Daniel Pinchbeck's 2012 Return of Quetzalcoatl

This literary and metaphysical epic unifies the cosmological phenomena of our time - from crop circles to quantum mechanics to the worldwide resurgence of shamanism - in support of the Mayan prophecy that the year 2012 portends an unprecedented global shift.

Cross Umberto Eco, Aldous Huxley, and Carlos Castaneda and you get the voice of Daniel Pinchbeck. And yet nothing quite prepares you for the lucidity, rationality, and informed audacity of this seeker, skeptic, and cartographer of hidden realms.

In tracing the meaning of the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012, and the imminent transition from one world to another prophesied by the Hopi Indians of Arizona, Pinchbeck synthesizes indigenous cosmology, alien abductions, shamanic revivalism, crop circles, psychedelic visions, the current ecological crisis and the Judeo-Christian Apocalypse into a new vision for our time. The result is an unprecedented and riveting inquiry into where humanity is immediately headed - and its strange and startling congruence with the ideas of the mysterious civilization of the Classical Maya.

Throughout the 1990s, Pinchbeck had been a member of New York's literary select. He wrote for publications like ArtForum, Esquire, and The New York Times Magazine. Critics acclaimed his first book, Breaking Open the Head, as the most significant contribution to psychedelic literature since the work of Terence McKenna.

But the unexpected occurred: Pinchbeck found himself increasingly pulled into the shamanic and metaphysical realms he was reporting on as a journalist. As his mind opened to new and sometimes threatening experiences, disparate threads and synchronicities made new sense: Humanity, every sign suggested, faces an imminent decision between greater self-potential and environmental ruin. The Mayan "birth date" of 2012 could herald the close of one way of existence and the beginning of another, symbolized by the prophesied return of the Mesoamerican deity Quetzalcoatl, the mysterious "Plumed Serpent" of ancient myth. In just the nick of time, the skeptical modern mind can reclaim the suppressed psychic, intuitive, and mystical dimensions of being, and institute a new planetary culture. But it is only - and by no means assuredly - possible if we confront the environmental catastrophe staring us in the face.

Something is in the air: many, if not most, of us feel that real change - for good or ill - is afoot. Pinchbeck's journey - a metaphysical opus that takes the reader from the endangered rain forests of the Amazon, to the stone megaliths of the English plains, to the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock desert of Nevada - tells the tale of a single man in whose trials we ultimately recognize our own secret thoughts and unease over modern life. And a redemptive vision of where we are heading.

Reviews :

"Daniel Pinchbeck's 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl is a dazzling kaleidoscopic journey through the quixotic hinterlands of consciousness, crop circles, and ancient prophecy, as well as an intriguing and deeply personal odyssey of transformation. 2012 presents a compelling and complex teleological argument, weaving together the twilit realms of the human imagination and the harsh realities of accelerated global catastrophe. Its conclusions are surprisingly robust, original, and thankfully optimistic."
- Sting

"A daring and intriguing, sometimes deeply disturbing, very well researched and extremely readable book that puts an entirely new slant on 2012. From quantum physics to aliens, from crop circles to reincarnation, from shamanic hallucinogens to Rudolf Steiner, from the Amazon jungle to Stonehenge, from fragments of jaundiced autobiography to the ending of worlds, Pinchbeck takes us on a mind-bending, paradigm-rattling ride."
- Graham Hancock

"Few things are more difficult to convey in writing than the epiphanic drug experience or the mystical vision, and it is to Pinchbeck's credit as a writer that he is able to articulate these visions so clearly and memorably."
_ Geoff Dyer, Los Angeles Times

"Pinchbeck's reporting is fascinating and entertaining." - Brian Doherty, Washington Post Book World (front page)

"The author is not some hippy-dippy hedonist staggering down the road of excess but rather a skeptical philosopher of consciousness seeking the enlightened path." - Troy Patterson, Entertainment Weekly

Daniel Pinchbeck has also received some typical media sensationalized reviews as well particularly from the Rolling Stone to which Daniel responds ...

I was delighted that Rolling Stone found my work significant enough to deserve feature coverage. Unfortunately, the piece [RS 1008] was full of inaccuracies and outright abrications on a factual level, as well as sensationalist distortions of my ideas. To take a few examples, the first and last scenes never actually happened. We did not visit “a bunch of people on dimethyltryptamine,” I had not seen a “downtown rock show with Moby” the night before, and there was no woman groaning on a futon. I do not have “buck teeth.” Similarly, the scene described at the end never occurred-I don’t even own a copy of The Lion King.

I found the writer’ loose relationship to truth particularly depressing when she attempted to define my ideas. I am not “actively bidding to become [my] generation’s Timothy Leary”-in fact I critique Leary quite harshly in my first book. In my work, I don’t advocate mass use of psychedelics as Leary did, and certainly do not consider them to be “the answer.”

In 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, I do not argue that “the world as we know it is about to end-on December 21, 2012.” My hypothesis is that we are already in an accelerated process of consciousness evolution, and I explore the possibility that the Mayan Calendar is, as Carl Johan Calleman describes in The Mayan Calendar and the Transformation of Consciousness, a “timetable” for understanding this process.

I most emphatically do not argue or think that “only the psychedelic elite and those who have reached a kind of supramental consciousness” will “be saved in 2012.” I do think that a deep transformation in the mindset of those who hold power in the modern West is necessary if we are going to avert disaster in the next few years, as we approach resource depletion and biospheric collapse.

In the future, it would be wonderful to see a magazine with the rich legacy of Rolling Stone approach the living currents of the intellectual counterculture of the 1950s and 60s with far more grace, integrity, and sophistication.


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