Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's the End of the World as We Know It ...

The end of the Mayan Long Count, also known as the 2012 Phenomenon, is synonymous with imminent doom destined to occur on 21 December this year. But before you disappear into your apocalyptic-proof bunker with your stash of non-perishables, I am here to tell you that it isn’t the end of the world. Not yet, anyway.

It’s unlikely that ancient Mayan annals contain apocalyptic predictions. These prophecies are modern fabrications usually generated by the media to create fear and hysteria. The 2012 Phenomenon draws more from the New Age movement and a fascination with esoteric teachings than it does from ancient Mayan culture. The idea that the Mayan Long Count ‘ends’ on 21 December 2012 with disastrous consequences for the world misrepresents Mayan civilisation.

One of the earliest records concerning the calendar’s connection to cataclysmic events involves Christopher Columbus’ voyage in 1502 to the Americas. End-of-the-world predictions were widespread amongst Europeans during the early years of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire, and Columbus believed that his discovery of ‘most distant lands’ was prophesied and would bring about the Apocalypse.

By contrast, the people of ancient Maya were concerned with developing a sophisticated civilisation in the Yucatan and Guatemala, not predicting events for a future world they would not live to see. The Mayans reached their highest state of development during the Classic period (c. 250 to 900 AD) where they established a method of timekeeping called the Long Count, a system more complex than our Western calendar system. The Mayan calendar describes the number of cycles through which Humanity must pass in order to reach certain stages of evolutionary consciousness. The exact timing of the beginning date of the Long Count falls on a day the Sun was on the zenith point, which corresponds to 11 August 3114 BC in the Gregorian calendar. Archaeologists believe that the final date - 21 December 2012 - is based on this solar zenith day.
The end of the Mayan Long Count appears to be astrologically significant because it falls on a Solstice. However, its astrological value lies in its connection to the Uranus-Pluto transit of March 2011, an event which triggered a series of global disruptions such as the uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East, Occupy Wall Street protest movements in the West, the collapse of the Eurozone, and panic over ecological issues such as scarcity of food, water, and oil. Here we have erratic individualism (Uranus in Aries) clashing with the status quo (Pluto in Capricorn). Our individual rights and freedoms, as well as the wellbeing of the planet, are at odds with retaining and protecting capitalist power. This turbulent period in the world’s history will end in 2015, but not before our personal and collective ethics go through the wringer. Expect to see the institutions of mass capitalism weaken as people power gains momentum over the next three years.
This ties in beautifully with the end of the Mayan Long Count where the current cycle finishes with the destruction of outmoded ways of living, and begins with a new cycle called the Fifth World. We can mark the date 21 December 2012 as the beginning of spiritual maturation; the result of a disconnected and dissatisfied society that struggles to find meaningful answers to life’s big questions:
Who am I? What is my purpose? What is the meaning of life?
So how does the 2012 Phenomenon affect the Inner West? What happens this year totally depends on what Inner Westies decide to make of it. It can be a blessing or a curse, depending on our perspective and the actions we take. We can stand still, shrug our shoulders and sigh ‘that’s the way it is’, or we can feel empowered and supported by the Universal forces at work.
I see movements such as Reclaim the Lanes and Reclaim the Streets revitalised and gaining power through repossession of poorly utilised urban spaces in the name of community spirit, creativity, and fun. Support for small businesses and legendary landmarks such as the Annandale Hotel will increase, as locals grasp the importance of preserving these unique gems. There will be a swing away from affluent sectors of the community waging and winning campaigns against desperately needed affordable housing, public transport, and other services. The tables will turn on those lobbying against the creative class, the poor and disabled, multiculturalism, and egalitarianism, ensuring that diversity will always have a home in the Inner West.
All Inner Westies will benefit from Mayan wisdom by integrating their modern lifestyle with a rich spiritual life and a genuine sense of community. After 21 December, older residents in particular will yearn for the traditional values of former working class suburbs like Balmain, Rozelle, and Marrickville. Balmain natives are frustrated by the popular view that the coolest activity their historic neighbourhood has to offer is standing in the queue outside Zumbo’s cake shop! Locals will feel homesick for a time when pubs acted as major social centres that glued the community together, and not the over-priced wine bars and bistros they are now. It will become clear that middle class values perpetuated by the upwardly mobile fail in a working class community enriched by people who choose not to succumb to the live-to-work ethic that prevails in Sydney.

Far from being an overblown catastrophe over nothing, the 2012 Phenomenon can be a time of positive transformation for the Inner West. The various grassroots movements that are emerging globally to fight corporate and government control are sprouting on a micro level in our backyard in a quest to reclaim the community that so many of us love. The Gods of Change are on our side.
Originally published in C!ao magazine, issue #190, 22 June 2012. With thanks and respect.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Astro Shite Christmas 2012 Special

     Aries (21 March to 20 April)
Mercury and Venus enter your ninth house of travel in mid December. Forget about stuffing the turkey or kissing your sweaty uncle under the mistletoe, this year the Gods want you to retreat from the stress and tedium of your usual surroundings to an environment that’s teeming with annoying families and grumpy retirees. Links from Mercury to Uranus mean packing an i-Book full of puzzles and brain games for those empty moments in your hotel room when you can’t afford to drink the contents of the bar fridge.
Aries yuletide pressies: crampons, pocket stunt kite, Swiss army knife

Taurus (21 April to 20 May)
Saturn’s visit to your love zone continues this month. You get wise about certain relationships that have run their course, while taking necessary steps to develop and deepen those that nourish you. Naturally, this is all based on the quality of gifts you receive on 25 December. Pay particular attention to the funkiness of the Christmas cards and the wrapping paper’s hip factor – all critical stuff to the cultivated Bull.
Taurus yuletide pressies: Pinot Noir, handmade chocolates, quality fabrics

Gemini (21 May to 20 June)
With the New Moon, Mercury, and Venus occupying your house of relationships on 13 December, set aside a few minutes each day in mid December to focus on your romantic wishes, and then ask Santa to put them in your Christmas stockings while you’re wearing them. This is a far more successful method of meeting potential lovers than stalking online dating sites crammed with lonely losers who are ten kilos heavier and fifteen years older than their mug shots indicate.
Gemini yuletide pressies: zines, digital chess board, Kindle

Cancer (21 June to 20 July)
The year ends as it began with the Full Moon in Cancer. The approaching Full Moon on 28 December is activated by Pluto, triggering a cycle of transformation that will carry you into the New Year. ‘Purge and purify’ is your New Year’s resolution, as you begin a detox program consisting of dandelion root, fennel, and raisins. You’ll suffer a severe case of the herbal squirts throughout the post-festive season but ‘better out than in’ which, apart from being Shrek’s catchphrase, is an archetypal Pluto obsession.
Cancer yuletide pressies: sterling silver jewellery, food hamper, cookbooks

Leo (21 July to 21 August)
Mars enters your relationship sector on 26 December. Your love life takes on operatic proportions, as close encounters with others are coloured by conflict, resolutions, and multiple wardrobe changes. You’ll be at your most intense under the Sun-Pluto link on 31 December, so pour into the body-shaping undergarments for that streamlined Dita Von Teese look. Wellbeing rituals need to be implemented after the office Christmas party where too many Bacardi Breezers mixed with cheese and prosciutto puffs race straight to your hips and thighs.
Leo yuletide pressies: Dom Perignon, Chanel No.5, skin care products

Virgo (22 August to 22 September)
Despite having completed the Christmas shopping in July, the New Moon in your domestic sector on 13 December has you running around for last minute festive clobber such as pancetta wrapped shoulder joints and petrified finger food. De-lish! To add to the horror known as Christmas Day, you’ll be planting an angel-dusted macaron tree in the backyard as part of some peculiar half-pagan/half-Zumbo ritual you saw in a documentary on Foxtel.
Virgo yuletide pressies: stationery, hospital-grade bed linen, woodworking tools

Libra (23 September to 23 October)
This has been a trying year for Libra, what with Saturn cramping your style and all that. Breathe easy; that tiresome stuff is behind you. Thank the planets for aligning during the Click Frenzy where you emerged from the other side alive and armed with bargains. Loved ones will be impressed by the quality and quantity of your giving this Christmas.
Libra yuletide pressies: Murano glass, shopping vouchers, postmodern art 

Scorpio (24 October to 22 November) 
The theme of ‘emergence’ continues through Christmas into the New Year, with Saturn and the North Node giving you grief even on public holidays. Remind yourself that it’s part of your metamorphous. Saturn aligns with Pluto on 26 December, helping transform the way you communicate. You’ll be firm with your word and expect others to be the same. Develop the power of persuasion on Boxing Day when everyone is too hung-over to argue.
Scorpio yuletide pressies:
Crowley Thoth tarot deck, leather g-string, nipple clamps

Sagittarius (23 November to 22 December)
The message of the New Moon in your sign on 13 December is hope. Yep, that’s the kind of present you’ll be receiving this year, mate. You’ll experience a mental breakdown when Mercury aligns with Uranus and you fail to find parking at Aldi. Nevertheless, the Universe ups the x factor with a Venus transit and you enhance your appearance by growing a moustache despite the sorry end of Movember in November.
Sagittarius yuletide pressies: solar wind up radio, compass, collapsible shovel

Capricorn (23 December to 20 January)
The Full Moon on 28 December shines the celestial spotlight on relationships. Pluto aligns with the Sun and opposes the Moon, urging you to swap poor habits with healthy ones once the festivities end. Set clear boundaries. Eliminate toxic peeps and fatty foods in the New Year as part of your cosmic colonic irrigation plan. Saturn stabilises the transformative effects of Pluto on Boxing Day by helping you connect with support groups like AA, NA, OA, OMG, LOL, and WTF.
Capricorn yuletide pressies: pipe, slippers, coffee grinder

Aquarius (21 January to 17 February)
Mars enters Aquarius on 26 December. You are ready to leap into life like an emancipated elf after surviving Christmas day with the relo’s. Be prepared for summer celebrations like Bogans’ Day Out and Not Tonight Darling I’ve Got My Pyramid Rock Festival, where you’ll be in your element relishing the role of fest whore while moshing ‘n’ sploshing with the great unwashed.
Aquarius yuletide pressies: video games, sat nav, Brian Eno anthology

Pisces (18 February to 20 March)
Mars enters your spirituality sector this month. Under this transit you will look back at 2012 and reflect on what a total loser you’ve been. The tax office could catch up with you, so plan to enjoy a white Christmas in the Arctic Circle. You may experience insomnia thanks to the midnight sun, but try to enjoy an active dreaming life and allow your imagination to run free. You will determine which goals feel right to pursue in 2013 as a result. Good luck and Merry Christmas.
Pisces yuletide pressies: mood ring, aromatherapy oil, cotton wick candles