CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The countdown is here. We're five days away from Dec. 21, 2012!It actually seems we heard more about this pivotal date years ago than we have lately -- when it's right upon us. I remember lots of stories about the end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21, 2012 -- this coming Friday.Earlier discussions centered on theories about the end of the world. Later on, the tenor morphed toward a major shift of energy, with unpredictable consequences, because of the galactic forces that may come into play on that day.Specifically, the Mayan calendar references point to the end date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar.The Mayans were a very evolved culture, dwelling in the area now known as Central America in the sixth century. They excelled at mathematics, architecture, astronomy and hieroglyphics. Predictions by the Mayans have led some to believe the end-of-the-world scenario could be triggered by forces in outer space, as depicted in documentaries on the History channel.Much has been made of this ancient culture's knowledge of celestial events and our solar system that they could not possibly have understood, leading to theories that they might have been visited by superior beings.Other prophecies
Nostradamus, the 16th-century physician and astronomer, foretold of a devastating period of strife in which the dark forces and the light forces do battle, and the light forces eventually win out. Interpretations have tied these predictions to 2012.The book of Revelation in the Bible, as well as the book of Daniel, use symbols to describe a coming apocalypse. And prophet Edgar Cayce predicted this time would mark the beginning of a new era -- ushering in an age of enlightenment.Galactic alignment
A widely adopted theory, popularized by author and Mayan scholar John Major Jenkins, is that there will be a galactic alignment on Dec. 21, 2012, causing massive outbursts of energy.A galactic alignment happens when the equator of the Earth, the equator of the sun and the equator of the Milky Way galaxy are all completely aligned. This astronomical phenomenon occurs only every 26,000 years.According to NASA, though, astronomy cannot precisely pinpoint a galactic alignment to an exact day.Doomsday predictionsEarth's magnetic poles could be flipped by an anticipated galactic alignment. This has happened in the past; and it's thought if it happens in this day and age, it could cause massive earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes to erupt. Super-size solar flares could knock out our power grids and cause widespread destruction.
Devastating interaction between the Earth and a black hole at the center of the galaxy during a galactic alignment could wreak havoc on our entire planet.Earth's collision with an envisioned planet Nibiru or with killer asteroids would cause massive destruction.Scientists weigh in
Max Tegmark, an MIT physicist, says, "We will be hit by a catastrophic asteroid at some point. It's not a question of 'if,' but 'when,'" he says. Researcher Dan Vergano points out Tegmark's acknowledgment, though, that this "when" is sometime in the next 100 million years or so -- not this week.NASA scientists estimate there are 4,700 potentially hazardous asteroids within Earth's 5 million-mile neighborhood. But they'd likely threaten a city, not the entire planet, says Neil Tyson, of the Rose Center for Earth and Space.Future Mayan musings
Evidence has recently surfaced that the Mayan civilization contemplated events beyond 2012, according to David Stuart, author of "The Order of Days: The Maya World and the Truth About 2012." Stuart reported this past May on the discovery of writings that contained Mayan calendar markings with dates beyond 3500 -- long after 2012. "So much for the supposed end of the world," commented Boston University archaeologist William Saturno.Draw your own conclusions
I have to say I have great respect for historical and cultural traditions. And I've done my share of trying to figure out the riddles in Nostradamus' quatrains, as well as some of the symbolism in the Bible. I find astronomy and astrology fascinating. And, although I know there are limits to what we can define and predict, I remain curious.So, I plan to have a moment of observance Friday out of respect. If nothing profoundly negative happens (which seems to be the current consensus of opinion), we will have dodged a bullet.Then again, if it ushers in just a tiny bit of inspired energy, I'm all for it! The planet sure could use it.Linda Arnold, M.A., MBA, is a certified wellness instructor, counselor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications firm with offices in West Virginia, Montana and Washington, D.C. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301 or emailed to email@example.com.