midwinter as just one important date in a very long period of change.
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