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Jose Arguelles, also known as “Valum Votan, Closer of the Cycle, has been called “the High Priest of the New Age.” His constant message since the 1970s has been that if humanity is to survive the industrialization of the planet, we must change both our calendars and our vision of the universe. Therefore his sudden death at age 72 shocked and surprised many who were anticipating his participation in the culmination of his life’s work on December 21, 2012 as the Mayan calendar came to an end.
It is therefore with great interest that his posthumously published book, Manifesto for the Noosphere arrives on the bookshelves.
Jose Arguelles, born Joseph Anthony, was a controversial author, artist, visionary and educator. He founded the Planet Art Network, and the Foundation for the Law of Time. He held a Ph.D in Art History and Aesthetics from the University of Chicago. He was the twin brother of poet Ivan Arguelles and was one of the originators of the Earth Day Concept, and founder of the first Whole Earth Festival in 1970 in Davis, California. He is probably best known for the 1987 Harmonic Convergence Ceremonies held right across the planet that heralded the final Mayan cycle. He asserted that our Gregorian calendar leads us into irregular, destabilizing, mechanized ways of thinking and so we need to return to a natural sense of time. For him and many other scholars, that means the Mayan-inspired harmonic, holistic Thirteen-Moon Twenty-eight Day calendar.
His final book, Manifesto for the Noosphere encapsulates his assertion that humans must change or perish. The term “noosphere,” refers to the mental sheath or envelope of thought that encompasses the Earth. The word is derived from “nous,” the Greek word for “mind.”
“The presentiment of the noosphere fully awakened in me in 1969 upon seeing the whole Earth from space on the television,” writes Arguelles in the introduction. “Soon after, I organized the First Whole Earth Festival, and together with my students at the University of California, Davis, we transformed the central quadrangle of the campus into the “global village”—all in anticipation of the first Earth Day set to occur a month later, on April 22, 1970.”
Shortly after the gathering he came across the work of University of Pittsburgh physicist Oliver Reiser, who proposed a vision of the noosphere as consisting of two halves—an Eastern (intuitive) and a Western (analytical)—which function holonomically like the two hemispheres of the human brain.
The consciously activated Noosphere, has been linked to a specific date, December 21, 2012 (12/21/12) writes Arguelles, who clearly found the obsession with this date somewhat amusing, as he pointed out that “few other dates in history have so excited the planetary imagination. Since I introduced the date with the publication of my book, The Mayan Factor, in 1987, fascination with its meaning—the end of the 5,125-year “Great Cycle,” a measure of one of the calendars of the Classic Maya civilization of Central America—has grown exponentially. Today this date is surrounded by a deluge of information that amounts to a cultural phenomenon. That this cyclical endpoint has become so widespread in the popular imagination is already a symptom of the unifying effect of the noosphere. What came to mass consciousness first as a symbol of collective apocalyptic fear (as in the recent Hollywood film that shows the world annihilated by earthquakes and tidal waves) can now be recognized and understood as a long-awaited liberating archetype of consciousness elevation and spiritual fulfillment.”
Manifesto for the Noosphere is a detailed book outlining a vision that clearly burned inside the mind of this visionary. There are copious diagrams, and detailed meditation techniques. The reader is encouraged to pray and to even study the prayer lines created across the world as Muslims face Mecca five times every day to pray. It is clear the enigma that was Arguelles was in the end a determined faith in the spirit of humanity.
“Science says seeing is believing, but as any true visionary knows, you have to believe in order to see! That is the only way the new can be envisioned. And if you can see it then you can manifest it. A faith, a will, an unceasing aspiration are all that are needed—and the exertion to see it through to the end. This is the sustaining faith of all the visionaries who have dared to dream the Noosphere,” he writes.
The question may be; do we dare to join him in this vision, or do we dare not?
Arguelles companion and apprentice, Stephanie South who shared his final years has written in “Time, Synchronicity and Calendar Change” of the final few days and weeks of Arguelles’ life. Just three days before the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Arguelles became suddenly ill. He told Stephanie South that he felt he was channeling the nuclear energy of Japan. His illness climaxed on the equinox and supermoon, an event that only occurs every 18 years, and on March 23rd, he left the world at the exact time he came into it: 6:10a.m.
“Absolute peace filled the room as I watched him take his final breath and slip naturally and purely into another dimension,” she writes. “Even in death, he gave all that he could to this planet. His life is a testimony of sacrifice of the individual personal soul in service to the divine soul.”
In his foreword to “2012, Biography of a Time Traveler” Daniel Pinchbeck described his reaction to Arguelles vision that humanity would begin to voluntarily take down the post-industrial “technosphere” as we approached 2012, returning the planet to a pristine garden, preferring to live in small groups and engaging in telepathic ceremonies. “I argued that this seemed impossible – that we were headed for wards and ecocide, not a return to the garden,” he writes. “My job as a visionary is to envision the best possible outcome for humanity,” explained Arguelles. “If I don’t do it, who will?”
It seems that most people allow their conception of what is possible to be determined by the mass culture, or consensus reality. If enough people began to envision a different reality, would that mass of energy tip the balance and produce such a world? Certainly Arguelles believed so. It would be easy to dismiss “Manifesto for the Noosphere” as yet another sugar-coated vision of a perfect world that would occur if we all ate tofu and sang folk song around camp fires every night, yet there is more to this than meets the eye.
In 1987 I was a cub-reporter for a local newspaper in Edmonton, Canada. My editor assigned me to cover the Harmonic Convergence ceremony that was to take place by the river and featured Cree Native American singer, Buffy St. Marie. Like most journalists, I was pretty cynical and many New Dawn readers will remember some of the jokes that filled the newspapers at the time, including dubbing it the Moronic Convergence. I attended, I photographed and wrote up the story and nothing about the ceremony changed my mind, yet I have to admit that within six months my whole life had indeed changed. A few weeks after the ceremony I was invited down to the Blackfoot reservation and ended up living and working with traditional Medicine Men and women for many years.
Jose Arguelles was indeed a visionary and his visions offer us a way out of the malaise of the post industrial era. It is clear he saw and felt this shift and described it through the culture and vision that resonated with him. So many visionaries offer us seemingly unpalatable vision of 2012, that there is clearly something going on in the collective unconscious that aligns us all with this date. Psychedelic philosopher Terence McKenna also offered a different vision of the exact same date based on patterns within the I-Ching. Both visionaries are now deceased yet their visions live on.
In his closing paragraph, written on December 12, 2010 Arguelles expresses the wish that the “Noosphere will set a vast majority of humanity aflame with a visionary faith as we approach the 2012 threshold.”
Only time will tell if the seeds Arguelles planted will prosper or if we will collectively dream a different dream.