a Seattle-based women's chamber choir

Apocalypse: A Lifting of the Veil

Artistic Director: Tess Orozco
Accompanist: Jeremiah Oliver
Featuring Paul Che Oke’ten Wagner, Narrator and Native American flute

Narration written by Tess Orozco
Inspired by the writings of John Major Jenkins, Drunvalo Melchizedek, Thomas E. Mails, DeNeen L. Brown, Joseph Selbie,
David Steinmetz, Paul Caldwell, Sean Ivory, Michelle Small Wright, Amos Meged, and many others

Creation Myth from the Popul Vuh

In the beginning of the Fourth Age, the gods drew a veil over the eyes of humanity.

In the First Age there were only the Creators, and to create the earth they simply said, “Earth.” Suddenly the dawn came, and mountains, and animals, and there was clarity.

In the Second Age there were men made from mud, but their faces could only look in one direction, they spoke without understanding, and their bodies crumbled. The gods destroyed them in a great storm.

In the Third Age there were men carved from wood, but they walked without direction, possessed no understanding, and laid waste to the environment. The animals ate their flesh and death came as a flood.

In the Fourth Age there were men shaped from corn, and straightaway their vision came to them. They did not have to walk to see everything that existed. From wherever they stood their knowledge of the four corners was complete. Their sight and their understanding was perfect. The gods thought it was a mistake to make men so powerful. In the beginning of the Fourth Age, the gods drew a veil over the eyes of humanity. Then the people could only see what was nearby, and things were clear to them only where they were. Their knowledge was lost, and they slowly moved away from the natural world, forgetting the gods and their connection to the cosmos.

The cycle of the people of corn is coming to an end. We are now at the closing of the Fourth Age. The people of corn still hold within their blood the potential for divine sight, to see what was hidden, to remember the wisdom that was laid at their foundation. On December 21st, 2012 the Fourth Age will end, and the next morning will bring the dawn of the Fifth Age, a lifting of the veil. The beginning is near.

The Yugas

There is an ancient tradition in India known as the Yugas. It is a recurring cycle of human development moving from an ascending half to a descending half, each lasting 12,000 years. During the ascending half, mankind evolves through four distinct yugas, reaches the peak of development, and then devolves through the four yugas in reverse order. In the course of 24,000 years, humanity as a whole gains knowledge and wisdom and then loses it all. This cycle continues again and again. Since 700 B.C. until very recently, we have been in the Kali Yuga, the darkest and lowest of the ages. Once the bottom point is reached, we can only rise. Once our highest point is attained, we inevitably fall. All things are in flux.

Astronomy behind the Long Count Calendar

The Mayan stargazers viewed time as cyclical, as measured patterns spiraling over again with the repetition of characteristics. This is very different from our modern perception of linear time, where all experiences stretch out in one unbroken line. The Mayans created many systems of timekeeping, including the Long Count. This calendar spans a length of thirteen baktuns, equal to 5,126 years, or one World Age. Our current thirteen baktun period began on August 11th, 3114 B.C. and will end on December 21st, 2012. Because this immense cycle of time ends on the solstice, there is clearly intention behind its creation. This December’s solstice sun will position itself with the ecliptic and the galactic center in an alignment that occurs only once every 26,000 years. The Long Count was invented in Izapa over two-thousand years ago. When the Mayans formulated the Long Count, they calculated forward to the alignment and fixed the end of the thirteen baktun cycle to it. This alignment contains equal elements of astronomy, prophecy, and spirituality. The galactic center is the black hole in the heart of the Milky Way. The Mayans called it the birthplace of stars, which we now know is true. The nuclear bulge of the galactic center can be seen in the sky as a dark rift caused by interstellar dust. The Mayans named this dark rift Xibalba be, the road to the underworld.

During the end-cycle alignment, our solstice sun will eclipse the galactic center, momentarily severing our connection to the source of our galaxy. The Mayans associated Xibalba be with the human birth canal. They see this eclipse as a sacred rebirth. Izapa’s two-thousand-year-old prophecy states that the world will be reborn when the December solstice sun aligns with the dark rift. This eclipse marks the end of the Fourth Age. When the sun continues on its path and we are reconnected with the galactic center, the Fifth Age will begin. On the stage we have a recreation of Stela 11, carved around 100 A.D. in Izapa. This carving depicts the Solar Lord One Hunahpu as the solstice sun emerging from a frog’s mouth, representing the dark rift. The Mayan glyph of an upturned frog’s mouth means ‘to be born,’ and the outstretched arms of the Solar Lord signify a cycle ending. It is striking to remember these ancient people made images of our sky two millennia in the past. Their work illustrated the principle of ‘as above, so below.’ Mythology spoke through astronomy, the microcosm reflecting the macrocosm, human life seen in the cosmos, eternal cycles repeating anew.

Voices from Antiquity

Our current time has been referred to as a ‘Mayan Renaissance.’ For many centuries, much of the ancient Mayan knowledge had been decaying in the jungle. It wasn’t until the 1880’s that real progress began in deciphering their glyphs. New discoveries and understandings have since emerged in tremendous numbers. Even this year, 2012, has produced two important finds: a second dedication referencing the December 21st, 2012 date, and a mural from 813 A.D. with calculations based on the Mayan calendar projecting 7,000 years into the future. Tres Cantos Nativos dos Indios Krao is a collection of three melodies sung by the Krao tribe of northwestern Brazil. The language is dead, and the meaning of the text is unknown. This piece is included as a tribute to all the knowledge of antiquity that lays dormant, just like the wisdom of our ancestors stored in our DNA, waiting for the right time to be remembered.

A Maya Prophecy

Eat, eat, while there is bread,  
Drink, drink, while there is water;
A day comes when dust shall darken the air,
When a blight shall wither the land,
When a cloud shall arise,
When a mountain shall be lifted up,
When a strong man shall seize the city.
When a ruin shall fall upon all things,
When the tender leaf shall be destroyed,
When eyes shall be closed in death;
When there shall be three signs on a tree,
Father, son, and grandson hanging dead on the same tree;
When the battle flag shall be raised,
And the people scattered abroad in the forests.

Between the 4th and 9th century A.D., at their zenith, the Mayans numbered approximately 14 million people. By 900 A.D. the end of the Classic Period had come, marking the end of a civilization that crumbled under the weight of its own hubris. The inhabitants divided and dispersed, and the Post Classic era of the Maya began. On April 21, 1519, the Spaniard Cortes landed on the Gulf Coast at Veracruz. The Mayans, like the Hopi Indians, had a prophecy about the return of their white brother from the East, and Cortes was received peacefully. The Aztecs held a world view similar to the Hindu Yugas, a cycle of 13 Heaven realms and 9 Hell realms, and it is said that when Cortes landed, the periods of Hell commenced. During the Spanish Conquest, thousands of Mayans were tortured and killed. The vast majority of their writings were burned. Their astrological and scientific knowledge was viewed by the Franciscans as works of the devil. Only four known codices survived, along with the Popul Vuh and the Chilam Balam. Many of the Mayans were forcefully converted to Christianity. This next piece, Oy es dia de placer, comes from the early 1600’s. It was written by a Mayan composer from Guatemala who was trained by a Spanish choirmaster and who later became a choirmaster himself. When this music’s original manuscript was rediscovered, it was still wrapped in its original deer-skin bindings and had been stored with other documents within cathedral archives. Now, four-hundred years later, we keep their voices alive.

The Choice Point

There is nothing in any of the prophecies that tells us the world itself will end on December 21st, only that the world as we have known it will enter a time of change on this date. We are at the Choice Point. How we respond to this change will determine our experience in the Fifth Age. Clearly, the choices of war, consumption of fossil fuels, rate of deforestation, underestimating receding glaciers, factory farms, poisoned oceans, and floating islands of trash swirling in the Pacific are not sustainable for another millennium. Natural wonders we haven’t even yet discovered are being destroyed. What we do to the earth, we do to ourselves. The earth is our Mother. We must take care of her. On this fragile earth, our island home, we are all in it together. The first people of corn could see far beyond where they were. To reclaim that power, our vision needs to include future generations. The earth is tired.

Black Road and Red Road Divide

Techqua Ikachi! This translates as ‘blending with the land and celebrating life.’ It is the creed of the Hopi Indians. Perched on a desert mesa in Arizona, the Elderly Elders have kept a collection of prophecies, instructions, and warnings for over a thousand years. These messages were given to them by Maasaw, their Guardian of the Earth. His countenance is frightening, but he is a Helper Spirit serving the Creator. Each night he assumes the form of a fireball and circles the planet four times as a protector. If you look up and see a shooting star, that’s him. The Hopi Indians also agree we are near the end of the Fourth Cycle of the world. There is a carving on a rock wall near Oraibi from 1100 A.D. It represents the Road Plan, both an admonition and a herald of hope. On it are illustrated two roads – the black road of materialism which ends in destruction, and the red road of spirituality which leads to peace and prosperity. Along the red road there are three circles. These represent the three prophesied global conflicts – World War One and World War Two – the third has yet to happen. The Hopi say the third event will be the decisive one which can bring forth the great purification. The prophecies also mention a ‘gourd of ashes’ which the Hopi leaders have interpreted as nuclear bombs that will be used during a Third World War. As Maasaw circles the earth, he also carries a gourd of ashes, but these are miracle ashes. They do not cause devastation – they end it. At the peak of murder, Maasaw will pour his ashes on the world, and the fighting will end. Peace will come to humanity, the Fourth Cycle will close, and the Fifth Cycle will begin.

A Hopi Prophecy from the Elders at Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation

You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.
And there are things to be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community. Be good to each other. And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river,
keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.
See who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally.
Least of all, ourselves.
For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Signs of Thaw in a Desert of Snow

Scientists begin to heed Inuit warnings of climate change in Arctic

And so it has come to be, the elders say, a time when icebergs are melting, tides have changed, polar bears have thinned and there is no meaning left in a ring around the moon. Scattered clouds blowing in a wind no longer speak to elders and hunters. Daily weather markers are becoming less predictable in the fragile Arctic as its climate changes.

Inuit elders and hunters who depend on the land say they are disturbed by what they are seeing swept in by the changes: deformed fish, caribou with bad livers, baby seals left by their mothers to starve. Just the other year, a robin appeared where no robin had been seen before. There is no word for robin in Inuktitut, the Inuit language.

A Reading from the Book of Matthew, New Revised Standard Version

When Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Messiah!” and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of birth pangs. Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’

Man’s Inhumanity to Man

The only thing worse than man’s inhumanity to nature has been man’s inhumanity to man. At the nadir of the Kali Yuga, humans possessed only the most base and gross understanding of the world. Centuries of slaughter have been heaped upon each other, casualties of the need to convert and control. Displaced cultures have already known what it is for the world to come to an end. This song, Ani Ma’amin is an ancient Hebrew affirmation of faith. The text is based on a medieval formulation of the thirteen basic tenets of Jewish creed. Jewish tradition holds that the world will become a better place despite all setbacks. One teaching offers the belief that, at the end of days, eschatological utopia will follow a horrible and evil war. Another view holds that humankind will gradually evolve to an ultimate state of perfection. The first philosophy assumes divine intervention; the second places the burden on humans to repair the world. Ani Ma’amin’s words were intoned by Jewish prisoners in death camps during the Holocaust. As thousands entered the gas chambers, they sang this song. Those who saw these events occur tell how the voices faded to silence only as the gas choked the singers. Here at the Choice Point where the red and black roads divide we can decide to create our own annihilation or learn the way of love and life. For our breath to continue, peace is the only choice.

Living in the Heart

‘When flowers will be begot within flowers, and fruits within fruits, then will the Yuga come to an end. And the clouds will pour rain unseasonably when the end of the Yuga approaches.’ In 1900 A.D. we fully transitioned out of the Kali Yuga and entered the Dwapara Yuga, the age of energy. There are both scientific and spiritual ways to interpret all these events. There is no single absolute answer. Our sun’s eclipse of the galactic center will signal the end of the Fourth Age and the beginning of the Fifth. It will also be just another day. Afterwards, how will we treat the earth? How will we treat each other? Will we live from our heads or will we live from our hearts? Each person is on their own journey home. The Nichiren Daishonin Buddhist invocation of nam-myoho-renge-kyo tells how the lotus flower grows and blooms in a muddy pond, and yet remains pristine and free from any defilement. In this energy age of technology, how will we use our great sources of knowledge? What wisdom will rise from the lessons of the past? The Mahayana Buddist Heart Sutra gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha can be translated as gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, O what an awakening, all hail! Here at the dawn, we are free to create our lives in a new light.

Excerpt from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, the Light Within, and a Mayan Farewell

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph.
A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Quick now, here, now, always –
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well.
Untold millions of people run and run,
Constantly seeking, grow desperate and die
Looking for the light that is within them.
Namaste – the light in me greets the light in you,
And In Lak’esh, the Mayan farewell, meaning ‘You are another me.’


Apocalypse: A Lifting of the Veil
Friday, Nov 30th and Saturday, Dec 1st at 7:30pm
Fremont Abbey
4272 Fremont Ave N
Price: $20 General Admission, $15 Seniors/Students

Apocalypse: A Lifting of the Veil is made possible through the generous support of 4Culture and Fremont Abbey.