There are a number of different theories about the metaphysical significance of the year 2012. Many groups believe that something pretty big is coming in 2012, particularly on the date of December 21, 2012, which is the day of the winter solstice. While some people believe that this may be the end of the world as we know it, others think that it is simply a time of great metaphysical change and transformation, one in which the human race will evolve into a new spiritual age.
The Mayans and 2012
The ancient Mayan calendar was created by a culture which was, for its time, pretty sophisticated and advanced. The Mayans had scientists, artists, and engineers, and their calendar did more than just map out a timeline, it also charted major important events. However, the Mesoamerican calendar may have been misinterpreted, so that what people think is a doomsday prediction is actually just a numerical coincidence. Because of the way the calendar was designed - in a format referred to as the Long Count -- the first cycle of the calendar was designed to run for exactly 5,126 years.
The Mayan calendar, as we know it today, was started in 3114 b.c.e. That means that 5,126 years later, it's going to end. And guess what year that will be?
So, does this mean that it's a doomsday prediction from the ancient, all-knowing Mayans? Probably not. It most likely means that, via a series of numerical oddities, the calendar just runs out.
Interestingly, there is also a Hindu prophecy that indicates that 2012 will be a time of great change and upheaval. Our About.com Guide to Hinduism, Subhamoy Das, says, "In the "Brahma-Vaivarta Purana", Lord Krishna tells Ganga Devi that a Golden Age will come in the Kali Yuga - one of the four stages of development that the world goes through as part of the cycle of eras, as described in Hindu scriptures. Lord Krishna predicted that this Golden Age will start 5,000 years after the beginning of the Kali Yuga, and will last for 10,000 years." According to the Hindu calendar, we are more than five millenia into the Kali Yuga, which means that the Golden Age could begin any time, possibly in 2012.
Mother Shipton and Nostradamus
Mother Shipton, born Ursula Southwell, was an Englishwoman known for her powers of prophecy and soothsaying. Born around 1488, she made a number of predictions about regional events, such as the Great Fire of London. Interestingly, she is often associated with doomsday predictions, even though known of her prophecies foretold the end of the world. A number of 2012 theorists associate Mother Shipton with this year, but there is no documented evidence that any of her predictions reference 2012.
Nostradamus was a 16th-century French physician who believed he had the power to foretell the future. He wrote down many of his prophecies, and his writings are often referenced by conspiracy theorists who believe he predicted everything from the Great Depression to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the assassination of president John F. Kennedy. Some people believe that Nostradamus' quatrain that reads, "When twenty years of the Moon's reign have passed,another will take up his reign for seven thousend years" hints at a massive collision between an asteroid and the earth, and they say that this will take place on December 21, 2012.
It's the End of the World As We Know It And I Feel Fine
There are a number of end-of-days prophecies surrounding the year 2012. Theories range from massive polar magnetic shifts - possibly caused by solar flareups -- to earthquakes, tsunamis, and even asteroids hitting the planet earth. A few fringe groups have interpreted the 2012 phenomenon to mean that this will be the year that God's wrath comes down upon the earth, possily leading to a Rapture, or some sort of apocalyptic event.
Many 2012 theorists believe that there is a planet, sometimes referred to as Planet X or Nibiru, hurtling towards earth, which will have some sort of cataclysmic impact once it gets near enough to our planet's atmosphere. However, this theory is an Internet hoax that has been around since around 1995, and it originated with a Wisconsin woman who claimed she was receiving messages from an alien race who warned her of the pending collision.
New Age Interpretations
In the metaphysical community, there are a number of different theories about what's going to happen in 2012. Some people beleive, as mentioned above, that this year will bring about a cosmic shift in awareness, and that humankind will enter into a new age of enlightenment and spirituality. In astrological terms, 2012 marks the continuing journey into the Aquarian Age, which is supposed to be a time of making the world a better place through peace, love and understanding.
Should You Be Worried?
Let's face it, if there's going to be a giant asteroid plummeting towards the earth in December, 2012, there's not going to be much that any of us can do about it. However, while many of us accept the idea that some prophecies can be accurate, it may be a bit of a streth to assume that a prophecy can predict such things as the exact date of world destruction.
As to a metaphysical change, why 2012? Why did it not take place in 2011, or in 2013? If we, as a species, are undergoing some sort of deep spiritual transformation, this is something that takes a while, because it must happen on a global level. It's not going to suddenly occur over the course of a single year.
If we stop looking at 2012 from a spiritual and metaphysical viewpoint, and reduce it to a strictly scientific one, things look a whole lot more positive in the long run. There is no credible scientific evidence that the world is coming to an end in 2012, or any other time in the near future. NASA points out, rather diplomatically, "Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years."
While you may not feel a need to predict the end of the world, anyone can learn to do divination. Try some of these simple techniques, and see what you can see for yourself!