The Mayans, Their Calendar and 2012

If Nostradamus wasn't the source of all of the 2012 doomsday predictions, surely the Mayans had something to say about the matter, right? Not exactly. While it's true that their Mayan Long Count calendar ends in December of that year, nothing indicates the Mayans thought the world would end along with it. After all, our calendar cycles every 365 days (barring leap years), and while some might party like there's no tomorrow every New Year's Eve, tomorrow always comes.

Nostradamus and the Year 2012

In examining what Nostradamus had to say about the year 2012, it helps to understand why some people think 2012 could be a significant or even disastrous year in the first place. The most significant source of speculations comes from the fact that the Mayan's Long Count calendar ends on Dec. 21, 2012 [source: NASA]. Some theorize this could be the day the world ends ostensibly from Earth's collision with an asteroid or hidden planet, but the scientific community has found nothing to corroborate their predictions.

So what does "The Centuries" tell us about 2012? It's hard to say. We know that Nostradamus never emphasized the number 2012 in any of his writings, so we're left to comb through quatrains looking for evidence of comets, mass destruction and, perhaps, the end of the world. Using those criteria, we could make the case that Nostradamus did indeed foresee Earth's collision with a comet. Consider this Sacred-texts translation of a quatrain from the fifth volume of "The Centuries":

Where all is good, the Sun all beneficial and the Moon / Is abundant, its ruin approaches: / From the sky it advances to change your fortune. / In the same state as the seventh rock.

Could the "it" referenced above be a massive comet destined to destroy human civilization? If so, the phrase "change your fortune" is a wee understatement. Like all of Nostradamus' writings, the prediction is lacking in specifics, but those inclined to believe 2012 is a significant year might consider it further evidence of impending doom lurking just outside our solar system. Similarly ominous prophecies litter Nostradamus' writings, and while it's impossible to say any are specifically about the year 2012, it's also impossible to say with certainty that they aren't.

What's more, some people believe Nostradamus' writings tell only part of the story and that Nostradamus was behind a book of prophetic drawings as well. These drawings -- contained in a version of a book called the "Vaticinia de Summis Pontificibus" -- depict burning towers, terrible wars and all manner of celestial strife that, according to some, tie directly into purported Mayan predictions about 2012. But despite their claims, the drawings in the Vaticinia actually date back more than a hundred years before Nostradamus was born [source: Lemesurier]. So why are they attributed to Nostradamus? The confusion stems from a version of the book discovered by Italian journalist Enza Massa that cites Nostradamus as the author, despite the fact that we have no evidence Nostradamus could paint or draw.

With his quatrains rife with ambiguity and his supposed "lost book" being someone else's work entirely, we aren't left with anything suggesting Nostradamus considered the year 2012 to be significant in any way. So on that matter, at least, Nostradamus and the scientific community are on the same page.