Breaking the Mushroom Code
Soma in the Americas:
Re-opening Old Roads of Archaeological Inquiry
Carl de Borhegyi: Copyright 2010
Quoting Ethno-archaeologist Peter T. Furst, who supported Borhegyi, and Wasson's research added:
"In its pages [ Russia; Mushrooms and History, 1957 ] Borhegyi and Wasson suggested a connection between the sacred mushrooms of Mexico and the prehistoric stone mushrooms of Guatemala, the first time that such a possibility had been considered in print. The connection between these sculptures and the historic mushroom cults of Mesoamerica has not always been accepted. Though many mushroom stones are quite faithful to nature, they were, until recently, not even universally thought to represent mushrooms at all, and a few die-hards even now, in the face of all the evidence, reject this interpretation" (1972).
Inspired by the research of Gordon Wasson, and my father, Dr. Stephan F. de Borhegyi - Milwaukee Public Museum, the author discovered that sacred mushrooms are not only frequently identifiable in the prehistoric art of both the Old World and New World, but that in Mesoamerica in particular, they played a major role in the development of indigenous religious ideology (Borhegyi de, S.F. 1957, 1961, 1963, 1965a, 1965b).
Quoting Robert Gordon Wasson:
"Here was the Secret of Secrets of the Ancients, of our own remote forebears, a Secret discovered perhaps sporadically in Eurasia and again later in Mesoamerica. The Secret was a powerful motive force in the religion of the earliest times (Wasson 1980, p. 53).
Among the ancient Indo-Aryans, Soma is portrayed in the Rig Veda as an elixir of health and strength, as well as being praised for as the direct means of communion with the gods. In the Old World the Soma cult eventually died out and the original plant was forgotten, and the identity of Soma remained a mystery for three thousand years. The abandonment of the true Soma plant and its replacement by surrogates likely occurred because the original Soma plant became forbidden, tabu, thus earning the divine prohibition voiced in the Garden of Eden: "Do not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If you do you will surely die."
"That which is tabu [Amanita muscaria mushroom] is both feared and loved, unclean and holy, shunned and worshipped. As the old beliefs slowly faded away, each cultural community, no longer able to maintain alive the balanced tensions of the original involvement, clung to one face or the other of the primitive emotions, either rejecting the mushroom world or embracing the strange growths with a quasi-erotic devotion"(Wasson &Wasson,1957).
In 1968 Wasson traced the mushroom tabu back to the Vedic Soma:
"What was this plant that was called "Soma"? No one knows. Apparently, its identity was lost some 3,000 years ago, when its use was abandoned by the priests. The earliest liturgical compositions of the Indo-Aryans, called the Brahmanas and put together after the hymns had been assembled, discuss the surrogates to be used for Soma in the ritual but fail to describe the original plant." " I believe that Soma was a mushroom, Amanita muscaria (Fries ex L.) Quel, the fly-agaric, the Fliegenpilz of the Germans, the fausse oronge or tue-mouche or crapaudin of the French, the mukhomor of the Russians. This flaming red mushroom with white spots flecking its cap is familiar throughout northern Europe and Siberia. It is often put down in mushroom manuals as deadly poisonous, but this is false, as I myself can testify. Until lately it has been a central feature of the worship of numerous tribes in northern Siberia, where it has been consumed in the course of their shamanic sessions. Its reputation as a lethal plant in the West is, I contend, a splendid example of a tabu long outliving the religion that gave rise to it. Among the most conservative users of the fly-agaric in Siberia the belief prevailed until recent times that only the shaman and his apprentice could consume the fly-agaric with impunity: all others would surely die. This is, I am sure, the origin of the tabu that has survived among us down to our own day." (From Wasson's, Soma of the Aryans: ttp://www.iamshaman.com/amanita/soma- aryans.htm).
Around 1500 BCE, a people who called themselves Aryans moved down from Central Asia, to Persia, (Iran) and northern India as nomadic warriors, and by 800 BCE dominated Persia and the Indus Valley. These so-called Aryan (Aryan being cognate with Iranian) people brought with them their religious cult and their hallucinogenic drink they called Soma (called Haoma among the Persians), along with the observance and celebration of certain celestial laws that they believed were essential to keeping the world in balance. This balance was maintained through acts of ritual sacrifice, and the drinking of Soma. Soma is the ecstasy-inducing plant that inspired the hymns of the Rig Veda, the sacred Hindu religious text which was first recorded in Sanskrit about 3500 years ago. Haoma is the Persian pronunciation of Soma, and was also a sacred ritual drink made from a plant connected in myth with a World Tree, or Tree of Life, that inspired the Iranian prophet Zoroaster to create a new religion, a reformed Aryan Mithraism, that became the state religion of the Persian Empire. The Soma of the Vedas was a plant that grew on mountains and was picked and dried. The Seers and Sages, who composed the Vedas describe the mountainous habitat and brilliant red and gold appearance of the Soma plant. According to Wasson, "the whole of the Rig Veda is permeated with Soma and one of the ten books of the Rig Veda is wholly concerned with the Sacred Plant" (Wasson 1969).
The ancient Indo-Europeans called the Amanita Muscaria mushroom “Maga”, the "Great Gift", and so great was this Gift that its fame and name echoes down the ages as the root of our modern word Magic. The “Magus” or “Magi” "The Great Gift bearers." The "Great Gift" bears hundreds of different ancient names; the Greeks called it “Ambrosia” (Not Mortal) (Death-overcomer) the “Nectar of the Gods" (source, Amanita Muscaria: Herb of Immortality Revised 2007 Copyright © 2005 By Donald E. Teeter). Wasson proposed (1970) that the religious use of the Amanita muscaria mushroom was widespread in the Old World. "This was the mysterious divine inebriating plant deity called Soma in the worship of the Indo-European peoples who called themselves Aryan, who invaded India from the northeast ca. 1500 B.C."
"It can of course be argued that the two great mushroom traditions, that of New World Indians and that of the peoples of Eurasia, are historically unconnected and autonomous, having arisen spontaneously in the two regions from similar requirements of the human psyche and similar environmental opportunities. But are they really unrelated?
Spanish chroniclers recorded that the Aztecs called their sacred mushroom “teonanacatl” which in their language means “God’s flesh”. In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, the general word for mushroom was nanacatl and that the intoxicating species was called teonanacatl, a term Fray Bernadino de Sahagun also gives us, teo, meaning god, that which is divine or sacred (Wasson, letter to Borhegyi, June 23, 1953).
According to Mariano Veytia (1718-1778), a Catholic Friar and Mexican historian:
"It is known that through all the country was established a kind of baptism which changed, as to the ceremonies, in various places, yet remained the same everywhere in all essentials, a bath of natural water, reciting over the baptized some formulas, such as prayers and orations, imposing a name; and all this was considered as a rite of religion" (from Was the Apostle St. Thomas in Mexico 1881, p.421).
"The Nahua [Aztecs] before the Spaniards arrived called them [referring to the sacred mushrooms] "God's flesh", teonanacatl. I need hardly draw attention to a disquieting parallel, the designation of the Elements in our Eucharist: "Take, eat, this is my body ..."; and again, "Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear son..." But there is one difference. The orthodox Christian must accept on faith the miracle of the conversion of the bread into God's flesh: that is what is meant by the doctrine of transubstantiation. By contrast, the mushroom of the Nahua carries its own conviction: every communicant will testify to the miracle that he has experienced" (Peter T. Furst 1972, pp191-192).
Unfortunately, for our understanding of the role of mushrooms in Aztec religion, the Spanish missionaries who reported these mushroom rituals were repulsed by what they perceived to be similarities to the Christian communion or Eucharist. As a result, they made no attempt to record the rituals in detail and banished all forms of mushroom use.
The discovery of the Type B jaguar mushroom stone in a sealed Miraflores phase E-lll-3 tomb (1000-500 B.C.) establishes with finality that at least certain types of mushroom stones (Types A, B, and C) are of pre-Classic date, and that the mushroom stone cult among the Highland Maya was in vogue as early as 300 B.C. The Type B tripod jaguar mushroom stone (Cat no. 3450) is now in the collection of the Guatemalan National Museum.
Quoting Wasson 1957:
"Dr. Borhegyi's chart suggests to us that hallucinatory mushrooms were the focus of a cult in the highland Maya world that goes back at least to early pre-classic times, to B.C. 1000 or earlier, the earliest period when technically such artifacts could be carved in stone. Thus tentatively we trace back the use of the divine mushroom in Middle America to the earliest period from which a record could be expected to survive. Beyond that horizon may we project the mushroom agape back through millennia, to the Eurasian home-land whence our Indians' ancestors migrated?
Quoting Wasson (1957):
"Dr. Borhegyi later combed the Quiche and Cakchiquel chronicles and legends for references to mushrooms. There come down to us from early times two native narratives of the Highland Maya, one in Quiche and the other in Cakchiquel, the Popol Vuh and the Annals of the Cakchiqnels. Written in the native languages, they have been translated into Spanish and English. Dr. Borhegyi discovered in each of them one reference to mushrooms, and in each case, mushrooms are associated with religious observances. "
"Some Middle American specialists may challenge my assumption of a connection between the "mushroom stones", which ceased to be made centuries before Columbus arrived on these shores, and today's surviving mushroom cult.". "For years I had only an assumption to go on, but now, thanks to discoveries made by the late Stephan F. de Borhegyi and us, I think we can tie the two together in a way that will satisfy any doubter"(Wasson,1972:188n).
(Photograph copyright del Museo Nacional de El Salvador)
Over the years the author has discovered an abundance of archaeological evidence supporting the proposition that Mesoamerica, and the high cultures of South America, including Easter Island shared elements of a world-wide mushroom-based belief system, and like the Vedic god Soma of ancient Hinduism, was worshiped and venerated as a god in Mesoamerica.
The author's discovery of the Fleur de lis symbol encoded in Pre-Columbian art as a symbol of "God" connected with a sacrament of divine immortality, leads the author to conclude that, in addition to the ancient mushroom cult first proposed by Borhegyi, other Vedic inspired traditions migrated to the Americas and that the Indians of the New World modeled their religion on Vedic beliefs and ritual practices.
We do not actually know what plant the original Soma was, but it was the focal point of Vedic religion, and that drinking Soma produces immortality, and that the gods drank Soma to make them immortal. Soma is even described in the Rig Veda as being the father of the gods.
For over a hundred years Vedic scholars have been discussing what plant was used to prepare Soma the sacred drink of the ancient Aryans and Iranians (called haoma). While the actual identity of Soma has been lost through time, both its description and the details of its preparation seem to point to the Amanita muscaria mushroom or fly agaric.
The author extends Wasson's and Borhegyi's research by pulling out and illustrating, with words and images, a few threads in the complex fabric of Mesoamerican art, history and mythology. These threads illustrate a relationship between the “mushroom stones” and hallucinogenic mushrooms, with the Mesoamerican ballgame, warfare, and the gods Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc.
Quoting William H. Prescott (1796-1859)
"Human sacrifice, however cruel, has nothing in it degrading to its victim. It may be rather said to ennoble him by devoting him to the gods. Although so terrible with the Aztecs, it was sometimes voluntarily embraced by them, as the most glorious death, and one that opened a sure passage into paradise" (History of the the Conquest of Mexico and History of the Conquest of Peru p.51)
The sacrifice of one's own life was believed to be the greatest gift one could give the gods, because it emulated the ways of their god-king Quetzalcoatl, who sacrificed himself (at Teotihuacan) so as to become the new fifth sun, and bring light back to the world: (M. D. Coe 1994:91)
Spanish chronicler Fray Diego Duran ...... (Duran, 1971)
“The Indians made sacrifices in the mountains, and under shaded trees, in the caves and caverns of the dark and gloomy earth. They burned incense, killed their sons and daughters and sacrificed them and offered them as victims to their gods; they sacrificed children, ate human flesh, killed prisoners and captives of war.... One thing in all this history: no mention is made of their drinking wine of any type, or of drunkenness. Only wild mushrooms are spoken of, and they were eaten raw.”
Quoting Fray Diego Duran:
"They became so inebriated and witless that many of them took their lives in their hands. With the strength of these mushrooms, they saw visions and had revelations about the future, since the devil spoke to them in their madness".
"It is a matter of cosmic asceticism, so to speak, since it demands not only sacrifice of others and of oneself but sees the whole natural process as one immense sacrifice. Everything from the stars to man is subjected to the law of sacrifice. In the Aztec interpretation such a concept must lead to a series of hallucinatory, sanguine rituals. In literal sense, all creation must be nourished by the magic food, the substance of sacrifice. The blood was the "precious water", the heart was the flower. The flowery war, the harvest of hearts" (Master Works of Mexican Art, 1963 p.189).
"He who eats many of these sees many things which make him afraid or make him laugh. He flees, hangs himself, or hurls himself from a cliff".
Fray Duran tells us that the Catholic Church, in its zeal to obliterate all aspects of native culture which could threaten Christian religious belief, ordered the destruction of all native documents pertaining to history, myth, and legend. The Church also banished all aspects of native religion in favor of Christianity and made no attempt to study or further record mushroom rituals.
Franciscan friar Diego de Landa recorded that the Maya drank intoxicating beverages at every ritual occasion.
According to Landa:
"The Indians are very dissolute in drinking and becoming intoxicated, and many ills follow their excesses, in this way. They kill each other; violate their beds, the poor women thinking they are receiving their own husbands; they treat their own fathers and mothers as if they were in the houses of enemies; they set fire to their houses and so destroy themselves in their drunkenness"...."Their wine they make of honey and water and the root of a certain tree they grow for the purpose, and which gives the wine strength and a very disagreeable odor (Yucatan Before and After the Conquest, 1978 p35).
It was believed that in order to avoid catastrophe at the end of each 52-year period, which always ended on the day Ahau, man through his priestly intermediaries, was required to enter into a new covenant with the supernatural. In the meantime, he atoned for his sins and kept the precarious balance of the universe by offering uninterrupted sacrifices to the gods (Borhegyi,1965a:29-30).
Dr. Stephan de Borhegyi, published the first of several articles in which he proposed the existence of a Mesoamerican mushroom cult in the Guatemalan highlands as early as 1000 B.C. This cult, which was associated from its beginnings with ritual human decapitation, a trophy head cult, warfare and the Mesoamerican ballgame, appears to have had its origins along the Pacific coastal piedmont. Borhegyi developed this proposition after finding a significant number of small, mushroom-shaped sculptures in the collections of the Guatemala National Museum and in numerous private collections in and around Guatemala City. While the majority of these small stone sculptures were of indeterminate provenance, a sufficient number had been found during the course of archaeological investigations to permit Borhegyi to determine approximate dates and to catalog them stylistically (Borhegyi de, S.F., 1957b, "Mushroom Stones of Middle America").
Type B, Jaguar mushroom stone, excavated from the archaeological site of Kaminaljuyu in Highland Guatemala. The Pre-Classic tripod jaguar mushroom stone was discovered in a Miraflores phase Tomb 1 E-III-3, dated 1000-500 BCE. Mushroom stones that have a circular groove around the base of the cap are classified as Type B, and according to Borhegyi without exception, are of Early and Late Pre-Classic date (1000 BCE.-A.D. 200) (S.F. de Borhegyi 1961 p. 499).
Dr. Borhegyi’s proposal of a mushroom cult:
"My assignment for the so-called mushroom cult, earliest 1,000 B.C., is based on the excavations of Kidder and Shook at the Verbena cemetery at Kaminaljuyu. The mushroom stone found in this Pre-Classic grave, discovered in Mound E-III-3, has a circular groove on the cap. There are also a number of yet unpublished mushroom stone specimens in the Guatemalan Museum from Highland Guatemala where the pottery association would indicate that they are Pre-Classic. In each case the mushroom stone fragments has a circular groove on the top. Mushroom stones found during the Classic and Post-Classic periods do not have circular grooves. This was the basis on which I prepared the chart on mushroom stones which was then subsequently published by the Wassons. Based on Carbon 14 dates and stratigraphy, some of these Pre-Classic finds can be dated as early as 1,000 B.C. The reference is in the following".....(see Shook, E.M. & Kidder, A.V., 1952. Mound E-III-3, Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala; Contributions to American Anthropology & History No. 53 from Publ. 596, Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C. (letter from de Borhegyi to Dr. Robert Ravicz, MPM archives December 1st 1960 ).
During Preclassic times (1500 BC to AD 250), the source of cultural influences radiated from the Olmec heartland on the Gulf Coast of Veracruz in Mexico. The influence of these Olmec ceremonial centers extended in all directions and Olmec culture seemingly laid many of the foundations for the Zapotec, Maya, Teotihuacanos, Toltec, Mixtec, and Aztec civilizations that were to follow. Borhegyi theorized that Maya civilization developed as the result of direct influences from the Olmec civilization of La Venta, and suggested that the Olmec of La Venta most likely spoke a Proto-Mayan, living among such other Maya speakers as the Huaxtecs, and proto-Totonacs (S.F. de Borhegyi 1965a p.19). Words like muxan and okox (mushroom) are two of several words borrowed or loaned by the ancient Maya, perhaps as early as 1000 B.C. (Furst, 1976, p. 79). "A contemporary Quiche expression indicative of the fearful potentialities of the Amanita muscaria, is "itzel okox" meaning the evil or diabolical mushroom" (Bernard Lowy 1974, 1975)
Dictionaries of Maya highland languages compiled after the Spanish Conquest mention several intoxicating mushroom varieties whose names clearly indicate their ritual use. One type was called xibalbaj okox, "underworld mushroom" in reference to the belief that mushrooms transported one to a supernatural realm of the underworld (Robert J. Sharer, 1983: 484). Ballcourts and caves and pools of water were believed to be portals or entrances to the underworld. The intention of the mushroom ritual was to open communication directly with the underworld spirit world, often through a form of animal transformation into a were-jaguar.
"The production of mushroom idols of varying symbolic complexity endured in Mesoamerica for nearly two millennia, from ca. 1000 B.C. to the end of the Classic period, ca. A.D. 900, suggesting that a cult of the sacred mushrooms not only lasted thousands of years but was anciently more widespread than the sixteenth-century chronicles would lead us believe" (Furst 1976 p. 77).
While some anthropologists and archaeologists had accepted Borhegyi's idea that mushrooms and other hallucinogens were used in ancient Mesoamerica, their use was, in most cases, dismissed as relatively incidental and devoid of deeper significance in the development of Mesoamerican religious ideas and mythology. With a few exceptions, notably the research and writings of ethno-archaeologist Peter Furst, further inquiry into the subject on the part of archaeologists came to a virtual halt. Fortunately, a few mycologists, most notably Bernard Lowy and Gaston Guzmán, (2002:4; 2009) continued through the years to make important contributions to the scientific literature.
Photo of Gordon Wasson (above left), from Life Magazine 1957, and above right, Dr. Stephan F. de Borhegyi examining a miniature mushroom stone from Guatemala. The replica mushroom stone sitting next to Wasson was a gift from Borhegyi. Dr. Borhegyi's association with Guatemalan antiquities began in 1949 when he became associate professor of anthropology at San Carlos University in Guatemala City. The Central American republic decorated Borhegyi in 1951 for his reorganization of the National Museum of Archaeology in Guatemala City.
Quoting Maya Archaeologist Michael D. Coe
"I do not exactly remember when I first met Gordon Wasson, but it must have been in the early 1970's. He was already a legendary figure to me, for I had heard much of him from the equally legendary and decidedly colorful Steve Borhegyi, director of the Milwaukee Public Museum before his untimely death. Steve, who claimed to be a Hungarian count and dressed like a Mississippi riverboat gambler, was a remarkable fine and imaginative archaeologist who had supplied much of the Mesoamerican data for Gordon and Valentina Wasson's Mushrooms, Russia and History, particularly on the enigmatic "mushroom stones" of the Guatemala highlands. His collaboration with the Wassons proved even to the most skeptical that there had been a sort of ritual among the highland Maya during the Late Formative period involving hallucinogenic mushrooms" (from the book; The Sacred Mushroom Seeker: tributes to R. Gordon Wasson, 1990 p.43)
In a letter to Wasson from Borhegyi, March 20, 1953:
"I was very interested in your suggestion that these mushroom stones might be connected with the narcotic mushroom cult. However, in spite of the fact that the cult was known to exist and still survives in the Zapotec, Chinantic, and Mazatec region, no mushroom stones have ever been reported from there. On the other hand, as you will see from the photographs, the effigy mushroom stones much more frequently represent animals than humans although the human effigies do seem to be from the earliest period. So far I have found no specimen with the gills or lamellae that could prove conclusively that it was a true representation of a mushroom. Unfortunately this seems to be a food that has completely escaped the attention of the ethnologists but I will check further for references to its use. I would be very glad to hear more about ethno-mycology from you and the role it has played on human culture" (letter from Borhegyi to Wasson March 20, 1953, Wasson Archives Harvard University).
Quoting Wasson (1957):
"If the 'mushroom stones' were accessories in a mushroom cult, it is fair to ask why that cult disappeared long ago from the Maya highlands. We do not know, but the social institutions of the Maya world suggest an answer. Let us look again at the Mexican evidence. In the remote Mije country we found that the use of the sacred mushrooms was secular. Everyone there knows the mushrooms, and gathers and uses them. No curandero is needed for them. In the Mazatec country we find a dual cult. There was the superb performance by the Seilora, sharing the mushrooms with her coven and leading it by song and dance; and there was an intricate divinatory rite celebrated by Don Aurelio, with the aid of divers accessories, according to a complicated liturgical sequence. Don Aristeo in the Zapotec country followed the Señora's procedure, but withheld the Element from his congregation. Do we not discern here, in contemporaneous celebrations, the distinct phases of a cult that might mark a chronological evolution and in certain circumstances lead to its extinction? The sacred mushrooms with their miraculous powers could have been bathed in mana from an early time, and become the exclusive privilege of the priesthood, and ultimately of the highest priest-kings. As the mushrooms are not habit forming, there was no popular addiction to them that would have been an obstacle to this trend. When the regime of the priest-kings toppled over, the secret of the mushrooms, like so many other secrets of the Maya theocrats, disappeared with them".
The Wassons were the first to call attention to the pervasiveness of the toad and it's association with the term toadstool, with the intoxicating mushrooms in Europe. The Amanita muscaria mushroom is considered a poisonous and deadly mushroom, however human deaths from eating the mushroom are very rare. The Amanita muscaria mushroom, or fly agaric, also known as the fly amanita, is one of the easiest mushrooms to identify due to its striking appearance, it's the red one with the white spots, often depicted in children's books and fairytales. Wasson noted the recurrence throughout the northern hemisphere of a toad deity associated with the entheogenic mushroom (Wasson 1980, p.184-185).
"Toads and mushrooms, such as in toadstools, have had a long association with the more wild, darker elements of reality. The toad is a creature of the night, is slimy and covered in warts and lives in wet, foreboding marshes and swamps. In Europe, the toad has a long relationship with witchcraft and the dark potions and brews usually call for one, with other reptiles, as ingredients. In China, the toad was associated with powerful drugs and elixirs and mushrooms in particular. As Wasson and Needham theorize, the lingzhi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), reishi of China, may have been chosen as a code for the Amanita muscaria mushroom to protect its profane use and for exclusive use by an elite. There are many images of the lingzhi mushroom depicted as growing out of the head of a toad linking toads, toadstool mushrooms and the possibly substituted lingzhi. Wasson informs us in China that the Amanita muscaria is known as hama jun (ha ma chun Needham 1974), the "toad-mushroom.”
The Miraflores phase Tomb 1 E-III-3, at Kaminaljuyu dated 1000-500 BCE. that contained the jaguar-effigy mushroom stone, also contained four small mortars and pestles used in the mushroom's preparatory rites, two of them in the shape of toads, similar to the one above on the left in the de Borhegyi private collection (S.F. de Borhegyi 1961 p. 499).
"The toad is our 'toadstool' is that daemon which the Great Lightning Bolt seeded in the mother earth, and which sprang forth in the little mushrooms" (Wasson & Wasson 1957).
The ancient Olmec, and Maya, used toad toxin and Amanita muscaria mushrooms as additives to create a hallucinogenic ritual beverage. This ritual beverage was first reported after the Spanish Conquest by Thomas Gage in the early 1600's. Gage reported that the Pokmam Maya of the Guatemala Highlands added toads to their fermented beverages to strengthen the results (The Ancient Maya, Sharer/Morley, 1983 p.484). Ordonez y Aguiar (1907 note 24) reports a recipe for a fermented drink among the Aztecs, that included a live toad to hasten the fermentation (S.W. Miles:Handbook of Middle American Indians part 1, 1965 p.286).
Maya archaeologist Karl Taube proposed that "in Classic Maya art, there is clear overlap between toads and jaguar, as if toads were considered the great predators of their diminutive world" (Miler & Taube 1993).
Although Borhegyi was convinced that the enigmatic stone idols represented mushrooms because of their shape, there has been much debate about their meaning.
"There seems little doubt that the jaguar-effigy mushroom stone and the stone [toad] mortars were placed in the tomb as burial offerings. It should also be noted that three other fragments of the heads of mushroom stones were found in the fill of Mound E-III-3" (S.F. de Borhegyi 1961 p. 499).
“In two examples of mushroom stones [above], one stone has a mushroom emerging from the mouth of a giant toad (below), another stone has a mushroom rising from the back of a toad with an anthropomorphic face”. (Wasson, 1957; p.185) Many more such mushroom toad stones have been found...”Strangely moving is the sporadic recurrence throughout the northern hemisphere of this chthonic deity, the toad, with the entheogenic mushroom."
"In our 1953 travels throughout the Maya highlands we discovered a convergence of three ideas in one Mayan word: 'toad' 'mushroom' and for the external genital organs of the woman. Borhegyi sent us afterwards a chart in diverse Mayan languages and dialects giving us supporting evidence for this in Quiche" (Wasson 1980 pp. 185-186).
"The toad effigy mushroom stones express a tripartite association of ideas that link in a common embrace Early Man throughout the Northern hemisphere" (Wasson 1980 p.197).
"In the association of these ideas we strike a vein that must go back to the remotest times in Eurasia, to the Stone Age: the link between the toad, the female sex organs, and the mushroom, exemplified in the Mayan languages and the mushroom stones of the Maya Highlands. Man must have brought this association across the Bering Strait (or the land bridge that replaced it in the ice ages) as part of his intellectual luggage" (Mushrooms Russia & History 1957).
While one can argue that the simultaneous appearance of a mushroom religion in both the early cultures of the Old World and that of the New World could be the result of parallel outgrowths of the same Paleolithic shamanistic mushroom cult proposed by Wasson, there are other, more complex, similarities that suggest possible transpacific contacts between the two areas. One of these is the method of extraction of the hallucinogenic drink used in both areas.
In the highlands of Guatemala where the majority of mushroom stones have been found, and where the Amanita muscaria mushroom grows in abundance, archaeologists working at the Preclassic site of Kaminajuyu discovered nine miniature mushroom stones in a Maya tomb, along with nine mortars and pestles, stone tools which were likely used in the mushroom's preparatory rites (see S.F de Borhegyi,1961, 498-504).
"We have drunk the Soma and become Immortal; we have attained the Light, and found the Gods". (Rig Veda, 8.XLVIII.3)
Surprisingly, in spite of their obvious shape as mushrooms, many archaeologists refused to identify them as such. They suggested instead that they may have served as phallic symbols, small stools, or molds for making rubber balls for the Mesoamerican ballgame. Wasson postulates that the very word “toadstool” may have originally meant the “demonic stool”, and may have been a specific name of a European mushroom, that causes hallucinations (R.G. Wasson, Life Magazine, May 13, 1957).
Some of the small mushroom-shaped sculptures were plain and realistic, (depicted above), others were adorned with human and animal effigies. While the majority of mushroom stone sculptures were of indeterminate provenance, a sufficient number had been found during the course of archaeological investigations as to permit Borhegyi to classify and date them typologically. The majority had been found in Guatemala in the highlands or on the Pacific Piedmont--Maya areas along the intercontinental mountain range which were heavily influenced in Preclassic times by the powerful Olmec culture (Borhegyi de S.F. 1957, 1959, 1961, 1963). (Photograph of Amanita muscaria mushroom by John W. Allen)
"In examining these mushroomic artifacts we must keep in mind that they were not made for our enlightenment. They were iconic shorthand summarizing a whole bundle of associations ,--whatever those associations were. The Christian cross is to be found in endless shapes, including the "effigy cross" or crucifix, and all stem back to a complex of emotions, beliefs, and religious longings. The crucifix would reveal to an archaeologist eons hence more than, say, a Maltese cross. So with the mushroom stones, the subject matter of the effigies holds the secret" (Wasson and Wasson, 1957, Borhegyi de, S.F., 1957b.)
Pottery mushrooms dating to the middle or late Pre-Classic period 1000 BCE. - 200 A.D. have been found with figurines of ballplayers at the archaeological sites of Tlatilco in Burial 154 (Trench 6), and at Tlapacoya in the Valley of Mexico ( Borhegyi 1980). Pottery mushrooms have been excavated at Maya Lowland sites like El Mirador and Berriozabal in the Maya Rainforest, and in 1962 archaeologist Richard E. W. Adams reported finding several pottery mushroom specimens in the Maya Rainforest at the site of Altar de Sacrificios (Borhegyi, 1963 Vol.28, No.3, p.330). For more on pottery mushrooms see Borhegyi de, S.F., 1963, “Pre-Columbian pottery mushrooms from Mesoamerica”, in American Antiquity, vol. 28:328-338.
Archaeologist Brent Woodfil and Jon Spenard (personal communication) found two ceramic mushroom pots or pottery mushrooms (above) in the Candelaria cave system in the San Francisco Hills near the lowland Maya site of Cancuén, Petén, Guatemala (Spenard, M.A thesis, 2006). Cave ritualism on an elite level is evident as early as 1000 B.C. at the Olmec influenced site of Chalcatzingo, near the Valley of Mexico (Pasztory, 1997:90). The caves investigated in the south region of the Guatemalan Highlands include Saber, CHOC-05, Ocox, and Cabeza de Tepezquintle. According to Spenard, "Ocox is a canyon-like system that runs through a large hill with a rock shelter component at its northern-most extent....Ocox (also spelled okox) is a Q'eqchi Mayan word for mushroom, a reference to the large quantity of mushrooms that are growing from the floor of the rock shelter" (Spenard, M.A thesis, 2006).
"There function [Pottery mushrooms] is still unknown, but it is believed that, like the mushroom stones, they were used in connection with the ceremonial consumption and adoration of hallucinogenic mushrooms". "Pottery mushrooms, unlike their stone counterparts, are generally plain and do not represent any human and animal forms" (S.F. de Borhegyi 1963b, p. 328, 335).
Above on the upper left, is a ceramic pre-Columbian mask that depicts the transformation of a human into a "were-jaguar," a half-human, half-jaguar deity first described and named in 1955 by archaeologist Matthew W. Stirling. The were-jaguar appears in the art of the ancient Olmecs as early as 1200 B.C. A closer look, you will see a Amanita muscaria mushroom encoded into the head and nose of the human side, while the left half of the mask depicts the effect of the Amanita mushroom as resulting in were-jaguar transformation. The mask symbolizes the soul's journey into the underworld where it will undergo jaguar transformation, ritual decapitation and divine resurrection. The were-jaguar eventually came to be worshiped and venerated throughout Central and South America. (photo above of the "Were Jaguar" from Prof. Gian Carlo Bojani Director of the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza, Italy) (Photo of Amanita muscaria by Richard Fortey)
The earliest evidence of a mushroom-based religious cult in the New World, appears to date to approximately the same time period, around 1000-400 BC, and the beginnings in Mesoamerica of Olmec culture. The rise of the ancient Olmec in the New World has puzzled archaeologists for some time. The Olmec, the first complex civilization of the New World emerge from the hot, humid jungles of the Gulf Coast of what is now present day Mexico, sometime around 1500-1200 B.C. Archaeologists contend that the Olmec culture appears to come from out of nowhere in full bloom at the site of San Lorenzo, in Veracruz, Mexico. Carbon 14 dates place Olmec civilization at San Lorenzo at 1200 B.C. E. (M. D. Coe, 1970, p.21). Consider one of the worst possible environments for spontaneous cultural evolution we find the oldest evidence of mathematics and written dates in the New World (Man Across the Sea 1971 p.38).
The ancient Olmec (1200-400 BCE) are considered the "mother culture" of Mesoamerica, responsible for the rapid dissemination of innovations, including hieroglyphic writing, the 260-day sacred calendar, the planning and orientation of ceremonial centers, and a complex cosmology and mythology that incorporated the World Tree, were-jaguars and the feathered serpent. It's at the Olmec site of La Venta, where we find the earliest known relief sculpture or example of the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl, in Mesoamerica on Monument 19. Prior to La Venta, the first Olmec culture to emerge in Mesoamerica was at San Lorenzo in the modern day state of Veracruz (1200-900 BCE).
The so-called "Olmec snarl" one of several hallmark motifs in Olmec art may esoterically represent the powerful effects of the Amanita muscaria, and Amanita pantherina mushrooms, (both hallucinogenic), resulting in animal transformation. Mushroom intoxication, according to Spanish reports gave sorcerers (priests or shamans), the power to seemingly change themselves into animals, and that the powerful visions and voices the mushrooms produced were believed to be from God. Its the author's belief that jaguar transformation symbolizes the soul's journey into the underworld where it will undergo jaguar transformation, and ritual decapitation, and thus divine resurrection. The were-jaguar eventually came to be worshiped and venerated throughout Central and South America.
Quoting ethno-archaeologist Peter T. Furst:
"It is tempting to suggest that the Olmecs might have been instrumental in the spread of mushroom cults throughout Mesoamerica, as they seem to have been of other significant aspects of early Mexican civilization..." It is in fact a common phenomenon of South American shamanism (reflected also in Mesoamerica) that shamans are closely identified with the jaguar, to the point where the jaguar is almost nowhere regarded as simply an animal, albeit an especially powerful one, but as supernatural, frequently as the avatar of living or deceased shamans, containing their souls and doing good or evil in accordance with the disposition of their human form" (Furst 1976, pp. 48, 79)."
Photograph © Justin Kerr
Maya vase K6608 in roll-out form depicts three underworld feline deities all wearing sacrificial scarves of underworld decapitation that encodes the colors and spots of the Amanita muscaria mushroom.
According to archaeologist John B. Carlson (1981 p.128) there is evidence from both Maya inscriptions and iconography that shows there was probably a "mirror ceremony" involved with the transfer of royal lineal power, heir designation, or accession to rulership. Ethno-archaeologist Gordon Ekholm (1973) describes two accounts of Mexican rulers from the time before the Spanish conquest using magical obsidian mirrors to foretell the future, one of these rulers being Moctezuma who is said to have seen his fate and the conquest of the Aztec Empire in a mirror (John B. Carlson 1981, p.127)
The great Emperor Qin Shi Huang who ascended the throne in 246 BCE., commissioned the voyages to Fu Sang, in his search of the legendary ling chich, the mushroom of immortality (Gunnar Thompson 2010, p.55). This is the same Emperor who built the Great Wall of China, and a mausoleum guarded by thousands of Terracotta Warriors. The great Emperor Qin Shi Huang died in 210 BCE., at the age of 49, after a futile search for a mushroom of immortality.
"By the 3rd century BC, the Chinese were building oceangoing merchant vessels up to 80 feet long and weighing up to 60 tons. According to the Shi Chi chronicle, in 219 BC, during the reign of Emperor Shi Huang, a fleet of ships, led by Captain Tzu Fu, left China for Fu Sang, a far-off land to the east, also known as the Isle of the Immortals. The purpose was to bring back the legendary ling chih mushrooms for the ailing emperor (source davidpratt.info May 2009).
Mexican Art Historian Miguel Covarrubias....
"The mystic spirit of "Olmec" art suggests the presence of highly intellectual sorcerers, who may have developed the astronomical knowledge basic for weather predictions and time-reckoning, culminating in the development of such liturgical traits as religious architecture, secret symbolic art, and glyphic writing." "Olmec art has significant traits suggesting an early stage in the development of the Classic cultures, particularly the Maya, Teotihuacan, Tajin, and Monte Alban" (1954:79)
The ancient Olmec appear on the scene having already developed a highly evolved system of writing, where no earlier or simpler forms have been found. Renowned Maya archaeologist Sylvanus G. Morley, noted that there was also the lack of known direct antecedents of Maya culture in the Maya region (Morley 1946, p.46). Morley noted writing as a perfect example, that even in its earliest known forms, it was already a highly evolved system, that no earlier, simpler forms of writing out of which it might have grown are known anywhere (Stephen C. Jett 1971,p.46).
The powerful unitary religion of the Olmec, appears to spread quickly throughout the New World with certain elements of the belief system that spread as far as the Andean area of South America. We know this culture by its powerful art style featuring adult and baby "were-jaguars;" an art style so pervasive that it led the late archaeologist Matthew W. Stirling in 1955 to call the Olmec the "people of the jaguar." He speculated that the Olmecs believed that at some time in their mythical past a jaguar had copulated with, and impregnated, a human female. According to Olmec archaeologist Michael Coe "...the concept of the were-jaguar is at the heart of the Olmec civilization" (Michael D. Coe, 1962, p.85).
Above is an Olmec figurine from the San Lorenzo phase of Olmec culture, 1200-400 B.C.E. These infantile baby-faced figurines, many of which depict the symbolism of a snarling jaguar, are a distinctive feature in Olmec art. This figure appears to represent an Olmec baby holding what appears to be a gigantic Amanita muscaria mushroom. According to ethno-mycologist Gastón Guzmán, one of the effects of the Amanita muscaria mushroom experience is to see objects as gigantic in size. The Amanita muscaria mushroom, considered a poisonous mushroom by many contains muscimol and ibotenic acid, the toxins or chemicals that cause the powerful psychoactive effects (Gaston Guzman, Sacred Mushrooms and Man: 2013 p.489) (photograph by Higinio Gonzalez of Puebla, Mexico).
Not enough is known about the Olmec people, the language which they spoke, what they may have called themselves, and where this ancient civilization originally came from. We know very little about the religious beliefs of the Olmecs and their contemporary neighbors, other than they apparently revered the hallucinogenic Amanita muscaria mushroom, which they portrayed in small stone sculptures known as mushroom stones that are now being interpreted as evidence for the usage of hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mesoamerican religion spanning almost 3,000 years (S.F de Borhegyi 1957, 1961, 1963, 1965a, 1965b).
The custom of circularly grooving the base of the mushroom stone cap (Type B) was discontinued after the Early Pre-Classic period (1000 BCE.). The Late Pre-Classic (500 B.C.--A.D. 200) and Classic period carved effigy, plain, and tripod mushroom stones have only plain caps (for their distribution by archaeological sites see Borhegyi de, 1961).
Mushroom stones that carry an effigy, like the ones depicted above, have been mostly found at the higher elevations of the Guatemala Highlands. This is an area of woodlands and pine forests where the Amanita muscaria mushroom grows in abundance. Borhegyi and Wasson determined that the Amanita muscaria mushroom was the likely inspiration or model for the earliest mushroom stone carvings.
Quoting Borhegyi in a letter to Wasson:
"In connection with the altitude distribution of mushroom stones there seems to be some difficulty. The mushroom stones are not exclusively confined to the Highlands but also occur in the South Coast where the altitude does not exceed 1000 feet. However, as I learned from my informants, the anacate [fly ageric?] grows in this region also. An interesting feature is the fact that the mushroom stones from the lower altitudes are of the late type and are plain or tripod, possibly representing a secondary manifestation of the original idea" (Borhegyi to Wasson, June 14, 1953 Wasson Archives Harvard University).
While some mushroom stones were made as early as 1000-500 B.C., others like the tripod variety were used mainly during the Late Classic period (600-1000 C.E.).
Mushroom stones that reappear in the highland Maya area during Late Classic times (600-1000 C.E.) are mostly the plain and or tripod variety (Type D) common to the Pacific Coast and Piedmont area as well as in Western El Salvador.
Above is a ballgame yoke fragment with footprint (excavated in 1948 by J. Eric S. Thompson) along with a tripod mushroom stone (Type D) from a pit in front of Monument 3 at the Pacific coastal site of El Baúl in Guatemala (Milwaukee Public Museum Archives). Type D tripod mushroom stones (plain and effigy style) were frequent in the Pacific Coast and Piedmont area as well as in western El Salvador (Borhegyi de, 1965: 37).
Borhegyi who excavated the Cotzumalhuapa sites of El Baúl and Bilbao, believed that most of the stone sculptures are of the Late Classic period (600-1000 C.E.) (Borhegyi de, 1965: 36, 39). J. Eric Thompson declared that no monument at El Baul was carved later than A.D. 900 (Remarkable Remains of the Ancient Peoples of Guatemala 1996 p.15). In 1948 Thompson wrote that the ballgame imagery in the highlands of Guatemala and the Piedmont sites suggested that the ballgame and its bloody rituals were closely connected with Quetzalcóatl (Thompson, 1948: figs. 10-15) (Remarkable Remains of the Ancient Peoples of Guatemala 1996 p.15).
It was in this area along the Pacific coast near the border of Mexico and Guatemala, where countless mushroom stones have been found going back to Olmec times. This is the same region where the ballgame, along with its bloody rituals of decapitation and the dismemberment of body parts reached new levels. Nowhere else in Mesoamerica does the ballgame imagery appear so gruesome. Ballgame scenes depict players, some with sacrificial knives holding trophy heads, and human sacrifice performed by were-jaguars, and heart sacrifice and dismemberment of human body parts (S.F. Borhegyi de 1980). The ballgame and its bloody rituals was one of the means by which human sacrifice to the gods Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc was accomplished, in order to perpetuate life here on Earth. This fact we know from Spanish chronicles, and from illustrations contained in such documents as the Codex Borgia and is also portrayed in dramatic fashion in low relief on the ball courts of El Tajin, in Veracruz, and Chichen Itza in Yucatan.
Borhegyi determined that the plain, un-carved type of mushroom stone must have been re-introduced (along with a mushroom cult) to Guatemala and the Cotzumalhuapa area along with new ball game rituals during Late Classic times, by “Tajinized Nonoalca” Pipil groups. It was in the Cotzumalhuapa area along the Pacific coast where the severing of human heads reached new levels (Borhegyi de, 1965: 37; Borhegyi de, 1980: 25; Borhegyi letter to Wasson, November 30, 1953, Wasson Archives). We find images of decapitated ballplayers carved on the walls of formal ballcourts at El Tajín and Chichén Itzá that supports the western origin of the ballgame carried by the Putún-descended peoples when they relocated north to Chichén Itzá and south to the Guatemala Highlands and Pacific coast. The extension of stone yokes, hachas, and palmas southward through the Isthmus of Guatemala and El Salvador almost certainly corresponds to the diffusion of an intensified, sacrificial version of the ballgame (S. Jeffery K. Wilkerson, 1991 p.58, in The Mesoamerican Ballgame).
From the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel
"These are the precious stones which our Lord, the Father, has abandoned. This was his first repast, this balche, with which we, the ruling men revere him here. Very rightly they worshiped as true gods these precious stones, when the true God was established our Lord God, the Lord of Heaven and earth, the true God. Nevertheless, the first gods were perishable gods. Their worship came to its inevitable end. They lost their efficacy by the benediction of the Lord of Heaven, after the redemption of the world was accomplished, after the resurrection of the true God, the true Dios, when he blessed heaven and earth. Then was your worship abolished, Maya men. Turn away your hearts from your old religion" (Inga Clendinnen, 1987 p.161)
Quoting Stephan F. de Borhegyi
"...the Tlalocan, closely parallels the immense popularity of the Hellenistic mystery cults and redeeming religions with their concepts of trial on earth followed by a happy afterlife in heaven, and salvation through initiation and knowledge of God, concepts that continued to play an important role in Christianity and in Gnosticism" (Stephan de Borhegyi 1971, "Man Across the Sea" p.91).
Tlalocan was a mushroom inspired paradise of the afterlife seen through the goggled eyes of Tlaloc.
Above is close up image from a Mixtec pictogram, known as the Lienzo de Zacatepec 1540-1560 AD, also called the Códice Martínez Gracida, now in the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, in Mexico City. Tlalocan is a paradise and the abode of deified ancestors, connected with the axis mundi, and the destination of the ruler portrayed above after his death. The ancient Maya equivalent of a paradise of creation is the myth of Tamoanchan the place where the World Tree rises, and where gods and humans and time itself were created.
It's the author's belief that the scene above in the Lienzo de Zacatepec, depicts the probable act of ritual self sacrifice, and that it portrays the Mexican god Tlaloc as a death god responsible for the act of underworld decapitation. Thus Tlaloc as the Evening Star aspect of the planet Venus, represents the god of underworld resurrection. Those who died for Tlaloc, and in this case willingly by decapitation, were under his watchful eye, and went directly to his divine paradise of immortality called Tlalocan. The footprints in this scene represents a long journey by one of the royal figures above. I believe this journey is to the underworld, via sacred mushrooms, where the willing victim, or victims of ritual decapitation, are reborn, and resurrect from the underworld. Note the flint knife at the foot of the temple steps, that esoterically represents the ritual of decapitation. Note that at the bottom of the scene the victim's severed head with sprouting mushrooms is portrayed on top of a sacred mountain that marks a sacred portal to the otherworldly paradise of Tlalocan. Mt. Tlaloc is known to be the dwelling place of Tlaloc the Rain God, where victims of floods, storms, and diseases caused by water were received after death.
Quoting Gordon Wasson (1957)
"If we were to postulate mushrooms in pre-Conquest art in Mexico, we would direct our search precisely to frescos dealing with Tlaloc and the Paradise of our mushroomic visions, to the very frescos where we have found mushroomic shapes.
Those who died by drowning or by water in general were guaranteed an afterlife in Tlalocan. It was the manner of ones death that determined which of the 9-levels would be the deceased final destination. Those who died in battle or sacrificed by the obsidian knife were also assured a place in the afterlife paradise of Tlalocan. Borhegyi writes this about the acceptance of the Teotihuacan-designed "earthly paradise" called Tlalocan (Borhegyi de, 1961a: 501-503)
Quoting Stephan F. de Borhegyi
"In the concept of the Tlalocan, Teotihuacan offered something tangible, something desirable, a rich and readily available compensation that no previous Mesoamerican culture was able to offer" (Stephan de Borhegyi 1971, "Man Across the Sea" p.91).
Mesoamericans in general believed that Quetzalcoatl created both the universe and humankind. Along with mushrooms, maize and fire. Quetzalcoatl also gave to man the sciences, the calendar and writing, and the knowledge to fix certain days for feasts and blood sacrifice. Quetzalcoatl's essence in the world as a god-king and culture hero was to establish this communication between earth and sky, and the mushroom was the medium. This is recorded in the Codex Vindobonensis. Page 24, depicts the divine establishment of the ritual consumption of sacred mushrooms ( Peter Furst, 1981, pp.151-155). French botanist Roger Heim published this page in color and accepted without hesitation its mushroomic interpretation. Also summarizing the significance of this page, Wasson concludes that it shows "the major place occupied by mushrooms in the culture of the Mixtecs." Both Schultes and Wasson examined the mushrooms depicted in the Codex Vindobonensis, and both concluded that the ingestion of sacred mushrooms is related to the god Quetzalcoatl (Guzman 2013 ch. 12 "Sacred Mushrooms and Man" p.493-494). The additional collateral evidence to be considered further supports the validity of these opinions, and extends the base upon which they rest (Lowy 1980 pp.94-103).
Above is one of the few pre-Hispanic native manuscripts that escaped Spanish destruction, known as the Mixtec Codex Vindobonensis Mexicanus, now in the National Library of Vienna, Austria. Also called the Codex Vienna, it was produced in the Postclassic period for the priesthood and ruling elite. Ethno-archaeologist Peter Furst, described the scene on page 24, as the divine establishment of the ritual consumption of sacred mushrooms (1981, pp.151-155). A thousand years of history is covered in the Mixtec Codices, and Quetzalcóatl, known to the Mixtecs as 9-Wind, is cited as the great founder of all the royal dynasties. Those bestowed with the knowledge of the sacred mushroom were believed to be incarnates of their creator god Quetzalcóatl. Note the Nine Lords of the Night, associated with death, decapitation and time's completion.
According to Aztec legend, Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl created mankind from the bones he stole from the Underworld Death God, whose decapitated head Quetzalcoatl holds in his hand in the scene above. Note the tears of gratitude on the young individual sitting immediately opposite Quetzalcoatl. This individual, and those who sit behind Quetzalcoatl also hold sacred mushrooms and all appear to have fangs. Fangs suggest that, under the magical influence of the mushroom, they have been transformed in the Underworld into the underworld jaguar.
Among the Toltecs, Aztecs and Mixtecs of Oaxaca, Quetzalcoatl as Ehecatl was known by his calendrical name of "9 Wind", for the day on which he was born, and represents the 9th of the 13 Lords of the Day. G-9 of the Nine Lords of the Night has been identified as the supreme ruler of the underworld and the sacred day Ahau.
In Aztec mythology the Mexican god Tlaloc, who shared the same temple with Quetzalcoatl at the great city of Teotihuacan, also represents the ninth lord of the Nine Lords of the Night, associated with death, decapitation and time's completion, and that his calendrical name was 9-Ocelotl (Facts and Artifacts of Ancient Middle America, 1978 p.164).
It has long been known that page 24 of the Codex Vindobonensis (depicted above) concerns the ceremonial role of mushrooms among the Mixtecs. In 1929 Walter Lehmann noted the resemblance to mushrooms of the objects portrayed in the hands of many of the characters depicted in this Codex. Mexican archaeologist Alfonso Caso later provisionally identified what he called "T-shaped" objects in the manuscript as mushrooms. Gordon Wasson concluded that it showed "the major place occupied by mushrooms in the culture of the Mixtecs" (Wasson 1980, p. 214). Above on page 24, the Wind God Quetzalcoatl is depicted making a hand gesture of up and down to the goggle-eyed god Tlaloc directly in front of him. The hand gesture to Tlaloc is to open a divine mushroom portal that leads to the underworld.
The Mexican god Tlaloc, is easily recognizable by his trademark goggle-eyes and handlebar mustache. On the right, Tlaloc wears an ear-plug that appears to be an encoded mushroom. (image of Tlaloc on the right is from the Musée de l'Homme Museum in Paris, France)
Above are pair of Tlaloc's trademark goggles, carved from shell and shaped to form a feathered serpent, linking Tlaloc with the ballgame and with Quetzalcoatl (Photograph from the Justin Kerr Data Base K6777). Below are ballplayer figurine heads, and a ballgame hacha from Veracruz Mexico.
Quoting Wasson (1957)
"It [the mushroom] permits you to see, more clearly than our perishing mortal eye can see, vistas beyond the horizons of this life, to travel backwards and forwards in time, to enter other planes of existence, even (as the Indians say) to know God."
Classic Veracruz figurines Remojadas culture depicting ballplayers wearing Tlaloc's divine goggles. Fray Sahagun 1547-1577, writes that captives who were victims of sacrifice were clothed in the image of Tlaloc (The History of Ancient Mexico 1932 p.95).
“The bemushroomed person is poised in space, a disembodied eye, invisible, incorporeal, seeing but not being seen….In truth, he is the five senses disembodied, all of them keyed to the height of sensitivity and awareness, all of them blending into one another most strangely, until, utterly passive, he becomes a pure receptor, infinitely delicate, of sensations”. (Wasson, 1972a:198)
“There is nothing incompatible between the mushroom stones and the ball game. Those who have mastered the mushrooms arrive at an extraordinary command of their faculties and muscular movements: their sense of timing is heightened. I have already suggested that the players had ingested the mushrooms before they entered upon the game. If the mushroom stones were related to the ball game, it remains to be discovered what role they played”. (Wasson 1957, from Mushrooms Russia & History, p. 178)
Above is a terra cotta figurine from Tenenexpan in the State of Veracruz, Mexico. The hollow figurine worshipping a mushroom is in the style of the Remojadas culture, Classic Period ca. A.D. 300. The Remojadas culture is considered part of the larger Classic Veracruz culture. Wasson writes this about the figurine, "is a superb expression of the religious faith of a people who held the entheogenic mushrooms in awe, both for their ecstatic potency and their divinatory powers" (Wasson, 1980 p.194).
Archaeologist Richard Diel, writes that the Classic Veracruz hollow figurine tradition, famous for its "smiling faces" and other bizarre facial expressions, are believed to portray intoxicated or drugged sacrificial victims (Death Gods, Smiling Faces and Colossal Heads: Archaeology of the Mexican Gulf Lowlands).
The art style at the archaeological site of El Tajin (Veracruz Culture) is also reminiscent of the Cotzumulhuapa culture on the Pacific coast of Guatemala, and there is little doubt that there must have been close contact between the two regions. Cotzumahlhuapa's imagery also depicts serpents, jaguars, human skulls and skullracks, and bloody sacrifices performed by were-jaguars (see Lee A. Parsons 1963, 1965a, b, 1966 a,b, 1967). It was in this region that the decapitation of human heads (trophy head cult) and the dismemberment of body parts reached new levels.
Above on the left is Stela 27 from the archaeological site of El Baul, along the coastal Piedmont area of Guatemala. The ballgame scene on Stela 27 depicts ballplayers wearing jaguar helmets of the Underworld god Tlaloc, and wear hand-gloves that represents either the local survival of the Olmec influenced Preclassic handball game, or a late Classic revival of the handball game along the coastal Piedmont area of Guatemala (Borhegyi de, 1980: 16). Borhegyi who excavated at the sites of El Baúl and Bilbao, believed that most of the Cotzumalhuapa stone sculptures are of the Late Classic period (600-1000 C.E.) (Borhegyi de, 1965: 36, 39).
Quoting Stephan de Borhegyi
“These zones were once influenced by the Olmecs and later by ‘warlike’ Mexican Gulf Coast groups. One wonders if these grisly sacrificial activities are native to this area or are Pre-Classic survivals of a game once played with human heads with long, flowing hair in the Tajín and La Venta areas and in parts of Oaxaca” (S.F. Borhegyi de, 1980: 16)
Sahagun writes that the great ballcourt at the Aztec's capital of Tenochtitlan was in front of the Templo Mayor, a dual pyramid complex dedicated to the gods Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli. Sahagun also describes the great tzompantli, or skull rack, where the skulls of sacrificed victims were displayed, and writes that it was opposite the Templo Mayor. According to Mary Miller, this architectural relationship of skull rack (tzompantli) to ballcourt can be seen in at least two other Postclassic sites: the Toltec capital of Tula (Ballcourt 2) and Chichen Itza (Mary Miller 2001 p.91, in "The Sport of Life and Death: The Mesoamerican Ballgame").
The idea that lightning produces mushrooms to sprout is almost universal because it is almost always connected with a heavy thunderstorm. Mycologist Gaston Guzman writes that today the Indians say that the Amanita muscaria mushroom is born where thunder bolts fall, and that is the reason that mushrooms have such strong power (Guzman 2013 ch. 12 p.492).
Tlaloc as a Storm God is frequently represented holding a ray of lightning or thunder bolt in his hand. In this respect, Tlaloc is also an earth god. When he throws lightning to the ground he has coitus with his female counterpart, the earth. Any object that suddenly grows up after a heavy rain storm could easily be associated as a child of this union. Few things pop up as quickly and as mysteriously as fungi after a rain.
Above on the left is an image of the Mexican god Tlaloc from Mural 1, at the Patio of the Jaguars in Zone 2 at Teotihuacan (200-650 C.E.). The image of Tlaloc is superimposed on a five pointed Venus star symbolizing the "fiveness" of Venus referring to the five synodic cycles of Venus identified in the Venus Almanac of the Dresden Codex (Milbrath 1999 p.199). On the right is a Classic period Teotihuacan vessel that portrays the goggled-eyed Tlaloc above a five pointed half-star, identified as a Central Mexican-style half-star Venus glyph (Milbrath 1999 p.184-185)
Archaeo-astronomer John Carlson proposed (1991, 1993) that the Classic period Mexican half-star symbol is part of a cult of Venus-regulated warfare imported from Teotihuacan to the Maya area (Milbrath 1999 p.186). Venus is not only connected to warfare but also linked to the founding of some Maya dynasties and that the lineage founder is connected with the goggle-eyed Tlaloc (Milbrath 1999 p.196).
This configuration of five, identified as the quincunx, symbolizes the "fiveness" of Venus , or five synodic cycles of Venus identified in the Venus Almanac of the Dresden Codex (Milbrath 1999 p.199). The axis mundi or center of the quincunx is the central portal of Underworld Venus resurrection.
Above is a Classic Period Teotihuacan inspired Maya polychrome plate, that depicts at it's center, the Mexican god Tlaloc surrounded by four stylized Fleur de lis symbols. This configuration of five, identified as the quincunx, symbolizes the "fiveness" of Venus , or five synodic cycles of Venus identified in the Venus Almanac of the Dresden Codex (Milbrath 1999 p.199).
The late Maya archaeologist J. Eric S. Thompson identified this configuration of five as the quincunx, a variant of the Central Mexican Venus sign. The design of this symbol symbolizes the four cardinal directions and its central entrance to the underworld where the World Tree is located. The general model of Maya cosmology is that the earth floats on the sea, with the World Tree at its center, and the four corners separating the sky and earth, interconnecting all three layers, the sky, the earth, and the underworld. The symbol of the quincunx is of great antiquity, having been found at the Olmec site of San Lorenzo on Monument 43 dated at 900 B.C. The quincunx design also appears on Maya Venus Platforms. The Olmec and Maya believed that it was through this portal, the axis mundi, that souls passed on their journey to deification, rebirth and resurrection. According to Maya archaeologist David Freidel, the Maya called this sacred center, mixik' balamil, meaning "the navel of the world" (Thompson,1960:170-172, fig. 31 nos.33-40; Freidel & Schele, 1993:124).
Photographs © Justin Kerr
Owner: Popol Vuh Museum, Guatemala:
Above is a Late Classic (A.D. 600-900) Maya vase painting K3060, that depicts a long-lipped bearded deity with a bulbous nose and serpentine eye, known as Chaac. Chaac is a long-lipped Quadripartite Maya god designated as "God B," by Schellhas, and is the most frequently depicted Maya god in the three surviving pre-Hispanic codices. Chaac, like his Aztec-Toltec counterpart Tlaloc, represents the embodiment of lightning, rain and thunder (Herbert Spinden 1975 p.62). Although some scholars seem reluctant to identify Tlaloc and Chaac as the same deity both are connected with underworld decapitation and Venus resurrection, as well as Venus warfare and with the four cardinal directions and it's sacred center. In the Dresden Codex Venus pages, Venus is referred to "chac ek" meaning "Great Star". The Maya god Chaac like his Mexican counterpart Tlaloc wields the axe of Underworld decapitation, and both deities are intimately associated with sacred mushrooms that act as divine portal to the Underworld. These sacred portals to the Underworld are located at the four cardinal directions and it's sacred center, which the artist esoterically depicted above in Maya vase painting K3066. David Freidel writes that "the ballcourt was not only a place of sacrifice; it was an entry portal to the time and space of the last Creation" (Maya Cosmos 1993, p. 352). Note what the author proposes are encoded mushrooms located at the four cardinal directions. Chaac, like his Mexican counterpart Tlaloc, are commonly depicted in art wielding an axe of ritual decapitation and lightening bolts in the shape of serpents. Chaak, the Maya god of lightening and rain, is also commonly found in the Toltec period art of Chichen Itza (Karl A. Taube p.219)
Although Chaac is identified with the four cardinal directions, he was sometimes thought of as the "one" god who resided at the center of the universe. A page in the Dresden Codex portrays four Chaacs seated in the trees located at the four cardinal directions of time and space. A fifth Chaac is seated in a cave representing the cosmic center of the world. Once again symbolizing the "fiveness" of Venus referring to the five synodic cycles of Venus. The Maya god Chaac may also be equated with the Maya god Kukulcan, who was the Maya/Toltec version of the god Quetzalcoatl. The word k'uh, means "holy spirit" or "god", and the word chan or kaan means both serpent and sky (Freidel, Schele, Parker, 1993 p. 177).
Among the Classic period Southern Maya the great "Vision Serpent", a symbol of Maya kingship, goes back to earlier Olmec conceptions, of the "bearded dragon", essentially a portal, at the World Tree, representing the doorway to the spiritual world. In both hemispheres serpents are associated with the Tree of Life, and immortality by virtue of renewing themselves, through the shedding of their skin.
Quoting Maya archaeologist Dr. Herbert Spinden:"Many authorities consider God B to represent Kukulcan, the Feathered Serpent, whose Aztec equivalent is Quetzalcoatl (Spinden 1975 p.62).
Teonanacatl: God's flesh on Earth
Above is a sixteenth-century painting from the Florentine Codex, Book 11, by Bernadino de Sahagun. The Florentine Codex, is a compilation of well documented ethnographic information of Aztec culture recorded by Spanish chronicler Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, organized into twelve books consisting of over 2400 pages and over 2000 illustrations. The image, painted by an Indian artist, depicts a seated figure wearing a white robe, drinking from a goblet. Note that directly in front of the seated figure are two mushroom caps next to a mushroom stem or stipe. According to Fray Sahagun, Spanish ecclesiastics were horrified by the sacramental use of several mushrooms known in Nahuatl as teonanacatl meaning "God's flesh".
Spanish chronicler, and cleric Jacinto de la Serna, composed a guide for the clergy in 1892, titled Manuel de Ministros de Indies para el Conocimiento de sus Idolatnas y Extirpation de Ellas, (Wasson and Wasson 1957, p. 226). More commonly known today as "The Manuscript of Serna". there is a passage that describes the use of sacred mushrooms for divination, prophecy, and communion with the spirit world:
"These mushrooms were small and yellowish and to collect them the priest and all men appointed as ministers went to the hills and remained almost the whole night in sermonizing and praying".
Serna, also drew the analogy between the Christian Eucharist and the eating of the mushroom; he suggests that the Indians regard the flesh of the mushroom as divine, or as he considers it diabolic.
Above are female and male figurines from Western Mexico Zacatecas culture 2nd century CE, in which the artist clearly encodes the Amanita muscaria mushroom, "Hidden In Plain Sight". (The photograph in the center is from http://realhistoryww.com/ )
Above is a Late Classic period (600-900 CE.) Maya figurine K2853 from the Justin Kerr Data Base. The figurine is of a bearded gnome, or dwarf-like figure holding a shield, and wearing what I have proposed is a headdress encoded with an upside down Amanita muscaria mushroom. One of the effects of the Amanita muscaria mushroom experience is to see objects as gigantic in size (photograph of mushroom copyrighted Esther van de Belt ).
Above is a figurine from Nayarit, Western Mexico, dated 100 C.E-, depicting an individual sitting under a gigantic Amanita muscaria mushroom. The figurine, which is 7.5 cm tall, is now in the INAH Regional Museum in Guadalajara, Mexico.
In both Nahua and Maya mythology a dwarf often accompanies the deceased into the Underworld. According to Wasson 1957, among the various tribes in Siberia where the inebriating mushroom ritual has survived, words used for, or to describe the Amanita muscaria mushroom personify it as dwarves, elves or "little men."
Germanic folklore also connects mushrooms with little people, or elves, specifically with the elf king, who is commonly portrayed sitting under a toadstool. According to the legend "whoever carries a toadstool about him grows small and light as an elf" (Kevin Feeney 2013 p.307)(citing Grimm 1966:1412).
"The little red topped mushroom with white polka dots occur frequently in Hungarian folktales, usually in connection with little dwarfs who live under them" (letter from de Borhegyi to Wasson April 29th, 1953 Wasson archives, Harvard University)
"It [the mushroom] permits you to see, more clearly than our perishing mortal eye can see, vistas beyond the horizons of this life, to travel backwards and forwards in time, to enter other planes of existence, even (as the Indians say) to know God." (Wasson and Wasson, 1957)
Quoting R. Gordon Wasson:
"The disembodied eyes are the mushroom worshipper's eyes, whether open or shut, contemplating the scenes of another world, three dimensional, unearthly yet more real to the bemushroomed viewer than our world of everyday experience" (Wasson 1980 153).
While at first glance the face of the "Weeping Gods" gives the illusion of a deity with dangling or disembodied eye-balls. As I discovered, if you look closely, you will see that the dangling eyeballs are actually encoded Amanita muscaria mushrooms "Hidden In Plain Sight." Dangling eye-balls or even encoded tears likely represent the trance under the influence of the sacred mushroom. The photo of the "Weeping God" above is from VanKirk, Jacques, and Parney Bassett-VanKirk, Remarkable Remains of the Ancient Peoples of Guatemala, Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1996.) (Photo of Amanita muscaria by Ryan Darwish)
According to Borhegyi:
"...fanged anthropomorphic individuals with dangling eyeballs, are commonly associated with the god Quetzalcoatl in his form of Ehecatl the Wind God" ( S.F. de Borhegyi 1980:17).
"They would worship the devil making in his likeness idols and faces of stone, very ugly to which they would sacrifice little dogs and Indian slaves and this was their worship and whom they took for gods; and after they had made some such sacrifice it was their custom to dance and get drunk on some mushrooms in such a manner that they would see many visions and fearful figures" (Wasson 1980 p. 218).
According to Mexican archaeologist Alfonso Caso, to understand Aztec mythology and the multiplicity of gods and their attributes one must understand that "Aztec religion was in a period of synthesis, in which there were being grouped together, within the concept of a single god (Quetzalcoatl) different capacities that were considered to be related" (Caso, 1958: p.23). Quetzalcoatl for example was not only the Morning Star but he was also the god of wind, the god of life and death, of twins and monsters and so on, and because of his many attributes he was known by different names: Eh'ecatl, Ce Acatl, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, Tezcatlipoca and Xolotl. The gods Xolotl, Tlaloc and Tezcatlipoca are aspects of Quetzalcoatl as the Evening Star, and thus represent gods associated with sacrifice (underworld decapitation) and rebirth and resurrection from the underworld. Its not surprising that the gods Tlaloc and Quetzalcoatl, being one and the same, shared the same temple at the great city of Teotihuacan in the highlands of Mexico.
The author proposes that all variants of the Toltec/Aztec gods Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc, and their Classic Maya counterparts, Kukulcan, Gucumatz, Tohil, K´awil and Chaac, though they may have different names and be associated with somewhat different attributes in different culture areas, are linked to the planet Venus through divine rulership, lineage and descent.
Above is the image of the Mexican Storm god Tlaloc from the pre-Conquest Codex Borgia. Once again, the Fleur de lis symbol is tagged to the blood-letting bone perforators, as a symbol of holy and divine.
First-hand reports tell us that the Aztecs ate mushrooms, and drank a mushroom beverage in order to induce hallucinatory trances and dreams (Wasson and Wasson, 1980:75 -178). The author proposes that artists intentionally encoded or tagged a Fleur de lis symbol, to sacred objects associated with self sacrifice, including drinking vessels that contained a ritual sacramental beverage.
The Amanita or fly agaric mushroom was likely the original sacrament, the God-producing substance through which humans aspired to ecstasy and thus, communion with the gods. Above in the upper right hand corner is a scene from page 35 of the Codex Vaticanus, that depicts a victim with a flint blade in his hand, in the act of self decapitation. Note that the ritual beverage in the scene is encoded with a Fleur de lis symbol.
The feathered serpent is one of the oldest and the most important deities of Mesoamerica. In Aztec accounts, the Feathered Serpent, Quetzalcoatl, turns himself into a serpent and then back again into a god with human attributes and form. Serpents represent the bondage of time and its cyclical nature. The Mexican God-king Quetzalcoatl’s name represents a blending of serpent and bird; the quetzal, a blue-green bird that inhabits the cloud forests of Mesoamerica, and coatl, the Nahua word describing both sky and serpent.
In both hemispheres serpents are associated with the Tree of Life as well as immortality by virtue of renewing themselves through the shedding of their skin. Above is a closeup scene from a pre-Conquest manuscript known as the Codex Laud, where we see the serpent and World Tree merge into a single symbol, tagged with the Fleur de lis emblem as a symbol of divine immortality. The scene, I believe, portrays the deity Quetzalcoatl the Feathered Serpent as the World Tree, encoded with three Fleur de lis symbols, alluding to a trinity of creator gods in Mesoamerica. (for a documentation of Snake or Serpent symbolism in Mesoamerica, signifying wisdom and knowledge see Ixtlilxochitl, 1952: I, 21).
“They had another way of drunkenness, that made them more cruel and it was with some fungi or small mushrooms, which exist in this land as in Castilla; but those of this land are of such a kind that eaten raw and being bitter they....eat with them a little bees honey; and a while later they would see a thousand visions, especially serpents, and as they would be out of their senses, it would seem to them that their legs and bodies were full of worms eating them alive, and thus half rabid, they would sally forth from the house, wanting someone to kill them; and with this bestial drunkenness and travail that they were feeling, it happened sometimes that they hanged themselves, and also against others they were crueler. These mushrooms, they called in their language teonanacatl, which means 'flesh of God' or the devil, whom they worshiped.” (Wasson and de Borhegyi 1962, The Hallucinogenic Mushrooms of Mexico and Psilocybin)
In a passage from the Anales de Cuauhtitlán...
"At the time when the planet was visible in the sky (as evening star) Quetzalcoatl died. And when Quetzalcoatl was dead he was not seen for 4 days; they say that he dwelt in the underworld, and for 4 more days he was bone (that is, he was emaciated, he was weak); not until 8 days had passed did the great star appear; that is, as the morning star. They said that then Quetzalcoatl ascended the throne as god".
Above is a page from the Tlaxcala Codex (Lienzo de Tlaxcala), a mid Sixteenth Century Mexican manuscript of the history of the Tlaxcaltecas and the Spanish in their wars against the Aztecs and the evangelical battle for Christianity. The Caption in Náhuatl the language of the Aztecs, describes how people are killed in the "house of the devil". The scene depicts a human sacrifice ceremony observed by Hernando Cortes at a temple dedicated to Lord Quetzalcoatl adorned with what I propose are six Fleur de lis symbols (Lienzo de Tlaxcala Folio 239r). (Lienzo de Tlaxcala http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/exhibns/month/jan2003.html)
Based on a passage of the Madrid Codices worked on by Dr. Dibble and Sr. Barrios, from Schultze Jena’s Gliederung des Alt-Aztekischen Volks in Familie, Stand und Beruf (pp.207 ff.), the eating of mushrooms is part of a longer ceremony performed by merchants returning from a trading expedition to the coast lands. The merchants would only arrive on a day of favorable aspect. A feast and ceremony of thanksgiving were organized by the returning merchants, also on a day of favorable aspect. In the Madrid Codex according to Dibble Barrios, there was a prelude to the ceremony of eating mushrooms in which they sacrificed a quail and offered incense to the four directions, all of which I found depicted in the Lienzo de Tlaxcala Folio 239r.
In the Lienzo de Tlaxcala Folio 239r,, the artists depicts a scene of human sacrifice and the ritual decapitation of quail birds, witnessed by Hernan Cortes and his men, at the temple steps adorned with six Fleur de lis symbols dedicated to Lord Quetzalcoatl. In the scene the artist depicts the offering of quails, the burning of incense, and the sacrifice of a human being to the four cardinal directions (note the four attendants), to a mushroom inspired Death God.
“They [the Indians] were very devout. Only one was their god; they showed all attention to, they called upon, they prayed to one by the name of Quetzalcoatl. The name of one who was their minister, their priest [was] also Quetzalcoatl. "There is only one god" [he is] Quetzalcoatl.”( Sahagún, 1950-75,10:160).
“All the ceremonies and rites, building temples and altars and placing idols in them, fasting, going nude and sleeping on the floor, climbing mountains, to preach the law there, kissing the earth, eating it with one's fingers and blowing trumpets and conch shells and flutes on the great feast days-- all these emulated the ways of the holy man, Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl”. (Duran, 1971: 59).
As the priest-king ruling at Tula, Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl sacrificed himself by throwing himself into a fire in order to purify his people. He rose again from the stake as the brilliant star, Venus, having promised that he would one day return as a person, and liberate his adherence and start a new era. The attraction of Lord Quetzalcoatl as a savior who burned himself as an act of penitence, grew in time to such an extent that all later priest-kings took his name and claimed to be his incarnation or vicar. ("Master Works of Mexican Art" 1963, p.210).
Above is a page from the Post-Conquest Codex Fernandez, that depicts two rows of likely willing sacrificial victims of the arrow sacrifice. Note that at the top of the ladder there is a Fleur de lis symbol esoterically representing divine resurrection. Also note the divine symbolism of the Tree of Life and the four cardinal directions with voladores dressed as birds. The many footprints in the scene, alluding to the long and arduous journey to divine immortality .
Spanish chronicler Fray Diego Duran reported that mushrooms were eaten on the occasion of the accession of the famous Aztec King Moctezuma II to the throne, in the year 1502. After Moctezuma took his Divine Seat, captives were brought before him and sacrificed in his honor. He and his attendants then ate a stew made from their flesh. (Duran, 1964: 225).
“When the sacrifice was finished and the steps and courtyard were bathed with human blood, everyone went to eat raw mushrooms”. “With this food they went out of their minds and were in worse state than if they had drunk a great quantity of wine. They became so inebriated and witless that many of them took their lives in their hands. With the strength of these mushrooms they saw visions and had revelations about the future, since the devil spoke to them in their madness”.
“The Indians made sacrifices in the mountains, and under shaded trees, in the caves and caverns of the dark and gloomy earth. They burned incense, killed their sons and daughters and sacrificed them and offered them as victims to their gods; they sacrificed children, ate human flesh, killed prisoners and captives of war....One thing in all this history: no mention is made of their drinking wine of any type, or of drunkenness. Only wild mushrooms are spoken of and they were eaten raw.”
"It was common to sacrifice men on feast days as it is for us to kill lambs or cattle in the slaughterhouses.... I am not exaggerating; there were days in which two thousand, three thousand or eight thousand men were sacrificed...Their flesh was eaten and a banquet was prepared with it after the hearts had been offered to the devil.... to make the feasts more solemn all ate wild mushrooms which make a man lose his senses... the people became excited, filled with pleasure, and lost their senses to some extent."
Sacred mushrooms were so cleverly encoded in the religious art of both the Old World and New World, "Hidden in Plain Sight" that prior to the author's study they virtually escaped detection.
More than 20 species of psychoactive mushrooms grow on the Alpine region, mainly the isozaxolic Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherina, and psilocybian species belonging to the genera Psilocybe, Panaeolus, Inocybe and Pluteus (Giorgio Samorini 2002, "A Contribution to the Ethnomycology and Ethnobotany of Alpine psychoactive Vegetals"). Recent molecular research on the ancestors of the fly agaric or Amanita muscaria mushroom, has shown that it was present in eastern Asia and Siberia sixty-five to 2.4 million years ago, and that it spread over Asia, Europe, and to North America from there" (Gerrit J. Keizer 2013, p.161, The Complete Encyclopedia of Mushrooms, by Oxford Dictionaries, Paperback, 2013).
Early in the second millennium BCE, the Andronovo culture and other steppe groups developed or adopted horse-riding, which facilitated the rapid expansion of mounted nomadic pastoralism. The descendants of the Andronovo culture who remained in Central Asia were called Scythians by the Greek, and Saka (Sacae) by the Persians. The first historical steppe nomads whom there is any accurate record of were a people whose society was ruled by a class of mounted warriors, who in Herodotus' Histories were called Royal Scythians.
In 1643, Johannes de Laet was the first to present his theory of an Asiatic land bridge, and proposed that it was the Scythians of Central Asia who first discovered the Americas (Miguel Covarrubias 1954 p.10). The identities of the Scythians and their migrations is still uncertain, and that the term "Scythian" should be taken loosely, as many people of different tribes were called Scythians, a term referring to horse-nomads.
" I believe that Soma was a mushroom, Amanita muscaria (Fries ex L.) Quel, the fly-agaric, the Fliegenpilz of the Germans, the fausse oronge or tue-mouche or crapaudin of the French, the mukhomor of the Russians. This flaming red mushroom with white spots flecking its cap is familiar throughout northern Europe and Siberia. It is often put down in mushroom manuals as deadly poisonous but this is false, as I myself can testify" (Wasson, 1968).
Soma/Haoma Mystery Solved:
The answer to the Soma mystery was found in a grave of a woman buried in an elite burial ground of the Xiongnu, the famous Scythian nomads of Central Asia, associated with the Saka culture in southern Siberia (source... “We drank Soma, we became immortal...” : Science First Hand 03.09. 2015).
The French historian Jose de Guignes 1757, in his book "A General History of the Huns, Mongols, Turks, & other Western Tatars," was the first to propose that the Xiongnu and the Huns were one and the same people. He noted that ancient Chinese scholars referred to members of the Xiongnu tribes as Hun, or the Huna (Grousset, Rene 1970, The Empire of the Steppes pp. 19, 26-27)
Above on the lower right is a Pazyryk. 6th century BCE. wooden plaque "shaped like a Three-Petalled Flower", one of several that was preserved in the frozen sub-soil in a kurgan in the Altai Mountains of Siberia (The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg). The wood plaque (Inventory Number 2179-480) is similar in shape to a Fleur de lis symbol and the Aztec symbol for flower. The wood plaque was excavated by Russian archaeologist Sergei Rudenko in 1954, Tuekta Barrow No. 1 Central Altai, the Village of Tuekta, in the Valley of the River Ursul (Hermitagemuseum.org) Archaeologists at Pazyryk have found what is believed to be the oldest surviving rug in the world. It was discovered by Russian archaeologist Sergei Rudenko in a Scythian burial mound in the late 1940s, and is believed to be the oldest surviving complete wool-pile carpet dating back to the 5th century B.C.E., suggesting that the art of carpet weaving may go back as far as 4,000 years ago.
The Fleur de lis symbol in pre-Columbian art and iconography, carries the same Old World symbolism of "God", or divinity or "Lord", linked to a Trinity of gods, a Tree of Life, at the center of the universe, and a sacred beverage of immortality.
Above, according to researcher Géza Varga, historian of writing, is the hieroglyphic phrase "Land of the river god Hole Ak" from Teotihuacan. Above on the left are Mayan hieroglyphs of the world model and on the right corresponding signs of Szekler writing (right, top to bottom): "ly" (hole. Hole), Ak (stream, Heracles), ancestor, ten, "ü" (case "river") and "f" (earth), possible interpretation of signs in modern Hungarian: Ak Hole is the land of the divine river
Quoting Géza Varga, historian of writing :
"Carl de Borhegyi drew my attention to the Maya disc shown in Figure 1 (above) with his writing available from the bibliography below, for which I thank him here as well. In this article I will identify the signs of this disc with elements of the Hungarian hieroglyphic writing (and székely writing). Due to the limitations of this short article, I cannot repeat the considerations of my rovological research over the last 50 years, which the reader can find in the volume "Hungarian Hieroglyphic Writing" if you want to know the details and support my findings". "These parts of the Mayan world model can already be clearly identified with the Hungarian hieroglyphies, also known from Eurasia". "This data (the Mayan teo sound form of the Fleur de lis symbol and the meaning of "god", which also appears in the name of Teotihuacan) is of paramount importance to Hungarian writing and language history. It suggests that the American Indians took not only the symbol forms from the Huns' ancestors, but also the Hungarian sign names. In our case, this could have been the ten sound form, which is the second element of the composition that can be read today as God. This ten-tone sign name may have meaning "god" when the Indians migrated to America, the original name of the god (a + ten), which was transferred to America with the sign" (Varga Geza irastortenesz, 2021. julius 8., csutortok).
In both hemispheres the Fleur de lis symbol is associated with divine rulership, linked to mythological deities in the guise of a serpent, feline, and bird, associated with a Tree of Life, it's divine fruit, and a trinity of creator gods. In Mesoamerica, as in the Old World, the royal line of the king was considered to be of divine origin, linked to the Tree of Life. Descendants of the Mesoamerican god-king Quetzalcoatl, and thus all Mesoamerican kings or rulers, were also identified with the trefoil, or Fleur de lis symbol.
Above in the upper left hand corner is a glyph from the pre-Conquest Maya Dresden Codex that depicts the Fleur de lis symbol in connection with the four cardinal directions. Above in the upper right hand corner is a close up scene from the Codex Selden, a pre-Conquest Mixtec manuscript from Highland Mexico, painted sometime around A. D. 1500. I believe the Mixtec artist intentionally encoded the Fleur de lis symbol emerging from the four branches of the World Tree, or Tree of Life as a symbolic reference of the four cardinal directions, and it's sacred center.
In Mesoamerican mythology, like in the Old World, the World tree, with its roots in the underworld and its branches in the heavens, represents the axis mundi or center of the world. The branches represent the four cardinal directions. The trunk of the World Tree which connects the two planes, was seen as a portal to the underworld. First-hand reports tell us that the Aztecs drank a mushroom beverage in order to induce hallucinatory trances and dreams (Wasson and Wasson, 1980:75 -178). The author proposes that Mesoamerican artists intentionally tagged a Fleur de lis symbol, to sacred objects associated with sacrifice, including drinking vessels that contained a ritual sacramental beverage.
Above on the left is a Late 3rd-early 2nd millennium BCE, stamp seal from the Bactria Margiana Archaeological Complex located in Central Asia, also known as Oxus Civilization, that thrived 2200 to 1700 BCE. This region played a major role in Central Asian history. The Bactria-Margiana Archaeological complex (B-M-C-A / Oxus civilization) comprises an area that includes present day Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. The seal above has been described as a figure holding snakes, however, the author proposes that this figure represents a shaman with god eye and horns, and that what has been identified as snakes surrounding the shaman are actually stylized mushrooms, encoded to esoterically depict the concept of divine ecstasy.
"Anthropologists invented the word "shamanism" to classify the least comprehensible practices of "primitive peoples". "The word shaman is originally Siberian. Its etymology is uncertain. In the Tungus language, a saman is a person who beats a drum, enters into trance, and cures people. The first Russian observers who related the activities of these samon described them as mentally ill".
"As the reader will undoubtedly have guessed, the wapaq of Koryak mythology is none other than the familiar fly-agaric (Amanita muscaria) the spectacular red-capped and white-flecked "toadstool" whose renown among Europeans has for so many centuries floated uncertainly between the realm of magic and transformation, on the one hand, and death from its allegedly fatal poison on the other. In reality, the fly-agaric is hallucinogenic rather than deadly, having served for thousands of years as the sacred inebriant of the shamanistic religions of the northern Eurasiatic forest belt, especially those of Siberian hunters and reindeer herders." (Furst, 1976 p.90)
The presence of petroglyphs with wheeled wagons and chariots suggest that the petroglyphs were carved sometime after the early 3rd millennium BCE., when wheeled wagons and chariots first appear, as evidence by the discovery of a four-wheel clay funerary chariot at Pazyryk. Unfortunately dating petroglyphs is problematic, there is no reliable scientific method currently for the direct dating of petroglyphs.
Altai Mountains in Siberia and Mongolia are also home to tens of thousands of
petroglyphs believed to have been carved by the ancestors of the Altai,
over a period of 12,000 years. The interpretation of these ancient petroglyphs by Russian authorities refer to the figures as, "tailed people who have semicircular formations on their heads". No mention of mushrooms at all.
The Altai Mountain petroglyphs may actually depict the earliest images of mushroom induced-warfare. Note that many of the archers depicted above have mushroom looking heads, and are clearly pointing weapons at each other (Archaeology and Landscape in the Altai Mountains of Mongolia, photo source mongolianalti.uoregon.edu). The Amanita muscaria mushroom contains toxins that reduce the body's response to fear stimulus, and was likely ingested by warriors prior to battle. Consuming the mushroom before battle most likely gave the raging combatant a sense of invincibility and courage, and strength to fight at the wildest levels. Gordon Wasson writes that the Amanita muscaria mushroom belongs to a different and superior order of inebriant, "that during this state the subject is often capable of extraordinary feats of physical effort, and enjoys performing them" (Furst, Hallucinogens and Culture, 1976 p.93). Studies have also proven that low doses of psilocybin mushrooms increase visual acuity, equivalent to "chemical binoculars" (Roland Fischer 1966, 1969, 1970).
"These unique plants in fact, may have played a significant role in human evolution, both physically, in offering selective advantages such as strength, endurance, and improved visual acuity, and due to their marked effects on cognition, which probably lent important stimulus to the emergence of the human capacity for abstract reasoning, symbolic thought, and language, as well as stimulating the religious capacities that distinguish our species" (Shamanism: Encyclopedia of World Beliefs, Practices, and Culture, Volume 1edited by Mariko Namba Walter, Eva Jane Neumann Fridman) (Dobkin de Rios 1984; Devereux 1997; McKenna 1992).
The Kalbak Tash petroglyphs above, depict hunting scenes of an ancient people, all of whom appear to have mushroom-shaped heads, and all of whom are portrayed carrying what appears to be a pouch at their waist. The oldest petroglyphs at Kalbak Tash (below) are believed to date from around 11,000 to 6,000 BCE. (photo source habit.ru Petroglifi_Kalbak_Tash_Prirodn…ovishche_pes_sverhu_(4472).jpg) (photograph of petroglyphs: mongolianaltai.uoregen.edu) (photograph of Pazirik shaman pouch).
In Siberia both the Chukchee and Yurak shamans report visions of mushroom men, who guide them in their mushroomic journeys. Similar mushroom spirits are recognized by the Khanty and other Siberian tribes. It's believed that the number of mushroom spirits one encounters depends on the number of mushrooms consumed. As a result, it has become practice among the Yurak shamans of Siberia to eat no more than two and a half mushrooms (Entheogins and the Devolpment of Culture 2013, Chapter 6, p.306).
One of the more interesting observation regarding the Kalbak Tash petroglyphs above, are that all the mushroom-headed figures carry what appear to be a sac or pouch. The shaman's pouch made from the stomach of various animals, may have been used to collect the urine of reindeer or those who consumed the fly agaric mushrooms.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, it was reported by travel writers, and natural scientists of the use of Amanita muscaria mushrooms among certain tribes in Siberia, and the curious practice of secondary intoxication with urine suffused with Amanita muscaria mushrooms (Furst, 1972 ix). Reindeer are common in Siberia and seek out the Amanita muscaria mushroom. We are told that reindeer have a pronounced liking for the urine of those who has consumed this hallucinogenic mushroom, and that some Siberian tribesmen carry skin-containers of their own collected urine, which the hunter then uses to attract the reindeer (Lee Sayer, Dec. 25, 2014).
Wasson writes that one "peculiar feature of the fly agaric is that its hallucinogenic properties pass into the urine, and another may drink this urine to enjoy the same effect". "This surprising trait of fly agaric inebriation is unique in the hallucinogenic world, so far as our present knowledge goes" (Furst 1976 p. 93)
In Siberia, the urine of those consuming fly agaric was highly prized, and that its has been reported that a Koryak tribesman would eagerly exchange a reindeer for a single fly agaric" (Michael Ripinsky-Naxon 1993, p.163).
"The koryaks have known since time immemorial that the urine of a person who has consumed fly-agaric has a stronger narcotic and intoxicating power than the fly-agaric itself and that this effect persists for a long time after consumption" (Georg Heinrich von Langsdorf, quoted in Wasson, 1968:249) (Furst 1976, p.91)
"Ethnographic documents about the Paleo-Asiatic peoples leads one to think that this urine could be preferable to the original substance because it is more powerful, according to some, or, according to others, because certain chemical compounds present in the mushroom, which cause unpleasant side effects, are eliminated in their passage through the body while the hallucinogenic alkaloid or alkaloids are preserved. Thus, the Siberians practiced two different modes of consumption: either of the mushroom itself or of the urine excreted by an intoxicated person".
"This effect goes the other way too, as reindeer also enjoy the urine of a human, especially one who has consumed the mushrooms. In fact, reindeer will seek out human urine to drink, and some tribesmen carry sealskin containers of their own collected piss, which they use to attract stray reindeer back into the herd (Lee Sayer, Dec. 25, 2014)
In Siberia the Amanita muscaria mushroom was often fed to a domesticated reindeer, and then the shaman most of whom were female shamans would then drink the reindeer's toxic urine to induce ecstatic trances and hallucinations. "Muscimol, the psychoactive element of Amanita muscaria, remains active in urine for up to seven re-ingestions (Jason Fitzgerald, Amanita muscaria and Cannabis Sativa, Keys to Christianity).
Ethno-archaeologist Peter Furst:
"It happens that not only Siberian shamans but their reindeer as well were involved with the sacred mushrooms. Several early writers on Siberian customs reported that reindeer shared with man a passion for the inebriating mushroom, and further, that at times the animals urgently sought out human urine, a peculiarity that greatly facilitated the work of the herders in rounding them up—and that might just possibly have assisted their reindeer-hunting ancestors in early efforts at domestication:. . these animals (reindeer) have frequently eaten that mushroom, which they like very much. Whereupon they have behaved like drunken animals, and then have fallen into a deep slumber. When the Koryak encounter an intoxicated reindeer, they tie his legs until the mushroom has lost its strength and effect. Then they kill the reindeer. If they kill the animal while it is drunk or asleep and eat of its flesh, then everybody who has tasted it becomes intoxicated as if he had eaten the actual fly agaric. (Georg Wilhelm Steller, 1774, in Wasson, 1968: 239-240)
According to Allen Piper:"Zoroastrian scriptures called the Avestas, record that haoma was made with the fat of the sacrificial bull and that the haoma ceremony was intimately connected with the sacrifice of a bull" (Allen Piper 2013 p.232 in the book, Entheogens and the Development of Culture).
"The use of psychoactive bulls flesh has been recorded among the Celts who are ultimately of Indo-European origin, and whose religious leaders, the Druids, have been repeatedly linked to the Brahmins, the priestly cast of the Vedas. Given that the Celts are an Indo-European people, it is not surprising that the Druids have been persistently linked with the Brahmins and Magi, by both ancient and by modern Indo-European scholars. Both Pliny and Hippolytus class the Druids and Magi together (Allen Piper 2013 p.245 in the book, Entheogens and the Development of Culture).
In both Siberia and Mesoamerica the divine mushroom speaks through the voice of the shaman (Wasson 1980, p.52). Siberian shamans have a tradition of dressing up like the Amanita muscaria mushroom in red suits with white spots (photograph above center of Tatina the Even shaman from Kamchatka who lived much of her life with the Koryak).
In Siberia, ceremonies of prayer and honor to divine spirits are arranged at places such as the World Tree. Trees symbolize the world center, where heaven and earth touch, the top of the World Tree, which is usually visualized as a birch or willow or the open smoke-hole of the yurt is the entry gate or portal for shamans on their journeys to the other world (source: Religion of the indigenous people of Siberia).
"The effects of the Amanita mushroom usually include sensations of size distortion and flying. The feeling of flying could account for the legends of flying reindeer, and legends of shamanic journeys included stories of winged reindeer, transporting their riders up to the highest branches of the World Tree" (Lee Sayer, Dec. 25, 2014) .
Some scholars even suggest that the legend of Santa Claus, a man in a red-and-white suit and pointy hat, and flying reindeer, may derive from shamans in Siberia, who dropped into local yurts through the smoke-hole (chimney) with a bag full of red-and-white mushrooms as presents for the winter solstice. This may also explain the practice during the winter season of bringing a pine tree indoors and hanging ornaments on it, and placing bright red-and-white presents underneath it, which look like Amanita mushrooms. The Amanita muscaria is classified as a poisonous mushroom, and this is likely the reason that shamans hang the fresh mushrooms on tree branches to dry out. If you dry the Amanita muscaria, most of the ibotenic acid decarboxylates (degrades) into muscimol, eliminating most of the harmful toxins before consumption (Fly Agaric: A Compendium of History, Pharmacology, Mythology, and Exploration 2020, p.64).
The Altai is a mountain range situated in the border land of Russia, China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. The Ural-Altaic languages are named after this region.
In ancient times prehistoric people selected sacred landmarks as sanctuaries for their religious cult. The rock formations in the Altai Mountains of Siberia, have been ironically named the giant Mushroom stones of Altai.
In Siberia, ceremonies to honor the spirits were arranged at especially powerful landscapes such as the giant Mushroom Stones of the Altai. The Altai Mountains in Siberia, are home to three distinct variety of ancient man, Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans. Denisovans are an extinct species of human that descended from hominids who reached Asia earlier than modern humans. Although remains of these early humans have only been discovered at one site in Siberia, DNA analysis has shown they were widespread.
"Based on ethnological and linguistic evidence, the Finno-Ugrian tribes (of the Uralic family of languages) which include the Hungarians, used the hallucinogenic mushroom, fly agaric, in proto-historic times, although some of them might have guarded the practice with profound secrecy" (Michael Ripinsky-Naxon 1993, p.147).
According to Wasson (1957):
"...that the same word for 'mushroom' is shared by the Indo-European peoples, the eastern Finnic peoples, the Paleo-Siberian tribes as far as the eastern tip of Siberia, and perhaps even the Eskimos and the Arabs. Do we not now discover the potent secret of the mushrooms that might explain the wide dissemination of a single pre-Indo-European word? For the cultural historian it becomes imperative that the surviving traces of the mushroom cult among the peripheral peoples of Siberia be minutely and sympathetically examined on the ground by anthropologists and linguists, and likewise the similar use of a mushroom in the interior of New Guinea."
The earliest illustrations of Baba Yaga, in association with mushrooms, primarily the Amanita muscaria mushroom, were painted by Nikolai Nikolaevich Karazin (1820-1908) in 1889, and by Yelena Polenova (1850-1898) in 1880, in the contents of certain folktales (Frank Dugan 2017, Baba Yaga and the Mushrooms).
History tells us that the Huns and Scythians, were a warlike people, famous for taking scalps, trophy heads, and drinking the blood of their victim's from human skulls in order to imbibe some of their wisdom and strength. Herodotus states that the Scythians (Herodotus, History, II, 4.75) marked their important occasions with drug-fueled rituals (Andrew Curry, Archaeology: June 13, 2016). Herodotus (5th century BCE) describes Scythian rituals of inhaling cannabis smoke among the Massageteans, another Eastern Iranian nomadic tribal confederation, who inhabited the steppes of Central Asia, north-east of the Caspian Sea in modern Turkmenistan, western Uzbekistan, and southern Kazakhstan. They were part of the wider Scythian cultures. Archaeological evidence of the use of cannabis is found among a number of Scythian burial sites at Pazyryk in the Altai Mountains of Siberia (Herodotus., Angus M. Bowie, 2007, Histories. Book VIII).
The Altai Mountain region in Central Asia is regarded as the ancient homeland of the Hungarians (Huns and Magyars), Mongolians, Turks, and Koreans. The Huns were a confederation of Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic people from the Altai Mountain region the area that founded the great Gorturk Empire, a confederation of tribes under the dynasty of Khans.
The word "Kaan", in Hungarian alludes to a great, hidden, all-powerful "Sky-God" associated with snakes lightning and rain (Sabas Whittaker 2003, p.133). In the language of the ancient Maya, the word kan or Kaan means both serpent and sky, and lightning, alluding to a serpent-sky-portal or divine path at the World Tree, that the gods and ancestral dead travel in their journey in and out of the underworld.
The trefoil symbol or Fleur de lis appears in the ancient art of the Americas at approximately the same time in history as the rise of the ancient Olmecs (1200 B.C. to 400 B.C.). The author proposes that the Fleur de lis symbol along with other Aryan (Scythian) traits migrates from Central Asia to the Americas, along with a hallucinogenic mushroom cult (Soma / Haoma) that still survives to this day among certain tribes like the Zapotec, Chinantec, and Mazatec Indians of Mexico (S.F de Borhegyi,1961, 498-504).
Hunnic (Magyar) diadems (Scythian) were made out of bronze plaques and then plated with gold. Note the similarity of the Hunnic diadem of Central Asia with the Olmec and Epi-Olmec diadems of Central America. The people of Mexico ascribe their primitive population to a "horde" from a remote country to the northwest, who brought with them a system of Mysteries which they applied to the purpose of Religious worship (Dr. R. Swinburne Clymer, "Ancient Mystic Oriental Masonry": 1907 p.29)
In Siberia the Amanita muscaria mushroom or fly agaric grows in a symbiotic relationship with the birch and pine tree, which gave rise to the World Tree within the cosmology of several Siberian tribes, and that an eagle is described as perched in the tree, while a serpent dwells at its base, a myth that is paralleled in both the Old World and New World (Kevin Feeney ch. 6, 2013 p.302) (Wasson 1968, p.214).
Ethno-mycologist Bernard Lowy, proposed that the "diving gods" depicted in the Maya Dresden Codex, were portrayed as under the influence of psychotropic mushrooms (LOWY BERNARD, 1981, Were Mushroom Stones Potter’s Molds?, Revista/Review Interamericana, vol. 11, pp. 231-237.)
According to Bernard Lowy:
"Maya codices has revealed that the Maya and their contemporaries knew and utilized psychotropic mushrooms in the course of their magico-religious ceremonial observances" (Lowy:1981) .
In her book, The Ancient Past of Mexico, 1966, p. 13, Alma M. Reed writes that a member of the Chinese National Assembly holds that a Chinese monk named Fa Hsien landed in Mexico in A.D. 412, and that he became the Toltec culture hero Quetzalcoatl, symbolized by the "plumed serpent". The Toltecs being a marauding tribe from the north of Nahua-speaking stock. Reed mentions (page 27) that the identity of the Toltecs poses one of the most confusing problems in the legendary and documented history of Mexico. She writes that...
"the fierce warrior, the Toltec god-king Mixcoatl, who has been called the "New World Genghis Khan" and who was deified by his own people, the Toltec hordes appeared with the suddenness of a cyclone, which the word "Mixcoatl" signifies". After burning and sacking Teotihuacan the energetic chieftain moved on, seeking a favorable site, finally settling on the southern shore of Lake Texcoco at Culhuacan ("The Place of the Turning" or "The Place of the Bent Ancient Ones"). According to the Anales de Cuauhtitlan he later moved the seat of the Toltec empire to Tula"(The Ancient Past of Mexico, 1966, p.27-28).
One of the theories about the ancient Hungarian religion is that it was a form of Tengrism, a shamanic religion in Central Asia common among the early Turkic and Mongolian people, that was influenced by Zoroastrianism from the Persians whom the Hungarians had encountered during their westward migration. The Huns and Magyars are known to be from the regions neighboring Persia, the land known as Scythia.
In Hinduism Mt. Kailash (above) which looks like an enormous pyramid, is considered to be a gateway to Heaven, and is recognized as the abode of Shiva who resided there along with his consort goddess Parvati and his children. In Buddhism Mount Kailash (Kailasa) is known as Mount Meru in Buddhist texts. It is central to its cosmology, and a major pilgrimage site for thousands of years. Many famous Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu temples have been built as symbolic representations of this mountain. The photograph above is of the Pyramid of the Sun, at the ruins of Teotihuacan in Highland Mexico, the third largest pyramid in the world (Mt. Kailash photo from, Wikipeda) (Teotihuacan photo Foto IG:@kukulcan9).
In Bon, a religion native to Tibet, Mount Kailash is called "nine-story Swastika Mountain", and represents the navel of the universe, the axis mundi. There is a Nahua legend in ancient Mexico of a paradise of "nine heavens" that was dedicated to their god Quetzalcoatl, called Tamoanchan where there was a sacred tree that marked the place where the gods were born and where sacred mushrooms and all life derived. "In Tamoanchan...On the flowery carpet...There are perfect flowers...There are rootless flowers" (Hugh Thomas 1993, p.474) (Wasson 1980 p.92)
Like the Soma beverage of the ancient Aryans, it has long been established that Haoma was also a psychoactive beverage of the ancient Persians (Entheogens and the Development of Culture: Bennett and McQueen 2013, p.64). The Kalash people from the mountains of the Hindu Kush, are thought to be the descendants of the Central Asian peoples that called themselves Aryani, that migrated from Central Asia to the Iranian plateau around 2,000 BC. Those who settled in the Iranian plateau recorded their use of Haoma in the Zoroastrian scriptures called the Avestas, and those who settled in the Indus Valley, recorded the use of Soma in the Rig Veda (Allen Piper 2013, p. 214 in Entheogens and the Development of Culture).
Above is a silver drinking vessel dating from 3000 to 2000 B.C. Elam - Ancient Iran. Note that the Elamite drinking vessel depicts what appears to be Siberian mythology that likely diffused to the Iranian plateau from Central Asia, of reindeers and the Tree of Life.
Haoma was regarded by Zoroaster as the son of the creator god Ahura Mazda, who was believed to be the incarnate of that sacred plant that was pounded and pressed to death in order to squeeze out it's life giving juices so that those who consumed the Haoma might be given immortality (Donald E. Teeter, 2005 p.8). This sacred drink may have been served in a drinking vessel known as the "Cup of Jamshid" which in Persian mythology was said to be filled with an elixir of immortality.
It's believed that the ancestors of the Indo-Scythians are thought to be Sakas, who ruled in Central Asia, and who were originally from southern Siberia. We now know that the Turkic Saka people (Scythians) or Yakuts of the Verkhoyansk area of Siberia still prepare a ritual drink from the caps of the Amanita muscaria mushroom for ceremonies performed by shamans (Gerrit J. Keizer 2013, p.163) ( Keizer 1997). In the Zoroastrian ritual of Yasna the Haoma plant was pounded in a mortar partly filled with water and then its juice squeezed into a cup to be drank by a Zoroastrian priest" (source and excerpt from Europa Barbarorum Wiki). The Scythians-Saka are believed to have migrated from southern Siberia into the Indian subcontinent where they were known as Indo-Scythians.
The Amyrgians, were a subset of Indo-Scythian Sakas, called Saka-haumavarga, the so-called "Haoma-drinking Sakas", that inhabited the region then called "Sakastan", near the border of the Persian Empire, centered on the Amyrgian plain (Ferghana) well to the east of most of the Sakas tribes: The Saka Haumavarga along with the Saka Tigrakhauda, are the two Saka nations or peoples most consistently mentioned as part of the Persian Empire. The literature suggests that Hauma-varga describes a defining trait of this Saka group. It is taken to mean that this Saka-Haumavarga-Scythians practiced haoma-drinking ( K. E. Eduljee, Zoroastrian Heritage). The "Saka-Haomavarga" or "Haoma-drinking/Haoma-consuming Saka", were an elite Persian military forces, known as the "haoma wolves" whose battle fury, like that of the Viking Berserkers was induced by the ingestion of Amanita muscaria mushrooms (Carl A. P. Ruck 2013 p.368).
Interestingly, the best-known Saka was Siddhartha Gautama, the man who became Buddha. He was the son of King Suddhodana Gautama, and Queen Maya. Siddhartha, who man who became known as Guatama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. He was known among his own people as Shakyamuni, "the sage of the Shakya Tribe", the son of Suddhodana the chosen leader of the Śākya Gaṇarājya (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Shakya)
Gautama Buddha was also called Sakyasinha "the Lion of the Sakya Tribe", and Guatama was the name of the royal family of the Saka kingdom. The Kalachakra are the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni, passed down from the original seven Dharmarajas of the legendary kingdom of Shambhala, The first notable king of Shambhala, King Suchandra (c. 900 to 876 BC.E) is reported to have requested teaching from the Buddha. Note: "the Kalachakra calculations put the life of Shakyamuni Buddha quite a bit earlier than what is generally accepted" (Wikipeda).
According to the legend, Shambhala is a Utopian paradise located in a beautiful valley, lost in the mountains. It is believed to be a kingdom where all the inhabitants are enlightened, and that Shambhala can only be found by those who are pure in heart. The first mention of Shambhala is found in the Ancient Indian epos Mahabharata, however Shambhala isn't the name of a country there, but of a small Vedic village, where according to the prophecy Vishnu's future manifestation will be born: (Vostok Magazine 9-20-2014)
The legends of Shambhala are said to date back thousands of years, and that the Buddhist myth of Shambhala is an adaptation of the earlier Hindu myth. Hindu texts such as Vishnu Purana mention Shambhala as the birth place of Kalki, the final incarnation of Vishnu who will usher in a new Golden Age. According to Buddhist legend, Kalapa is the capital city of Shambhala, where the thirty-two Kulika Kings are said to have reigned on a lion throne.
The Prophecy of Shambhala:
"The concept of Shambhala plays an important role in Tibetan religious teachings, and has particular relevance in Tibetan mythology about the future. The Kalachakra prophesies the gradual deterioration of mankind as the ideology of materialism spreads over the earth. When the “barbarians” who follow this ideology are united under an evil king and think there is nothing left to conquer, the mists will lift to reveal the snowy mountains of Shambhala. The barbarians will attack Shambhala with a huge army equipped with terrible weapons. Then the king of Shambhala will emerge from Shambhala with a huge army to vanquish "dark forces" and usher in a worldwide Golden Age" (source, http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-asia/mysteries-kingdom-shambhala-0015295 April, 2014)
One of the first documents regarding the Huns’ adoption of Buddhism is a biography of the Buddhist priest Fo-t’u-teng who visited Later Chao Dynasty ruler Shih-Lo in 310 (Eberhard, 1965, 126-127) (Eberhard, 1977, 134-137).
"Now if, as seems likely, the Chinese once worshiped an hallucinogenic mushroom and employed it in religious ritual and medicine, and if some of their sages reached the New World, by accident or design, they could of course have introduced some of their own advanced pharmacological knowledge, or at least the idea of sacred mushrooms, to the ancient Mexicans. The same would apply to early India, whose calendrical system, like that of China, bears a perplexing resemblance to its pre-Hispanic Mexican counterpart" (Furst, 1976 p.104).
"The Seal of Sedda depiction of a Sramana (Persepolis Seal PFS 79), a Lion-Sun shaman, is based on information gathered from a number of other seals the name refers to Sedda Arta (Siddhartha), i.e., Siddha (Liberator of) and Arta (Universal Truth)".
"The king stands with his arm raised and his foot on Gaumata; behind him are his generals or satraps. Before him, roped one to another, come the recalcitrant chiefs in the following order: Atrina, the first Susian pretender; Nidintu-Bel, of Babylon; Fravartish (Phraortes), of Media; Martiza, the second Susian pretender; Citrantakhma, of Sagartia; Vahyazdata, the second pseudo-Smerdis; Arakha, the second Babylonian pretender; Frada, of Margiana; and subsequently, at the cost of destroying part of the Susian inscription, Skunkha, the Scythian, in his high peaked hat was added".
"This is Gaumâta, the Magian. He lied, saying "I am Smerdis, the son of Cyrus, I am king"
"King Darius says: Afterwards with an army I went off to Scythia, after the Scythians who wear the pointed cap. These Scythians went from me. When I arrived at the river, I crossed beyond it with all my army. Afterwards, I smote the Scythians exceedingly; [one of their leaders] I took captive; he was led bound to me, and I killed him. [Another] chief of them, by name Skunkha, they seized and led to me. Then I made another their chief, as was my desire. Then the province became mine (Behistun Inscription)"
Quoting Carl A. P. Ruck Professor of Classics at Boston University:
"Mithraism [Magi priests] was the way that Zoroastrian monotheism spread the mushroom haoma sacrament of the Persians into Europe as an element in the sevenfold stages of its secret drug-induced initiation" (Ruck 2013, p.367)
It's worth mentioning again that a common depiction of enlightenment is a glowing halo, also known as a nimbus. The halo has been used in the iconography of many Old World religions to indicate holy or sacred figures.
For reasons that may never be known, the ceremonial use of Amanita muscaria mushrooms and the drinking of Soma, was later replaced in Vedic and Hindu rituals, and Soma's true identity became a mystery. In the Persian sacred texts called the Zend-Avesta, the bible of the Zoroastrians, there is a passage in which Zoroaster asks, when will the practitioners get rid of the "urine of drunkenness" that the priests have been using to delude the people (Clark Heinrich 2002, p.20).
Quoting Jenny Rose, author of Zoroastrianism: An Introduction 2011,
"The Gathas do not mention the plant haoma, although the epithet duraosha, which is used exclusively of haoma in the Young Avesta, is referred to in conjuction with usage by corrupt kavis. This, and another obscue reference to intoxication, has led many to assume that the practice of using haoma was castigated altogether. But in the later Avesta, haoma is recognized as an integral part of the liturgical and mythical schema, receiving many positive epithets, and identified as an element praised by Zarathushtra [Zoroaster]. As many scholars have pointed out, it is curious that followers of the Gathic teachings would retain, or reintroduce, a practice into the liturgy that was so obviously criticized in the Gathas, while the Gathas themselves formed the core of that liturgy (Rose 2011, p.15)
It is generally believed that the peopling of the Americas was, for the most part, accomplished by paleolithic man via the Bering Strait. That humans arrived 13,000-18,000 years ago and were associated with the Clovis culture, as evidence by the distinctive stone spear point (Clovis point) they left behind. The petroglyphs found in the Chukotka region of Northeastern Siberia (photograph above) were studied by N. N. Dikov 1971 (The Russian text of Naskal'nye Zagadki Drenei Chukotki (Petroglify Pagtymelia)1971) and later by Mycologist Giorgio Samorini (2001) The petroglyphs from the Chukotka region of Northeastern Siberia depict what appear to be mushroom-headed people as well as a sea vessel that suggests that paleo-Indians could have skirted the coast of the Pacific Ocean, into the New World.
Most of Mesoamerica shared the same calendar. Above are the Maya, Zapotec, and Aztec calendars all of which have the same cycle of 20 day names. Each day has a glyph to represent it, and the last glyph in the Maya Calendar at the bottom right is Ajaw (also spelled Ahau) a symbol that means god or "Lord", and is the counterpart for the central Mexican day sign in the Aztec Calendar for "flower" (Xochitl). Above are the names for the 20 day signs in both the Aztec and Zapotec calendars, note that the last day representing the number 20, is a symbol identical in shape and meaning to the Old World Fleur de lis symbol. The flower-symbol xochitl representing the number 20 in the Aztec Calendar is really a New World version of the Old World Fleur de lis symbol, representing divinity, god or "Lord". The Zapotec glyph representing the number 20, in the Zapotec Calendar encodes a trefoil symbol into the rulers headdress, appearing very much like an Old World Fleur de lis symbol tagged to the crown of a king or pope as divine.
Above is a Zapotec urn from (Tomb 7) Monte Alban, in Oaxaca Mexico. The urn portrays a ruler or deity with facial features that appear remarkably similar to those found in the cultures of Asia. Note that the ruler or deity portrayed on the urn is crowned with a symbol of rulership that I believe demonstrates a New World version of the Old World Fleur de Lis symbol. (photograph of Zapotec urn from http://roadslesstraveled.us/monte-alban/)
The word, xochinanacatl, meaning "flower mushroom " xochitl meaning flower and nanacatl meaning mushroom, is recorded in Fray Alonzo de Molina's lexicon of the Nahuatl language, the language of the Aztecs, published in 1571.
In both the Old World and New World, the Fleur de lis symbol is associated with divine rulership, linked to mythological deities in the guise of a serpent, feline, and bird, associated with a Tree of Life, it's forbidden fruit, and a trinity of creator gods.
The belief in a "World Tree" or "Tree of Life" that interconnects the upper world with the underworld, is a belief in both the Old World and New World but that has it's origin in the Old World. Above is a page from the Codex Borgia, one of the few remaining pre-Conquest codices. These pictorial documents contain much valuable information pertaining to native history, mythology, and ritual, related to a pantheon of supernatural gods. Unfortunately, due to Spanish intolerance of indigenous religious beliefs, only eighteen pre-Conquest books attributed to the people of Highland Mexico have survived to the present day. The painting from the Codex Borgia depicts the World Tree", or "Tree of Life" emerging from the body of a death god in the underworld, (life from death). Perched atop the spectacular tree with its branches encoded with the Fleur de lis symbol is a harpy eagle, a symbol of the Morning Star and the new born Sun, and the avatar of the god-king Quetzalcoatl. (http://americaindigena.com/sacred16.htm).
Above is a scene from the Codex Bodley, a Mixtec manuscript from Highland Mexico, painted sometime around A. D. 1500. It's the author's belief that the artist intentionally encoded a Fleur de lis symbol, tagged to a sacred mushroom, as a symbol of god.
Above on the right is a page from the Codex Mendoza, an Aztec manuscript created just after the Spanish Conquest, that shows the tribute collected by Aztec civil servants from the province of Tochtepec. A closeup of the vessel reveals two probable psilocybin mushrooms esoterically emerging (tagged as divine) from what the author believes is a New World version of the Old World Fleur de lis symbol.
In Mesoamerica as in the Old World, the Amanita muscaria mushroom is later replaced in the Soma ritual by several different species of psilocybin mushrooms, in the areas where the Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherina mushrooms (also intoxicating) are not available or not abundant, unlike the psilocybin mushroom which are found in abundance throughout Mesoamerica, as reported by Fray Sahagun in the sixteenth-century. The Psilocybe mushroom contains the substance psilocin and psilocybin that causes the mushroom hallucination that was described as "consciousness-expanding" during the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. The psilocybin mushroom is indigenous to the sub-tropical regions of the U.S, Mexico, and Central America.
The story of creation and destruction, death and rebirth appears frequently in pre-Columbian art. When we look at pre-Columbian art and see images that celebrate death, we must keep in mind that death to all Mesoamericans was just a prelude to rebirth--a portal to divine immortality. In the minds of the Indians these rituals represented the highest praise one could spiritually devote in honor of the gods who made water plentiful, and food possible.
Above are scenes from the Florentine Codex (Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva España), by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, between A.D. 1547-1582. Both of the pages depict what looks like the eating of sacred mushrooms before their ritual decapitation. The codex page on the right depicts what appears to be the smiling faces of willing sacrificial victims, prior to their ritual decapitation. Note that the sacrificial victims have turned their capes around to be used as the bibs and bundles for their severed heads.
Above is a Late Classic (600-9000 C.E) Maya vase painting, No. K5390, photographed by Justin Kerr. The drinking vessel esoterically depicts, what the author proposes is likely a scene of deity impersonation, taking place in the Maya Underworld. The figure on the far left holding both a spear and shield, wears the trademark headdress of the Maya deity known as God L. In Maya cosmology the planet Venus was believed to be the sun from the previous world age. In Late Classic times God L represented the Lord of the Underworld, and that before this world was destroyed it was ruled by God L. In front of God L, is a ballplayer, or ruler, or captive of war, portrayed in jaguar attire, on his knees excepting what appears to the author to be a Amanita muscaria mushroom in one hand, encoded in the shape of the Fleur de lis, and what appears to be an upside down trophy head on a staff in the other hand.
Late Classic period (A.D. 600-900) Maya polychrome drinking vessels, depicting a familiar symbol the author proposes is a New World version of the Old World Fleur de lis symbol.
Above on the left is a closeup scene from the pre-Conquest manuscript known as the Codex Laud, and above on the right is another closeup scene from the pre-Conquest Codex Borgia. Both manuscripts depict a scene of self sacrifice and a ritual drink tagged with a Fleur de lis symbol.
Above are all images from pre-Hispanic and Colonial period manuscripts, that the author believes encodes a stylized Fleur de lis symbol by the artist, as a way to esoterically tag the ritual of sacrifice and the sacred beverage as holy and divine.
The eating of mushrooms according to Fray Sahagun took place in the earlier part of the evening, and the mushroom eaters did not at least then eat food. At midnight a feast followed, and toward dawn the various offerings to the gods, or the remains of them, were ceremonially buried. Spanish chronicler Fray Bernardino de Sahagun, also reported that mushrooms were eaten on the occasion of the accession of the famous Aztec King Moctezuma II to the throne, in the year 1502.
Quoting Fray Bernardino de Sahagun:
“For four days there was feasting and celebration and then on the fourth day came the coronation of Montezuma II, followed by human sacrifices in numbers."
"At the very first, mushrooms had been served. They ate them at the time when the shell trumpets were blown. They ate no more food; they only drank chocolate during the night, and they ate the mushrooms with honey. But some, while still in command of their senses, entered and sat there by the house on their seats; they danced no more, but only sat there nodding. One saw in vision that already he would die, and then continued weeping, one saw that he would die in battle; one saw in vision that he would be eaten by wild beasts; one saw in vision that he would take captives in war; one saw in vision that he would be rich, wealthy; one saw in vision that he would buy slaves, he would be a slave owner; one saw in vision that he would commit adultery, he would be struck by stones, he would be stone; one saw in vision that he would steal, he would also be stone and saw in vision that his head would be crushed by stones-they would condemn him; one saw in vision that he would perish in the water; one saw in vision that he would live in peace, and tranquility, until he died; one saw in vision that he would fall from a roof top, and he would fall to his death; however many things were to befall one, he then saw all in vision: even that he would be drowned. And when the effects of the mushrooms had left them they consulted among themselves and told one another what they had seen in vision. And they saw in vision, what would befall those who had eaten no mushrooms, and what they went about doing. Some were perhaps thieves, some perhaps committed adultery. Howsoever many things there were all were told-that one would take captives, one would become a seasoned warrior, a leader of youths, one would die in battle, become rich, buy slaves, provide banquets, ceremonially bathe slaves, commit adultery, be strangled, perish in water, drown. Whatsoever was to befall one, they then saw all in vision. Perhaps he would go to his death in Anauac (Florentine Codex, Dibble & Anderson, Bk 9 pp.38-39).
Above on the left are three illustrations from Book IV in the Florentine Codex, compiled by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (1499–1590) that depicts a sequence of rituals beginning with what may be the mushroom ritual, leading next to ritual heart sacrifice, and ending with ritual cannibalism. It was believed that cannibalism and drinking the blood of their victim's was necessary in order to imbibe some of their wisdom and strength.
Sahagún describes the sacrifice and feast in relation to the festivals of Xipe Tótec, the god of spring and regeneration, and of Huitzilopochtli, the god of war and of the sun (folio 268r). It's my belief that in the first illustration the artist portrays the sacrificial victim with dangling eye-balls, represents the trance one is under on divine mushrooms. Most, if not all, of this information comes from post-Conquest codices. These hand-drawn pictorial documents produced by local Indian artists on fan-folded pages of bark paper or parchment contained much valuable information pertaining to native history, mythology, and ritual.
One aspect of Siberian mushroom intoxication, that was reported in the earliest sources, was that one of the interesting feature of the Amanita muscaria mushroom is that its hallucinogenic properties pass into the urine, and another may drink this urine to enjoy the same hallucinogenic effect. That it is safer to drink the urine of one who has consumed the mushrooms, because many of the toxic compounds are processed and eliminated on the first pass through the body, thus, another person may drink this urine to enjoy the same intoxicating effect (Michael Ripinsky-Naxon 1993, p.147).
"People generally claim that the effects of the mushroom poison becomes more intense and more beautiful when it has already passed through another organism. Thus an intoxicated man will often be followed by someone else who wants to collect his urine, which is supposed to posses this effect to a particularly high degree) (Wasson 1968: 257).
" Because of their nature we could almost affirm that they [the Aztecs] are Jews and Hebrew people, and I believe that I would not be committing a great error if I were to state this fact, considering their way of life, their ceremonies, their rites and superstitions, their omens, and false dealings, so related to and characteristic of those of the Jews" (Duran 1964 The Aztecs: p.3).
Duran writes that the Indians were ignorant of their origins and beginnings, but they have traditions regarding a long and tedious journey, and that they were led by a great man who gathered a multitude of his followers and persuaded them to flee from persecution to a land where they could live in peace. This great leader was said to have gone to the seashore with his followers, and fleeing his enemies, he parted the sea with a rod that he carried in his hand, and his followers went through the opening. The pursuing enemies seeing this opening of water followed them in only to have the waters return to their place, and the pursuers were never heard from again (Duran The Aztecs, 1964, p.149). Duran writes...
“I am convinced, and wish to convince others, that those who tell this account heard it from their ancestors; and these natives belong, in my opinion, to the lineage of the chosen people of God for whom He worked great marvels. And so the knowledge and the paintings of the things of the Bible and its mysteries have passed from father to son. The people attribute them to this land and say that they took place here, for they are ignorant of their own beginnings" (Duran The Aztecs, 1964, p.5).
The Book of Mormon tells of an Ancient Hebrew People who came to America, leaving Jerusalem around 650 BCE. Like the Hebrews, the Aztecs considered themselves to be a "chosen people", and like the Aztecs, suffered plagues and wondered in the desert for many years before reaching their so called promised land.
John Taylor who was the third president of the Mormon church from 1880 through 1887, wrote the following statement... (from Jerry Stokes, Did Jesus Christ walk the Americas in Precolumbian Times ?)
"The story of the life of the Mexican divinity, Quetzalcoatl, closely resembles that of the savior; so closely, indeed, that we can come to no other conclusion than that Quetzalcoatl and Christ are the same being"
Duran writes that the Christianization of the Aztecs would remain arduous, and that the "heathen" religion of the Aztecs, and "the whole of their culture is impregnated with the old values." Duran mentions that his writings would most likely go unpublished claiming, “some persons (and they are not a few) say that my work will revive ancient customs and rites among the Indians”, and “that the Indians were quite good at secretly preserving their customs”.
Duran tells us that the Catholic Church, in its zeal to obliterate all aspects of native culture which could threaten Christian religious belief, ordered the destruction of all native documents pertaining to history, myth, and legend. The Church also banished all aspects of native religion in favor of Christianity, and made no attempt to study or further record mushroom rituals.
Not surprising, Duran’s writings were locked away and were more or less unknown to scholars until the 19th century, when it was discovered in the Madrid Library by José Fernando Ramírez. In 1848 Charles Etienne Brasseur de Bourbourg an ordained priest, came to the Americas in search of rare manuscripts and religious artifacts and while visiting Mexico City, Bourbourg obtained permission to have the Church archives opened to him, where he discovered a copy of Fray Diego Duran’s, Histories of New Spain.
Bishop Bartolome de Las Casas also believed the Aztecs were descendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel. Trying to prove Las Casas's theory, Lord Kingsborough, (1831-48) spent years and a fortune in the publication of his colossal work Antiquities of Mexico (Miguel Covarrubias, 1954 p.10). In a manuscript written in Quiche in 1554 by several Maya Indians, its Spanish translator, Padre Dionisio-Jose Chonay, had this to say:
"It is supposed in the manuscript that the three great Quiche nations mentioned in particular are descendants of the Ten Tribes of the Kingdom of Israel, whom Shalmaneser reduced to perpetual captivity, and who, finding themselves in the confines of Assyria, decided to emigrate."
Most Book of Mormon scholars propose that Olmec culture relates to the Jaredite culture, referring to customs and traditions of those in and about Jerusalem and Egypt (Diane Wirth 2007)
Quoting Diane E. Wirth author of Why “Three” is Important in Mesoamerica and in the Book of Mormon © 2012)
"The Popol Vuh of the Quiché Maya speaks of three creator gods, and many Mesoamerican sites had a triad of gods. Each polity had a different set of names for their three deities. Some speculate that is why Christianity was accepted so readily by the natives. After the Spanish Conquest, a Spanish priest by the name of Francisco Hernandez studied the natives and concluded the Indians already believed in the Trinity. He sent a letter to Bartolome de las Casas, a Bishop of Chiapas in the mid 1500’s, and las Casas reported what Hernandez wrote":
"They knew and believed in God who was in heaven; that that God was the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. That the Father is called by them Icona [Içona in the Spanish text] and that he had created man and all things. The Son’s name was Bakab who was born from a maiden who had ever remained a virgin, whose name was Chibirias, and who is in heaven with God. The Holy Ghost they called Echuac ".
Quoting Diane E. Wirth, author of Parallels: Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon 2004
"One of the theories of our time in the field of archaeology and anthropology is the theory of diffusion, which happens to be an unpopular theory except for Latter-day Saints and several small research groups. But this theory is gaining support among several scholars from universities. Most prefer to believe that the Old and New Worlds developed in isolation, and any similarities between them are merely coincidental. They believe that people came from Siberia through the Bering Strait and filtered down through the Americas. But when we talk about diffusion and of world races, we speak of a scattering of races, a circulation of peoples over the continents and an expansion of cultural traits. It is the opinion of those who support the theory of diffusion that ancient people came to the Americas not only across the Bering Strait from Asia but also by way of the sea, from both the east and the west. This theory will take time to grow and develop, and it is getting stronger every year."
According to researcher Diane E. Wirth, 2002, in her book titled, Quetzalcoatl, the Maya Maize God, and Jesus Christ; she writes that "Many scholars suggest that Quetzalcoatl of Mesoamerica, the Maya Maize God, and Jesus Christ could all be the same being." Wirth writes that several stories in the native chronicles like the Popol Vuh, coincide with stories of the savior Jesus Christ in the Bible, such as the creation and the resurrection. She demonstrates that the role that both Quetzalcoatl and the Maya Maize God played in bringing maize to humankind is comparable to Christ's role in bringing the bread of life to humankind. Wirth draws attention to certain similarities in post-Spanish conquest manuscripts for example that Quetzalcoatl was the Creator, that he was born of a virgin, and that he was a god of air and earth (in his manifestation as the Feathered Serpent) that he was white and bearded, and that he came from heaven and was associated with the planet Venus. She mentions that Quetzalcoatl raised the dead, and that he promised to return again.
In the chronology of the Anales de Cuauhtitlan the Historia tolteca; In the year cinco casa (five house --A.D. 873) the Toltecs elected Quetzalcoatl as priest-king of Tula.
A Mysterious Toltec Book:
"A piece of Nahua literature, the disappearance of which is surrounded by circumstances of the deepest mystery, is the Teo-Amoxtli (Divine Book), which is alleged by certain chroniclers to have been the work of the ancient Toltecs. Ixtlilxochitl, a native Mexican author, states that it was written by a Tezcucan wise man, one Huematzin, about the end of the seventh century, and that it described the pilgrimage of the Nahua from Asia, their laws, manners, and customs, and their religious tenets, science, and arts. In 1838 the Baron de Waldeck stated in his Voyage Pittoresque that he had it in his possession, and the Abbé Brasseur de Bourbourg identified it with the Maya Dresden Codex and other native manuscripts. Bustamante also states that the amamatini (chroniclers) of Tezcuco had a copy in their possession at the time of the taking of their city. But these appear to be mere surmises, and if the Teo-Amoxtli ever existed, which on the whole is not unlikely, it has probably never been seen by a European."(THE MYTHS OF MEXICO & PERU, 1995, BY LEWIS SPENCE)
Above on the left is a Post-Conquest image from Sahagun's Florentine Codex, of Lord Quetzalcoatl, painted by a native artist, that portrays Quetzalcoatl as High Priest holding a scepter almost identical to a 13th century Bishop's staff.
In Mesoamerica, as in the Old World, the royal line of the king was considered to be of divine origin. As the God-king ruling at Tula, Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl sacrificed himself by throwing himself into a fire in order to purify his people. He rose again from the stake as the brilliant star Venus, having promised that he would one day return as a person, and liberate his adherence and start a new era. The attraction of Lord Quetzalcoatl as a savior who burned himself as an act of penitence, grew in time to such an extent that all later priest-kings took his name and claimed to be his incarnation or vicar. ("Master Works of Mexican Art" 1963, p.210).
The Return of Quetzalcoatl:
How the Symbol of the Fleur de Lis Changed the Course of New World History
The purpose of this chapter is to present previously unrecognized aspects of pre-Columbian art and iconography that shines a new light on a central riddle of New World history: how it was possible in 1519 for a small band of 450 Spanish conquistadors under the command of Hernán Cortés to conquer the vast and powerful Aztec empire. As I discovered, the answer to this riddle appears to lie in a surprising confluence of religious ideas recognized in both the Old and New World and symbolized by the trefoil design we know as the Fleur de lis. In both hemispheres the Fleur de lis symbol is associated with divine rulership, linked to mythological deities in the guise of a serpent, feline, and bird, associated with a Tree of Life, it's forbidden fruit, and a trinity of creator gods.
In Mesoamerica the trefoil symbol signified nothing less than the divine symbol of the Toltec-Aztec god-king Quetzalcoatl, who is described in post-Conquest literature as being of fair skin, with long hair and a black beard (Mexico, 1994, M.D. Coe p.123). In Mesoamerica, as in the Old World, the royal line of the king was considered to be of divine origin, linked to the Tree of Life. Descendants of the Mesoamerican god-king Quetzalcoatl, and thus all Mesoamerican kings or rulers, were also identified with the trefoil, or Fleur de lis symbol.
Portrait of Hernando Cortés 1529, dressed in all black attire, and holding his shield emblazoned with three Fleur de lis symbols. (Weiditz Trachtenbuch)
The Fleur de lis, a millennials-old symbol in the Old World of power and divinity, was commonly emblazoned on the helmets, clothing, banners and shields of the conquistadors.
Above on the left is the famous 16th century banner of the Virgin Mary that was carried by Cortés in his triumphant entry into the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, wearing a crown emblazoned with the Fleur de Lis symbol. The banner of the Virgin Mary with Fleur de lis symbols now resides in the Natural History Museum, Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City. Above on the right is the Flag of the Spanish conquistadors, with the crown of Castile upon a red flag, as used by the conquistadors Hernán Cortés, Francisco Pizarro, and others.
Here is Bernal Diaz' first-hand account of that fateful meeting of Cortés and the Aztec emperor Motecusuma :
"One of our men had on a casque, (a conquistador helmet) which was partly gilt.... Teuthlille, [general of the Mexican empire, also spelled Teudile] who was much more enlightened than any of his companions, remarked, when his eye fell upon it, that it bore a great resemblance to a casque which belonged to their most ancient forefathers, and now adorned the head of their warrior-god Huitzilopochtli. Motecusuma, he further added, would certainly be uncommonly pleased if he could likewise see this casque".
"Cortés, on hearing this, ordered the casque to be presented to him, thereby expressing the wish, that he should like to satisfy himself that the gold of this country was similar to what we find in our rivers. If they would send him the casque full of gold dust, he would send it to our great emperor. Upon this Teuthlille took leave of Cortés and all of us, promising to return speedily, while Cortés, under the most tender of embraces, made him every profession of friendship".
"After this personage had taken his departure, we learnt that he was not merely a distinguished statesman, but also the most nimble pedestrian at Motecusuma's court. He did, indeed, use the utmost expedition to bring his monarch information, and hand over to him the paintings and presents. The great Motecusuma was vastly astonished at everything he heard and saw, and yet he was pleased. But, when at last he espied the casque, and compared it with that of the idol Huitzilopochtli, he no longer doubted for an instant that we belonged to that people, whom his forefathers had prophesied would, one time or other, come and subdue the country". (source....The Memoirs of the Conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo, Vol 1 (of 2), CHAPTER XXXVIII. Written by Himself, (1568), Containing a True and Full Account of the Discovery and Conquest of Mexico and New Spain.
In a letter written by Hernan Cortés to Charles V of Spain, Cortés writes, " When at last I came to speak to Mutezuma himself..."he took me by the hand and led me to a great room facing the courtyard through which we entered. And he bade me sit on a very rich throne, which he had had built for him and then left saying that I should wait for him. After a short while he returned with many and various treasures of gold, silver and featherwork. " And after he had given me these things he sat on another throne which they placed there next to the one on which I was sitting, and addressed me in the following way:" "For a long time we have known from the writings of our ancestors that neither I, nor any of those who dwell in this land, are natives of it, but foreigners who came from very distant parts; and likewise we know that a chieftain, of whom they were all vassals, brought our people to this region". "And he returned to his native land and after many years came again, by which time all those who had remained were married to native women and had built villages and raised children". "And when he wished to lead them away again they would not go nor even admit him as their chief; and so he departed". "And we have always held that those who descended from him would come and conquer this land and take us as their vassals". "So because of the place from which you claim to come, namely from where the sun rises, and the things you tell us of the great lord or king who sent you here, we believe and are certain that he is our natural lord, especially as you say that he has known of us for some time". "So be assured that we shall obey you and hold you as our lord in place of that great sovereign of whom you speak; and in this there shall be no offence or betrayal whatsoever". "And in all the land that lies in my domain, you may command as you will, for you shall be obeyed; and all that we own is for you to dispose of as you choose" ( Hernan Cortés Letters From Mexico 1971 p. 85-86).
Above is a painting, from the post-Conquest manuscript known as the Codex Telleriano Remensis, also painted by an Indian artist, that portrays the bearded conquistador Pedro de Alvarado, second in command to Cortés, crowned with the Fleur de Lis symbol. The codex page depicts what is likely the death and resurrection of Alvarado, and the glyph to the right of Alvarado's blond head represents his Nahuatl name, Tonatiuh meaning "Sun". By 1541, the year of Alvarado's death the Quiche and Cakchiquel kingdoms succumbed to Spanish rule.
“Although this Quetzalcoatl was a man [the Indians] they held him to be a god....This Quetzalcoatl who was a mortal and perishable man they called a god. Although he had some appearances of virtue, judging by what they say he was nevertheless a great sorcerer, a friend of demons…and deserves to be assigned to the flames of Hell… When your ancestors said that this Quetzalcoatl went to Tlapallan and would return, that you must await his return, they lied, for we know that he is dead, that his body was reduced to dust and that Our Lord God hurled his soul into Hell where he suffers eternal torment.” ( Sahagun, 1969, book 1, chapter 5)
Quoting Fray Duran:
Moctezuma II, speaking......
"I want you to find out who their chieftain is, since he is the one to whom you must give all these presents. You must discover with absolute certainty if he is the one that our ancestors called Topiltzin or Quetzalcoatl. Our histories say that he abandoned this land but left word that he or his sons would return to reign over this country, to recover the gold, silver and jewels which they left hidden in the mountains. According to the legends, they are to acquire all the wealth that we now possess. If it is really Quetzalcoatl, greet him on my behalf and give him these gifts. You must also order the governor of Cuetlaxtla to provide him with all kinds of food, cooked birds and game. Let him also be given all the types of bread that are baked, together with fruit and gourds of chocolate. Let all of this be placed at the edge of the sea, and from there you and your companion, Cuiltalpitoc, will take it to the ship or house where they are lodged. Give these things to him so that he, his children and companions may eat of them. Notice very carefully whether he eats or not. If he eats and drinks he is surely Quetzalcoatl as this will show that he is familiar with the foods of this land, that he ate them once and has come back to savor them again" (The Aztecs, by Fray Diego Duran 1964 p.264)
Quoting the prophet Chilam Balam:
"Our lord comes, Itza! Our elder brother comes, oh men of Tantun! Receive your guests, the bearded men, the men of the east, the bearers of the sign of God, Lord!" (from Michael Coe's The Maya; Fifth edition 1993 p.164)
This explains why, when Moctezuma's emissaries on the coast and the Tlaxcalteca ruler, Lord Xicotencatl, and finally Moctezuma himself, saw the symbol that "adorned the head of their warrior-god Huitzilopochtli", they accepted it as definitive proof of the return of Quetzalcoatl.
Mushrooms, Trophy-Heads and the Mesoamerican Ballgame:
Many of the observations in this Chapter reflect the work of Borhegyi carried out from the 1950s through 1969 and in the book The Pre-Columbian ballgames: A Pan-Mesoamerican Tradition, published posthumously in 1980 by the Milwaukee Public Museum where he had served as the Director. For a comprehensive description of the pre-Columbian ball games and its various and occasionally regional uses of ball-game paraphernalia, and on the "trophy head" cult as related to the games, see (Borhegyi de, S.F. 1960a, 1961c, 1963b, 1965a: 22-23, nn. 23, 28, 1965c, 1968a, 1968c, 1980).
According to Borhegyi: "The ritual ballgame can only be explained as a cross-cultural phenomenon, for it transcended all linguistic barriers in Mesoamerica. Perhaps the games channeled competition short of warfare, between villages or ceremonial centers, into the field of skill and were a means of predetermining the selection of human victims to fulfill the requirements of the cyclical, or annual ritual sacrifices” (Borhegyi de, 1980: 3).
“On the Basis of the widespread use of stone hachas, palmas, yokes, and manoplas, we can safely state that by Middle Classic times the competitive ballgames played in formal courts from northern Mexico to as far south as Honduras and El Salvador achieved a Pan-Mesoamerican magnitude” (de Borhegyi 1980 p.3).
In El Titulo de Totonicapán, it is said that the Quiché gave thanks to the sun and moon and stars, but particularly to the star that proclaims the day, the day-bringer, referring to Venus as the Morning Star. The Sun God of the Aztecs, Tonatiuh, first found in Toltec art, is frequently paired with Quetzalcóatl in his aspect of Venus as Morning Star. The mushroom ritual associated with warfare, and the ballgame was probably timed astronomically to the period of inferior conjunction of the planet Venus. At this time, Venus sinks below the horizon and disappears into the "underworld" for eight days. It then rises before the sun, thereby appearing to resurrect the sun from the underworld as the Morning Star. For this reason, mushroom-induced decapitation rituals were likely performed in ballcourts, a metaphor for the underworld, which was timed to a ritual calendar linked to the movements of the planet Venus as both a Morning Star and Evening Star.
Among the ancient Maya, and Nahua, the ballgame and human sacrifice and the ritual of decapitation were believed necessary to save mankind from calamity and the cosmos from collapse. Some of he most explicit scenes of human ballgame sacrifice are depicted on the six panels of the Great Ballcourt at Chichen Itza, and on the six panels of the South Ballcourt at El Tajin, in Veracruz.
In Mesoamerica, the act of human sacrifice was often compared to the mythic act of creation (Karl A. Taube 1994 p. 229). Since the greatest gift one could offer the gods was one’s own life, emulating the ways of the god-king Quetzalcoatl, who took his own life, to create the fifth sun, the purpose of human sacrifice was to preserve life rather than destroy it (Muriel Porter Weaver 1972 p. 205). Here we see the cyclic nature of life in which death is not the end, but the prelude to rebirth. As the description of Quetzalcoatl's rebirth in the Annals indicates, it was believed throughout Mesoamerica that the rays of Venus as Morning Star as it rises before the heralded rebirth of the sun were tremendously powerful and terribly dangerous (Markman & Markman 1992 p.289). When the planet Venus rises as an Evening Star it comes into view just after sunset and then follows the sun into the underworld for underworld decapitation. When Venus rises as a Morning Star just before sunrise it appears to resurrect the sun from the underworld (Miller & Taube 1993 p.180). According to the Florentine Codex, the planet Venus could be good or evil, but that most people believed it to be a source of dangerous rays.
In the book The Mesoamerican Ballgame (1991), Susan Gillespie writes that sacrificial victims of the ballgame were probably war captives, and that sacred histories relate that even a change in entire political hegemonies was accomplished via a ballgame, which served as dynamic threshold between succeeding empires". She mentions that in an Aztec myth (Mendieta 1945:88), a ballgame defeat by the Toltec king Quetzalcoatl caused him to abandon his capital city, thus marking the end of the Toltec empire". According to Gillespie, Quetzacoatl was the source and legitimator of kingship and dynasties. In the account given in Leyenda de los Soles, the text connects the fall of the Toltec empire with the god Tlaloc. In it the last Toltec ruler Huemac defeats Tlaloc in a ballgame causing Tlaloc's messengers the Tlaloques to take the corn away for four years, a punishment that was instrumental in the fall of the Toltec kingdom (Markman & Markman 1992 p.194).
That the game was a boundary maintenance mechanism between polities, with the sacrificial victim representing a "social decapitation", the removal of a member of the society (sometimes its ruler, its political "head") from the "body politic". "This seems to be the case in Postclassic Highland Guatemala where the ballgame was played between the Quiche and other ethnic groups on the frontier" (Susan Gillespie 1991, Chapter 13, p.340-341). John Fox in his chapter of the book The Mesoamerican Ballgame, writes, "the Quichean peoples of the Postclassic Guatemala Highlands built more ballcourts at this time than anywhere else within the Maya world". "That at a number of outlying Quichean sites, ballcourts appear to have been built upon the takeover of more distance Putun-derived "brethren" (John W. Fox 1991, Chapter 12, p.213-225). According to Fox, Quiche warriors massed together in a single nucleated community with the ballcourt as the centralizing point. Warrior sites like mountain-top fortress at Hacawitz. occupied a pivotal spatial position according to Fox (The Mesoamerican Ballgame 1991 p.219). Fox writes that the Temple of Hacavitz, an attached temple-ballcourt complex, that housed their patron deity Hacavitz, was a beacon of the first morning light and was viewed as Venus emerging from the Underworld's night. It has been proposed that at Hacavitz, the ballgame may have served as a political mechanism for uniting inherently fractious lineages (John W. Fox. 1991 p.221).
John W. Fox:
"The lower-lying ballcourt may have represented ritualized opposition to the "people of darkness" by the "people of light," later allied under the aegis of Nacxit, a spokesman and apparent descendant of the Feathered Serpent" (The Mesoamerican Ballgame 1991 p.219).
"Nacxit is the abbreviated form of the name Ce Acatl Nacxit Quetzalcoatl, mentioned several times in the Cronica Mexicana of Alvarado Tezozomoc as the owner and founder of the throne on which the Aztec emperors sat during their coronation ceremonies. Even after his death the Maya chronicles referred to the "return of Nacxit-Kukulcan", a belief which was general throughout the ancient world and which had such a fatal influence on the destiny of Moctezuma and his empire". "In the Books of the Chilam Balam, when speaking of the prophecy of the return of Kukulcan-Quetzalcoatl, the name given to this personage is Nacxit-Xuchit" (The Annals of the Cakchiquels, 1974 third printing, p.40). Thomas Babcock writes that some of the sources indicate that this Nacxit the Lord King of the East was none other than Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, who abandoned Tula, and founded the city of Chichen Itza (Babcock 2012 p.32).
The Popol Vuh states that the Quiche and Cakchiquels and various other tribes were given their patron deities at Tollan Zuyua (also spelled Tulan). Spanish chronicles also document that when the Aztecs spoke of their history it was always said that they had been preceded by a marvelous people who called themselves Toltec, the people from Tollan, where political dynasties throughout Mesoamerica claimed decent from the rulers of a city called Tollan. There is a passage in the Popol Vuh in which the Quiché tribes migrating to their various homelands, carry their gods on their back, in pack frames: stating...the founders of the Quichéan lineages traveled a great distance eastward “across the sea” to the Toltec city called Tulan Zuyva where they received their gods “whom they then carried home in bundles on their backs” (Christenson, 2007: 198).
"we have found that for which we have searched, they said... "packing their gods on their backs and watching continuously for the appearance of the Morning Star,..."the first god to go out was Tohil, carried in his pack frame by Balam Quitze..."then the god Auilix (also spelled Avilix) was carried out by Balam Acab, (Balam = jaguar) in his pack frame, followed by Hacavitz (Hacawitz) the name of the god received by Mahucutah…
Above is a Type D tripod mushroom stone from Guatemala that has a human effigy on the stem (Late Classic, A.D. 600-900). The mushroom stone figure above wears a traditional mecapal strapped around his forehead (tumpline) to carry what appears to me to be a giant mushroom on his back, or is this a representation of the Quiche god Tohil? According to the Popol Vuh, the founders of the Quichéan lineages traveled to the Toltec city called Tulan Zuyva (Tollan) where they received their gods “whom they then carried home in bundles on their backs” (Allen J. Christenson, 2007: 198) (Photo by Stan Czolowski, A Brief History of Magic Mushrooms in BC , Vancouver Mycological Society: www.vanmyco.org/about-mushrooms/psychedelic/brief-historymagic-mushrooms-bc/)
" The lords used these symbols of rule, which came from where the sun rises, to pierce and cut up their bodies (for the blood sacrifice). There were nine mushroom stones for the Ajpop and the Ajpop Q'amja, and in each case four, three, two, and one staffs with the Quetzal's feathers and green feathers, together with garlands, the Chalchihuites precious stones, with the sagging lower jaw and the bundle of fire for the Temezcal steam bath."
Quoting Dennis Tedlock:
"The stone whose genius or spirit familiar was Tohil was carried in a backpack by Jaguar Quitze, founder of the Cauecs when he left Tulan Zuyua He placed this stone on a mountain that came to be called Patohil, literally "At Tohil" apparently located above or near concealment canyon, where the god Auilix was placed. (Tedlock 1985 p.365)
The temple dedicated to the patron deity Hacawitz is attached to a ballcourt, and according to Fox, the only comparable attached temple-ballcourt complex known so far is at Chichen Itza, where the Temple of the Jaguars is attached to the Great Ballcourt. According to Fox, the Quiche Lords worshiped the patron deity Hacawitz as Venus/Hunahpu. According to Tedlock, During the time when the Quiche lords occupied the citadel of Hacauitz (also spelled Hacavitz, uitz means mountain) the spirit familiars of Tohil, Auilix, and Hacauitz were regularly seen bathing at this place, a location that is unknown (Tedlock 1985 p366). Was this a reference to a ballcourt, and of bathing in blood? those bringing tribute gave offerings to Tohil before they made their presentations to the Quiche lords (Tedlock 1985 p.365). Tohil is the patron deity of the Quiche who demands blood offerings from his people, and so they sacrifice to him both their own blood and the blood of captives of war. (Mary Miller and Karl Taube, 1993:136, 170). Tohil, gave humans fire, but only after human sacrifice to him had begun. The word hom is a Quiche term for ballcourt, as well as a term for graveyard, which suggests the deadly nature of the game described in the Popol Vuh (Tedlock 1985 p.326) Auilix was also the name of the temple that housed the god Auilix in the citadel of Rotten Cane, its doors facing west across the plaza, towards the temple that housed the god Tohil (Tedlock 1985 p.326). Tohil is referred to in the Annals as Gucumatz, which is “feathered serpent” a variant of the name Quetzalcoatl (Wasson & Wasson 1957 p.281). In Quichean mythology, the sun was carried across the sky by a two-headed serpent (Venus) named Gucumatz (also spelled Cucumatz and K'ucumatz) the Quiche variant of the Toltec god-king Quetzalcoatl-Kukculcan (Fox 1991 Chapter 12, pp.220-221).
A passage from the Popol Vuh identifies Tohil, not as a stone god, but as the charismatic leader of the Quiche Maya and a variant of Quetzalcoatl.
"..Even though Tohil is his name he is the same as the god of the Yaqui people who is named Yolcuat and Quitzalcuat " (Tedlock, 1985:183).
“I discovered two interesting sentences relating to mushrooms from Indian Chronicles, written around 1554 by natives. In the Popol Vuh, translated from the Spanish version by Delia Goetz and Sylvanus Griswold Morley, University of Oklahoma press, Norman Oklahoma, 1950, page 192. And when they found the young of the birds and the deer, they went at once to a place the blood of the deer and of the birds in the mouth of the stones that were Tohil, and Avilix. As soon as the blood had been drunk by the gods, the stones spoke, when the priest and the sacrificers came, when they came to bring their offerings. And they did the same before their symbols, burning pericon (?) and holom-ocox (the head of the mushroom),holom=head, and ocox= mushroom. I think this section definitely indicates that the Quiche used mushrooms in connection with their religious ceremonies. I even wonder what made the stones speak ?
"In the annals of the Cakchiquel’s, translated from the Cakchiquel Maya by Adrian Recinos and Delia Goetz, University of Oklahoma press, Norman, Oklahoma 1953, pp. 82-83. “At that time, too, they began to worship the devil. Each seven days, each 13 days, they offered him sacrifices, placing before him, fresh resin, green branches, and fresh bark of the trees, and burning before him a small cat, image of the night. They took him also the mushrooms, which grow at the foot of the trees, and they drew blood from their ears.”
“The Cakchiquel version therefore also connects mushrooms with ceremonial offerings to the gods. This mushroom, I think is our anacate, if it grows at the foot or on the tree”.
Above is a Late Classic period Maya vase K4932 from the Justin Kerr Database (Photo by Justin Kerr). The author proposes that the transparent bundles depicted on this vase painting may actually be filled with Amanita muscaria mushrooms, the Quiche gods “whom they then carried home in bundles on their backs” (Allen J. Christenson, 2007: 198) .
The followers of Quetzalcoatl, I believe, came to the conviction very early on that, under the influence of the sacred mushroom, a divine force actually entered into their body--a state described as "god within". Because mushrooms appeared to spring magically over night from the underworld, apparently sparked by the powers of lightning, wind and rain, it would have been easy for these ancients to conclude that they were divine gifts brought to them by the wind god Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, and the rain god Tlaloc, both of them avatars of the planet Venus.
Above is a scene from Page 24 of the Codex Vindobonensis, that portrays the Wind God Ehecatl-Quetzalcóatl carrying what appears to be a mushroom god on his back, similar to the story in the Popol Vuh, where the founders of the Quichéan lineages traveled a great distance eastward “across the sea” to the Toltec city called Tulan Zuyva where they received their gods “whom they then carried home in bundles on their backs” (Christenson, 2007: 198) According to Ethno-archaeologist Peter Furst, the scene on page 24 depicts the divine establishment of the ritual consumption of sacred mushrooms (1981, pp.151-155).
In the Codex Vindobonensis, it was Ehecatl Quetzalcoatl the Wind God who bestowed mushrooms to his children mankind. Quetzalcoatl as the Wind God is the road sweeper who sweeps the road for the Storm God Tlaloc, who is the provider, "the one who makes things grow".
Above on the left is a incense burner with the head of the Mexican Storm God Tlaloc. The god Tlaloc also known as, "The Master", shared the same temple as Quetzalcoatl (Twin temple) at the great city of Teotihuacan, where archaeologists have found the remains of some 200 sacrificial victims, buried under the temple. As a Rain God Tlaloc controlled thunder and lightning and provided the sustenance in return for the shedding of human blood on earth.
The rulers of Teotihuacan, who were devout followers of the gods Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc, established a vast empire that reached as far south as Kaminalyuju, a large Maya city in the highlands of Guatemala. There is plenty of evidence that Teotihuacan set up enclaves at Kaminaljuyu, and other key sites along the intercontinental mountain range which were heavily influenced in Preclassic times by the powerful Olmec culture. Teotihuacan merchants probably in the guise of warriors and priests had moved into the Maya area around A.D. 400. and established a port of trade center at Kaminaljuyu. Wherever the Teotihuacanos went they took their gods Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc and their sacrificial rituals with them. We know from Maya inscriptions that the Maya city of Tikal, in the lowlands of Guatemala and the Teotihuacanos had been in contact with each other from at least the first century A.D.. Teotihuacan-style objects depicting the gods Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc occur at Tikal and elsewhere in the Maya Lowlands (Schele & Freidel, "Forest of Kings", 1990 p.159).
Linda Schele & David Freidel 1990:
"The most extraordinary record of the conquest [of Uaxactun by Teotihuacan backed Tikal] was inscribed on a Ballcourt Marker that was recently discovered in a lineage compound south of the Lost World group. The ballgame with its decapitation and sacrificial associations had been a central component of Maya ritual since the Late Preclassic period, [Olmec times] but the marker recording the Uaxactun conquest is not typical of the floor-mounted stone disk used in the Maya ballcourts. This Tikal marker, in the shape of a thin cylinder surmounted by a sphere and disk, is nearly identical to ballcourt markers pictured in the murals of the Tlalocan at Teotihuacan itself. It rests on its own Teotihuacan-style platform and a two-paneled inscription wraps around the cylinder base. Its form emulates the style of Teotihuacan ballcourt markers as a reflection of the importance of the Tlaloc-Venus war in its record" (Schele & Freidel, "Forest of Kings", 1990 p.158).
The Tikal ballcourt marker itself was erected by a Maya lord who named himself "the Ahau of Tikal" meaning Lord of Tikal (Schele & Freidel, Forest of Kings 1990 p.159). The artwork on the ballcourt marker known as the "marcador", depicts the image of the Teotihuacan god Tlaloc. No other ballcourt marker of this kind has ever been found at Tikal, and according to Peter Harrison (The Lords of Tikal, 1999 p.81), "this object displays evidence that new war methods were introduced to Tikal at the time of its conflict with Uaxactun".
The author suggests that the "new war methods" that Teotihuacan introduced to Tikal involved the use of sacred mushrooms. Milbrath suggests that Quetzalcoatl's role as a creator god was subordinated to a Venus cult connected with warfare and sacrifice in the later years of Teotihuacan (Milbrath 1999, p. 184). This Teotihuacan military symbolism can be seen on Tikal Stela 31, in which the Early Classic Maya ruler of Tikal, Yax Nuun Ahiin (A.D. 379-406) is portrayed wearing Teotihuacan military garb, and he holds a shield with the image of the Mexican war god Tlaloc. Stela 32 at Tikal which bears no date, depicts Tlaloc or a ruler impersonating Tlaloc. This war-related Tlaloc imagery from Teotihuacan is linked to the religious cult of the Feathered Serpent. The Maya Rulers of Tikal adopted the mushroom-related Quetzalcoatl-Tlaloc war cult that was timed to the planetary conjunctions of Venus. By adopting Teotihuacan military symbolism featuring Tlaloc-Venus warfare, Maya kings aligned themselves with what was then the most powerful political and economic center in Mesoamerica (Andrea Stone & Mark Zender, Reading Maya Art, 2011 p.85).
Quoting Mary Miller and Karl Taube (The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya: 1993 p.181)
"These "star wars" were the greatest conflagration in Classic Maya times and took place with increasing frequency during the 8th century, probably contributing to the Classic Maya Collapse".
Widespread marauding barbarism, brought about a collapse of classical Mesoamerican civilization during the 9th century, and its likely that the Toltecs weaponization of sacred mushrooms, consumed by warriors before battle contributed to this collapse. Robert Stantley calls this period the Early Toltec period (ca. A.D. 750-950) when settlement patterns were highly aggregated, and many communities were situated in defensible locations, implying a very competitive and highly balkanized political atmosphere" (The Mesoamerican Ballgame 1991 p.7). Consuming Amanita muscaria mushrooms before battle most likely eliminated all sense of fear, hunger, and thirst, and gave the battle-raged warrior a sense of invincibility and courage to fight at the wildest levels. The Amanita muscaria mushroom contains the powerful psychoactive drugs muscimol, and ibotenic acid which is known to cause the feelings of increased strength and stamina.
"The Nahua did not know they were dealing with a mere drug, as we say, a chemical compound with a known molecular structure and a known impact on the human mind. They were dealing with a miraculous, a divine gift" (Wasson, The Wondrous Mushroom; 1980 p.80-81)
Above is a figurine holding what the author proposes is an Amanita muscaria mushroom in his left hand. There is plenty of evidence that ballplayers from the Gulf Coast area wore knee pads with the Ahau glyph design a symbol of Lord, and Maya kingship (Borhegyi de, 1980: 8). Note that the ballplayer figurine above depicts three Ahau glyphs, one on each knee and one on his waist protector called a ballgame yoke. Also note that the ballplayer figurine depicts large goggle-shaped eyes, that are the trade-mark attribute of the Mexican god Tlaloc (Figurine from Denver Museum collection).
The ritual ballgame was played to commemorate the completion of time periods in the sacred calendar, such as a 20-year time period called a katun that always ended on the day Ahau. Most Maya monuments were erected to mark the end of a katun or half- or quarter-katun (Thompson 1963 p.214). It was on that day Ahau, after inferior conjunction that Venus reappears as the Morning Star. The ballgame also emphasized the pervading dualities of night and day, sun and moon, upper world and underworld, rainy season and dry season, and death and rebirth.
Archaeologist Michael Coe writes, "Venus is the only one of the planets for which we can be absolutely sure the Maya made extensive calculations (The Maya fifth edition 1993, p.182). Throughout the Codex Borgia, painted around A.D. 1500, symbols of Venus are directly connected with the ballgame (Whittington 2001 p.42). Of all the planets Venus was the most important in Mesoamerican art, cosmology, and calendrics, and the Tlaloc-Venus cult associated with Central Mexico and the Teotihuacan invasions into the Maya area during the Classic period emphasizes the Feathered Serpent-Tlaloc Venus cult. There is also evidence of a Venus warfare at Chichen Itza (Milbrath 1999, p.196).
Study of astronomically tagged dates suggests that the Evening Star (mostly associated with Tlaloc) was of greater importance during the Classic period, and that the Morning Star (mostly associated with Quetzalcoatl) received greater emphasis during the Postclassic period according to the Venus Almanac of the Dresden Codex (Susan Milbrath p.159). Star-war dates are also recorded at the Maya lowland site of Dos Pilas on Stela 2, (formerly known as Stela 16) and at the site of Aguateca on Stela 2. According to Milbrath both stela bear a "star-over-Seibal" glyph compound that refers to a Venus war event corresponding to the first appearance of the Evening Star. (Milbrath 1999, p.195). Schele and Freidel, link both these stela monuments to an astronomical cult related to Tlaloc. On both monuments the ruler wears a Tlaloc mask and a headdress with a Mexican-style year sign, which is associated with Teotihuacan (Forest of Kings, 1990, p.445) (Milbrath 1999, p.195-196) Stela 11 depicts a powerful ruler impersonating the goggled-eyed Tlaloc at the Maya ruins of Yaxha, on Lake Yaxha, the second largest body of water in El Peten, Guatemala.
Above on the right is a ceramic incense burner lid, that portrays the lineage founder of the Maya city of Copan. The founder of the Copan dynasty bears the name Yax K' uk' Mo', and he is portrayed above wearing padded shoulder protection, and the goggle-eyed mask of Mexican god Tlaloc. According to archaeologist Richard Diel, the ballgame was more of a ritual than a sport, and that it played a crucial role in rituals conducted when classic Maya rulers ascended to the throne. At the Maya ruins of Copan, in present day Honduras, inscriptions on Altar Q tell us that the ruler Yax K' uk' Mo', is credited with the founding of the Copan Dynasty, an event (ballgame?) that took place on A.D. 9/3/426, when Venus was a Morning Star (Milbrath 1999, p. 196-197). Above on the left, carved on a monument at Tikal, is a portrait of the supposed ruler of Teotihuacan known as Spearthrower Owl portrayed wearing the goggle-eyed mask of Tlaloc. It has been suggested that Spearthrower Owl was a ruler of Teotihuacan in the 4th and 5th century, and that he was responsible for the introduction of Tlaloc warfare in the Maya area.
The importance of the ballgame and its bloody rituals associated with ballcourt complexes in city planning, and the game’s relationship to a feathered serpent cult associated with Venus warfare, should not be underestimated, for there are over 1200+ archaeological sites in Mesoamerica that have identified at least one ballcourt, and cities like Chichen Itza with eleven ballcourts, and El Tajín in Veracruz, Mexico that boast a minimum of 11 ballcourts, and as many as 18 ballcourts (S. Jeffery K. Wilkerson, 1991 p.58, in The Mesoamerican Ballgame).
The drawing above is of carved relief panel from the vertical side walls of the South Ball Court at El Tajin, in Veracruz, Mexico. Note what appears to be encoded mushrooms sprouting from the Tree of Life in both creation scenes above and below. (drawings from M.E. Kampen "Classic Veracruz Grotesques and Sacrifical Iconography"). The bearded god above him, with two bodies, likely represents Quetzalcoatl in his twin aspects of the planet Venus representing both the Evening Star and Morning Star.
There are numerous historical reports that link mushroom consumption to the ritual act of self sacrifice and ritual decapitation. These include blood letting, penis perforation, and even the improbable act of self-decapitation. Like the god plant Soma of ancient Vedic-Hinduism, the ancient god myths of Mesoamerica contain a sacramental food or beverage associated with immortality, linked to a "Tree of Life". Bloodletting rituals almost certainly involved the ceremonial consumption of sacred mushrooms, called teonanacatl, by the Aztecs, who believed the mushrooms to be "the flesh of god".
Quoting Stephan de Borhegyi:
"Through these individualized initiation rites...through auto-sacrifice and self-immolation of the Orpheus-like redeemer god, Quetzalcoatl-Nanhuatzin-Xolotl (the living and deified Quetzalcoatls), the peoples of Classic Mesoamerica were now able to hope for a compensation in the present, and for a happy continuation of life after death (Borhegyi de, 1971, p.90)
The carved relief panel above is one of a series of six carvings in the vertical side walls of the South Ball Court at El Tajin, in Veracruz, Mexico (drawing from Coe, 1994, p.117). The carved panel depicts an individual, a ruler or Underworld god, with were-jaguar fangs, in the sacred act of drawing blood from his penis. In Mesoamerica mushrooms were also most likely consumed by priests before the holy act of penis perforation. In this ritual blood was drawn from the penis and sprinkled upon the exhumed bones or cremated ashes of deceased ancestors, thus emulating in myth the way of Quetzalcoatl. Note that the figure in the water below receiving the blood offering, wears a fish headdress, which may be a symbolic reference to a mythological ancestor from a previous world age, who survived a world ending flood by being changed into a fish, according to the Nahua Five Suns cosmogonic accounts. Most importantly, note that on the left in the scene there is a sacred tree, that appears to encode tiny mushrooms on the tree's branches. The ancient Maya, as well as all Mesoamericans believed that the gods who created the present world raised the sky by placing a vertical axis, a World Tree at the center of the cosmos.
The "Tree of Life", located in a paradise of immortality, or the "Garden of the Gods", is one of the most pervasive and enduring legends in the history of religion. In the Bible, in the Genesis account of the origins of humanity, there is a "tree of life" and a "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" found growing in the Garden of Eden, and that God is afraid of humans attaining the secret knowledge from that tree of eternal life.
"What I think happened is that in the world of prehistory all religion was experiential, and it was based on the pursuit of ecstasy through plants. And at some time, very early, a group interposed itself between people and direct experience of the 'Other.' This created hierarchies, priesthoods, theological systems, castes, ritual, taboos." (Wikipeida.org).
Above on the right is a pre-Columbian drinking vessel that encodes the fruit from the legendary Tree of Life, as sacred mushrooms (Source: Metropolitan Museum 1978.412.113) (photgraph of Amanita muscaria by Productora de hongos y Micelio E.I. fungi).
The belief in a "World Tree" or "Tree of Life" that interconnects the upper world with the underworld, is a concept that has it's origin in the Old World. Throughout northern and central Asia, the Amanita muscaria mushrooms grow in a symbiotic relationship beneath giant pine and birch trees. This fact likely gave rise to belief in a Tree of Life, and in Asia it was believed to have been surmounted by a spectacular bird, capable of soaring to the heights, where the gods meet in conclave. "There where the tree grows near the Navel of the Earth, the Axis Mundi, the Cosmic Tree, the Pillar of the World" (from Furst 1976, p. 102-103).
Regarding the Classic Veracruz art style of El Tajin, here is a bold quote from Michael D. Coe, author of the book, Mexico, From the Olmec to the Aztecs:
"This style [El Tajin] can be mistaken for no other in Mexico; on the contrary, its closest affinities seem to lie, for no apparent reason, across the Pacific with the bronze and Iron Age cultures of China" (Michael D. Coe, 1994, p.115).
The late Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist who studied comparative mythology and religion believed that Asian culture was responsible for Mayan myths, religion, and astronomy, and noted that the Mayan eclipse table in the Dresden Codex was identical to a table that Chinese astronomers produced during the Han Dynasty. According to Gunnar Thompson, author of Secret Voyages to the New World, both tables predicted 23 eclipses within a 135-month period when in fact, only 18 eclipses actually occur. In other words, both Mayan and Chinese eclipse tables were faulty; and that they both contained the same errors. Campbell realized that identical errors could not occur if the original observations had been made independently in China and Mexico. Therefore Campbell concluded that the Mayan eclipse table was derived from a Chinese prototype" (Gunnar Thompson, 2010 p.63)
"...according to a scribe in the court of Emperor Laing Wu Ti, a Buddhist missionary claimed that he had returned from a trip to Fu Sang in the year 498 AD. The missionary Hui Shen, said that he had left China on a pilgrimage to spread the blessing of the Buddha to the lands of barbarians across the Eastern Ocean. He visited a country that was situated 20,000 li (or about 6000 miles) to the east of Siberia. That would place Fu Sang in the vicinity of Mexico." (Thompson 2010, p.65).
Shijiahe jade effigy figure with mushroom emerging from head, 2000 BCE, China.
In 1951 Carl Hentze (Chapter III, pp.39-54) noted the close similarities between the mushroom-shaped stone and pottery objects of Mesoamerica with those from Shang period China. Hentze proposed that both the Chinese and Mesoamerican mushroom-shaped objects represented temples or ancestral shrines used in rituals connected with the departed spirits of clan ancestors.
Dennis Lou (1964), noted a resemblances between the Mesoamerican mushroom stones, and certain Chinese ancestor "tablets" of the Shang dynasty, and suggested that the mushroom stones of Mesoamerica are derived from the early Chinese tablets. Lou also noted early literary sources refer to those Shang dynasty objects as being not only of stone and pottery but also of marble, jade, silk, bronze, and wood, and were used in rituals connected with the departed spirits of clan ancestors (Trans-Pacific Contacts symposium in Spain 1964).
"there is no doubt that Chinese Taoists rarely hesitated in consuming "magic mushrooms"..." in the quest of immortality" (from Frederick R. Dannaway March 2009).
"So many are the points of coincidence between China and Mexico on the use, the manner of carving and polishing jade, the artistic styles, and the beliefs in the supernatural powers of the stone that it is difficult not to believe in a common origin"(1954:104).
"Considerable numbers of Chinese symbols and artifacts have been found all along the American West Coast. These relics bear testimony to enduring trade across the Pacific Ocean. Major Chinese migrations to ancient America took place following the triumph of the Zhou People over the Shang Dynasty in about 900 BC. In Mexico, the arrival of Chinese refugees from this conflict was called “the Great Migration” in Mayan folklore. A second migration took place between 500 and 300 BC following the “Warring States” conflict. This second wave of Chinese immigrants was known as “the Lesser Migration.” One result of this new influx of people and ideas from the Orient was the introduction of the hallmark Yin/Yang Symbol and a related complex of religious symbols that the author has identified as “the Omnibus Power Sign.” "This Heartland of Fu Sang was also the habitat of a sacred plant called the ling-chih. It was the psilocybin hallucinogenic mushroom."
According to Samuel N.C. Lieu, author of Manichaeism in Central Asia and China, 1998:154)
"Manichaeans wore white dress when attending meetings and that their insatiable need for frankincense and red mushrooms had caused a dramatic rise in the price of these two commodities".
"The Chinese, as is well known, are hardly mycophobes, and surely there must have been something special about those red mushrooms to have attracted the opprobrium of Lu Yu (Manichaeism was introduced into China in the late seventh and early eighth centuries, and had considerable impact on the Taoists, with their famous icon of the ling chih, or the “divine mushroom of immortality”) (Ott J. 1995) (from Frederick R. Dannaway March 2009)
"Now if, as seems likely, the Chinese once worshiped an hallucinogenic mushroom and employed it in religious ritual and medicine, and if some of their sages reached the New World, by accident or design, they could of course have introduced some of their own advanced pharmacological knowledge, or at least the idea of sacred mushrooms, to the ancient Mexicans. The same would apply to early India, whose calendrical system, like that of China, bears a perplexing resemblance to its pre-Hispanic Mexican counterpart" (Furst, 1976 p.104).
In pre-Columbian art, ballplayers are often depicted wearing stone objects that archaeologists have called hachas (stone axes) and palmate-stones or palmas. According to ancient murals and relief sculptures, the hachas and palmas were part of the protective gear worn by players in the ballgame. Stone hachas depicted on ceremonial ballgame yokes worn around the ballplayer’s waist, while the tenoned stone heads were set into the walls of formal ballcourts. The subject matter most frequently seen on stone yokes, hachas and palmas are decapitated heads, skulls, skeletons, trophy heads, dismembered hands, limbs and bodies, severed ears, gouged-out eyes, and outstretched tongues, etc. Borhegyi believed that stone hachas, as well as anthropomorphic and zoomorphic vertically- and horizontally-tenoned stone heads associated with the ballgame, were symbolic of the human trophy heads of earlier times (Borhegyi de, 1980: 24-25). Based on the widespread use of this ballgame paraphernalia, he proposed: “that by Middle Classic times the competitive ballgames played in formal courts from northern Mexico to as far south as Honduras and El Salvador achieved a Pan-Mesoamerican magnitude” (Borhegyi de, 1980: 3).
Above is a miniature Late Classic stone hacha from Veracruz, Mexico (Figure from Whittington, 2001), represents a decapitated trophy head of a wrinkled and toothless old man wearing a cone-shaped hat that suggests the Old Fire God (Xiuhtecutli), while a closer look reveals the image of a psilocybin mushroom encoded in the old man's cheek and hat. The conical or cone-shaped hat, is a trademark attribute of the Mexican god-king Quetzalcóatl and of his priesthood.
According to Borhegyi (1965: 36), ballgame yokes, hachas, and palmas most likely originated on the Gulf coast of Mexico, where they have been found in the greatest number and variety. Borhegyi made an important connection here; he noted that carved stone yokes worn by ballplayers are rare in Guatemala and those found depict ether serpent heads or death-heads (Borhegyi de, 1980: 7). Stone yokes in association with stone hachas are known from only three other sites in Mesoamerica, at Bilbao and Patulul, Guatemala, and at Viejon in Veracruz, Mexico. Borhegyi proposed that the earlier Olmec-influenced handball game played in this area was probably played in open fields or open plazas, and may have used the severed heads of humans and jaguars to mark out the boundaries or as targets or goals.
In Mesoamerican art, ballplayers are often depicted wearing curious stone objects called "palmate stones" or palmas (above). Palmate stones were likely used for ceremonial purposes and not worn during actual play. A carved relief panel on the vertical side wall of the South Ball Court at El Tajin, in Veracruz, Mexico, shows how the palma was attached to the stone yoke worn by two ballplayers. Note that both ballgame palmas depicted above appear to have steps, thirteen on the left, and nine on the right, that appear to lead up to a symbol that the author believes represents an encoded mushroom in profile. In Mesoamerican iconography, specific numbers like the number thirteen is associated with the sky or heaven, and the number nine is associated with the underworld (Marvin Cohodas "Ballgame Imagery of the Maya Lowlands: History and Iconography" 1991 p.274).
Borhegyi noted the significance of the number nine with a group of nine deities known as the "Nine Lords of the Night", and gods of the underworld (de Borhegyi, S.F. 1961 p.501-503). Borhegyi also notes that Maya cosmology included thirteen levels of the heaven (Borhegyi letter to Wasson August 31, 1954 Wasson Archives Harvard University).
"The cache of nine miniature mushroom stones demonstrates considerable antiquity for the "mushroom-stone cult," and suggests a possible association with the nine lords of the night and gods of the underworld, as well as the possible existence of a nine-day cycle and nocturnal count in Preclassic times. The association of the miniature mushroom stones with the miniature metates and manos greatly strengthens the possibility that at least in some areas in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica metates were used to grind the sacred hallucinatory mushrooms to prepare them for ceremonial consumption." (de Borhegyi 1961: 498-504)
" The lords used these symbols of rule, which came from where the sun rises, to pierce and cut up their bodies (for the blood sacrifice). There were nine mushroom stones for the Ajpop and the Ajpop Q'amja, and in each case four, three, two, and one staffs with the Quetzal's feathers and green feathers, together with garlands, the Chalchihuites precious stones, with the sagging lower jaw and the bundle of fire for the Temezcal steam bath."
Above is an anthropomorphic mushroom stone (Type C) from El Salvador, Esperanza period 300 to 600 A.D. now in the Rietberg Museum in Zurich. The nine pointed halo star comprising the headdress around the deity's head may allude to the 9-layers of the Maya underworld, and may represent G-9, the last of the Nine Lords of the Night (or underworld). Among the Toltecs and Mixtecs of Oaxaca, Quetzalcoatl as Ehecatl was known by his calendrical name of "9 Wind", for the day on which he was born, and represents the 9th of the 13 Lords of the Day. G-9 of the Nine Lords of the Night has been identified as the supreme ruler of the underworld and the sacred day Ahau. It should be also noted that in Aztec mythology the Mexican god Tlaloc who shared the same temple with Quetzalcoatl at the great city of Teotihuacan, also represents the ninth lord of the Nine Lords of the Night, associated with death, decapitation and time's completion, and that his calendrical name was 9-Ocelotl (Facts and Artifacts of Ancient Middle America, 1978 p.164). A common depiction of enlightenment is a glowing halo, also known as a nimbus, that resembles the mushroom. The halo has been used in the iconography of many Old World religions to indicate holy or sacred figures.
In Mesoamerica the Nine Lords of the Night, were responsible for guiding the Sun, into the underworld to be sacrificed by ritual decapitation, and then resurrected from the Underworld as the new born Sun God. In Maya religion the monkey represents the first of the Nine Lords of the Night or underworld. Called the Bolon Ti Ku, in Yucatec, the first god associated with re-birth was the Monkey (GI) and Quetzalcoatl (G9) was the last, associated with death, decapitation and completion. The word "Ku" in Classic Maya glyphs was assigned to the monkey god and in glyphs his monkey profile was used to describe "holy" or "divine," referring to "god", Lord, or king (M.D. Coe 2001, p.109).
Above are four Type C, monkey effigy mushroom stones. An analysis of the Dresden Codex identifies the monkey, itself, as being related to Venus as the Morning Star (Susan Milbrath, Star Gods of the Maya: 1999, p. 256 ), and according to the Five Suns cosmogonic accounts Quetzalcoatl in his guise as Ehecatl (the Wind God) presided over the second sun, ehecatonatiuh, the sun of wind, until it was destroyed by great winds. The survivors of that era were turned into monkeys and Quetzalcoatl was their ruler (Mary Miller and Karl Taube 1993; p.118).
There seems to be conflicting views as the to whether the pre-Columbian cosmos consisted of either nine or thirteen celestial layers extending upwards from the ground and nine layers extending downwards to the underworld. There is however a Nahua legend in ancient Mexico of a paradise of "nine heavens" [maybe referring to the Underworld ?] that was dedicated to their god Quetzalcoatl, called Tamoanchan where there was a sacred tree that marked the place where the gods were born and where sacred mushrooms and all life derived. "In Tamoanchan...On the flowery carpet...There are perfect flowers...There are rootless flowers" (Hugh Thomas 1993, p.474) (Wasson 1980 p.92)
Aztec poems recorded by Spanish scribes, speak of a land called Tamoanchan, which translated from the Mayan language means "Land of the Serpent". It was said that "this was a land settled long before the founding of Teotihuacan, where there was a government for a long time, and it was a paradise of gods, ancestors, and humans".
"...the presence of nine offerings in a ceremonial cache from the Pre-Classic period indicates that the Maya belief in nine gods of the underworld , and possibly in the 13 gods of the sky, may have originated as early as 1000 B.C. This period also saw the beginning of mound-building activities and rich tombs in the Maya Highlands" (S.F. de Borhegyi 1961, p.503).
Kelley (1960) and anthropologist Paul Kirchhoff (1964) detail a large number of exact correspondences between the Hindu and Mexican calendars and their religious and mythological associations, suggesting diffusion from India or Southeast Asia to Mexico (Man Across the Sea: Problems of Pre-Columbian Contacts: 1971, p. 36-37). Kirchhoff presented various arguments during the International Congress of Americanists in 1962 in his claim that dearly contact existed between India and the peoples of Mesoamerica. Kirchhoff was also of the opinion that the Aztec and Maya ritual calendar was a Chinese invention. (The Ancient Past of Mexico 1966, Alma M. Reed p.41-42), and Dr. George C. Vaillant noted that at the ancient site of Zacatenco, in the central valley of Mexico, a settlement that flourished around 1100 B.C., had burials with bodies covered with red cinnabar and buried with jade funerary offerings, a burial custom also found in China (Alma Reed, 1966, p.17).
Anthropologist Alice B. Kehoe...
"China and Mesoamerica shared the complication of two simultaneous calendars, of differing lengths, that meshed like cogwheels, arriving at the same day starting point every so many years, 52 for Mesoamerica, 60 for China". (Alice B. Kehoe, 2008, Controversies In Archaeology, p.162).
"New data and new techniques of analysis will eventually show that a great many contacts have occurred between far separated cultures, and more sophisticated analyses of the processes of cultural change will eventually allow clear-cut positive or negative conclusions about many cases that now remain in doubt."
“ Future research will probably indicate that Asiatic influences changed the whole structure of native society and transformed the ancient tribal culture [Mesoamerica] into civilization more or less comparable to those of the Old World.” (From Man Across the Sea; Problems of Pre-Columbian Contacts, 1971, third printing 1976)
The endless similarities between the Old World and the New World would suggest that the essentials of Mesoamerican civilization were brought from the Old World to the New World and that transoceanic voyages were in fact quite feasible.
" the ballgame, and cultural diffusion may be in order"
"While human decapitation was a widespread custom throughout both the Old and New Worlds as early as the Paleolithic period, its association with ancient team games seems to have occurred only in central and eastern Asia, Mesoamerica, and South America (for ballgames in Southeast Asia, see Loffler, 1955). The use of severed human heads in the polo games of Tibet, China, and Mongolia goes back at least as far as the Chou Dynasty (approximately 1100 B.C. -250 B.C.) and possibly to Shang times (about 1750 B.C. -1100 B.C.). By the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.), the polo game in China had become more refined and human heads were apparently replaced by balls. However, the custom of using "trophy heads" in the game must have survived in modern form in marginal areas, as evidence by the fact that the present day Tajik tribesmen of Afghanistan still use the head of a goat as a ball during the game (Abercombie, 1968). While more studies are needed along this line, it is tempting to suggest that the custom of using human heads in competitive ballgames be added to the growing Pre-Classic inventory of "trans-Pacific contacts" (S.F. de Borhegyi 1980, p.25).
Sometime between the 7th and 8th century, with the fall of Teotihuacán and its influence diminished, northern and central Mexico as well as parts of highland Guatemala and most of the Yucatan Peninsula was dominated by the Toltecs, and it seems that a revival of bloody ball game rituals of Preclassic Olmec fertility rites of human decapitation once again took center stage in the great ceremonial centers of Mesoamerica.
The shape of the ball courts varied in different periods and in different regions but by the end of the Classic period, when most of the Maya lowland centers had been mysteriously abandoned, a new type of ball court came into fashion in the highlands of Guatemala. Prior to this time, all ball courts were built on the ground level. But in these later ball courts the playing ally was lowered to a depth of several feet below the surface as a means or entrance to the underworld. Around this time another type of ball court came into vogue in central and western Mexico and in Yucatan. Although not a sunken court, this type of ball court was built on ground level, and the side walls were vertical rather than sloping, and at the center of each side wall was a horizontally tenoned stone hoop.
According to Borhegyi, the Toltecs, under the influence of their ruler Topiltzin Quetzalcóatl, were responsible for a brief revival (A.D. 950-1150) throughout Mesoamerica of a trophy head cult associated with warfare and the ritual ballgame (Borhegyi de, 1980: 25). Toltec influence previously foreign to the highland Maya can be seen in new ball-game rituals and paraphernalia, associated with idolatry and heart-sacrifices (the feeding of idols with food, incense and blood) and the decapitation of prisoners captured in warfare (S.F. de Borhegyi 1965a p.54-55). Borhegyi further proposed that the change in ballgame rituals and the switch from the Olmec handball game to the hip ball game most likely came as a result of the newly instituted Quetzalcóatl rites (Borhegyi de, 1980: 24). He believed that the ballgame and these bloody fertility rites were linked esoterically to the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms and that these bloody rituals were banished or forced underground during the heyday of Teotihuacán (Borhegyi de, 1980: iv). According to Coe, before the Toltec era, animals rather than people may have been the more common victims of sacrifice offered to the Maya gods (The Maya fifth edition 1993, p.182).
We know that rulers played the ballgame for high stakes, as when Axayacatl, the ruler to Tenochtitlan, wagered his entire yearly income against that of Xihuitlemoc, the ruler of the nearby city of Xochimilco (S.F. de Borhegyi Jan. 1960 p.55). According to Theodore Stern, the ballgame served as a substitute for direct military confrontation. Ixtilxochitl who was commissioned by the Spanish viceroy of New Spain to write histories of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, in his Relación histórica de la nación tulteca (usually called Relación, written between 1600 and 1608) recounts a story in which Topilzin Quetzalcoatl, the Toltec king, played the ballgame against three rivals, the winner to rule the others (The Mesoamerican Ballgame 1991, p.15). We know from the various legends that Quetzalcoatl was an unusually gifted ball payer who had many ballcourts dedicated to him. There is also the myth (Mendieta 1945:88), that the Toltec king Topilzin Quetzalcoatl was defeated in a ballgame and that this event caused him to abandon his beloved Tula (Susan Gillespie 1991, Chapter 13, p.340). His defeat by his rival Texcatlipoca and his subsequent flight from Tula, has been passed on to us through a legend recorded by Fray Sahagun.
Topiltzin Quetzalcóatl was regarded as "The Father of the Toltecs", and became ruler of Tollán/Tula, and by his inspired enlightened way he encouraged the liberal arts and sciences, and was revered for the cultural advancement of his people. His life of fasting and penitence, his priestly character, and his benevolence toward his followers, are evident in the material that has been preserved in the 16th century Spanish chronicles and in the hand-painted books of the indigenous people. He was also known as the lawgiver and, according to Spanish historians, he was unwilling to harm any human being, despite the temptation from demons to perform human sacrifice.
The immense popularity of Quetzalcóatl is indicated by the lengthy descriptions accorded to him by almost all of the early chroniclers of New Spain, today Mexico. Quetzalcóatl is alluded to in Nahua myth as the great civilizer and King of the Toltecs, and in Maya legends was known as Kukulkán or Gukumatz, also meaning "Lord Feathered Serpent".
All three culture heroes were reputed to be the inventors of the science of measuring time as serpents represented the bondage of time and its cyclical nature. Additionally, the Annals of Cuauhtitlán (Nahua manuscripts) record that it was Topiltzin Quetzalcóatl who invented the ballgame, and wherever a temple stood dedicated to Quetzalcóatl, there existed a ballcourt (Nicholson, 1967: 117).
"In spite of the great gulf that separates Precolumbian thought from our own in many of its external aspects; in spite of distortions, irrelevancies, decadence and subsequent annihilation by European conquerors of a great part of it; the culture which this mysterious leader established [Quetzalcoatl Votan] shines down to our own day. Its message is still meaningful for those who will take the trouble to make their way, through the difficulties of outlandish names and rambling manuscripts, to the essence of the myth". (Mexican and Central American Mythology 1967, p.136)
Aztec chronicles tell us that Topiltzin Quetzalcóatl sailed across the Gulf of Mexico toward Yucatan at approximately A.D. 978. The Itzá Maya of Yucatan called this ruler Kukulkán, meaning Feathered Serpent, and it is believed that Kukulkan and his followers established their capital at the great city of Chichén Itzá, and that he introduced idolatry, and that he later left Chichén Itzá and founded a new capital called Mayapán. According to Spanish chronicler Fray Diego Duran, it was written that before Quetzalcoatl departed his beloved Tula, he left orders that his figure be carved in wood and in stone, to be adored by the common people. "They will remain as a perpetual memorial to our greatness in the way that we remember Quetzalcoatl" (The Aztecs, 1964, p.149).
Borhegyi noted the connection between the re-appearance of mushroom stones and a trophy-head cult associated with the ritual act of decapitation, and that many Late Classic (A.D. 600-1000) stone carvings relating to the ballgame depict balls incorporating human skulls or depict human skulls in lieu of balls. He also believed that the stone heads, and later stone rings set in the walls of formal ballcourts, were symbolic replacements for the hanging of the losers’ heads on walls – the trophy heads of earlier times. The hanging of human heads can be found in a passage in the Popol Vuh, in which one of the Hero Twins, Hunahpu, and his father Hun Hunahpu had their decapitated heads hung in a tree (Borhegyi de, 1980: 24-25). The Popol Vuh relates that it was a series of ballgames with the Lords of the Underworld that ultimately decided the fate of their father Hun Hunahpu. In fact, almost all evidence of ballgame sacrifice relates to the act of ritual decapitation, both self-decapitation and by execution, which takes place metaphorically in the underworld. The practice of obtaining trophy heads, especially in warfare, continued until the conquest.
On April 8, 1954, Borhegyi wrote to Wasson noting that: "…mushroom stones follow the same pattern as the three-pronged incensarios, figurines, rimhead vessels etc. That is, they are abundant during the Preclassic, disappear from the archaeological scene completely during the Early Classic, and are revived in somewhat changed form in the Late Classic". The apparent absence of mushroom stones in Early Classic tombs (A.D. 200-400) or within ceremonial precincts suggests that the sacred mushroom cult of Preclassic origin, proposed by Borhegyi to be ritually connected to the ballgame, was discontinued, or banished from the Teotihuacán-occupied, or influenced highland Maya ceremonial centers.
Soon after the end of the Classic period A.D. 800-900 around the time when most of the Classic lowland Maya cities had been mysteriously abandoned, coinciding with the abandonment of valley sites as ceremonial centers, and the beginning of hilltop defensive sites in the highlands of Guatemala, Thompson writes that (1963:23), "Mexicans or Mexican influenced people introduced Mexican religious and architectural ideas into the Maya region. The Toltecs are supposed to have invaded Central America around AD. 900, led by their chief named Ce Tecpatl Mixcoatl the father of Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl.
Around A.D. 900-1000 a group of Chontal Mayas from the Laguna de Terminos region (this is the Itza group) moved up to Yucatan, and that a similar group of Chontal Mayas moved down towards Guatemala, probably following the Usamacinta River, and that this group would be the Quiche, and Cakchiquel Mayas who like the Itzas claimed decent from Tula, and were devout followers of the Feathered Serpent god-king of the Toltecs Quetzalcoatl and his mushroom Venus religion.
Toltec groups from Mexico undoubtedly traveled by both land and sea to penetrate the Maya region at various times. There
is ample evidence in the archaeology of Yucatan for a sea-borne
invasion by the Toltecs in the late tenth century (Hedrick, 1971: 262). As far as the Itzá who
invaded Chichén Itzá, one can not be certain whether they were Toltec
conquerors or a Maya-speaking people from Tabasco who absorbed
many central-Mexican traits. According to Friar Diego de Landa, 1566, "They [the Indians] say that he [Kukulcan] came from the West, but are not agreed as to whether he came before or after the Itzas, or with them". "They say that he was well disposed , that he had no wife or children, and that after his return he was regarded in Mexico as one of their gods, and called Cezalcohuati [Quetzalcoatl]" (Landa, 1566, Yucatan Before and after the Conquest, translated by Gates 1978, p.10).
Quoting archaeologist E. Wyllys Andrews IV
"The Toltecs appear to have stimulated the last upward surge of Maya civilization. There origins are uncertain; their disappearance seems to represent their absorption by the Maya. Whoever they were, their impact on the Maya physical type and language was minimal" (The Classic Maya Collapse 1973 p. 255).
The Quiche and Cakchiquel being Maya, are likely the ancestors of the tribes that invaded Guatemala, who imposed themselves, and then were absorbed by the Maya-speaking native population ? It seems that the mushroom stone cult was either adopted by the new comers after their arrival, or else common to the native population and to the invaders.
The history of the Quiche peregrination of their ancestors, a Nonoalca-Pipil-Toltec-Chichimec group or Putun Maya called Nonoalca, is described in detail in the Popol Vuh (Facts and Artifacts of Ancient Middle America 1978 p. 135) The Nonoalca-Pipil-Toltec-Chichimec group or Nonoualcas inhabited the land south of Veracruz; their country was the Tlapallan of which the old histories speak of (Annals of the Cakchiquels 1953 third printing 1974 p.57). It was in Tlapallan that is, the Laguna de Terminos region, where the Toltec culture hero Topiltzen Quetzalcóatl settled down with a group of his followers after he was expelled by his enemies from Tula (Tollán), sometime around 960 A.D. It was in the Laguna de Terminos region, that Quetzalcoatl settled among some Chontal Mayas tribes and introduced them to a new religious cult, based on the consumption of mushrooms and the worship of idols.
According to Borhegyi, the Teotihuacan overlords were repressing various native highland Maya cults or rituals during Early Classic times, related to the three-pronged censer cult, figurine cult, and mushroom cult, etc..."These cults were much in vogue during Pre-Classic times in the Maya Highlands, then disappear during the Classic Period or forced underground, and reassert themselves again in the Late Classic after the fall of Teotihuacan" (letter from Borhegyi to Wasson, February 12, 1968).
According to the Popol Vuh, some of these Pipil groups continued on to Guatemala and became the forebears of the Quiché Maya. Borhegyi believed that it was around this time that the plain, un-carved type of mushroom stone must have been re-introduced to Guatemala and the Cotzumalhuapa area along with new ball game rules and rituals during the Late Classic period, by these “Tajinized Nonoalca” Pipil groups (Borhegyi de, 1965: 37; Borhegyi de, 1980: 25; Borhegyi letter to Wasson, November 30, 1953, Wasson Archives).
According to Borhegyi, "It's likely that mushroom stones persisted during these times but, there is no stratigraphic evidence for this. If the Teotihuacanos did indeed consume sacred mushrooms in their rituals, they did not like them represented and venerated in the form of stone images. The total absence of mushroom stones in the Valley of Mexico and other Teotihuacan dominated areas would substantiate my statement" (letter from Borhegyi to Wasson, February 12, 1968)
The Cotzumalhuapa sculptures have been thought to be of Late Classic date and possibly of non-Maya, Pipil manufacture. But according to Borhegyi all the material scuba divers discovered in one area of Lake Amatitlan called Lavaderos (Site 1 A) is of Early Classic date A.D. 300-600 (S.F. de Borhegyi 1960, Field Report Lake Amatitlan). This coincides with the Teotihuacan-Pipil migration into the Guatemala Highlands during the Early Classic period (A.D. 400-500). At least six mushroom stones (Type C and D) have been found in the waters of Lake Amatitlan, in the Central Guatemalan Highlands (S.F. de Borhegyi 1960, Field Report Lake Amatitlan). Type C mushroom stones (300 BC. to 200 AD.) Type D tripod mushroom stones (600-900 AD.).
Quoting Stephan de Borhegyi:
"It's quite possible that the Early Classic Teotihuacan influence from Mexico, felt almost everywhere in the Guatemala Highlands, was actually brought by migrating Tajin influenced Pipil groups to the Maya area" (S.F. de Borhegyi 1960, Field Report Lake Amatitlan).
Borhegyi noted that ballplayers depicted on Monument 27 at El Baúl wear tite-fitting helmets, and hand-gloves that represents either the local survival of the Olmec influenced Preclassic handball game, or a late Classic revival of the game in the area (Borhegyi de, 1980: 16). He adds that: “These zones were once influenced by the Olmecs and later by ‘warlike’ Mexican Gulf Coast groups. One wonders if these grisly sacrificial activities are native to this area or are Pre-Classic survivals of a game once played with human heads with long, flowing hair in the Tajín and La Venta areas and in parts of Oaxaca”. It seems likely that Toltec culture associated with Quetzalcoatl and the ballgame originated on the Gulf Coast of Veracruz.
Borhegyi postulated several waves of Pipil intrusions into the Maya area, and proposed that these migrations, were not migrating families but rather religious leaders or merchants under military protection. According to Borhegyi there is archaeological evidence to support the idea that woman were left behind and took no part in the foreign occupation (Borhegyi 1965b). The second Pipil intrusion into the highland Maya area in the Late Classic period after the destruction of Teotihuacan, A.D. 700-900 coincides with the abandonment of the valley sites and the beginnings of hilltop defensive sites (Muriel Porter Weaver 1972 p. 149-152). Borhegyi attributes this Tajin influenced Pipil group for the initial warlike conditions that pushed settlements to the hilltops (Borhegyi 1965a:30-41).
According to Borhegyi, a completely new group of priest-rulers came into power in the Late Classic bringing with them a form of ancestor worship associated with the vision-serpent and the ritual ballgame (Borhegyi de, 1965: 31). These groups were all followers of the Toltec god-king Quetzalcoatl, and in their migration from the Mexican Gulf Coast, into the Guatemala Highlands and along the Pacific slope, they brought with them an earlier Olmec culture including ballgame rituals of human decapitation, and trophy head cult linked to a mushroom Venus cult. The Quiche rulers of Utatlan included pieces of "heirloom Gulf Coast pottery vessels" in a cache placed in a bench in one of the capital's council buildings (Henderson 1997 p. 252).
Weaponizing psychoactive mushrooms before battle:
Maya inscriptions tell us that the movement of the planet Venus and its position in the sky was a determining factor for waging a special kind of warfare known as "Tlaloc warfare" or "Venus Star Wars." These wars or raids were timed to occur during aspects of the Venus astronomical cycle, primarily to capture prisoners from neighboring cities for ceremonial sacrifice (Schele & Freidel, 1990: 130-31, 194). These wars, waged against neighboring city-states for the express purpose of taking captives for sacrifice to the gods, thus constituted a form of divinely sanctioned "holy war". According to Thompson this new form of warfare of not killing but instead to capture the enemy for sacrifice, this cult was brought to Yucatan from Tula (Thompson 1963 p.30). At least seven ball-courts have been excavated at the Toltec capital of Tula. The ballgame it seems may have served as a substitute for direct military confrontation by these warlike tribes from the Gulf Coast of Mexico (Scarborough & Wilcox, 1991: 14-15).
In Mesoamerica psychoactive mushrooms were almost certainly consumed before battle to induce superhuman strength ? The connection between Amanita muscaria mushrooms and feats of strength was first proposed by Samuel Odman in 1784. He proposed that Amanita muscaria was the intoxicant of the Viking Berserkers (Kevin Feeney 2013, ch. 6, p.298), who worshiped their warrior god Odin (Woden of the Anglo-Saxons).
Quoting Carl A. P. Ruck:
"The specific mushroom, which figures prominently in folklore is the red Amanita muscaria, which alone of the psychoactive fungi is noted for its ability to impart intensified physical strength (Wasson, 2001; Keewaydinoquay, 1984, tale 6; Ruck et al., 2007, pp.287-294). This is a strong indication that this species is the mushroom involved in these rituals of lycanthropy. It is the only mushroom depicted in the fairytale tradition of European lycanthropy. Additionally, its red color (which links it with Claviceps purpurea and the red fox) identifies this as the species involved. It also fits the expectable paradigm as being visionary and psychoactive, but easily confused with its edible variety as the Amanita caesaria and its deadly relative the Amanita phalloides and related species. Contrary to common belief, which is a reflection of the taboo placed upon a sacred item, few mushrooms are actually lethal. Another of these Amanita mushrooms is also psychoactive and bears the name of regalis (‘royal’), and both regalis and caesaria (‘caesar’) is a nomenclature that reflects not the fondness of monarchs for these mushrooms, but the royal status of a sacred plant" (Carl A.P. Ruck, The Wolves of War: Evidence of an Ancient Cult of Warrior Lycanthropy)
Photographs © Justin Kerr
Above are two Late Classic (600-900 A.D.) Maya figurines, both from Jaina Island representing warriors wearing what the author proposes is a headdress encoded with divine mushrooms. Jaina Island is a small island not far from the Laguna de Terminos region, that was controlled in Late Classic times by the Chontal speaking Putun Maya. It may be that the encoded mushrooms depicted in the warriors headdresses above are shown with their stems bifurcated at the base, which according to Guzman may be an anthropomorphic interpretation as legs (Gaston Guzman, 2013 Sacred Mushrooms and Man: p. 489). Above center is Post Classic gold figurine of an Aztec warrior wearing what appears to be a mushroom inspired nose plug. The figure holds a shield in his left hand encoded with a Venus symbol known to scholars as the quincunx. The configuration of five, identified as the quincunx, symbolizes the "fiveness" of Venus , or five synodic cycles of Venus identified in the Venus Almanac of the Dresden Codex (Milbrath 1999 p.199). The idealized Venus cycle always ended on the day 1-Ahau, (Milbrath 1999 p.170).
"His (Odin's) men rushed forwards without armour, were as mad as dogs or wolves, bit their shields, and were strong as bears or wild oxen, and killed people at a blow, but neither fire nor iron told upon them. This was called Berserkergang (Wikipeda).
According to Carl A. P. Ruck:
"The Dacian/Thracian (Scythian, Persian) warriors partake of the same tradition of the mushroom-induced battle fury documented for the Nordic berserkers, indicating a cult widespread throughout Europe. These warriors metamorphosed into wolves or bears on the battlefield, a tradition associated with the Thracians in antiquity."(source Carl P. Ruck, 2015 The Mushroom Stones. Dionysus, Orpheus,and the Wolves of War).
Spanish chronicler Fray Diego Duran writes that war was called xochiyaoyotl, which means "Flowery War". Death to those who died in battle was called xochimiquiztli, meaning "Flowery Death" or "Blissful Death" or "Fortunate Death". Fray Alonso de Molina's big lexicon of the Nahuatl language (language of the Aztecs) published in 1571, Molina gives us another word for mushroom, xochinanacatl, meaning flower mushroom, xochitl meaning flower and nanacatl meaning mushroom (Wasson 1980, p80).
According to Wasson (1962 p.38) a Nahuatl poem translated by Angel Maria Garibay, titled, "Dolor en la Amistad" (c. 1600) "mentions expressly the Sacred Mushrooms". In other poems from the same collection, titled Xochimapictli, coleccion de Poemas nahuas, 1959, the word xochi, "flowers" is used in a way that suggests it was a metaphor used for sacred mushrooms. This reference is reinforced by Alonso de Molina's lexicon (Vocabulario en Lengua Castellana y Mexicana 1571) where xochinanacatl is translated honguillos que embeodan, "little mushrooms that inebriate" (Wasson and de Borhegyi 1962, The Hallucinogenic Mushrooms of Mexico and Psilocybin: A Bibliography, p. 37 1962). (From "Dolor en la Amistaad" (A.D. 1600) Anonymous, translated by Angel Maria Garibay. No. 37 in Xochimapictli, coleccion de Poemas nahuas. Mexico City, 1959)
It’s tempting to think that the Itzás, who claimed Toltec ancestry, and the Quiché and Cakchiquel who were also Nahuatl-influenced Chontal Mayas, who claimed Toltec ancestry, may have been responsible for the so-called "Collapse of Classic Maya civilization". The Toltec domination of the Mayas is one of the most decisive events in Mesoamerican history. The rise of Toltec civilization and its eventual decline are connected with the figure of Quetzalcoatl. The feathered serpent cult at Chichen Itza (A.D. 800-1250) is associated with images of warriors armed with weapons, and Venus glyphs in a non-Maya style that appear with images of the feathered serpent in a variety of contexts (Milbrath, 1999 p.181). Archaeoastronomer Susan Milbrath writes, "In light of Quetzalcoatl's direct link with Chichen Itza in the chronicles, it is not surprising that his images are very common at the site" (Milbrath, 1999 p.181). The Itzas, and the Quiché and Cakchiquels, were all devout followers of the feathered serpent cult, and thus Quetzalcoatl's mushroom Venus religion, emphasizing celestial worship, warfare and ballgame sacrifice.
To date, there are almost ninety different theories or variations of theories purporting to explain the Classic Maya Collapse, and no mention of the role that mushrooms and the the ballgame may have played. The Classic Maya Collapse, which took place between A.D. 900 and A.D. 1000, is when archaeologists see an abrupt halt of any new construction and that dated monuments with Long Count dates called stelae ceased to be erected. It is during this time period in the Central lowlands of Guatemala that archaeologists see a sudden decline in population or the abandonment of Maya cities. Maya archaeologist Patrick Culbert writes that “the evidence all indicated that the Classic Maya had disappeared somewhere in the time-shrouded past and had left no modern descendants with even a faint touch of their glory and accomplishments” (1974: 105). We are led to believe that some mysterious fate befell the Classic Maya, and that people just suddenly disappeared and that the once great Maya cities of the Classic Period were all abandoned. At the same time there was also the deliberate abandonment of most of the Guatemala highland valley sites shortly before the close of the period. Site after site was deserted, never to be reoccupied, in spite of the fact that many of the centers had been in use for more than two millennia.
Quoting Maya archaeologist J. Eric S. Thompson
" ...it is reasonable to assume that Quetzalcoatl, on being driven from Tula, went to Chichen Itza, because he knew that fellow-countrymen or, more probably, coreligionists sympathetic to him were already established there. It is for that reason I suggested a date of about A.D. 950 for the start of the Mexican period" (J. Eric S. Thompson 1963 p.23).
What is referred to as the "Mexican Period" or "Toltec Maya" period in Yucatan are the years from A.D. 900 to 1224, when Chichen Itza was dominated by the Toltecs (Muriel Porter Weaver 1972 p.222). Toltec influence on the Maya of Yucatan can easily be seen in the architectural design of temples, palace monuments and ballcourts at the ruins of Chichén Itzá. Toltec chacmools similar to ones from Tula, are found atop the temples of Chichen Itza. Toltec feathered serpents appear at Chichen Itza where we find the Toltec cult of Quetzalcoatl or Kukulcan (feathered serpent) mingling with the Mayan long-nosed god Chaac. Again many authorities consider God B to represent Kukulcan, whose Toltec/Aztec equivalent is Quetzalcoatl (Herbert Spinden 1975 p.62). We find images of decapitated ballplayers carved on the walls of formal ballcourts at El Tajín and Chichén Itzá that supports the western origin of the ballgame carried by the Putún-descended peoples when they relocated north to Chichén Itzá and south to the Guatemala Highlands.
Borhegyi called into question the construction date of the Great Ballcourt at Chichén Itzá, one of seven ball courts known to exist. He and fellow archaeologist Lee A. Parsons (1969:174 Table 7) believed that this Great Ballcourt was built much earlier than previously supposed, possibly Mid to Late Classic period (Borhegyi, de, 1980: 12, 25). Borhegyi believed that the stone ballcourt rings at the Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza were an Early Post-Classic addition and indicated a later change of rules in the way the game was played. He further believed the gruesome human decapitation scenes and human "skull balls" were Late Classic and were influenced by the "Tajínized Nonoalca" (Pipils) or the Olmeca-Xicallanca who spread during that period from the Gulf Coast to Yucatan and through the Petén rainforest as far as the Pacific coast of Guatemala (Borhegyi de, 1980: 25). Ballgame reliefs from the Pacific Slope of Guatemala are contemporary with those of the Great Ball Court complex at Chichen Itza (Susan Milbrath 1999 p.82).
Spanish chronicler Fray Sahagun, who was the first to report mushroom rituals among the Aztecs, wrote that the Toltecs consumed hallucinogens before battle (mushroom Venus Tlaloc warfare) to enhance bravery and strength (Furst 1972, p.12). Borhegyi’s theory for the Classic Maya collapse was of a Toltec invasion into the Maya region by Nahuatl-influenced Chontal Maya tribes from the Laguna de Terminos region.
On March 22, 1954, Borhegyi wrote to Wasson:
This is a completely new theory that I have recently formulated. It is quite revolutionary, and I will try to publish it as soon as possible. When you carefully check the Annals of the Cakchiqueles and the Popol Vuh, you will read that, in spite of the fact that the Quiché and Cakchiquel tribes claim origin in the legendary city of Tollán, throughout their trip until they reach the Guatemalan Highlands (they) encounter only tribes speaking a language similar to their own. The country between the Laguna de Terminos and the Usumacinta region was and still is populated by Chol Mayas. Consequently, the Quiché and Cakchiqueles must have understood this language, and therefore were also Maya speakers. When they reached Guatemala, they met the Maya and, in the Annals, they referred to them as "stutterers", thus implying that they spoke a language somewhat similar to their own. J. Eric Thompson, a few years ago advanced the theory that the Itzás who came to Chichén Itzá about 1000 A.D. were Mexican-influenced Chontal Maya Indians from the Laguna de Terminos region. The Yucatecan Mayas called the Itzá invaders "stutterers", or "people who speak our language brokenly". I therefore suggest that the Quichés and Cakchiqueles were equally Nahuatl-influenced Chontal Mayas. I think that the story is as follows: the priest king Quetzalcóatl/Kukulcán/Gucumatz was expelled by his enemies from Tula (Tollán), sometime around 960 A.D. He left with a small group of his followers and went to Tlapallan, that is, the Laguna de Terminos region. Here he apparently settled down. It would seem that some of the Chontal tribes accepted the mushroom cult introduced by him and after a few years, the pressure of enemy tribes forced them to move on, led by descendants of Quetzalcóatl and his followers. Some went northeast to Chichén Itzá; others moved southward following the Usumacinta toward Guatemala. The archaeological picture of Northern Guatemala favors this theory. Linguistically, it is far more plausible than the other. The few leaders could still refer to their homeland as Tollán, and probably continued for a while to speak Nahuatl. The great mass of followers, however, did not speak this language and therefore probably spoke Chontal Maya. The Quiché and Cakchiquel Maya are, of course, linguistically related to the Chol and Chontal Maya. Please understand, this is a completely new theory. I am in the process of gathering archaeological data, which might support it."
In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, Tollan means "place of reeds" and is invoked in many early Colonial native language sources, ranging from Central Mexico to the Maya area, as a great foreign city from which elites claimed their origin because of its singular status in legitimating political power.
One of the early Spanish chroniclers, Diego Muñoz Camargo, recorded that the grand city of Cholula, famous for the Great Pyramid dedicated to Quetzalcóatl, was the capital of the Olmeca Xicallanca who were from the important coastal trading center of Xicalango, located in southern Campeche. At the time of the Spanish Conquest, this was an important coastal trading center controlled by a seafaring people known as the Putún Maya who may have been related either culturally or linguistically to an earlier Olmec culture. Archaeologist J. Eric S. Thompson proposed that the Itzá who came into northern Yucatan were Chontal Mayan speakers (Thompson, 1970: 3-5). Thompson described the Itzá’s as the Putún Maya, a group of Mexicanized Chontal Mayan speakers from the Gulf coastal area, who were sea traders who controlled Chichén Itzá shortly after A.D. 900. Most historians believe now that the God-king Kukulcán and the Toltec priest-ruler Topiltzin Quetzacóatl, both meaning "Plumed Serpent," were one and the same man. This historic figure Ce Acatl Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl was expelled by his enemies from Tula (Tollán), sometime around 960 A.D. where he then traveled to Cholula and then on to Yucatan and Chichén Itzá where he was called Kukulcan. According to The Annals of the Cakchiquels, "This great civilizer, who was well received by the Mayas, probably supervised the reconstruction of Chichén Itzá and built also another great city, Mayapan" (The Annals of the Cakchiquels, 1974 third printing, p.38). According to legend Mayapan was founded by a great ruler Kukulcan in 1250 A.D. following the decline of Chichén Itzá. It should be noted that the author seriously questions the founding of the city of Mayapan by Kukulcan or Quetzalcoatl. Although there are about 4,000 buildings spread out over an area of about four square kilometers, no ballcourts have ever been found at the ruins of Mayapan or at Tulum.
Cholula emerges as the cultural giant where the worship of Quetzalcóatl flourished. Spanish chronicler Friar Toribio de Benavente, affectionately called Motolinia by the Indians, wrote in his Memoriales that followers of Quetzalcóatl came to Cholula to give their lives in sacrifice, in return for immortality. He described the great ceremony to Quetzalcóatl which lasted eight days which, coincidentally, is the same number of days that, according to legend, Quetzalcóatl was in the underworld creating humanity by bloodletting on the bones of his father and the bones of past generations. He then emerged from the underworld resurrected as the Morning Star.
Motolinia named a star Lucifer (most likely Venus) which the Indians adored “more than any other save the sun, and performed more ritual sacrifices for it than for any other creature, celestial or terrestrial” (LaFaye, 1987: 141).
Bartolome de las Casas, a Bishop of Chiapas in the mid-1500s, reported that: "after the sun, which they held as their principal god, they honored and worshiped a certain star more than any other denizen of the heavens or earth, because they held it as certain that their god Quetzalcóatl, the highest god of the Cholulans, when he died transformed into this star" (Christenson, 2007: 205). Las Casas further noted that the Indians awaited the appearance of this star in the east each day, and that when it appeared their priests offered many sacrifices, including incense and their own blood (Christenson, 2007: 205).
Spanish chronicles tell us that the Aztecs and Toltecs attributed their enlightenment to Quetzalcóatl.
"They [the Toltecs] could do practically anything, nothing seemed to difficult for them; they cut the greenstone, they melted gold, and all this came from Quetzalcoatl - arts and knowledge." - Fray Bernandino Sahagun.
In the 16th century, Franciscan Friar Bernardino de Sahagún recorded in his Florentine Codex (Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva España, 1547-1582) that: "They (the Indians) were very devout. Only one was their God; they showed all attention to, they called upon, they prayed to one by the name of Quetzalcóatl … the one that was perfect in the performance of all the customs, exercises and learning (wisdom) observed by the ministers of the idols, was elected highest pontiff; he was elected by the king or chief and all the principals (foremost men), and they called him Quetzalcóatl (Sahagún "The History of Ancient Mexico" 1932 p.202).
Friar Sahagún (in book 9 of 12) refers to mushrooms with a group of traveling priests merchants known as the pochtecas, meaning merchants who lead because they were followers of Quetzalcóatl, who they worshiped under the patron name Yiacatecuhtli or Yacateuctli, Lord of the Vanguard. He describes the mushroom’s effects and their use in several passages of his Florentine Codex (“Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva España”). He records how the merchants celebrated the return from a successful business trip with a wild mushroom party.
The pochteca (pochtecatl), who occupied a high status in Aztec society acquiring luxury goods for its ruler, journeyed under military protection, in all directions carrying merchandise as well as spreading the religion of their god-king Quetzalcóatl. Sahagún also called these wealthy merchants Acxoteca (The History of Ancient Mexico 1932 p.223). According to master historian of Indian Mexico, Chimalpahin (I-21-32, 41) states that the Acxoteca were said to have come from Tula, the famed home of the Toltecs (Susan Schroeder 1991 "Chimalpahin & the Kingdoms of Chalco" p.45).
The pochteca are the subject of Sahagun's Book 9 of the Florentine Codex, where it mentions: "The eating of mushrooms was sometimes also part of a longer ceremony performed by merchants returning from a trading expedition to the coast lands. The merchants, who arrived on a day of favorable aspect, organized a feast and ceremony of thanksgiving also on a day of favorable aspect. As a prelude to the ceremony of eating mushrooms, they sacrificed a quail, offered incense to the four directions, and made offerings to the gods of flowers and fragrant herbs. The eating of mushrooms took place in the earlier part of the evening. At midnight a feast followed, and toward dawn the various offerings to the gods, or the remains of them, were ceremonially buried" (Sahagún, Book 9 chapter viii; Florentine Codex, fol 3 Ir-3 Iv).
The ancestors of the Quiché and Cakchiqueles people are supposed to have arrived in their present location as conquerors around the 12th century. The general belief has been that the Quiché and Cakchiqueles who both claimed Toltec ancestry, entered the Guatemalan highlands from the eastern lowlands after the abandonment of Chichén Itzá in Yucatan. According to Thompson Chichen Itza was sacked and its inhabitants driven out by about A.D. 1200, according to Colonial documents (Thompson 1963 p.34). The date in textbooks for the Quiché entry into the Guatemala Highlands has been set between A.D. 1250-1300 (Porter Weaver, 1981: 477). According to Wikipeda, the Quiche migration into the Guatemala highlands was in A.D. 1225. The Quiché Maya, whose traditions and history are recorded in the Popol Vuh, claim that their migration was led under the spiritual “guidance” of their patron god named Tohil who is now considered to be a variant of Quetzalcóatl and Kukulcan (Hugh Fox, 1987: 248).
In a letter to Borhegyi from J. Eric Thompson, dated November 30, 1955:
"I wonder what is your archaeological evidence for placing the Pipil migration to Cotzumalhuapa at A.D. 900--1000? Evidence at El Baul was that the latest phase, except for a little surface material, contained San Juan plumbate, which is fairly securely placed as Tepeu".
The Toltec influenced Pipils, (Mexican invaders) a term that applies loosely to the speech and culture of various Nahuat-speaking groups whose influence (deity cults and art styles) penetrated the Guatemala Highlands and Pacific coastal area from Central Mexico. The Pipils probably brought with them their ballgame paraphernalia, such as stone yokes, and thin stone ballgame hachas, as well as plumbate pottery, and tenoned stone heads. The sculptures at the Cotzumalhuapa sites along the Pacific coastal area of Guatemala and Mexico have been attributed to the Pipils (Herbert J. Spinden 1975 p.214). Ballgame reliefs from the Pacific Slope of Guatemala are contemporary with those of the Great Ballcourt at Chichen Itza.
According to S.W. Miles, the archaeologist Robert Wauchope, who worked at three main sites at Gumaarcah, Iximche, and Zacualpa during the late 1940s, could not find “archaeological coordination earlier than ca. A.D. 1300, between ceramics and genealogical reckoning” (Miles, 1965: 282-283). Borhegyi reported the finding of a (Type C) mushroom stone fragment from an excavation at the Kakchiquel Maya capital of Iximche in the Central Guatemalan Highlands ("Mushroom Stone Discoveries" Amatitlan Field Report 1960).
Borhegyi questioned this date in his letter to Wauchope dated April 8, 1954 (Milwaukee Public Museum Archives), explaining: I will try to put down in as concise form as possible, my questions concerning Quiche archaeology:
As you know, Dick Woodbury found cremations in Tohil effigy jars at Zaculeu. If cremations are to be connected with the Quiche expansion under Quicab this would mean that Zaculeu was occupied by them during the Early Post-Classic period. 2) You postulated Quicab's reign in the middle of the 15th century. These lately discovered cremations at Zaculeu would infer an earlier date for this reign, i.e., around 1300. If I remember correctly, you derive the date for Quicab's reign from a passage in the Annals of the Cakchiquels, which states that the daughter-in-law of Quicab died in 1507. Can it be that this passage refers to Quicab II, and not to Quicab I? In this case, Quicab I could have reigned in 1300. 3) I think the arrival of the Quiche-Cakchiquel's to Guatemala (probably following the Usumacinta River from the Laguna de Terminos) can be correlated with the first appearance of Fine Orange X wares, Mexican onyx vases, Tohil plumbate, and effigy support tripod bowls. ... On the other hand, the Quiche expansion under the reign of King Quicab falls together with the distribution of white-on-red ware, red on buff ware, red-and-black-on-white ware, and micaceous ware. This data also suggests a reign of around 1300 for Quicab. 4) I have long wondered about the quick "Mayanization" of the Quiche and Cakchiquel tribes, who supposedly came from Tulan. Using Morris Swadesh's lexicostatistical system, it is quite improbable that by the time of the conquest all these tribes could have spoken Maya with practically no retention of their original language. Could it be that the Quiche and Cakchiquels, like the Itzas and Xius of Yucatan were actually Chontal speaking Mayas from the Laguna de Terminos region, who wandered southward after being influenced by Nahuatl speaking groups? I wonder if Quetzalcoatl, after leaving Tula for Tlapallan, settled among these Chontal Mayas and introduced among them a new religious cult, based on the worship of idols. Could it be that only a few of Quetzalcoatl's followers (who actually could trace their origin to Tula) led these Chontal Mayas down into Guatemala? If so, they must have arrived to the borders of Guatemala around 1000 and not, as you once postulated, around 1300. Their arrival, around 1000 AD coincides with the appearance of Fine Orange X wares, Tohil plumbate etc. (we have lately found Tohil plumbate sherds at Altar de Sacrificios and at Santa Amelia). I would appreciate very much your comments on this hypothesis and questions mentioned above. If you'd like, I could even write it up for the Research Records, amplified with the latest distributional studies of the abovementioned wares. At any rate, I would be very much interested to know your opinion"
As ever, Steve
Thompson proposed that the Fine Orange ware pottery was manufactured by Putun Maya, presumably living in the Usumacinta Valley, and proposed that the Itzá who came into northern Yucatan were Chontal Mayan speakers from the Gulf coastal area, who invaded Chichén Itzá shortly after A.D. 900 (Thompson, 1970: 3-5). Some went northeast to Chichén Itzá; others moved southward following the Usumacinta toward Guatemala (Robert Rands 1973, The Classic Maya Collapse p.205).
The archaeological picture of Northern Guatemala favors this theory. Borhegyi believed the Quiché and Cakchiquel Maya were also Nahuatl-influenced Chontal Mayas as both were linguistically related and shared a common Toltec-inspired genealogical origin (Borhegyi letter to Wasson, March 22, 1954). The loyalty of these groups to their hometown of Tula is evident in the native legends relating to various long journeys taken by the Quiche and Cakchiquel royal princes to receive the insignia of royalty and the picture writings of Tulan from the court of Nacxit the Lord King of the East (Kukulkan, Quetzalcoatl?) (S.F. de Borhegyi 1965a p.54).
Quiche and Cakchiquel histories describe ceremonies in which Naxit the Lord King of the East invested highland Maya rulers with authority and sovereignty in his palace at Tollan (Henderson 1997 p.255). As they left Tulan the Popol Vuh has them saying, "This is not our home; let us go and see that we prosper" It should be mentioned again that sources indicate that Nacxit was none other than Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl, who abandoned Tula, and founded Chichen Itza (Babcock 2012 p.32). "Nacxit is the abbreviated form of the name Ce Acatl Nacxit Quetzalcoatl, mentioned several times in the Cronica Mexicana of Alvarado Tezozomoc as the owner and founder of the throne on which the Aztec emperors sat during their coronation ceremonies. Even after his death the Maya chronicles referred to the "return of Nacxit-Kukulcan", a belief which was general throughout the ancient world and which had such a fatal influence on the destiny of Moctezuma and his empire" (Babcock 2012 p.32).
It's known that certain rulers took the name of Quetzalcoatl up until the fall of Tula in A.D. 1070, under the reign of Huemac-Quetzalcoatl. In bearing the title of Feathered Serpent (Quetzalcoatl Kukulcan) Nacxit also bore the god-powers of the feathered serpent. The cult of the feathered serpent that emerges from the Mexican Highlands begins to spread around the time when the priest king Quetzalcóatl/Kukulcán/Gucumatz was expelled by his enemies from Tula (Tollán), sometime around A.D. 960. Topiltson Quetzalcoatl and his mushroom-Venus cult spread as far south as Guatemala and El Salvador, and as far north as Yucatan, and Chichen Itza where he appeared as Lord Kukulcan. Yucatan chronicles link Nacxit with Chichen Itza and with Kukulcan (Henderson 1997 p.256).
According to Babcock, the ethnohistoric sources appear to have accurate description and place names for the journey east, and a reliable record of movement of Chontal-Nahua military bands from the Tabasco-Veracruz area to the highlands of Guatemala where they became the ruling elite of the Quiche Maya (Babcock 2012 p.32).
Toltec influence can be seen throughout the Guatemala Highlands at a number of archaeological sites like Kaminaljuyú and Zacuala, and along the Pacific slope area known for its important cacao plantations, a region in which the sculptural style at sites like El Baúl, Bilbao and El Castillo is a mixture of both Maya and Mexican elements called Cotzumalhuapa. Sites like Kaminaljuyu had at least 11 ballcourts by the end of the Late Classic period (The Mesoamerican Ballgame 1991 p.201).
More recent archaeological evidence suggests that Borhegyi’s original date of A.D. 1000 was right after all. One archaeological site along the Pacific slope that provides clear evidence of both Olmec and Maya development is the archaeological site of Tak’alik Ab’aj (formerly called Abaj Takalik), a pre-Columbian archaeological site in Guatemala. This area runs along the intercontinental mountain range which was heavily influenced in Preclassic times by the powerful Olmec culture.
Maya archaeologist Marion Popenoe de Hatch (2005: 1) noted that:
"According to the stratigraphic evidence and the analysis of ceramics recovered in recent excavation, it would seem that Tak’alik Ab’aj was conquered by K’iche (Quiche) groups at the beginning of the Early Postclassic period (ca. 1000 AD). This date goes a long way back from the period comprised between 1400 and 1450 AD that many ethno-historians claimed for the K’iche expansion towards the South Coast of Guatemala"… "The problem is when, and the Tak’alik Ab’aj information suggests that the expansion had been initiated at the beginning of the Early Postclassic period and not at the beginning of the Late Postclassic, that is to say around 1000 AD, contemporary to the dispersion of the Tihil Plumbate pottery. The chronicle states that the conquest took place in 1300 AD, but archaeological evidence shows that this happened around three centuries prior to that date, that is, around 1000 AD."
In the Popol Vuh, a book on the mythology, astronomy, history, religion, and the legends of the Quiche and Cakchiquel people, there are numerous passages that reveal obscure connections between Maya creation myths, the ballgame, ritual decapitation, self decapitation (Borhegyi,1969: 501) and Maya astronomy, involving the movement of the sun, moon, and the planet Venus that are commonly depicted on Maya vase paintings.
Anthropologist Dennis Tedlock who translated the Popol Vuh into English in 1985, identified five episodes in the Popol Vuh involving underworld decapitation and self-decapitation. In one episode, the ball playing Hero Twins decapitate themselves in the underworld in order to come back to life. Tedlock writes that, based on evidence discovered by Borhegyi, he does not rule out the presence of an Amanita muscaria mushroom cult in the Popol Vuh (Tedlock, 1985: 250).
Quoting Susan Gillespie's (1991:317)
"The decapitation scenes that pervade the symbolism of the Mesoamerican game lead to an investigation of "Rolling Head" myths which are found in many New World societies and are intimately related to games. I argue that decapitation is a metonym for dismemberment, and that dismemberment, the separating of the body into its constituent parts, is metaphorically linked to the separation of time into agricultural seasons which are marked by the periodic movements of celestial bodies" (Susan Gillespie 1991, Chapter 13, p.317)
Evidence for ballgame related sacrifice by decapitation is overwhelming (e.g. Borhegyi 1969:507, 509, 1980, Knauth 1961). Wasson believed that the origin of ritual decapitation may lay in the mushroom ritual itself and terminology used in reference to mushroom parts. In a letter to Borhegyi dated June 7, 1954, he writes of the Mixe (a linguistic group of northeast Oaxaca) continuing use of the psilocybin mushroom:
"The cap of the mushroom in Mije (or Mixe) is called kobahk, the same word for head. In Kiche and Kakchiquel it is doubtless the same, and kolom ocox is not “mushroom heads”, but mushroom caps, or in scientific terminology, the pileus of the mushroom. The Mije in their mushroom cult always sever the stem or stipe (in Mije, tek is “leg”) from the cap, and the cap alone is eaten. Great insistence is laid on this separation of cap from stem. This is in accordance with the offering of “mushroom head” in the Annals of the Cakchiqueles and the Popol Vuh. The writers had in mind the removal of the stems. The top of the cap is yellow and the rest is the color of coffee, with the gills of a color between yellow and coffee. They call this mushroom, pitpa "thread-like", the smallest, perhaps 2 horizontal fingers high, with a cap small for the height, growing everywhere in clean earth, often along the mountain trails with many in a single place. In Mije the cap of the mushroom is called the "head" "kobahk in the dialect of Mazatlán. When the “heads” are consumed, they are not chewed, but swallowed fast one after the other, in pairs".
Dennis Tedlock (1991:172-173) interprets the five episodes involving decapitated heads or balls representing heads, in the Popol Vuh as representing the five cycles in the Venus Almanac. Tedlock suggests that in a previous world age twin brothers known as Hun Hunahpu and Vucub Hunahpu represented the Morning Star playing the ballgame on the eastern horizon. The Popol Vuh tells us that these twin gods, were sacrificed by decapitation in the underworld after losing a ballgame against the Lords of the Death, and that their bodies were buried under the ballcourt at the Place of Ballgame Sacrifice. When Hun Hunahpu and Vucub Hunahpu were killed the Morning Star disappeared. Tedlock suggests that Hun Hunahpu's decapitated head placed in a tree by order of the Lords of the Underworld, as a symbol of the first visibility of the Evening Star above the western horizon. The sons of Hun Hunahpu, another set of twin boys known as the Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, follow their father and uncle into the Underworld to avenge their deaths. They also play a ballgame against the Lords of Xibalba (underworld), only to lose to the Death gods and be decapitated in the Underworld. Tedlock interprets that the Hero Twins took the role of the Morning Star replacing their father and uncle, when they journeyed into the Underworld. The Twins search for their father and go to the Place of Ballgame Sacrifice, where their father still lies. The Popol Vuh recounts that the Hero Twins never resurrect their father from the Underworld, instead they try to put him back together again, but fail because they can't remember all the names of his body parts, so they leave him at the Place of Ballgame Sacrifice, where they promises him he will be worshiped by future generations (Tedlock 1985) (Milbrath 1999 p.159). This suggests that the Hero Twins father Hun Hunahpu (1 Ahau) is the Morning Star who stays behind to rule the Underworld and that his sons Hunahpu and Xbalanque are transformed into the Sun and Moon. David Kelley identifies Hun Hunahpu as the Maize God and the embodiment of Venus noting that his name means 1 (Hun Ahau).
In 1651 the physician to the King of Spain, Dr. Francisco Hernandez, wrote a guide for missionaries in the Spanish colonies, Historia de las Plantas de Nueva Espana. In it he stated that there were "three kinds" of narcotic mushrooms that were worshiped. After describing a lethal species of mushroom, he stated that other species of mushrooms when eaten caused madness, the symptom of which was uncontrolled laughter. Other mushrooms, he continued " without inducing laughter, bring before the eyes all kinds of things, such as wars and the likeness of demons" (Wasson, 1962: 36; see also Furst, 1990 rev. ed., 9).
Evidence of a trinity of gods among the ancient Maya was also supplied by Ethno-mycologist Bernard Lowy, who linked sacred mushrooms with lightning and a creation myth, and a trinity of creator gods associated with divine rulership. He reported that cakulha was not only the Quiché term for thunderbolt but is also the Quiché Maya name for the Amanita muscaria mushroom (Lowy, 1974: 189). The Quiche speakers do not know why Amanita muscaria (cakulha, spelled kakulja in Wasson 1980:229) is the word for lightning-bolt god and no longer think of the word's meaning when they use it, but cakulha is the god of the lightning-bolt and that this Quiche term is found in the Popol Vuh (Wasson 1980:229).
Quoting Bernard Lowy:
"Kakulja is one of a trinity of gods referred to in the Popol Vuh as "Kakulja Huracan" which enigmatically refers to "a single leg" that is, the single shaft of the thunderbolt. Where this shaft struck the earth the miraculous mushroom Amanita muscaria arose. Relating this to Vedic myth, we have a further, unexpected verification of the meaning of Soma. Does not this "single leg" also reveal the meaning of the riddle cited by Wasson in the traditional verse sung by German children..."Sag' wer mag das Mannlein sein Das da steht auf einem Bein ?" (Bernard Lowy, Ethnomycological Inferences from Mushroom stones, Maya Codices, and Tzutuhil Legend 1980 pp.94-103)
"as the most ancient and sacred of all Maya deities, these three gods played a crucial role in the earliest symbolism of kingship that we saw at Cerros, Tikal, and Uaxactun " (Maya Cosmos 1993).
Evidence of a Trinity of gods can be seen in the carved head above of a three-in-one deity from Veracruz, Mexico, and below in the two tripod mushroom stones from Highland Guatemala, in the Dept. of Quiche.
Above is a (Type A) effigy mushroom stone, the only one on display in the museum at the archaeological site of Iximché, the capital of the Cakchiquel Maya in the western highlands of Guatemala. Although this effigy mushroom stone bears the image of the Mexican goggle-eyed Rain god known as Tlaloc, it's tempting to think, is this the stolen idol depicting the Quiche god Tohil, that the Cakchiquel warriors stole from the Quiché people that deprived them of their divine power, and that the Quiché Maya did not dare attack the Cakchiquels again on their home ground ?(Sachse, 2001: 363). (Photo by Carl de Borhegyi).
" The lords used these symbols of rule, which came from where the sun rises, to pierce and cut up their bodies (for the blood sacrifice). There were nine mushroom stones for the Ajpop and the Ajpop Q'amja, and in each case four, three, two, and one staffs with the Quetzal's feathers and green feathers, together with garlands, the Chalchihuites precious stones, with the sagging lower jaw and the bundle of fire for the Temezcal steam bath."
The Significance of Mythology:
No discussion of the beginnings of mushroom worship in the New World would be complete without at least a brief mention of possible Old World origins. The prevailing anthropological view of ancient New World history is that its first human inhabitants came from Asia but, having arrived and spread throughout the length and breadth of the two continents, and they developed their own complex cultures totally independent of outside influence or inspiration. Beginning with Franz Boas, American anthropologists adopted an essentially isolationist point of view. The peoples of the New World, they argued, were fully capable of developing civilizations as sophisticated as any found in the Old World. Suggestions to the contrary were dismissed as, at best, lacking in hard archaeological evidence, and at worst, fanciful, racist, or demeaning. As a result, Americanists, in general, have ruled out all considerations of possible trans-oceanic contact as lacking in legitimacy.
This view was strongly challenged by a number of anthropologists around the middle of the twentieth century. Among them were Robert Heine-Geldern, an Austrian pioneer in the field of Southeast Asian studies, and Mesoamerican archaeologist Gordon Ekholm. They argued that numerous Old World-New World contacts may have occurred, the majority of them by boat. Ekholm proposed multiple transpacific contacts between the Old and New Worlds beginning as early as 3000 B.C. Heine-Geldern speculated that the Chinese, during the Chou and Han dynasties, undertook planned voyages to and from the western hemisphere as early as 700 B.C.E. While Heine-Geldern was fascinated by, and wrote about, the significant parallels he found in the symbolic arts of Southern Asia and Middle America, Ekholm made an investigation of possible Old World/New World connections a major focus of his career.
Quoting Ethno-archaeologist Dr. Robert Heine Geldern...
"The influences of the Hindu-Buddhist culture of southeast Asia in Mexico and particularly, among the Maya, are incredibly strong, and they have already disturbed some Americanists who don't like to see them but cannot deny them....Ships that could cross the Indian Ocean were able to cross the Pacific too. Moreover, these ships were really larger and probably more sea-worthy than those of Columbus and Magellan" (from "Man across the Sea" Problems of Pre-Columbian Contacts, published in 1971).
At the time, an abundance of convincing evidence appeared in print supplied by Ekholm and other anthropologists as well as by scholars from different disciplines (Riley, et al, 1971). In addition to providing examples of probable animal, plant, and technological exchange between the continents, they argued that most American prehistorians, being landlubbers, underestimated the ability of ancient seamen to build a craft capable of navigating the oceans. These wellreasoned and documented arguments notwithstanding, acceptance by American anthropologists of the possibility of significant trans-oceanic contacts between the Americas prior to 1492 CE was not forthcoming. Even with the recent awareness that early humans used boats to explore their world as early as 50,000 years ago, when they reached the shores of Australia, this denial has remained as intractably lodged in the minds of New World archaeologists as the possibility of a Worldwide mushroom-based religion.
Quoting the late Dr. Gordon F. Ekholm;
"There are, of course, many problems concerning the kinds of evidence that have been presented in the area of transpacific contacts, but the principal difficulty appears to be a kind of theoretical roadblock that stops short our thinking about questions of diffusion or culture contact. This is true in anthropological thought generally, but the obstruction seems to be particularly solid and resistant among American archaeologists." (ethno-archaeologist Gordon F Ekholm...From Man Across the Sea; Problems of Pre-Columbian Contacts, 1971, third printing 1976, Chapter 2, Diffusion and Archaeological Evidence, by Gordon Ekholm page 54)
Parallel to Mesoamerican mythology, the early Vedics, Hindus, Buddhists, and Persian Zoroastrians, all had a similar belief in four great eras or world periods that ended in cataclysm prior to the present, fifth, and final world. Hindu scriptures, like Aztec legends, speak of four past ages, the fifth world age being that of the present age. That each of these ages was ended by a great cataclysms that nearly destroyed mankind. These world ages are terminated by three kinds of destruction,involving wind, fire, and water.
(Above image is from worldviewtherapy.blogspot.com)
The Churning of the Milk Ocean, or The Churning of the Ocean's Milk, is a creation story told in several ancient Hindu texts. At the suggestion of Vishnu, the gods, and demons churn the primeval ocean in order to obtain Amrita, which will guarantee them immortality (Kangra painting eighteenth century). The avatar of the Vedic-Hindu god Vishnu is the sea turtle depicted below as the pivot point for Mt. Mantara acting as the churning stick.
The drawing above by Daniela Epstein is of a ball court relief panel from El Tajin in Veracruz, Mexico, associated with Building 4.
Upon noticing the turtle in this creation scene I knew right away that this ballcourt scene was a version of the Hindu/Buddhist myth known as "The Churning of the Milk's Ocean", a creation story often depicted in Buddhist and Hindu art.
According to Vedic,Hindu, and Buddhist literature, the Gods got together at the beginning of time and churned the ocean to extract a substance which would offer them immortality. According to Richard J. Williams author of "Soma in Indian Religion" Etheogens as Religious Sacrament (2009 p.2 Introduction), The Gods agreed to share this mighty elixir, calling it Amrita, or Amrit which is a Sanskrit word for "nectar", a sacred drink also in Buddhist mythology that grants their gods immortality.
Jeffery Wilkerson describes a much different version of this ballcourt panel scene in the book, The Mesoamerican Ballgame (1991, p. 54-55). He says the scene portrays the prerogatives of rulership within the ritual ballgame format of El Tajin. He proposes an altar that depicts two serpents intertwined to form a tlaxmalacatl or ballgame marker, that has been "modified by a spear bundle, a symbol of warfare in late Mesoamerican times". He does mention a vat of ritual drink with a reptilian guardian. Soma the drink of immortality was described as a "heavenly liquor" that was guarded by a Serpent.
Quoting Gordon Wasson:
" There is little doubt that the substance called Soma in the Rig Veda has been identified as the fungus Amanita Muscaria."
To my knowledge I am the first to note the interesting fact that many of the Moai statues on Easter Island appear to have a mushrooms encoded into their head and noses, and that both the Maya mushroom stone and Moai statues share the "exact same" ear design. Above on the left is a effigy mushroom stone from Guatemala, and on the right is a giant Moai statue from Easter Island.
"Log sailing rafts were once considered unseaworthy for long-distance voyaging, but this contention has now been definitively disproved by Thor Heyerdahl and others" (Stephen C. Jett, 1971, "Man Across the Sea" p.11). Heyerdahl believed that oceans may have been highways, not barriers, ever since the development of navigation in sea-going vessels a few thousand years ago (Erik K. Reed 1971, "Man Across the Sea" p.107). Heyerdahl's great contribution was that he proved by example (Kon-Tiki voyage) that long-distance voyages in a primitive craft were indeed possible.
(Photograph of Amanita muscaria mushroom by John W. Allen)
The petroglyph drawing on the right is by Lorenzo Dominguez (1901-1963). When asked what it meant, the Easter Islanders replied that it represented "Make Make," their creator god (cumulus.planetess.com/.../ch18.htg/make.jpg). The Maya Venus glyph on the left is from Michael Coe's book Reading The Maya Glyphs 2001 p.163)
Above are cave artifacts discovered by Easter Island archaeologist Thor Heyerdahl and his team, which include stone trophy heads, and clay figurines that resemble a were-jaguar. Carbon dating of many of these Easter Island artifacts suggests an occupation of Easter Island around A.D. 380 A.D, about a thousand years earlier than scientists previously speculated (photo from Heyerdahl's 1989, "Easter Island The Mystery Solved").
Quoting Mark A. Hoffman:"The concept of tapu, as the source and translation of our word “tabu,” is close in meaning to mana, an important concept in Polynesian religion that describes a contagious spiritual power that lasts only a short period of time. The word tapu is similarly used in describing transitory states such as shamanic ecstasy—or “being under the influence of the Gods”—and the sacredness of the ceremonies whose main function it was to channel this divine “energy” where it was desired (Eliade 1987). Because this energy is characterized by its motion, tapu-infused or “sacred” foods, [objects], etc., must be carefully managed to avoid accidental exposure to potentially dangerous spiritual influences. The proscriptions are assigned “forbidden” status, and special preparations and precautions are established for entering states of “divine possession.”
Moche portrait vessels from Peru, South America. Both figures wear what appear to be mushroom inspired headdress, encoded with the Amanita muscaria mushroom. The Moche culture reigned on the north coast of Peru during the years 100-800 A.D.
Ethno-archaeologist Peter Furst:
"Little is known of the pre-Hispanic mushroom use in South America, with the single exception of an early Jesuit report from Peru that the Yurimagua Indians, who have since become extinct, intoxicated themselves with a mushroom that was vaguely described as a "tree fungus" (Furst, 1976 p.82).
Not far from the ancient ruins of Tihaunaco in Bolivia, are the ancient Inca ruins of Chucuito (above) in Peru, where archaeologists have discovered a graveyard filled with mushroom-shaped monuments that local tourist guides call Phallic stones. Without doubt early man noticed the likeness of certain mushrooms to a human penis. This association could have led them to draw metaphors with fertility and birth.
In a letter to Borhegyi, archaeologists Marion and Harry Tschopik who were excavating at the Inca ruins of Chucuito in Peru, found what they described as mushroom stones in the general fill at a Late Inca site on the shore of Lake Titicaca (letter from Gordon Ekholm to Borhegyi, March 12, 1953, Borhegyi Archives, MPM).
There is an Inca legend of white men with beards who inhabited the shores of Lake Titicaca, who built a great city, 2000 years before the time of the Incas. Lake Titicaca is a large body of water lying high in the Andes Mountains at an altitude of over 12,000 feet. The Inca Indians of Peru, told Spanish conquistador (1532–1572) Francisco Pizarro that they were the last descendants of the Viracochas. The Viracochas, they said, were a divine race of White men with beards. They were so like the Spanish that the Europeans were called Viracochas the moment they came to the Inca Empire. The Incas thought they were the Viracochas who had come sailing back across the Pacific.
According to the principal Inca legend, before the reign of the first Inca,... the sun-god, Con-Ticci Viracocha, had taken leave of his kingdom in present day Peru and sailed off into the Pacific with all his subjects. The White men had abandoned their pyramids and statues and gone with the leader, Con-Ticci Viracocha, first up to Cuzco, and then down to the Pacific. They were given the Inca name of Viracocha, or "sea foam', because they were white skinned and vanished like foam over the sea. (Heyerdahl, ibid.-American Indians in the Pacific) (Frontiers of Anthropology 2013)
In 2009 I came across a sketch (original by Rubén Manzanilla López and Arturo Talavera González) of a petroglyph that was found on a hillside in Mexico near the city of Acapulco. The petroglyph depicts what appears to me to be a monkey jumping from a mushroom, holding a five pointed Venus star in his right hand, and with an apparent Long Count date located just above the monkey's left shoulder, that reads 18.104.22.168.2.
Published research of this petroglyph and its probable Long Count date, conducted by Pedro de Eguiluz Selvas entitled, "Origins of the Long Count," suggests that the correlation of this Long Count date with the Christian calendar fits the Spinden correlation perfectly, making it equivalent to the year 3 Monkey in the Unified Account of Anawak (CUAN). While this identification tends to reinforce the Spinden correlation, it calls into question the generally accepted, but still unproven (Wauchope, 1965, p. 605) GMT, or Goodman-Martinez-Thompson correlation, and its end date of December 21, 2012. Thus the Long Count date of 22.214.171.124.2 would be an important key to locate the origin of the long count at October 14th 3373 BCE., (Ancient Civilizations of Mexico and Central America: Herbert J. Spinden p.136) and the famous end to the Mayan Calendar at 1752 rather than in December, 2012.
Mexican archaeologists Manzanilla López, Rubén, and Arturo Talavera González, published two articles on the monkey petroglyph which bears a probable Long Count date of 126.96.36.199.2. The date is shown between the left shoulder and the tail of a monkey holding a five-pointed star and jumping off what looks like a sacred mushroom. Researcher Pedro de Eguiluz Selvas ("Origins of the Long Count,") reports that the date as calculated by the Spinden correlation, (ie: 2168 B.C.in the Gregorian calendar) corresponds in the Unified Count of Anawak correlation (CRAN) to the year 3 Monkey in the Maya/Olmec Calendar. There is no corresponding association using the more often cited Goodman-Thompson-Martinez correlation or GMT correlation. Further study of this date 3 Monkey is needed and might explain the many painted Maya vessels, plates, and bowls which depict three monkeys.
Today the GMT correlation and it's 2012 end date of the Mayan calendar is associated primarily with the late Maya archaeologist J. Eric S. Thompson, one of the most, influential archaeologists of his time. In recognition of Thompson's many achievements in Maya studies, he was knighted, Sir J. Eric S.Thompson in 1975 by Queen Elizabeth II, a few days after his 76th birthday.
The lack of agreement on the appropriate correlation of the Maya Calendar has been a long standing problem. Over the years numerous correlations have been proposed but, according to archaeologist Michael D. Coe, today's unofficial "Dean of Maya Studies", of the various correlations developed to date, only the GMT 11.16, and the Spinden 12.9 correlation meet the requirements of both dirt archaeology and specific dates (The Maya, fifth edition, p.23). Since the two correlations differ by 260 years, the so-called "end date," of the Mayan Calendar according to the Spinden correlation occurred in December, 1752, compared to the GMT correlation and it's 2012 end date of the Mayan calendar.
Quoting Archaeologist Michael D. Coe...
"any displacement in the dating of the Maya Classic Period would disrupt the entire field of Mesoamerican research, for ultimately all archaeological chronologies in this part of the world are cross-tied with the Maya Long Count" (The Maya, fifth edition 1993 p. 23)
Mesoamerican chronology is based on the correlation of the Gregorian calendar with the Maya Long Count calendar, providing historians with absolute dates. Unfortunately the Mayan calendar cannot be directly correlated with the European calendar because the long count system of dating was no longer in use by the time of the Spanish Conquest.
In order to understand the reason for all the controversy, a few words of explanation are needed to explain the problem of correlation. By the time that Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the New World, the Maya Long Count system of dating was no longer in use. It had been replaced by an abbreviated system called period-ending dating or the "Short Count", of tuns and katuns set to end on days named Ahau (also spelled Ajaw). Unlike the Long Count of the Classic period, the Short Count is not anchored to a base point. Unfortunately, no one living at the time knew how to integrate the Postclassic Short Count with the earlier Long Count system.
To give a simple example of the problem, imagine, if you will, that some time in the far past we had stopped writing out the full calendar date--say July 12, 2010--and simply recorded all our dates as 7/12/10. While this date is clear to those of us living today, it would be very confusing for historians in the future who could be left wondering in which century the date July 12 occurred--1710? 1910?, 2110? If no one could recall the full date for this event, historians would be left scratching their heads.
In order to understand the special nature of these associations, and why it may have been important to the ancient artist to record this date, we need to refer again to the image of the monkey in the petroglyph. First, the monkey appears to be jumping off an Amanita muscaria mushroom, an hallucinogenic variety considered to be highly sacred throughout Mesoamerica because of its mind-altering qualities. The identification of the mushroom as an Amanita derives from the characteristic"skirt" on the mushroom's stem. The monkey also holds in his right hand a 5-pointed star, an iconic symbol identified by Mesoamerican scholars as linked to the planet Venus and it's 5 synodic cycles in the Dresden Codex. It should be noted that the number 5 was specifically associated with Quetzalcoatl and his quincunx symbol, and also with Venus. The synodic revolution of Venus is 584 days, and these revolutions were grouped by the in fives, so that 5 x 584 equaled 2,920 days, or exactly eight years" (Nicholson, 1967 pp. 45-46).
Eguiluz has, in addition to deciphering the long count date, called attention to the two concentric circles in front of the monkey's stomach. These he associates with the calendrical cycle of 13. He also notes that, counting counterclockwise from the fourth point, three parallel rows of dots probably allude to the Nine Lords of the Night. Eguiluz sees the two larger dots on either side of the monkey as alluding to the tonalpohualli date of 2 Wind, and the shape of the monkey's tail as a symbol of the wind.
According to the Five Suns cosmogonic accounts as interpreted by scholars Mary Miller and Karl Taube (1993; p.118), Quetzalcoatl in his guise as Ehecatl (the Wind God) presided over the second sun, ehecatonatiuh, the sun of wind, until it was destroyed by great winds. The survivors of that era were turned into monkeys and Quetzalcoatl was their ruler. Finally, Susan Milbrath writes in her book on Mesoamerican archaeoastronomy entitled, Star Gods of the Maya (1999,p. 256 ), that an analysis of the Dresden Codex identifies the monkey, itself, as also related to Venus as the Morning Star.
In summery, if Eguiluz's interpretations are correct, the petroglyph of the monkey jumping from an Amanita muscaria mushroom (first noted by the author) commemorating the calendar year 3 Monkey, would be the earliest known date associated with both the mushroom cult and Venus cult, with both cults linked with the god Quetzalcoatl. That fact alone is of great significance. However, since it lends heavy weight to Spinden's correlation of the Maya calendar, it not only establishes the date for the beginning of the First world cycle at October 14, 3373 B.C.E., it places the "so-called" end of the Fifth world cycle at 1752 CE rather than 2012 (Ancient Civilizations of Mexico and Central America: Herbert J. Spinden p.136).
In other words, contrary to much contemporary hype, the end of the "Fifth world" may have already occurred. If so, instead of Armageddon, the Mayan Calendar simply began another cycle.
Maya Vase Study:
In 1996, about the time my own twin sons were born, I began to wonder what had happened to the interesting line of inquiry that my father had opened. I knew that great strides had been made in Maya studies but, to my considerable surprise I realized that there was almost no mention of mushrooms, or for that fact any other hallucinogenic substances, in the current literature. Curious to discover what had happened, I decided to look into the matter myself. I read through the scores of letters that he had exchanged with other Mesoamerican scholars that are housed in the Borhegyi Archives at the Milwaukee Public Museum (hereinafter Borhegyi, MPM), as well as the more than 500 letters that he exchanged with Gordon Wasson (Wasson Archives at Harvard's Peabody Museum. (hereinafter Wasson HPM) In time, I also read through my mother's extensive library of books and pamphlets on Mesoamerican archaeology and ethnology and began to acquire my own personal library in addition to using materials from local library collections.
In the fall of 2004 I enrolled in a course entitled "Topics in Maya archaeology" at Hamline University. My assignments in that class introduced me to the online research site FAMSI (Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc). Here I discovered Justin Kerr's remarkable compilation and data base of roll-out photographs of Mesoamerican ceramic figurines and Maya vase paintings. It was this site, above all, that permitted me to make the detailed study of Mesoamerican visual art. This task was immensely facilitated by new photographic technology, the computer, and my ability to access the Kerr database on my home computer, all modern day miracles unavailable to earlier researchers. As a result of this study and solid evidence from other scholars, I have been able to expand this subject far beyond my father's pioneering efforts.
To my surprise I found no mention of images of mushroom stones, pottery mushrooms, or images of actual mushrooms in Kerr?s extensive index. However, after hours of examining hundreds of Maya vase paintings, I discovered a significant amount of mushroom imagery, both realistic and abstract, of both the.Amanita muscaria or Fly Agaric mushroom, and the better known hallucinogenic Psilocybin mushroom. It was easy to understand, however, why the imagery had not been noted earlier. On many vases the images of mushrooms, or images related to mushrooms, were so abstract, and so intricately interwoven with other complex and colorful elements of Mesoamerican mythology and iconography, that they were, I believe, quite deliberately "hidden in plain sight," in an effort to conceal this sacred information from the eyes of the uninitiated.
Much of the mushroom imagery I discovered was associated with an artistic concept I refer to as jaguar transformation. Under the influence of the hallucinogen, the "bemushroomed" acquires feline fangs and often other attributes of the jaguar, emulating the Sun God in the Underworld. This esoteric association of mushrooms and jaguar transformation was earlier noted by ethno-archaeologist Peter Furst, together with the fact that a dictionary of the Cakchiquel Maya language compiled circa1699 lists a mushroom called "jaguar ear" (1976:78, 80) .
Many of the images involved rituals of self-sacrifice and decapitation in the Underworld, alluding to the sun's nightly death and subsequent resurrection from the Underworld by a pair of deities associated with the planet Venus as both the Morning Star and Evening star. This dualistic aspect of Venus is why Venus was venerated as both a God of Life and Death. It was said that (The Title of the Lords of Totonicapan, 1953 third printing 1974, p.184), they [the Quiche] gave thanks to the sun and moon and stars, but particularly to the star that proclaims the day, the day-bringer, referring to Venus as the Morning star.
While I may be the first to call attention to this encoded mushroom imagery, these images can be viewed and studied with ease on such internet sites as Justin Kerr's Maya Vase Data Base and F.A.M.S.I. ( Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc).
Archaeologist Michael D. Coe was one of the first to recognize that many of the scenes depicted in Maya vase paintings are images of the Maya underworld, known as Xibalba, and versions of the creation story as told by the Quiché Maya of highland Guatemala. This myth, written in Quiche Maya using Spanish orthography, is known today as the Popol Vuh, It involves two sets of divine twins.
In the religion of the ancient Maya, various twins or brothers represent the dualistic aspects of the planet Venus, as both a Morningstar and Evening star. This dualistic aspect of Venus is why Venus was venerated as both a God of Life and God of Death. In Aztec mythology the cosmos was intimately linked to the planet Venus in its form as the Evening Star, which guides the sun through the Underworld at night, as the skeletal god Xolotl, the twin brother of Quetzalcoatl. As mentioned earlier, the Morningstar, Quetzalcoatl's avatar was the harpy eagle. Among the Quiche Maya, Venus in its form as the Morningstar, was called iqok'ij, meaning the "sunbringer" or "carrier of the sun or day." (Tedlock, 1993:236). It was said that they [the Quiche] gave thanks to the sun and moon and stars, but particularly to the star that proclaims the day, the day-bringer, referring to Venus as the Morningstar (The Title of the Lords of Totonicapan, 1953 third printing 1974, p.184).
Maya creation stories record that twins were responsible for placing the three stones of creation into the night sky at the beginning of this world age. These three stones, which represent the three original hearthstones of Maya creation, refer to a trinity of gods responsible for creating life from death. One of these gods, known as First Father, ruled as the Sun God in the previous world age. He was decapitated by the Lords of Death after being defeated in a ballgame. His twin sons, (Venus?) after finding his bones buried under the floor of the ballcourt, resurrected him from the underworld and placed him into the night sky as a deified ballplayer. As the planet Venus, Quetzalcoatl in his impersonation of Tlaloc, rules the underworld, and is responsible for ritual decapitation, at the place of ballgame sacrifice.
One of the first Maya vase paintings I found with encoded mushroom imagery was a Late Classic Maya vase painting (600-900 C.E.) K1490, illustrated below. I immediately saw what I believe to be mushrooms encoded in the robes of the twin smokers on the right below.
I believe that the complex scene on Maya vase painting K1490 may illustrate one of the passages in the Popol Vuh in which the Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, smoke cigars in the underworld. The two figures in front of them, appear to be wearing the same clothing as the first pair, and may allude to the same set of twins. One of the twins, however, has undergone sacrificial decapitation. Another interpretation could be that the two smokers, through their hallucinations, are seeing the fate of their own lives in front of them, or visions of their father and uncle in their underworld who also struggle against the Nine Lords of Death, the Xibalbans.
Photographs © Justin Kerr K1490
Like many other Late Classic period carved and painted vessels, Maya Vase painting K1490 depicts the sacred (and improbable) ritual act of self-decapitation. Note that the third individual from the right has no head. He holds in his left hand the obsidian knife with which he has decapitated himself. In his right hand he holds the cloth in which he will wrap the head in a bundle. The fourth individual from the right is shown holding the decapitated head by the hair with his right hand, and a knife in his left hand. After a close examination of this scene, it occurred to me that it might depict an early version of an episode related in the colonial period document known as the Popol Vuh.
Photographs © Justin Kerr
Maya vase K8936, shown above in roll out form, depicts several scenes associated with the Maya creation story.
According to the Popol Vuh, after the Xibalbans (the Lords of the Underworld) defeated Hun Hunahpu and Vucub Hunahpu in a ballgame, they sacrificed them and hung the severed head of Hun Hunahpu in a calabash tree. The head of Hun Hunahpu impregnated a daughter of the Xibalbans, named Blood Woman, with the Hero Twins by spitting into her hand.
In the scene above, the jaguar god of the underworld, shown on the far left, holds a decapitated head (likely the head of Hun Hunahpu). Seated below the jaguar is the pregnant daughter of the Xibalbans known as Xquik "Blood Woman". She is painted blood red, and is shown stretching out her palm beneath the decapitated head. The decapitated head of Hun Hunahpu spits semen onto her hands which fertilizes, giving birth to the legendary Hero Twins. Her father, one of the Lords of death in the Maya underworld, is the skeletal god to the far right who also holds the bloody head of Hun Hunahpu. For the Classic period Maya, a skeletal god whose name is unknown was a god of the Evening Star (Miller & Taube 1993 p.180).
In front of Blood Woman sits a character marked with cimi death signs (looks like a % sign) on his legs. He wears on his head what, I believe, is a mushroom-inspired headdress. In his hand he holds a drinking vessel which may contain a mushroom-based beverage which he will use to journey or portal into the underworld. The large jar or olla that sits on his lap may contain the cultivated sacrament. The skeletal death god on the right also carries a ceramic jar. It likely contains a hallucinogenic beverage to be taken at death for the ritual cross-over, or underworld journey. The large blood-stained X-icon located on his skull cap represents the portal door to this journey of transformation.
Directly behind Blood Woman, at the bottom of the scene, is a large transparent view of the inside of her womb. In it we see the unborn Hunahpu, the eldest of the Hero Twins. He is shown on his back with his knees pointed upwards. Hunahpu, the first born of the Hero Twins, personifies Venus. His day-sign is One Ahau or Hun Ahau, the sacred date of the heliacal rising of Venus as Morning Star in the Venus Almanac of the Dresden Codex. To the left of the unborn Hunahpu is a coiled serpent in the shape of a ballcourt hoop. The hoop bears symbols of the four cardinal directions. The inner circle denotes the goal of the hoop as well as the central portal of resurrection. It is associated with the color green, which is the green quetzal-feathered serpent aspect of Quetzalcoatl as the planet Venus.
In Mesoamerican mythology Quetzalcoatl represents the Lord of the Ballgame and Lord of decapitation. It is likely his image that the Maya saw as a decapitated ballplayer in the constellation of Orion. Orion was believed to be the belt or ballgame yoke of Hun Ahau or Quetzalcoatl. The three stars of his ballgame yoke may represent the three hearth stones of Maya creation.
Behind the serpent is a rabbit, a symbol of the moon and fertility, holding a ball between its knees. The ball is encoded with the symbol of three, referring again to the three hearth stones that were placed at the time of creation by the pair of twins depicted directly above. These two figures are most likely a Classic period version of the Hero Twins from the Popol Vuh. The twin on the left with jaguar features can be identified as Xbalanke. He holds what appears to be the three hearth stones of creation (the three thunderbolts in the Popol Vuh?). Two of the three stones appear under the right arm and he is placing the third stone in his left hand into the sky at the place of ballgame sacrifice.
Xbalanke's trademark attributes are his jaguar spots, (note his spotted ear), symbolic of the Moon and underworld sun or Sun God. He most likely represents the Evening Star aspect of the planet Venus. To the right of Xbalanke is his older twin brother Hunahpu. He can be identified by his blowgun, which he holds like a paddle, reminiscent of the Paddler Twins. He is likely an aspect of the planet Venus as Evening Star. Both twins wear the scarf of underworld decapitation, and both are depicted above their unborn bodies. The womb of Hunahpu is directly behind Bloodwoman, while the womb of Xbalanke is in the shape of a curled up jaguar and is depicted directly behind the rabbit holding the ball.
Photograph © Justin Kerr Kerr
Maya vase K5172, photographed in roll-out form by Justin Kerr, depicts an enema ritual associated with the ballgame. On the left is a figure of ballplayer wearing a ballgame yoke and deer headdress. The ballplayer crouches down on one knee, and holds what may be an Amanita muscaria mushroom in his right hand and an enema apparatus in the other. A mushroom infusion administered by means of an enema would have a much quicker and more powerful effect on the body than one ingested orally.
Photographs © Justin Kerr
Maya Vase painting K8662 in rollout form, depicts four separate scenes read from left to right. Here a priest or shaman, prepares what appears to be a mushroom infused enema, based on scene number three which depicts what may be a large plate-size Amanita muscaria mushroom in front of the priest. Scene four depicts the priest holding the enema device. Such a device was used as a means to avoid vomiting and to achieve the altered state of consciousness required for self-sacrifice. The Soma of the Rig Veda, was prepared by extracting juice from the stalks of a plant which, Gordon Wasson identified as the Amanita muscaria mushroom.
Photograph © Justin Kerr
Above is a Late Classic period (A.D. 600-900), Maya vase painting that clearly depicts the offering of
an Amanita muscaria mushroom.
Photograph © Justin Kerr
Maya Vase painting K2797 in roll out form, represents a great example of mushroom-inspired art. The figure on the far left clearly holds a sacred mushroom in his hand. The Maya god just to the right has been identified as God K. David Stuart (1987) found a syllabic spelling for God K's name which reads K'awil, meaning "sustenance" in Yukatek Mayan, but also meaning "idol" or "embodiment" in the Poqom and Cakchiquel Mayan languages (Freidel, Schele, Parker: 1993 p.410 n). The Maya god K'awil is recognizable by the smoking tube, (and obsidian mirror, or axehead) that penetrates his forehead. These attributes are metaphors of the power to penetrate, or enter, into the Underworld. In Maya mythology K'awil who is often depicted as a one legged god, symbolized a bolt of lightning which, by penetrating the ground and entering the underworld, could create new life in a place of death and decay. In both scenes the figure who has summoned the god K'awil to the underworld wears a mushroom-inspired headdress.
Mushroom Murals of Tulum
The murals below are from the Late Post Classic fortified city of Tulum, on a high cliff on the eastern coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico, Structure 16, the Temple of the Frescoes. The art at these ruins shows many of the Nahua features already noted at Chichen Itza. The Tulum murals blend central Mexican-style elements, similar to Mixteca-Puebla codices with Maya traits typical of the Late Classic period A.D. 700-1000. Mixteca-Puebla is an art style that emerges after the fall of Tula, that dominated Central Mexico, that is clearly Mixteca, with the creative center in Cholula, that blends the art styles of Teotihuacan, Xochicalco, and Veracruz.
A closer look of the murals uncovers several encoded mushrooms in scenes with a deity identified as the aged Moon Goddess. Tulum was dedicated to a cult of the lunar goddesses, especially the aged aspects of the moon associated with the waning moon, and may have been part of a pilgrimage route associated with female cults especially connected with childbirth (Susan Milbrath 1999, p.148). Tulum was also an important center for the worship of the Diving sky God, a deity portrayed on the Temple of the Frescoes (Structure 16) and on the Temple of the Diving God (Structure 5). (Photographs of Tulum murals taken by Fadrique R. Diego).
Temple of the Frescoes
Temple of the Frescoes
Temple of the Frescoes
Above is a drawing of a mural from Structure 5, at the Maya site of Tulum, in Yucatan Mexico (drawing by Felipe Davalos G). The mural depicts elements of what may represent a Post Classic Mesoamerican version of the Hindu-Buddhist myth, "The Churning of the Milk Ocean". As mentioned earlier, "The Churning of the Milk's Ocean", is a popular creation story often depicted in Hindu and Buddhist art. It is recorded in several ancient Hindu texts, the most popular version of the Indian myth being the Eighth Canto of the Bhagavata Purana (Richard J. Williams p.2 2009). The story begins at the suggestion of Vishnu, that the gods and demons churn the primeval ocean in order to obtain the precious liquid that grants the gods immortality called Amrita. Once again we see the turtle deity acting as the central pivot point, below the churning mechanism, which is composed of intertwined serpents. Note the intertwined serpents in the main section of the scene as well as a serpent swimming in the primordial sea along with a fish, and turtle deity. The turtle bears the head of a deity scholars have designated God N. Maya epigrapher David Stuart, has suggested that God N and the Maya Post Classic god Itzamnah (known as God D from the codices), are likely manifestations of the same deity involved in the creation of the world. The figures above churning the so-called primeval ocean may represent the gods from the four cardinal directions (drawing of Mural 1 from Tulum from Milbrath).
The so-called "acrobat" figures, or "contortionists" depicted on effigy vases of Preclassic and Classic times are actually ballplayers according to Borhegyi (The Pre-Columbian Ballgame 1980 p.18). Borhegyi describes this unusual "acrobat" or "Diving God" mushroom stone in a letter to Wasson, dated January 14, 1958.
"Supposedly, it comes from near Tecpan and is presently in the private collection of Carlos Nottebohm. Carlos seems to think it represents an "acrobat" or "sacrificial victim". On the other hand, it may show the so-called "Diving Sun God". A clue to its date is even more difficult. The Tecpan-Iximche area was occupied in the Late Classic (500-900 A.D.) and the Post Classic (900-1500 A.D.) times. Stylistically, the specimen looks of a Late Pre-Classic type (500 B.C. - 200 A.D.) The "Diving Sun God" image, however, is characteristic of the Late Classic (500-900 A.D.) period and is shown mostly on Pipil sculpture. So, I am presently at a loss as to the proper placing of our new specimen. It seems that the "acrobatic" little fellow is balancing the mushroom top with his legs. A most unorthodox position" (letter Borhegyi to Wasson, January 14, 1958, Wasson Archives Harvard University).
(Photographs copyright Borhegyi)
Quoting Stephan F. de Borhegyi:
"The game must have required individual prowess and vigorous play, if one can judge by the contorted "acrobat" positions of the players; and the game surely involved some form of competition. The fact that contorted "acrobat" ballplayer figurines and effigy vessels were known not only from Tlatilco, but also from Colima, Oaxaca and southern Veracruz in Mexico, and from Kaminaljuyu in Guatemala, would indicate that the game was already widespread during Pre-Classic times" (S.F. de Borhegyi 1980 p. 2-3).
Archaeological evidence indicates that the ballgame was played in Mesoamerica as far back as Preclassic times (1000 B.C.E.-200 A.D.). Ballplayers are depicted among the numerous ceramic figurines excavated from the Preclassic archaeological sites of Tlatilco and Tlapacoya in the Valley of Mexico. "The occurrence of representations of ballplayers at Formative village sites in the Basin of Mexico is significant because they date to a time period some 1500-2000 years before ballcourts became widespread" (The Mesoamerican Ballgame 1991 p.11).
The female ballplayer figurine below on the right, comes from the archaeological site of Xochipala, Mexico, Tlatilco culture in the western state of Guerrero, and dates to 1200-900 B.C.E It is now in the Princeton University Art Museum. Many of the clay figurines found at the Olmec influenced sites of Xochipala, Tlatilco, and Tlapacoya, in the Valley of Mexico depict ballplayers holding bats or paddles, or so-called "knuckle dusters" which are over sized hand gloves like the one depicted below on the female Xochipala ballplayer (de Borhegyi S.F. 1980, p.24)
Above on the left is the famous bronze statue of a young women sporting a club-like hand. The female bronze statue is from Harappa, early Indus civilization and thought to be about 4,500 years old. The standing female hand-ballplayer figurine on the right is from the archaeological site of Xochipala in Guerrero, Mexico. The female ballplayer wears a protective club-like glove similar to the female bronze statue from Harappa. The Xochipala female ballplayer also wears what might be a mushroom inspired protective cup attached to her belt (photograph of Xochipala female ballplayer from Whittington, 2001). (For more on "knuckle dusters" or ballgame hand stones and ballgame gloves see de Borhegyi, 1961: 129-140).
The endless similarities between the Old World and the New World would suggest that the essentials of Mesoamerican civilization were brought from the Old World to the New World, and that transoceanic voyages were in fact quite feasible. That being said, cultural isolationists believe that diffusionists overestimate the sea-fairing abilities of pre-Columbian man to traverse the oceans, and that the similarities between the arts of Mesoamerica and those of Asia have been generally attributed to coincidence.
Sri. A. Kalyanaraman, an Indian author who has studied the Vedas, strongly argues in his book 1970, Aryatarangini: Saga of the Indo-Aryans, "that the Aryans of ancient India were a sun-worshiping sea-people, who sailed around the world, to the New World as well as to many parts of the Old".
Numerous Early-Middle Pre-Classic 1300-800 BCE. clay figurines of double-headed deities (duality of Venus ?) have been found at the site of Tlatilco, in the Valley of Mexico.
Above on the left is a female figurine from the Harappa culture, Indus Valley civilization (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE). The female figurine on the right is from Puebla, Mexico, Tlatilco culture Early-Middle Preclassic period 1300-800 B.C.E. Both female figurines depict vulva shaped legs and hips and headdresses that appear to encode Amanita muscaria mushrooms. Harappa figurine from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, John Wheelock Eliot Fund Accession number: 27.135 Provenance/Ownership History: Purchased by the MFA in 1927. Tlatilco female figurine photograph from the Justin Kerr Data Base.
Above is a pre-Columbian wheeled jaguar figurine from Veracruz Mexico, and a wheeled animal toy from the Indus Valley Civilization, India, Harappa Culture from Chanhu- Prehistoric, now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. For documentation of wheeled animal figurines in Mesoamerica see G.F. Ekholm, 1946; C. Irwin,1963; 131-135, and for documentation of wheeled animal figurines in the Old World see H. G. May, 1935: 23-24. E. Speiser, 1935: I, 68ff.; R. S. Star, 1937: I, 425.
The discovery of pre-Columbian wheeled toys, also called chariots (A.D. 300-900) in Mexico and El Salvador has caused some scholars to re-examine the notion that the principle of the wheel was not known anywhere in the Americas before Columbus. Researchers have already noted the similarities of wheeled clay toys dug up in Mexico with wheeled clay toys from Mesopotamia, Syria, China, and India. Wheeled animal figurines were commonly placed in Chinese tombs to represent sacrifices (Alice B. Kehoe, 2008, Controversies In Archaeology, p.160).
Transpacific diffusionist Gordon F. Ekholm believes that the wheeled toys were most likely
derived from the better-known toy chariot cult, of the Bronze Age Near East (3300-1200 B.C.).
Ekholm reported the discovery of wheeled effigies (American Antiquity 1946) that were
excavated at the Olmec site of Tres Zapotes in Veracruz, Mexico. Tres Zapotes was an Olmec
center boasting Colossal heads that was founded just a few centuries before 1000 B.C. The
question remains, of whether the invention of the wheel could have been made independently in
both the Old Word and the New World.
Evidence of pre-Columbian contact? The Makara (Sanskrit; Javanese: Makårå) often called "the water monster vehicle", or "sea dragon", is a Hindu-Buddhist mythological sea creature, often depicted with its trunk tilted up and its mouth spread wide open, and at times from which a deity emerges. The Makara is a common motif in Hindu and Buddhist iconography, generally portrayed guarding the entrance of many ancient temples in Indonesia. The drawing above the Makaras, is by the late Tatiana Proskouriakoff, taken from the palace at the ancient Maya ruins of Sayil, in Yucatan Mexico (1946: p.53). As with many other ancient civilizations, Mesoamerican's believed the deceased had to cross a body of water to reach the afterlife.
On pages 4 and 5 of the Dresden Codex, a scaly green monster is represented with its mouth spread wide open mouth and the head of God D (Schellhas) emerging, similar to the sea creature in Hindu-Buddhist mythology known as the Makara, the so-called "the water monster vehicle". According to Paul Schellhas, who was the first to identify systematically the various gods and accompanying name glyphs in the Postclassic codices and provided a letter designation writes that God D appears as a benevolent sun god in the Postclassic codices often associated with Kin, the sun glyph (Spinden1975:71). "Kin" meaning both sun and time, that time is the sun's cycle itself. According to Miller and Taube (1993:146) God D is also closely identified with esoteric priestly knowledge, such as divination and writing.
Its hard not to see the similarity in the ancient Indus Valley, Mohenjo-daro mushroom-shaped game pieces with the miniature mushroom stone from Highland Guatemala.
John L. Sorenson author of, A Complex of Ritual and Ideology Shared by Mesoamerica and the Ancient Near East, 2009:"English anthropologist Edward Tylor (1878a; 1878b) pointed out numerous details in common in the setup and rules governing these games in Mexico and India. He concluded that since we do not know from historical sources how the similarities might have been transmitted from one area to the other, “all we can argue is that communication of some sort there was.” He found it impossible to accept that human minds had twice invented the same set of arbitrary notions. The only satisfying explanation for parallels of such specificity as pachisi and patolli display is that the two occurrences were indeed historically related through some contact that has not so far been identified. Anthropologist Robert Lowie observed about this case that “the concatenation of details puts the parallels far outside any probability [of their having originated independently]”.
Above are ceramic figurines holding what appear to be parasols. The figurine on the right is from Western Mexico, (300 BCE–250
CE., from American Friends of the Israel Museum). The word for mushroom in Sanskrit means parasol
"chattra" (letter, Wasson to de Borhegyi 5-7-1953 Harvard Archives)
Quoting Dr. Carl A. P. Ruck...
"Hence the Soma god [of the Rig Veda] has no name, Soma being a metaphor of him as the
"Pressed One"; and his botanic identity lies hidden beneath a plethora of metaphors, such as
the parasol or wheel with spokes, both perfectly applicable to a mushroom". (from Sacred
Mushrooms of the Goddess, 2006, p.34)
Quoting Bernard Lowy:
"Maya codices has revealed that the Maya and their contemporaries knew and utilized psychotropic mushrooms in the course of their magico-religious ceremonial observances" (Lowy:1981) .
A page from the Madrid Codex, that clearly depict mushroom glyphs.
Several pages in the Madrid Codex depicts the Maya Merchant God, Ek'-Chu-Ah, (Ek-chuah) better known as God M (Schellhas) the black, long Pinocchio-like-nose god of traveling merchants (Herbert J. Spinden 1975 p.91). According to Borhegyi (1971, "Man Across the Sea" p.86), the black god Ek-Chu-Ah, (one of many manifestations of Mexican god Tlaloc?), became a protector of wary travelers, and the rapidly growing rich pochteca merchant class, whose members began to reside in comfortable surburbanite quarters associated with the market and trading centers. Known among the Nahua (Aztec) as Yacatecuhtli, Lord Nose this deity is intimately connected with cacao who merchants used as their chief currency. On several pages of the Madrid Codex, God M holds what Lowy has identified as a Amanita muscaria mushroom. The page on the lower right may pertain to what is known as the New Fire Ceremony and its time cycle of 52 years that was recognized by all Mesoamericans.
According to Borhegyi, (New Fire Ceremony) it was believed that in order to avoid catastrophe at the end of each 52-year period which also ended on the day Ahau, man through his priestly intermediaries, was required to enter into a new covenant with the supernatural (Borhegyi de, 1980: 8). In the meantime, he atoned for his sins and kept the precarious balance of the universe by offering uninterrupted sacrifices to the gods. The Calendar Round was considered to be so important that the world would end at the completion of 18,980 days or 52 years if sacred termination ceremonies were not performed. Ritual sacrifice was a way for the ancients to nourish and sustain all the living beings of the cosmos which gave order and meaning to their world.
The cult of this Maya Merchant God, Ek' Chu-Ah, (along with the salt and amber trade) still survives along the same ancient trade routes throughout Central America, Mexico, and even New Mexico in the United States. It is accompanied by salt and clay or earth-eating (geophagy) and the veneration of the miraculous image of the Black Christ (El Cristo Negro) of Esquipulas (Borhegyi 1965a. p.55 notes) (cf. Borhegyi, 1953, 1954b)
Although the hallucinogenic mushroom cult has survived to this day among certain tribes like the Zapotec, Chinantec, and Mazatec Indians of Mexico, there has been little to nothing reported among the present-day Maya, who obviously conceal there use from outsiders. According to Heim and Wasson (1958), the Indians of Mexico have used at least 20 different species of mushrooms in their religious ceremonies, the most important being Psilocybe mexicana. Several varieties of Amanita muscaria exist, their color ranging from brilliant red to yellow-gold.
In letters to Wasson, from Borhegyi:
" I spent several days in the region of Lake Atitlan in search for information on present day use of mushrooms but was unable to get anything of interest. The French ethnologist who has been studying the region for almost a year was unable to give me any information either, although I had him ask his informants" (letter Borhegyi to Wasson, August 1, 1953, Wasson Archives Harvard University).
"In the village of San Martin Jilotepeque (Dept. of Chimaltenango) Cakchiquel Indians, according to two informants, one Indian the other a ladino, there is a large, yellow mushroom called San Juan because it appears around San Juan's day (24th of June). It is eaten when cooked and quite frequently the people who eat it feel quite drunk and have nice dreams. There were some mushroom stones of the tripod variety in the village which the informants said were used as stools" (Borhegyi to Wasson May25, 1953, Wasson Archives Harvard University).
The search in Guatemala for evidence of a present day mushroom cult has thus far been unsuccessful. However, on June 29, 1976, the first recorded Guatemalan collection of psilocybe mexicana Heim, was made by Bernard Lowy, Ruben Mayorga and Miguel Torres in a meadow near Santa Elena Barillas, about 25 Km. south of Guatemala City. Previously this mushroom had been known only from Mexico. It was also discovered that a local trade in psilocybe mexicana was flourishing and that the children in that area were collecting the mushrooms, calling them pajaritos (little birds), in quantity and were offering them for sale to a clientele who traveled considerable distances to make their purchases. The identification of psilocybe mexicana Heim in guatemala lends credence to the possibility that a still undiscovered mushroom cult may be eventually be found there (Lowy 1977 p.124).
In a letter to Borhegyi from Bernard Lowy:
Dear Dr. Borhegyi:
"Concerning the hallucinogenic mushroom cult, I had a tantalizing experience in Guatemala I will tell you about briefly. Since no evidence has yet been found that would indicate the existence of such a cult in present-day Guatemala, it may be of special interest. While in Panajachel (13 July 1963), I met an old gentleman, Don Emilio Crespo..."In a long conversation with him, after getting around to the matter of mushroom stones (4 of which I saw along with other miscellaneous stone idols, all thrown together in an untidy heap) Don Emilio told me that he had seen in the possession of Indians in the Quiche, small carvings of mushrooms in jade. When I asked him whether he had ever acquired such pieces, he replied that he had tried to do so but found it impossible because the Indians told him that if they sold these objects they would die" (Bernard Lowy to Borhegyi and Wasson, February 2, 1965 Wasson Archives Harvard University)
A mushroom creation myth told by a Tzeltal Mayan informant to Ethno-Botanist Glenn Shepard recorded and translated in 1993: Published online 29 October 2008, noting the informants blend of Biblical and indigenous elements to the creation story, and his striking substitution of intoxicating mushrooms for the Biblical forbidden fruit, and divine manna, as the precious food resource delivered by God in the time of need.
"God sent a messenger bird to warn Noah, Job, Adam, Eve, Ali Baba, and all the village elders that a flood was about to destroy the Third Creation of the World. So they built an ark and filled it with their animals and possessions. And so it rained for thirteen days and thirteen nights. After the flood waters subsided the crops had been destroyed and there was nothing to eat, so our Lord's first act was to make the edible mushrooms to grow. Mushrooms are thus yutzil pulimal, the "Grace of the Flood," God's first gift to Noah and his crew after suffering through the long days of rain. Soon after, however, Adam and Eve betrayed their Lord by eating the poisonous, intoxicating mushroom offered to them by the Serpent Demon. They went "crazy in the head" (ya xbolub jolol) and fell from the Grace of their Lord and from the Grace of the Flood. Poisonous, "crazy" mushrooms (bol lu') then sprouted in the forests and fields ----brothers and sisters to the original gift of edible mushrooms---and since that time mushroom hunters have had to carefully learn from their parents and grandparents which mushrooms are consecrated with the grace of God and which are poisonous progeny of the Serpent Demon". (From Glenn Shepard 2008, p. 448 "The Grace of the Flood: Classification and Use of Wild Mushrooms among the Highland Maya of Chiapas)
On a visit to Guatemala in 2010, the author found that the Quiche Maya Indians of the Guatemala Highlands were selling tiny Amanita muscaria mushroom toys in the markets, which all have a quetzal bird sitting in a tree painted on the stem. Although the seller informed me that the Maya did eat this variety of mushroom, it is possible she may have been referring to the non-hallucinogenic Amanita caesarea, commonly sold in markets in Mexico and Guatemala and much appreciated for its delicate flavor. Although clearly a child's toy produced for the tourist trade, they bear symbolism of great antiquity. In Mesoamerican mythology, the World Tree, with its roots in the underworld and its branches in the heavens, represents the axis mundi or center of the world. The branches represent the four cardinal directions. Each of the directions was associated with a different color while the color green represented the central place. A bird, known as the celestial bird or Principal Bird Deity, usually sits atop the tree. The trunk, which connects the two planes, was seen as a portal to the underworld. The Quetzal, now the national bird of modern Guatemala, was considered sacred because of its green plumage. I believe that the Amanita muscaria mushroom cult may still survive in remote areas of Highland Guatemala, where the mushroom grows in abundance. I also believe there is now clear evidence that the Amanita muscaria mushroom is a symbol of equal antiquity.
Acknowledgements: The author thanks his mother Dr. Suzanne de Borhegyi-Forrest and sister Ilona de Borhegyi for their contributions to this book and the books above. This book and Bibliography is still a work in progress.
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