The Mayan calendar as a medium of decolonial millenarianism for New Age alterglobalist youths of the XXIst century
Melissa El Bez (EHESS (Paris))
Paper short abstract:
Based on observations carried out since 2010 among the New Age circles of Tulum (Mexico) and at the festival Cosmic Convergence in Atitlan (Guatemala), this paper examines the alterglobalist millenarianism projected onto the Mayan calendar, and the practices that confer to it a performative scope.
Paper long abstract:
It is not widely known that the rumour about the change of Mayan cycle 21/12/12 is an outcome of the Thirteen moon calendar, a syncretistic version of the Mayan calendar which accompanies a New Age millenarian utopia. Based on ethnographic surveys conducted in Tulum (Mexico) and at the festival Cosmic Convergence in Atitlan (Guatemala), this paper examines the alterglobalist utopia projected onto the Mayan calendar, and the practices that confer to it a performative scope. The narratives collected reveal that the Mayan calendar is mobilized as an instrument of decolonization of history : the world would have entered a destructive and materialistic phase with the colonization and evangelization of America, era of which the Mayas would have prophesied the end, that New Agers attempt to hasten through collective and individual practices which aim to revitalize Precolumbian cultures and change habits of consumption, particularly in the framework of "conscious festivals". I will discuss travel, ritual, musical and narcotic experiences through which my interlocutors felt that they awoke and disseminated the "Mayan memory" present in "energetic epicenters" and in themselves, the latter being none other than the "cosmic information" that Precolumbian civilizations were reportedly able to capture while Europe was still in prehistoric times. I shall show that theories postulating genealogical links between "the civilizations of the pyramids" or the galactic origins of the Maya, allow alterglobalist youths to fabricate roots compatible with the contemporary world, as well as with the globalized but non-capitalist future which they aspire to build.
Making a better future with ancient pasts: heritage and utopia in neo-paganism and neo-shamanism