Hindu Mythology In Pre-Columbian Art

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The drawing by Daniela Epstein-Koontz, is of a ball court relief panel from the archaeological site of El Tajin, in Veracruz Mexico.  My study would strongly argue that this ballcourt relief panel represents a pre-Columbian version of a Hindu creation scene, known as, The Churning of the Milk’s Ocean, often depicted in Hindu art.

 

The prevailing anthropological view of ancient New World history is that its indigenous peoples developed their own complex cultures independent of outside influence or inspiration.  Any suggestions to the contrary have been generally dismissed as either fanciful, racist, or demeaning. The peoples of the New World, scholars have argued,  were fully capable of developing their own civilizations as sophisticated as any found in Asia or the West. Today trans-oceanic contact between the hemispheres is still considered highly unlikely despite the exception of the Viking outpost discovered in Newfoundland in the 1960’s, and the recent awareness that early humans reached far distant Australia by boat as many as 50,000 years ago. After viewing the visual evidence presented below, readers of this study may wish to challenge this view of New World history with a more open-minded acknowledgement of the capability of ancient peoples to explore their environment and disperse their intellectual heritage to its far corners. 

The Churning of the Milk Ocean myth is told in several ancient Hindu texts, in which the  Vedic god Vishnu is the sea tortoise depicted as the pivot point for Mt. Mantara acting as the churning stick. At the suggestion of Vishnu, the gods, and demons churn the primeval ocean with the help of a serpent, in order to obtain Amrita, (which is the Amanita muscaria mushroom I would argue) which will guarantee them immortality.  Among the ancient Maya the Turtle has been identified with rebirth, and the shell with divinity. In the creation mythology of the ancient Maya the first created image was the turtle constellation Ac, identified as the three stars (hearthstones of creation?) of the belt of Orion (Brennan,1998 p.93).  

 

In the drawing above note the dual headed serpent at the bottom of the scene on the right and left, emerging from the ocean’s depth. The turtle at the bottom of the scene, an avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu acts as the central pivot point, below the churning mechanism which is composed of an intertwined serpent being pulled at both ends by sky deities (four cardinal directions) who create the new born sun (Vishnu ?), the arrows in the scene representing what will be the sun’s rays of light. If this ballcourt scene does represent Hindu mythology, and I am certain that it does, than the two deities behind the central characters hold jars of Soma in their hands. 

For more evidence and visual study of Trans-Pacific Contacts read SOMA IN THE AMERICAS: by Carl de Borhegyi

http://www.mushroomstone.com/somaintheamericas.htm

 

 

 

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Mushrooms and Fleur-de-lis Emblem Encoded In Maya Creation Scene

Photograph © Justin Kerr

By Carl de Borhegyi

Above is a carved Maya vessel K5420 photographed in roll-out form by Justin Kerr.  The drinking vessel depicts an esoteric scene of creation that takes place in the Maya  Underworld.  I propose that the bearded deity on the far right, represents the Mesoamerican creator god Quetzalcoatl who sports a fleur-de-lis emblem on his forehead which I believe symbolizes a divine trinity.  I also propose that the symbolism and iconography on the far left depicts a stylized mushroom emerging from the anus of an upside down feline, dog or deer undergoing the mushroom’s effect of Underworld jaguar transformation (note the hands of the bearded figure on the far right are stylized as felines). In both Nauha and Maya mythology the dog usually accompanies the deceased into the Underworld as does the dwarf who may be depicted sitting on the right in front of the bearded deity right below the monkey.  It should be noted in case the animal in question is a deer, that many Hallucinogenic mushrooms, such as the Psilocybe and Panaeolus genera mushroom, grow in the dung of certain quadrupeds making the deer extremely sacred. Mushrooms found growing in the dung of the deer were easy to find and safe to consume and maybe most important extremely easy to cultivate for the purpose of trade.

According to ethno-archaeologist Peter Furst…. 

“The discovery, by early migrants into Mexico, of a functional deer-mushroom relationship could, conceivably, have served to reinforce whatever ancient Asian traditions might then still have remained alive concerning the deer as source of supernatural power, and especially the visionary gifts of shamans.”

The deer, dog, or feline is depicted inside a turtle’s shell or carapace, a scene some what  reminiscent to Hindu mythology, in which the turtle acts as the central pivot point in the Vedic-Hindu myth of the Churning of the Milk’s Ocean.  The Churning of the Milk Ocean myth is told in several ancient Hindu texts, in which the  Vedic god Vishnu is the sea tortoise depicted as the pivot point for Mt. Mantara acting as the churning stick. At the suggestion of Vishnu, the gods, and demons churn the primeval ocean with the help of a serpent, in order to obtain Amrita, (which is the Amanita muscaria mushroom I would argue) which will guarantee them immortality.  Among the ancient Maya the Turtle has been identified with rebirth, and the shell with divinity. In the creation mythology of the ancient Maya the first created image was the turtle constellation Ac, identified as the three stars (hearthstones of creation?) of the belt of Orion (Brennan,1998 p.93).    I would also argue that the turtle is a symbolic reference to the planet Venus as a divine resurrection star. I believe the symbolism of a deer sacrifice can be inferred by the trident axe located on the stem of the stylized mushroom, suggesting the ritual of Underworld decapitation. The trident blades used in ritual decapitation and the mushroom journey are both symbolic of divine portals of ancestor deification. The fleur-de-lis emblem in Maya art is an esoteric reference to a trinity of Maya gods, know as the Three Hearth Stones of creation, who separated the sky from the earth when they created the world at “Three Stone Place”. In the Quiche Maya Popol Vuh, these gods were named, Thunderbolt Hurricane,  Newborn Thunderbolt, and Raw Thunderbolt (see also Palenque Tried). The skeletal demon in this scene represents the Evening Star aspect of Venus and presides over the death of the sacrificial animal (note symbolic turtle shell). The supreme hands of death and creation are evident on the skeletal demon who esoterically depicts the creator serpent above his elongated skull, tied to his head in a knot, reminiscent of the so-called “Toothache Glyph” which refers to the supreme act of tying the royal headband or bundle, the divine symbol of completion associated with period endings and the ritual act of decapitation.  On the far right we see a scene in which a tiny human or (maybe dwarf), and monkey are created from the divine hands (note hands) of Quetzalcoatl who represents the Morning Star of Venus in this scene, and that the monkey he creates represents the divine symbol of rebirth. Maya scholars point out that when the image of the monkey, known as God C, and meaning “divinity,” is merged with another object it marks the image as “holy.” In this case the act of creation. In Maya religion the monkey represents the first of the Nine Lords of the Night or Underworld. Called the Bolon Ti Ku, these gods were responsible for guiding the Sun (identified as an underworld jaguar), into the underworld to be sacrificed by underworld decapitation and reborn and deified as the new Sun.  The first god associated with re-birth was the Monkey (GI) and Quetzalcoatl (G9) was the last associated with death and completion. The word K’uh in Classic Mayan glyphs was assigned to the monkey god and in glyphs his monkey profile was used to describe “holy” or “sacred,” referring to “divinity” or “god” (M.D. Coe 2001, p.109).

The monkey imagery in this creation scene may also alludes to the Five Suns cosmogonic accounts (Mary Miller and Karl Taube 1993; p.118), in which 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.  Archaeo-astronomer Susan Milbrath writes in her monumental book 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.

For more on this subject read SOMA IN THE AMERICAS by Carl de Borhegyi

http://www.mushroomstone.com/somaintheamericas.htm

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”.   

 

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.