Archives for posts with tag: quetzalcoatl
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Adam and Eve driven from the Garden, by Michelangelo

    For as bad as some would like to call the serpent, we as humans sure do have a pretty healthy fascination with it.  The Serpent was in the Garden of Eden, the Serpent pops up on the forehead of Pharaohs headgear when they go to the next life, the serpent is present with the Cernunnos (pagan Gaul) with the Hindu in kundalini, and as carefully regarded ancestors within the same culture.  The serpent is present in Chinese culture as well as Japanese and South American culture.  What is so interesting is that while it may be hardly surprising that many cultures would have images of serpents,  HOW they are dealt with tends to be very similar.  All of them. In Egyptian, Hindu, Chinese, Japanese, Christian, pagan and Mayan cultures, the serpent is connected to energy, most often vital force.  There is the Rod of Hermes, the caduceus, for a few that all relate to kundalini and to vital force (and the power to heal).

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Quetzalcoatl

Cernunnos

Cernunnos with seven-pronged horn

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Chinese dragon

I suspect that this image goes back into antiquity where there may have been broader communication of this symbol through many other cultures. When I was studying pre-Columbian art in college I remarked to my professor that so much of the Olmec and later work of the Maya all had a decidedly Asian look to it.  At the time he retorted that there was NO proof that there was ANY connection to Asia amongst the Olmec or Aztec or even Maya, and yet there are sculptural forms that look so very Asian that it is hard to deny the influence.  The early Olmec portraits themselves look…well, they look Chinese.  Later on, it seems as though the Olmec spread and bred with other indigenous cultures, changing their features somewhat.  When I had a lucid dream about Quetzalcoatl, it was as a form that I was supposed to project INTO.  Later upon reading up on Quetzalcoatl, I learned that the god would appear before priests of the order to take them on soul journeys, which I thought was oddly similar to just what I had experienced.  There before me was a wingless serpent floating in mid-air with the face of a very Mayan looking male.  Later, in images from the Archeology Museum in Mexico City, I saw the same image of Quetzalcoatl depicted as a serpent without wings but the face of a Mayan man.  Before this, I had always imagined Quetzalcoatl as a serpent with wings (he was, after all, the “winged serpent,” right?).

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cadueceus

The challenge for some, is when the serpent becomes an enemy.  We as humans have, buried in our limbic system, what some behaviorists describe as an ancient fear of snakes, and that this is common for all of our primate kin.  Perhaps it is an instinct that has helped to keep us out of the way of the more poisonous of the serpents and we just haven’t quite gotten over it. It is also just as likely, too, that the early Hebrews, who were enslaved by the Egyptians, sought to demonize the image of the serpent which was central to their slave owners’ spiritual lives.  Perhaps that is why the serpent got the bad wrap because there is as much evidence that serpents in the Bible are also very good. The Seraphim were described as fiery serpents, winged, even, who surrounded God and whose wings beating about the central deity, shielded it.  Moses also “raised a serpent” in the desert based on an inner prompting that he should fashion an idol out of a material that is like the sun.  He cast his out of brass and it was used for healing (healing snake bites for anyone who looked upon it).  WINGED+SERPENT+%28EGYPT+1%29Surely this is itself a bit of magic, if you ask me, yet it slips by the early censors it seems.  And for as fearful as some modern Christians have become of the imagery of the Hindu kundalini serpent, everyone and anyone who has experienced such a phenomenon can tell you there is no snake.  The EFFECT of life or vital force pushing into ones awareness and up one’s body has a kind of serpentine effect, but that is where anything literal goes by the wayside.  It is NOT a snake.  It is much the same as me making a snake-like motion with my hands to describe an effect for how snakes move and then having someone mistake my movement for the real thing.  Which is silly.  And misguided.  At a certain point we begin to realize, there is no serpent, there is no snake, there is something that the snake represents, and making a serpent represent something is NOT the same as something BEING a serpent.  And yet, fear sometimes rules the day.  We can read stories and we do not have to believe them literal, unless that is all your own mind can conjure.  The truth is, there is a world wrapped up within this one which is far larger and cannot be explained by mere physical imagery alone, and yet, as humans, we try.  And so, we have the serpent!

It was 1985 and I was at this time interested in the phenomenon of astral projection.  I was 19 or 20 at the time and I sensed that if one could experience this state that it could serve to help erase our fear over death.  I had read some material on it from a few sources as they popped up here and there.  I bought a book by Robert Monroe who was able to project so predictably that he was a research subject at the University of Virginia’s Psychology department. Led by other academics such as Charles Tart and some of the work by Stanislov Groff and others who had gone to India, had dropped acid or eaten magic mushrooms, this 60’s era expansion of consciousness brought with it an awareness of still more experience, of larger dimensions to human experience. This was what came about as a result of some of the earliest East meets West experiences, a legacy that I think has helped to push an awareness of alternate forms of consciousness.  I grew up with some of these materials like East West Journal and Be Here Now, which was like a kids book for grownups.  Like my mother who seemed interested in this aspect of the counterculture, we both were into what the hippie scene conferred long after it had come and gone.

I had listened to an interview with a woman named Lynn Andrews on NPR who had written some books on the shamanic tradition as it related to women (Medicine Woman, Jaguar Woman, etc.) and she gave an example of how one could use dreaming as a jumping off point for doing spiritual work.  She described a method for doing this work that amounted to suggesting prior to sleep that when you fall asleep your  ego  would step aside while you did this work in dream.  The ego would move into the background as you used the dream state for more intentional work. Essentially what this meant was that you would “wake up” inside the dream using the dream state as a springboard.  This is called lucid dreaming.

I decided that I would do just this as a way to use dreaming as a jumping off point for a projection of consciousness.  Before going to bed, I simply said that I would wake up within the dream and would use this state as a way of projecting consciousness.

That night I dutifully awoke within dreaming.  I found that I felt a sense as though there were wheels of energy moving at ever greater speeds within me.  I felt as though there was an energy that was building speed inside of me, like a car whose engine was put in neutral while its engine revved to ever higher speeds. I had the distinct impression that some process was underway that would catapult me out of my body.

Just then, I saw in the distance of my vision the image of a coiled snake moving towards me. This snake floated through the air.  It had no wings.  It had a very Mayan looking face where the head of the snake should have been. As I looked at this form I felt something say to me that what I was supposed to do was to project my awareness into the form in front of me which was this serpent form with the human face on it.  As I looked at this dream form, old notions about the snake in the Garden of Eden cropped up.  I chided myself for falling for this fear.  I decided to ignore the fear and do as this inner voice was saying.  The wheels then dutifully sped up, the force increased to an incredible velocity, as I made this decision to just go with it.  This was building into something stronger than anything I had ever experienced before.  It felt as though the whole of the universe was moving through me as an incredible force gained speed. As the energy grew beyond anything I thought possible, I found myself feeling hesitant.  I decided that if I was falling for this fear, I needed to resolve the fear before going on such a journey as this.  The phenomenon began to subside and the snake disappeared into the distance as I slipped back into sleep.

In the wake of this experience, I kicked myself for falling for the fear.  Several years later, while in college, I took a course on PreColumbian art where I would see the same image in a traditional form of the Mayan and Aztec God Quetzalcoatl.  I did more reading on this God and found that the priests of Quetzalcoatl would encounter this form in their visions and dreams and that Quetzalcoatl would come in this way to take them  on soul journeys to other worlds.  Of all the Gods of the Aztec and Maya, Quetzalcoatl was the most peaceful. Quetzalcoatl did not ask nor seek blood sacrifice. Flowers and butterflies were instead offered to him.  As I read through this, I thought how perfect.  I wished I had not begged off from such an experience that I had had a few years previously.

I wondered where I would have gone, what would I have seen had I merged into the body of this snake form?  All through history and all across the world, the serpent was an ancient symbol for wisdom, and spiritual knowledge. The Hindus had the double form of the serpent fire of kundalini, the Egyptians had the serpent (some were even winged—I write about this in the post of the Kriyas and/Mudras and the Holy Ghost that shows up in a link at the bottom of this page for popular posts), the Chinese and Japanese had serpents in the form of dragons.   The Minoans, Cretans, and early pagan Europeans all had the serpent tied into spirituality and vital force. Within my own experience I had been visited by Quetzalcoatl having never known what this image even meant, but its purpose was perfectly expressed in my lucid dream from just a year or two previous.  Some part of us knows these larger forms as we connect into the Collective Consciousness of all traditions.  We dip into the pool of our larger knowing and wonder how on earth this could be.  By shifting awareness, by allowing ourselves to move into larger realms of awareness, we tap these seemingly archetypal forms resting within the collective awareness of humankind. Its “out there” to tap for the fact that the channel lies within.

The Coming of Quetzalcoatl is  symbolic of a deeper return of our own inner knowing, our own vital force and spiritual wisdom.  Its no surprise to me that so many have been connecting with the form of Quetzalcoatl in recent years. For people who are connecting to the Collective Consciousness, many today are left with few good ways for reaching into the divine in a way that makes sense.  Quetzalcoatl serves as a type of angel.  I know for a Christian this would be blasphemy, but this has never stopped me from pointing out the obvious.  Religious figures are propped up as though they have always been while we alone have been involved in creating them.  The Hindus refer to this as our being the “ancestor” to the gods.  This is expressed this way because, well, we DID create them.  Anyway, so we are basically short good spiritual agents that we will need in the time upcoming.  This is not hard to pin down, to know.  Its very much in the air and it leads to a lot of fascination with those same forms that wind up speaking to us about all kinds of qualities that we need that we may never have known existed.  Call it an ability to sense through the Collective Subconscious. I was not able to know that Quetzalcoatl did not have wings.  I in fact imagined him this way, yet when he did arrive, he arrived in a very traditional way, which was much more like the image of the mans face emerging out of the mouth of the snake than anything else.   And if I was merely guessing about Quetzalcoatl’s connection to astral projection and “spiritual journeys” I’d say my subconscious pretty well nailed that one on the head.  Quetzalcoatl fits the bill for some because of this uncommonly peaceful character who did not demand blood sacrifices and was the epitome of peacefulness.

Quetzalcoatl and serpents go far back into the record in Meso America. Quetzalcoatl has gone through some changes over time, but has been connected to death and resurrection,as well as taking on the elements of the sky, rain, and the winds (not unlike the Thunder Bird of Northern America).  He was in the pantheon of gods in Teotihuacan, and it is believed that it was from there that his presence spread to the Maya who adopted him as Kukulkan.  Quetzalcoatl and the snake image dates back to the Olmec Preclassic period, as far back as 1150 B.C.  He has also been associated with Venus.  There are a number of stories over the long period of time that he has been worshipped. Some rulers have taken his name, perhaps in a bid to raise themselves to the level of gods themselves.   In the 10th century a ruler closely associated with Quetzalcoatl ruled the Toltecs; his name was Topiltzin Ce Acatl Quetzalcoatl. This ruler was said to be the son of either the great Chichimeca warrior, Mixcoatl and the Culhuacano woman Chimalman.

Quetzalcoatl was also said to have made humankind out of his blood and earth.  What is interesting is that the Olmecs, Aztecs and Maya all attribute our current era as belonging to the “fifth sun” which is the result of four major catastrophes that have befallen earth and have meant the humankind had to rebound or be recreated each time, something that is very similar to the Hopi concept of the four worlds, with the fifth being the one we are soon to enter. On that note, perhaps we bear some connection in the collective of Quetzalcoatl having to do with our destiny at this higher order of our consciousness?

From the  Codex Telleriano-Remensis.

It has certainly been “in the air” in a sense that many have been looking for ways to fill the need for spiritual agency, or connection to the divine cosmos.

In literal and figurative ways, we are unearthing what these potent forms represent for us.  Quetzalcoatl is interesting in that its very likely that there was a man who lived who bore the same name.  It is said that he presided over a kind of golden era which are now ruins. What gets many Westerners so interested is that he cam from the East and returned there by making a boat to sail.  He was also said to have had a beard, a very unusual thing for the Aztec and Mayans.  So often, myths mixes with legend as legend often has rooting in actual fact with myth expressing the spiritual aspects that transcend both.

In the historical account, Quetzalcoatl had a sister whose name was Quetzalpetlatl.  If we consider how these two forms of myth and legend might flow and merge, it is certainly possible that Quetzalcoatl and Quetzalpetlatl express the masculine and feminine aspects of a still larger realm of spiritual experience.  We then have a masculine serpent and a feminine one as well.  Just as in the Hindu story of kundalini as two serpents, we have a full form that expresses the totality of creative potential in physical and spiritual form.  In this way, we all have access to those forms that align more closely to our own inner masculine or feminine selves. The coming of Quetzalcoatl can also herald the coming of his feminine aspect, Quetzalpetlatl.  The wisdom of what this myth represents is open to all.

If you can consider that we know more than we consciously realize, that there is a much broader realm of experience available to us in what Jung called the Collective Subconscious, then all of these things can make more sense in how we might encounter these archetypal beings without any present knowledge.  The resonance from a past life, or merely tapping a broader range of inner knowing can bring us into contact with those elements which can serve us in our own inner alchemy.  If you can approach all of this in the form of a very creative activity without a lot of structure, your higher self can suggest new possibilities that simply were not possible previously.  This material can be given a new life and old forms rewound through our own present experience. Its as though we take clippings from another time and make new art forms from the images and ideas contained in them.  As long as we don’t get hung up on what is supposed to be, experience is less limited.  Your being is innately creative, and you will be amazed at the insight that these forms can provide you if you allow things to flow more and be less controlled by any rules about their structure or older traditional material.

it was this process that has led me to a greater understanding of my own process as I come into contact with these archetypes.  Even removing the need to know WHY they show up will allow you focus in the moment to create anew.  I suspect that this is what all of this work with archetypes is all about; a creative enterprise where the old is made new again.  Don’t be afraid to go at this like an artist.  This is how new worlds are formed, ideas birthed, new resources uncovered.  There is a lot more to know and to become.  Even the Plains Indians had a process where the old forms were brought out, shown, then new ones put in their place.  These became the great sacred bundle that helped to direct spiritual understanding.  Like a snake shedding its skin, none of this was static, but ever-changing. Don’t be afraid to move with change and see what great promise it may yield to you!

NOTE:  Now just a few weeks after having first posted this entry, I notice that this post has an unusual number of views.  I first asked myself what was it that was drawing so much attention to this? The answer is simple I think. People have been finding the post often through searches FOR Quetzalcoatl. People are already looking for information on this mythical being.  People are focused, drawn by him. Is it because of all the Mayan 2012 stuff?  Perhaps. But I also tend to feel this goes even deeper.  I suspect that we sense that Quetzalcoatl serves as a medium for self transformation, a “Way Shower” of sorts.  We FEEL like h is somehow helping to usher something in.  I suspect that he is, in a way, but I also think that “he” also leads to the “she” as well, which is one of the great things about this age, the return of the divine feminine (there is a lot about this on this blog–use search tags to find them).  He holds a vibration which is a truth that we can sense from a vast distance.  How was it that I experienced Quetzalcoatl in such a way that was so close to his role in a culture that wasn’t even my own?  Somewhere in the space beyond our thinking lies a knowing about things. We see a distant light and feel a yearning to be there, to go nearer it, never knowing that it leads to some larger world that is within.  How do salmon know to swim upstream? Why do Monarchs find South America after thousands of miles?  We say it is instinct.  Perhaps instinct ties us into a more vast field of knowing…..even when we think we are not aware.  We hunger for a new path, I think.  A brilliant light to show us the way…..Even as I completed this addendum to the post, I noticed that on my popular blog entries section at the bottom of the page that this entry is now showing up there.  This is just how rapidly this post has gained popularity. We are looking for a light that we know exists….

Update:  8/20/2012

In a recent discovery of some old documents, I am pouring through a rather interesting tie-in with the Seraphim of the bible and how these beings were also called winged serpents.  These winged serpents took the shape of heavenly beings that brought illumination to humankind.  Either we have a collective awareness of these beings as serpent-like or it was part of a very ancient and wide-spread symbology that was used in most every culture in one form or another.

The Coming of Quetzalcoatl first appeared on the blog Divine Alignment.  To read more there, find D.A. HERE.

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