In my ebook Jesus as the Sun throughout History, I provide evidence that the New Testament figure of "Jesus Christ" has been perceived as the "sun of righteousness" (Mal 4:2) since the formation of Christianity, appearing in numerous solar roles, possessing an abundance of solar attributes, and perceived by a variety of cultures as a sun god. Among these cultures who easily saw in Christ the face of their own solar deities are the peoples of Central America, including the Aztecs and Maya. In Jesus as the Sun, I include a section entitled "Christ as the Sun in Native Traditions" in which I quote prominent scholars and anthropologists of the Americas concerning the native perception of the Christian messiah. For example, the Canadian natives the Montagnais/Innu were related in 1627 as believing Jesus to be the sun. In this same regard, the Christianized Mexican natives the Nahua "combine the sun and Christ into a composite personality who is the masculine creative force in the Nahuat universe."
"The Mexicans 'combine the sun and Christ into a composite personality who is the masculine creative force in the Nahuat universe.'"
One of the authorities I cite in my article is Dr. James M. Taggart, a professor of mine at Franklin and Marshall College, who discusses Mesoamerican celebrations in his book Nahuat Myth and Social Structure (57-68):
The annual movement of the sun toward the north from its lowest point on the horizon at the winter solstice is concordant with the annual festival cycle. The major winter solstice ceremony celebrates the birth of Christ and the annual re-birth of the sun as it begins to move north bringing more heat and light with gradually longer and warmer days. The annual movement of the sun along the horizon is analogous to the movement of the sun during the 24-hour period, so that the winter solstice is to the summer solstice as midnight is to noon. The climactic moment of the Christmas celebration—a procession carrying the Christ child from the house of the mayordomo (ritual sponsor) to the church—occurs at the time of the day (midnight) analogous to the corresponding time of the year (winter solstice). Other major festivals fall on or near other major events in the solar year. The Easter celebration occurs near the vernal equinox; the festival in honor of San Juan [St. John] occurs just after the summer solstice; and All Saints’ Day in honor of the dead is near the autumnal equinox.
"The major winter solstice ceremony celebrates the birth of Christ and the annual re-birth of the sun as it begins to move north bringing more heat and light with gradually longer and warmer days."
It is obvious that the native peoples, so in tune with their environment, recognized in Christ a solar deity whose attributes, we have seen elsewhere, represent mythical motifs of pre-Christian gods and goddesses from around the Mediterranean and beyond. Because the Mesoamericans developed their culture, religion and mythology in isolation, they retained the nature-worshipping and astrotheological meaning and symbolism behind the anthropomorphized myths and readily saw that Christ was more of the same such elemental-spiritual configuration.
The Maya and Christianity
When the Mesoamerican peoples called the Maya were conquered by the Spanish beginning in the 16th century and subjugated under the Catholic Church, they did not simply remove their vast and ancient knowledge of the world and cosmos to replace it with the biblical and Christian worldview. Instead, like the Indians, the Mesoamericans simply absorbed Christian doctrine and myths into their own perspective, as part of the cosmic play of the time. Like the Spaniards, who were astonished at the parallels between the Catholic and Mesoamerican religion, the Maya recognized the similarities between their gods and the biblical God the Father, Jesus, Virgin Mary and various saints. Thus, rather than forgetting their enormous body of knowledge dating back thousands of years in favor of a supposedly superior spiritual tradition which in reality pales by comparison, the Mesoamericans merely merged this relatively minor perception into their vaster cosmic comprehension.
"Like the Spaniards, who were astonished at the parallels between the Catholic and Mesoamerican religion, the Maya recognized the similarities between their gods and the biblical God the Father, Jesus, Virgin Mary and various saints."
In this syncretism of religious ideas and deities, which exemplifies behavior found globally for thousands of years, including in pre-Columbian America itself, the Maya added the new Spanish god called "Dios" to their pantheon, along with his son, the Sun-Christ. The figure named Jesus merits two gods, younger and older brothers, in the Mesoamerican pantheon. In this way, although the god Halal Dios is equivalent to "God Almighty" - likewise equated by the Maya with the sun - he represents merely another aspect of divinity, brought by the Spaniards into the equation, as part of a much more universal concept significantly revolving around the World Tree or Milky Way, from which we emanate and to which we return. In this regard, the Maya were accurate in their perception that we are all "star stuff" and that the Milky Way is the center of a galaxy in which our Earth is located.
Quetzalcoatl/Kukulkan, the Maize God and Christ
The Mesoamericans such as the Maya and Aztecs recognized in the figure of Jesus Christ brought to them by the Spaniards an echo of their various gods, including and especially Kukulkan or Quetzalcoatl, who was syncretized with the ancient Maize God, depicted as entering the underworld, dying and being resurrected, as is appropriate for a seed being planted and grain bursting forth. The Maize God was central to the Maya religion, which acknowledged the plant's massive importance to the Maya civilization. Hence, he was essentially the savior of the peoples, and important myths were constructed around him (or her, as maize was depicted also as a goddess, likewise appropriate). The maize god is a dying and rising savior whose head, when he is killed, is hung on a tree. This common archetype or pattern, with a different expression based on locale and era, can be found in numerous places globally, based on observation of natural phenomena.
"The maize god is a dying and rising savior whose head, when he is killed, is hung on a tree."
The maize god is also solar, as is the figure of Quetzalcoatl or Kukulkan, and this story of death and resurrection or rebirth can be associated also with the cycles of the sun. In this regard, the cross as a solar symbol can be found around the globe dating back many thousands of years, representing the four directions or cardinal points, ruled by the sun.
The Solar Cross
The cross was a central feature to Maya religion, as a solar symbol as well as the World Tree or Milky Way, the origin of all life. Hence, the sacred cross was depicted widely and is, indeed, the Maya glyph for "sun." As the foliated tree, the cross could be found carved on stelae and tombs. Thus, when the Spaniards arrived under the sign of the cross, the Maya believed they were part of the "cosmic play," so to speak.
"The cross as a solar symbol can be found around the globe dating back many thousands of years, representing the four directions or cardinal points, ruled by the sun."
In their subjugation, the Maya syncretized Christ to their solar and maize god, recognizing Jesus's dying and rising essentially as the same theme, albeit it the Christian myths had lost their more cosmic meaning, since they had fallaciously been historicized and depicted as revolving around a human of a particular ethnicity. This latter type of anthropomorphization was quite common to Maya myth as well, obviously, since the sun and corn, along with many other natural and celestial elements and bodies, likewise were changed into "real people" about whom fabulous tales were told. Thus, the Mesoamericans were not surprised by the stories, and they saw them as quite similar to their own - as do comparative mythologists to this day.
Yahweh as One of the Many
Providing an example of how the Maya did not simply forget all their cosmic knowledge - which included close scientific observations of numerous planets, stars and constellations - but merely added the Catholic divinities to their pantheon, Mayanist Dr. Eric Thompson describes a Maya ritual that continues to be practiced, and remarks:
All-night vigils are part of the many Maya ceremonies of aboriginal origin, and except for the fact that the God of the Christians is added to the old list of pagan deities invoked, there is no evidence of the ceremony being of post-Columbian origin.
"The God of the Christians is added to the old list of pagan deities."
In this way, we discover the Maya carrying in procession an image of what is called the "Sun-Christ." As Mayan Dr. Linda Schele recounts:
For three days, Duncan and I watched the Pasiones and the Flowers run the flowered banners that are the Sun-Christ around the square of Chamula. (Freidel, Schele and Parker, Maya Cosmos, 117)
Describing figures of monkeys who are "creatures from a previous Creation," Schele remarks: "They are pre-cultural beings who tear down the order of the world in order to prepare for its recreation when the Sun-Christ is brought out of the underworld." (Freidel, 118) It should be noted that in Christian myth, Jesus is depicted as spending three days in the underworld, called the "Harrowing of Hell," a mythical motif found in Egypt, the Levant and elsewhere. In this dying-and-rising motif, the Maya recognized the same natural symbolism of the solar rays, rain and other elements reaching into the underworld/ground to sprout the seed and bring forth the life-giving foliage. This same tale is used also to describe various celestial landmarks and events, as the Maya truly believed that "as above, so below."
"In the highest levels of heaven dwells Almighty God the Sun who traverses his flowery path across the sky once a day."
As another example of post-Conquest Maya syncretism of Christian ideas, Schele relates:
In the highest levels of heaven dwells Almighty God the Sun who traverses his flowery path across the sky once a day. The rising of the sun is the daily affirmation of the dynamic and participatory presence of beneficial spiritual forces in the lives of the people. This general concept is universal among the Maya. The sun is so central in the mythology of the Tzotzil Maya that they believe north and south, the "sides of heaven," were first defined when the sun made its original journey across the cosmos. To these contemporary Maya all the directions have sacred properties. West is the entryway into the earth where the Sun-Christ had to go before he could rise in triumph. South is nadir, the darkness where the Sun-Christ first traveled before arising from death in the east. Ascending to the zenith in the north, Christ slew his mythological enemies with his curative heat. (Freidel, 128)
"West is the entryway into the earth where the Sun-Christ had to go before he could rise in triumph."
And another one hot off the presses, full of images and primary sources! There is so much misinformation, disinformation and outright lying about this subject that this article needs to be spread widely. Feel free to post and link around wherever you see the need - just copy and paste the below.
Jesus Christ is not the only god supposedly born of a virgin on December 25th. So too was Horus of Egypt. The mythical motif of the sun god born at the winter solstice of a virgin precedes the common era by many centuries. As demonstrated here, its presence in the myths of Sokar, a form of both Osiris and Horus, dates back over 3,000 years. The same motif was celebrated as applied to Aion, Horus and other virgin-born solar deities around the globe for millennia.
Below is a quote from Richard Dawkin's interview in the September 2012 edition of "Playboy," in which he questions the existence of Jesus Christ as a historical figure. It's nice that Dawkins has apparently been appraised of Earl Doherty's important work on the Pauline epistles, but there is MUCH more to mythicist studies than just a single aspect of the analysis. If "Playboy" wants an expert on Jesus mythicism, they should come to me. (No, I will not pose, as I'm not into doing a Joan Collins reprise.)
The commentary is better framed not as "the evidence for Jesus's existence is surprisingly shaky" but that "the evidence points to the 'Jesus Christ' of the New Testament as a fictional composite of characters, real and mythical. A composite of multiple 'people' is no one."
Moreover, anyone who has studied the religion, mythology and philosophy of antiquity knows that there is nothing morally novel or advanced in the New Testament that could not be found in pre-Christian times. What the composers of the New Testament have done is cherry-picked ancient ideas and reworked them to revolve around a fictional character in order to further their agenda.
In addition, it can be shown - as I have done in my book Who Was Jesus? - that the supposedly stellar moral character of Jesus Christ as depicted in the NT is not what it is cracked up to be.
It is HIGHLY refreshing, however, that this subject is being aired in a mainstream publication. And you know we've really progressed when "Playboy" has become a mainstream publication.
DAWKINS: The evidence he existed is surprisingly shaky. The earliest books in the New Testament to be written were the Epistles, not the Gospels. It's almost as though Saint Paul and others who wrote the Epistles weren’t that interested in whether Jesus was real. Even if he’s fictional, whoever wrote his lines was ahead of his time in terms of moral philosophy.
Dawkins's comments are also refreshing in consideration of the fact that not long ago he was making remarks such as the following, when asked about the short and simplified summary of the Jesus mythicist position in the film "Zeitgeist":
I am deeply suspicious of this video. I think there are SOME revealing similarities between the Jesus myth, and the other god myths mentioned. But there are surely not as many similarities as are alleged here. For example, all those gods being born on "December 25th." That would be an amazingly powerful weapon against Christianity if it were true, but it is surely not true. Our system of naming dates didn't even exist when some of those god myths arose. This cavalier use of "December 25th" is just one example. I am suspicious of many other details on similar grounds. The whole film has the air of something made up, in pursuit of an anti-Christian agenda (with which I happen to sympathize) but with almost complete disregard for truth, which I fear parallels the lies told by religious apologists.
Although Dawkins is evidently referring to the entire film,* it is utterly fallacious and calumnious to assert that the short and concise summary in the first or religion part ("ZG1.1") has an "almost complete disregard for truth." Each of the main contentions in ZG1.1 concerning Jesus mythicism can be documented with primary sources and works of credentialed authorities, as in my ZEITGEIST Sourcebook.
Dawkins is also indicating that he has not understood the terminology of "December 25th" to refer to the winter solstice, a time of celebration that extends back into remote antiquity and most assuredly was reworked by Christian doctrine in order to combine the extremely popular sun god or solar deity myths with the Jewish "messianic prophecies" found in the Old Testament and other pre-Christian and proto-Christian writings. This aspect of ancient religion and mythology in which the sun god/solar deity is "born" or "resurrected" at the winter solstice is readily understandable, and this fact of numerous gods "born" at this time was discussed in antiquity, as it was extremely well known and, in fact, represented one of the focal points of ancient religious traditions in many parts of the world. One must wonder how Dawkins fails to know that the winter solstice represents the birth of the sun in traditions globally for the past several thousand years, commemorated as the days become longer and the sunlight increases on a daily basis.
(* Note that I had nothing to do with the creation of the "Zeitgeist" film. That is Peter Joseph's vision. I was a last-minute consultant on the first part. Regardless of whether or not one agrees with parts 2 and 3, the fact is that ZG was the vehicle for which a possible 200 million or more people worldwide in a variety of languages have now become aware of Jesus mythicist studies. No other medium in history has accomplished such a feat.)
"Groundbreaking scholarship continues to reveal the sublime legacy of the Mayan and other Mesoamerican cultures. Beyond the misunderstandings and sensationalism, evidence points to an advanced people who honored their place in the vast cosmos. We take a comprehensive journey into the Mayan, Aztec, Inca and other civilizations, unraveling many of their spiritual mysteries; as well as their origins and eventual doom at the hands of religions that eerily paralleled theirs."
--The eerie parallels between Mesoamerican and Eurasian cultures that even baffle the Collective Unconscious viewpoint. --Unusual and usual similarities between Mesoamerican and Middle East religions. --The arguments for and against the various 'first explorers' in America. --The arguments for and against the origins of humanity in different regions of the world, and how their religions evolved. --Understanding the figure of the Savior Godman Quetzalcoatl. --The latest on the incredible legacy of the Mayans, Aztecs, Incas, and other Mesoamerican people.
In this article, Lockwood provides primary source evidence that the story of the biblical figure Jesse's "sprout" (Isaiah 11:1) has its parallel within Buddhist lore. This study is one of a larger body of work by Lockwood that includes a tome entitled Buddhism's Relation to Christianity. I have a massive review of that book in draft form that, alas, must wait until the New Year. I consider Lockwood's book one of the most important in mythicist studies, which is why I composed such an enormous review of it.
Images of scenes from the Hebrew Bible are not too common in Christian Churches. However, those illustrating Jesse's "Lineage Tree", because of its connection with Jesus, are the most numerous. It is interesting to note that these images began to appear in Christian art, especially in Europe, around the 11th century CE, the same period when the Buddhist "Lineage Tree" images were also coming into prominence.
In the Basilica of St. Quentin, France, the remarkable carving of the Reclining Jesse with his "Lineage Tree" growing up out of his navel area would immediately make anyone familiar with Indian iconography to think of the images of the Reclining Vishnu "Padmanäbha" with a lotus flower growing up from his navel, providing a seat for the smaller, sitting image of the creator god (Demiurge) Brahmä! Christianity has certainly borrowed from India in the creation of the St. Quentin image! The "navel" theme of Vishnu Padmanäbha can be traced back to literary images in the Rig-Vëda which, long before the prophet Isaiah and the Hebrew Bible, praise the all-encompassing creator-God, Viåvakarma (sometimes identified with Brahmä).
Note also that as FGM-practicing peoples migrate, this anti-female violence is being brought with them, so it is now occurring in Europe, Australia, Canada and Smalltown, USA. Over seven years ago, I was shocked by the mother of a nurse in a small American town telling me that the emergency room there was seeing young FGM victims, so it's been happening in the United States for quite some time.
* Scourge affects 140 million women and girls worldwide
* Campaigners compare psychological effects to rape
* U.N. resolution seen as powerful tool for activists
By Emma Batha
LONDON (TrustLaw) - At seven years old, Khady Koita’s childhood was torn apart when she was pinned down and attacked by two women wielding a razor blade. The violence inflicted on her that day would change her life forever.
On Monday, Koita, a leading figure in the campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM), will join other high-profile activists at the United Nations to drum up support for a global ban on a practice forced on millions of children every year.
"FGM is horrific, brutal, degrading and indefensible," said Koita, who was born in Senegal and now lives in Brussels. "My big hope is that one day no girl will have to go through what I have been through."
The move to stamp out FGM – which is widely practised in Africa and pockets of the Middle East and Asia – is being driven by African member states of the United Nations, led by Burkina Faso.
They are now applying the finishing touches to a draft resolution banning FGM to be presented to the U.N. General Assembly in early October. It is expected to be adopted in December.
An estimated 140 million girls and women have undergone FGM, which can cause serious physical and emotional damage. Campaigners liken the psychological effects of FGM to those of rape.
"It is important that women like me who have suffered so much from this humiliation … and who have the privilege to be able to shout our rage, that we do so for those who can’t," said Koita, founder of campaign group La Palabre.
In Africa, FGM is practised in 28 countries from Senegal in the west to Somalia in the east. Other places it is found include Yemen, Iraqi Kurdistan and Indonesia.
Many believe it preserves a girl’s virginity and see it is an important rite of passage and prerequisite for marriage. Parents say it is done out of love because it purifies the girl and brings her status.
FGM ranges from the partial or total removal of the clitoris to the most extreme form called infibulation, in which all external genitalia are cut off and the vaginal opening is stitched closed.
It is usually arranged by the women in the family and performed by traditional cutters who use anything from scissors to broken glass and tin can lids.
FGM can cause haemorrhaging, shock, chronic pain, recurrent urinary tract infections, cysts, menstrual problems and infertility. It increases the risk of labour complications and newborn deaths.
The procedure itself can prove fatal. "About 6,000 to 8,000 girls are mutilated every day," Koita said. "No one knows how many die."
Mutilated at seven years old, the woman in this story working to end this abominable practice has the ability to broach this agonizing subject because of our "Western" democracies, so let us please not allow our societies to be destroyed, as they are the safe havens for asylum seekers like her.
Kurdish mullah: Female genital mutilation 'is an obligation' in Islam
Buddhists have been in Utah for a century, yet we haven't heard a peep about them, no terrorist threats or acts, no mega-temples designed to intimidate everyone, no advocates infiltrating our governments and law agencies, no clamoring to destroy our federal government and replace it with their own religious order. There is no Buddhist shrieking about victimhood and "Buddhismophobia," no Buddhist thugs in the streets bullying nonbelievers, and no Buddhist families murdering their daughters for becoming "Westernized."
Here we discover the behavior of people who actually DO follow a religion peacefully and with class.
A few decades after Mormon pioneers fled religious persecution and settled in Utah, another group arrived to seek work while holding strong to its ancient beliefs.
Buddhism arrived with the Japanese railroad laborers, the miners and the farmers. Far from home, Japanese immigrants clung to their culture and their faith.
By 1912, small groups of believers following the Jodo Shinshu branch of Buddhism began holding services in their homes. As the groups in Ogden, Salt Lake, Corinne and Honeyville grew, they rented spaces until the members could raise the funds to build their own temples and meeting houses.
This year, Buddhists marked a century of faith in Utah, and celebrated with a conference, "Walking the Path of Enlightenment."...
Unbelievable. My heart goes out to the people who are suffering and who will continue to suffer for some time to come from the horrendous devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy. The cost to the economy is estimated at about $50 billion in damage so far. Some parts look like they're straight out of a disaster movie, the devastation is so bad. We've been expecting storms like this for many years. As Katrina was obviously not the last, I doubt this one will be the last we will see. The only question is where the next superstorm will hit. Again, our best wishes are with the millions of people who have lost everything and are without power, food, water and shelter.
While much of the rest of the world expresses condolences and rushes to assist the millions of Americans who are suffering from the horrendous devastation of Hurricane Sandy, Islamic authorities are debating whether or not the superstorm is a divine punishment from the Arab tribal god Allah, while Islamic jihadis cackle decisively that the horror is indeed retribution for "insults to Islam" and for resisting the global imposition of an Islamic caliphate.
Someone might want to tell these Pat Robertson wannabes that New Jersey and New York are full of Muslims and were some of the hardest hit areas. Many jihadis have been swarming around New York and are tied to Muslim organizations in New Jersey as well. NJ governor Chris Christie has numerous powerful Muslim friends and bends over backwards to accommodate them. So what was God really trying to say?
It should also be recalled that Americans have traditionally donated billion$ and much valuable time when natural disasters strike in other parts of the world. The countries where these jokers are sitting so comfortably cackling over the suffering of millions of human beings - including many MUSLIMS - themselves receive AMERICAN AID.
So, what are they going to do when we are all broke and devastated, which seems to be their desire? They TOO will be broke and degrading into shambles when our money stops flowing to them.
Following Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast of the U.S. on October 29, 2012, many Twitter users in the Arab world expressed joy over the crisis in the U.S. and even wished for its demise, whereas others condemned these reactions and called to express compassion for the Americans. A number of Muslim clerics joined this debate, some of them agreeing with the first group and describing the hurricane as a punishment from Allah, and others agreeing with those who condemned this attitude.
The following are excerpts from some of the clerics' statements:
Among those who expressed satisfaction over the hurricane was Egyptian cleric Wadgi Ghoneim, who tweeted on October 29, 2012: "America is currently subject to [an attack] by one of Allah's weakest armies (meaning Hurricane Sandy)."
Magdi Ghoneim's tweet
On October 31, he tweeted: "In my opinion, this is revenge by the Lord [Allah] for [harming] his beloved Mustafa [another name for the Prophet Muhammad]..." Ghoneim presumably means that Allah sent the hurricane as punishment for the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims.
"So why should we not rejoice when it suffers harm?... Should we not be glad that Allah has heeded the prayers of the weak and oppressed around the world? Should we not be glad, when [the storm is clearly] a punishment from Allah for their crimes...? Some Muslims say [that] we should feel sorry about what has happened [in America]! This is a mistake [which indicates their] ignorance of the religious texts... When we see these strong winds destroying some of the states in America, we know it is a boon from Allah, for which we should be grateful and glad... In sum, we may rejoice over what has harmed America, for that is the reasoning of the Koran and the way of the prophets..."
UK-based Islamist Anjem Choudary tweeted: "Hurricanes, floods and tornados are the soldiers of Allah which Allah releases against those he wishes to punish or to wake up, Allah Akbar!"
Alignments to the equinoxes have been known at a number of Mesoamerican sites, including and especially "El Castillo" or the Temple of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza. Indeed, important Mexican religious festivals were known to be held on the equinoxes, particularly the vernal or spring, during which time at El Castillo the sun's shadow projects an undulating "serpent" down the side of the temple's staircase. It should be recalled that the Mesoamerican god Kukulkan is portrayed as a "feathered serpent," the meaning of both "Kukulkan" and "Quetzalcoatl," as he is known by his Nahua/Aztec moniker. He is also significantly a solar god, a fact that should be kept in mind whenever reading the myths and traditions concerning Quetzalcoatl (and his eponymous priest-kings).
The spring resurrection of solar and foliage deities
One of the most important annual Mesoamerican celebrations occurs at the vernal equinox, the "Festival of the Sun," to whom human sacrifices were made at this time. One esoteric Mesoamerican motif concerning the vernal equinox, it has been claimed, is the death and resurrection of a nature god, whether by the name of Kukulkan/Quetzalcoatl or the maize god, which are often syncretized, as is logical and common for foliage and solar deities. The same common process of religious syncretism occurs with the Egyptian god Osiris, who is, among other aspects, the sun, water and foliage, this latter represented by his green color symbolizing the chlorophyll of plants.
The timing of this Mesoamerican festival with the spring sacrifice, death and resurrection at "Easter" of the New Testament godman Jesus Christ rates as noteworthy and a logical parallel, as this time of the year traditionally represents the rebirth of life after the death of winter. The maize god/Quetzalcoatl mythology revolves around the sprouting (birth) of the foliage, by virtue of the "Hero Twins" (soli-lunar powers) penetrating the "underworld" (soil) and defeating the "lords of death," allowing the sprout to burst through the surface and bring with it the "new dawn." As is also sensible, this time of the year is that of the great maize/earth/growth goddess and "Mother of the Gods" in Mesoamerican mythology, also found in other myths, such as the stories of Cybele and Demeter, symbolizing the Creatrix (parthenogenetically) bringing forth life in abundance.
For the relevant myth about the (solar) primordial god "Heart of Sky," who in the Popol Vuh is also the (solar) "Feathered Serpent" (Kukulkan/Quetzalcoatl) and the Maize God in the underworld who is avenged by his twin sons and "magically resurrected," see the video clip below. To go directly to the myth, which starts as 00:59, click this link.
The cross and crucifix
It should also be noted that the symbol of the cross was very sacred to the Maya, appearing in a variety of forms and representing the four cardinal points or "corners of the world," as was said of the four canonical gospels by early Church father Irenaeus. This theme of the cross representing a solar symbol indicating the four directions of north, east, south and west is very ancient and popular in many cultures globally. Indeed, it may well be one of the oldest symbols of the past 10,000 or more years.
In this same regard, Quetzalcoatl is represented as affixed to a cross, much like the crucifix of Jesus, representing his solar nature as holding power over the four directions.
It is also well known that the Maya were ardent observers and worshippers of the planet Venus, held to be a god, such as Kukulkan, whose "beard" is a typical feature in Venus mythology. Venus is also said to be the "twin" of the sun. Many Mayan sites such as Uxmal possess Venus alignments, and astronomical/astrological "Venus tables" are present in the Dresden Codex, a pre-Columbian Mayan text evidently created during the 11th or 12th centuries AD/CE but representing knowledge from three or four centuries earlier.
The winter solstice
It has been determined (once again) that the Maya at Chichen Itza were also interested in the solstices, which are not as prominent in these equatorial regions as they are elsewhere. Nevertheless, it would have been difficult to believe that these supreme astronomers were not aware of and did not observe the solstices, especially since the sun was a major factor in Maya religion. Indeed, both the equinoxes and the solstices were "key dates in the calendar for corn cultivation."
In cultures farther to the north, the sun at the winter solstice is considered to be dead and then resurrected or reborn, amid great rejoicing, as the days begin to become longer again, bringing with them light, warmth and growth. While the winter effect may not be so dramatic in Mesoamerica, such solar myths may also have been present at some point in Mexican religion and mythology, which do, indeed, speak of multiple suns being born and dying. One of these solar deities, as we have seen, is Kukulkan/Quetzalcoatl, the second sun, who is killed and goes into the underworld, where he is rescued and reborn on Earth. It could be considered a crime against humanity that thousands of Mayan codices were destroyed, depriving us of so much more possible data, but we are glad that the Maya currently are recovering much of their ancient knowledge.
The Caracol at Chichen Itza
In this regard of solstitial alignments, in addition to the watchtowers around the ball court, it has been evinced for decades that the round Caracol at Chichen Itza is likewise an observatory. The map below from Exploratorium.edu shows the various alignments of the Caracol, including the solstices.
Experts say sun's rays shone through slits during solstices and equinoxes
Experts in Mexico say they have determined that the ancient Maya used watchtower-style structures at the temple complex of Chichen Itza to observe the equinoxes and solstices.
The bases of the structures were found atop the walls of the long ceremonial court, where a ritual ball game was played. But to determine their use, archaeologists first had to rebuild the small, stone-roofed structures.
Each of the structures has a narrow slit running through it.
Government archaeologist Jose Huchim says he has found that the sun's rays shine into the slits at the winter solstice, and at another angle on the equinoxes.
The sun played an important role in Maya culture, for religious as well as agricultural reasons, the National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement on Thursday. For instance, equinoxes and solstices were key dates in the calendar for corn cultivation.
Archaeologists believe the Maya ball game was itself an analogy for the sun's journey through the sky: "The sun's course — that is, rising from the east, reaching the zenith and being hidden in the west — is at a given time reproduced through the movement of the ball during the practice of ritual," Huchim said.
Huchim said that stairways to the structures are being restored so visitors can observe the phenomenon.
The question in the title of this article can be answered quickly: No, we are not all going to die on December 21, 2012. Will there be natural disasters somewhere? Probably, as there are somewhere in the world every day, on whatever scale. If a beaver's dam is demolished by a flood, to the beaver that's clearly a "natural disaster." But we need not worry about the "End of the Word" in December.
This apocalyptic mythology surrounding the purported end of the Mayan calendar cycle can be forensically dissected to demonstrate where it came from and where it is faulty. One such dissection may be found in the paper of University of Kansas anthropologist Dr. John Hoopes entitled, "A critical history of 2012 mythology," published in the "Oxford IX" International Symposium on Archaeoastronomy Proceedings (IAU Symposium No. 278, 2011).
"To summarize the criticism of the 'End of the World' paradigm associated with the Maya, the dating is defective, the mythology surrounding the Mayan calendar is flawed, and the conclusions are erroneous."
In the meantime, I am currently composing a monograph on the religious and mythological parallels between the Old and New Worlds that contains much fascinating material. In this regard, I must proffer my opinion as concerns Hoopes's derision of previous scholars and researchers in this field as "crackpots."
For example, Lord Kingsborough was not a "crackpot" simply because he attempted to trace the Mesoamerican culture to the "Lost Tribes of Israel." Kingsborough was a pioneer in his day who suffered great hardship to make sure that the surviving Mexican codices were made available to the public. After spending much of his fortune on the massive, expensively produced volumes called Antiquities of Mexico, Kingsborough ended up dying from the harsh conditions of a British debtor's prison, with no assistance from the European elite, apparently, who had benefited from his labors.
Today, many people still must rely on Kingsborough's enormous and costly publications in order to study the codices. I myself have consulted his original large and brilliantly hand-illustrated volumes, in the special library at UCLA. His interpretation through Judeo-Christian eyes is entirely understandable, especially since the parallels between the Old and New World appeared to be astonishing. For a bibliolater and believer in the biblical god, what else could it be? And he was obviously not alone, as the original Christian invaders themselves remarked with great astonishment upon these commonalities as well, and had likewise traced them to either Jews or to Christ himself as the Mesoamerican god Quetzalcoatl proselytizing the "Indians." Indeed, the missionary St. Thomas - also equated with Quetzalcoatl - was said to have flown on the back of an eagle to the Americas, thus explaining the similarities.
As a response, Dr. Hoopes has written me in a private email the following (published here with his permission):
Yes, I think you're right. "Crackpot" is too harsh for Kingsborough. He was operating with a flawed interpretation but is to be commended for nonetheless putting a huge amount of documentation into the hands of scholars. I think I'd be okay with a similar fanatic doing likewise today.
Kingsborough was building on hypotheses suggested by no less of a scholar than Humboldt. The fact that these interpretations swayed Joseph Smith, Jr. and the even the U.S. Congress (with the Indian Removal Act of 1830) shows that other intelligent men found these myths compelling, too. Do you know the work of Josiah Priest (especially American Antiquities)? I think it's essential for putting this work in context. None other than Brasseur de Bourboug (discoverer of the Popol Vuh) thought he saw connections. The legacy of these ideas is still with us today...
In any event, Hoopes's paper represents an important study of the 2012 mythology into the current era, including the works of Santillana & Von Dechend, Terence McKenna, Carlos Castaneda, Jose Arguelles and others. Hoopes concludes:
The 2012 phenomenon is an astrological and cultural event, not an astronomical one. Apart from the winter solstice and the proximity of the sun to the galactic center of the Milky Way (something invisible to the naked eye that has been occurring every December for over a decade), there is little special that happens on December 21, 2012. However, assertions that the ancient Maya associated this date with unique astronomical events are unconvincing. The hullaballoo is a projection of present-day astrological concerns on an ancient culture by earnest believers in New Age lore. It is primarily a manifestation of pop culture.
The 2012 phenomenon is both amusing and disconcerting. The latter, because it casts suspicion on scholars.... The public's perception of scholars has been colored by a string of individuals who have identified themselves as credentialed scholars while engaging in unfounded and even pseudoscientific speculation....
The 2012 phenomenon brings a fascinating intersection of astronomy and culture. At the very least, it has made a huge audience aware of Maya calendrics and the winter solstice.... As with flying saucers for Jung, the 2012 phenomenon may be far more interesting as a window into our contemporary culture - especially how our scholarship is consumed in ways we intend or not - than for anything its reality reveals about the ancient Maya.
The scientific conclusion as to what 2012 truly represents reflects there will be no "end of the world." Therefore, to counter this perspective, I have crafted a presentation entitled "2012: A New Beginning," focusing on the above-mentioned religious and mythological parallels that reveal a unity of human culture we can examine and enjoy, rather than emphasizing our differences and possible self-fulfilling destruction.
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