So, we have several hours to go until the world ends, according to some who think they understand Mayan myth. But if we survive to see December 22, we have other apocalypses to worry about! So grab the duct tape, lay in the supplies and let’s get ready…
1. Ragnarök — The “Doom of the Gods” — or Götterdämmerung (you Wagner fans will recognize that) — is the end of the world according to Norse mythology. It will be preceded by the winter of winters, the Fimbulvetr, which is actually three winters which follow each other with no summer in between. Chaos will ensue with conflicts and fighting and morality will disappear. Then the animals come out and eat the sun and stars, wake the giants and the dead… all kinds of interesting stuff. Then come the earthquakes, floods, poisoned skies, giants, serpents and Fenrir the terrible wolf. Loki will empty Hel into a really big ship and sail around looking for a fight. Then Heimdall will blow his horn and everyone will battle. But the good news is that after the battle everything will be copacetic and a Paradise will ensue, with gods and men living happily together.
2. Armageddon — According to the Book of Revelation, this will be the final battle on Earth between God and Satan. Armageddon is actually the name of the spot where the battle will take place, Some scholars say that it is symbolic, while others say the term refers to a Mount Megiddo — nobody seems to agree. There are seven seals and they get opened one at a time, releasing all kinds of nasty things: dragons and beasts and frogs and demons who will head out on a round-the-world trip to gather up “all the kings of the world.” Then it’s time for the big fight. After the battle — which Jesus will win — comes the Paradise.
3. The Kali Yuga — Indian mythology follows a cyclic path, mirroring human life. There are 4 cycles to each era called “yugas.” According to Hindu belief we are living in the last one, the Kali Yuga. In this time the “World Soul” is Black in hue; virtue slowly dwindles to zero as men turn to wickedness. The usual disease, lethargy, anger, natural calamities, anguish and fear will dominate. Religious observances will be ignored and temples neglected, which will rather annoy the gods. The end of the Yuga will inevitably be heralded by cataclysmic earth changes as civilization collapses and everybody goes the way of the dodo. Of course, at the end of the Kalli Yuga, we cycle back to the first, the Satya Yuga, and do it all over again.
4. Zoroastrian Apocalypse — Yes, they have one, too. It is supposed to occur 3000 years after Zoroaster was born but since there is some dispute about that, who knows when it will happen? The whole thing will begin when the sun and moon are no longer seen and a long, dark winter kicks in. The usual fading of morality and religious values and such will darken our doorstep. Then a big demon will break out of the cavern its been held trapped in and it will eat 1/3 of the world’s population (he’s gonna need a ton of Pepto-Bismol). Then a virgin will bathe in a lake in which the long-ago ejaculated seed of Zoroaster is still alive and she’ll get pregnant and give birth to the savior figure, Saoshyant. He will raise the dead, pass judgement, purge every one of evil and everyone will help him vanquish the forces of evil. Then the Earth will become Heaven and everyone will live happily ever after.
5. Nostradamus’ Last Days — If you believe in the prophecies of the French seer — and a few of them are frighteningly accurate — then we might be good for about 5000 more years. The following quatrain is often cited as his prediction of the Last Days: Twenty years of the reign of the Moon having passed / Seven thousand years & another shall take up his throne / When the sun will complete its weary days / Then accomplished & proven will be my prophecies. It’s interesting that Nostradamus predicts that only at the end of things will all his prophecies be proven true. But we have a few centuries at any rate. If we’ve translated the Old French correctly.
It’s fun to laugh at the dire predictions of apocalypse but it’s also important to remember that these stories were – and in some cases, still are – the cherished beliefs of some. It’s a scary thing to contemplate, the end of everything. It’s a difficult concept to wrap your head around, as is our own individual mortality. So we create grand drama, placing our gods on high then bringing them down to dwell with us. Perhaps one day we will realize that they already do live among us: we have only to look in each other’s eyes to see them.