Katalina Leon is the last visitor for the "Hope" December Guest Post Series. It's the week of the winter solstice for all you earthy readers. And so I present to you the author of many alluring books including Strix, and (my favorite title) Claimed by Dragons.
No matter what holidays you celebrate or don't celebrate December is a month of hope and always has been. Why? Because in most places in the western world December comes during the harshest, darkest days of winter. The sunlight dwindles, the days get shorter until the December 21st winter solstice arrives and turns the sun around. But even after the solstice brings a return to longer days, everyone knows the coldest most challenging days of winter still lie ahead.
The heart of winter is when we most need hope.
For a moment imagine yourself in our ancestor's place. Imagine an existence without modern medicine or central heating. Imagine homes where the wash water froze every night in its bucket. Imagine the inconvenience of no transportation beyond horses, boats or foot and little or no communication with distant neighbors. As December's days grew shorter and darker imagine the worries, “Did I plan well? Did I put enough aside? Do I have a loved one who might not survive the stress of winter?”
Not that long ago everyone in the northern latitudes spent winter this way and I think that's why a celebration of hope in the month of December is so important. We bring fresh cut evergreen trees indoors as symbols of eternal life in the face of physical hardship. We light candles and hang Christmas lights to ward off the growing darkness. We bless the less fortunate, wish each other well and practice generosity during meager times because those practices have served humanity well for countless winters.
Here we are days away from the winter solstice of 2012, which coincides with the end of the Mayan's long count calendar. December 21st 2012 marks the end of the thirteenth b'ak'tun and the conclusion of the fourth world. According to the Mayan there were three previous worlds that didn't work out so well and had to be destroyed. The fourth world, our world succeeded and humans were allowed to safely inhabit it.
A “b'ak'tun” is a 5125-year cycle. Chunky 5,125 year cycles sound impressive until you realize the Mayans really, really loved to count and they did it with gusto. For instance there is a carved Stela in Coba that marks the date of creation at 13, 13, 13, 13, 13, 13,13, 13, 13,13, 13, 13, 13, 13, 13, 13, 13, 13, 126.96.36.199.0
Or 2021×13×360 days or we could say the universe has 2 quintillion times more years left on it than it has already spent.
In other words, that ridiculous number predicts December 21 2012 it's not the end of days, not by a long shot. This is good news. Apparently we're living in a low mileage universe and hopefully the best years are yet to come. We have a quintillion years ahead.
Let's put a single b'ak'tun in perspective. Subtracting a b'ak'tun from our familiar historical timeline would place us at August 11, 3114 BC. That date is contemporary with the infancy of Egypt's earliest dynasties when they were just beginning to experiment with building crooked mud-brick pyramids. 5125 years ago the great stone pyramids had yet to rise. Humanity has accomplished a lot in 5125 years and the Mayans predict many, many b'ak'tuns ahead.
Honestly I think the Mayans would be appalled to be associated with the end of the world. They were very forward looking people. For goodness sake they even looked past the date they stopped existing as a culture by nearly a millennia. The second insult is the calendar that is continually presented to us, as the “End Date Mayan Calendar” is almost always the Aztec calendar. The Aztecs were a very different culture contemporary with the conquest of the New World. The Mayans and the Aztecs deserve to be recognized as separate and vivid cultures.
What does all this mean during the Christmas season when I will also be reflecting on the miracle of a divine child's birth?
Have hope. I know things are far tougher for most of us than they been in other years but don't allow fear to drive you. Have hope that our world is not ending, evil will not win and better times lie ahead. Have hope that others who lived long before you had it far worse and still found a reason to celebrate. Have hope that you're resilient enough, determined enough and caring enough to make 2013 one of the most pivotal years of your life.
This is my blessing to you this holiday season, may you have HOPE and a beautiful 2013 ahead.
XXOO Katalina Leon
I'm an artist, an author, mother and wife. I write for Loose Id Publishing and Ellora's Cave. I try to bring a touch of the mystical and a big sense of adventure to everything I write because I believe there's a bold, kick-ass heroine inside all of us who wants to take a wild ride with a strong worthy hero.