Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cosmos ex Natura 4: Mayan and Christian Redeemer's Blood

Maya mural depicting scenes of the creation story and,
at the center, the maize god, who crowns himself king.

To broaden the horizon we will examine one other creation story from the Maya to see how this parallels essential features of the creations processes and heroic sacrifices of other religions, particularly Christianity.

When Cortez arrived in Tenochtitlan the Aztecs marveled at the Christian religion, because its rituals of blood sacrifice in drinking Christ's blood and eating his flesh and his gruesome crucifixion as a sacrifice, by Abba the Father God so closely paralleled their own abundant blood-letting sacrifices to appease the Gods and keep the sun in orbit. Far from appreciating these similarities, the Conquistadores reacted with violence to this alien religion, in dismemberment of not only the priests but also the musicians who played at traditional rites, in a frenzied denial of their own religion's foundation in the endlessly flowing blood of the redeemer.

Early in the conquest the notorious dismemberment and slaughter
of Aztec musicians because they were celebrating a heathen festival.

Like the monotheistic world view in the older Mayan creation, there is a heaven above and an underworld below, in this case a succession like the seven layered heavens and hells of Sumeria and Babylonia:

The Mayas' religion taught that there were 13 layers of heavens above the earth. They also believed nine underworlds were below. They thought that they lived in the fifth creation of the world. The previous four worlds had been destroyed by a great flood. At the beginning of the fifth world, the gods created humans from corn.

Again we have an intelligent design scenario very much like the Elohim making the world in a number of days:

In the first stage of creation, before anything else, the world was nothing but sea and sky. Then the Maker stretched a cord across the sea and sky to create the four corners of the earth.

In the second creation, the Modeler made mountains, lakes, forests, animals, birds, and insects. Although the Maker was happy with the creations, these organisms couldn't speak, pray, keep track of time, or most importantly, show their love and appreciation by returning nourishment to the gods. Dissatisfied, the Creator Couple commanded a flood that eliminated all life on the earth so they could start over.

We now enter an era where we find messianic heros who break the umbilical cord between life and death in a severely sacrificial round very similar to Christ's crucifixion, the celebration of the Eucharist of soma and sangre and the return of the Lord in glory. This third stage is the legend of the hero twins:

The father and Uncle of the Hero twins were great ball players. Unfortunately, the court where they played caused great noise, disturbing the Lords of Death in the Underworld of Xibalba (Place of Fright). After trials set forth by the Lords, the Father and Uncle were put to death and buried under the ball court. The father's head was severed and placed in a tree as a warning to others.

As in Eden, we have the woman sent into exile over the forbidden fruit, under pain of childbirth, but unlike Eden it is a woman tricked by the father into becoming the mother of the heroes:

One day the Father called a girl over to the tree. She complied when she was asked to hold out her hand. The Father spit in her hand, impregnating her. When this girl's father found out, she was banished to the middle world of humans.
She had twins who she named Hunahpu and Xbalanque, the Hero twins.

The twin heroes again challenge the Gods of darkness just as did their father and uncle:

One day they were playing ball like their father and uncle before them. Their gleeful shouts were heard down below in Xibalba. The Lords of Death were affronted. These twins were no more humble than the others. And so messengers were dispatched, summoning them to a ballgame in Xibalba.

The twins now become messianic heros in the same vein as Jesus. Like Jesus they must be sacrificed and die so that they may be resurrected from the dead to return in power. Like Jesus they must endure trials and torment to become the heroes they are destined to be:

The Twins were challenged to a series of ordeals, each in a special "house". In the Dark House they were given a torch and two burning cigars. They were supposed to return these in the morning just as they had received them. Their father and uncle had let the torch burn out, and they had smoked the cigars. But the Hero Twins knew better. They swapped a macaw's scarlet tail feathers for the torch's flame. And they stuck fireflies on the ends of their cigars. When they were sent to the Razor House, sharp blades were supposed to cut them to pieces. But they convinced the blades that their job was to cut up animals, not hero twins. And when they were sent to the Jaguar House, they distracted the tigers by feeding them bones. The Cold House they survived by locking out the cold. The Fire House didn't burn them to ashes, but only toasted them golden brown.

It was when they were sentenced to the Bat House, they made their first mistake, in accordance with their destiny. Hunahpu decided to peek outside the blowgun and see if it was morning yet. When he did so, a bat sliced off his head and it went rolling out onto the ball court of Xibalba. His brother called all the animals together, asking each to bring its favorite food. The coati brought a squash, and with the help of the gods this became a new head for Hunahpu. Meanwhile the Twins told a rabbit to hide outside the ballcourt. When the Lords of Death started the game, they used Hunahpu's head for the ball. As far as they were concerned, this made them victors automatically. But when they kicked the ball, Xbalanque deflected Hunahpu's head flying toward the rabbit's hiding place. The rabbit hopped off, and the Lords of Death thought it was the bouncing ball and raced off in pursuit. The boys got Hunahpu's head back and put the squash in its place. When the game began again and Xbalanque gave the ball a particularly energetic boot, it split open and all its seeds came spilling out. The Hero Twins had defeated the Lords of Xibalba. So the Lords of Death, with all their tricks and all their tests couldn't kill the Hero Twins.

Now the hero twins have to go to the underworld and harrow hell as Jesus did, in this case being so completely obliterated that they are ground to dust and scattered in the water, thus enabling them to reintegrate by becoming the food of the fishes:

But still the boys knew that they would have to die for their quest to be complete. They even knew how the Lords of Death would kill them. So when they were called before the Lords of Xibalba and challenged to a new and different game, they knew it was a trick. "See this oven?" said the Lords of Death. "Bet you can't jump over it four times." "We're not falling for that one," said the boys, and without any further ado they jumped right into the flames. At this point the Lords of Death made a big mistake. Instead of throwing Xbalanque and Hunahpu over a cliff or hanging their bodies in a tree, they ground their bones on a grinding stone and sprinkled them in the river.

The twins now come back to life, performing miraculous resurrections, just like Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the dead:

This was the only way that the Twins could come back to life. And come back they did, first as catfish and then as their normal selves, healing others and even being able to cut out their hearts in a sacrifice and restoring them in a resurrection from the dead. The Lords of Death asked that a dog be sacrificed and then brought back to life. And when this was done, they asked that it be repeated with a human. And when this too was accomplished, they asked the Twins to sacrifice each other. So Xbalanque dismembered his twin and cut out his heart. Then he started dancing and commanded Hunahpu to get up and join him. And when Hunahpu got up as good as new, the Lords of Death were caught up in a frenzy of delight.

Left: The Dream of Mary (Christoforo Simone dei Crocefissi) Sacrificial blood strems from her Tree of Calvary (the place of the skull). Right: Tree of the Middle Place Blood mother of the corn from the place of the skulls. At the crown of each is a bird - a Christian pelican picking its flesh for blood and a quetzal (Campbell) .

Now in a twist of turning the tables, the twins cuts the hearts out of the Gods of the underworld, overthrowing them as Jesus aspired to do, in the final conquest of Satan, who like the Gods of the underworld, led Jesus to his death, having already taunted him to cast himself from the pinnacle of the Temple, so that he might show he can save himself as the Son of God:

"Now do us!" they cried. And so the Twins sacrificed the two foremost of the Lords of Death. Only they didn't bring them back to life. And the other Lords knew that they had been defeated, and from that day forth Xibalba had lost its glory. The Twins took the head of First Father from the tree in which it hung, and they put him back together and restored him to life. They left him there in a place of honor beside the ballcourt in Xibalba.

Finally, like Jesus, the twins ascend to the heavens:

And then the Hero Twins, Xbalanque and Hunahpu, their heroic quest complete, ascended into the sky and became the sun and the moon.

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