CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The countdown is here. We're five days away from Dec. 21, 2012!
It actually seems we heard more about this pivotal date years ago than we have lately -- when it's right upon us. I remember lots of stories about the end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21, 2012 -- this coming Friday.
Earlier discussions centered on theories about the end of the world. Later on, the tenor morphed toward a major shift of energy, with unpredictable consequences, because of the galactic forces that may come into play on that day.
Specifically, the Mayan calendar references point to the end date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar.
The Mayans were a very evolved culture, dwelling in the area now known as Central America in the sixth century. They excelled at mathematics, architecture, astronomy and hieroglyphics. Predictions by the Mayans have led some to believe the end-of-the-world scenario could be triggered by forces in outer space, as depicted in documentaries on the History channel.
Much has been made of this ancient culture's knowledge of celestial events and our solar system that they could not possibly have understood, leading to theories that they might have been visited by superior beings.
Nostradamus, the 16th-century physician and astronomer, foretold of a devastating period of strife in which the dark forces and the light forces do battle, and the light forces eventually win out. Interpretations have tied these predictions to 2012.
The book of Revelation in the Bible, as well as the book of Daniel, use symbols to describe a coming apocalypse. And prophet Edgar Cayce predicted this time would mark the beginning of a new era -- ushering in an age of enlightenment.
A widely adopted theory, popularized by author and Mayan scholar John Major Jenkins, is that there will be a galactic alignment on Dec. 21, 2012, causing massive outbursts of energy.
A galactic alignment happens when the equator of the Earth, the equator of the sun and the equator of the Milky Way galaxy are all completely aligned. This astronomical phenomenon occurs only every 26,000 years.
According to NASA, though, astronomy cannot precisely pinpoint a galactic alignment to an exact day.