Well, here we are. It’s December 21, 2012: Winter Solstice, shortest day and longest night of the year, and the subject of extensive speculation about history’s final events. As most of us know, rare astronomical alignments have caused this date to be regarded as the end of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. Although main-stream Mayan scholars do not believe they were predicting an end to life on this planet, some people do. Others have been preparing for wide-spread natural catastrophes that would dramatically alter our lives.
The Bible’s book of Revelation is one example of our long-standing fascination with end times. I confess that during the charismatic movement in the early 70’s, I briefly considered the idea of a “rapture” that would literally spare “true believers” the worst sufferings, but I concluded that this was the wishful thinking of fearful souls. I now think that since this vision was the product of a human mind, it is also the projection of a human intuition about the eventual need for a dramatic change in collective consciousness. When I first heard about the Mayan calendar and compared its end date with escalating wars, terrorism, climate changes, and natural disasters, I lay awake more than one night worrying about the future of my grandchildren. More recently, Cormak McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic, Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Road, again raised my anxiety about our shared future.
I don’t believe my sensitivity to this issue makes me that unusual. As Jung discovered, for everything we know about ourselves there is a corresponding opposite we prefer not to know. Nobody’s immune from the suffering that comes when we’re forced to face repressed material, in this case the awareness of our mortality. Who among us has not glimpsed a terrifying future in which we will not be physically present? Our egos may rush to dismiss this thought, but it lives on in our unconscious where it influences our personalities and behavior anyway. How many addictions have their roots in a desperate wish to escape our fear of death?
The horrific tragedy in Newtown last week is the latest in a maelstrom of catastrophes that are swamping our planet and forcing us to face our collective shadow as well as the shadow of death. Is it any wonder some are obsessing over Earth’s death? People have always done this when the chaotic spirit of the depths challenges the complacent spirit of the times to respond with increased consciousness.
For me, this year’s solstice marks such a juncture. Call it mere coincidence if you will, but I call it synchronicity: a meaningful coincidence. Here at the end of a major astronomical cycle, humanity is receiving a massive wake-up call to evolve psychologically or die. We know we’re in serious trouble, we know our lack of consciousness and compassion have brought us to this point, and we know something has to change. This is why many of us intuit that today’s date is a metaphor for the beginning of an era of positive psycho-spiritual transformation.
In response to my last post, “The Sacred Laws of the Psyche,” blogger and author Elaine Mansfield wrote: “As Solstice nears, I feel the power of the pause when ultimate darkness has been reached and the light is about to return. May this be a sacred moment for the major transitions we need in the world. We certainly seem to have the darkness, but I’m also counting on the Law of Love and the Law of Choice.”
Me too. May this holiday season mark our loving choice to bringing more light and love to the world.
For a different take on this issue by another Jungian, check out this article by Pythia Peay.