Sacred Demise: Walking the Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization’s Collapse

By Carolyn Baker

iUniverse, 2009

Clear discernment of our current situation is vital to our ability to respond creatively.  Carolyn Baker’s book provides us with uncompromising evidence of the “Great Unraveling” that is now upon us.  The Introduction and first few chapters of Sacred Demise are guaranteed to decimate one’s denial, if read with an open mind and heart.  Readers may already be aware of some or all of the evidence presented, but Baker does a particularly good job of showing us the whole picture and its implications, all at once. 

At the same time that she offers us the bleak evidence of our society’s collapse, Baker coaches us in ways to handle the emotional and spiritual effects of seeing it so clearly.  She helps us view these cataclysmic events through various lenses—of indigenous cultural perspectives, spiritual teachings, and humanistic/transpersonal psychology, demonstrating admirable scholarship. For example, when she discusses the profound paradigm shift that must and will occur in our social and economic systems, she writes of “initiatory” experiences in indigenous cultures that guided adolescents through the profound transition to adulthood, and suggests that our society’s collapse may provide initiatory experiences for those who are receptive to them.  When she writes about the losses we all face, she applies Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ model of the stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, grief, and acceptance.  She discusses the Mayan calendar and prophecies regarding 2012 in the context of its deeper implications and metaphorical meanings. 

Baker explores some of the deep-seated neuroses that have driven our socio-economic system to this precipice—our obsession with economic “growth” that actually manifests like cancer; our addictions to acquisition, whether it be money or material goods or power; our seemingly arrested development at the age to two (or alternatively, early adolescence).  She uses other words for what I have labeled “manipulation,” but we are clearly addressing the same phenomenon.

Sacred Demise can help us overcome denial and fear, develop greater discernment, and find ways to participate in the creation of a post-industrial world.  Each chapter ends with a serious of questions for reflection, making this a powerful self-help book for the enormous challenges we face together today.