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2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl
by Daniel Pinchbeck
Publisher:
Tarcher/Penguin 
Year:
2006 
ISBN:
1-58542-483-8 
Categories:
Book Reviews
Reviewed by J Fisher, 11/14/2006

First pinpointed by the Mayans about 2,300 years ago, the date of December 21, 2012 has recently garnered considerable attention from fringe theorists in the West. Daniel Pinchbeck draws from a diverse collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century thinkers, as well as his own dreams and altered states, in an attempt to situate the 2012 mythos within a contemporary context. Pinchbeck posits that the date heralds a global shift in consciousness, a change that will necessitate new worldviews and moral imperatives. Pinchbeck’s effort to understand the past and future of human consciousness comprises 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. The endeavor leads him across three continents, at times rattling his psyche and threatening to consume his personal relationships.

Picking up the thread that began in Pinchbeck’s first book, Breaking Open the Head, 2012 chronicles the author’s continued personal development, this time not only through the lens of psychedelic drug use, but occult phenomena as well. The first fifty or so pages of 2012 bring the reader up to speed on Pinchbeck’s introduction to psychedelics and his transformation from a disaffected member of New York’s literati to a passionate explorer of consciousness. For readers of Breaking Open the Head, this section will be familiar, but it provides a useful context for the book that follows.

Pinchbeck’s early psychedelic experiences confirmed, for him, the reality of interior realms. These headspaces seemed to exist independently of the world of matter and corporeal form, but the experiences they afforded were as convincing as the material world. Pinchbeck’s experiences in these mental realms often seemed to trigger synchronous events in his daily life, and, at times, the interior worlds of dreams and drugs seemed to commingle with consensus reality. Enter crop circles.

In hopes of better understanding the interface between interior and exterior realities, Pinchbeck travels to Glastonbury, England, where crop circles have appeared with increasing frequency in recent years. He speaks with Michael Glickman, Allan Brown, and Rob Irving, all veterans of the crop circle community, and visits several newly formed circles. To his credit, Pinchbeck plumbs the literature thoroughly and interviews his living subjects with a well-metered skepticism. Although he encounters a fair amount of New Age quackery and obvious hoaxes, he also collects compelling evidence to indicate that there are forces at work in the mental and physical worlds which cannot be explained by our current scientific or cultural paradigms.

In his attempt to interpret the nature of these forces, Pinchbeck draws from the written works of Rudolph Steiner and Jean Gebser, as well as various prophecies-ancient and contemporary-that invoke the date, December 21, 2012. Both Steiner and Gebser present models for the evolution of consciousness, affording Pinchbeck some of the necessary reference points to contextualize his own experiences and discoveries. He interprets the increasing frequency of crop circles and alien abduction reports, as well as the destruction of our global ecosystem, as indicators that humanity is on the brink of a dramatic change. Pinchbeck is rather vague, however, as to the specifics of this impending shift in consciousness.

2012 alternates frequently between first-person accounts and third-person reporting, but throughout, Pinchbeck’s tone remains conversational. Events from his personal life unify the text, allowing the reader direct access to Pinchbeck’s motivations and the seeds of his hypotheses. He does, occasionally, enter into chapter-long discussions of his literary sources, but these passages are carefully grounded with relevant anecdotes from the field.

The last section of the book, however, departs from the dual narrative structure. By this point, Pinchbeck has established most of the evidence in support of a shift in consciousness, and the text turns to his struggle to orient himself in the face of these conclusions. At times he seems to be losing traction, spinning tales of sleepless nights and Hoffman-inspired bike rides through Black Rock City, of voices in his head that will not stop chattering, and of admitted psychedelic excess. Nonetheless, Pinchbeck emerges from his globetrotting, entheogen-laden investigations with hard-won insight about his personal relationships and the relationship between humans and the planet. Like Breaking Open the Head, 2012 is both a fascinating and inspiring investigation.

1 Comment »

  1. Im halfway through Pinchbeck’s 2012 and have read breaking open the head twice. I take it since your on Erowid your interest in Psychedelics is at least moderate and that your mind is open to ideas about what kind of changes our race and our planet are due to experience. If you have not read either book its definitely time. If your into Psychedelics – Breaking Open The Head. If you think about the future of existence – 2012. Ultimately READ BOTH (sorry I know he’s written others Im just not quite there yet). This fellow Pinchbeck has given me more answers and more to think about than any source, collective or solitary, to date (Rivaling YouTube Wiki Erowid Friends and Family). Someone I had a brief conversation with, concerning DMT, compared Pinchbeck’s works to biblical scriptures and I couldnt help but smile widely. Pinchbeck’s collection of knowledge and thoughts is the closest thing a person like me could get to an answer. An answer to the question of why. More important than answers to questions it has assured me that Im not alone in my feelings that whats really going on is beyond comprehension.. We know so little and we have Infinity to grow.

    I am not one to get on and comment or blog, but Im reading this book and just smoked DMT for the first time two nights ago and its given me this urge to help and stop wasting time.

    “learn when to speak, learn when to hold your tongue and breath
    Breath in the bad and exhale the peace
    Peace to all races females and their beliefs
    Believe the only thing worth dying for is Peace”
    – me

    zshaw913@yahoo.com

    Comment by zshaw — 11/24/2008 @ 1:26 am

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