The end of the world as we know it?

Tess Thomas (left) and Amanda Downey of The Tattooed Moose prepare for a party. Buy this photo

So, is this really The End?

Sure, the skies are blue, the air is crisp and the sun is shining bright.

But that doesn’t mean that a rogue planet can’t suddenly emerge from behind the sun and take out earth like a cheap pinata.

We’ll be on the lookout for signs of Armageddon here and around the world today as the Mayan calendar spins down to zero.

Reporter Christina Elmore is out in the field right now keeping tabs on of the planet’s heralded demise.

Other than brisk ticket sales for the upcoming Justin Bieber concert in Columbia, no clear sign has emerged that we have reached the end-days. But stay tuned and we’ll keep you updated.

One Man’s View

The Rev. Peter Edward Lanzillotta, chairman of the Coastal Interfaith Community, wrote book that explored the Mayan calendar and its deeper meanings for the solstice. The book, published last year, is titled “Spirit, Time and The Future.”

Lanzillotta, a West Ashley resident, had this prediction for the day:

“We are going to have a lot of people making an excuse for a party, and we will have a lot of New Agers trying to understand the whole mystery of energy. We will also have a lot of people realize the higher wisdom of tuning into nature and its cycles at any time of the year.”

To learn more about Lanzillotta and his book, visit his website.

NASA manager says no threat exists

CBS News reports that Donald Yeomans, manager of the NASA Near Object Program, has definitively declared that the earth is not coming to an end. “There is no evidence whatsoever for that,” he told the Tiffany network.

Wheeewwww. Let us pause for a collective sigh of relief.

Still, CBS reports, not everyone is buying Yeomans’ prediction. Outside Moscow, some people are riding out today in a Cold War-era bunker, about 185 feet underground, at a price equivalent to $1,000 per person, CBS reports.

Not the first to get it wrong

If all the end-of-the-world predictions turn out to be a bust, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

Geoffrey Braswell, an anthropologist and Mayan scholar at the University of California-San Diego, relayed the story of a national religious movement known as Millerism that predicted doomsday on Oct. 22, 1844. Some followers dumped their belongings and joined many others to wait for the second coming of Christ. It turned out to be a bust, resulting in the event being dubbed “The Great Disappointment,” Braswell said.

Descendants of the Millerites predicted the end of the world at least a half-dozen times after that incident, but we guess you already know how that worked out.

Today, the Mayan calendar runs out of pages, which some believe signals the impending finale of the world as well. You know, erupting volcanoes, crippling earthquakes, explosive solar storms — the works.

Poll

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The belief is tied to the culmination of a 5,125-year cycle known as the Long Count.

The Maya didn’t exactly leave a road map for what comes next. And that has sparked a host of competing prophecies and theories, predicting everything from a world-melting apocalypse to the dawning of an era of understanding and enlightenment.

Some believers have flocked to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to be at ground zero of the Mayan experience when the hammer falls. Others are said to be jetting to the French village of Bugarach, where UFOs are rumored to be hidden under a mountain peak, waiting to spirit the faithful to safety.

Here in the Lowcountry, people seem to be taking a more traditional approach and are having parties to mark the occasion, operating on the premise that doomsday goes down better with a drink in hand. Several clubs have festivities in the works.

Event coordinator Valerie Hammond busied herself Thursday preparing The Tattooed Moose restaurant in Charleston for an End of the World Party, complete with a cardboard Mayan temple, a shaman and a sky-is-falling balloon drop.

Just in case, she also has a fake Jesus and a small army of zombies scheduled to make a midnight appearance.

“We’re trying to cover all the bases,” she said.

Over in Mount Pleasant, Jeffrey Cohen of Jivamukti Yoga is expecting upwards of 150 people at a “live music yoga tribal dance party” tonight featuring black light, a drum circle and Mayan beats.

Cohen sees the date, falling on the winter solstice, as a pivotal moment in an age of natural disasters, societal turmoil and great technological advances. He prefers to see this as an enlightening event marked by people “collectively understanding how they are the instruments that change the world.”

Governments, scholars and scientists have tried to dissuade people of the notion that cataclysmic change is at hand today. Predictions to the contrary, they say, are largely due to misconceptions about ancient Maya texts and beliefs.

Geoffrey Braswell, an anthropologist and Mayan scholar at the University of California-San Diego, said various prophets have predicted the end of the world several times since the late 1800s, but we’re still here.

Psychologically, the phenomenon is rooted in our belief that the world needs to be cleansed of corruption and evil, and the doomsday scenario offers an easy solution to that complex task, along with the promise of deliverance, he said.

From that perspective, the fascination with the Mayan calendar reveals more about our society’s hopes and fears than it does about an ancient culture, Braswell said.

The Mayan calendar functioned something like a car’s odometer, and 2012 presents more of an accounting issue to this system than a prediction, Braswell said. Only two Mayan texts reference 2012, and neither mentions an apocalypse.

Though the date appeared significant, it could well have been referencing another odometer-like re-set for the calendar, he said.

Providing further hope, a third text references events far into the future, Braswell said.

Just in case, local marketing agency Rawle Murdy Associates has been running an online doomsday countdown clock since May, complete with tongue-in-cheek forecasts for light meteor showers, torrential rains of biblical proportions and temps of 804 degrees due to volcanic eruptions.

Jeff Webster, the agency’s public relations and social media director, said the idea was to have a little creative fun and promote the firm in the process. That is, if there is business left to harvest after the world is consumed by fire.

“Hopefully,” he said,“we will still be here working for our clients when the day is over.”

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5

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