I’m Not Saying it was Aliens…

Last night, a friend of mine sent me a really cool video of a Mayan pyramid that makes sounds like a Quetzal bird when you clap in front of it. I was in a sort of hypnagogic state while watching the video, half asleep, half awake, ready for magic. Hearing those bird calls reflecting off the Temple of Kukulkan, I was immediately transported into an ancient past. The temple courtyard was full of people clapping for plumed serpent dancers to a sacred rhythm. Everyone was ecstatic, happy, celebrating.

I don’t know all the details of what a celebration or ritual there would have looked like. But in my mind the events happening there were like a structured sort of Burning Man, complete with psychedelics, dance, and other sorts of physical ecstasy.

There were psychedelics…

I just took a break from writing to look it up, and yes, there were psychedelics at Mayan and other Mesoamerican rituals. Every culture has them. Even the Greeks had Kykeon used in the Eleusinian Mysteries. As for what actually happened at the site, it’s difficult for me to say. The temple complex is built like an astrological map. Encoded into its structure is the entire solar year with all its equinoxes, solstices, etc.

The Temple of Kukulkan, the Feathered Serpent God (also known as Quetzalcoatl to the Aztecs and Toltecs) is the largest and most important ceremonial structure at Chichen Itza. Called El Castillo (the Castle) by the Spaniards, the ninety-foot tall pyramid was built during the 11th to 13th centuries directly upon the multiple foundations of previous temples. The architecture of the pyramid encodes precise information regarding the Mayan calendar. Each face of the four-sided structure has a stairway with ninety-one steps, which together with the shared step of the platform at the top, add up to 365, the number of days in a year. These stairways also divide the nine terraces of each side of the pyramid into eighteen segments, representing the eighteen months of the Mayan calendar. The pyramid is also directionally oriented to mark the solstices and equinoxes. The axes that run through the northwest and southwest corners of the pyramid are oriented toward the rising point of the sun at the summer solstice and its setting point at the winter solstice. The northern stairway was the principal sacred path leading to the summit. At sunset on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, an interplay between the sun’s light and the edges of the stepped terraces on the pyramid creates a fascinating – and very brief – shadow display upon the sides of the northern stairway. A serrated line of seven interlocking triangles gives the impression of a long tail leading downward to the stone head of the serpent Kukulkan, at the base of the stairway. Adjacent to the head of Kukulkan, a doorway leads to an interior staircase ending at a small and very mysterious shrine.

Places of peace and Power

It’s all rather amazing, a temple complex designed for use according to the predictable cycles of the year and engineered to produce phenomena that created a place outside of ordinary reality. In ancient European past we had similar structures and probably had similar rituals. Some of those rituals were carried forward into modern times as holidays, some of them disappeared, and others have been recreated or reinvented with modern paganism, a solar cycle focused religion. Knowing something about those holidays and religions, it’s not too hard to imagine what might have gone on at the Temple of Kukulkan.

It must have been aliens…

When I awoke this morning I decided to do some reading on this stuff. Of course their are all sorts of articles about how advanced this societies scientific accomplishments were, which predictably led to the articles about how these “primitive” people couldn’t have known these things and it must have been aliens. It’s always aliens when Europeans don’t invent it in the ancient world. Or, when it’s not aliens, it’s actually Europeans by way of Atlantis.

Aliens taught the Middle East, China, and South America agriculture, all at the same time. Or, if it wasn’t aliens, it was survivors from Atlantis. Because there must have been an ancient advanced European culture that had flying cars and telepathy before it collapsed and the whole world became primitive again.

Or… my thoughts, maybe people are kind of smart no matter what time period they lived in, and before we had television we spent a lot of time looking at the sky and keeping track of things like this?

Why does it always have to be aliens?

While I won’t discount the possibility that it was aliens completely, I’m going to say, it was probably people, not aliens. Sure, there are some Native American legends that say their origin is in the Pleiades, but if that is true, then we’re probably all aliens.

What bothers me about all this talk of aliens, is that most of it is based on the assumption that the people who developed these civilizations were too primitive to create these things themselves.

They weren’t too primitive. They were every bit as capable of building structures with a solar calendar as the Romans were of building roads and aqueducts. They were as capable of making art as the Greek sculptors. The people of Mesoamerica weren’t inferior people, and it’s time they, and all other ancient cultures and civilizations that Western Culture denies the same level of intelligence and autonomy, at a subconscious level, are recognized as equal but different players in the history of mankind.

Our future survival as a civilization may depend upon it.

Where are these ancient civilizations now?

A few years ago I spent a day hiking Effigy Mounds on the Mississippi in northern Iowa. There was at one time a whole civilization along the Mississippi that was centered around the current location of St. Louis Missouri. It’s gone, it disappeared, and it disappeared before Europeans came to the Americas.

Civilizations eventually collapse. They all have, every single one of them, and there are lessons to be learned from it. Of course we think we are different and our society won’t collapse, because we’ll find the technical solution to the problems we are creating.

That doesn’t mean we all disappear at once. Roman civilization disappeared, but Rome and Italians still exist.

There is a slow progression to collapse and it often sneaks up on us. It’s important to recognize the people who built these ancient civilizations as our equals because we are facing the same challenges that they did, and have a lot of lessons to learn from them.

How would we shape our society differently if we saw ourselves on the same path as all the Mayans and Toltecs, or even the Romans?

The aliens aren’t coming to rescue us.

Photo title: Chichén Itzá, Mexico by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

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