Cult figure on a psychedelic mission to unlock the mysteries of 2012
View attachment 11831 JACKSON HOLE, Wyoming – Psychedelic drug booster Daniel Pinchbeck doesn't know if Dec. 21, 2012, will spell out Doomsday for the planet.
But that doesn't mean he doesn't fear cataclysmic disaster the likes of which the world has never seen. And he does think the Maya people were onto something in making their current calendar end on that date. He also hopes that the real significance of 2012 ultimately will depend on how civilization responds to it – on whether or not it will continue provoking nature's wrath.
"My feeling of 2012 is that we don't know what it's going to be. So rather than looking at it as Doomsday, we can see it as an opportunity to evolve and become more creative and more intelligent as a species on the planet and use the skills and technical capacities we have to engage in a very deep work transformation."
And, he adds, let's not ignore crop circles and UFOs.
Shaggy-haired, bearded and intense, this is clearly a man on a mission. But some film critics have unkindly suggested that Pinchbeck – a cult figure, author, shaman and 2012 scholar who is both revered and reviled within the culture which worries about such things – is the model for Woody Harrelson's off-the-wall performance as an ecological paranoiac in the new disaster film, 2012. Pinchbeck isn't commenting on that but neither is he prepared to dismiss the movie out of hand.
He does feel the world is heading for disaster and that primitive cultures are capable of possessing mystical portents of the future – themes which he explored in his controversial book, 2012: The Return Of Quetzalcoatl, now available from Penguin in a new, best-selling paperback edition. So, if nothing else he sees the movie as a warning call – and maybe something more, given what he knows about Mayan culture and prophecy.
"Personally, I think the film is part of the prophecy in a sense, because it's bringing this idea (of disaster) to a global level. I'm glad it's coming out in 2009 rather than 2011 because our collective consciousness has been trained to react to fear and hug spectacles of destruction, so that's kind of where the collective consciousness needs to experience it. Maybe after that, we can recognize that – yes, this is a collective window of transformation for our species and that we could collectively move global civilization in a very different direction – and actually, we're going to have to, if we want to have a thriving future for our descendants."
So Pinchbeck doesn't think it's just Hollywood fear-mongering to release a movie in which the planet is ravaged by earthquakes, volcanoes, mass flooding, dust storms, tsunamis and other displays of nature's wrath. He believes the world has much to fear and needs a wake-up call.
He also think the Maya culture has always been plugged in to what is happening, and what will happen, because drugs provide a conduit into a different dimension. That's why, in Pinchbeck's view that the psychedelic element can't be ignored: "that's how indigenous cultures like the Maya access other levels of information – visionary information, prophetic information."
Psychedelic substances and shamanism dispatched Pinchbeck on his own "transformative journey" which he described in an earlier book, Breaking Open The Head. "So for me, part of what I did almost by accident was to recapture some of those other levels of awareness that cultures like the Maya were based on."
Pinchbeck's studies of indigenous cultures and experimentations with their psychedelic substances helped resolve his own "existential crisis." More than that, they ended up making him think hard about 2012.
"It opened me to the idea that maybe we needed to take more seriously what tribal people and indigenous cultures and tribal cultures know. At the same time, I began to understand this time prophetically as a time of intense transformation. So that kind of led me to 2012."
But he admits you don't need ancient calendars and prophecies to know that the planet is endangered.
"When you just step back from what they (the Maya) knew or didn't know and how they knew it, it's very clear that we're in a period of extremely critical transformation and that we actually need a rapid evolution of consciousness as a species or we're simply not going to survive on this planet.
"If you look at the statistics that scientists are putting out there, 25 per cent of all mammalian species, perhaps all the species in general, will go extinct in the next 30 years if we continue at the concurrent rates of deforestation, industrialization and so on. The oceans are currently fished out of large fish. Whole chains of aquatic life are disappearing . . . . Acceleration of climate change is producing all sorts of effects, reducing the amount of arable land on the planet, which could ultimately lead to a food crisis. We have depletion of major resources – oil, water. We just had a major financial crisis in the U.S."
He also accepts other, more controversial, symbols of change.
"I've also studied crop circles in depth . . . . From my research, they're probably not being done by people, considering the level of precision. There are changes in the planets that have been documented, and we're seeing a worldwide increase in UFO phenomena. It's getting pretty wacky."
For Pinchbeck, all this might lead to a cleansing – "a sort of biospheric transformation." This in turn might lead to the development of new sustainable technologies free of ecological consequences.
"There's also a change that's happening in the nature of human consciousness itself," Pinchbeck argues. He says even the ancient Greeks knew that higher levels of consciousness are possible. So, today, do indigenous peoples.
"It's always been there but we're unconscious of it," he asserts. And, he suggests, it could be crucial to the transformation the world needs and this is where psychedelics can play a role.
"I look at them as teaching plants, the ones used sacramentally by tribal people. And they seem to be plants that have a symbiotic relationship to human consciousness. They give us messages. They decondition us from our extensive certainty about how society has to be. And they give us visions of what transformations are possible.
"I don't think everybody needs psychedelics, but for some people they're a path. I think it's unfortunate they're illegal."
25 November 2009
Canwest News Service