Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union

Contributed Papers

The 2012 Mayan calendar prophecies in the context of the western millenarian tradition

Nicholas Campiona1

a1 Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Lampeter, Ceredigion, Wales, SA48 7ED, UK email:


The 2012 Mayan calendar prophecies have attracted considerable popular interest, thought little academic attention. Following the papers presented in the 2012 Session at the conference, I suggest that the ‘2012 phenomenon’ is the latest in a historic series of millenarian movements that form an established part of Christian culture. The 2012 prophecies, while Christian in neither tone nor affiliation, may be contextualised within secularised versions of western millenarianism as a whole. My purpose is to create a framework for analysis, placing the 2012 phenomenon within a wider cultural milieu and analysing its texts. I suggest that Karl Popper's paradoxical theory of historicism and activism, and the model of pre-versus post-millenarianism, may both provide means of analysing competing forms of 2012 prophecy.

(Online publication July 26 2011)


  • 2012 Maya prophecy;
  • millenarianism;
  • New Age;
  • historicism