bookrev: 2012 The Return of Quetzalcoatl by Daniel Pinchbeck
Daniel Pinchbeck covers a lot of ground in this sometimes rambling, often revealing and occasionally genius work. “Personal consciousness evolution” is the phrase I’d use to describe both the glimpses into Pinchbeck’s own journey and his research of tying or attempting to tie many seemingly disparate cause/effects into a worldwide readiness and/or need for evolution of our joint psyche.
“In shamanic cultures, synchronicities are considered to be teachings as well as signs indicating where one should focus one’s attention. Such correspondences demonstrate the usually hidden links between the individual psyche and the larger world. Synchronicities express themselves through chance meetings and natural events as well as in dreams and supernatural episodes.”(pg. 45)
Pinchbeck ties the synchroncities he observes in his own life with large scale and wide ranging cultural phenomena, including time, shamanism, crop circles, psychedelic drugs, and multiple ancient and religious cultures including Mayan, Hopi, Hindu, Christian, Jewish and others. He demonstrates being well read and well researched in many of these areas. He could have included other areas that would have been applicable to the theory he postulates and the personal search he undertakes (such as Qigong, the predictions of Edgar Cayce, and others). But by tying his research to the areas that he has personally encountered, he ties it neatly with his own history. In some passages his first person endeavors serve as a distraction only from the excellent research; but the description of the phenomena observed on his travels is always first rate.
The “2012” in the title comes from the year where the Mayan long calendar ends; some have used this to predict an Apocalyptic end of the world, others the beginning of a new age. Pinchbeck explores both possibilities, and aligns these dates with other civilization gloom and doom forecasts. “Quetzalcoatl” is the Mayan Plumed Serpent, a Meso-american deity, whose myth is also interwoven in this story.
Man almost always thinks that he lives in “the time”, in “interesting times”, where large events, even apocalyptic ones will happen. Our generation is no exception, given the proliferation of apocalyptic tomes (and yes, I wrote one too). But there are few times in our known history with such commonality and portent as the end of the Mayan calendar, and it’s seeming coincidence with Vedic and Hopi myth/learnings about the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.
This book is very well-written, but jumps from topic to topic. From my perspective, it appears that, similar to a good martial arts instructor, Pinchbeck is giving us information but no answers. “Don’t ask me if your left hand should go here, here or here; you do the form and find out what feels right to you” my sifu once told our class. Similarly, Daniel seems to be saying “This is the path I am on, but decide for yourself.” It doesn’t appear that he is following along like a leaf in the wind, either, as he discourses (argues) with the writings and points of view of Streiber, Arguelles and Graham Hancocks and their theories; all are interesting discussions to think through and decide for ones self.
With that in mind, some of the areas that he explores are certainly not my cup of tea. His earlier book, “Breaking Open the Head” described his adventures with psychedelic drugs, and there are long passages in Part 1, 5 and 6 that continue these types of explorations. While well-written, I preferred the sections on time (portions of Part 2, 4, the end of 6 and the epilogue) and ancient civilizations, due to my own interests and writings.
Pinchbeck explores the concept of time and calendar from several perspectives, and has as one of his suggestions that our current calendar is part of the problem, vs. the solution:
“As discussed earlier, the Gregorian calendar currently in use disregards the natural cycles that govern the Sun, Moon, Earth system, the stellar engine driving our planetary evolution, including the evolution of human consciousness. Although we do not generally realize it, our calendar functions as a subliminal programming device, orienting us to a particular perspective on time, space and being. As Jose Arguelles discovered, not only is our calendar desyncronized, but our entire model of linear, spatialized temporality is misconceived – time is not equivalent to any sort of quantity, cannot be saved, killed or overcome. Since avoiding or escaping time is impossible, the sensible alternative is to align with it.” (pg 376)
Crop circles are not a topic that I had thought much about, but Pinchbeck gives both a cynical and believers perspective as he reviews the history of this phenomena and his own visits and exploration of UK crop circle formations, in his opinion some obviously bogus and some unexplainable.
The descriptions of the conjunctions in Mayan, Hopi and other “end of cycle” myths was the part that resonated most with my own readings and research. Pinchbeck covers a lot of ground here, reviewing/discussing the writings of Graham Hancock, Jared Diamond, Jose Arguelles and others, with descriptions of meetings and conversations with Arguelles that added to my own knowledge of these topics. While not described as such in this book, there seem to be four schools of thought on what this common “end of cycle” implies:
- Doomsday, the apocalypse, the end of days;
- The return of an ancient civilization that was responsible for educating the Egyptians, Mayans and others (Hancock et al);
- An evolution of consciousness proceeded by a “downfall” of our current society/way of life (Pinchbeck);
- Not a damn thing (i.e., a myth is a myth, or what ever comes at humanity will be dealt with and solved).
I can hardly wait for 2012 to see what’s behind the curtain!
I enjoyed Mr. Pinchbeck’s book, and will use it for my own research.
Buy it at BOOKS Inc.