Guest post by Ray John de Aragón
December 21 will either bring the end of the world as we know it, according to the Mayans, or prompt I told you so’s alongside some hasty, last-minute Christmas shopping (we recommend browsing The History Press bookstore and taking advantage of our holiday special if that’s you).
Regardless of the outcome, doomsday predictions have a long, contradictory and colorful history. We asked historian Ray John de Aragón, author of Enchanted Legends & Lore of New Mexico, to give us his two cents on the upcoming Mayan calendar prediction:
People in history have always been frightened by the thought of the apocalypse, which according to the Book of Revelation in the Bible is the day of devastation and doom signaling the end of the world. Proponents of the final day exclaim that the end of mankind as we know it is the inevitable end, and none of us can escape this.
However, no one knows for sure when this day will supposedly come. In the year AD 999, some people were certain that the year of the apocalypse would take place in the year 1000, when humanity would go into the next century. The thought of this doomsday created some hysteria, and people prepared themselves in various ways for the end. Unfortunately, many committed suicide, and for them it was their final day. Other doomsdays have been proclaimed in history, including the end of 1999 and the entry into the year 2000, the twenty-first century. Fortunately, those days came and went.
The latest craze to hit the waves is the end of time as declared by the chiseled inscriptions of the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica. According to the interpretations of some studying the life and times of the Mayas, Aztecs and other native groups such as the Olmecs and Toltecs, the final day of destruction is coming up on December 21, 2012.
They think that this date has been pinpointed by artifacts left behind such as codexes like the Popol Vuh, which were hieroglyphic writings, and advanced calendar systems that were devised by civilizations that were way ahead of their times and places. Yet anything in history has always been open to interpretation, and it simply depends on who is doing the interpreting.
For example, some researchers think that the city of Tiahuanaco in Peru, the pyramids in South and Central America and other structures are so architecturally advanced that we would have difficulty producing anything similar with the present technology…so they had to have been inspired and directed by advanced civilizations from outer space. Credit for such feats and accomplishments are taken away from the Native Americans who produced them.
No one can really know what a previous people were referring to or recording for posterity when they did it. They were simply living in their own time and place, and they were seeing the world as they knew it. For someone to say that this is what they said, this is what they meant and this is why they said it would be an entirely incorrect assumption and not based on historic fact. Many other professed “Days of Doom” have come and gone throughout history. This one will also surely come to pass.
Ray John de Aragón was born on January 19, 1946, in Las Vegas, New Mexico. His great-grandmother Dona Catalina Mondragon de Valdez, who was a curandera, a medicine woman, delivered him. He grew up with the culture, traditions, heritage and the history of Spanish New Mexico, which dates back to the settlement of the territory by Spanish colonists in 1598. His background is steeped in the folkloric mystery and intrigue that was passed down in his family for generations. His upbringing included listening to centuries-old stories of ghosts, witches and holy spirits that traverse the dark hours of the night. Because of his past history, Ray John de Aragón traveled as a storyteller, thrilling audiences with tales of terror and suspense. Ray John’s first university degrees were in education. His advanced degrees are in American studies with an emphasis on the Spanish history, customs and language of New Mexico. He is an internationally recognized author of several books, with his most recent being Hidden History of Spanish New Mexico. He is also a recognized visual artist and santero, a maker of religious images.