Bygone Doomsdays

With fears of 2012 on the horizon, and many interpreting the Mayan Calendar as the last days of humanity, it’s fun and important to take a look at doomsdays throughout history so we can contrast the differences and similarities between this upcoming 2012 prophecy and previous prophecies.  Interestingly enough, the earliest account of a doomsday prophecy was an Assyrian clay tablet from 2800 BC citing moral decay as a sign of the end times.  Almost five thousand years later the ritual of waiting for the end continues.

In 634 BC, fear had a stranglehold on the Roman Empire as  the populace was afraid of the city’s destruction in its 120th year.  Twelve Eagles, as the legend went, had come to Romulus shortly after founding the city that would become an empire.  They revealed to him the future history of Rome, and some had theorized that each Eagle may have represented ten years before its fall.  The Roman Calender, measuring from 1 “Ab Urbe Condita” (AUC) to 120 finally lived out the 120 years and yet did not end.  A few hundred years later, doom fearing Romans suggested that perhaps the number of days in a year would be the end of The Roman Empire, and braced themselves in 365 AUC (or 389 BC).  This most recent doomsday prophecy having failed, the Empire went on for almost a thousand years before barbarian Goth hordes finally sacked Rome in 410 AD.

On April 6th of 793, in Toledo Spain, Bishop Elipandus wrote of the Easter Eve doomsday panic of the night before.  A monk named Beatus had suddenly slipped into a sort of fervor and declared that the world would end that day.  The assembled crowd quickly spread the word and soon the whole countryside was terrified.  They all decided to fast throughout the night.  When the end of the world didn’t end up happening, the fasters returned to life as normal.  Sextus Julius Africanus declared Doomsday would be 800 AD at the latest, and Beatus of Liebana agreed.

London Astrologers responsibly released information to the public declaring the world would end yet again on February 1st, 1524.  The world had effectively failed to end almost fifty times in recorded history by this point.  Thousands fled their homes for the hills while many more stockpiled food and water to prepare for the upcoming tragedy.  Those doomed souls who remained behind braced themselves as not a single drop of rain fell that day.  Of course Earth would get another chance to flood over on the 20th, as the prophecy was revised.

Of course the predictions continued until we reached the year 2000, when a bug called Y2K was supposed to shut down infrastructure all over the world and bring about a Mad Max style apocalypse, or somehow launch every nuclear warhead in the world.  Many people, including several quite reasonable individuals were fooled by this one, and still feel the sting today when thinking about a basement full of preparation washed down the drain.  It’s hard to believe that was only nine years ago.

Now we have the year 2012.  Could this one finally be it?  Before you get too nervous about it, keep in mind that nowhere does it explicitly say that 2012 is the end of the world in Mayan traditions.  Many modern Mayan shamans have actually said quite the opposite, and that if anything 2012 will represent a great enlightening period.  The return of Quetzalcoatl, as many are calling it, is the return of ancient knowledge.

Having said that, before you get too comfortable we have to also take into consideration that the end of the world could be any time.  The world is more complicated now than it ever was, and society has many moving parts, some of them nuclear.

If 2012 does turn out to be an age of coming spiritual rebirth and enlightenment, as many respected spiritualists believe, it could mean the end of the world, but also the beginning of a world better suited to spiritual development and growth.  If this is the case, then perhaps we should be preparing ourselves mentally rather than focusing on what to stockpile.  There’s still plenty to prepare for in 2012.