The Time and Space Festival in Riviera Maya, Mexico invites everyone to witness the inception of the ultra-modern age of Human Kind at the very source of the Mayan Civilization’s motherland.
I WAS PREGNANT IN TIMES SQUARE EATING AN ICE CREAM SANDWICH ON THE DAY THE WORLD WAS SUPPOSED TO END. It was May 21, 2011, and for months I had strolled past Harold Camping’s Family Radio followers on my way home from work, their Armageddon dioramas and tri-fold displays lining the sidewalks like a doomsday science fair. My favorite thing about living in New York is the juxtaposition of beliefs and general open mindedness, but I certainly felt a sting every time I refused a rapture leaflet on my way to pre-natal yoga or waddled past someone preaching my unborn child’s doom from behind a Grim Reaper mask. Warning a very pregnant woman that the end is nigh goes over about as well as buying her a book about crib death for her baby shower.
Apocalyptic thoughts are nothing new—in every generation, regardless of religion, location or culture, there are those who believe the world will end during their lifetime. A 2009 article in Psychology Today traced humans’ cataclysmic obsessions back more than 2,000 years and even posited the theory that these beliefs are genetic. From the Inuit Eskimos to Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo cult, all have their suspicions as to how, when and why the end is near.
There were two types of people in the streets that May day at 5:59 p.m., t-minus one minute to supposed Judgment: those waiting for rapture and those waiting for nothing. A kind of anti-New Year’s countdown commenced, and some people started taking off their clothes (perhaps they figured they wouldn’t need them where they were going) while looking up at the sky. I don’t have to explain how it ended, or rather how it didn’t, and I’d like to say that I gloated past the stunned, semi-nude believers with my belly out, but really I just felt their disappointment. People streamed in different directions, I ate my ice cream, life went on.
“Maybe the Mayans were right!” a woman shouted as she threw a stack of flyers into the trash. And for many, the countdown started anew.
Next Last Chance
The world will really end, according to some, on the winter solstice, December 21, 2012, at 11:11 a.m. This date comes from the cyclical Mayan calendar exactly 5,125 years since the last calendar began, allegedly the time at which all creation as we know it will cease to exist. From polar shifts to solar storms to alien takeovers, several cataclysmic results have been predicted.
Patrick Geryl, author of the book How to Survive 2012, suggests storm shelters far inland on high ground, water purifiers, vegetable seeds and gas masks will be necessary to prepare for the simultaneous volcanic eruptions, massive tidal waves and searing solar radiation on the way. With almost 100 similar survival books on Amazon.com, it seems that many people share Geryl’s fears. There are some, however, who see December 21 as a notable date, but not one to fear.
“In the Maya archives, there is no mention of the world coming to an end,” said Dr. Mark Van Stone, Ph.D. in Latin American Studies at Southwestern College in California. “Not in 2012, not at any other time. December 21 is a day to look forward, it’s a day to make promises for the future, it’s a day to party and…to hopefully make new beginnings.”
Mexico-based record label Maia Records sees the upcoming date as a cause for celebration and rebirth and is taking Van Stone’s advice to party to heart. Founded in 2001 and responsible for classic psychedelic trance anthems and high-end electronica by Mexican artists, the record label is hosting Time and Space 2012: Dawn of a New Era in Riviera Maya, Mexico. They invite “everyone on this planet…to witness the inception of the ultra-modern age of Human Kind at the very source of the Mayan Civilization’s motherland.” The party is in the early stages of planning and a venue has yet to be secured, but organizer and artist DJ Arturo Maia says the festival will start December 20 and will continue “with people dancing on the beach until the early morning hours of the 22nd.”
Paralleling the Caribbean coastline, the Riviera Maya is known for crystal blue waters, flawless white sand, ideal weather and the nearby Mayan ruins at Tulum. The three major structures of interest at the Tulum site are El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes and the Temple of the Descending God. It is believed that music served a major purpose in ancient Mayan ceremonial functions, from funeral processions to sacrificial soundtracks. Composed largely of drums and percussion, this music was thought to provide a trancelike state to deepen spiritual connections. It seems logical then that the trance or psychedelic trance genre of electronic music is what many Maia Records artists (such as Blue Lunar Monkey) specialize in.
Dance is at the center of this musical genre, and a distinctive resonated bass beat throbs throughout psytrance tracks. Typical trance song structure involves the layering of different rhythms and addition of new musical elements every eight bars. New layers continue to be added to the consistent bass line until the song reaches an eventual climax. The song will then break down and an entirely new rhythmic pattern will emerge. This musical representation of rebirth and new beginnings seems to be the perfect accompaniment for December 21, 2012.
“Maia Records is proud to unite an elite force of Mexican electronic artists,” Maia said. “But ultimately our label has been deconstructed and rebuilt to allow for meaningful change over the years. We want to break paradigms and create a space where different people from all over the world can connect. We want to create a new global standard of musical diversity.”
One would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful locale and a more festive group of people with which to spend your final moments on Earth.
We Are Still Here
Harold Camping later revised his prediction to say that the end of the world would be October 21, 2011, and claimed that May 21 was the “spiritual judgment” and that in the months between the two dates there would be a slew of disasters. On August 23, 2011, the day my son was born (the exact hour in fact) Manhattan felt the effects of a 5.8-magnitude earthquake, the first in New York in more than 130 years. A few offices were evacuated but I, like most, didn’t feel a thing. A week later, my husband and I were taping our windows up and stockpiling diapers and water for Hurricane Irene, the first to move through the city in decades. It rained all night and the following morning I saw a fallen bird’s nest on the sidewalk, but that was all. In true jaded New York fashion, people took to their Twitter and Facebook accounts to complain about Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to shut down the trains.
Apocalypse obsession makes more sense to me now that I’m a mother: Predictions give the illusion of control. For a certain type of person, there must be something comforting about knowing when your time will come, something soothing about being one of millions. Life is so precious—and the thought of leaving so unbearable—that perhaps there is some solace in being prepared.
The world didn’t end, and then it didn’t end again. It probably won’t end in December either, but I have some great stories for my son’s baby book. One+
One+ March 2012,
value of meetings