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Alternate Perceptions Magazine, October 2016

America’s Mother Culture

by: Krsanna Duran

A gateway of ancient global civilization between Egypt, Mexico, and Cambodia, construction of the pyramid complex at Teotihuacan in Mexico began circa 200 BCE.  It was the first large metropolis in the Western hemisphere, housing as many as 200,000 in the fifth century CE when Rome collapsed.  Older pyramids beneath the Sun and Moon Pyramids await excavation to find their construction dates. 

As well as maintaining buildings to house visiting tribes, Teotihuacanos established embassies in distant regions and traded iconic incense burners throughout Mexico and Central America.[1],[2]  The pyramids at Teotihuacan were the home of Mexico’s mother culture and initiation center for the Feathered Serpent that followed on the heels of the Olmec’s first civilization in America.  

An Olmec pyramid at Tampico on the Gulf of Mexico, which former astronaut Gordon Cooper co-discovered, was occupied 5,000 BP (3000 BCE).  Cooper reported it contained “celestial navigation symbols and formulas that, when translated, turned out to be mathematical formulas used to this day for navigation; and accurate drawings of constellations, some of which would not be officially ‘discovered’ until the age of modern telescopes. . . . The Olmec had used the same means of celestial navigation as the Egyptians and Minoan civilization on Crete, and at the same time.”[3] 

At La Venta, the Olmec carved Mexico’s first image of the Feathered Serpent with a satchel identical to those in Gobekli Tepe and Greece, circa 1000 BCE.  Jaguars in all guises of living and transforming states were the Olmec’s signature totem, which diffused through Mexico and as far as Peru in the south.  A serpent, jaguar, and bird were the earliest images for the Feathered Serpent at Teotihuacan, before the serpent emerged with a full collar of feathers on the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl in the sixth century CE.  Along with the feathered serpent’s imagery, the only astronomical alignment in Teotihuacan’s construction commemorated the August 13 anniversary of the long count the Olmec introduced with zero circa 300 BCE.[4]

Frank Waters described the site, a stunning constellation of art and architecture at La Venta occupied by 1200 BCE, in The Mexico Mystique:   “Here the Olmec constructed a round clay pyramid 420 feet in diameter and 103 feet high with eleven vertical ridges, resembling a petalled flower.  They also excavated three huge pits floored with a thousand tons or more of slabs of green serpentine inlaid with mosaic jaguar masks.  There were tombs of basalt and columns, a sarcophagus with a lid in the shape of a stylized jaguar, and large stone altars.  All the structures were laid out along a central axis. 

“If the architectural remains are surprising, the sculpture leaves no doubt that the Olmecs were the first and finest sculptors in Mesoamerica.  Tomb ornaments included objects of amethyst, turquoise, obsidian, quartz, magnetite, amber and pyrite.  Carving jade with stone tools, they produced exquisite pieces rivalling those of the Shang dynasty in China (1500-1027 B.C.) with which they have been compared:  small figurines and statuettes, ceremonial axes, funerary offerings of jewels, ornaments, and anthropomorphic jaguars.  Their stelae, monuments of basalt decorated with sculpture, are magnificent.  The largest at La Venta, Stela C, stands fourteen feet high and weighs some fifty tons.  Yet their monolithic sculptures of giant human heads and altar statues hacked out of coarse basalt are most expressive of their enigmatic genius.” With their long-standing presence in Mexico, colossal head sculptures and astounding mathematics, the Olmec are the prima facie ancestors of Mexico’s thirteen-ton Sun Stone.  The archetypal alchemical vessel, the head housing the brain is the processing center of intelligence and sentience that distinguishes humanity among creatures of the Earth.  The head and brain are the hallmark of human creature evolution. After the Sun Stone was unceremoniously dredged from a cathedral yard in 1790, it was erroneously called the Aztec calendar for centuries.  The Sun Stone emblazoned calendar glyphs the Aztecs acquired when they claimed possession of the Mexico Valley by virtue of conquest in 1325, centuries after designs in the Sun Stone were portrayed in Borgia Codices circa 900 CE.[5] 

The gigantic monolith carved in black basalt around a human head in the Sun Stone is characteristic of the Olmec.  Their sculptures show that the Olmec had Negroid features with Asiatic eyes.  Waters’ comments on possible Olmec origins echo influences Le Plongeon identified in the Maya’s codices:
“They recall the anthropological belief in an early mixture of Negroid and predominantly Mongoloid types in India and Indonesia, resulting in a stock which later mixed with Oceanic Negroids.  This ultimately produced the Polynesian race which passed through the Malay Archipelago and Melanesia to populate the islands of Polynesia, including Easter Island.”[6]

After the Olmec introduced zero with thirteen dot-bar numbers intercalated with twenty glyphs in the Mayan calendar, zero next appeared in Hindu temples with the same thirteen dot-bar numbers.  The Arabs acquired zero from India and introduced it into Europe in the tenth century.  This history strongly agrees with Le Plongeon’s early interpretation of the Troano Codex, which nineteenth-century historians rejected, believing that continents cannot sink and the Earth’s axis does not shift.[7]

No direct observers, textual sources, or instructive maps exist for Teotihuacan’s builders.  Visual analysis of artifacts and art are the only basis for deductions about the pyramid complex.  Teotihuacan’s visual grandeur is its “canon of symbols, ineffable in import, by which the energies of aspiration are evoked and gathered toward a focus” for tourists, scholars, Rome’s army, Aztecs, Toltecs, and local tribes.  The silence of Teotihuacan’s builders endowed mythic proportions to the message of the pyramids and stones they left behind.  Joseph Campbell writes about this evocative power in Creative Mythology:

“The rise and fall of civilisations in the long, broad course of history can be seen largely to be a function of the integrity and cogency of their supporting canons of myth; for not authority but aspiration is the motivator, builder, and transformer of civilisation. A mythological canon is an organisation of symbols, ineffable in import, by which the energies of aspiration are evoked and gathered toward a focus.”[8] Mother Earth, Father Sky and Cosmos

Names Teotihuacan’s builders used for the complex and pyramids in their own language are not known.  Esther Pasztory writes about the iconography of the oldest and largest pyramid in Teotihuacan: An Experiment in Living: 

“Unlike the arts of most of Mesoamerica that glorified violence and dissension, art at Teotihuacan emphasized harmonious coexistence.  As striking as the lack of themes of conflict is the lack of dates.  Teotihuacan presented itself as a timeless place, as if it had existed from time immemorial and would exist into eternity, outside of history and historical contingency…

“The most intriguing Teotihuacan deity is the Goddess, who seems especially strongly associated with masks.  She is generically related to the various water, fertility and death goddesses of Mesoamerica, but her specific form has no ancestry outside of Teotihuacan, and with the possible exception of some Xochicalco images, she has no visual descendants.  Three colossal statues in Teotihuacan style depict this goddess as a neutral or benevolent power.  The representational strategy of Teotihuacan was thus seduction rather than terror.  A feminine major deity serves to emphasize cosmic rather than political issues, and a benevolent appearance emphasizes positive values.

 “One of the remarkable aspects of the Pyramid of the Sun is that it does not fit neatly into either the plan of the city or the surrounding landscape.  From whatever direction one looks at it, it is a colossal individual monument, self-sufficient on its own, integrated with the other monumental architecture only artificially.  It is an anomaly — sitting on one side of the Avenue without a symmetrical structure, without its own avenue leading up to it.  (Modern site authorities created such a street with souvenir shops as if unconsciously want-ing such an axis.)  Only further archaeology will reveal whether it was the first major monument at the site, but I argue that it might have been the first or among the first and that the original ritual purpose of attracting people to Teotihuacan was to build it, as in Millon’s hypothesis.  (Recently, Millon suggested that an even older structure might be inside the Pyramid of the Moon.) . . . Whatever the reasons and history, the Pyramid of the Sun always remained central but separate and unique visually.  This visual uniqueness could reflect the distinctiveness of its cult and function…”  

[1] Cowgill, George L.  “Teotihuacan and Early Classic Interaction:  A Perspective from Outside the Maya Region.”  Braswell, Geoffrey E., editor.  2004.  The Maya and Teotihuacan.  University of Texas Press:  Austin, TX.  pp 328-335

[2] Ibid  pp 10-11

[3] Cooper, Gordon with Bruce Henderson.  2002.  Leap of Faith:  An Astronaut’s Journey into the Unknown.  HarperTorch:  New York, NY.  p 212-214

[4] Malmström, Vincent H.  1997.  Cycles of the Sun, Mysteries of the Moon: The Calendar in Mesoamerican Civilization.  Austin, TX:  University of Texas Press.  pp 102-104 [5] Pastorzy, Esther.  1974.  The Iconography of the Teotihuacan Tlaloc.  Dumbarton Oaks:  Washington, DC.  p 6

[6] Waters, Frank.  1989.  The Mexico Mystique: The Coming Sixth World of Consciousness.  Ohio University Press Books: Swallow Press.  pp 31-32

[7] Nothing that survived the doctrine of Manifest Destiny in the USA compares with Mexico’s ancient pyramid culture.  American Indian reservations and boarding schools that conditioned Indian children with Eurocentric values was the Protestant solution of choice for the “savages” in the USA.  With brutal inquisitions, the Catholic Church exercised torture and executions but didn’t confine Indians to reservations and mandate removal of children to boarding schools at the age of five.  A cathedral briefly surmounted the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan, but the pyramid was too mountainous to easily dismantle as the Catholics had done with the Aztec pyramids.  The Mexican Revolution in 1910 was largely a conflict between religious authority and the state, when Mexicans began reclaiming their culture.  Indian culture entered the twentieth century very differently in Mexico than in the United States and, while the two cultures stem from shared indigenous roots, they no longer equate in the terms they did in pre-Columbian America. 

[8]. Campbell, Joseph.  1978.  Creative Mythology.  Penguin Books:  New Yok, NY.  5-6 Excerpted from Web of Life and Cosmos: Human and Bigfoot Star Ancestors by Krsanna Duran.

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