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When Black Friday comes: Waiting for too much of nothing

**This is a guest post by Sean Casteel. The ideas, statements, and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Open Minds.**

It would be an understatement to say that there is currently a great deal of anticipation and speculation regarding the coming date of December 21, 2012, said to be the final day of the current world age according to the ancient Mayan calendar. One of the original proponents of this idea was the late scholar and author Jose Arguelles, who had long championed the notion that the Mayans understood the true nature of time much better than those of us governed by the Gregorian calendar and the inadequate, linear passing of our days.

Cover of Stephanie South’s book. (Credit: New Page Books)

Arguelles was the subject of a biography called 2012: Biography of a Time Traveler, The Journey of Jose Arguelles, written by a journalist named Stephanie South. South was also a follower of Arguelles and claimed to have first meant her mentor in a dream state where he showed her the principles of traveling in time using telepathy.

Along with explaining some of Arguelles’ often quite complex theories about time, the extraterrestrials and the countdown to 2012, South admittedly also presents a scathingly honest, warts-and-all portrait of Arguelles, never flinching from discussing the alcoholism, the broken marriages and long bouts of depression that troubled Arguelles even as he moved toward his own kind of personal enlightenment.

Arguelles was well known for spearheading the Harmonic Convergence of 1987, one of those pivotal events in the history of the New Age movement. The reasoning and calculations by which the dates for that watershed moment were arrived at are complicated and also refer back to the Mayan calendar.

“The dates for the Harmonic Convergence,” South told me in a 2009 interview, “were given to Jose in the early 1970s by Lakota author and poet Tony Shearer, as the conclusion of the prophecy of the thirteen heavens and the nine hells. The heaven and hell cycles refer to a sequence of 52-year cycles that began in the year AD 843.”

The heavenly cycles are ominously said to be periods of “decreasing choice,” while the hell cycles of “increasing doom” began when Cortes landed in Mexico in 1519. When translated in to our own calendar system, the relevant days for the ending of the hell cycles were August 16 and 17 of 1987.

Jose Arguelles

There were those who felt the Harmonic Convergence of 1987 was a success, but for Arguelles it was merely a dress rehearsal for a bigger type of event – the Harmonic Convergence of 2012. And what should we expect to see when the long awaited date comes in a matter of weeks?

“Of course,” South told me, “no one knows for certain precisely what will occur. As you know, there are so many theories out there. But my feeling is, whatever it is, it is already happening now. That we are part of some grand time-release program, that we are mutating or becoming something else. I think it is important that we not project our conditioned conceptions too much on that which is to come, but be open for anything. According to Jose, this date marks a kind of frequency shift. He perceives a type of intervention, extraterrestrial or inter-dimensional.”

Arguelles wrote more about his beliefs in a 2006 article called “Galactic Culture and Cosmic Civilization.”

“The present global crisis,” Arguelles wrote, “is being guided or observed by a divine hierarchical intelligence operating inter-dimensionally and perhaps also extraterrestrially. As awful as they may be, current events are both the consequence of historical karmic effects and at the same time they are being orchestrated, as it were, for purposes of a divine or supra-mental descent. This intervention is needed because, by its current operating standards and steadily lowering rate of consciousness, humanity could never otherwise get out of its irrevocable slide into total global catastrophe.”

Arguelles believed he was in telepathic contact with the same benevolent ET forces he describes above and filled many notebooks with communications from the ETs, which included numerous mathematical computations from beyond.

His fervent belief in some kind of last minute rescue by extraterrestrials is of course nothing new. UFO contactees have been receiving and relaying much the same kind of message since the 1950s. Arguelles adds to the mix a complex mathematical interpretation of the Mayan calendar, which works on a base 20 system as opposed to our base 10 system. The Mayans were said to be employing a more highly evolved way to crunch the numbers that also maps out the synchronic order of things – a way to decode the past, present and future through numbers that “live and speak.” Or so Arguelles was told by the “Galactic Maya,” his term for the ETs who communicated with him.

“People have to realize,” South said, “that we are going into a new state of being and reality. Individual consciousness has to be moved to the wayside so that we can come together as a group planetary consciousness. This is what is being called for in the cosmic evolution.”

One aspect of this collective transformation will include Earth becoming a completely telepathic world. The question was then asked, why is that necessarily a good thing? Who would want their inner, private thoughts exposed, even for the sake of cosmic evolution?

South replied by asking another question.

“What is a private thought?” she asked. “Do aliens have private thoughts? If you have genuine goodwill for all, then what is a private thought? Humans think the world revolves around them and their thoughts. But it doesn’t. There is a much larger plan, higher intelligent forces. The way Jose describes it, we evolve through telepathic attunement. As the collective becomes the individual, the individual becomes the collective. Meaning no one is interfering with your personal growth, but we are all growing together as a single planetary organism.

“The clearer the mind,” South continued, “the better it is able to be in telepathic rapport with what we might term ‘alien.’ Of course, those operating on lower vibrational frequencies can also attract aliens, but oftentimes those are perceived as darker forces. Our minds are very powerful, and we have not yet even begun to tap the incredible potential.”

Given that Arguelles not only helped to originate the current school of thought about something world-shattering and cosmic happening on December 21, 2012, it is a sad irony that he died before seeing any of it come to fruition. Arguelles passed away on March 23, 2011, from peritonitis, at his retreat in central Australia.

The obituary that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on April 10 quoted one academic as saying he felt Arguelles’ understanding of Mayan cosmology was seriously flawed.

“Although I have spent years studying Mesoamerican calendars,” said Colgate University professor and Maya expert Anthony Aveni, “I must confess that I cannot understand even one of Arguelles’ complicated-looking diagrams. Nor can I follow his explanation, which is punctuated with scientific jargon incomprehensible even to scientists.”

Arguelles obviously had problems communicating with an academic, scientific audience. Nevertheless, his beliefs have become deeply ingrained for a massive amount of people. According to John Michael Greer, the author of “Apocalypse Not,” Arguelles’ 2012 concept has become the most fashionable “apocalypse meme.”

Cover of John Michael Greer’s book. (Credit: Viva Editions)

What is a meme, you may ask? The word has entered more and more into the mainstream, but a little explanation may be still be helpful.

According to Greer, “Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term, in his 1976 book, ‘The Selfish Gene,’ as a label for ideas that replicate through human society the way that genes replicate through a population of living things.”

A meme is an idea or set of ideas, Greer continues, “that can be transmitted from one person to another. It survives as long as it remains a factor in somebody’s thoughts and actions, and it spreads when one person convinces another to accept the meme. Unlike many other memes, the apocalypse meme can be traced throughout history all the way back to its origins between 1500 and 1200 BCE, and it can be followed forward from that point right up to the present.”

It is certainly the case that Arguelles’ ideas proceeded outward from his initial inspiration and took on a life of their own. Greer also tackles the December 21, 2012 belief head-on.

“Today’s believers in a 2012 apocalypse,” Greer writes, “have let themselves be drawn into buying the comforting fantasy that the world around them will suddenly and cataclysmically be replaced by a new world more to their liking. What will happen on the morning of December 22, 2012, when the sun rises as usual over a world that stubbornly refuses to follow the script and provide the believers with the Great Turning of their dreams?”

Greer uses terms like the “Great Disappointment,” and warns of “a public humiliation drastic enough to drive today’s New Age movement to the fringes of society for two or three generations. Equally, the prophets of the 2012 apocalypse might well simply find some new date further in the future and come up with a plausible reason why the new date makes more sense than the old.”

What’s in it for the believers right now is an “emotional payoff,” Greer says, that benefits the faithful whether or not the prophecy comes to pass.

“To true believers,” Greer explains, “whether their belief fixates on a religious doctrine or a secular one, the apocalypse meme promises a future in which they will be proved right and everyone who disagrees with them will be forced to admit the error of their ways; to the idealistic, the arrival of a world more perfect than human arrangements have ever been able to provide; to the frustrated, the resentful, and the angry, a settling of scores on a superhumanly grandiose scale. Like the magic jewel in a fairy tale that makes everyone think they are seeing whatever they most desire, the apocalypse meme promises all things to all people. The seductive promise of the apocalypse meme is precisely that it seems to offer a free ticket out of the troubles of everyday life.”

I’ve been very surprised to see some of the poll results that indicate that a fairly large percentage of Americans believe there is some truth to the 2012 predictions. The media hasn’t been as vocal as expected in their usual tendency to dismiss such “fringe” beliefs, as they typically are, for example, with the occasional UFO report that somehow makes national news. They have toned down the “giggle and sneer factor” a little, perhaps in deference to those same polls showing that at least a sense of expectancy about the 2012 date has established itself in the public mindset.

One would hope that that same section of the public would agree that there are more pressing matters worthy of their concern. In an age when humanity is threatened by real-world problems that more realistically spell our collective demise, still another round of doom-saying based on “messages” from extraterrestrials and a completely unverifiable interpretation of the Mayan calendar should definitely take a backseat for even the most credulous of believers.

We should obviously worry about the uneasy standoff between Israel and Iran, for example. With Iran still issuing death threats to Israel as a matter of everyday foreign policy, Israel seems equally determined to make a preemptive strike against whatever level of nuclear danger Iran secretly poses. Iran, while still infatuated with its newly developed nuclear toy, would be less hesitant than any other similarly-equipped sovereign state to actually press the buttons on a series of missiles. Their belief that they truly serve Allah by being murderous martyrs effectively smothers any sense of self-preservation on their part. It is always a good day to die for their religion.

I am reminded of Chapter 13 of the Book of Revelation, where it is prophesied that the False Prophet would bring down fire from heaven in the sight of men as part of the workings of the Antichrist. But you don’t have to be Bible-believing to see the danger of a nuclear show of force on Iran’s part and to feel the dread of what would come after.

Living as I do in Southern California, we deal with the threat of earthquakes every day. I’ll never forget when the Northridge earthquake of 1993 happened. I was prostrate on the floor beneath the desk with my computer with my whole apartment building shaking from side to side. Neither my family nor I suffered any injuries, but of course there were many who weren’t so lucky. The earth could at any time start to shift beneath our feet and swallow a good many of us up. I keep an “earthquake bag” full of canned food and extra toiletries in the event that the normal amenities are not available in the aftermath of an earthquake. Believe me, it is a more pressing concern than the date of December 21, 2012.

We are also in constant danger from solar flares, which could knock out our power and communication grids like swatting a fly. Solar radiation also beats down on us without letup, and skin cancer cases are on the rise. Asteroids and meteors could appear from nowhere and bear down on Earth without mercy. We know the dinosaurs are said to have died out from the impact of a cataclysmic asteroid and the same could quite easily happen to us. We as a more highly-evolved species with all of our technological finery would be just as vulnerable to mass extinction as the dinosaurs were. There would be nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

Airborne viruses – some possibly originating off-planet – are another threat, a danger that has inspired many a suspense movie over the last 40 or 50 years. “The Andromeda Strain,” directed by Robert Wise, is but one example. The 1971 film deals with a small team of super-scientists trying to isolate a deadly strain of virus from outer space, racing against time and nuclear detonation. The same outer space we long to reach out to may instead reach back to us with fistfuls of death of destruction.

Meanwhile, we have numerous examples of earthbound plagues in our history. The Black Death of the Middle Ages and the Spanish flu epidemic of the early 20th century come to mind immediately. There is also the fact that new strains of some viruses have mutated and now possess a much higher tolerance for antibiotics than ever before. The same medication that would have fixed you right up is now up against a stronger biological foe than it can successfully overcome.

There is another danger to considered as well when it comes to the 2012 prophecy: What if some terrorist group chooses December 21 as the day to launch a massive attack of some kind? They may feel that they are the reason the date is considered important at all and that it is their destiny to fulfill the prophecies. They would be able to take complete advantage of the fear and confusion that would follow in the wake of their attack, since many of the frightened survivors might see the attack as an “Act of God,” something predestined to change the world order and to bring the terrorist beliefs to the forefront of world politics in a way never seen before.

The cumulative effect of all these negative scenarios should be enough to put you off prophecies like the 2012 prediction forever. When the long-awaited date comes and goes, perhaps the worries of that time will again take precedence and the doomsday fears of the masses will be a little more sharply focused on the real world of political ineptness and ecological self-destruction.

December 21, 2012, falls on a Friday, and one of my musical favorites, the jazz/rock band Steely Dan, had a popular song back in the 1970s called “Black Friday” in which part of the lyric goes: “When Black Friday comes/I’m going to dig myself a hole/I’m going to lay down in it until I satisfy my soul.”

Which seems as good a way as any to spend December 21. And it may even be the case that Steely Dan is the real prophet in terms of the much-anticipated date. When nothing “apocalyptic” happens, we’ll still be able to rock and roll in our personal holes and wait for Christmas with a lighter heart – in spite of the inevitable credit card bills from which no doomsday or sudden rapture can save us.

If you enjoyed this article, visit Sean Casteel’s UFO Journalist website at to read more of his articles or purchase his books.

Sean Casteel

Sean Casteel is a journalist from southern California who has published extensively on UFOs, alien abductions, and related phenomena since 1989. His articles have appeared in Open Minds magazine, Fate, UFO magazine, UFO Universe, and other publications.

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One Comment

  1. On New Years Day 2013 I will watch the movie “2012” as a comedy and smirk to myself as I ponder what date the Doom-Mongers will latch on to next to increase public hysteria and subsequently their bank accounts.

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