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Endtime Essays, 7

The Tablet of Destiny

Omens in the Skywriting for 2012

 

This series of essays began with a consideration of how the timing of Kali Yuga, calculated in the sacred chronology of the Hindus, might tally with Maya-Aztec calendar, especially the 2012 endtime. I pointed out that the "lesser" Kali Yuga that began in 3102 BCE is contiguous with the start of the Mayan Long Count. The length of the lesser Kali Yuga is one-fifth of the full precessional cycle or Kalpa: 72 degrees of precession at one degree every 72 years = 5184 years. This figure closely matches the average duration of the five Aztec Suns and the Maya period of 13 baktuns of 144,000 days each. To the Hindu-Maya-Aztec correlation I then added the Egyptian factor, encoded on the Dendera Zodiac by axis D through Antares, also dated close to 3102 BCE.

The present longitude of Antares, the red-gold giant in the heart of the Scorpion, is 249.76 ECL, or 69.76 degrees from the fall equinox. Using the mean rate of 72 years per degree of precession, 69.76 degrees converts to 5023 years, and this figure, less 2000, gives 3023 BCE, pretty close to 3102. We have seen how cosmic timing can be indicated, not only by the vernal equinox (VP), but by other arms of the axial cross as well. When the autumnal equinox coincided with Antares around 3023, Kali Yuga began. At the same moment, the spring equinox coincided with Aldebaran in the eye of the Bull, exactly opposite to Antares. I have suggested that the Antares-Aldebaran axis defines the formal structure of the Zodiac. The alignment of precessional timing to this axis is a strong signal that highlights the moment of entry into the lesser Kali Yuga.

The "Spirit Star" in the brilliant composite of Mother Scorpion signals our entry into an 5000-year period that now, as it draws to a close, is taking us straight into an extinction event.

Aztecs 'R Us?

But all the news from the Scorpion is not bad news. This evening, and for some evenings lately, I have been observing the Scorpion and the Archer from an ideal skywatching zone in southern Europe. From midnight into the wee hours of the morning, I see the Scorpion composite down to the full extension of its massive tailhook, cartwheeling left to right over the rugged mountains of Africa. With this view I can confirm an observation made years ago in the crystalline air of the Sangre de Christos mountains of New Mexico: namely, the Archer does not aim his arrow at alpha Scorpionis, the heart-star, but at epsilon, lower in the torso.

Observing the composites to learn astronomy is one thing, but at the same time, and quite spontaneously, the constellations trigger an act of imagination in which the graphic figures (the Zodiac: "cycle of animations") spring to life. I have found that the graphic and gestural actions suggested by these massive star-patterns speak for themselves, and seem to communicate things that cannot always be put into words.

For instance, you will notice that the Archer aims over the terminal star of the stinger, upsilon, toward epsilon in the torso. The faint star gamma marks the tip of his arrow, so there is no mistaking the line of aim. The centaur armed with bow and arrow does not shoot for the heart of the Scorpion, nor even the tail where the poison is most concentrated, and delivered. He aims for the lower trunk of the Scorpion. What does such a gesture say?

The Maya Codex Tro-Cortesianus presents the stellar archetype of the Scorpion, "the old goddess with the scorpion´s tail" (Hamlet´s Mill, facing p. 291). Although there are some references to a thirteen-figure Aztec Zodiac in MesoAmerican lore, I have been unable to make a consistent match with Greco-Latin composites, but this one is certain.

The benign Egyptian scorpion goddess Selkit was associated with this constellation as well. R. H. Allen (see below) notes the alignment of Egyptian and Grecian temples to the Scorpion "at the autumnal equinox about 3700-3500 B.C." (These dates denote when the equinox enters the composite, some 400-500 years, about seven degrees of precession, before it aligns to Antares.) It is tempting to link the gruesome Aztec obsession with human sacrifice with the Scorpion, but I think this is a wrong direction to go. Nothing in the extant mythology on the Aztec custom of sacrifice, and the presumed reasons for it, points to this figure.

It would appear that rites of human sacrifice among the Aztecs belong to the age of Kali Yuga, but to its late phase and to a severe pathological decline. Such practices cannot be pinned definitively on Scorpion mythology. Perhaps, however, this constellation encodes some information about the hidden cause of those practices, a murky tale of intoxication and black magic. Scorpionic myth may indicate the morbid pathology behind human sacrifice, but not the practice itself.

How about other clues to the Aztec complex and its possible resonance with society at the end of Kali Yuga? R. A Williamson (Living the Sky - The Cosmos of the American Indian) points out that the sun room at Hovenheep, an Anasazi ruin on the Colorado-Utah border, was aligned to observe the position of Antares at the moment of the winter solstice in 1250 CE. This is precisely the date of the arrival of the Aztecs in central Mexico, although some estimates put this event three centuries earlier, around 950 CE, a date which I prefer. The historical date attached to the Toltec culture hero Quetzalcoatl is 950 or so. If the Aztecs (or Chichimecs, "dog people," later to be known as Mexica, pronounced Mesheeka, "moon people") did arrive as refugees in the Valley of Mexico as early as 950 CE, which I believe to be so, they did not rise to power until three centuries later, around 1250, the date indicated by Williamson.

The Hovenheep clue is intriguing. Many scholars hold that the Chichimecs were refugees from the southwestern pueblo cultures where entire villages were abandoned in the 10th Century. They may actually have been the Anasazi, "the vanished ones" of the American southwest who attempted to relocate in a more southern clime after a natural catastrophe, drought, or whatever...

And consider this: the date 1250 signals the rise of the warrior class globally. Readers of my Alternative History of the Grail will recall that the culminating date of Arthurian chivalry and the Grail quest was precisely around 1250, when Tristan and Parzival were written. This was also the precise moment of the consolidation of the warrior class of samurai in far-off Japan. By 1200 Japanese military orders reigned all over feudal Japan, the mirror counterpart to the Eagle and Jaguar societies among the Aztecs at the precise same moment. The odd mix of lethal violence with high aestheticism among the Aztecs ("flower wars") had its exact counterpart in feudal Japan. Miguel Leon-Portilla, the one scholar who captures most intimately the spirit of Aztec society, translates Aztec poetry on the beauty and transience of life that could well have been written by a samurai about to commit seppuku, ritual suicide.

In Mexico and Japan, at the same historical moment, arose two societies dominated by a warrior class whose members celebrated violent death and suicide—a Scorpionic glorification of the death-wish, if you will—but knighthood in the European West was not comparable. Perhaps because the Arthurian heroes were inspired by the regenerative power of the Grail, rather than the mystique of the Bleeding Lance.

A society based on war and inspired by a supermundane conception of war is not so alien to the war-driven economies of the modern world. The apocalyptic visions of today´s righteous warmongers echo the Aztec madness transposed into a Jewish, Christian, or Islamic guise. The great irony of the conquest of Mexico is that Cortex brought to the natives a salvationist religion comparable in every respect to the sacrificial warrior code and ritual cannibalism it displaced. In fact, Cortez' religion had a glorified sacrificial victim as its central figure, whose body was eaten by its devotees. This parallel may go a long way to explaining why Christianity had a fatal captivating effect upon a culture toxically enmeshed in human sacrifice.

Sacrifice was a mechanism, an inner logic of the universe, almost a god in itself. This concept permeated the whole of Aztec mythology, whether cosmogonic or otherwise. It was also the central preoccupation of the Aztec state.
- Burr Cartwright Brundage, The Fifth Sun.

Double Doom


Montezuma with Cortez, Malinche interpreting.
(The Broken Spears, Miguel Leon-Portilla, p. 62)

I wonder who will be able to delve more deeply into the historical enigma of the conquest of Mexico as 2012 approaches. I wonder also if the bizarre fate of the Aztecs may be reflected in the death wish of Western culture in the remaining years of the Kalpa. My own theory, for what it´s worth, is that the Mexica were double-doomed: first, because the nobles and chiefs who rigidly controlled that society were poisoned by chocoholism, and second, because the entire culture was jinxed by the Toltecs with the "return myth" of Quetzalcoatl. About all this baffling business, I will have more to say at the end of this essay.

To continue with our reflections on Antares as a signal of the Endtime: It may seem preposterous to assert that a scorpion has a heart. The expression is figurative, of course. I believe that anatomical dissection of the said arachnid will not reveal a warm, beating organ. But at Dendera the narrow rooms facing the sacred lake on the north side of the temple served as mammasi, maternity wards. Some of the initiates of Hathor were also midwifes who specialized in birth and contraception. A small frieze in the wards shows a scorpion attending a woman who undergoes an operation with her legs spread. Imagine this: the venom of a scorpion could be concocted into an antiseptic-analgesic gel to ease birth pains and protect both mother and child from peurperal fever, a form of septicemia that can be contracted after birth. (Hygienic measures against peurperal fever only came into practice in Europe in 1847, through the work of Ignaz Semmelweis.)

Nothing like a little Egyptian folk lore to whet the imagination... We have to go much deeper than anecdotal lore to understand what manner of mother love resides in the heart of the Scorpion, but such insight might direct us wisely on the way into extinction.

Poison Power

In his fabulous trilogy on "plants, potions, and herbcraft," Pharmako/Poeia, Pharmakodynamis, Pharmako Gnosis (Mercury House, San Francisco, 1995-2005), entheobotanist and psychonaut Dale Pendell argues that "the poison path" is central to our evolutionary adventure: "That plant poisons resemble the chemicals of our own nervous system is not a coincidence. We selected each other—fought great battles on microbial slimes—traded partners and parasites in a primordial orgy."

We become trackers, threading through a labyrinth of rocks,
plasma, toxic saps. Nucleic acids,
like a sexual differentiation: iron versus magnesium,
chitin versus cellulose, tracking backwards...
(Pharmako / Poesis, p. 11)

Pendell observes—as I did in Ch. 18 of Not in His Image, discussing the role of the divine scapegoat in victim-perpetrator bonding—that "the pharmakon is both remedy and poison... We seek the primal poison, the root illness." It appears that the Scorpion, a poisonous insect, is not the image or origin of "the root illness," but image of our psychosomatic propensity for both lethal and healing poisons. Is this why the Archer does not aim for the heart of the Scorpion? In one sense, the stellar archetype of the Scorpion, taken as a prime indicator of Kali Yuga, points to the tremendous healing potential for humanity in this Age. It also points to the extremes of addiction that our species can manifest. As anyone who has gone through recovery will tell you, we will have to bottom out as a species to discover and claim that potential.

Pendell proposes an alchemical work of transmutation, using poisons for illumination and healing (Pharmakodynamis, p. 3). It is true that some psychoactive plants are poisonous. Datura and belladonna, for instance. But the effect depends on the dose, and a potentially toxic plant such as Datura inoxia, jimson weed, can be used to heal and induce visions when it is administered in the right way. As far as I know, a good many psychoactive plants are not poisonous at all, even in strong doses. Psilocybin mushrooms, for instance. But Pendell´s emphasis on poison is sagacious and fits the modern situation, the endgame of poisoning and pollution being enacted under the sign of the Scorpion.

Consistent with Pendell´s magnificent opus, I would suggest that the Scorpion oversees our endtime experience because, having become toxified in so many ways, we need to understand how to invert the toxification process, beat addiction, heal ancient wounds, etc. The Archer does not kill the Scorpion with a heart-shot. He leaves the stinger to deliver the fatal dose, or the healing dose, as it is measured out.

Poisons that Heal by Eileen Nauman is a good complement to the Pendell trilogy. The author describes in detail the antidotes concocted from various plant and animal poisons.

The theme of poison and antidote is purely Scorpionic. As 2012 approaches, we are living out this theme on a global scale. One example: addiction to alcohol, tobacco, heroine, and a huge arsenal of precription drugs, is universal on the planet, and has been for some time, but recently we are beginning to understand how psychoactive plants such as the ayahuasca vine and iboga can cure these global addictions. Rehab clinics using sacred plants are springing up in many countries, especially in Europe. Mother Scorpion brings healing and regeneration in the basket of sacred plants offered by the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, some of whom Joanna Harcourt-Smith has interviewed on futureprimitive.org.

Transpeciation

We are the animal species unique in its capacity to pollute and poison its own habitat. We do this, strange as it sounds, due to our belief-systems. What we believe can be a threat to our very survival. I have analyzed this pathology at length in Not in His Image. What I would add here is yet another Scorpionic twist. Mother Scorpion guards the path of rebirth: "at the end of the Milky Way, where she receives the souls of the dead, and from her, represented as a mother with many breasts, at which children take suck, come the souls of the newborn." This being so, we would do well to examine our beliefs about life after death, to see if they are compatible with the Mother´s way, or if they compel us to other concepts of post-mortem survival—immortality of the soul guaranteed by the father god through the death and resurrection of his son, for instance.

How does Mother Scorpion accomplish "the rebirth of souls," and how does her way compare to a continued existence in the afterlife promised by the Abrahamic father god? I would suggest that her way is a regenerative recovery process, biopsychic and biomystical, an occult process in which she reworks the evolutionary capacities of the entire human species and reconfigures high-end potential in individual genetic endowments. In other words, she effectuates rebirth for the genomic potential of the species, but not for individual human beings possessed of single-self identity. "The souls of the newborn" are recycled human potential, deathless capacities for renewing and extending the evolutionary experiment of Gaia´s life-process over the long term.

In the Eleusinian Mysteries, this act of transpersonal rebirthing was celebrated in the figure of the divine child, Iakkos. Christianity departed from Pagan religion by co-opting the divine child and turning it into a heaven-sent savior, incarnated from beyond this world, rather than an image of the transpersonal potential of humanity rooted in its habitat. This error signals the messianic madness of the Piscean Age and represents (so far) the worst extrapolation of that madness. If we look for divinity in an extrahuman realm, blind to the evolutionary endowment of our own species, we cannot possibly get through an extinction event. Gnostics taught, not that we are divine in our selves, but in our faculties. We each carry the superhuman potential of nous, divine intelligence.

The Scorpion, pictured as "a mother with many breasts," resembles Diana of Ephesus and other images of the milky, substantial Organic Light. Human potential is renewed by immersion in the Light. This happens at physical death, but also in the initiatory experience of egodeath.

I suggest that if we could understand the process of transpersonal regeneration of human genomic potential, we would realize how Gaia brings selected species through an extinction event. This is perhaps the paramount knowledge to be won in the moment of opportunity offered by the 2012 Endtime. While this may appear to be a terribly obscure or arcane subject, extremely difficult to conceptualize, the key to Gaian transpeciation, as I will call it, is written in the code of the stars.

The Pegasus Square

We noted that the head of the Manitou figure in the Zodiac is undefined by distinct stars. The composite of Aquarius is dim and shambolic. Scanning its upper region, you find it hard to visualize a head of any kind. Unable to fix on the suggestion of a form, the eyes wander to more distinct stars. Observing the composite of Aquarius, you will inevitably find your eyes shifting upward and to the left where brighter stars entrain your gaze. This happens by itself, because the mind automatically seeks patterns formed by stars in an area that can be encompassed in one glance, without needing to shift your eyes.

Such an area is the Pegasus square, above the constellation of the Fishes, to the left of Aquarius. A splayed L-shaped extension identifies the head of Pegasus, pictured in Greco-Latin star lore as a massive horse flying upside down. (Pegasus: Skywatching by David Levy, HarperCollins, 1996)

The designers of the Dendera Zodiac chose to display the Pegasus square in a prominent manner, between the Fishes with axis D running over the corner of it. Scholars identify this detail as a representation of the Sumerian "tablet of destiny," l-Iku, also the name for a standard measure in agricultural surveying. The tablet contains three scribble-lines to suggest cuneiform writing.

Thus, if the script of the human experiment is encoded in the overall design of the Dendera Zodiac (as I claim), it is also specifically displayed by an image within the design. To read the skywriting is to trace the long-term patterns of human evolution: phylogenetic motifs. I maintain that the depiction of the tablet at Dendera indicates that a socially communicable method of decoding the Zodiac becomes necessary, and possible, in the final centuries of Kali Yuga. The tablet of destiny is both read and written in the decisive moment when our species faces the sixth extinction.

Today, we understand the evolutionary script of our species to be the human genome written in genetic code, the DNA-RNA complex. Is this what the tablet represents, and if so, how do we regard the code in terms of astronomical myth?

Let´s recall that visually the head of the inverted Pegasus merges with the undefined head of Aquarius, the Manitou or Mesotes, the intermediary who preserves the interspecies bond and brings visionary wisdom. I have proposed that the Mesotes is an evolutionary guide of the kind encountered, sometimes as a power animal, in the vision quests of Native America. How does this indigenous theme relate to traditional material on Pegasus?

In Greco-Latin star lore, Pegasus was a winged horse that sprang from a magic spring—recall that the Manitou-Mesotes is often connected with water and its healing powers—and took flight toward Andromeda. In fact, the brightest star in the Square, located in the upper left hand corner, belongs to the constellation of Andromeda and marks the head-star of the "fallen women" of that myth. What? A fallen women in the mix! Does this figure not bring to mind the fallen goddess, Sophia? The starry plot thickens.

This star is called Alpharetz. Although it does not lie on the ecliptic where precession is measured, Alpharetz like all stars has an ecliptic alignment and its position can be measured in ecliptic degrees. Its ecliptic longitude in 2000 CE is 14.31 degrees. This means that at some time in the not-too-distant past, the spring equinox (VP) was aligned to Alpharetz. Using the rate of 71.632 degrees per annum, we multiply this figure by the current distance from the VP, 14.31 degrees, and get 1025 years. Subtract this from 2000 CE (epoch of current longitude) and we get 975 CE. This is seven years from 968 CE which I suggested for the most probable date to associate with Parzival´s attainment of the Grail, i.e., instruction by the Organic Light, the primary substance body of the fallen goddess, Sophia. To put it in mythographic lingo, the attainment of the Grail in medieval legend was timed to the VP's alignment with the head-star of Andromeda, a cognate of the divine Sophia.

Now we´re on to something, because 975 CE falls in the time of the historical avatar of Quetzalcoatl, the Toltec prince Ce Acatl, said to have been born in 947 and to have undergone, like Christ, a voluntary sacrificial death about 50 years later. The Quetzalcoatl legend is a messianic tale of the Piscean Age that mixes historical and mythological elements, as does the legend of Jesus Christ, to whom Quetzalcoatl is often compared. This is fine and lovely for those who want to reconcile all the great religions into a single benign system, but the urgent question is, How do we actually live out such tales? Where do they take us when we adopt the beliefs encoded in them? Do we blindly buy into such myths, becoming filled with the sense of expectation they engender, or do we look at them critically, asking how or IF they elucidate our evolutionary path in any way, and lead us into a sane, sustainable, long-term trajectory for humanity?

The above line-drawing of Pegasus (Julius D. W. Staal, The New Patterns in the Sky) shows clearly how Alpharetz, the head-star of Andromeda, forms the upper left hand corner of the Square. The composition of the stellar pictures, the result of deliberate visualization, links the record of human evolution to the figure of the fallen goddess. It is particularly revealing to apply the method of star-timing to this configuration. We can read the Square mythologically, but also in terms of historical events timed to the composite stars. Of the four stars in the Square, Alpharetz and Algenib (below it), generate dates in time past, while Scheat and Markab generate dates in the far future. The dating of 965 CE for Alpharetz alerts us to the Parzival-Quetzalcoatl parallel in the 10th Century, as just noted. It is a "fortunate sign" in the heavens, reminding us of how humanity is guided by those who encounter the Organic Light, or misguided by black magical games and messianic pretences.

And there is another strong omen in the historical timing of the Square. Algenib, gamma Pegasi, has a longitude of 9.16 degrees for the year 2000. This converts to 1344 in historical time. Of the many events unfolding at that time, one comes forcefully to the front: in 1347 the Black Death, already ravaging parts of Asia, reached Messina, Italy, and rapidly spread both northwards into Europe and southwards toward Africa. The bubonic plague of the 1340s was one of the most devastating events of its kind in human memory. In what could be considered a mini-extinction event, it decimated one third of the population of Europe.

Whatever one thinks of star-dating, or my mythological reading of the constellations, it is undeniable that the tablet of destiny generates these two dates and hence juxtaposes two motifs illustrated by historical events: the Grail Quest (our perennial connection with the Sophia through the Organic Light), and mass extinction (the Black Death). I am not making up these events, or juggling the calculations. I am simply placing the historical moments signaled by star-dating in a narrative frame, with the intention of learning what can be learned from such an exercise in "creative mythology" (a la Joseph Campbell).

The Master Scam

Messianic figures, also called avatars or god-men, appear continually through the Piscean Age. They are invariably male, and often white bearded males. An article on the Net, "The Critical Mass of Enlightenment" by John Hogue (deoxy.org/gaia/index.htm) lists messiahs from diverse cultures: Christian (JC of course, but Moses and Paul are likewise messianic figures; to many believers, Jimmy Swaggart is), Islamic (Muntazar, Sunni successor to Mohammed), Aztec/Mayan (Quetzalcoatl), Sioux, Indonesian, Hopi (Pahana, the true white brother from the East), Buddhist (Maitreya, the future Buddha), Mahayanist (Amida, an alternative to Maitreya), Jewish (Melchizedek, the ET messiah), Hindu (the Kali Avatar, associated by Manley Palmer Hall with the Pegasus composite), Shiite (the 12th Imam), Sufi (Khidr, a mysterious guide), Zoroastrian, Eskimo. Other examples could easily be added, coming down to more recent times. For instance, there is Bahullah, the prophet of Bahai, a syncretic belief system declaring the unity of all religions (see below). Any number of New Age masters including Sai Baba, Muktananda, Rajneesh, and even Ramtha (channelled by J. Z. Knight), and Louis Farrakan, the leader of Nation of Islam, are some examples that come readily to mind.

In the article from his book The Millennium Book of Prophecy, Hogue asserts that such messiah-avatars are enlightened beings who emanate from a "Master Field" for the benefit of humanity at large. They represent "the smallest number of awakened human beings whose collective influence can initiate a significant shift in global consciousness." All of which sounds wonderful if you don´t really look at how the messianic complex actually works, and how it has worked for many centuries. The complex always sets up expectations that stand diametrically opposed to what it delivers. Enlightenment and a global shift of consciousness are precisely what these male messiahs do not offer. Rather, they come and go and leave humanity enmeshed ever deeper in delusional beliefs about divinity, guidance, salvation, equality, justice, and compassion.


The Plumed Serpent, Mexico, c 1500. Shown
with what may be a false goatee similar to that
worn by the Egyptian pharaohs to signify their
social role as "goats," initiated leaders.

Hogue´s statement is as cogent a formulation of the Piscean messiah theme as you are likely to find. Back in the heady 1970s in Santa Fe, I used to call this theme the Master Scam, with a gentle poke at the notion of a Master Plan. Well, perhaps not so gentle. The coming of avataric messiahs is widely believed to be the dominant spiritual event of the Piscean Age. I characterize it as the prevailing con of the Age, the mark of a deeply insidious pathology that deviates us from our true potential as agents in Gaian coevolution. Belief in messiahs is precisely what we need to get over to meet and master the evolutionary challenges facing humanity in Piscean terms.

Earlier in this series, I noted that the phylogenetic motif for the Fishes is inner guidance. This is what messiahs never bring, nor do they teach it, although they generally do have a huge load of crapulent advice to offer, the more banal, the better. Platitudes and pompous commands aplenty, but no genuine instruction about the wisdom of the living. They do not, for instance, teach us what the collapse of bee colonies or the beaching of whales means for human survival. They do not explain how clouds work over the ocean (this being one of the great unsolved aspects of Gaia theory). They do not argue that birth control is essential for the survival of a species whose sexual activity has largely been liberated from the cycle of female estrus. The valid and loosely rational moral virtues they do propose could be worked out by anyone with a half nickel of common sense and a moderate dose of compassion. What we get from the messiahs, those hippie hypemen of cosmic good, is a tepid rehash of benevolent social values, usually dressed up with promises about what God will do for us if we behave ourselves.

Do we really need divine avatars to tell us how to behave kindly toward each other? (As Sam Harris noted in The End of Faith, believers in fundamentalist religion act as if they would not know, say, that unjustified murder is wrong, without a holy book to tell them so.) Yet the pretence of conferring benevolent social values is always attached to messianic figures. We look to them for the guidelines by which to live, yet the main challenge of the Piscean Age is to find the guidance we need in individual ourselves, i.e., to become self-guiding, self-reliant in the sense Ralph Waldo Emerson tried to elucidate. This is the challenge stated by Joseph Campbell in Creative Mythology when he invoked "those who in the past found, and in the present are still finding, in themselves all the guidance needed."

The Grail Quest is also a narrative of the Piscean Age, but what a different message it carries from the usual run of messianic tales! What a departure this racy fable of stumblebum self-initiation makes from the Master Scam. Contrast it also with the Aztec narrative: the story of Parzival is about regaining the supreme experience of the Mysteries, direct access to the Organic Light and instruction by the wisdom goddess Sophia. The legend of Quetzalcoatl is about a messianic demagogue who sacrifices himself for a mission to be completed in the indefinite future: another parable of self-fulfilling failure.

Consider these story-lines, and reflect on where each one might lead you were you to adopt it as the narrative frame of a spiritual belief system.

The Return Myth

There are actually two endings to the Quetzalcoatl story. In one, Ce Acatl immolates himself in a pyre and his heart ascends to heaven, turning into the Morning Star, Venus. Here the Plumed Serpent triumphs in a transcendental act, like Christ ascending into the clouds. But like Christ, Quetzalcoatl is a failed messiah. He has to die to complete his mission and, well, quite frankly, we are never certain he does complete it. We are left to rely on faith in a miraculous solution, a mysterious ending. Parzival´s story, on the other hand, is about direct experience of a mystery that grounds and guides humanity through its entire course of evolution.

In the second version, after a humiliating defeat in a magical contest with the sorcerer Tezcatlipoca, the Christ-like Ce Acatl departs from the Toltecs and lives among the Maya, propounding the usual good-guy message to them, before sailing off to the East on a raft of serpents. Here the return myth comes into play.

The prediction of Quetzalcoatl´s return may have been attached to an historical event by Toltec seers, perhaps a war between two bands of shamans, and passed on to the Aztecs when they invaded and overthrew Toltec civilization between 950 and 1250 CE. I classify this return myth as an instance of the Master Scam used by the Toltec sages to insure the downfall of the people who overthrew them. All messianic tales are examples of the Master Scam, but in this case the plot seems to have been deliberately implanted in an enemy culture, whereas generally a whole culture or race will be converted to such a messianic belief system by another culture or race attempting to absorb it. Conversion to a messianic agenda usually profits the conquering culture or race, because messianism is always aligned with an agenda of perpetration and domination, but for the Aztecs it was their undoing.

Granted, it always takes a great deal of intimidation and physical coercion to get people to adopt such myths—consider the history of Christianity in Europe. But I would guess that the Aztecs were largely tricked into adopting the return myth by the people they defeated. They were certainly not forced into it by another people who wished to conquer them. In the end, the myth itself conquered the people who adopted it. It worked like a post-hypnotic suggestion, causing the entire Aztec culture, and especially the ruling class, to collapse psychically when faced with the return of Quetzalcoatl in the guise of Cortez. This is unique, and quite bizarre, but so is just about everything else we learn about the rise of the Aztecs and the conquest of Mexico by Cortez.

As a mythologist, I maintain that the return of Quetzalcoatl was not mistaken by Montezuma and his people. The coming of Cortez was the predicted return, the enactment of a curse planted in the Aztec mind by the superior savvy of the Toltecs. I consider it mistaken to link the coming of Quetzalcoatl with the 2012 endtime, because the return has already happened. It´s over and done, having been enacted in what is perhaps the most bizarre historical drama in human history, or at least in recent history. However, the 2012 endtime may be the moment when we finally come to understand what did happen in the conquest of Mexico.

People continue to look for a post-Conquest return of the Plumed Serpent, or declare that it has already happened. One of countless 2102 sites claims that Toltec and Maya prophecies of the return of Quetzalcoatl "clearly foretell the coming of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, the twin Prophet Founders of the Baha'i Faith." According to Olin Karch, author of "Prophetic Dates Given by Toltecs and Aztecs," the first of thirteen heavens began in 1168, an alternative date assigned to the historical avatar of Quetzalcoatl by Mayanist Herbert Spinden. The 13th era of 52 years computing from this date was 1844-1896, when Baha'i arose. This is yet more messianic hype for the Master Scam, the spiritual affliction of the Piscean Age.

The Toltec seers were brilliant diviners and consummate magicians who perhaps saw through the delusion of messianic expectation along the lines I am suggesting here. The predicted return involved a sacrificial religion of male-warrior dominance that mirrored Aztec society down to its terrible, twisted core. You could say that Montezuma met his daimonic counterpart in another warrior dedicated to a religion of dominance, Hernando Cortez. The expectation of Quetzalcoatl's return set the Aztec chief up for a game of powerlessness, despair, and confusion, easily won by his soi-disant Christian adversary. Somehow, the Toltec seers saw that the Aztecs would be defeated by a belief system uncannily similar to their (the Aztecs') own—or defeated by their own beliefs, transposed into a different frame, personified by different players. What a fantastic plot twist.

Overwriting

The way I mix myth and history will not be to everyone´s liking. Many will not want to go along with these Lashian fabulations. Fine, make up your own stories. Use star-timing to plot it, if you care to, or can. Elucidate the beliefs encoded in the narratives and plots you offer, if you dare to be that transparent. But bear in mind, whether or not you like my stories, they are not really mine: they are drawn from a repertoire of themes deposited in the human psyche over thousands of years of evolution. They are variants of the phylogenetic record, the indigenous narrative of humanity. The tablet of destiny is an explicit image of the phylogenetic record. Reading it mythologically is one way to go. Reading it mythopoetically is another. There are other ways to read it as well... But read it we must, otherwise how will the path through extinction, the way of transpeciation, be discovered?

In Hindu myth, Kali is a version of the supreme goddess, the Devi or Maya Shakti who produces by her dreaming powers the sensorial worlds and the creaturely forms that inhabit them. In Not in His Image, I have argued the parallelism Shakti-Gaia-Sophia because I think it fits our need to see Gaia in terms of the Tantric vision of life.

Tantrikas devoted to wild, ecstatic contact with the Gaian goddess of wisdom will also be on intimate terms with the Devouring Mother, the destroyer aspect of Sophia. The Aztecs knew her as Tzitzimitl, a bloody-mouthed demon of the night pictured with a necklace of beating hearts (Codex Magliabecchiano).

It is easy to find such parallels, but not so easy to evaluate them. The Mexica do not seem to have struck a balance between Gaia-Shakti as the nurturing planetary mother and Kali-Shakti as the devouring mother. Images of female divinities are plentiful enough in the Aztec pantheon, but they do not add up to a coherent portrait of the earth goddess. I suspect that the imagination of the Mexica had been occluded by black magical operations involving the imposition of a male warrior cult centered on Nanahuatl, the insatiable, blood-drinking sun. This god, pictured with hideous suppurations, probably represents the sun marked by sun-spots,

This myth is anomalous and known to have been the invention of the sorcerer, Tlacaelel, close advisor on both war and magic to four emperors. He compelled his uncle, Izcoatl, to burn the sacred codices of the Toltecs and write the history of Mexica to legitimate the male warrior mystique and solar heart sacrifice (The Conquest of Mexico, Hugh Thomas, p. 25) Before their books were burned by Christian missionaries who converted them to a different sacrifice cult, the Aztecs had burned the books of the Toltecs.

Mythological images and narratives in the phylogenetic record are often overwritten in this way, i.e., by brutal suppression and cultural genocide, if not mental manipulation, lies, and threats. The psychospiritual trauma of such actions is devastating for our species. The entire range of messianic myths represents overwriting of the indigenous record by a human-authored agenda. In Sharing the Gaia Mythos, I emphasize that genuine creative mythology—i.e., directive myth that can educate and guide our species in ways compatible with its true potential—has no author. The return myth of Quetzalcoatl was constructed by Toltecs sages who, I would guess, understood the phylogenetic record in the way that shamans do in many cultures, namely, in visionary trance induced by the ingestion of psychoactive plants. Tezcatlipoca read the record and also saw how to overwrite it and set up the Aztecs for a catastrophic plunge from power. This has to be one of the consummate feats of magical realism of all time.

If the Toltecs could pull off that kind of mythmaking to bring down a civilization, what myth might we conjure to create a new civilization?

What I am attempting in these 2012 essays, and elsewhere in this site, is to decode the phylogenetic record, the mythological plot of human evolution. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I will say that I can do this because I have the tools and the training. (Also the time: the generic mythological of humanity is complex and expansive. Even local and regional myth is extremely dense, demanding years of close scrutiny. Brundage identifies eight cycles of Aztec myth, of which the Quetzalcoatl story is but one, and not the most revealing.) Decoding myth is no job for amateurs, but planetary mythmaking is an open source process in which many people can participate. I would love to teach how to do this in real life, with the benefit of reception and collaboration from a community of people who interact with me directly, in flesh and blood, but that is not the case, so I am teaching it as best I can in the sterile medium of cyperspace....

The method of creative mythology, or dynamic mythology, as I prefer to call it, depends on going into the primordial images and reworking them in new language. Take the image of the eagle on the nopal tree, the central motif in the foundation myth of the Mexica. The remote ancestral peoples were led by five supernatural beings, the Mixcoatls, "Cloud Serpents," who came from the north. (Anthropologically, these may represent a culture of shamanic hunter-warriors who crossed the Bering Straits during the Upper Paleolithic.) In the Mixcoatl cycle, a long chain of magical events precedes the exodus of the Chichimecs toward the south - a narrative so vast that the legend of Quetzalcoatl seems almost a short, straggling footnote to it. When they arrive in the valley of Mexico, they witness an omen: an eagle with a serpent in its beak alights on a nopal cactus. At that exact spot they founded the lacustrine city of Tenochtitlan, "the place near the nopal cactus." (Codex Borgia, with nopal tree growing from the body of the Earth Mother. Line drawing in Brundage, The Fifth Sun)

Now what do you make of that picture, my fair-eyed friends?

I would venture to say that you can´t make much of it in an ordinary state of attention. Such mythological images are like icons in the phylogenetic memory bank. You can click on the icon forever and get nowhere, as long as the right applications are not installed. Like Alice, you have to take "the pill," the mind-altering substance that allows access to transpersonal phylogenetic material. Do that, then contemplate this image, and see what non-ordinary reason tells you about it.

Overwriting is a huge problem in these investigations. Everywhere you look, the overwriting of the messianic plot mucks up our memory of the phylogenetic record. I expect a strong protest here, along these lines: How can I claim that messianic imagery is not from the indigenous record? That the themes of salvation and sacrifice are not as valid as anything else found in the vast bank of archetypal material produced by the human psyche? Well, I do say so. It will be difficult, if not impossible, for some people to accept that "anything goes" is NOT the rule for the directive myth of humanity. There is genuine indigenous myth, the outgrowth of our bond to the cosmos, nature, and all species, and there is overwriting, the splay of specious invention, malicious fabrication, imaginal skew. Whoever cannot tell the difference is not qualified to comment on planetary mythmaking. If that's an objectionable stance, then so be it. I didn't take on this mission to win a popularity contest. After finishing Not in His Image, I felt like Dylan says in some lines of "Not Dark Yet":

I been down to the bottom of a world full of lies,
I ain't lookin' for nothin' in anyone's eyes.

With the spring equinox sliding beneath the tablet of destiny since the 10th Century, we have entered a time when we can learn to tell the difference between genuine phylogenetic myth and the "official version" foisted on the world by the "authorities." I would not say that our future depends on making that distinction. Our future as a species depends on Gaia. But I would say that the storytelling of our future, and the chances of our intimate participation in Gaia´s own story, depend in a most vivid way upon this challenging distinction.

jll: Andalucia 23 June 2007

 


Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2017 by John Lash.