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Religion & Legends                   1,000 AD
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

The Globe

 Spread effectively by military might and trade buttressed by modern shipping and European religious/political institutions, supernatural Christianity--the European flag-bearer of the YHVH tradition--took over both American continents, Australia, large sections of Africa, and much of Asia. As a result of the modern era of colonization, this supernatural religion and its assumptions about reality have been insinuated into almost all cultures on the planet. (113)

Africa

The principal deities of Carthage were Tanit and Baal Haman, and they were very specifically Carthaginian deities, not worshipped as such in the rest of the Phoenician world. Tanit-Baal Haman were very distinctive gods. They "melted together," merged, became one composite bisexual god. In Carthage, Tanit was worshipped as Tanit-Pene-Baal, "Tanit, the face of Baal," and Baal Haman, before the Punic Wars, “was no more than the male aspect of the Goddess, and as such was a moongod.” (before 262 BC) Did Tanit-Baal Haman, as such, appear among the West Africans? Yes, down to the smallest ritualistic detail! And the irony is that this Carthaginian goddess-god, after both Rome and Carthage and all their gods have long disappeared, is still the living deity among tribes like the Akan of Ghana. (120)

Curiously, among the Aztecs, as among the Phoenicians, the blood sacrifice was both implicit/indirect/"concealed," and explicit/direct/open. What had happened in the rest of the Mediterranean on the edge between prehistory and history was that a transformation had taken place and the direct, powerful, instinctive reality of Man facing his gods on a visceral level had been changed into a series of symbolic, substitute acts. The Phoenicians, especially the Carthaginians, had ripped the cover off the symbolism and returned sacrifice to its essential, primal meaning--a blood bond between Man and his gods.

Baal-Samin: Lord of Heaven. (120)

Zeus as bird. I decided to do an in-depth study of Anat-Tanit. Why was Anat-Tanit angry? We find her boasting that she destroyed the enemies of Baal, her husband/brother, who are at the same time portrayed as the beloved of their father, El: What enemy has appeared against Baal,
What adversaries for the Rider of Clouds?
Behold, I smote 'El's Beloved, Sea,
I destroyed the Great Rivers of El,
I muzzled Tannin [the Sea Dragon], yea, I muzzled him,
I smote the Crooked Serpent,
the monster of seven heads,
I smote the Beloved of the "mighty" of the netherworld,
I cut off El's calf,
I smote the godly bitch, Fire,
I destroyed El's daughter, Flame,
I fought and took possession of the gold…
Has Baal been driven from the heights of the North,
has his crown fallen and his ears been cut off?

Baal, the same Baal that appears in Carthage as Baal Haman, is being conspired against by his father, El, a kind of God the Father figure, who is in league with strange partners, creatures who seem to be personifications of fire and water (the sea). Baal, of course, is, as always, preeminently a fertility god associated with sex, procreation, new life, and Anat-Tanit is his consort. (120)

The core of Phoenician religion stems from the fact of the Great Cataclysm: It is a religion of hysteria, desperately strengthening and supporting Life/Fertility by feeding the fertility gods, Anat-Tanit and Baal Haman with blood. To the Phoenician mind, whether in Syria-Palestine or North Africa, their whole sacrificial system was based on an attempt to prevent another--and final--Great Cataclysm. (120)

Southwest Asia

 Indus Valley dwellers, and the Pacific coast "tribes," used the concept of the "four directions," the "four corners," that finds its most dramatic graphic expression in the Aztec sacrificial "calendar-stone" from Tenochtitlan. Like the "Indians" on both sides of the Pacific, they practiced human sacrifice. (120)

The ancient land of Canaan was a land of blood pacts. Blood must be spilled to maintain the equilibrium of life. It is a bond, a pledge between a people and their gods, a sign of absolute belief, a thanksgiving for favors rendered, and at the same time a plea for favors yet to come. (120)

AD Christ, the son of God and king of the Jews, part of the sun-worshippers trinity. Offspring of the marriage of a sky-god with a native woman, preacher of the Sermon on the Mount. Self-sacrifice by a young man for the sake of his people; the human scapegoat, moving away the sins of the world. Gospels recorded in Aramaic, the Aramaic script the only direct descendent of Amorite, written up in Greek. (135)

Egypt

 

Indus Valley

 Both the Greeks and the Hindus describe the Iron Age (the Hindu Kali Yuga) as being characterized by materialism and greed. Kali is literally translated as "quarrel and hypocrisy." In this age labor is degraded into toil for selfish ends; crime becomes commonplace; terrible wars break out; and fraud, deceit, and hatred rule. If all of this sounds familiar, it is because, according to Hindus, we are still living in this age, just as we have been for thousands of years. (69)

Perhaps the most awesome of all Aztec sculptures is that of Coatlicue, the Aztec Great Mother, with her skull head, cat paws, snake skirt, and snake crown (left). Very rightly she is described as the beginning and end of Aztec cosmology. She precedes Ometecultli/Omecihuatl (Tanit-Baal Haman), and I saw her, I think correctly, as an Aztec version of Kali the Great Indian Mother Goddess--destroyer, creator, and the simultaneous beginning and end of the whole, almost interchangeable processes of coming to life and coming to death (right). Kali, in Indian theology, is a blood-drinker, a companion of "demons." She is the power of time, transcendent night, the power of ether. (120)

China

 

Europe

 Both the Greeks and the Hindus describe the Iron Age (the Hindu Kali Yuga) as being characterized by materialism and greed. Kali is literally translated as "quarrel and hypocrisy." In this age labor is degraded into toil for selfish ends; crime becomes commonplace; terrible wars break out; and fraud, deceit, and hatred rule. If all of this sounds familiar, it is because, according to Hindus, we are still living in this age, just as we have been for thousands of years. (69)

South America

 …there is a legend that has been told by the people living around Lake Titicaca since the time of the Spanish Conquest some 500 years ago. It has been passed down from generation to generation and claims that there is an ancient sunken city in Titicaca's depths. A recent discovery as reported by the BBC, "Archaeologists Probe Lake of Mystery," just may prove this to be an accurate historical record: La Paz, Bolivia, Aug. 24--A stone anchor and animal bones were among the artifacts scientists said they found beneath South America's Lake Titicaca in what is thought to be a giant 1,000-year-old temple. After 18 days of diving below the clear waters of Titicaca, scientists said Tuesday that they had discovered a 660-foot-long, 160-foot-wide temple, a terrace for crops, a pre-Incan road, and a 2,600-foot containing wall. (69)

Beginning with the advent of warfare in the seventh century, through the abandonment of the spiritual heart of the Andes at Tiahuanaco about A.D. 1000 and the accompanying fracturing of Andean life into a mosaic of warring tribes, through successive conquests by the Incas and the Spanish, and present-day exploitation and neglect, the native peoples of the Andes have tuned their collective soul to this ancient vibration. Reciprocity, rather than hatred, was and remains the price of cultural survival, impeccably paid. (167)

In the pre-Columbian Andes, the Milky Way was styled a river or, less frequently, a road. It was the route traveled by both the souls and the spirits of the dead in order to reach the world of the living. (167)

In the last analysis, the Inca Emperors understood that no heroic measures could ever redeem the Fifth Sun. In the end, only a "plea" might prevail. The capac hucha, was indeed a plea, and in this plea lay the secret of the Incas. The Incas did not, like the Aztecs, sacrifice human lives to "feed" the Sun; instead they dispatched emissaries to the stars, emissaries bearing a desperate message. The Incas, desperate to make peace with the stars on behalf of the Fifth Sun and all who dwelt beneath it, had conceived the means to plead humanity's case at heaven's bar. For the judge was no less than the Creator himself, Wiraqocha, the god of Time, who, in the end, would make the ultimate disposition. The children of the wakas were sent to make the case, but they could not do so directly. In Andean religion one addressed Wiraqocha through the intercession of one's lineage waka. It was those wakas, and not humanity itself, that Wiraqocha had created above Titicaca all those Worlds ago. Thus, the children sacrificed were dispatched to their respective waka homelands in the stars, bearing the capac hucha, that is to say the "royal plea." For then, and only then, might the very stars of heaven, so persuaded by their charges, and speaking as if with one voice, conspire to reach the ear of Wiraqocha, the awesome bearer of the Mill, and plead the case for their earthly children. (167)

The lintel of the Gateway at Tiahuanaco reveals the ancient logic that inspired the capacocha, now enlisted in desperate urgency for the sole purpose of getting a message through, before Time ran out. The message was indeed in the form of a plea, a mantra really, because it was repeated over and over again during the weeks it must have taken for the stately processions of the capacocha to reach the limits of the Empire. As the priests walked "four by four," eyes downcast, they paused every few hundred yards ("the distance of an arcabus [arquebus] shot") and repeated these words, words that represent the distillation of two millennia of Andian thought: "May the Sun remain a young man and the Moon a Young maiden; may the world not turn over; let there be peace." This, then, was the plea that the Incas directed to Wiraqocha. When a god got old, as had happened to Wiraqocha himself, the end of his reign was nigh, and the time to leave the earth at hand. So the Incas prayed that Sun and Moon, the Fifth Sun and Moon, remain young. The Incas pleaded for peace, for the survival of the Fifth Sun, for Wiraqocha to hold back the deluge. To all the world, the Inca Empire appeared to be at its zenith. But as Huayna Capac lay dying, and the bridge to an ancestral world already lost sank beneath the waters of time, Wiraqocha sent his reply. He sent the Spanish. (167)

The Incas are the more remarkable for rising above the temptation to indulge in the easy tribal hatreds of their time. In struggling with a terrible vision of the future, the Incas drew upon the waters of sorrow, rather than rage, to fashion an empire in the image of a prayer. And if this plea, carried on high by the souls of slain children, displayed flawed powers of faith, it also revealed the most terrible sorrow of all: a sense that the Creator might abandon his creation. Like the compulsive gambler who searches, grief-stricken, for divine recognition in the perfect winning streak, the Incas risked everything for a sign in the sky. For the Incas, gold was the symbolic expression of this sorrow, called by them "the tears of the Sun," tears shed at the spectacle of human folly. Gold--and silver as well, the tears of the Moon--were metals so sacred that no object fashioned from them and brought to Cuzco could ever be removed, under pain of death. In a land with no monetary system, gold's value lay in its inherent beauty, a beauty that the Incas used to express the imperishable wonder of the living world. (167)

The Andean mythographers kept in mind and recorded in myth multiple relations within the sphere of fixed stars, particularly those stars involved in the observation of the solstices. The Andean peoples knew where the stars were even when they couldn't see them. The consistent use in the myth of kinship terms--"father," "son," "sister," "kinsman"--between the planetary deities, and the characterization of the "bird-shaman/stars" assembled by the Inca as royal subjects corroborates that descent systems in the Andes were reckoned in terms of astronomical entities, and that a relationship of ruler to ruled was conceptualized as the replication on earth of the relationship of planets to stars. The myth corroborates in yet another manner that the primary astrological concern of the Inca Empire was with the "fate" of this location in the stars. (167)

Mesoamerica

 The Aztecs believe that the present world was just one in a succession of creations by the gods, and that constant effort was required to forestall the extinction of the sun and the utter disappearance of humanity. Human blood was an essential part of the ritual whereby the end of the world was postponed, and each time a human heart was ripped from a sacrificed person, another small step was taken toward prolonging the daily rebirth of the sun. (51)

This slaughter was accepted by the common people; in fact, it seems to have been widely supported. All war captives knew their fate, and it was an act of honor to accept a sacrificial death. In addition, young men were selected each year to lead a life of luxury in which they were surrounded by complaisant young women and feasted on the best of food, realizing full well that at the end of the year they would be sacrificed. In addition, parents throughout the land turned over infants and children to government officials for use in annual sacrificial rites. (51)

Many of the sacrificial victims, as well as soldiers who died in battle, people struck by lightning, and mothers who died in childbirth, were thought to spend eternity in various paradises, cosseted with the pleasures of this world and the next. (51)

Indus Valley dwellers, and the Pacific coast "tribes," used the concept of the "four directions," the "four corners," that finds its most dramatic graphic expression in the Aztec sacrificial "calendar-stone" from Tenochtitlan. Like the "Indians" on both sides of the Pacific, they practiced human sacrifice. (120)

The Aztecs represented a totally different kind of sociopsychological structure. The basis of their whole existence was human sacrifice, flagellation, flaying, the sacrifice of self and others. Although the Aztecs sacrificed victims to the Sun, the Sun was not their "father" as he was to the Incas. The Aztec creation myth, in fact, portrays Quetzalcuatl going to Mictlan, the "Place of the Dead," and getting bones out of which will emerge the human race. The bones are ground up; he cuts his penis over them; bleeds on them, and the present race of humans is born: Upon them Quetzalcoatl bled his member. The other gods and Quetalcoatl himself did penance. (120)

And they said, "People have been born, oh gods, the macehuales [those given life or "deserved" into life through penance]." Because, for our sake, the gods did penance! So, instead of picturing god as having created man from a kind of overflow of divine goodness, here man emerges as the result of blood-letting penance. (120)

The Aztecs, instead of seeing cosmic history as a steady, certain unfolding of events, saw it in terms of apocalypses. They pictured themselves as existing in a fifth apocalyptic age that had been preceded by four previous ages that had come into being and then been destroyed. The foundation of their collective history was this series of periods of destruction and re-creation, and they felt that the final, the fifth apocalyptic era in which they were living, was the last. It would end violently like the others, but this time there would be no re-creation--the end would be final and represent the last destruction of the human world. The rationale behind the mass sacrificing of victims to the gods (and most especially to the Sun) was that, although the destruction of this fifth cosmic period could not be permanently averted, at least it could be temporarily "stalled" by human sacrifice. As a consequence, the entire mechanism of the state was geared to making war on neighboring tribes, capturing "victims" and sacrificing them the hundreds…(120)

In the case of Quetzalcoatl, the first time he definitely appears (not counting the Quetzalcoatl epiphany on the Mochica raft already alluded to) is in Teotihuacan circa 200 AD. Here he is already deified, a plumed serpent-god. Only, unlike the case with Viracocha, the identity of the original person from whom the deity sprang is inextricably bound up with the personality of the second, dateable, traceable Quetzalcoatl--the King of Tula. Peru, in a sense, existed in an ethnological vacuum. Although the "legendary" Quetzalcoatl at Teotihuacan was elusive, the "historical" Quetzalcoatl was much more documented and traceable. He was originally from Tula (Tollan), the home of the Toltecs, a city about fifty miles north of Mexico City, which flourished between 856 and 1168 AD. Tula was a kind of earthly paradise, and the Toltecs were master craftsmen, silversmiths, jade workers, and goldsmiths who thrived under the rule of King-Priest Quetzalcoat1. (120)

In Duran's key work, The Book of the Gods, there is an entire section about another Toltec called Topiltzin, known to the Aztecs as "Our Lord" or "Papa," "High Priest," who sounds (and even looks) like Quetzalcoatl. Whether he was the original Toltec king, Quetzalcoatl, or some other priest (Quetza1coatl), whatever Duran's Aztec sources told him about Topiltzin's ambience was easily applicable to Quetzalcoatl himself. Topiltzin was "a man who had come from a foreign country…I can find no account of his homeland." He was a preacher who gathered disciples around him, formed a cult, eventually a nation and because of the feats of his people, says Duran, other people began to call the Toltecs Toltecs. In other words, the Nahuatl word toltec for artist/technician precedes its application to the Toltecs themselves. Besides being a preacher, he is also an architect/stoneworker. When Duran asked his informants who made this building or that cave or cleft a particular hill, he always got the same answer: the Toltecs, disciples of the High Priest, Papa. (120)

Then a "persecutor" enters into the story, someone called Tezcatlipoca, who "pretended to have come down from heaven." He is also a "miracle-worker" and creates his own sect, his own group of followers, who drive out Topiltzin, who lives in Tula for a while, and then finally leaves altogether. He goes down to the sea, touches the water with his staff, a road appears, he walks out on it, and when his pursuers begin to follow, they are swallowed up by the waters. On his way to the ocean, Duran reports, he carved crosses and effigies upon the rocks, and at one spot along his route, he left a "large book ... four fingers in height and written in characters." Topiltzin's followers wore tunics and cloth hats that appear in Indian drawings like sea shells. (120)

And then Duran's informants zero in on the relationship between Topiltzin and Quetzalcoatl: Again I asked him the reason for the departure of the holy man from this land. He answered that the persecution by Quetzalcuatl and Tezcatlipoca (both of them wizards and magicians, who would change their forms as they wished) had been the reason. Topiltzin's departure by sea (following Sahagun informants) is clearly paralleled by Quetzalcoatl's own departure. If there are two High Priests, then both of them are eventually driven out by the Toltecs. Our knowing what Duran didn't know, that Quetzalcoatl, meaning simply "High Priest," was a generic rather than an individual name, would indicate the following scenario: Two high priests (Quetzalcoatls) appeared in Toltec country and pushed their ways into positions of eminence. One seemed to be both priest and king; the other was primarily priest. A third priest- "magician" leagued up with the priest Quetzalcoatl and drove the King-Priest-Quetzalcoatl out. Then the Priest-"Magician" Tezcatlipoca, and his followers drove Topiltzin, the Priest-Quetzalcoatl, out too. Both Quetzalcoatls went down to the sea and left...(120)

I found Tanit-Baal Haman at the very top of the Aztec pantheon:
And the Toltecs knew that many are the heavens.
They said there are twelve superimposed divisions.
There dwells the true god and his consort.
The celestial god is called the Lord of Duality.
And his consort is called the Lady of Duality, the celestial Lady...(120)

The Aztecs, like the West Africans, waged a sacred war in order to obtain captives to appease the gods--especially the sun. In 1487, 20,000 captives were slain, and there is evidence that as the result of earlier raids the number of sacrificed victims varied yearly between 10,000 and 50,000 It was a world of skulls, death, and fear of cosmic destruction. The Aztecs felt that they were in the last phase of cosmic life before the universe came to a final stop. The fifth Sun, their sun, was called the Sun of Movement: ... And as the elders continue to say, under this sun there will be earthquakes and hunger, and then our end shall come. (120)

Perhaps the most awesome of all Aztec sculptures is that of Coatlicue, the Aztec Great Mother, with her skull head, cat paws, snake skirt, and snake crown (left). Very rightly she is described as the beginning and end of Aztec cosmology. She precedes Ometecultli/Omecihuatl (Tanit-Baal Haman), and I saw her, I think correctly, as an Aztec version of Kali the Great Indian Mother Goddess--destroyer, creator, and the simultaneous beginning and end of the whole, almost interchangeable processes of coming to life and coming to death (right). Kali, in Indian theology, is a blood-drinker, a companion of "demons." She is the power of time, transcendent night, the power of ether. (120)

To the Phoenician mind, whether in Syria-Palestine or North Africa, their whole sacrificial system was based on an attempt to prevent another--and final--Great Cataclysm. This was the exact same rationale behind the dynamics of the Aztec world. In fact, the Aztec cosmological "Legend of the Suns" very nicely details the events of the Great Cataclysm, not in terms of one event, but as a series of "ages" of "suns." First comes the wind: Their homes, their trees--everything was taken away by the wind. And this Sun itself was also swept away by the wind. Then comes the fire: It rained fire upon them…This Sun was consumed by fire. All their homes burned…They perished when it rained fire for a whole day. Then the water: …they were swallowed by the waters and they became fish. The heavens collapsed upon them and in a single day they perished…they perished, all the mountains perished. (120)

North America

 

Other

 There is a tradition on Easter Island that a group of "Long-Ears" built the huge stone heads. They lived on the eastern part of the island, and another group, the "Short-Ears," lived on the west. The Long-Ears wanted to turn the Short-Ears into a forced labor brigade in order to build a temple (in other words, to create another Tiahuanaco, another Chavin), and a war ensued. The Long-Ears lost and were almost exterminated, and monolithic building on Easter Island came to an end. (120)