Mythic Meditations

 

There are people who say that the Mayan calendar is predicting the end of the world on Dec 21st 2012. Some Christian scholars say that the Rapture will occur on May 21st 2011 and that the Apocalypse will culminate with the destruction of the Earth by fire on October 21st that same year. It wasn’t too long ago that Y2K was said to be the end of modern civilization. One could call it a recurring theme that has been running through our culture for a very long time now but the word that most clearly fits the description isn’t ‘theme’ but obsession. However, religion is not the only vehicle for this doomsday fetish. It seems to have found a home in our culture’s modern cathedral: the cinema.

Whether it be Mad Max’s world of the tribal chaos fueled by a chronic thirst for gasoline or the certain destruction presupposed by the celestial menace of asteroids and comets or the threat of nuclear annihilation at the hands of our Earthly enemies audiences seem to love the spectacle of watching their own violent demise. These films fill the theaters and pump up the box office of Hollywood. Ironically enough there seems to be no end in sight for the genera of ‘the end’.

Clearly, we have a fascination with galactic deadlines. Moreover, there is a certain amount of trepidation and fear as we seem to be at the end of things. However, if time is running out and we are in fact at the end dose this not also mean that we are at the precipice of something new? Ancient mythological traditions are well informed about the concept of ‘the end’ just as we are today but they were also keenly aware of another important motif. That image being the universal idea of rebirth.

From the cinders of ash we have the transformation through fire of the sacred phoenix. Even hunting cultures perform rituals on the animals they kill so that they may be once more reborn. Moreover, for a millennia many peoples around the world have believed in reincarnation. In fact even modern science tells us that energy can never be destroyed but only changed into a new form of energy.

We all know that things must end. It’s one of the contractual conditions anything has after being created. If we know that the end is coming than why are we so afraid of this obvious inevitability? After all there is really little room for anxiety for such a thing that is so well defined. What is however not well understood is the start of something new. From the moment of birth onwards we have no idea what is to come. The start of things clearly does have the measure of uncertainty deserving of apprehension and distress. Therefore, while so many people appear to be frightened at the prospect of this supposed galactic expiration date in reality it isn’t the end that we are afraid of…but the beginning.

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