The current cycle of the Mayan calendar ends tomorrow, and people are freaking out as if the world will really end. But this won’t be a fire and brimstone. It’s a symbolic end, that’s more about the new beginning that will follow than anything else.
Throughout history and across societies there have been symbols of destruction that were actually positive; that served as a reminder of the possibility of new beginnings. Here are five of those symbols.
1) The Phoenix
The phoenix is one of the most widely propagated symbols of positive destruction — a mythological bird who dies a fiery death only to rise, reborn, from the ashes. The emphasis of the myth of the phoenix is never on the fiery death, but always on the triumphant rebirth.
The Hindu goddess Kali is a symbol of destruction, but also a mother goddess. Called the Dark Mother, she’s often depicted wearing a belt of decapitated heads, or standing on a pile of them. A violent and scary character, her destruction paves the way for enlightenment.
The Tower card in the traditional tarot deck shows a violent scene of a tower burning and falling. Sometimes it even shows horrified people falling from the tower. But texts on interpreting tarot cards say that this card is a good one to pull. It represents the idea of “out with the old, in with the new,” that progress can’t be made until the past is settled and swept away. It’s about clearing the slate and starting something new.
Even Jesus is a symbol of positive destruction. Another form of the ancient story of the sacrificial god, Jesus was killed to bring about more good in the world. The story goes that he died for the sins of mankind, and his crucifixion is central to the religion that worships him.
If you believe the end of the Mayan calendar will bring about any changes in the world, think of it as a symbol of the end of one era — not to be mourned, but to leave the door open to a new one. The Mayan calendar is intricate, and it never really ends, it just resets.