In anticipation of the so-called “end of the world” Friday, Deputy Rod Carroll of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said he would put off paying his credit card bill until the end of the month.
Other than that, the sheriff’s office spokesman was not putting much stock in the theory that the world would end this Dec. 21. But he was not the only one.
Chief Darrell Bush of the Nederland Police Department said he had trouble taking the apocalyptic theory seriously. If the world were really going to end, he said he would buy a couple bags of chips and copious amounts of guacamole and sit back and enjoy the show.
Neither the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office nor the Nederland Police Department took any extra precautions to prepare for the doomsday prediction Friday. They were busy handling the every day, Carroll said.
Besides, much of the world has already seen the rising of the sun and not dissolved into nothingness.
The Mayas never predicted the end of the world anyway, according to NASA and a myriad of other sources. They just invented a calendar.
The advanced civilization created a shockingly precise calendar almost 2,000 years ago, but their method of measuring time followed the motion of the planets, said Frank Cricchio, a member of the Rotary Club of Port Arthur who studies the Mayas in his spare time.
The Mayas measured time in 394-year periods called baktuns. Anthropologists believe the 13th baktun ends around Dec. 21, and 13 is considered a sacred number for the Maya. But archaeologists have discovered Mayan glyphs that refer to dates far, far in the future long after Dec. 21.
The Maya’s long-count calendar will just roll over after Dec. 21, just as our calendars start over every Dec. 31. But the planets will not align, and the Earth will not experience a blackout, according to NASA.
“This is not the end of the world. This is the beginning of the new world,” Star Johnsen-Moser, an American seer, said at a gathering of hundreds of spiritualists at a convention center in the Yucatan city of Merida, an hour and a half from the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza.
“It is most important that we hold a positive, beautiful reality for ourselves and our planet. ... Fear is out of place.”
As the appointed time came and went in several parts of the world, there was no sign of the apocalypse.
Indeed, the social network Imgur posted photos of clocks turning midnight in the Asia-Pacific region with messages such as: “The world has not ended. Sincerely, New Zealand.”
In Merida, the celebration of the cosmic dawn opened inauspiciously, with a fumbling of the sacred fire meant to honor the calendar’s conclusion.
Gabriel Lemus, the white-haired guardian of the flame, burned his finger on the kindling and later had to scoop up a burning log that fell from the ceremonial brazier onto the stage.
Still, Lemus was convinced that it was a good start, as he was joined by about 1,000 other shamans, seers, stargazers, crystal enthusiasts, yogis, sufis and swamis.
“It is a cosmic dawn,” Lemus declared. “We will recover the ability to communicate telepathically and levitate objects ... like our ancestors did.”
Celebrants later held their arms in the air in a salute to the Thursday morning sun.
“The galactic bridge has been established,” intoned spiritual leader Alberto Arribalzaga. “At this moment, spirals of light are entering the center of your head ... generating powerful vortexes that cover the planet.”
Despite all the ritual and banter, few here actually believed the world would end Friday; the summit was scheduled to run through Sunday. Instead, participants said they were here to celebrate the birth of a new age.
A Mexican Indian seer who calls himself Ac Tah, and who has traveled around Mexico erecting small pyramids he calls “neurological circuits,” said he holds high hopes for Friday.
“We are preparing ourselves to receive a huge magnetic field straight from the center of the galaxy,” he said.
Terry Kvasnik, 32, a stunt man from Manchester, England, said his motto for the day was “be in love, don’t be in fear.” As to which ceremony he would attend on Friday, he said with a smile, “I’m going to be in the happiest place I can.”
At dozens of booths set up in the convention hall, visitors could have their auras photographed with “Chi” light, get a shamanic cleansing or buy sandals, herbs and whole-grain baked goods. Cleansing usually involves having copal incense waved around one’s body.
Visitors could also learn the art of “healing drumming” with a Mexican Otomi Indian master, Dabadi Thaayroyadi, who said his slender hand-held drums are made with prayers embedded inside. The drums emit “an intelligent energy” that can heal emotional, physical and social ailments, he said.
During the opening ceremony, participants chanted mantras to the blazing Yucatan sun, which quickly burned the fair-skinned crowd.
Violeta Simarro, a secretary from Perpignan, France, taking shelter under an awning, noted that the new age won’t necessarily be easy.
“It will be a little difficult at first, because the world will need a complete ‘nettoyage’ (cleansing), because there are so many bad things,” she said.
Not all seers endorsed the celebration. Mexico’s self-styled “brujo mayor,” or chief soothsayer, Antonio Vazquez Alba, warned followers to stay away from gatherings on Friday. “We have to beware of mass psychosis” that could lead to stampedes or “mass suicides, of the kind we’ve seen before,” he said.
“If you get 1,000 people in one spot and somebody yells ‘Fire!’ watch out,” Vazquez Alba said. “The best thing is to stay at home, at work, in school, and at some point do a relaxation exercise.”
Others saw the gathering as a model for the coming age.
Participants from Asian, North American, South American and European shamanistic traditions mingled amiably with the Mexican hosts.
“This is the beginning of a change in priorities and perceptions. We are all one,” said Esther Romo, a Mexico City businesswoman who works in art promotion and galleries. “No limits, no boundaries, no nationalities, just fusion.”
Gabriel Romero, a Los-Angeles based practitioner of crystal skull channeling, was so sure it wasn’t the end of the world that he planned a welcome ceremony for the new age at dawn on Saturday, when he would erect a stele, a stone monument used by the Mayans to commemorate important dates or events.
Yucatan Gov. Rolando Zapata, whose state is home to Mexico’s largest Mayan population and has benefited from a boom in tourism, said he, too, felt the good vibes.
“We believe that the beginning of a new baktun means the beginning of a new era, and we’re receiving it with great optimism,” Zapata said.
He said thousands of tourists and spiritualists are expected for Friday’s once-in-5,125-years event. “All the flights to the city are completely full,” Zapata said.
All of it amused Deyanira de Alvarez, a tourist from Mexico City, as she snapped a photo of the countdown clock mounted in the Merida international airport showing just over two days left to “the galactic alignment.”
“My grandmother says that people have been talking about (the world ending) ever since she was a little girl,” De Alvarez said. “And look, grandma is still here.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.