Daniel Pinchbeck is the author of Breaking Open the Head and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. He is featured in the documentary, 2012: Time for Change. He is executive director of Evolver and executive editor of Evolver Editions.
Q We have finally reached December, 2012, the end of the 5,125 year cycle of the Long Count calendar, and the world didn’t end. So what happens next?
A I believe we are undergoing a planetary initiation – a process of change that will either lead us to a new level of consciousness, or will end in our extinction. Climate scientists inform us that there are tipping points in climate change that can lead to radical changes in a short period of time – it can get 9 degrees hotter in a decade. Before we bring about catastrophe, we need a mass awakening, to change our way of living on the earth.
Q What do the Maya and Aztec believe about this time?
A According to Mesoamerican tradition, it is is the beginning of a new cycle – the Age of the Sixth Sun. This is a time of Apocalypse – the word literally means unveiling or revealing. The veils between the worlds are parting. Our reality is becoming more psychically malleable as the world becomes more like a waking dream. The growth of psychic awareness may be related to changes in the electromagnetic field around the earth and throughout the solar system.
Q What should we do about it?
A I think we need to reinvent our social, political, media, and economic systems so they mesh with, and support, our planetary ecology. We are on the cusp of realizing that humanity, as a whole, constitutes a collective organism, like a body. As this realization takes hold, we will realize that resources should be shared equitably, and that we should cooperate for the collective advancement of humanity and the healing of the earth.
Q What do you mean by “planetary initiation”?
A In all tribal and traditional cultures, young people – especially men – had to undergo a an initiatory ordeal through drugs, fasting, vision quests, sleep deprivation, or some combination. The point of these ordeals was to help the initiate access extrasensory and visionary perception, and also to transcend or overcome their ego to become responsible for the tribe. The prefrontal cortex is the most recent addition to the brain. It goes through a second phase of development in late adolescence, when higher-level reasoning and access to higher states of consciousness can emerge. Unfortunately, modern culture repressed the need for initiation. Because we don’t access transcendence, most people in our culture are trapped in their ego. They don’t take responsibility for the future of the planet. The mega crisis we are confronting will force us to either evolve or die out. As a species, we are facing a planetary initiation.
Q What role do psychedelic substances play in this process?
A Psychedelics can widen the aperture of consciousness so you become aware of all the false belief structures and ideologies of our modern world. Substances like ayahuasca, LSD, and DMT can give you direct insight into other dimensions of reality that seem just as real – if not far more – than this one. You can also have paranormal experiences such as telepathy that make you realize the brain is not the source of consciousness, but more like a receiver.
Q What should people do to prepare for the mega crisis?
A I think it is very important for people to reckon with what is happening, and then make fundamental changes. Soon these will be forced on us, so we might as well make them now, when we have more options and can prepare better. On the one hand, strengthen local communities, safeguard local resources, and connect deeper to place. On the other use the global communications system to bring about a new awareness and a transformation. We need a civil society movement to make industry sustainable and demilitarize the planet. I think we can supersede the current political system by launching social networks that facilitate cooperation and collaboration, and the exchange of value without use of money. It is possible that our system could transmute itself from within, like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. For that to happen, we have to become the cells engaged in metamorphosis.