Spin Cycle

This concept has been advanced into its own chapter because it has more proponents and supporters than any other of the doomsday hypotheses. The reason for this probably lies in the fact that this is not your normal pie-in-the-sky raving, this is “science”.

Or, at least, so they tell us.

This theory seems to have been the primary impetus for both the History Channel “Doomsday 2012” show as well as the “2012” movie.

The concept of pole shift was first put forward by Charles Hapgood in his 1958 volume The Earth’s Shifting Crust. And as the idea was also endorsed by Einstein, it is viewed as the most scientific of all the theories.

In Hapgood’s thesis, the crust, though miles thick, is actually merely a hard shell floating on a very molten, very fluid core. Shifts in gravitational attraction could, conceivably, hold the shell in a spot for a moment while the molten core continued its forward motion. After this slippage, the crust would roll around for a time until its motion again matched that of the upper layers of the spinning core and stability could be regained.

Exactly what could cause the slippage to start is an interesting field of speculation. Anything from a massive coronal burst to the imbalance of the crust caused by the size of the Antarctic ice cap has been targeted as a prime suspect. And how far the slippage could occur – and in which direction – is still a matter under debate.

It is interesting to note – ironically, perhaps – Hapgood died on December 21st, 1982, exactly thirty years before the End-Date of the Mayan Calendar.

Polar Shifts in the Past

It is true that the Earth has shown evidences of polar shifts and magnetic reversals in the past. A lot of people see doom and gloom in this predicament even though no one is quite certain what a pole reversal would do for us.

Every eleven years or so, the Sun undergoes a magnetic reversal. We can measure this bizarre occurrence but it does not seem to have any ill effects on either the Sun or on us. So what can be so frightening about a magnetic reversal on Earth? I mean, other than the annoying habit of having to read our compasses upside down and perhaps invert our globes, would such a thing really mean any difference to us?

So, magnetic reversal may not be that alarming. But if there was actual crustal slippage, rather than a mere magnetic reversal, there might be something a little more frightening occur. But exactly what, no one knows.

Some theorize that the waters of the oceans, continuing forward with the inertia of their former angular momentum would not apply the brakes as quickly as the solid crust, so there would be monumental waves crashing over the continents.

Yes, just like in the movie “2012”.

But the exact mechanism is still unclear. Hapgood was of the opinion that the amount of ice accumulating on the polar caps would be enough to trigger the shift. Unfortunately, it was his supporter, Einstein, who pointed out that even massive ice caps would not be enough to cause the crustal slippage.

Today the theory of crustal slippage has been shunted into the garbage bin with the tag “pseudo-science”, surely the death-knell of all things in our technosphere.

Ancient Prophecy by Merlin

Yes, even the famous seer at the court of King Arthur – the non-mythical one, of course – weighed in on this issue, at least according to R. J. Stewart, an author with the Tarcher house as was Daniel Pinchbeck, mentioned earlier. This was another bit covered in the History Channel special on “Doomsday 2012”, where even their editor-in-chief, Mitch Horowitz, weighed-in in support of their theories.

Merlin stated in one of his visions that “the planets will run riot through the signs”. It is a rather chilling thought to image such happening but R. J. Stewart claims that the only way this could happen is with a pole shift and the Earth tumbling over on its axis.

Immediately following this pronouncement in the History Channel show, the narrator said “it would seem that Merlin, like the Maya, prophecy a pole shift”. That’s funny, because neither of them predicted any such thing.

And, unfortunately, the pole shift R. J. Stewart visualizes would do nothing of what Merlin mentioned. The planets would still remain in their courses and houses and only our viewpoint of them would have changed. It is important to keep the facts straight. The planets would not be “running riot” through the signs as they would still be in the same signs as before even if our angular view of them might be altered. And even that would depend on where you were on the planet and how much it shifted.

Unless, of course, whatever activity causes the change in our pole would also influence the other planets as well. (Just a thought.)

One Thing It Ain’t…

Maurice Cotterell, co-author of The Mayan Prophecies with Adrian Gilbert, had an interesting take on the whole polar shift theory. He at least imparts a different mechanism for the shift to occur: the massive sunspots coming at the 2012/2013 peak of the sunspot cycle.

Early in the ’90’s, the word was out that the sunspot maximum coming in 2012 would be a real humdinger. But now, scientists today are downgrading the even to a sort of regular so-so sunspot cycle.

And I do not think they intentionally downgraded the event to try and stem the flood of 2012 advocates’ interest in the show. They probably know that trying to talk common sense will have no effect in the face of such hysteria.

But there is some evidence that the shifting of the Earth would not create any harm at all. In an article in “Pensee”, 1973, Chris Sherrard demonstrated that axis displacement would occur without major tectonic disruptions and perhaps without any noticeable affects while it occurred. The gyroscopic reaction of the planet would be nearly instantaneous and smooth. This “gyroscopic precession involves a temporary transfer of angular momentum from spin to precession” and the small forces of adjustment would be accomplished without any major disruptions.

And without the wrenching forces on the planet during such an event, the shifting of the poles would occur without any problems or devastation to the people residing thereon.

Wow! It wouldn’t be the end of the world after all! Polar shift? Bring it on!


In today’s parlance, any event that encompasses worldwide change is termed “catastrophism” and, as you could already guess, this entire subject has been marginalized by the scientific community. Their view is, yes, these things do in fact occur, but not overnight or in the blink of an eye. Such dynamic things occur but gradually, slowly, over millions of years.

The idea of crustal slippage has made its way into the scientific model of our world but it ranks right up there with continental drift as something that takes a long, long time. In fact they term it polar “wander”, implying a slow, almost casual sort of change rather than the jolting a “shift” might bring.

So, it should come as no surprise then that science does not actually support any of the 2012 scenarios. Anything that abrupt simply could not happen.

Modern catastrophism had its renaissance begin with Immanuel Velikovsky and his 1950 publication of Worlds in Collision. Scientists generally dismiss the work as fiction as do historians, whose boat he rocks as well.

The interesting thing in relation to the study of the Maya End-Date is that Velikovsky hinged his theory on an event the Maya spoke about quite often. Nothing about the end of their Long Count but rather the purported start of it: the birth of Venus.

This “quack” had Venus being born out of Jupiter! Nowhere in modern science does any theory allow for such a mad thing. So, where did he get his idea? From ancient myths. And that alone was enough to get his writings banished to the garbage heap labeled “pseudo-science”.

Interestingly enough, his theory projected that Venus would be covered in clouds, very hot, and with intense surface pressure. Modern science knew better. Venus was moderate in temperature and, since it had a size similar to Earth, it could be almost a sister planet. Imagine their surprise when the probes revealed Velikovsky’s model created the correct results!

Carl Sagan immediately came out with an altered theory and said that Venus obviously was just under a greenhouse effect and it did not mean Velikovsky was correct. In fact, they observed that Velikovsky was not right even though his predictions were correct because his theory was wrong. Venus was not behaving like a “newly birthed planet” because it had been around for as long as the Earth.

Oh, yes, I see. Their theory that Venus was as old as the Earth quite naturally disproved his theory that Venus was new, even though his results were correct and theirs was not, at least until they altered their theory to fit the evidence.

Sorry, you can see why I never became a scientist. I cannot keep up with these sorts of machinations. I always thought that the correct theory was the one that gave the proper results. And I had no idea that one’s theory could disprove another’s theory. I thought they worked in facts… but then, I’m no scientist.

Where This Fits In

But we are not here to debate the theories of the moderns, we are trying to find the answer that satisfies the Mayan Calendar’s End-Date.

In the corpus of Mayan writings – the small amount that survives – can we find anything even vaguely resembling the pole shift theory?

As attractive as this scenario is, especially after learning that it might not bring the doom and destruction so many are looking forward to, it is surprising that the Maya make no mention of the poles shifting, the magnetic field reversing, or even a little bit of crustal slippage.

After keeping such careful track of the planetary positions for centuries, you would think they would have said something like “this is the path of the planet Venus… for now” or some other ominous foreboding like giving the future eclipses of the moon but then leaving the future period blank, covered only with a large question mark.

Those would have given us a clue to their intent, but we find nothing of that in the literature. Rather they seem to be sadly silent to our enquiries and our needs. But then they never wrote any of this stuff for us, they wrote it for themselves and their own needs.

As Anthony Aveni, the Mayan scholar and astroarchaeologist, said in “Natural History”, April 2001:

“Caught up in the theory of progress, we tend to focus on whatever glimmers of modern science we find in ancient or, indigenous ways of understanding nature. We see that a certain group discovered an herb containing a curative chemical or recorded the position of the rising Sun at the vernal equinox. And then we lament, Just think what they might have accomplished if they had taken the “right track” and pursued this knowledge more single-mindedly. But we would do better to study how and why these cultures built elegant systems for making the things they observed comprehensible–not to us but to themselves. Other peoples’ motives for sky watching may tax our patience and require dredging up subjects that suit neither our tastes nor our prejudices. But our failure to understand these motives will always be our loss.”
Copyright © 2001 Natural History Magazine, Inc. & © 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning.

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