2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl

2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, by Daniel Pinchbeck. 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.