December 21, 2012 has been on the radar of people across countless cultures, religions and sciences for years now. Marking the end of the ancient Mayan calendar, some have assumed this date will bring the literal end of days. But there's good news: the world will not really end in 2012. Nonetheless, the controversy surrounding this date has a lot to teach us about the current nature of our world, and the important role each and every one of us plays in forming a better future.
Though 2012 will not actually bring the end of days, you don't need to be an astrologer to see how quickly things are changing in our world. Civilization as we know it seems to be in a precarious situation, with growing political unrest and financial stresses warning us that we are repeating epic mistakes from our own cultural history. For example, we have witnessed the sharpest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Differences in political ideologies and spiritual beliefs continue to fuel increasingly destructive wars. Environmental threats make our water and food supplies more and more scarce; meanwhile, we are powering our world with a diminishing reserve of oil and others resources. So it's no surprise that so many people are predicting that the fabric of our entire society is dangerously at risk.
But if you look to the skies, you'll see there's nothing to fear come December 21, 2012.
Astrologers watch the cycles of the Sun, Moon and planets to understand the changing nature of time and to put these shifts into historical perspective. For example, we had a dose of culture-wide panic at the threshold of this century. The start of the year 2000 -- or "Y2K" -- was touted as an apocalyptic date, but astrologers could see then that there were no planetary alignments significant enough to warrant this kind of fear.
2012 is different -- there are significant astrological factors that indicate these are truly significant times. But let's clear one thing up right away: there won't be a cataclysmic event on December 21, 2012. It's been claimed that on this first day of winter, the Sun will line up perfectly with the center of the Milky Way galaxy and that this will confirm the ancient Mayan prophecies. In other words, many claim that the Sun's change of position will mark the end of time. But there is a scientific problem with this reasoning: the Sun's alignment to the galactic center on the Winter Solstice moves at the rate of one degree every 72 years! Therefore, this cosmic event is so slow-moving that it lasts more than a decade, not just one day.
As astrologers track the cycles of planets, they pay special attention to the monthly flow of New Moons and Full Moons. This is how they are able predict the impact these movements will have on the personal and emotional cycles of our daily lives. Meanwhile, astrologers also track the activities of the slower-moving outer planets (the ones with the longest orbits), which create their own rhythms and are more closely related to large historical cycles.
For example, Uranus symbolizes sudden changes that release explosive energy, which is why astrologers refer to it as "The Great Awakener." Pluto symbolizes total metamorphosis. The deep transformation that's associated with mysterious Pluto is dramatic and complete, like a caterpillar evolving into a butterfly, which is why the profound cultural shifts of the 1960s corresponded with a conjunction between surprising Uranus and passionate Pluto in 1965 and 1966.
On June 24, 2012, these two planetary harbingers of change will form their first in a series of hard 90-degree alignments -- their first connection since the mid-1960s. This dynamic aspect between lightning-like Uranus and intense Pluto recurs seven times through March 16, 2015. This is the period of upheaval we should be looking at, rather than focusing on a single day in 2012.
But there is another player that is involved in this cycle as well. Karmic Saturn, known in Astrology as "The Tester," entered the picture in the late summer of 2008, and was exactly opposite Uranus on the day Barack Obama was elected President in the U.S. Saturn symbolizes the status quo. It is traditional, conservative and fear-based, and it has serious consequences for those who do not follow the rules. On the other hand, Uranus symbolizes the new. It is progressive and radical, and it anticipates the future with excitement. The Saturn-Uranus opposition that has recurred throughout the past few years is a struggle between the old and the new.
From an astrological perspective, this means we don't have to wait until 2012 for the action to begin, because we are already in a time of profound change, not unlike the 1960s. Now, however, we communicate in ways that are far more revolutionary, due to our constant interconnection via cell phone, email, Facebook, Twitter and numerous other social networks. There are new political opportunities for disenfranchised people all over the world to connect with one another, and it is this factor -- our ability to communicate more quickly and openly -- that will prevent the end of the world.
Astrology is not about predicting fated events; it's about being aware of cosmic movements so we can get our timing right to make positive changes. The Astrology of 2012 is not about announcing the end of the world. Rather, it's a call to action. Each and every one of us has a job to do, because as the great psychologist Carl Jung said, "The salvation of the world depends upon the salvation of the individuals living in it."
Some of us may play larger roles in the current changes by getting involved in community, national or global politics. But each of us adds to the total picture when we live our individual lives responsibly. Astrology reminds us that there is no time to waste -- we are each an agent of change and each of us can impact the big picture by replacing doubt with courage, and by conquering fear with love.
In other words, this is truly the time to "think globally and act locally."