Jose Arguelles, who died on 23 March aged 72, was an art historian whose teachings about the Mayan calendar inspired the harmonic convergence event of 1987.
On 16 August 1987, thousands of new agers following the lead of Arguelles gathered at places such as the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona, Serpent Mound in Ohio and the Arthurian town of Glastonbury in England. Arguelles had written The Mayan Factor: Path Beyond Technology, which argued for replacing the Gregorian calendar, said Earth was in the last phases of a galactic beam of light it entered in 3113 BC, and called for meditation to give humanity a chance to enter a new age in 2012.
At a mountain campsite he blew a conch shell, and around the world others chanted, formed circles, held hands at dawn and danced in what one participant said was an attempt to change the worldwide consciousness. Debunkers ranged from academics to the "Doonesbury" comic strip.
Arguelles was born in Rochester, Minnesota, of Mexican and American heritage. He taught art history and aesthetics at several universities. Details about his activities in recent years were sketchy. He listed an address in Ashland, Oregon, a town that has attracted new age adherents and where he had operated an art gallery.
He held a PhD. in Art History and Aesthetics from the University of Chicago and taught at numerouscolleges, including Princeton University and the San Francisco Art Institute. He was the twin brother of the poet Ivan Argüelles. As one of theoriginators of the Earth Day concept, Arguelles founded the first Whole Earth Festival in 1970, held at Davis, California.
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