Maya Mushroom Stones from Kaminaljuyu, in Highland Guatemala

By Carl de Borhegyi

Above are two of the nine miniature mushroom stones that were found buried together in a Maya tomb, along with nine miniature stone metates and manos (Soma stones?) used in the preparation of a ritual mushroom beverage. The nine mushroom stones were excavated from the Maya ruins of Kaminaljuyu, in Highland Guatemala.

Shortly after the Spanish Conquest, chroniclers reported on the Aztecs ritual use of hallucinogenic mushrooms, who called their sacred mushroom Teonanacatl, meaning “Gods flesh”  “Teo” meaning god in the language of the Aztecs.

In a manuscript written by Hernando Ruiz de Alarcon between 1617-1629, called ” Treatise on Indian Superstitions”  known today as Treatise on the heathen superstitions that today live among the Indians, which records in great detail the religious beliefs and rituals among the Aztecs.  Ruiz de Alarcon reported that the indigenous peoples believed that their sacred plants were gods, and described a tawny-colored mushroom made into a drink from its pressed-out juices.

Archaeologist Stephan de Borhegyi…

“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.” (Borhegyi 1961: 498-504)

While reading through one of my father’s (Stephan F. de Borhegyi) correspondences with ethno-mycologist Robert Gordon Wasson, he mentions two interesting passages from native chronicles written around 1554.  Both related to indigenous use of mushrooms in Guatemala. 

A passage from the Popol Vuh, (Goetz,1950:192) reads:

 “And when they found the young of the birds and the deer, they went at once to 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”).

A passage from The Annals of the Cakchiquels,  (1953:82-83), records:

“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.”

  R. Gordon Wasson postulated that…

“the use of mushrooms, if I am right, spread over most of Eurasia and the Americas, and as Stone Age Man has emerged into the light of proto-history these strange fungi may well have been the primary secret of his sacred Mysteries”.   

 

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Underworld Jaguar Transformation and Mushroom Venus Resurrection

Photographs © Justin Kerr # 6608

Owner: Denver Art Museum Denver CO
Maya vase painting K6608  depicts three underworld jaguars which I believe may symbolize a Maya metaphor referring to the three hearth stones of Maya creation, a “trinity of gods” in Maya religion identified at the archaeological site of Palenque as GI, GII, GIII.  The underworld jaguars all wear mushroom shaped ear plugs, and wear sacrificial scarves, symbolic of underworld decapitation. The scarves symbolicly bear the colors and spots of the Amanita muscaria mushroom.

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 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. 

 Mushrooms were so closely associated with death and underworld jaguar transformation and Venus resurrection that I conclude that they must have been believed to be the vehicle through which both occurred. They are also so closely associated with ritual decapitation, that their ingestion may have been considered essential to the ritual itself, whether in real life or symbolically in the underworld. It is also important to note that in many cases the mushroom images appeared to be associated with period endings in the Maya calendar. 

Quoting from 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).”


Precolumbian mushroom worship

By Carl de Borhegyi

Some of the most obvious examples of mushroom veneration, and the association of mushrooms with shamanic rituals, come to us through the ancient, realistic, and very appealingly humanistic art of Western Mexico. Figurines such as these, were long dismissed as simply secular and “anecdotal” folk art. Only recently have scholars such as Peter T. Furst (1998), and Gaston Guzman (2003, 2009), called attention to the sacred, symbolic, supernatural, and shamanic component to these ancient mortuary ceramics.

I have found an abundance of archaeological evidence supporting the proposition that Mesoamerica, the high cultures of South America, and Easter Island shared, along with many other New World cultures, elements of a Pan American belief system so ancient that many of the ideas may have come from Asia to the New World with the first human settlers.  I believe the key to this entire belief system lies, as proposed by R. Gordon Wasson, in early man’s discovery of the mind-altering effects of various hallucinatory substances. The accidental ingestion of these hallucinogenic substances could very well have provided the spark that lifted the mind and imagination of these early humans above and beyond the mundane level of daily existence to contemplation of another reality.

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).”

Mushrooms, Tlaloc Warfare, and Venus Resurrection

Mushrooms, Tlaloc Warfare, and Venus Resurrection.

Mushrooms, Tlaloc Warfare, and Venus Resurrection

By Carl de Borhegyi
The gold Aztec figurine (K2048, Justin Kerr Data Base) depicts a warrior wearing a mushroom-inspired nose plug, encoded and “Hidden In Plain Sight. Hallucinogenic mushrooms appear to be linked with what scholars have called “Tlaloc warfare” or “Venus star-wars”.

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, 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. Note that the warrior holds a shield depicting the “quincunx”, a Mesoamerican Venus symbol identifying the four cardinal directions of the universe and its cosmic center, the sacred portal into Quetzalcoatl-Tlaloc’s spirit world, or paradise called Tlalocan.

Mushrooms were so closely associated with immortality via death and underworld jaguar transformation and Venus resurrection that I conclude that they must have been believed to be the vehicle through which both occurred. They are also so closely associated with ritual decapitation, that their ingestion may have been considered essential to the ritual itself, whether in real life or symbolically in the underworld. It is also important to note that in many cases the mushroom images appeared to be associated with period endings in the Maya calendar.

Stone Age petroglyphs found in Washington State depict symbols of Venus?

By Carl de Borhegyi

A few years ago I found this photograph and drawing of some stone age petroglyphs that were found on the Pacific side of Hartstene Island off the coast of Washington State. To my knowledge I am the first to note the similarity of these symbols with those found in Mexico and in Central America and on Easter Island.
I have found an abundance of archaeological evidence supporting the proposition that Mesoamerica, the high cultures of South America, and Easter Island shared, along with many other New World cultures, elements of a Pan American belief system so ancient that many of the ideas may have come from Asia to the New World with the first human settlers. I believe the key to this entire belief system lies, as proposed the late ethno-mycologist by R. Gordon Wasson, in early man’s discovery of the mind-altering effects of various hallucinatory substances. The accidental ingestion of these hallucinogenic substances could very well have provided the spark that lifted the mind and imagination of these early humans above and beyond the mundane level of daily existence to contemplation of another reality.

My studies have also led me conclude that all variants of the Toltec/Aztec gods Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc, and their Classic Maya counterparts, Kukulcan, K´awil and Chac, 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. In Mesoamerica they are also linked with warfare. 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, 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.

For more on the Mushroom-Venus cult visit mushroomstone.com
(Photo and drawing above are from the GALLERY OF NORTHWEST PETROGLYPHS: SHAMANIC ART OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST: © 2010 Daniel Leen

Iconography of Tlaloc and Quetzalcoatl as a symbol of Venus ?

By Carl de Borhegyi

Above is a carved image of the Mesoamerican god Tlaloc as a symbol of Venus. Tlaloc bears the symbol of Venus around his trademark goggled eyes. The symbol which extends down between Tlaloc’s eyes creating Tlaloc’s twisted nose, is a reference I believe to the Aztec symbol Ollin, which means movement, and likely alludes to Venus’s movement in and out of the Underworld as both a Morning Star and Evening Star. On the right is a Classic period Maya bowl, (from the collection of the Milwaukee Public Museum) which I believe attempts to depict both Tlaloc and Quetzalcoatl as the planet Venus. It should be first noted that both Tlaloc and Quetzalcoatl shared the same temple at Teotihuacan. I believe that the artist who painted the bowl purposely designed the abstract image of a bird to encode an equally abstract image of the Mesoamerican gods Quetzalcoatl-Tlaloc merged together to represent the dualistic planet Venus, signifying divine Venus resurrection from the Underworld. The name Quetzalcoatl has been interpreted to mean “Precious twin,” indicating that the Morning Star and Evening Star are one and the same (Caso, 1958:.24; Duran:325).

The Venus symbol as I see it, is esoterically formed by the wings of the bird which partly surround two hook-shaped symbols creating the overall appearance of Tlaloc, only with Quetzalcoatl’s serpentine eyes, a clever artistic substitute for Tlaloc’s trademark goggle eyes. I interpret the tail of the bird to esoterically represent Tlaloc’s trademark handlebar mustache, and fangs which link Tlaloc to the Underworld and the Evening Star aspect of the planet Venus (compare with image of Tlaloc on the left). One last note, my research leads me to believe that the image on the right, of the bird elements  blended with the features of the gods Tlaloc and Quetzalcoatl, was encoded in the shape of the Fleur de lis symbol.
In my examination of pre-Columbian art I have discovered that the gods that appear to be linked to mushroom imagery are clearly linked to the planet Venus as both a Morning Star and Evening Star.