, Newburyport, MA


December 22, 2012

As the old world ends, it's up to us to shape the new one

O Wind, if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

— Percy Bysshe Shelley

I always look forward to solstices, and equinoxes too, but none of them in my lifetime heralded the end of the world, so last week was really special.

As you know by now, the world didn’t end on Friday. The sun did stop its journey south but turned around to eventually bring us summer again. Well, technically, the sun doesn’t move, the earth … never mind, this is not a science column, which is why we can romanticize the event and discuss the apocalypse rumors too.

I read somewhere that one out of 10 people worldwide believed that because the Mayan calendar ended last week, the world would end too. I don’t believe this statistic for a minute, primarily because most of the people in the world, including a lot of Americans, never heard of the Mayans, and who polled the Chinese anyhow?

My favorite “Bizarro” cartoon of 2012: The Mayan stone carver is showing his boss a round stone calendar, telling him “I only had room to go to 2012.” His boss says “Ha! That’ll freak somebody out someday.”

My Llewellyn’s 2012 Daily Planetary Guide tells us that while Friday was indeed the winter solstice, with the sun entering Capricorn at 6:12 am, the moon was in Aries, the sign of new beginnings, not endings, though I suppose they’re the same thing if you think about it.

Llewellyn writes that “the Sun and our entire solar system will enter the dark rift in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy … but strictly speaking, this merger takes hundreds of years to occur … it is our belief that the Winter Solstice 2012 is not the end of the world, but that it is the end of a very long cycle” —perhaps to become “a very dark moment in history”.

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