For many New Orleanians, Dec. 21, 2012, was more a celebration of hope for the next era of humanity than it was the anticipation of the world ending in a doomsday scenario.
There was more talk of joining in solidarity to make a better world moving forward than there was genuine fear of the Mayan calendar’s termination, Nostradamus’s prediction of the end, the rogue planet of Nuburu colliding with Earth or of Judgment Day and the second coming of Christ.
Robert Gnuse, a Loyola University professor who teaches about world religions, said that he always points out to his students that the idea of the Mayan text predicting an end is misread, in that the date marks an old year being swept away, and a new golden age of peace and prosperity ushered in.
“Actually we aren’t going to notice a thing,” he said.
But while there weren’t many people in New Orleans stocking bunkers with ammunition and perishables, the date did not pass without notice.
For some, it was a just another good excuse to throw a party, centered on the notion that they might as well go out with a bang if the world does indeed end.
“Everyone will wake up with a hangover tomorrow — that’s their beginning of a new age,” Gnuse said.
However Gnuse acknowledged that psychologically, “people love end of the world scenarios.” In general, many people want to see a judgment day come, particularly because it means that the evil, suffering, and misery will be wiped away and be replaced with something better and brighter, Gnuse said.
In his classes on the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation, Gnuse notes that many of the revelations predicted had already happened but are often forgotten and reinterpreted to predict future events.
“If you are as old as me,” Gnuse said, there’s a long track record of end dates. “And everyone who has predicted the end of the world has been wrong,” he said.
Others around the city used the date to focus on the alignment of the planets, the Winter solstice, or as an opportunity to join together to express a desire for a more harmonious world moving forward.
At the New Orleans Healing Center, Vodou priestess Sallie Ann Glassman took the occasion to host a potluck gathering — each dish inspired by ancestors. The dinner conversations, she wrote, would focus on “What can/must we do and how can we do it, to effectively participate in the balancing/renovating of the world as the calendar of mankind rolls over — or stops? How can we assure that the energy that is flooding the planet is transformative and not cataclysmic?”
For those who wanted to connect to the forces of nature, park rangers at Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve guided a 2-mile nighttime walk through the park on the longest night of the year.
One of the biggest parties in town — hosting well over 1,000 revelers — was the Cosmic Convergence Festival at the Sugar Mill.
Giorgio Tsoulakas, star of History Channel’s Ancient Aliens, hosted the event along with the local Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus. Krewe member Seann Robbins said that Tsoulakas had such a good time as the krewe’s king for the 2012 Mardi Gras that he continued collaboration with the group.
For wetlands biologist Andy Baker, dressed in a time-traveler-inspired costume, the coming end does have somewhat of a literal meaning, in that “we are at the eroding edge of the Earth — closer than you think.” Regardless, Baker celebrated on the premise that “the world is always ending one day at a time — so you’ve got to celebrate every one.”
Dressed as a space goddess, Brandi Brannan said that she was sort of hoping that aliens would come down and take her with them to explore the universe. But she said she had a hotel room just in case, so she could spend her last moments with her “honey.”
Brannan said that she’d “like us to grow up as a civilization, and stop letting the petty things divide us.”
Robbin said that he hopes the date “marks the end to some of the strife and brings in an era of more harmony.’’
“Let’s face it, the world is kind of messed up right now,” he said.
Krewe of Chewbacchus Overlord Marco Topete said he’d like to see “more people caring for other people instead of their own interests, and doing things for the good of mankind.”
Robbins, one of the krewe who worked the 14½ -hour event, said that instead of a doomsday party, they decided they would “throw a party so excellent that the Mayan gods will spare us.”
With most clocks predicting the world’s end before anyone even woke up on Friday, at the time the paper went to press, things look all right for humanity. For now.