2012 Conference Mar 1st 2008
Los Angeles CA
Exclusively for DIRE GNOSIS 2012

Lenny D. Shaw


The most promising aspect of the 2012 conference, cleverly entitled 2012 - Shift Happens was that it occurred at all. For those of us interested in this subject, it was quite gratifying for a relatively accessible and low cost event on this subject to even be held. Moreover, it was a prime location, at the Ricardo Montalban Theater, less than one block from the legendary intersection of Hollywood and Vine. No doubt, the program’s sponsors, Sacred Mysteries Productions and Cabaret Voltaire (aka Christian Meoli) are seeking not only the esoteric and New Age Media, but also the attention of the mainstream press as well. Moreover, the attendees were a diverse group, encompassing all demographics.

The biggest drawback of the event had to be the quality of the discourse between many of the attendees and in some cases the speakers as well.  Wild rhetoric mostly characterized by political conspiracy theory permeated much of the conference. If a higher consciousness is promised by the events of 2012, it was not exactly well represented at this major event less than five years before the new epoch.

Perhaps wisely, few of the speakers wanted to be drawn into speculation of precisely just what would happen on the target date of Dec 21 2012.  Rather, the theme was what we could all do, as individuals and as a society, to prepare ourselves for a new paradigm, whatever date it may arrive and irregardless of how sudden or gradual the shift may come.

Most of the technology was utilized for artistic and intentionally spiritual purposes. Refreshingly, the technology was not an end in itself. This was most dramatically illustrated by the failure to complete the showing of the film Timewave 2013 due to a snafu that not only kept us from seeing the film, but also necessitated a change in the speaker schedule for the rest of the day. The filmmaker, Fulbright scholar and author Sharron Rose, continued on like a trouper. Her warmth and intelligent charm paid off, as she was later able to convey much information and also lead a meditation. It is regrettable that the organizers could only find one woman as a speaker at the conference, but Rose was a class act.

Dr. Alberto Villoldo, a Cuban-American anthropologist who had studied Incan shamanism, and was even initiated by their shamans, followed her. Villoldo’s thesis was that 2012 represents the return of the Patchakuti, which at once refers to a God/Man of Incan myth and of a new Epoch. His was a spiritually based lecture in which he referred to linear time as Uka Pacha, the Incan underworld represented by a snake or a Figure 8 that has no end. This trap will be unraveled on or about 2012 by Patchakuti. At times, Villoldo’s lecture felt more like a sermon, especially as he was accompanied on stage by Dom Francisco, an Andean shaman who led a prayer for peace in his indigenous language (Francisco can neither speak Spanish or English) both before and after Villoldo’s lecture. (Dom Francisco stayed on stage in silence for the duration of Villoldo’s talk.)  In any case, Villoldo’s lecture was a gentle and informative sermon that hit its mark as he enlightened us as to the Incan contribution to the 2012 phenomenon.

Perhaps there is no name that can be more legitimately linked with the 2012 Eschaton, especially the all-important Mayan connection, than John Major Jenkins, the independent researcher best known for his book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. Jenkins presented a slide show that not only displayed diagrams of the Sun’s line-up with the Galactic Center, but also pictures of the sacred Mayan city of Izapa. There is no question that Jenkins has a deep love and admiration for the Mayan people and their culture. But he undermined himself by talking too much about the Mayans themselves and not enough about his thesis about the 2012 Winter Solstice and the Galactic line-up. I was annoyed by some of the attendees who called Jenkins “too academic”, arguing that a good scholar or two is just what the 2012 movement could use. But the fact remains that Jenkins could have spent more time addressing questions about 2012 itself.

One of the most articulate speakers was author Jay Weidner. Being a Hermetic scholar, he was able to tie together some convincing arguments that the era on or near 2012 could herald an unprecedented transformation. Rather than dismissing science and accepted history, Weidner was able to use its very premises to tie together parallel phenomena in disparate cultures. Beginning with his convincing premise that the Gothic Cathedrals of Europe were meant to be Alchemical Labs as well as Christian places of worship, Weidner argued that visionary elite, from the Alchemists to the Aquarians, have felt that it is their calling to explore the broader dimensions beyond the three that we perceive. 2012 can be seen as the new frontier, the crossing of the boundary into a more enlightened time. Weidner alluded to the fact that he used to be a Radical Materialist, much like myself. Perhaps that is why I found him so persuasive. It is also a fact that that his lecture was economical, tying all his points together instead of leaving loose ends like a few of the other of the speakers.

The unexpected hit of the speakers was Harijiwan Khalsa, a disciple of the Kundalini Yoga master, Yogi Bhajan. Khalsa was able to relax the conference attendees by his ten-minute recital on the gong, which not only was relaxing but also had the effect of uncluttering the mind. Mixing his Yoga teachings with his disarming unpretentious joking and Brooklyn accent, Khalsa was able to present a thesis that neatly dovetailed his philosophy of Love vs. Fear. His case is that a dimensional shift had been going on since the mid-20th Century. Implicit in his thesis is that the evolutionary clock that would lead to 2012 started ticking with the end of World War II in 1945 to 1963 with the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and the cultural upheaval that followed, not just in the United States but all over the Western World. He is on less firm ground when he cites the now-almost forgotten Comet Kahoutek of 1973 and the first appearance of “Indigo Children” in the 1980’s, a phenomenon that not even the New Age community can properly define. But such random unsupported interludes were forgiven due to Khalsa’s sweet and humorous demeanor and his optimism as to what would unfold in 2012.

Finally, we get to the keynote speaker, Daniel Pinchbeck. Pinchbeck had not been associated with the 2012 movement until relatively recently. He is very much so now, since the publication of his partly autobiographical 2006 best seller, 2012, the Return of Quetzalcoatl. Pinchbeck is seen by many as the new psychadelic/conciousness maven, carrying the torch of Terence McKenna and even Timothy Leary. His most notable following have been among the “Burners” the attendees of the annual Burning Man festival held in the late summer in the Nevada desert.  I must confess that at first I was not sure that he could live up to the hype, generated by both his fans and himself. Pinchbeck is not the greatest public speaker. Moreover, he tried to take on too many topics. Not only did he stray too much from the subject of 2012, but also his habit of interrupting himself with exceedingly complex concepts only served to confuse.

But if one could follow his train of thought, it became increasingly clear that Pinchbeck is not only original and brilliant, but that his intellectual and cultural pursuits can serve as the most accessible entryway for new adherents to the 2012 movement. Frankly, his public persona as presented by his handlers makes Pinchbeck seem arrogant and smart-alecky. In reality, he is very human, and his overly complex philosophical meanderings are only a manifestation of a gifted and very curious seeker trying to figure out and even convince himself that 2012 may mean anything at all. Ultimately, Pinchbeck may be more Leary than McKenna.  Like Leary, Pinchbeck has been called an opportunist. But like Leary, Pinchbeck seems to realize that the cultural realm is the true arena where evolutionary advent must truly emerge, if it is to be of benefit to the greatest number of people.

It was at the last part of the conference, the panel discussion, where I really got to appreciate both Pinchbeck and Khalsa. Without any doubt, this was the low point of the conference. This was not so much because of the panel, but instead the regrettable sampling of audience questions. Angry, irrational and even paranoid conspiracy theories were the premise of most of the queries. I cannot say that I did not expect this way of thinking to be a presence, but the extent of the fear and anger did bother me. By his sound and knowledgeable reasoning, Pinchbeck was able to respond to many of these people. For his part, Khalsa’s charm and spirit shown through. For example, when one person asked…”Where is the safest place to be when all the shit comes down?” Khalsa replied.” In your Own Higher Conciousness”

Leaving aside the question of 2012, one is faced with the dilemma that seems to permeate all “New Age” gatherings. There is a weird paradox to most of them. They seem to be populated by those individuals who are “white lighters” extolling the virtues of love, positive vibes, and the heart charkas - and conversely fear mongers who claim that no one can be trusted and that all governments are under the control of the Freemasons or the Illuminati. Why they never seem to see this as a mixed message may be an even greater mystery than what will happen in 2012.

The Shift Happens 2012 conferences scheduled to continue with another one in San Francisco in Nov 2008 and one each in Miami and Toronto in 2009. For those wishing to network with others fascinated by the 2012 Eschaton, it provides an unparalleled opportunity. One could hope that in future, such gatherings will not be dominated by platitude wielding white lighters or paranoid conspiracy theorists, but rather by creative souls driven by imaginative speculation and a wider sense of wonder.


BY THE WAY - Larry adds: "I actually DID like the conference, and I am surprised that I am as critical as I am in the piece, but that is how it comes out."