2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl by Daniel Pinchbeck, Published by Tarcher/Penguin Press
Gonzo Shaman Does 2012
At precisely noon on the winter solstice of year 2012, if you are standing on the great plaza in front of the Cathedral in Guatemala City, you will probably feel absolutely nothing other than the hot sun beating down upon your head.
However, that sun will be traversing the ecliptic center of the Milky Way galaxy directly overhead. At that moment the Mayan Calendar resets to zero completing a cycle of more than 5,000 years.
This event has inspired much speculation plus a multitude of books and videos with many more to come. I’ve read half a dozen books on the subject along with countless references in scientific journals and “alternative” screeds, seen some of the stuff cable TV has been splashing on the screen and tapped into my own years of research about things Mayan.
Part Daniel Pinchbeck Autobiography
Easily the most fun read on the topic is Daniel Pinchbeck’s 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. Part autobiography, part solo road trip, the book is a romp through a landscape of the mind populated by shamans, hallucinations and celebrities of that curious world that we’ll just call post-New Age. It’s an adventurous tale and provides an almost encyclopedic overview of the subject.
Quetzalcoatl, “The Plumed Serpent stretching iridescent wings over the churning crowds and urban grids of our all-too-human world?” returns to reprise its role in Aztec/Mayan myth as redeemer uniting spirit and matter. Its previous predicted return in the Aztec year one reed, 1519 AD, did not turn out so well for Emperor Moctezuma. What he got instead was Cortez and his merry band of rapacious thugs hungry for gold. Though in another light, the brutally subjugated masses supporting the fabulous Aztec empire got a brief respite, less than a generation, before their “liberation” was turned over to the church of Rome.
Desperate for a Redeemer
Surely today the world reels under similar powerful forces of domination that have brought our civilization to the brink of global disaster. Everyone seems desperate for a redeemer of some sort whether Jesus, Obama or Elvis. Pinchbeck weighs in with a fast paced book dense with insight, his and others, that provides, overall, no small measure of hope.
Raised by atheist Beat Generation artist parents in New York city, Pinchbeck “lacked a metaphysical view of any sort” well into his thirties, though he ate mushrooms and dropped acid during his college years. From a young age through his days in the NYC “party scene” writing was a constant for him and he became very good at it, published by the likes of Esquire, NYT Magazine and the Village Voice among others. He makes his arguments cogent by broadly applying the words and views of others, many others, but this in no way dilutes the impact of what he has to say. He regards himself “as a generalist, a perceiver of pattern rather than a delver into detail.”
Terence McKenna and Jose Arguelles
The late Terence McKenna (Food of the Gods, The Archaic Revival) seems to be a guiding spirit popping into the narrative frequently. Pinchbeck recounts occasions he spent with McKenna no doubt tasting of the banquet food of the gods because a sub-theme of the book has Pinchbeck ingesting a panoply of mind altering substances, some of which I’ve never heard (which is impressive). “My private explorations led me to agree with McKenna that there is a vast psychic domain-a visionary reality-available to us, if we have the courage to explore it.”
His interview with Jose Arguelles, creator of Dreamspell, (a divinatory board “game” based on his interpretations of the Mayan calendar) and initiator of the so called Harmonic Convergence in 1987 is another hi-light of the book. “Believing he had gleaned the secret purpose of the Mayans, Arguelles saw their wizard-kings as representatives or avatars of a galactic civilization that is ‘post-technological’.”
The 2012 Era Alludes to Transformation of Consciousness
I think Pinchbeck sees himself as some sort of avatar for this 2012 era and I’ll grant him that. He’s certainly done the research, walked the psychedelic path, and jumped down the rabbit hole. Packed with quotes from a broad spectrum of literature and laced with eclectic references to the nature of consciousness his book “advances a radical theory: that human consciousness is rapidly transitioning to a new state…the transition is already under way”. In fact, “…the Earth has been self-organizing in preparation for this geomantic juncture over the course of its history, just as the invisible lines of force of a magnet shape metal filings from a distance.”
Pinchbeck, to his credit, is not reluctant to present troubling predictions, especially those of Carl Johann Calleman in his book The Mayan Calendar and the Transformation of Consciousness. Based on Calleman’s interpretations of the Mayan calendar, Pinchbeck fears that between 2008 and 2012 “…this period could see a global financial and ecological collapse, accompanied by nightmarish misuses of power on the part of the ruling elite”. But the other side of this dark scenario, “…could also provide the opportunity to circulate a new vision of what the world could be, and disseminate the tools and principles to implement it.”
Hopi Prophecy and Vision
The mysterious Hopi Prophecy, a quite lengthy oral tradition that takes days to recite, is a source of great hope to Pinchbeck and he encourages us to garner some hope from it as well. Its entirety is known only by a privileged few, however tantalizing bits have been revealed. His book concludes with a vision of a new society akin to this prophecy.
“If we are graduating from nation-states to a noospheric state, we may find ourselves exploring the kind of non-hierarchical social organization-a ‘synarchy’ based on trust and telepathy-that the Hopi and other aboriginal groups have used for millenia… Those who desire such a world will work to create it.”
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Writer, photographer, raconteur, Curtis McCosco fled from academia to further his education in Haight-Ashbury and the streets of Hollywood. He’s worked as a furniture maker, Moviola repairman, documentary film maker, Motown tech, carpenter, masseur, and explores the the worlds of indigenous wisdom and shamanism, Hermetic occultism, remote viewing, history, politics and the evolution of consciousness, all from a Buddhist perspective. You can find more of his writing on his blog, NOOZINE.com.