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THE GREAT COMET
In seeking out the general patterns of the Mesoamerican Venus as serpent-dragon, we cannot fail to observe that our listed "cometary" symbols are not just present, but prominent, that they are enigmatically but self-evidently connected, that they do not direct us to any present forms either in the sky or in the natural world today (rather, they contradict all natural forms at every level), and that they remain unexplained, despite decades of microscopic examination by the best experts.
One conclusion is inescapable, even if interpretations will differ: the Mesoamerican symbolism of the planet Venus--in that planet's guise as serpent-dragon or chaos-monster--is a compendium of globally-recognized comet symbols, representing in one mythical form all five of the most frequently employed cometary glyphs! Yet in more than forty years since Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision, no mainstream scholar has even acknowledged this stunning fact.
Of course, no comet admitted by modern science has ever justified the lines of Shakespeare previously cited, or the Aztec image of a comet-like "weapon" in the form of a fiery dragon. But our appreciation for the symbolism changes dramatically once we entertain a new possibility--that in earlier times mankind experienced a far more spectacular and devastating comet than ever experienced in more recent times, a cometary archetype that could fully account for the later symbols. It was said of the great fire serpent Xiuhcoatl that it spewed forth comets. That is exactly the language we should expect if Xiuhcoatl was not just a comet, but the parent of comets, the concrete source of a mythical archetype, from which arose the entire reservoir of comet images. Every cometary apparition, taking its symbolism from the cosmic original, would then be considered a child of the primeval, flaming serpent or dragon remembered in the myths.
ON EVIDENCE AND LOGIC
In all of this there is a fundamental issue of logic. How does one properly weigh the lines of evidence, the repeated convergence of comet words and symbols upon Venus? Having had many opportunities to muse over the way the experts skirt the issue, I am convinced the real question never enters their minds. Until one asks the question-did Venus formerly present itself as a spectacular "comet"?--even the most obvious evidence will be seen as something else, as confirmation of the recklessness and confusion of myth, another reason not to take myth seriously. The question is not asked because the "Velikovskian" field of study lacks all credibility in the eyes of mainstream authorities.
Thus the Mayan scholar Peter Joralemon explained the highly unnatural convergence of symbols on the celestial dragon--
The primary concern of Olmec art is the representation of creatures that are biologically impossible. Such mythological beings exist in the mind of man, not in the world of nature.
It's easy to see how one might draw this conclusion. But if the symbolism lacks any roots in "the world of nature" and is simply the result of chaotic imagination, then an even greater issue arises: Why do the same symbols continually occur in juxtaposition? Once the critic resorts to unbridled imagination as an explanation of highly specific forms, he is left with nothing but coincidence to account for the convergence. But when it comes to the convergence of all five of the world's most common cometary symbols on one celestial creature, is it reasonable to expect sheer imagination and "coincidence" to account for the situation?
In truth, virtually all respected authorities continually look for natural references, because no one could seriously believe that such dramatic images as the plumed serpent could dominate an entire civilization without a link to natural experience. Only the rarest of specialists would suggest that the primitive mind conjured its primary mythical forms out of a wholesale denial of the world. In truth, if they can find even the most remote natural explanation, the experts will use it. Miguel León-Portilla, for example, offers a picturesque explanation of the Venus- Quetzalcoatl relationship--
The association of Venus and Quetzalcoatl can probably be attributed to the fact that when this planet sets upon the moving waters of the Pacific, its reflection seems not unlike a serpent with brilliant scales and plumes.
Here is a "natural explanation" that would fit easily into Bob Forrest's analysis, as if there is nothing in the plumed serpent crying out for a comparison with the highly improbable yet similar images of other peoples--and as if the combined cometary associations need not concern us.
How, then, does one break through the vicious circle? Go back to the list of the five most frequently-employed comet images, each of them occurring not only in Mexico but in the global symbolism of the comet. How does one weigh the fact that all five comet glyphs are attached to the Mexican Venus? Indeed not only the general motifs, but virtually all of the listed variations are attached to Venus. Is sheer coincidence even possible in such an extreme case as this?
For starters, it needs to be understood that we are not dealing with a "multiple choice" when it comes to possible interpretations. If one is permitted to include in the lexicon of comets the "shooting star," whose mythical image is drawn from the same reservoir, then the only known and provable celestial phenomenon called a "long-haired star" is a comet; the only celestial phenomenon known to have been called a torch star or a flaming star is a comet; the only celestial phenomenon known to have been represented as a star with streaming "tail feathers" is a comet. The only celestial phenomenon known to have been represented as a star with a serpentine tail is a comet. That these very glyphs are consistently attached to Venus cannot be explained away by ad hoc reasoning.
Now add the mythical role of the comet as the ascending soul of a former great king, together with the explicit role of Venus as the ascending soul of the prototypical king Quetzalcoatl, and you will begin to see what is at issue here. If nothing else the stunning convergence of cometary images should make clear that Humboldt's guess about the "smoking star" Venus and a local volcano is not a sufficient answer! The juxtaposition of cometary motifs with the now- peaceful planet--a planet whose appearance today could not begin to explain these associations--forces us to confront the logical alternative: if Venus did appear as a comet, the entire assembly of improbable "coincidences" disappears.
THE MYTH OF THE COMET VENUS
To establish the coincidence of cometary themes relating to Venus is not to end the subject, but simply to open the door to a new vantage point, one in which the researcher enjoys the freedom to consider unusual possibilities. Do the Aztec and Mayan codices, the inscriptions on stone, the oral histories, and the towering monuments speak for events no longer occurring in the skies?
The unexpected symbolic parallels give the researcher a new way of perceiving his subject. Grant the possibility of a world-threatening comet Venus--frightening enough and destructive enough to substantiate man1s deepest fears--and the culture will no longer look the same. Re-envisioning the ancient world in this way will not remove the role of magic and superstition in the myths; nor will it soften the profoundly barbaric components of native rituals; nor will it give to the myths and rites that loftier wisdom we so often seek in ancient words. What it will do is lend the missing perspective, providing new frameworks for understanding the experiential roots of the culture.
The candid researcher must first admit that even the most capable authorities, when considering the core of pre- Columbian thought and culture, find that convincing explanations elude them. Can modern scholars, for example, really claim to understand the cloud of anxiety that hung over Mexican cultures, an anxiety only heightened by the arrival of the Spaniards? Nothing in that civilization's monumental splendor could hide this apprehension. But to expose its roots the researcher must be willing to follow the clues, rather than dismiss them just because they seem so out of touch with the world we know. These clues will lead--inescapably--past the cover of cultural anxiety to its roots in celestial terror.
The sensitive chronicler, Fray Diego Duran, writing just a generation after Columbus, recounted a story about the great emperor Moctezuma, concerning an experience prior to arrival of the conquistadors. It happened that Moctezuma had received word of a comet hanging over Mexico at sunrise. Though the report did not come from his personal astrologers, "he was so filled with fear that he thought his death would arrive within the hour." Moctezuma then asked the king of neighboring Texcoco to tell him what the comet meant.
The answer was as Moctezuma must have feared--
It is an ill-omen for our kingdoms; terrible, frightful things will come upon them. In all our lands and provinces there will be great calamities and misfortunes, not a thing will be left standing. Death will dominate the land! All our dominion will be lost.
On hearing this news, Moctezuma--
wept bitterly, saying "O Lord of All Created Things! O mighty gods who gives life or death! Why have you decreed that many kings shall have reigned proudly but that my fate is to witness the unhappy destruction of Mexico?"
It would be senseless to attempt to isolate or explain Moctezuma's fears outside a cultural tradition far more telling than the individual biographies of kings. No king in earlier times could free himself from the mythical and ritual contexts of kingship. And in the overarching symbols of the power and fate of kings one encounters invariably the archaic language of the comet. Of the comet in Moctezuma's day, Duran's modern translators write: "It is curious to note that the Aztecs looked upon comets as ill omens, just as the contemporary Europeans regarded them as signs of war, famine and pestilence." Among the Aztecs, "Comets and earthquakes, which were always carefully marked down each year in the hieroglyphic manuscripts, were always considered omens of misfortune," notes Jacques Soustell.
In our investigation we have grouped comet and meteor symbolism together because mythically the two are synonymous. "Comets are referred to in Quiché [highlands Maya] as uje ch1umil, 'tail of the star,' and are considered omens of massive pestilence," observes Barbara Tedlock. "Throughout the Mayan area, meteors are thought to be evil omens forecasting sickness, war, and death."
The Mesoamerican theme resonates with a global fear that no comparative study can ignore: around the world, the comet signaled the approach of doomsday. And it mattered not how quietly and unobtrusively the visitor made its appearance, because the archetypal image did not originate in the little wisps of gas that periodically adorn our sky. With the rarest of exceptions, the cometary omen was ominous (the two English words being derived from the same Latin root). For the ancient stargazers, the comet was the fear-inspiring portent of disaster, the "ill-omened star". And thus does our word "dis-aster" (evil star) echo the ancient fear of a star (comet) presiding over universal "catastrophe" (another word reflecting the evil aster or star, the comet of world mythology). But this brief note on language of the evil star does not even scratch the surface when it comes to the depth of man1s memory of a world-ending cometary disaster.