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From: Daniel Barradas <daniel.barradas@iconmedialab.no>
Subject: (whorl) south america, gods, quetzal
Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 17:06:46 +0200

Hi I'm new to this list and I've recently finished reading OBW. I was
intrigued about the name of Patera Quetzal and it's obvious relation with
south america, Quetzal is the name of a south american bird and it also
reminded me of the Toltec god Quetzalcoatl. So I read the article about
pre-columbian religion in the Encarta online enciclopedia. Here are some
quotes that I found interesting, make your own interpretations:

"Because the boundaries between the worlds of nature, human society, and the
supernatural were not sharply defined, pre-Columbian religious leaders were
essentially shamans, people who were believed to be capable of moving back
and forth between the earthly and supernatural realms. This travel between
realms was often associated with hallucinatory trances."

"Just as the heavenly bodies move and replace each other in specific sectors
of the sky, a number of major pre-Columbian deities had shifting,
overlapping identities. Consequently, individual gods and goddesses are
probably best interpreted not as distinct personages, but as fluid and
shifting components of complex supernatural powers."

"The cosmic order depended on a reciprocal relationship between humans and
the gods, maintained through elaborate ceremonies. Since humans needed
favorable treatment from the gods in order to survive, rituals solicited,
for example, the help of agricultural deities in order to secure good
harvests. However, gods were less clearly differentiated from humans than
they are in modern monotheistic religions , and few, if any, pre-Columbian
deities were all-knowing or all-powerful. Many gods required human support
and could weaken or die if people did not sustain them by means of

"The Mayas believed that the universe had been, and would continue to be,
created and destroyed multiple times, and that each such cycle lasted
somewhat longer than 5000 years." 

"Evidently the Mayas believed that the cycle of creation and destruction
would repeat itself forever, with each successive universe being an exact
duplicate of the previous one." 

"Like the Mayas, the Aztecs believed in multiple creations and destructions
of the universe, but with important differences. Most notably, the Aztecs
thought they were living in the fifth and final cycle of creation, the
so-called Fifth Sun. At the end of this cycle everything would be swallowed
by eternal darkness, and there would be no Sixth Sun. The ultimate
destruction of the universe could not be prevented, but it could be delayed.
The Aztecs saw the sun as a warrior who fought a daily battle across the sky
against the forces of darkness. As long as the sun remained strong, he would
prevail in combat and the universe would survive. The Aztecs believed they
could keep the sun strong by nourishing him with a source of vital energy:
human blood, preferably the vigorous blood of warriors captured in battle.
To the Aztecs, unceasing warfare and human sacrifice were sacred duties upon
which the preservation of the universe depended."

"Quetzalcoatl, Toltec and Aztec god and legendary ruler of Mexico, usually
referred to as the Plumed, or Feathered, Serpent, the translation of his
Nahuatl name. In the 10th century AD the Toltecs transformed what had been a
god of soil fertility, worshiped in Teotihuacán before the 9th century, into
a deity associated with the morning and evening star, Venus. The Aztecs
later made him a symbol of death and resurrection and a patron of priests.
The opposing deity in the dualistic Toltec religion was Tezcatlipoca, the
god of the night sky. He was believed to have driven Quetzalcoatl from his
capital, Tula, into exile, from which, according to prophecy, Quetzalcoatl,
described as light-skinned and bearded, would return in a certain year.
Thus, when the Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés appeared in 1519, the Aztec
king, Montezuma II, was easily convinced that Cortés was the returning god."


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