Rudolf Steiner’s “Mexican Mysteries” RevisitedSection II - conclusion
Since I have not been able to track any historical data linking an Azteca “Tonantzin” (a generic, not a specific mother-goddess) and a post-Colombian “Guadalupe”, and any free-floating assertion of a simple identity between the two cannot but seem arbitrary to one who does not a priori believe it, I shall instead insert here a lengthy set of passages from a highly respected scholar who offers some provocative yet solidly grounded speculations on the nature of the “Goddess” in the singular and seminal civilization of Teotihuacan. In no other Mesoamerican culture did the Goddess have such prominence or such unique and varied iconography. Attention has been drawn to Teotihuacan’s singular placement in time. If “Guadalupe” now resurfaces from the same deep reservoirs of significance as gave rise to Teotihuacan’s major deity, examination of the latter’s milieu may assist in tracking her more recent permutations.
Note: Let me take pains to be absolutely clear: I am not postulating an identity between The “Great Goddess” of Teotihuacan and Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe nor between either of these and any other aspect of the Feminine Archetype. I am suggesting that the Goddess-orientation so dear to indigenous sensibilities finds expression in both phenomena, and that some of what is learned about the nature of one might facilitate a sensibility and appreciation of the other. It has done so for me.
Prof. Pasztory’s treatment is also a splendid introduction to the world of modern scholarship concerning American origins, and for that reason alone, its length is not out of place. Its inclusion here is by her kind permission.
Teotihuacan - The Pyramid of the Sun and the Goddess
"In 1968 workmen consolidating the Pyramid of the Sun noticed air arising between the attached adosada platform and the pyramid and discovered that a long tunnel-like cave went from the entrance to the center. The cave had been closed up during the Tlamimilolpa phase (A.D. 200-400), perhaps for fear of a collapse. Nothing spectacular was inside - bits of broken Veracruz-style mirrors and evidence of some burning, of some flowing water. But the existence of the cave immediately suggested that the Pyramid of the Sun might have been built over a sacred natural location.
It has long been known that the Teotihuacan area is full of caves. In 1906 Porfirio Diaz had lunch in a restaurant in a cave called La Gruta that still provides fare for tourists, not far to the east of the Pyramid of the Sun. In the 1980s Linda Manzanilla explored the terrain with remote sensing equipment and found that the entire site is full of caves and tunnels. She found, for example, that the tunnel underlying the Pyramid of the Sun continues both in front of and behind the pyramid, as part of a larger system. She also found a strong correlation between caves and three-temple complexes, most of which had been built near caves. lndeed, in one Aztec glyph, Teotihuacan is represented by two pyramids and a cave. Evidently, then, it was a city famous for its caverns and tunnels. The cave under the Pyramid of the Sun has become significant in the interpretation of its meaning and the possible deities to whom it was dedicated.
No known textual sources reveal to which deities the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon were dedicated. Because the Aztecs placed one of their creation myths - in which the sun and moon were created at the beginning of the present era - at the site of Teotihuacan, they named the massive structures the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. The Spanish, eager to simplify Indian religion to "sun and moon" worship, continued the myth. To attempt an identification for the Pyramid of the Sun, one must consider Aztec practice and what scholars know from the excavations of the Aztec main temple, the Templo Mayor. The abundant sixteenth-century texts and recent archaeology indicate how difficult the question is. The main Aztec temple was a twin-pyramid, dedicated to the rain god Tlaloc and the war god Huitzilopochtli. All sixteenth-century texts say so, and many refer to the statues of these deities in the temples on top. Those statues have long been destroyed, but many sculptures are among the nearly seven thousand objects uncovered in excavations directed by Eduardo Matos Moctezuma in the 1970s and 1980s in the interior of the pyramids. Many images of Tlaloc exist in clay, onyx, and greenstone - but none of Huitzilopochtli. In fact, there are no identifiable images of Huitzilopochtli among the many hundreds of Aztec stone sculptures. (Although other characters in the Huitzilopochtli mythology were given sculptural form.) Thus, if it were up to archaeology alone, there would be no way to know that the other half of the temple was dedicated to Huitzilopochtli.
…The archaeological identification of the gods to whom temples were dedicated is thus problematic. None of the temples of Mesoamerica built prior to the Postclassic period can be identified as being dedicated to a specific deity, nor are images that could clearly be deity cult images identifiable….
The other half of the temple was dedicated to the rain god Tlaloc. This division suggests a dichotomy between the cult of war and the cult of agricultural fertility. However, the situation is more complex than that because one of the ostensible aims of war and sacrifice was the support of the cosmos and, certainly, agricultural fertility. Moreover, although Tlaloc (a Jupiterlike deity of storm and lightning) was one of the preeminent gods of agricultural fertility, he also had civic aspects. To the Aztecs he was the god par excellence of the defunct earlier civilization of the Toltecs, including Teotihuacan. In raising a temple to Tlaloc the Aztecs were thus also venerating the ancient cultures of the Basin of Mexico.
Perhaps the term should be propitiating - hoping that old and new, Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli, would coexist in the harmony of the empire. The choices of the Aztecs were based on their historical position in Mesoamerica. They were conquerors who came from an allegedly nomadic background to an area with over a thousand years of settled civilization and with ruins like Teotihuacan. The mere fact that they thought that Teotihuacan had been built by the gods indicates that they could not imagine such a place built by man and felt small in comparison. Their consciousness was therefore strongly historical - as the many archaistic sculptures and heirlooms collected in the Templo Mayor indicate. Political acts (such as marriage into Toltec dynastic lines), twin-pyramids, and eclectic monuments testify to the fact that the Aztecs were not only trying to synthesize the past and the present, but were also maintaining the differences between a constructed past and present. They could, after all, have presented their own view of life and the cosmos and let the past take care of itself.
Teotihuacan, however, emerged in a completely different situation. Preceding it were only small centers, the largest of which was Cuicuilco (destroyed by a volcanic eruption), with stone architecture of a very modest scale dating to 400-200 BC Prior to that the basin had been inhabited since before 1000 BC but only by people living in villages of various sizes without significant monumental architecture or sculpture. At the time of Cuicuilco's prominence Teotihuacan was a provincial village in the northeast of the basin….
How did these events come about, and what led Teotihuacan to initiate monument building and urban living on such a colossal scale? I believe that in contrast to the Aztecs (who looked back into history and traditions of greatness) the visionary individuals responsible for the early growth and plan of Teotihuacan looked to a future they hoped to create, one they convinced others they could create. A particular crisis that might account in part for some of the special features of Teotihuacan is the volcanic eruption that covered Cuicuilco, which is dated to 50 B.C. The Basin of Mexico is ringed by volcanoes; eruptions and earthquakes were frequent and were perhaps in part responsible for a Mesoamerican view of the cosmos as hostile, powerful, and unpredictable. The significance of the eruption of Xitle that covered Cuicuilco is, however, specific and local. Even in Mexico only infrequently does a site or city lie directly in the path of a volcanic eruption, but at Cuicuilco the main pyramid is covered by several meters of lava….
Geologists have determined that Xitle was a monogenetic volcano of the Paricutin type, in an area where there are many monogenetic volcanoes. The most recent explosion was that of Xitle, which in the past had been dated anywhere from 400 B.C. to 400 A.D. but is now dated to around 50 B.C. The flow is estimated to have lasted ten years and covered 80 square kilometers known today as the Pedregal area of Mexico City. The thickness of this lava layer varies anywhere from a few meters to more than a hundred meters….
It is very hard to reconstruct ancient history on the basis of archaeology and geology, especially relying on radiocarbon dating. Many accepted "facts" of one decade change in the next, and new excavations rewrite history, sometimes completely. Whatever happened to Cuicuilco is hard to reconstruct…. Certainly at one point (generally believed to be at the time of the change of Teotihuacan from a large village to an urban state) Xitle erupted, covering a part of the site, in a process that might have taken something like ten years. Though the country is dotted by volcanoes and people are used to earthquakes and periodic ash faIls from the great poligenetic ones, eruptions that had such a direct effect on human life were extremely rare and must have been seen in ancient times as very significant….
I suggest a scenario in which civic-religious leaders proposed a "new order" that would guard more effectively against such a catastrophe. A defensive ideology might have been very helpful in getting the population to move to Teotihuacan or to justify its forcible move. The pyramids may have been both propitiations of the gods and indications that humans could now rival the powers of the gods - could build their own volcanoes. The scale of the pyramids was perhaps assurance that the leaders and the community were so powerful that they had nothing to fear.
Did Teotihuacan continue Cuicuilco traditions or depart from them? This question is difficult to answer in view of the fragmentary nature of the information about Cuicuilco. Little clay censers representing old men were copied at Teotihuacan in stone versions, indicating the continuity of household and family ritual. Yet the orientation and layout of the centers are very different. Cuicuilco appears to have been oriented to the cardinal directions, judging by the east-west orientation of the stairway of the main pyramid and the other structures. Teotihuacan was oriented quite differently, 15 degrees 25 minutes east of north, suggesting that it was based on new and different astronomical calculations. Teotihuacan seems to have chosen an astronomically derived order for itself that was consciously different from that of Cuicuilco and was very likely a part of its ideological "defense.”
Rene Millon saw the beginning of Teotihuacan thus: an audacious ruler proposed that time began at Teotihuacan, at the site where the Pyramid of the Sun was later built, using astronomical observations. He conquered the people of the valley, resettled them at Teotihuacan, and organized them into huge building crews. He is buried in the interior of the Pyramid of the Sun. The conquests were continued by the next important ruler, who is buried in the Pyramid of the Moon. The monuments are thus monuments to autocratic rule, like the pyramids of Egypt.
I accept Millon's idea of a "new era" as the foundation of Teotihuacan, but I have a different "story" to account for it. I agree that the city may well have been consolidated through conquest, which is true of most large chiefdoms and states. Ideology is almost always a part of a conquest. Great would-be world conquerors, like Napoleon Bonaparte, for example did not win merely by superior force of arms and manpower but by promising superior new political conditions. Conquerors often claim to "free" their victims in some fashion. Ideology is essential both for the followers of the leader and for the conquered if they are to be assimilated into a new polity. Moreover, the leader too is most convincing if he believes to some extent in his own cause.
Most Mesoamerican warfare, even in the famous Aztec empire, was designed to gain tribute and not territory or population. Its ideological justification was the acquisition of victims for sacrifice to maintain the cosmic cycles of the universe. The conquered people shared this ideology. Conqueror and victim were often represented on monuments that dramatized and celebrated this situation of "eternal warfare." Historians have shown that the Aztecs did not have the practical resources - including roads and transportation facilities - to maintain a large territorial empire and to incorporate the conquered population permanently. The Aztec solution, punitive wars and sacrifices, followed from the problem of the instability of the empire. Such a pattern was probably characteristic of endemic Classic Maya warfare, sacrifice, and tribute collection as well.
The founders of Teotihuacan had, for their time, the novel concept of creating a large and unified political territory justified by social harmony rather than by conflict. They evidently wanted to concentrate the population of the Basin of Mexico in one center. While this goal may have had clear advantages in terms of social, political, and economic control, I imagine that the ideological justification was the creation of a place "free" from the unpredictable forces of the cosmos and based on models of order, harmony, and control rather than chance and conflict. Teotihuacan was going to outdo the gods through knowledge and organization.
All settlements in the basin need not have been conquered; some could have been persuaded to participate in the new community by privileges or threats. I suggest that the leaders of Teotihuacan presented themselves primarily as priests, rather than as the dynastic rulers common in Mesoamerica and perhaps also at Cuicuilco. I assume this from the lack of ruler representation and the lack of dates and inscriptions at Teotihuacan that are common in other Mesoamerican cultures associated with dynastic rulers. In my view, the founding leaders of Teotihuacan emphasized their knowledge of the will of the gods and their superior propitiating abilities, abasing themselves in the process. These early political-religious leaders may well have been buried in the great pyramids, but I doubt that the pyramids were dedicated to them.
The art of later periods indicates the Teotihuacan insistence that it was not governed by a dynastic family. Either Teotihuacan selected rulers from certain families and did not focus on primogeniture and descent, or if Teotihuacan had a ruling dynasty it chose not to dramatize its rulers. This anonymity could have been either because rulers were so much in control that they did not have to bother with ritual and artistic legitimation or because a low profile was their chosen strategy. Like the Inca, whose power is symbolized by great walls and not portraits, the rulers of Teotihuacan are portrayed in colossal architecture. The nature of Teotihuacan imagery makes me feel that the rulers chose to rule through the deities and the forces of nature that they represented, as a more effective approach than the cult of their own personality. Such "austerity" may have made them more impressive in the eyes of a heterogeneous population and hence was a superior form of legitimation….
…At its inception, Teotihuacan must have been an ethnically diverse place, with the elite from Oztoyahualco. It must have been a rare feat of social engineering to organize a heterogeneous, rapidly expanding settlement in one crowded place into a cooperating whole. The great pyramids prove that in some fashion this unification was accomplished. Moreover, farmers were persuaded to live in the city and go quite some distance to their fields.
Ideology must have been a crucial tool in this organization, since voluntary participation is more cost-effective than force. Some scholars have suggested that the Olmec and Maya were "theater" states that used architecture, monuments, and ceremonies to create elite power. With its colossal pyramids, avenues, and plazas Teotihuacan is the greatest "ritual theater" in all of Mesoamerica, with both "performers" and "audience" living in the "theater" at all times. The architectural scale of the city literally competes with nature and was perhaps meant to be intimidating both to men and to the gods.
Millon sees a far greater role of force and centralized control at Teotihuacan than I do. I imagine force playing a role, but primarily through the creation of a psychological atmosphere of fear attributed to the demonstrably hostile outside forces. The rulers would then have offered "protection" and were not themselves the threat. I also think that in exchange for control, the population of Teotihuacan enjoyed certain very real benefits….
…In my view the rulers of Teotihuacan would have used force, provided some benefits, created a myth that made sense of the world and of everyone's role in it, and created a convincing show of living up to their values. The notion that all past cultures relied primarily on brute force as social control is based on the Enlightenment concepts of human rights in which governments are believed to crush human liberty unless they are consensual and constitutional in the modern sense. We have thus inherited the idea that all ancient states were absolute and evil.
Concentrating the population in one large city may have been an easier way of enforcing control, but it was also dangerous in that uprisings or factional conflicts could occur on a much larger and potentially lethal scale. In fact, eventually, such an internal crisis may have resulted in the collapse of the city. As I see it, the ideology Teotihuacan propagated was twofold: partly it was defensive and relied on the power of the gods (and the priests who contacted them) to protect the city from environmental disaster, and partly it was positive and promised agricultural fertility, wealth, and social and cosmic order.
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.
Teotihuacan seems to have been the first culture in Mesoamerica to put the emphasis on the gods and the supernatural rather than on the human world in artistic commemoration. Most Mesoamerican monuments depict rulers, prisoners, ballplayers, and more rarely deities. Ancestor worship may have been the major cult of the elite, and many images (such as the well-known Monte Alban urns) appear to represent ancestors rather than gods. The deities in Classic Maya art are usually shown as small creatures under the control of the rulers or as a part of their costume. In the Post-classic period there are more deities, and the appearance is standardized in the divinatory codices….
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.
Doris Heyden suggested that the cave under the Pyramid of the Sun was like the Chicomoztoc, or Seven Caves of Origins, of the Aztecs. According to Aztec migration legends, their barbarian ancestors emerged from caves. Karl Taube suggested a variant interpretation more in line with what scholars know of Teotihuacan: rather than a cave of origin and the beginning of a migration, he suggests that this was a cave of emergence more on the model of Hopi belief. (Although the Hopi actually believe that after emergence they did go on a migration.) He suggests that the people of Teotihuacan may have believed that they were autochthonous and that they came out of the earth at that spot.
On admittedly slight evidence, I had developed the hypothesis that if the major deity of the Pyramid of the Sun was one of the ones we know, it was the Goddess. Although I am technically the "discoverer" of this goddess in the iconography of Teotihuacan, others, such as Hasso von Winning and Clara Millon, saw her importance long before I did. Hasso von Winning calls her the Great Goddess, but because of all the controversy that surrounds the concept of an ancient "Great Goddess," I call her "the Goddess." My original discovery of her was through simple Selerian identification. I noted that most Storm God images had very clear facial features and costumes: ringed eyes, a moustache-like upper lip, a water lily hanging from the mouth, and a five-knot headdress in the case of Tlaloc A and similar facial features, a long tongue, and a variety of headdresses in the case of Tlaloc B (As mentioned earlier, a larger sample studied by James Langley shows that this division is illusory because many intermediate forms exist.) I noted that several deities, such as the Jade Deity of Tetitla and the Deity of Tepantitla, which are usually called Tlalocs, lacked every one of these features. Instead, they shared a frame-headdress with a zigzag border and a bird in the center, a yellow face and hands, a mask, and a nose bar of some kind. At Tepantitla this figure was the major deity, and the Storm God was relegated to the borders….
The femaleness of the Tepantitla and Tetitla deities was at first hard for me to accept completely, and I thought that they might be bisexual. The best evidence for femininity was the presence of a spider in both murals. Metaphorically, spiders represent weavers and are symbols of women and feminine activity from Mesoamerica as far as the American Southwest. (Taube goes so far as to call the Teotihuacan goddess "Spider Woman" as in Southwestern mythology.) In addition, at Tepantitla the elite "priests" flanking the deity wear skirts and huipils rather than male garments. Whether they are male or female, they appear to be dressed as women; the priests of deities often dressed in male or female attire matching the gender of the deity in Mesoamerican rituals.
At Tepantitla the half-body of the Goddess rises from a talud/tablero platform ornamented with flowers and feathers. In the center of the platform, an upside-down U shape frames a space, in which seeds are represented, that I have interpreted as a symbolic cave. This central symbol emerges from a wavy body of water in which shellfish swim. Its top is an imaginary ground line on which plants such as maize and fruit trees grow. A branch or vine divided into a red half and a yellow half emerges from the back of the - Goddess, full of spiders and butterflies. The tree is laden with flowers in bloom, seemingly weighted down by drops and streams of water, as after a rainstorm. Birds hover around it. Although the Goddess is masked, her hands with painted fingernails are very visible. She holds huge drops of water. The Tetitla version of the Goddess lacks the elaborate setting, but the outstretched arms giving gifts are very similar. Instead of drops of water, she presents streams of liquid full of little green Both the Tepantitla and Tetitla Goddess images are from apartment compounds and date probably to the late Metepec phase (A.D. 650-750). The Teotihuacan Goddess images are far less standardized in form than are images like the Storm God that were established prior to the rise of Teotihuacan. Because so much variety of representation exists, there is no way to be certain whether all the figures I will mention represent one being or perhaps several. They share certain iconographic features, such as yellow body color or a zigzag-bordered headdress, as well as thematic features such as cavelike interiors or hidden faces. I have argued in the past that circumstantial evidence makes this protean figure one goddess, and I still choose that interpretation to tell my story of Teotihuacan here. I am, however, very aware that the Goddess is a construct and that other explanations may hold for the same images. I have no doubt, however, that the three colossal stone images found at Teotihuacan - the so-called Water Goddess, the so-called Tlaloc figure of Coatlinchan, and the fragment similar to the Water Goddess - all represent persons in female dress, thus making a female figure the most important visual image at the site….
In one mural the Goddess seems to be represented merely by a frame-headdress with the yellow and red zigzag borders, while the mural shows in abstract and decorative ways wavy lines for water, water lilies, shells, and sea creatures, and hidden among them, seeds: images of water, flowers, and agricultural fertility like the more anthropomorphic Tepantitla mural. The seeds are protected in cavelike enclosures. The presence of the goddess is merely implied by the headdress.
The other mural shows matching enigmatic forms at the two sides of the painting, blending the silhouettes of a mountain, a pyramid, and a woman wearing a skirt and a huipil. Each of these forms is personified by earplugs, nose bar, collar, and headdress, but is otherwise "faceless." The interior of each is cavelike, has a small structure, and contains scrolls that suggest smoke or sound. Small human figures present offerings to these two distant and seemingly indifferent beings. At the lower border, seeds are placed within wavy lines that signify water. In this mural the Goddess is present not as a person but as a personified mountain or temple, literally represented as a force of nature.
The two Temple of Agriculture murals may also represent the Goddess in a less human form than the later ones. She is represented either only by her headdress or by a very generalized and impersonal form. A vast gulf in size and scale separates her from humans. This difference in scale is not unlike what must have been the difference between the modest perishable homes of the Tzacualli phase and the Pyramid of the Sun.
Why should the Goddess be related to caves? Clearly she is an earth or nature goddess whose realm includes water, agricultural fertility, minerals, and wealth. She is shown as giving these as gifts. Sometimes she is shown only by hands pouring gifts. Three representations suggest caves: the mural of the Deity of Tepantitla and the two murals of the Temple of Agriculture. There was and is a great deal of cave lore in Mexico, and much of it concerns a powerful female enchantress who hoards seeds and treasure inside the cave. Bernardino de Sahagun documented some of this cave lore in the sixteenth century. Sahagun's informants explained that rivers, which are the property of Chalchiuhtlicue (the Aztec water goddess), flowed from Tlalocan, the earthly paradise of Tlaloc: "mountains were only magic places, with earth, with rock on the surface: ...they were only like ollas or like houses; ...they were filled with the water which was there." It was said, "This mountain of water, this water, springs from there, the womb of the mountain. For from there Chalchiuhtlicue sends it." These traditions are remembered to the present day in many conservative areas. For example, some years ago a Tlaxcalancingo Indian reported a miraculous encounter with a woman who told him that she was the owner of a local source of water and who showed him her cave, which was full of water. In present-day Tlaxcala tradition, the cave of Malintzi is full of jars - some of which contain water, and others, all sorts of seeds. The story of an enchanted cave where men find riches is told in the villages in the Valley of Teotihuacan. As a rule, in these stories, seductive women who live in caves approach men and offer marriage as well as riches. Often the men become rain priests, and after their death go to live permanently in the cave.
Cave ritualism on an elite rather than a folk level near the Valley of Mexico is evident at least as early as 1000 B.C. at the site of Chalcatzingo, where a sacred rock with caves was venerated in both dynastic and nature ritual. On one cliff a human figure sits inside a mouth representing a cave entrance. Cave-tunnels were built in a Puebla pyramid at Totimehuacan antedating the Pyramid of the Sun and its cave by hundreds of years. Frogs ornamenting the sides of a stone basin inside the chamber at the end of the tunnel refer generally to water imagery. A Teotihuacan-style painting in one of the Chalcatzingo caves indicates a possible Teotihuacan familiarity with this site. Chalcatzingo was subsequently venerated as a shrine by the Aztecs. Caves continued to be important in Aztec times, and one cave that was important before the Spanish conquest has become a Christian place of pilgrimage and is the church of the Christ of Chalma.
Although the Storm God may also be associated with caves, because of the importance of the Goddess in Teotihuacan representation I have suggested that the deity primarily associated with caves, and by extension with the Pyramid of the Sun and its cave, was the Goddess. I have two reasons for this association of the Goddess and the Pyramid of the Sun: (1) the superior role of the Goddess in relation to the Storm God and the possibility that she was the major deity of Teotihuacan, and (2) the cave as ultimately a womblike feminine symbol. The realm of the Goddess was watery but, I suggest, mainly consisted of terrestrial waters-lakes, streams, seas.
At Teotihuacan, these types of waters have an underground association like that of caves. As Rene Millon has shown, the San Juan River could not have irrigated the lands needed for a city of this size, but the area is rich in underground springs, many located in the present village of San Juan Teotihuacan. In addition, the water table at Teotihuacan is very high, and canals could have easily been cut to acquire further supplies of water. Both the water table and springs are underground features like the caves and are specific geographically to this area. The realm of the Goddess was therefore largely underground….
Though I imagine that the leaders, those who thought up the combined ritual and political attraction of what was to be Teotihuacan, were definitely powerful humans, I see them as having integrated their ideas not by setting up one of themselves as a divine king but by elevating the Goddess to colossal proportions. If the three-temple complexes were dedicated to a deity triad, the Goddess was perhaps one of the three deities. In the case of the Pyramid of the Sun, with the cave literally incorporated into the pyramid, a dedication to the Goddess seems like a reasonable conclusion. The lack of representations in the early periods has always been a mystery, but perhaps the Goddess was literally the cave and temple, rather than an image. Perhaps she, like the other gods, was represented by masked impersonations and not by permanent images. Her facelessness in early representations seems to suggest a reticence in giving her a fully human form.
Unlike Huitzilopochtli of the Aztecs, the Teotihuacan Goddess was not brought from anywhere else but seems to have been local. Like Huitzilopochtli, however, she may have had a civic and political dimension. Recent excavations in the Street of the Dead Complex, the administrative center of the city, unearthed a large sculpture of her made of blocks of stone. Hasso von Winning has suggested that the colossal so-called Tlaloc of Coatlinchan, now at the entrance to the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, is an unfinished version of her. Were Teotihuacan artisans working on it at the time of the collapse of the city in A.D. 750? When the number of murals and incense burners that represent her is compared to that of the deities, she emerges as the supreme deity of the city, at least from A.D. 200 to A.D. 750. If Teotihuacan had a patron deity, she may have been it. Curiously, however, she does not appear outside the city of Teotihuacan in important political contexts. (The Storm God, with or without the tasseled headdress, seems to have that role.)
Within the city the Goddess is preeminent. On many of the incense burners, the masks seem to represent a face like hers, the mouth covered by a nose bar. I have already argued that these composite incense burners reflect or idealize in their structure the apartment-compound make-up of the city, expressing the values of hierarchic order within which room for family or individual variation exists. The bodiless face, only a mask, set deep within this structure - as in a metaphoric cave - could be the Goddess herself. Even more enigmatic and evocative are naked figures (not always clearly female) with hollow interiors with small, fully dressed Teotihuacan personages that are glued to the inside of the figures' chest, arms, and legs. These figures evoke the image of a large, benign, vague being whose body is literally a dwelling place. Using that as a metaphor we could say that the people of Teotihuacan resided within the sacred body (i.e., earth) of the Goddess. Her powers were, however, local and specific to the Valley of Mexico.
Why should this civic deity have been female? Her status may have been entirely fortuitous, if the ancient cave deity was female in myths handed down by previous generations. Societies emphasize whatever deities they choose, and therefore, even if inherited, the deities are intentionally kept and reaffirmed. The female supreme deity may have evolved in contrast to the generally male semidivine dynastic rulers of Mesoamerica. Male gods, male rulers, and male culture heroes could blend easily, as the story of Quetzalcoatl indicates. Because women are rarely rulers (though some exceptions existed in the Maya area), their identification with nondynastic matters is more likely. A primary identification of the Goddess was with the earth, and I suggest the specific geographic landscape in the Basin of Mexico.
Female patron goddesses exist outside Teotihuacan. One notable example is Athena of Athens, who, like the Teotihuacan Goddess, is somewhat ambiguous sexually because her sexual or maternal qualities are not important. Like Athena, who is a goddess of war, the Teotihuacan Goddess has a claw-handed destructive side. Athena is almost like a man, but by being a woman she is credited with a higher degree of morality and deeper devotion. In most cultures, female symbols have often been associated with great positive ideals that symbolize the group as a whole and social integration. Sherry Ortner has noted that though Women in general are associated with "nature" and accorded a lower esteem than are men, who are associated with " culture," paradoxically, supercultural values are often embodied in feminine figures. As another example, though of course the United States has no civic deities, the Statue of Liberty functions as a civic symbol. A colossal Woman holding a torch, she was given to the United States only in the nineteenth century, well after the development of this utopian Country based on antimonarchic principles. "Lady Liberty" is not a dead idea but is frequently evoked and illustrated in a wide variety of contexts, from cartoons and magazine covers to wall murals. Articles about the statue or the people Who take care of it are Common on the Fourth of July. People customarily refer to the statue as though she were a real person. Although she is usually associated with the Concept of liberty, the placement of the statue near Ellis Island indicates that she is also a symbol of the utopian future that immigrants will find, and of their integration into the community as a whole. In a general sense, both to citizens and to foreigners her image represents the United States. The United States also has a male symbol, Uncle Sam, who seems to function in a more military and political context but as a symbol of integration, Lady Liberty is far more important. Like Athena and the Statue of Liberty, the Goddess of Teotihuacan expresses civic values beyond politics, symbolized by her femininity.
…Returning to the original scenario of the creation of Teotihuacan ideology in which the destruction of Cuicuilco may have played a role, one's attention is drawn to "dangerous mountains" with cavelike interiors, which erupt violently and unexpectedly. In the Postclassic period many volcanoes had deity names, such as Tlaloc, Popocatepetl, and Ixtacihuatl, and could be conceptualized as either male or female. If Xitle and the other monogenetic volcanoes emerged from the earth suddenly and unexpectedly, an earth goddess may have been the right being to propitiate them. An interest in volcanoes, caves, and destruction could relate to rituals in caves. All those artificial caves near three-temple complexes and within the Pyramid of the Sun may have been a part of such a ritual. Since Xitle never erupted again and the Cuicuilco disaster lost its powerful immediacy in time, some of the aspects that made Teotihuacan unique appear to have been lost in memory. If the Goddess was in some ways particularly related to these unique and local aspects that would explain her disappearance as well.
…I wondered whether there is a correlation between the city's not commemorating male dynastic rulers and elevating a female deity into paramount importance. Anthropological studies of female images suggest that these images are selected when they are cosmically important or when particularly idealistic and inclusive concepts need to be embodied. Male images tend to stand for more specific powers…. It thus seemed to me that Teotihuacan appealed to nature (symbolized by a feminine deity) rather than to dynastic rulership in forging a myth and ideology for its population.
Together, these features - the lack of dramatic civic-temple building in the later centuries of Teotihuacan, the presence of the apartment compounds, the avoidance of the representation of individual rulers, the emphasis on anonymous elites performing rituals, the making of symbolic objects such as incense burners whose structure reflects collective symbolism as well as individual choice, and the existence of a major female deity-form a remarkable set of data to try to explain both culturally and artistically….
For the rulership of the city there is less direct evidence. The monumental architecture and the organization of the city suggest strong central power, but no one knows in what form that power existed. If Teotihuacan had a ruling dynasty, it was remarkable in not making images of itself. If rulers were selected out of certain lineages or from certain titled individuals, a practice in some Aztec towns, this situation would be highly interesting in connection with the archaic state. No evidence confirms either a ruling dynasty or a selection process.…
Of the subtleties of Teotihuacan political organization, observers can have only a very vague idea. Judging by the emphasis on organization in the city and apartment compounds, I imagine that the political structure of Teotihuacan was dense, complex, and subtle. With various changes, it lasted more than eight hundred years. Yet it was so unusual, or the result of such special circumstances, that nothing like it was ever built again in Mesoamerica." ¹
Prof. Pasztory has cogently described evidence of a significant chapter in the development of human culture in America. But what does it mean? It may be true enough that some powerful ruler decided to incorporate the bulk of the population of the Valley of Mexico into his new utopia, using a revolutionary ideology, but that hardly answers the important questions. This is no criticism of Pasztory or any other historian; facts are information, they do not contain significance. For this, we need a corresponding inner response of vision, imagination, meaning. Perhaps a critical mass of information is required before imagination can be grounded in something other that naïve sympathy or romantic projection. Prof. Pasztory is cautiously stretching the envelope of what is possible in academic discourse. Others like Rudolf Steiner (who certainly paid his academic dues, e.g.; editing Goethe’s scientific works for the Collected Edition) worked very much outside the box of accepted limits of analytic inquiry. His idea of a singular event of planetary significance occurring at a definite point in time - 30 – 33 A.D. - is not an impossible one to entertain for believers in religion, but his attempt to locate it as an objectively real and practically effective spiritual event within the currents of history is unprecedented. The life and death of Jesus Christ is certainly a fact of life for those who live within the Judeo-Christian culture (as it is for those who live outside of it but who are nonetheless affected by it!), but to attribute to it a formative potency separate from belief or dogma, well, that just does not compute for the modern mind.
If the Birth and Death of Christ was of such world-forming significance for the Old World, is it so hard to imagine that, as He disappeared from the recording eye of history in that arena (the existence of Jesus Christ is still a matter of some dispute in some quarters; the documentation is sketchy), his influence might resurrect in some other part of the world? Here it must be emphasized at risk of excessive repetition, that this Christ of which we speak has only circumstantial similarity to the forms propagated by institutional Christianity; the One of which we speak is the Spirit of Humanity, as recognizable by Pagans as by those raised in the dominant culture. Nothing about this being can be owned by any human agenda or agency!
But: there was no Romanism of the European sort laying in wait in Mesoamerica, ready to gobble up an iconoclastic spiritual impulse. A paternalistic and jealous monotheism had not received and sheltered the Logos. A variegated cultural mix, always reverent towards the Mother-aspect of the Godhood, was easily able to understood His descent into the UnderWorld and His resurrection at the hands of the deepest chthonic Powers. Those people had also understood and experienced some of the mighty complexities of the fate of the Mother – the usurpation of her prerogatives at the hands of an ancient and corrupt priesthood, and the destructive debasement of her powers. They would have been able to notice and welcome the change in the world’s etheric and astral weather as Christ descended into the UnderWorld to harrow and winnow it: to release His Mother from the entombing vanities of selfish human and demonic agendas.
A “ruler” would not have needed to do much convincing; he would only have needed to speak for what many were experiencing – especially if the event had been a public one! Although there is some indication of a martial class, there is little to indicate any militaristic internal controls or external conquest by force-of-arms. Perhaps the authentic hero whose memory the Aztecs coopted as “Huitzilopochtli” and the Maya venerated as “Itzamna” was the one who continued on in his career as the anonymous “ruler” who consolidated Teotihuacan as the City-State-Empire that it was. Who else would have had the prestige and authority to mobilize such an enterprise, if not such a victorious shaman? What other event could have released such immense forces into the SurfaceWorld mix? Perhaps the imposing Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Teotihuacan, begun shortly after such an individual, blessed by long life, had died, constitutes his burial mound? (That monument is the only edifice or trace of such a possible commemoration to an individual in the whole history of Teotihuacan, though most consider it a Temple to a God, not an individual). If the latter supposition is true, this means that Steiner’s characterization of Quetzalcoatl as an adversary to our hero is incorrect – although it must be considered that he might have been speaking about only one of Quetzalcoatl’s many aspects. On this point, Steiner is not precise enough in his remark to be refutable. If he is correct, then from shortly after the genesis of Teotihuacan discordant influences began to make themselves felt – but this is belied by all evidence which exists, which testifies to a remarkable concordance among all sectors of that society – that is, up until the final and abrupt climax to Teotihuacan’s history, when it was ritually dismantled and deconsecrated by a singleness of purpose equaled only by that demonstrated in its founding.
It would at least seem reasonable to look for similar influences at work in both the founding and the dissolution of such a singular enterprise. Perhaps the dark forces, the vanquishing of which provided the impetus for the phenomenon of the city, experienced a resurgence during the dark years of 666 A.D., and the rulers of the city, successful thus far in their refusal of pomp and circumstance and in their reliance on servant leadership, were able to rise to the challenge one last time. Reading the writing on the wall, and failing in a century of effort to hold the enterprise together, they closed the enterprise down, and not only physically, but magically, lowered the curtain on the drama – and apparently with the cooperation of the populace! The rite had been accomplished; everybody went home: “a good day to die!”
That such a scenario is unimaginable should vouch for its plausibility; after all, Teotihuacan’s obvious genesis and existence are equally unimaginable! This scenario places Teotihuacan’s origins and denouement at the same level and finds sources for both within the same dynamic.
Thus, the $64,000 question for one working out the implications of a conjunction of scholarly and InnerWorld research: Does Teotihuacan civilization reflect the ascendance of black magical or white magical influences; of a devolved malevolent matriarchy or a restoration of the true (if possibly Dark) Goddess? That Teotihuacan was obviously an ordered and harmonious society can cut either way; true peace is not necessarily the absence of overt internal conflict. Witness the distopias of “Brave New World” and “1984”: the former was a glossy zombie-land, that latter a gulag of the mind. But, on the other hand, in an age before the advent of Individualism, a society-wide consensus on the larger group goals does not imply any mechanism of suppression.
Some (Franzen) maintain strongly that Teotihuacan reflects the Utopia of a victorious Vitzliputzli - but for this he chooses to sidestep the difficult task of explaining the plain evidence of ritual human sacrifice dating from its very earliest years. This he does by simply stating that it did not occur, and that such rites occur only in later cultures.² This is simply not the case.
Others perceive a sinister cast to Teotihuacan’s immense and imposing grandeur, noting how its institutionalized revolutionarism predates Communism’s bankrupt promises and our own metastasizing Imperialism. Yet, for those of this persuasion, how to explain the total absence of the megalomania which has corrupted every other civilization’s system of rulership, and the strong indications of a bucolic social atmosphere?
It is hard to see how, given the evidence, both these strains could have coexisted for so long without tearing the culture apart; one or the other must have been decisive for at least half a millenium or more. But which one? This writer is greatly perplexed and considers one, then the other, as plausible. There is just not enough evidence available to tilt the scales one way or the other, and inner vision cannot yet penetrate the fog of centuries.
Granted, these questions and suppositions can only be considered as exploratory, yet one of the “proofs” for such kinds of speculations is their ability to illuminate previously intractable problems; to jump-start new trains of associations in minds which had previously been hampered by outmoded restrictions – and to generate a flurry of new questions. The kinds of new questions that I am asking are just that: new ones, and I do not pretend that they have found their best formulations or answers, yet it is time that they are asked and pursued.
Prof. Pasztory’s own ideas do not rule out this line of investigation, although she does not venture very far into what the substance of Teotihuacan ideology might have been:Because the art of Teotihuacan is predominantly religious, I will suggest that abstraction at Teotihuacan was first and foremost a negation of other Mesoamerican traditions and that Teotihuacan once had a powerful religion with a message in which the ideas of some kind of higher purity was combined with concepts of rational order and organization. Teotihuacan may have been built as a utopian city putting into practice a cosmic vision of the world that was entirely new in the history of Mesoamerica and that did not outlast its collapse. ³
As Steiner is at pains to point out, clear thinking combined with scrupulous observation and common sense can duplicate and confirm many of the insights available to a Seer!
Before we leave this section, we shall consider a few more factors in the drama. Let us examine the seminal instance of the operation of the Double in Encounter and Denial in the defining event of modern history:
“The entire history of the history of America, the first episode of the conquest, is marked by this ambiguity: human alterity is at once revealed and rejected. The year 1492 already symbolizes, in the history of Spain, this double movement: in the same year the country repudiates its interior Other by triumphing over the Moors in the final battle of Granada and by forcing the Jews to leave its territory; and it discovers the exterior Other, that whole America which will become Latin. We know that Columbus himself continually links the two events: “In this present year 1492, after your highnesses have brought to an end the war against the Moors…in this very month…Your Highnesses…determined to send me, Cristobal Colon, to the said regions of India…Thus, after having driven all the Jews out of your realms and dominions, Your Highnesses in this same month of January commanded me to set out with sufficient armada to the said countries of India", he writes at the head of the journal of the first voyage. The unity of the two endeavors, in which Columbus is prepares to see divine intervention, resides in the propagation of the Christian faith. “I hope in Our Lord that Your Highnesses will determine to send [priests] in great diligence in order to convert them, just as your Highnesses have destroyed those who were unwilling to confess the Father, the Son, and the Holy ghost.” (6/11/1492). But we can also see the two actions as directed in opposite, and complementary, directions: one expells heterogeneity from the body of Spain, the other irremediably introduces it there.
“In his way, Columbus himself participates in this double movement. He does not perceive alterity, as we have seen (previously: “What is denied [with regards to the Indians themselves] is the existence of a human substance truly other, something capable of being not merely an imperfect state of oneself”), and he imposes his own values upon it; yet the term by which he most often refers to himself and which his contemporaries also employ is extranjero, “outsider”; and if so many countries have sought the honor of being his fatherland, it is because he himself had none. 4
It is with the utmost sense of deja vu that I note the recent push of the Defense Department’s “Star Wars” agenda; the militarization of space for the advantage of US political/economic goals. Half a century after Los Alamos was inaugurated as the cutting edge of our military-industrial complex, the impulse has metastasized throughout our society. This is not a brand-new ambition: millennia ago, the warfare of the mesoamericans was regulated according to highly refined Venus-cycle calendars and calculations. The archeologists, from out of completely different, yet totally convergent, considerations, have termed this strategy… “Star Wars”. 5
We could also examine the strange phenomenon of the corporation: a legal entity which, while not exactly alive is nonetheless potentially immortal, endowed with many of the rights but few of the responsibilities of a human person; a strange breed of updated golem, vampire, or Frankenstein’s creature, an entity of limited accountability but implacable appetites, no conscience and sentient only with regards to the bottom line; one which stalks our earth insatiably devouring resources according to implacable logic, claiming ownership of even the common genetic birthright of our food supply – soon even of human beings themselves. What prehistoric dreams of deviant shamans or manic alchemists find embodiment therein?
We have indicated a crucial difference between the development of civilization in Europe and in North America. The picture of it will have to suffice, and the crucial role played by the singular Maya to the South and of the myriad cultures to the North in all this will have to go undeveloped, although investigation of the latter evidences a profound wisdom of social dynamics.
Let us now examine another clue, again from the Big Picture end of the spectrum: one that leads us deeper still – into realms of redemption. Rudolf Steiner, in his Fifth Gospel lectures, presents the mighty Imagination of the initiate Jesus making his way to his approaching Baptism. 7 He is in a state of deep despair because he perceives with the full weight of soul-perception the collapse and decay of the world’s great Mystery-Traditions. None of them have survived with the capability to meet successfully the great changing needs of the times. All are more vestiges of the past than solid hopes for the future. This perspective also finds corroboration from no less an authority on the inner spiritual life of Pagan and Christian culture than the initiate-priestess Dion Fortune, who points out that: “…we must not forget that Christianity came as a corrective to a pagan world that was sick unto death with its own toxins”. 8 His own efforts may have been seen by himself as being more in the nature of an existential act than a real plan of action; all he could do was to make himself available. His biography-become-Mythos is well known.
Let us consider what is left unsaid, but nonetheless so significant upon only a little reflection. These failed Mystery-Traditions would have been the esoteric foundations of the pre-Christian matriarchal religions. (The Jewish cult of a single patriarchal god was conspicuous by its uniqueness, but even it had had a significant goddess component in early times, one which may have surfaced for a moment in the Magdalene stream.) Therefore the primary deities of these mystery streams would have been goddesses, not “gods.” Since Steiner places the locus of the most devolved mystery streams in Mexico, this suggests that the prime being standing behind the devolved portion of the Mysteries in Mexico would most likely have been a chthonic goddess. Another related item: In the Aztec origin-myth of Huitzilopochtli’s victory over his evil nemesis Coyolxauhqui, it is explicit that this individual was his sister – a woman! 9
This is consistent with the little that is known about the most ancient mesoamerican religions, that of Teotihuacan in particular, as we have seen. 10
Because of these and many other converging indications to numerous to detail, I believe it probable that Cuicuilco-Teotihuacan was the axis for the events referred to by Steiner. The excruciatingly naïve model of many scholarly professionals that all “primitive deities” are anthropomorphic representations of basic elements of the agricultural cycle reveals a hollow pedanticism and a grossly stunted sense of the possible, although the mass of data which they have compiled allows for alternate conclusions.
Past this academic barrier we approach “those forces that are as yet quite unknown.” To acquaint ourselves with these forces and beings we must first confront their dark side – as we have been doing. The most obvious of the outer aspects is understood well enough: everybody knows what the effects of a nuclear exchange would be. The more subtle physiological effects arising from the saturation of the atmosphere with electromagnetic radiation of all wavelengths, the pervasive digitization of data, or the social effects of the instantaneous and constant transfer of unimaginable amounts of information and money across the globe are not known with equal certainty, but are suspected to be disorienting. The dark side of the UnderWorld – the chthonic regions within the earth-body – are not known with any degree of familiarity by many, but an instinctive aversion to it is common. Intimations that there might be anything but punishment lying below our feet are denied before they reach consciousness by very effective subconscious indoctrination, indoctrination backed up to the hilt by most religious theology, although there are significant fault lines appearing in that casing. Deeply implanted visions of Hell and Damnation are hard to get past – but where there’s smoke, there’s fire…. What is sequestered by Taboo is not necessarily evil. What Taboo does is limit access to dangerous forces; forces too strong for the uninitiated. It is the limits set by taboo which are lawfully transgressed in initiation…whether the subject is sex, driving privileges, or co-working with the beings of the OtherWorld
Little has been written in the popular press about the adversarial forces and beings which lie behind these eruptions of images and manifestations, and much of that is hopelessly simplified when not almost hypnotically fascinated, most of it amounting, in effect, to outright disinformation. As such, any tidy explanation is likely a complicit one; a manic pounding of square pegs into round holes. The psyche of the man-in-the-street is showing increasing signs of the load of these multiple layers of stress, the predictable symptoms being violence or stupor.
Even less has been disseminated regarding the much more powerful creative and benevolent chthonic forces and beings which lie deeper still, or if it has, it has been reductionist and patronizing. R. J. Stewart’s work in this regard is a lucid and extensive exception, although he is not by any means the only one. Within the context of the Mexican Mysteries, these would be Vitzliputzli’s allies and guiding lights. Within the context of the inner earth, these would be the positive forces within the unconscious Will and the beings belonging to the Courts of the Mother. Within the context of their role in popular culture, these would include such trends as jazz, abstract art, twelve-step self-help programs, co-counseling, feminism, consensus decision-making, grass roots ecology, fringe spirituality, environmental activism, the Civil Rights and anti-war movements of the 1960’s, and the emergent Civil Society initiatives, although anything can, and frequently does, goes askew when turned over to human agency…as a result, nothing in this paper should be construed as advocating or endorsing any particular political agenda. All of these, as can readily be seen, reflect diversifying tendencies of the periphery – just the place where the non-point-centered forces of the higher ethers have their locus. As previously remarked, it is beyond the scope of this article to detail the successful long-term cultivation of many of these specific social virtues within the many longstanding tribal cultures of Northern America, although this cries out for treatment.
For an excellent example embracing the quintessence of all of these, however, we can do no better than to turn to the modern figure of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, who is equally accessible to Chicano vatos locos, Catholic nuns, hippie drop-outs, Indian activists, Hispanic housewives, and even normal Anglos. Many consider her to be a metamorphosis of the Aztec goddess Tonantzin; an earth-goddess, whose roots are ancient. Considering the vicissitudes to which the divine feminine has been subjected in history and in the Mysteries, her vitality is a very good sign; one of the fruits of Vitzliputzli’s labors.
The relationship between what has been referred to so far and the following can only be given in outline, but it is the thesis of this writer that, though their fortunes may have waxed and waned, the American Mysteries have this as their direct concern:"The earth is not only a great living creature. It is also a lofty spiritual being. Just as a great human genius cannot evolve to full stature without suitable development through childhood and youth, so the Mystery of Golgotha could not have taken place; the divine could not have united with the earth evolution if, in the days of earth’s beginning, other divine beings had not descended in a different, though equally divine way. The revelation of the divine on high incorporated in the worship of Nerthus [the Earth Mother] differed from the way it was later understood, but it existed.” 11In other words, the descent of Christ into the bowels of the Earth was not a totally unprecedented event; he only went there to reunite with beings who had preceded him by long ages and to reconnect the Circuit of Force between the Father and the Mother, repairing a discontinuity which long preceded our own microcosmic Fall. 12
Significantly, it was three women who received him off from the hinge of the Cross, and one who welcomed him on his return. There is no impulse that can stand against this current which is rising with a mighty pulse, though there may be random turbulence as it flashes forth into the fragile “reality” which has forgotten about it. This reality is the dominant one, but its pure litany cannot be catalogued so straightforwardly as can its obsessive distortions. We have spent enough time on the latter, what language can we use for the former? This is a problem: the derivative distortions are extrovert at this time; even being completely in their thrall is no impediment for an impotent, if clear, seeing of its nature, as many do nowadays. 13 But the former originating reality of which our temporarily ascendant one is only distortion - its nature does not admit of cataloguing or objective analysis. Its reality is of the utmost self-existent subjectivity, and its nature is at this time only beginning to expand from the most intense introversion. How then to speak of it?
Encounter with these forces and beings on the inner planes does bring about wondrous transformations and understandings – for them as well as for us, and this should not be forgotten, while we are preoccupied with our own concerns. All, as are we, are players in a drama greater then ourselves; no one has seen the full script. Some are locked into circumstances seemingly beyond their control, trapped into a rapidly constricting downward spiral, even closer to the Pit than are we. Like a dangerous drowning man, they clutch to us. Some others are our age-old guides and mentors. This encounter with the divine chthonic which I recommend and describe is the only effective answer for the challenges which confront us from below, which every individual must seek out and access from out of their own idiosyncratic process: there are no general prescriptions possible. The wonder is that such singular processes do converge upon a shared reality, one that can marry diversity and consensus. This is a higher fluid reality, not the lower, fixed default reality of conformity which attempts to dominate the discussion. We should get on with it; the reactive encounter in mass-culture is well underway and experienced by all on a daily basis.
To sum up: Our American Demeter arises from realms far deeper and real than any threatening turbulence. She is not myth, but the source, ground, and reality of our Mythos. It is her perspective which puts everything in focus and which will facilitate the impossible reconciliations which are needed. She can show us what we want to know, what we need to know. Her status as a local cultural icon has aroused fierce controversy as modern, seemingly irreverent artists attempt to redescribe her. Regardless, it is less important how she is represented than who she is; she is not a fossilized icon, although she has become that to some. Her resources are not “product”; to be quantized, inventoried, and marketed, hence their lack of ready profile in a consumer society, yet the sources that inspire a Ghandi, a Martin Luther King, Jr. or a Mother Theresa are not negligible ones in spite of their insubstantial nature. On the spiritual path, one finds that the stronger the force, the more subtle it is.
A thorough description of the negative face of our age can easily be convincing. This is the problem with treating the subject of “evil”; the subject has an inherent affinity for the modern analytic observer’s disassociated state. The more one examines “evil”, the more inevitable it seems – and the alternate reality is not even of an opposite polarity: polarity itself is the problem! Hence escaping its thrall is not a simple matter of imagining its opposite. The other reality; the real reality, the true originating reality (for the “bad” reality is always a derivative one) is of another order altogether, and it suffers from not having had the airplay of its zombie offspring (“the devil gets the best lines…”).
So this is our test: do we bet our stake on what we know is right, or do we go with what is proven by the “facts”? “Facts” is in parentheses because “facts” are a consensual agreement, and with them there is always an implied interpretation which rests on distant but controlling a priori assumptions. “Reality is relative.” The dense weight of evidence is weighty, indeed, and it is in the nature of discordant factoids to be easily catalogueable, while the integrative reality is of a subtler variety, one more inclined to levity. God must have a subtle sense of humor indeed, for whichever choice is made; for the accurate and the provable or for the True and the Good, the chooser will be proved correct: The only way to predict the Future is to create it”, as the bumper-sticker scripture proclaims.
Since “wisdom is but a single point which the ignorant multiply endlessly” (ibn ‘Arabi), the temptation is to attempt to address the balance in this presentation by spilling an equal amount of ink upon the virtues of the UnderWorld wellsprings – a futile attempt which we shall not attempt here (but see Bib. II for many helpful references). You, dear reader, already know enough to separate the true facts from dark fancy – and you did even before you began turning these pages.Follow your heart,I propose: As mankind becomes increasingly estranged from the starry cosmos and its supersensible forces by the constricting belt of electromagnetic forces propagated through the atmosphere and near cultural space by our technocracy, it will be by the strategy of going deeper than the erupting subsensible forces that balance will be restored to the local creation. In America, this is where these forces are strongest, and where the resources available to meet them are unique and close at hand; where the paths are well-worn and under the dominion of this local goddess.
Use your mind,
Stand upon your Will,
And never, never submit.
You will always get the help you need – if you place yourself in need of it.
Approached in the InnerWorld, this American icon reveals herself as our idiomatic aspect of the global Demeter; she who holds the web of lives and Life in her hands. Embodiment of the planetary soul, she tends the interplay of all species and the orders of invisible beings connected with the evolution of the planet from elemental spirits, the Faery realm, to mighty terrestrial archangels of Land and Place, and many separated aspects of our greater human nature, many of which we have disowned in our evolution towards individuality and autonomy. Now, with the impulse towards freedom firmly fixed as an inextinguishable ideal in the minds of billions of souls, the corresponding virtue of responsibility towards all the other orders of life that helped us get to where we are need to come into play. Estranged as we are even from ourselves, this can seem equivalent to pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. It could well be, except that those that put us here are not leaving us without the means to do that.
Conceptually, the ideas of ecology, servant leadership, “Gaia”, “All My Relations”, and the like are powerful, and increasingly so as time goes on, but with the pervasive tendency of human nature to turn all noble impulses to petty agenda still in effect, it can only be by going to the sources of such inspirations that their pure water can be obtained. Ideas are thin gruel indeed – it’s been a long time since people could see the Platonic Ideals - but they do reflect and indicate the beings that originate them. Ideas relating to mutual cooperation of life within and between cells, beings, species; ideas that run counter to “nature red in tooth and claw” and “survival of the fittest” are ones that increasingly seek realization in our world – and they can be understood from the inside by drinking from the Vessel that nourishes them. Her name is manifold, and her aspects many, but here in this part of the world she meets those who wish to meet her as: Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. The technique? Simple asking; and patient attention. Hard to do for those of us intent on “making things happen – and quickly!” and who are reeling from relentless blows of Future Shock (Schlock?), but when do we admit that we are plumb out of good ideas and start asking for help? Culturally, we as activists and authentic patriots are in the position of a well-meaning carpenter who attempts to pound a nail by swinging his hammer down on the nail and continuing to push, not realizing that the rhythmic relaxation of effort is necessary for yet another stroke.
To illustrate; convergent depictions from the Celtic:
"In the beginning was the boundless Lir, an infinite depth, an invisible divinity, neither dark nor light, in whom were all things past and to be. There at the close of a divine day, time being ended, and the Nuts of Knowledge harvested, the gods partake of the Feast of Age and drink from a secret fountain....
“Of Dana, the Hibernian mother of the gods, I have already said she is the first spiritual form of matter, and therefore Beauty. As every being emerges out of her womb clothed with form, she is the mighty Mother, and as mother of all she is that divine compassion which exists beyond and is the final arbiter of the justice of the gods. Her heart will be in ours when ours forgive.”I dreamed of Orchil the dim goddess
Who is under the brown earth in a vast cavern
Where she weaves at two looms:
With one hand she weaves life upward through the grass,
With the other she weaves death downward through the mold.
And the sound of the weaving is eternity
And the name of it in the green world is time.
And through all, through all, Orchil weaves the weft
Weaves the weft of eternal beauty,
Orchil weaves the weft of eternal beauty,
Eternal beauty, that passeth not
Though its soul is change.
William Sharp writing as Fiona Macleod
This is but insanity to the extroverted accomplisher type, but when the effects of that mentality tend to an insane reality, well, “more is better” wasn’t true for Elvis, and its not true for us either.
The aspect seen in Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is a local one; but it can lead the seeker to the most puissant place of universal balance, harmony, and reconciliation; the home of the Planetary Soul. Her compassion can console, but it can also inspire and heal all wounds.
This is no philosophical exercise. The not-so-ancient pre-Columbian Americans were completely engaged in their enterprise with a commitment that compels respect for their intentions, even if it is not clear exactly what they were, or what the changes were that they underwent over time. No one goes into seclusion and draws a thorn-studded rope through one’s tongue or perforates one’s penis on a whim.
The impulses that inspired such sacrificial dedication still resonate within the life of this Land, as do also the deeper conditions that gave form to them. One can only wonder what the fallout will be when the only enterprise which engages us moderns with an equivalent intensity is the urge to shop and the drive to invent ever-more effective means of bringing history to an end. It is imperative that we begin to find our way to an understanding of the circumstances into which we are born, for the crises of the past are now our crises.
To restate the issue yet again: There exist deeply compacted elements within the Earth-body (the macrocosmic human body) that long predate the appearance of the human species, and they are being unfolded and released in our time. The pre-Columbian peoples attempted to engage and resolve these conflicted and latent components (beings, in essence) in a most direct fashion, but they were unable to carry the impulse through to completion; they repeatedly suffered the most retrograde collapses - the times were not right, but the impulses did not disappear; they were instead driven even more deeply within. The nature of their overcomings will be veiled from view until we begin to occupy ourselves with the same endeavors. The process that they began to begin can now, in the first decades of the 21st century, be engaged in earnest; in full consciousness of the issues involved, and on a public global scale. The Shadow/Double of both the European and American races will writhe and resist, but this is our access-point of transformative engagement with transpersonal planetary forces and the beings that source them. To paraphrase: “It will be the worst of times, it will be the best of times.” All the world will be stage, and the drama will engage the full range from the sublime to the farcical, from the banal to the impossible. Tragedy may seem to predominate at first, but the global catharsis, if it is to be real and decisive, cannot be a half-hearted thing. It will plumb the depths in all of us, but I have indicated what lies in the deep of those depths: not what we fear, but what we most secretly hope for.
If what we fear is at the same time that which we most hope for, that is a neurosis which we will have to outgrow, even if it is one of our most perverse and beloved disfunctions, for reluctance to enter into a true relationship with Power is our only real weakness. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but contrary to expectations of both Left and Right, it is not a train. We must, however, penetrate and leave behind what are the distracting considerations of what are no more than turbulence and noise and be focussed on the realms of clear sailing which lie beyond.