The Cult to Venus
The Dresden Codex
The Mayan people of Mesoamerica where avid star gazzers who strived to understand the cosmos as a way to understand their creation. Through out Central America ancient observers know as Shaman, began looking at the heavens for answers to the age old riddle of where do we come from? This question lead this mathematically advanced civilization arrive at conclusions that would have marveled the great European stargazzers like Galileo among others. The mayas like many other ancient people noticed a peculiarity with the motion of the planet Venus's rotation. It is the only planet visible to the naked eye that has both a retrograde motion and is as birght as a star. This special quality of venus lead the mayans to develop myths and stories, that would eventually lead them to the mythical explanation of their creation.
The mayan people had alot of names for this planet. The first and most important one of these names is, nok ek (red star), followed by; sastal ek (bright star) and xux ek (wasp star). This star was the object of worship for the entire mesoamerican culture. In the maya vocabulary this planet/deity is depicted by the serpent god Kukulcan. This god who inspired fear and awe to the people of ancient yucatan.
was a character who was half jaguar and half deity. His legend, which was
well known through out the region, was in many ways similar to the planet
venus. That is to say that Venus disapears 8 days every 260 days is a star
(for the mayans) that was elusive to the celestial order. Thus demostrated
superiority as did Kukulcan. He too rose in the in the east and disapeared
in the west to one day reapear in the east. This legend, latter picked up
by the aztecs foretold the comming of the spanish, who they misunderstood
for gods, and proceded to become royal subjects to the crown.
To the mayan Venus was both a good and bad star, (one must not take the western meaning of good or bad for in the time of the mayas this would just be seen as night or day with out reference to the christian concept of a sin). That is to say that this celestial object could not only bring the gods of corn and water together but also make them tide their resourses to the
more poweful god of venus. This actual act of tiding their resources would happen exactly when the planet would disappear for 8 days. During this time the maya believed that by proforming ritual sacrifices, could apease the gods and make them not cast disease upon the land. This was thought to be a way to pay their debt, and thus compensating the gods for interceding on their behalf for the return of venus.
The Venus star was also monumental to the regulation
of sacred warfare. Only during the dissaperence did and could the priests
of wage wars of religion. This group of sacred warriors were thought
to be selected by the venus god Kukulcan and thus only this elite group of
warriors would wage war. Pictures of wars depicted in Bonanpak and Cacaxtla
in Mexico depict these battles showing these warriors dressed in ceremonial
venus garments, that even the women of these warriors wore.
The Dresden Codex
Actual tables from Germany
The Codex is one of the most important surviving
books relating to the mayan's view of the cosmos. This book's sole purpose
is the describe and depict the calender of the mayan. In order to properly
understand the workings of this calender it is important to understand the
simbols of which only those relating to days, and periods will be shown.
The above illustracion depics the actual places of the gliphs.
The Haab in composed of 18 months (uinales) of 20 days (kines), plus one month and 5 remaining days (uayeb).
1 KIN = 1 day
1 UINAL (month) = 20 KINES
1 HAAB (year) = 18 UINALES (months) de 20 KINES (days) + 1 UAYEB (5 KINES, remaining days)
however did not know much about magnetisim nor did they find a need to consider or develop a way of measuring this. They were more concerned about the actual alignement of the stars and the sun at any given time in the year. They did however give extreame importance to the change in season or the equinox. This they were able to measure and use to their advantage with astaunding accuracy. They built cities like Chichen-Itza and Dzibitzaltun so as to use the change in positions to reflect the sh adow the sun casts in order to make of it a religions ceremony. Clarifying the idea that the cosmos is directly related to humans in relation to their creator who guides them via the stars namely venus
They used windows and narrow tubes in order to pin point the exact possition of venus and other stars at any cerimonial date in time. These observation points, once thought to point out the cycles of the moon or other celestial objects were later found to be placed to follow the movements of venus. One example is in the Caracol which was decifered by american anthropologists be tween 1973 and 1975 show that tubes and holes in the door and sides actually have a view to venus every 8 years. This temple is also built at a 27 1/2° north of west which puts it in line with venus allowing a perfect observation of this planet every 8 years. The above picture is an actual picture taken during the alignment of venus. This temple is aligned differently according to the hight. That is to say that the lower platform aligns simetrically with the sun and the upper platform with the motions of venus. The interior however is totaly consecrated to the observation of venus. In order to achieve this the temple has 4 openings that align with this planet at the 8 given positions it will take thoughout time. Currently archiologists are only able to understand the 3rd and 4th vantage points, the rest are thought to be linked to solar eclipses as well as other observed positions of both venus and the sun. What is certain about windows 1 and 2 is mark the precise location of the nothernly and suthernly standstills of venus.
1 Cenote Sagrado 2 Juego de Pelota 3 Templo del Jaguar (superior) 4 Templo del Jaguar(inferior) 5 Plataforma de los tigres y Aguilas 6 Plataforma de Venus 7 Templo de los Guerreros 8 El Castillo 9 La Casa Colorada 10 El Caracol 11 El Anexo de Monjas
Uxmal which is in fact the largest of mayan cities in Yucatan is said to not only have the most beautiful achitecture but also the most precise. The temple of the governers is another of those buildings that was built at a different angle. This temple lines up to the 9th and 10th degrees respectively to the east of north axis. This alignment allowed the mayan astonomers to better view the changing positions of venus. The actual spot in which this can be seen is in the middle of the quad. In this location every 8 years venus is seen from precisely with in. The platform located at the steps of the entrance is directly aligned with venus when it is the morning star and the top of the great pyramid is aligned with the evening star. The exact reason of why this was built like this remains a mystery to this day, yet archeologists believe that i s has to do with the actual places of celebration and sacrifice realted to de dissapperence and reapperance of venus. Another curiosity is that in the entire city of Uxmal the only place where one can see the depiction of the heliacal decent of venus is on this pyramid next to the depiction of chac mol, the rain god . This deity was said to be the one to collect the sacrifice made to the venus god and the one to renew the cycle.