Daniel Pinchbeck,
2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl
(Penguin, 2007)

2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl was the Grand Prize Winner of the 2007 Nautilus Book Award. It is a heavy, serious read, a cross between memoirs, environmentalism, scientific research, metaphysics, folklore, anthropology, astronomy and mythology -- all saturated with psychedelics. If it does nothing else, it will blast you out of your comfort zone and shake up your cozy way of thinking. The facts in the introduction alone should be enough to jolt even the most lethargic to action.

Quetzalcoatl is an ancient Mesoamerican deity. He is a combination of the quetzal bird and the serpent, coatl. He symbolizes the combination of opposites: air and earth, Heaven and Earth, light and darkness. He is the bringer of culture and a protector of mankind, among many other things. He is the god who "hands down civilization." It seems there are almost as many beliefs or opinions about Quetzalcoatl as there are types of people, and you will find most of those beliefs contained within the covers of this book.

The Aztecs believed the Earth goes through 5,000-year "Great Cycles." At the end of the Great Cycle, Quetzalcoatl returns to end that cycle and begin the next. According to their calendar, Quetzalcoatl will return in the year 2012.

Similarly, the Hopi of Arizona believe we are living in the fourth reincarnation of the Earth and are soon to enter the "Fifth World." In Hinduism, we are living in the final phase of the Kali Yuga, the last of four ages and the one that ends in cataclysm to spawn the next cycle of the four ages.

The Aztec calendar's return of Quetzalcoatl coincides with a rare event in the heavens. On the winter solstice of 2012, the sun rises inside a black hole, Sagittarius B, in the center of the Milky Way. The Earth and sun will align with this black hole, something that only happens once every 25,800 years.

Crop circles, beginning in August 1997, have made reference to the Mayan Tzolkin, their calendar and Sacred Day Count. The first contained a grid square inside a circle with the exact number of grids as the number of weeks remaining until August 2012.

The last time Quetzalcoatl returned -- according to the Aztec legends -- the Spanish also arrived. That was 1519; by the Aztec calendar it was "One Reed." The Aztecs basically surrendered due to their belief in the legend of Quetzalcoatl.

The evidence amasses to point to a major upheaval of some type in the year 2012. Daniel Pinchbeck believes the return of Quetzalcoatl means a change in human consciousness that will result in radical changes in the way we live. In 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, he details his beliefs and the processes he utilized to arrive at his conclusions. He supports each portion with documentation from multiple sources, as the extensive bibliography reflects, and offers the opinions, myths and folklore of a variety of sources.

Pinchbeck points out that the world has experienced "an exponential increase in information" and an "accelerated evolution of technology." Look at the lengths of our major ages:

Stone Age -- several thousand years
Bronze Age -- few thousand years
Industrial Age -- 300 years
Chemical Age/Plastic Age -- 100 years
Information Age -- 30 years
Biotechnology Age -- 10 years

Pinchbeck theorizes that in following this pattern, the Nanotechnology Age could last a mere eight minutes (although his math lost me at this point). I won't reveal his theory about the effect of those eight minutes. You will have to read the book to find out.

2012: The Return of Quetzcoatl is one heck of a read, no matter how you take it. As entertainment, you will get plenty as you follow Pinchbeck to the various indigenous cultures and take psychedelic trips through altered states of consciousness that result in some wild and wacky visions of everything from the world around him to his traveling companions. As a study in folklore or mythology, he definitely gives you value for your purchase price. He has loaded this book with the beliefs and prophecies of the peoples from around the world. As a volume that incites actions, this one is phenomenal!

review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

21 June 2008

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