A new book by Daniel Pinchbeck ‘2012 – The Return of Quetzalcoatl’ (though soon to be renamed for the forthcoming paperback version) takes a broad look at the alternative world, focussing on the 2012 phenomenon and crop circles in particular. GEOFF STRAY, author of ‘Beyond 2012’ and webmaster of the ‘Diagnosis 2012’ website, considers its pros and cons…
Daniel Pinchbeck’s first book, ‘Breaking Open the Head,’ about the author’s travels around the world meeting shamans and sampling their sacred hallucinogenic medicines, was widely acclaimed. Thus his next book was awaited impatiently by many and, being published by Penguin, had the advantage of pre-sales hype, and pre-orders awaiting its release.
Pinchbeck, a New York intellectual, describes himself as “a clearly deficient, half-dissolute figure, a ‘freelance journalist’ of dubious repute” (p.20), and his 400-page (hardcover edition) book, ‘2012 – The Return of Quetzalcoatl’ [though interestingly to be retitled ‘2012: The Year of the Mayan Prophecy’ for the imminent paperback version], is an autobiographical essay that starts with his childhood experiences growing up in New York City. The book is split into six named parts, but none of the chapters are named. There is no list of contents, nor are there any pictures or diagrams, nor any notes and references. However, there IS an index and a bibliography. The book is well-written, but is not very gripping reading, and when finished left me wondering if the author could have got his point over with just a short article. So what point is Pinchbeck actually making in this book? A summary of the chapters and their contents would be instructive here, so here are my chapter summaries:
PART 1: A UNIVERSE IN RUINS
1: Pinchbeck’s Youth, Drugs and Quetzalcoatl; 2: Psychedelics; 3: Death of Pinchbeck’s Father and Ayahuasca; 4: New Physics and Jung; 5: 9/11
PART 2: THE SERPENT TEMPLE
1: Daemonic Reality; 2: Crop Circles; 3: Terence McKenna; 4: Christianity
PART 3: LUCIFER AND AHRIMAN
1; UFOs; 2: Streiber and Abduction; 3: Glastonbury Crop Circle Symposium 2002; 4: Goswami and Steiner
PART 4: THE LOOM OF MAYA
1: The Maya According to Arguelles; 2: Gebser; 3: Deep into Arguelles; 4: Jenkins, Calleman and Arguelles
PART 5: THE DANCE OF KALI
1: Iboga in Mexico; 2: Hawaiian Healing; 3: Symposium 2003, Crabwood Alien & Disk Crop Formation, Stonehenge and Avebury; 4: Crop Circles – Schnabel, Irving, Martineau, Brown
PART 6: THE LORD OF THE DAWN
1: Burning Man Festival; 2: Pinchbeck’s Sex Life; 3: Santo Daime and Channelling Quetzalcoatl; 4: Jung on the Book of Job and More Daime; 5: The Quetzalcoatl Transmission; 6: Quetzalcoatl/Akosha/666 = Author Recommends Global Calendar Change
The Hopi and Calleman
As you can see, there is not much continuity in the subjects, since they are covered in the chronological order in which Pinchbeck dealt with them in his life story. The main thrust of the book, apart from the expected psychedelics, is crop circles. Pinchbeck was impressed by retired architect and crop circle researcher Michael Glickman, whose study of the sacred geometry of crop formations has led him to the conclusion that these creations are the harbingers of a dimensional shift, and that it will culminate in 2012. Glickman figured that the 1997 26 x 30 ‘grid’ formation at Etchilhampton in Wiltshire signified the year 2012 because the 26 squares represented the 26 weeks in six months, and 30 of those equal 15 years, meaning that the 780 squares of the grid represented the 780 weeks between August 1997 and August 2012. However, Pinchbeck mistakenly says the 780 weeks lead to “the end of 2012” (p.87). I pointed out in the late nineties that not only is 780 days exactly three Tzolkins, but it is also one cycle of the planet Mars – a cycle also recorded by the Maya, since one Mars Round of 146 Mars cycles equals three Venus Rounds (six Calendar Rounds). Pinchbeck covers this point with “This grid also seemed to reference the Tzolkin…”
Part One starts in New York City in the early seventies, where Pinchbeck grew up. By the time of his late twenties, he had plunged into feelings of desolation, and felt he was dead and “wandering in some Hades” (p.25-26), and sought escape in heroin, cocaine and alcohol. Unsatisfied, he re-investigated magic mushrooms and LSD, and found that the substances themselves seemed to be intelligent and could suspend linear time. He continued the investigation and visited the West African rainforest to experience an initiation with the Bwiti tribe using the psychedelic root bark called iboga. He tried ayahuasca, the Amazonian sacred brew, “in an East Side apartment, guided by pseudo-shamans from California” (p.28), visited Mexican shamans of Oaxaca to try the local hallucinogens, and also tried smoking pure DMT and psychedelics invented in laboratories, such as DPT (dipropropyltryptamine). Pinchbeck later became convinced that this exploration of chemically-altered consciousness was being guided by Quetzalcoatl – the Toltec/Aztec plumed serpent god.
The psychedelic experiences triggered an interest in the paranormal, and Pinchbeck started reading up on the findings of Dean Radin, director of the Consciousness Research Laboratory in Nevada, which has apparently scientifically verified telepathy, precognition and clairvoyance. In 2000, Pinchbeck started going to the annual Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, then went to Ecuador to try ayahuasca with the shamans of the Secoya tribe. In chapter 4, he explores quantum physics and the work of psychologist Carl Jung, to try and throw some light on the strange dimensions and time-warps experienced in altered states. In September 2001, he witnessed some of the horrendous scenes of the 9/11 disaster, and notes that the Princeton University Random Number Generator recorded a strong signal that started BEFORE the towers were hit. This, according to the director of the project, is evidence of the first glimmerings of a global brain coming into being, which ties in with De Chardin’s concept of an evolving mind-layer, or ‘noosphere’ around the Earth.
In Part Two, Pinchbeck introduces crop circles, but fails to give any information (apart from mention of Gerald Hawkins' diatonic ratio discovery and Eltjo Hasselhof's work) that might convince people that the phenomenon is anything more than “landscape art”. The huge amount of evidence produced by the BLT Research group is barely mentioned, let alone referenced. This is a shame, because it will bring disrepute onto the subject of 2012 – supposedly the main subject of the book. In fact, Pinchbeck twice visited the annual crop circle gathering The Glastonbury Symposium in researching his 2012 book, but didn’t attend the presentations about 2012. He also fails to mention any of the formations that reference Maya calendar numbers (apart from the one cited above, upon which his whole crop circles-2012 connection is based), and for a book centred on crop circles, to have no photos or even drawings of them means the reader cannot grasp the massive impact of these images. Part Two is, however, redeemed by the discussion of the McKenna brothers’ trip to Ecuador, which prompted the discovery of the 2012 ‘Timewave’ [a fractal pattern of notable historical events that culminates in 2012]. Unfortunately, the Timewave itself is not explained, and its brief mention incorporates an error, which I list below along with other errors in the book.
In parts Three and Four, Pinchbeck makes the most interesting points in the book, regarding 2012, in which he finds correspondences in the work of philosophers such as Steiner and Gebser – see ‘The Pattern Perceived’, below. Part Four goes on to discuss the channelling of Jose Arguelles, in which “Pacal Votan” appeared and subsequently dictated the “Telektonon prophecy”. Arguelles then became “convinced that he is an incarnation, or emanation, of the ‘galactic agent’ and time-wizard Pacal Votan…”, although Pinchbeck and many followers of Arguelles don’t seem to realize that Pacal and Votan were actually different people who lived centuries apart. Pinchbeck does remain objective on Arguelles, pointing out that there is an element of “megalomaniac ego inflation” (p.236), but he likes the idea that the Maya calendar is “fundamentally a time-schedule for the evolution of consciousness”, which is the concept behind Arguelles’ ‘Dreamspell’ system, although these are in fact the words of Carl Calleman. Calleman’s alternative 2012 system is also covered, but the faults of his theory are not. You can read about them in Beyond 2012, or on my website at www.diagnosis2012.co.uk/call.htm. The brilliant work of John Major Jenkins is also briefly covered in this part of ‘2012 – The Return of Quetzalcoatl’, and Pinchbeck attempts to unify Arguelles, Calleman and Jenkins, saying they all agree on the Maya calendar being a consciousness-evolution time-schedule.
In Part Five, Pinchbeck continues his psychedelic voyage, taking iboga in Mexico, and ayahuasca in Hawaii, and then he goes back to the Glastonbury Symposium and takes up crop circles again. On p.296-299, Pinchbeck succeeds in communicating the “daemonic reality” concept of Patrick Harpur, which circle researcher and geometer Allan Brown skilfully described in his Glastonbury talk. The intelligence behind the circle phenomenon plays games with the observer, prodding him/her into a shift of understanding. However, for those unconvinced that these formations are not the work of artists and jokers, the observations will fall on deaf ears.
In Part Six, in the midst of more ayahuasca stories and tales of the author’s need for multiple sexual partners, the ‘skeptical journalist’ surprises us by channelling Quetzalcoatl, the Toltec/Aztec plumed serpent deity, and also claims to be the reincarnation of an Indian prince called Akosha. The “Quetzalcoatl transmission” implies that the prophesied return of Quetzalcoatl is happening now, and that “the writer of this work is the vehicle of my arrival – my return – to this realm” (p.370). This means that, like Arguelles, who is one of several claimants to being a reincarnated form of Lord Pacal, Pinchbeck is now one of several returned Quetzacoatls (see the coming Diagnosis 2012 review of ‘The Return of the Feathered Serpent’ by J C Husfelt). Even more incredible, perhaps, is that Pinchbeck goes on to identify himself with the ‘Great Beast of Revelation’, whose number is 666, though he does consider that he could have been the victim of astral plane entities, “puffing me up with delusions of grandeur…” (p.371). He saw the ayahuasca brew (“Daime”) as a protection against “whatever arrogant self-inflation came with my Quetzalcoatl transmission” (p.352), but also realises the validity of the question, “…did the overuse of hallucinogens merely distort my judgement, tilting me toward madness?” (p.372). The identity with 666 is not surprising considering that Aleister Crowley, the infamous explorer and Magickian (intended spelling) and the most famous claimant to the title, also had a multiple partners/drug experimentation history – see his book, ‘Diary of a Drug Fiend’.
For a full list of Pinchbeck’s errors, see this extended review:
However, in brief, there are gaps in Pinchbeck’s knowledge of Terence McKenna’s Timewave that result in a faulty summary; he mixes up correlations between the Maya and Gregorian calendars, and he talks of Pacal Votan as if this was a historical person, whereas Pacal and Votan were two totally different people who lived centuries apart. There are also many sloppy errors in the crop circle information.
THE PATTERN PERCEIVED
Pinchbeck excuses these errors in advance, in the book (p.20), when he declares himself “a generalist, a perceiver of pattern rather than a delver into detail”. The pattern that he perceived is that a global transformation of consciousness has been predicted by philosophers such as Steiner, Goswami and Gebser, and is supported by the psychologist Carl Jung and findings from quantum physics. A quantum leap also fits in with evolutionary theory, in which changes are made in sudden jumps – punctuated equilibrium. In fact, Gebser says we are in the fourth evolving stage - archaic, magical, mythical, and mental-rational, and are on the verge of a mutation, or transition to a fifth stage – “integral and aperspectival, characterised by the realisation of time freedom and ego freedom”. This fits in well with the Hopi system, in which we are in the Fourth World, approaching the Fifth World.
Rudolph Steiner, Pinchbeck points out, also said we are in the fourth incarnation of the Earth, and approaching fifth incarnation, or “Jupiter state”. We have three bodies already formed – the physical body, the ether body, and the astral body, and in the fourth incarnation we are strengthening the “I,” or ego-body, by changing the desires and cravings that “pour into us through the astral body,” or “transmuting lower passions into higher energies”. This will create a fifth body called the 'spirit self', and in the Jupiter state, the “spirit self will experience its full unfolding”.
Although Pinchbeck spends a lot of time looking at Jose Arguelles’ ideas, and finds that the 13-moon calendar proposed by Arguelles is faulty, he is convinced by Arguelles' arguments that the following of the Gregorian calendar is the basic problem underlying the major problems in the world, and he recommends "a meeting of minds from various spiritual traditions, indigenous cultures, and scientific disciplines, capable of overcoming factional discord to create a new global standard, one that can meet with global acceptance." This would be “a necessary part of the solution” to “our enslavement by artificial time” (p.377). He recommends that this congress takes place in Glastonbury, which is the UK town that is most densely packed with followers of the Arguelles 13-moon Dreamspell calendar, so holding the event there might prove counter-productive, unless PAN - the Planet Art Network (who promote the adoption of Dreamspell as the solution) - were first persuaded that the 13-moon calendar is not the best one for the job. Pinchbeck also comments on the ego-inflation of the Arguelles channellings, yet surprisingly ends up providing his own transmission.
The book is a rambling autobiographical tale, peppered with quotes from philosophers, but it doesn’t actually have much to say about 2012, apart from a weakly argued crop circle connection, the ambiguous study of Arguelles, the theory of Carl Calleman (in which the evolutionary shift is actually all over by 2012), a brief mention of John Major Jenkins’ work, and an even briefer one of McKenna’s Timewave. As one enthusiastic reader put it (on a ‘2012 Tribe’ internet discussion), when he finally finished the book, “...I’m not sure what I learned or if I learned anything tangible that can be described with words...” However, if the interesting points in ‘The Pattern Perceived’, above had been concentrated into an article, rather than spread out through the book, then that would have made very interesting reading.
Having said all that, I have to admire Pinchbeck's willingness to stick his neck out, bare his soul and tell his story to get this important subject out there and into the mind of humanity.
'2012 - The Return of Quetzalcoatl' - front cover