This is not a book review: some initial thoughts on Barbara Hand Clow’s The Mayan Code and more…



A man with one hell of a hangover once came to see me for a reading. Aged thirty-something, he’d recently been diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live. And his response to the unexpected news had been to embark on a drinking binge. He had no religious or spiritual faith or affiliations; no inkling as to whether death would bring instant and total oblivion, relocation to an afterlife, or a roller-coaster ride through the bardo followed by reincarnation. However, someone had recommended a Buddhist meditation course. Never having tried anything of the kind before, and knowing he’d be required to stay sober and silent for 10 days, he was willing, yet wanted my opinion. I explained that my approach was psychological, not predictive; I couldn’t promise that meditating would tip him into remission. But having done the course twice, I could say it would change what was left of his life.

How would I feel if I found myself in that man’s position – i.e., if I believed my remaining time on Earth to be cut and dried? First, I might want to obtain a second opinion. But would I freak out initially? That might depend on the credentials of the diagnostician. I mention this because, apparently, some interpreters of the Mayan calendar have given humanity less than two years to live – they believe that the world as we know it will end on 21 December 2012. Others believe that we won’t have to die – as long as we transform our lifestyle. What do I believe? Hmm… A prophecy that captures the collective imagination, as this one has, is at least worth exploring as a symbol; after all, though predictions by nature downplay individual responsibility, won’t global warming force us to transform, whether we want to or not?

Of course, some folks will just shoot the messenger before they’ve heard the whole telegram, like those at 2012hoax.org, the site where I found out about The Mayan Code (which I then rushed to order). Its author Barbara Hand Clow embodies the evil these flat-earthers want to stamp out. A veteran of the cultural revolution that has its roots in the ’60s, she’s been publishing new-age books (her own and others) since the ’80s, when her first groundbreaking astrology text came my way, and I continued to read her sometimes wildly speculative books until the mid ’90s (at which point I ditched my astrology business to write full-time). So when I wanted a new-age take on the Mayan calendar’s use-by date, her name was the first I thought of googling. And if she had more of a web presence I might have missed the ‘bio’ of her on 2012hoax.org – a hatchet job if ever I saw one. Having spent time meditating with Hand Clow and others at ancient sacred sites on Crete and in Egypt during the early ’90s, I recalled her respect for nature and penchant for ecstatic trance states. So while reading her latest book I pondered why her ideas might inspire fear. 2012hoax.org’s paranoid view of her is an amusing irony. The Mayan Code’s basic thesis is that time and consciousness are accelerating due to an evolutionary imperative originating from the ninth dimension (the black hole in our galaxy’s centre) with the inevitable consequence that humanity will become enlightened in 2011–12.

Would this prospect frighten you (assuming it were in any way likely)? That might depend on what you think Hand Clow means by ‘enlightenment’. And here’s a quote that might provoke hoax-spotting geeks: ‘the youth of the 1960s manifested all the aspects of enlightenment—meditation, art, personal searching, love of nature, a yearning for peace, and cosmic fusion by means of altered states of awareness (pp. 226–7).’ Might this also be evocative of the youth of today (a vulnerable group that 2012hoax.org aspires to save)? With what now seems like gross naivety, I posted a few comments on the site, citing errors in the said bio and questioning the ethics behind it, which incited a volley of hostile comments from members and guests, most of whom assumed I was male (though ‘Shane’ is a genderless name) and some of whom assumed I must want to push my own version of imminent doomsday. (If I ever lay claim to some prophetic ‘truth’, please just take me out and shoot me!) Anyway, here’s part of a comment I received from a guest: ‘I am 22. Ever since I really heard a lot about 2012 I could not think of anything else. The ONLY reason I really started freaking out was because of what I "read on a website or [saw] on YouTube". The only thing that has helped me get my life back is this website, and all of their moderators.’ Here, ‘Lindsay’ endorses the site and calls me a jerk, delusional, wrong etc. A moderator then chimes in with Lindsay, referring to my ‘crackpot theories’ (such as the ethical shadiness of fudging facts to defame others?) and Lindsay continues to rail against my kind: ‘Do they have nothing better to do in their life than to attack people and scare people? It's disgsuting [sic]. And I hope I never have to meet any of these people face to face. I'd probably have some things to say. And some punches to be thrown.’ At this point, a member changed the subject, which I hope means they don’t condone violence as well as slander. Did I mention that Hand Clow is a pacifist? Yet, her haters (who haven’t read her work) will fight for their right to not think for themselves (let alone surrender to ‘enlightenment’).

Why would I want to blog about a book that came out in 2007? And especially a book containing predictions that haven’t been fulfilled, for instance… These gems pertain to the period 13 Nov 2008–7 Nov 2009 (pp. 178–9): ‘the euro will be the world’s currency’; ‘the armament industry will collapse’; ‘Natural medicine will be used for almost all health needs’; ‘The drug era will be remembered with horror’; ‘Peace will have come to Israel’; ‘There will be many less people on the planet because of the wars, pandemics, and Earth changes’. Hand Clow does have the presence of mind to insert a disclaimer: ‘In case this sounds too positive, all of these things will not have occurred yet, but we will be heading in these directions.’ (I’m glad that precedes ‘Many leaders will be using the Mayan Calendar to direct cultures’!)

In case it’s not obvious from the above predictions, Hand Clow says she was ‘one of the Children of Love living in San Francisco during the late 1960s (p. 227)’ – yet, unlike so many of her generation, she never lost faith in that bliss-filled Aquarian-style vision. And this fact alone makes for a stimulating read. But having worked in the field of new-age publishing for decades, Hand Clow offers a whirlwind tour of what she calls new-paradigm writing. Reading The Mayan Code continuously is a literary equivalent of taking a hallucinogenic trip.

Why wouldn’t I rather read sci-fi or fantasy that also explores such themes as, e.g., ETs, Atlantis or the hidden truth about Jesus? In his provocative essay ‘The Meaning of the Bomb as World Destroyer’, psychotherapist John C. Woodcock writes: ‘We are each living in a time of transformation of collective representations or to put it in common language: the end of the world. Symbols, or images, or structures that bring order and meaning to our lives, containing us as it were in their meaning are being destroyed at an accelerating rate.’ Such a psychological perspective would be lost on 2012hoax.org members. Yet if it’s applicable, aren’t thinkers like Hand Clow offering a kind of resistance? (To be continued…)

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This entry was posted in books to read before you die, the sceptic's guide to astrology & more and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to This is not a book review: some initial thoughts on Barbara Hand Clow’s The Mayan Code and more…

  1. Pingback: Not a book review, cont’d: more thoughts on Barbara Hand Clow’s The Mayan Code and the need for order and meaning… | observer of times

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