I met with the Mayans; they said the world isn’t ending anytime soon!

Published: December 20, 2012

“Is the world ever going to end at all?” I asked. He pointed to the sky and said, “Only when the sun stops rising!” PHOTO: MARIAM MAGSI

I am sorry to disappoint you folks, but the world is not going to end on 21.12.2012 because the Mayans never made an apocalyptic statement alluding to a complete end to this world.

It is quite amusing to see people go into bouts of vigour, stocking up on essentials, sharing Facebook statuses and creating panic about this notion. I took matters into my own hands and decided to investigate this rumour further, by travelling to Mexico and meeting the Mayans themselves to gain a better understanding of this situation that has gone viral.

Needless to say, it was one of the most enlightening experiences of my life.

I explored pyramids and the Mexican life from the Yucatan Peninsula all the way to the state of Morelos where I was volunteering with children from low income families. Once back in the “Pit of Snakes” or “Cancun”, I was able to sit down with shamans, historians, healers and storytellers in Mayan villages, assertive and determined to get to the bottom of this theory about the end of the world.

The full moon was shining over us as I sat down with Shaman Malo, to consume warm tortilla bread with a glass of coconut water. Warm, sweet breeze was blowing, and many had gathered around us in the hopes for enlightenment and higher learning — the kind you don’t get at school.

(Mayan Riviera ruins.)

I had touched upon the topic of the world ending and a dark cloud swept over the Shaman’s face. He seemed discomforted and decided to talk about this subject in front of peers and students.

“First of all I would like to start with the Mayan calendar. You can do extensive research on this and speak to archaeologists who have dedicated their entire lives uncovering our pyramids, ruins and ancient sites. Our calendar is cyclical in nature and not apocalyptic. In other words, we believe the world does not end, it only recycles, and based on the way history has unfolded, is this indeed not true?”

I felt elated. Not because the world wasn’t ending, but because I decided to seek out the truth.

I was also one of the few people who didn’t give into this notion and I realised we can know nothing about anything until we immerse ourselves into it and investigate, challenge and question the validity of the statements rumoured and spread by the masses.

Confused and curious, I asked,

“Why is the world entertaining this deception then?”

“People have even gone as far as to write up their wills, stock up on imperishable items and have built shelters in their basements all because they think the world is coming to an end.”

(Chichen Itza ruins)

Shaman Malo threw his head back and guffawed so hard, his belly rumbled and moved up and down much like the laughing Buddha. His small, beady eyes crinkled up and his mouth turned into a smirk.

“Well my dear child, this is the maligning of our culture and heritage at the hands of money hungry and greedy con artists who have no strong backing or evidence about the statements they are making. They have twisted our words and gone out there into the world to make fools out of everyone. They have accumulated immense wealth by making movies and writing books, blaming the entire doomsday idea on us poor villagers. What saddens me is how the world and its intelligent, educated people have fallen right into their trap, spreading this nonsense further, while we Mayans out here in Mexico keep meeting tourists, volunteers and socials workers and find that it is our duty to let them know that we never, ever once said the world is going to end on December 2012.”

Over the next few days, I quenched my anguish by conversing with various people who had ample knowledge about Mayan history. I also obtained a copy of the “Popol Vuh” a rather complex and intense ‘Book of the People’ that delves into historical and mythological narratives of the K’iche’ kingdom in Guatemala.

Some subjects it touches upon are creation, death, ancestry, history and cosmology. There are gods, underworlds, jaguars, environmental theories, migration details and tribal conquests and after days of mind numbing focus I was on the last few pages on the grass at the Ek’Balam pyramids, a Yucatec-Maya archaeological site undisputedly the throne of the Mayan kingdom.

Suddenly, I saw two dusty, brown shoes standing near me and my eyes led up to a plump, aged tour guide with the marks of experience etched into the sunburnt lines on his face.

“You are reading the ‘Popul Vuh’ and I could not help but approach you. It is quite the daunting book, no?”

“It certainly is. I had decided I would visit Mexico and speak to its people myself, the Mayan tribes in particular, to gain a better understanding of a speculation regarding doomsday this December.”

“Ah yes! The apocalypse, indeed! What a fine buck they’ve made out-there distorting our history. If only that money could have reached our poor families, instead of lining the pockets of liars and ill educated people with no knowledge on these subjects.”

We stared out at the grand, magnificent and eroding structure of the pyramids opposite us. The scene was epic and beyond belief. As far as my eyes could see, the archaeological grandeur was surrounded by dense trees and greenery. This ancient mark of history stood out under the blazing, Mexican sun. Existentialist questions sped through my brain at a vast speed.

(Ruins on the Mayan Riviera.)

“You see, let me explain something to you. The sun rises and sets every single day without fail. It is the ultimate truth. Night falls and disappears and falls again. That, too, is the ultimate truth. Crops are sown and harvested, extracted and consumed only to be sown again. It is all a circle. Even the shape of this Earth we are currently visiting is a sphere, which makes it all the more important to put back what we remove, to keep the cycle going.” he told me.

“That is how we Mayans think and it is our supreme ideology. What will fall will rise; what will rise, will fall. But it will not end. There have been plagues, wars, famines, droughts and conquests but everything eventually gives way to light and hope, newer beginnings and fresher eras.”

The man made a lot of sense. Were we, in fact, self-destructing and feeding into this idea of the end of the world by interrupting the cycle of nature, by removing trees and not putting them back, by polluting waters and not cleaning them, by taking away majority of the earth’s resources, with no replacement?

I urged him to go on.

“December 21 is very significant for my people. Not because the world will end, but because it will change. My ancestors were obsessed with time keeping and this year marks the end of the 13 baktun to give way to the start of the 14 baktun completing another age of mankind. If the Mayan tribes that invented these sophisticated calendars and theories were alive, they would have been celebrating with dance, music, food, rituals and joy, basking in the pure happiness of the start of yet another era of pure living and experience, not death, doomsday and destruction. Regardless of having been colonised and made to convert to Christianity, many of us still believe in the power of our heritage. We believe in the renewal and rebirth of life and we celebrate this. We also believe that after this year, people will shy away from consumerism, materialism and capitalism, to give way to a more compassionate and thoughtful state of being. Oppressive regimes will be toppled and people will take their world back from unjust rulers. Do you not see this happening all around you?”

I gave what he said a couple of minutes of silent contemplation. People were definitely more socially aware than ever before. With the advent of social media, many people, worldwide, were speaking out against tyranny, holding marches and protests, the revolution in the Arab world being a prime example of this.

Those who didn’t bother recycling in the past were suddenly environmentally aware. I personally knew people who were planting trees, conserving water, switching to energy conserving light bulbs and being pro-active in saving this planet. Moreover, throngs of people were turning to yoga, reiki, meditation and the art of spirituality; they were growing into self aware, self conscious and socially evolved individuals.

My spirits rose.

“Well, child, it’s time for me to head back to the pyramids, because I have a group of six American professors coming in soon.”

He stood up, brushed the dirt and grass off his worn out khaki pants and gave me a courteous nod of the head, his wise eyes twinkling away.

As he walked away he said,

“Go out there and tell the world what I’ve told you. You have come here for a reason, we met today for a reason, and you have the opportunity to inform people and make them see the truth.”

“So let me get this straight,” I said in one last attempt to validate and solidify my conclusion,

“Is the world ever going to end at all?”

He began to walk backwards and pointed to the sky.

“Only when the sun stops rising!”

PHOTOS: MARIAM MAGSI

Read more by Mariam here or follow her on Twitter @mariammagsi

Mariam Magsi

Mariam Magsi

A photographer, writer and curator working in Canada. She tweets @mariammagsi (twitter.com/mariammagsi) and her professional work can be viewed at www.mariammagsi.com. She is the recipient of a prestigious publication award from the "World Poetry Movement" for poetic works highlighting natural disasters in Pakistan.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://www.mosaicsmosaics.blogspot.com Victor Nunnally

    Thank you for this educated article.

    The Sun,Moon,and Stars have all served as a clock. The Mayan Skies must be magnificent at night. I guess the Best Place to be on December 21st is the Yucatan and watch the night sky. Perhaps a triangle shaped portal appears.

    It is too bad the whole world does not have a big party and celebrate a new beginning. Are you sure the Mayan would not have sacrificed someone. Is this the start of the Age of Aquarius? Recommend

  • ali

    Quite relieved that the world is not going to end Mariam. Thanks for doing this. I’m very grateful.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/896/ayesha-pervez/ Ayesha Pervez

    WOW. Just what I needed. Thanks :)Recommend

  • Albert

    Folks,

    I met our Lord , and in the Bible the book of Mark 13 : 32 it is clearly stated ” But of that day or that hour no one knows , not even the angels in heaven , nor the Son , but only the Father “.

    The world will not end on 21/12/2012 , our worldly problem will defitely not end too , but instead we ‘ll expect more to come .Recommend

  • sarah maunder

    Thank you for writing this blog. I am fascinated about culture and came here to get some facts right. Just like the Mayans I don’t believe the world will end, in fact I believe it’s based around turning over a new leaf and a starting a fresh start rather then doom and gloom. Surely if the Mayans wrote the date they would of written a reason if it was something so important like the world ending.

    I am sadden that in our world today people are making money off of this “theory” that is so far from the truth. If it was the end of the world why would you want to spend your last few months making films and books, wouldn’t you go out and help those less fortunate?. It just goes to show how much so many people only think about their selves and the latest gadgets.

    I think once this media frenzy about the world ending is over and we are still alive the next day, I think the true Mayan beliefs and prophecies will definitely come true, people will be reborn and turn a new leaf. I think people would realise how selfish they became, or how much they didn’t give back to the community, help the poor etc. I think the Mayans are correct, people will change, the end of the world theory will give them the scare they need to make them change their attitudes and lifestyle and be better people.

    Well that’s my opinion. Now see you all in Jan 2013 or should I also mention Christmas Day!Recommend

  • Misbah

    Very Nice…. Great affords by Mariam MAGSI….it’s quite informative//
    Thnkx..Recommend

  • SK5

    Excellant read, really enjoyed reading about mayan culture and tradition. These con-artists some of whom are in hollywood really have no respect for such cultures, money making is the only culture they do respect. I won’t say much but thank you for your research that you practically conducted, some day I would love to visit the remains of mayan civilisation.Recommend

  • GhostRider

    I must say this was the first logical thing o the topic…great jobRecommend

  • Mahrukh Abbasi

    so well-written, loved reading it….Recommend

  • http://pakistaniteen.wordpress.com PakistaniTeen

    21st December doesn’t look like an end of the world to me.Instead, I feel we ‘ll enter a new change, a new era , more of a new civilization.It will be like a hidden revolution.it’ll manipulate the hypocritic and materialistic mindsets.And Yes Indeed, it’s time to celebrate!Recommend

  • Clear Black Bag

    “I met with the Mayans; they said the world isn’t ending any soon!Mariam Magsi”
    If this is so and suppose your this stance is considered true then who is right and true,either astronomists and astrologists or you?Because astronomists and astrologists on the channels are predicting damages on 21st December 2012.And being a muslim I never trust the astrologists and astronomists because they only tell the lie and their predictions are only based on guesswork……Recommend

  • http://s Muslim

    The hour will be set by Allah, whenever He wills. No preacher,or any astronomer can predict that set hour just like he/she cant predict their own life span.

    He questions: “When is the Day of Resurrection?” At length, when the sight is dazed and the moon is buried in darkness, and the sun and moon are joined together that Day will Man say; “Where is the refuge?”

    Qur’an 75.6-10 Recommend

  • Karim

    Such a big waste of time.. That huge article for this useless theory.Recommend

  • Cyclops

    Wow, this article was amazing and the pictures that have been posted along with it are more than amazing. Makes me want to visit this place!! Thank you Mariam Magsi, for this! :)Recommend

  • Iftikhar Zaidi

    A thousand years from now archeologists are going to dig up a complimentary desktop calender and someone is going to start talking about how the ancient Pakistanis thought the world was going to end on December 31st 2012 because that’s when their calenders ended. Seminars will be arranged. Press conferences will be held. Academic reputations will rise and fall. Then someone will find that on the last page of the desktop calender there is another page which lists the dates for 2013. “Aha!” they’ll say, actually the ancient Pakistanis believed the world was going to end on December 31st 2013!Recommend

  • http://slimmingtips4you.com/ Shirish

    very nice article…Recommend

  • Youths’ voice

    Well-written, i must concede! We need more articles like these…
    But yeah, i’m sad that the suspense of “21/dec-2012-end of the world” is diminishing…! Come on we all admit it was exciting!!! Recommend

  • shuja ul islam

    thanks for telling us what we already knew..but still kudos for detailed research..!!Recommend

  • PPP_Forveer

    Can’t believe you expended so much to seek ‘the truth’.

    frivolities of the rich. Recommend

  • http://www.adeentaji.com Rubina magsi(Adeen Taji)

    I ve read the article and i definitely agree with you it seems like you have had a great time exploring mexico it is good to see that you ve come out with the truth about 2012 whereas people were believing the fact that the world is actually going to end.this is a great ariticle hope i get to read more from you.Recommend

  • In The Know

    Dear Miriam: I really hope that you live in the US, cause otherwise, I could direct you to a huge number of “low income” families within 1 KM of where I live. I am guessing that within a 5 KM radius of my house, you could find more “low income” families, than you could find in the entire Mayan Peninsula. Cheers. Recommend

  • Parvez

    …………and a smart girl like you went all the way to Mexico only to figure this out……..now that I think is as hard to believe as the end of the world nonsense. Recommend

  • http://travelworld4u.com/ Shirish

    I think the world will not end so soon…Recommend

  • http://www,thescenemagazine.ca Darrell Shelley

    Fantastic write up Mariam. I remember when I visited these ruins and how desperate the children where to sell us their goods and sad they were as 5pm came and the tour buses arrived. I’m sure dec 21, 2012 will be a profitable day for the tour guides.Recommend

  • Rik

    I don’t think no one really took it seriously and panicked, except you mate if you went all the way to Mexico to research.Recommend

  • AV Bhagowal

    And the people,even in the advanced part of the world,are so gullible that,
    after 21 Dec, they would fall for another doomsday prophecy!! There is a streak
    of self-destruction in mankind and the way it is moving towards evil practices,it
    would work out and justify its annihilation again come next prediction.Recommend

  • Samuel

    Wow, to say I’m enviouse at the fact you went got to meet and also spoke to they Mayans would be an understatement, great read and just makes me want to learn more and read more.Recommend

  • Tughral T Ali

    I hope you went to Mexico for plain old tourism and not seriously just to find out if the world is ending on the 21st or not :) Thats a lot of effort to investigate something we will find out tomorrow anyway!Recommend

  • sattar rind

    its going to end or not but people of world are dicussing it and its top issue of social media. in which amazing news is that the villagers in France left their village due to fear of this myth. instead of realizing that if the world is going to get end then where they will hide?… Recommend

  • Hira

    Instead of criticizing her for going all the way to Mexico, it’d be nice if you just understood the point of the article.

    It wasn’t/isn’t that she and a lot of others believe that the world is going to end tomorrow, but all the same its intriguing that where did the facts actually go wrong. Nothing wrong with investigating what you don’t know.

    Great article. Double thumbs up!Recommend

  • jehanzeb

    we will find it tomorrow, and i guess there will be no way out of it.. plus i know many would wish the world ends tomorrow because it is anticipated the facebook will have nerds and dorks gone crazy over this issue,, Recommend

  • AbduL

    The World is Not Going to End miss Mariam ;/
    What you Believe Mayans or GOD :/
    Hilarious.Recommend

  • k.hemavathy

    i am not a beleiver of end of the world in 21.12.2012.
    if it happens i would be the creater of this new world Recommend

  • k.hemavathy

    I am not a person to say that the world is going to extinct
    If it happens I would be the creator of this new worldRecommend

  • Akhtar Hafeez

    Mayans should update their Calander. Even Science was in support of such myth. So it is better that we should work for the betterment of the Wolrd Recommend

  • Neelesh Kamani

    It is indeed an eye opening blog. this awareness should be provided to the public so that they stop living in panic.Recommend

  • Lexus Burnett

    No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. -Matthew 24:36 . People get bent out of shape because of people who predict the ending of the world when really they have no clue. Only God knows that. Instead of people putting their trust in man, put your trust in God. Have a blessed day!Recommend

  • Mj

    The world isn’t going to end unless we get hit by an asteroid, or the sun enters the Red Giant stage some 5 billion years in the future. There is also no large star near to us which might threaten the earth were it to go supernova. The earth will survive but there is no guarantee that humans will be around, after all, 99% of the life forms which have evolved have gone extinct. Religions and other popular superstitions need to stop being obsessed with end of the world and focus on making life better with the time that is available to us.Recommend

  • MsElenath

    @Clear Black Bag:

    You must be very naive, because there have not been any definitive conclusions reached by astronomers (not astrology as that is not even a pseudo-science, it’s just hedgewitchery).

    Even the POSSIBLE things that could occur are only loosely based in science but there is no evidence to suggest any of it is going to happen any time soon, let alone within 24 hours. No solar flare activity, no sign of a super-planet returning to crush us. The chance of black holes, comets, asteroids are all incredibly small.

    The grand majority of professionals will tell you there is NOTHING to this 2012 dommsday nonsense. Hell, even NASA has made statements that there is nothing to worry about.

    So who would you rather believe? Scare mongers on youtube . . .or NASA?Recommend

  • cairlin

    my big sister is worried she says its going to end. We don’t know that until tomorrow but it wont happen i know it wont. So people calm enjoy your life.Recommend

  • http://as Funny

    @Muslim:
    LOLRecommend

  • lee

    this is making me panic like mad, why say all this stuff if its not true, i really hope it does not end , hate when people go on like this, sitting here looking through all this stuff cause im so convinced its going to happen, cant seem to stay calm, Recommend

  • http://dinopak.wordpress.com Hasan

    A very well written article. Great readRecommend

  • no…

    rubbish at all… nothing else..!!

    we muslims follow only our deen… nd QURAN.!!

    nothing w’ll be happen today…!!

    i bet yew all… today no any destruction ,, neither doomsday nd balah,,, balaa.. balaaa,,

    hell,, mayaas… all fake :PRecommend

  • http://gujrat Zalim singh

    OK.OK. But still – when?Recommend

  • http://[email protected] dan el

    your point is a change in practical life towards function?
    no
    remember 911 pearl harbor and tonkin? we are easily bought as a whole, follow it and become a package deal.
    while i dont believe in the end times, i see the fault in your shoddy journalism, a heartsong piece, what is this the 40′s?
    the changes you promote are temporary. we lose interest, sad but true.
    get real
    our country (USA) is fighting the news with protest violence and madness
    if youre going to post crap like that put OP:ED in the title.
    that way intelligent folks will know what theyre readingRecommend

  • http://gujrat Zalim singh

    Thank you. Thankkkk youuuu.Recommend

  • http://slimmingtips4you.com/ Shirish

    What the mayans wanted to say was something different it was interpreted in a wrong way.Recommend

  • Milind

    @Mariam – “The full moon was shining over us as I sat down with Shaman Malo, to consume warm tortilla bread with a glass of coconut water.”

    My imagination is running riot, these details are vivid… and I don’t want to miss it.

    Please share the details/itinerary etc. of your trip…

    Excellent write-up!!!Recommend

  • http://travelworld4u.com/ Shirish

    world end posponed…Recommend

  • Sean

    First I would like to thank Miriam for her research in this matter, and second would like to completely agree that the end is not going to happen. People are praying on others fears and are coming up with ridiculous claims about the end of the world. The simple explanation is someone trying to convince you that 1+1=5 by making THEIR answer fit THEIR reason. I have heard in the last 15 years about the end of the world several times, first it was going to be in the seventies, then in the mid nineties, January 1st 2000, January 1st 2001 and 6th of June 2006. And we are still here, the 21st of December 2012 is going to be no different. Come christmas day I am going to raise a drink with family and we are going to laugh about how ridiculous the whole fiasco was. The ONLY sad fact about this is when this ‘doomsday’ is all over, someone will again pick some random date out of thin air and mark it as the next ‘doomsday’! That is as inevitable as the world NOT ending today!!!Recommend

  • http://www.mariammagsi.com Mariam Magsi

    @dan el: I think differently. I don’t fall into the package you’re describing, because I consciously believe in change whether temporary or permanent. Moreover, if you read closely, I am narrating and relating a conversation between myself and another human being. This isn’t about journalism, it’s a blog platform, where people come to write about and discuss experiences, meetings, thoughts and emotions. Go read the newspaper instead. You’ll feel better when faced with hard lining facts and emotion-less writing. Have yourself a great day. Recommend

  • http://www.mariammagsi.com Mariam Magsi

    A major shout out and thank you to all my readers! You have all made my day! You are the reason I write and put my work out there, even though it can be daunting at times. All the best and may love, light and peace fill your lives in the upcoming year, and for many more years to come! Recommend

  • Gordan

    Absolutely fascinating read! WOW!Recommend

  • Nishant Sharma

    I took a tour of the world through this article.Recommend

  • Deendayal M.Lulla

    Is there any charm left in survival as human being? Being born as a human being is the biggest curse – when you are alive,you die every second. An animal is more lucky,he gets killed,and the matter is over. In Hindu religion,there is belief that the birth as a human being comes after 84 lakhs births in various forms – may be animal,or any other left to one’s imagination. You are ruled over by the ruling class,and it includes the kings,ministers,judges,government authorities,and the police among others. You may become a victim of sibling rivalry,child sex abuse,malnutrition,and as an adult victim of judicial corruption/excesses,inflation,unemploment,greed of builders/government (taxes),police atrocities,rape (both men and women) and religious diktats. An animal gets killed by other animal,he is more lucky than human beings,as the animal does not have to undergo all atrocities a human being faces. An animal as a kid cannot become a victim of child sexual abuse,unlike the human being. I imagine a situation,when there will be no common man,and the ruling class will be there,and they will fight among themselves as to who is supreme. The sooner the world ends,it is better. The world may end due to nuclear war. Imagine a situation,when everything on land is decimated,and nuclear submarines survive. The sailors of these submarines will fight among themselves for supremacy – a good idea for writing a novel. Can any publisher commisssion me to write such a novel? I am waiting for it.Recommend

  • Robyn

    Thank you so much for spreading the truth !! Love it :)Recommend

  • Sally

    Hello people…

    It really surprised me that all these comments were written on the 20th of December (2012)
    I do not know about you, but I am standing and living.
    I never believed what people thought about the world ending, only because there is NOT ONE person on this planet that knows when the world will end – only God knows!!!
    It is not for us to say when we believe the world will end, but we should obey the Word of God, that says that only He knows. AFTER THIS EVENT, THAT THE WORLD DID NOT FINISH, ALL THE PEOPLE WILL BE PASSIVE ABOUT THEIR LIFE, THINKING THAT THEY HAVE NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. TTHIISS ISS WRRONNGGG!. We should not be passive, since the Jesus will soon be back, and those who have received Him as a personal savior, will be with Him.
    I write to you, my people, so you too, like me, believe in the Jesus, and His word (the Bible) so you can have peace and joy in your heart… pray to God and ask Him in your hearts…Recommend

  • MsElenath

    Sally until you have actual irrefutable PROOF that God exists then stop the garbage to random strangers on the Internet. Keep your crazy delusions to yourself.Recommend