Mushroom Venus and Fleur de lis Iconography in Pre-Colombian Art


   Re-opening Old Roads of Archaeological Inquiry   

      New evidence in favor of the Herbert Spinden Correlation
of the Maya Calendar

  By Carl de Borhegyi: Copyright 2010  


The debate over the correlation of the Mayan calendar with the Christian calendar has come under lots of scrutiny of late because of the widespread belief that the end of the Fifth World cycle in the Maya calendar would signal the end of the world in the year 2012. As we know the world did not end, and the Maya calendar simply began another cycle.

Today the GMT, or Goodman-Martinez-Thompson correlation and it's 2012 end date of the Mayan calendar is associated primarily with the late Maya archaeologist J. Eric S. Thompson, arguably the most powerful and influential archaeologists of his time. In recognition of Thompson's many achievements in Maya studies, he was knighted, Sir J. Eric S.Thompson in 1975 by Queen Elizabeth II, a few days after his 76th birthday.

Mesoamerican chronology is based on the correlation of the Gregorian calendar with the Maya Long Count calendar, providing historians with absolute dates. Unfortunately the Mayan calendar cannot be directly correlated with the European calendar because the long count system of dating was no longer in use by the time of the Spanish Conquest.

Over the years numerous correlations have been proposed but, according to archaeologist Michael D. Coe, today's unofficial "Dean of Maya Studies",  of the various correlations developed to date, only the GMT 11.16, and the Spinden 12.9 correlation meet the requirements of both dirt archaeology and specific dates (The Maya, fifth edition, p.23). 


          Quoting Archaeologist Michael D. Coe...

"any displacement in the dating of the Maya Classic Period would disrupt the entire field of Mesoamerican research, for ultimately all archaeological chronologies in this part of the world are cross-tied with the Maya Long Count" (The Maya, fifth edition 1993 p. 23)



In order to understand the reason for all the controversy, a few words of explanation are needed to explain the problem of correlation.

By the time that Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the New World, the Maya Long Count system of dating was no longer in use. It had been replaced by an abbreviated system called period-ending dating or the "Short Count", of tuns and katuns set to end on days named Ahau (also spelled Ajaw). Unlike the Long Count of the Classic period, the Short Count is not anchored to a base point. Unfortunately, no one living at the time knew how to integrate the Postclassic Short Count with the earlier Long Count system.

To give a simple example of the problem, imagine, if you will, that some time in the far past we had stopped writing out the full calendar date--say  July 12,  2010--and simply recorded all our dates as 7/12/10. While this date is clear to those of us living today, it would be very confusing for historians in the future who could be left wondering in which century the date  July 11 occurred--1710? 1910?, 2110? If no one could recall the full date for this event, historians would be left scratching their heads.

Fortunately, some of the early Spanish historians left some clues to the puzzle. Bishop Diego de Landa, who wrote his chronicles shortly after the Spanish Conquest, tells us of an event which fell on a certain day in the 52 year calendar round that he said coincided with July 16th, 1553 in the Julian Calendar.  This Julian calendar, developed by the Romans during the reign of Julius Caesar,  was used in Europe until it was revised in the year 1582 during the papacy of Gregory the XIII.  After this date the calendar now used in most countries in the world was known as the Gregorian Calendar. Another date, recorded in native Maya chronicles known as the Chilam Balam, set the date of the Spanish foundation of the city of Merida in Yucatan in the Julian calendar at 1539 (Morley / Sharer 1983 p.562) corresponding to January 6th, 1542 in the Gregorian calendar. The GMT correlation places the long count katun ending of 11-16-0-0-0  13 Ahau 8 Xul on November 14, 1539 in the Gregorian calendar (Morley / Sharer 1983, p.562).

Cross-checking the historical dates recorded in post-Conquest documents for which we have precise Gregorian equivalents, Thompson (1927:5) writes that a Katun 13 Ahau ended sometime between 1536 and 1541, and that most of the evidence actually favors 1536 as the date of the end of the katun. Another reliable source that Thompson mentions is the Chronicle of Oxkutzcab. On page 66, of that document, translated by William Gates, it indicates that the year was 1539 for the close of the 13 Ahau katun which corresponds to a 11-16-0-0-0 in the long count which is the basis for the GMT correlation.
Spinden rejected the Oxkutzcab date of 1539 as unreliable, placing 13 Ahau 8 Kankin in 1536 (Handbook of Middle American Indians Vol III 1965, p.627).
Thompson writes that "If the Katun 13 Ahau did not end in 1539 then its positions in the long count would be 12-9-0-0-0  13 Ahau 8 Kankin the correlation developed by  Spinden (J.E.S.Thompson 1927b, A correlation of the Mayan and European calendars:  p.5).
                    "3 Monkey"

In 2009 I came across a sketch (original by Rubén Manzanilla López and Arturo Talavera González) of a petroglyph that was found on a hillside in Mexico near the city of Acapulco. The petroglyph was intriguing to me because it depicts what appears to me to be a monkey jumping from a mushroom, holding a five pointed Venus star in his right hand, and with an apparent Long Count date located just above the monkey's left shoulder, that reads 


Published research of this petroglyph and its probable Long Count date, conducted by Pedro de Eguiluz Selvas entitled, "Origins of the Long Count," suggests that the correlation of this Long Count  date with the Christian calendar fits the Spinden correlation perfectly, making it equivalent to the year 3 Monkey in the Unified Account of Anawak (CUAN). While this identification tends to reinforce the Spinden correlation, it calls into question the generally accepted, but still unproven (Wauchope, 1965, p. 605) GMT, or Goodman-Martinez-Thompson correlation, and its end date of December 21, 2012. Thus the Long Count date of would be an important key to locate the origin of the long count at 3374 BC and the famous end to the Mayan Calendar at 1752 rather than in December, 2012.

Manzanilla López, Rubén y Arturo Talavera González.
México : CONACULTA: INAH, (Colección Catálogos), 2008.
ISSUE 206 
ISBN: 978-9680302949 





Above are images of Late Classic period (600-900 AD) Maya polychrome bowls and roll-out vase paintings, that I call your  attention to because they all bear the image or reference to the 3 Monkey and 3 dot motif.


More on this 3 Monkey motif and the significance of the monkey petroglyph and its Long Count date a bit later.


A number of archaeologists, among them my father, the late Dr. Stephan F. de Borhegyi - Milwaukee Public Museum, and most notably E. Wyllys Andrews (1960, 1965, 1965c, 1968, 1973) have presented convincing archaeological evidence favoring the correlation first developed by Maya archaeologist Sylvanus G. Morley, and later espoused by Dr. Herbert J. Spinden. Since the two correlations differ by 260 years, the so-called "end date," of the Mayan Calendar according to the Spinden correlation occurred in December, 1752.

Maya archaeologist Stephan F. de Borhegyi, better known simply as Borhegyi, was one of the leading researchers of the pre-Columbian ballgame before his untimely death in 1969. In his manuscript,  The Pre-Columbian ballgame:  A Pan-Mesoamerican Tradition;  published posthumously in 1980, by the Milwaukee Public Museum, Borhegyi called into question the construction date of the Great Ballcourt at Chichen Itza. 


         Quoting archaeologist Stephan F. de Borhegyi...

" I firmly believe that the vertical-walled Great Ballcourt at Chichen Itza, with its gruesome human decapitation scenes and human "skull balls" is of Late Classic origin and a result of the "Tajinized Nonoalca" (Pipil) or Olmeca-Xicallanca influences that spread during that period from the Gulf Coast to Yucatan and through the Peten rainforest as far as the Pacific coast of Guatemala " (Borhegyi,1980: 25).     


Borhegyi and fellow archaeologist Lee A. Parsons had reason to believe that the construction date of the Great Ballcourt at Chichen Itza, (the largest in Mesoamerica) was built much earlier than was previously supposed. Both believed the ballcourt to be Mid to Late Classic rather than Early Post-Classic, and that the stone ballcourt rings were an Early Post-Classic addition indicating a later change of rules in the way the game was played (de Borhegyi,1980-12).

Archaeologist E. Wyllys Andrews IV (Culbert, 1973, p.15) has presented archaeological evidence which calls for earlier dates than those which are now currently accepted using the Goodman-Martinez-Thompson (GMT) correlation.  Andrews' argument in favor of the Spinden correlation is based on his work in Yucatan (1965) at the site of Dzibilchaltun (Weaver,1972, p.182). These dates fit better when read according to the correlation developed by Dr. Herbert Spinden, that establishes all Maya dates 260 years earlier than the G.M.T. correlation.  

"The untimely death of E. W. Andrews IV on July 2, 1971, is a tragic loss to Maya archaeology. At the time of his death, Andrews was engaged in a study of the Reo Bec ruins of southern Campeche, a project which should throw light upon the problem of the alignment of the southern and northern chronologies"  (from Culbert 1973, The Classic Maya Collapse p.19)    


Although most of the archaeologists who have worked in the Southern Maya Lowlands tend to favor the 11-16-0-0-0 GMT correlation, Andrews IV, feels strongly that "the correlation question remains unsolved, and that the possibility of some earlier correlations, such as a 12-9-0-0-0 Spinden correlation, should be left open" (Culbert, 1973, p.15)


        Quoting Maya archaeologist E. Wyllys Andrews...

"I think most students have been influenced in our thinking by the fact that the chronological scheme forces a more than awkward plethora of cultural events into the relatively brief span of time allowed by an 11-16-0-0-0  GMT correlation between the end of the Maya Initial Series and the foundation of Mayapan about A.D. 1250 in the Christian calendar" (The Classic Maya Collapse, 1973, Culbert p.258).


Andrews begins his chapter in the 1973 book, The Classic Maya Collapse,  p. 258...

"Much has been published in recent years about the collapse of Maya civilization and its causes. It might be wise to preface this chapter with a simple statement that in my belief no such thing happened". 


Using Andrews alignment, "the Puuc-Chenes-Reo Bec florescence would have taken place after the abandonment of the southern cities, and Toltec Chichen would have been established as a conqueror's city (Culbert, 1973 p.472)."

         Quoting Maya archaeologist  Gordon R. Willey...

"Even more recent....are questions and doubts, again, about the Lowland Maya Collapse, its relationships with the Postclassic, and southern-northern Lowlands relationships.  This nexus of problems goes back a long way in Maya research. Were there "Old Empire" and "New Empire" separate climaxes in Lowland Maya civilization, as Morley, and later E.W. Andrews IV, have argued; or was Thompson correct in his belief that the southern Late Classic Tepeu phases were coeval with the Rio Bec-Chenes-Puuc developments of the north?

"When Andrews advanced this return to something close to the original Morley formulation, the majority of Mayanists were unconvinced and preferred to continue with the Thompson interpretation. But in 1982 a seminar on the lowland Maya Postclassic, held by the School of American Research, in Santa Fe, returned to the Morley-Andrews position in a consensus that well-known Puuc sites, such as Uxmal, Kabah, Labna, and Sayil, were to be dated after the southern Collapse". (Essays in Maya Archaeology, p205)


Academic texts such as Muriel Porter Weaver's, (1981:333) The Aztecs, Maya, and their Predecessors mention that "one of the most confusing periods in Mesoamerican studies is that related to Yucatan between the years A.D. 600-1200, which embraces that crucial time spanning the Late Classic and Post Classic Maya development".  "Involved is the problem of dating and correlation of the archaeological remains with carbon-14 dates and the Maya calendar, the relationship between northern and central Yucatan to the collapse of the great Classic civilization in the south, and the relationship between Chichen Itza in the northern Yucatan and Tula, Hidalgo in central highland Mexico".  Porter Weaver writes,

"there has been a great deal of controversy among scholars that has centered around the chronology of the Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza and that a Middle to Late Classic dating would be welcomed by many who have studied the art and iconography"  (1981, p. 399).


Porter-Weaver also mentions (1972:3)  that the carbon-14 dates from Oaxaca, Mexico also favored the Spinden correlation. " A strong case can thus be made for a classic dating of Toltec and other Mexican influences that persisted in Yucatan into the Postclassic period." (1981, p. 399) She writes that for consistency  reasons only, she uses the GMT correlation, "but not without reservation".


          Quoting Porter-Weaver...(1981 p.333) 

"When radio carbon dates began coming in after 1950, and ages for the earlier periods proved to be older than previously estimated, some Mayanists enthusiastically embraced the correlation of Spinden, since it seemed to apply particularly well, pushing dates back approximately 260 years beyond those of the GMT correlation. In regards to the correlation of northern Yucatan with the southern Maya lowlands, controversy has centered around the chronological placement of the Pure Florescent Period characterized by the Puuc style architecture".


The Maya city of Chichen Itza in Yucatan Mexico, is one of those sites with Puuc architecture and  archaeological data that seriously questions the GMT correlation upon which the December 21, 2012 "End Date" in the Maya Long Count Calendar depends.


        Quoting Ronald Wright, author of Time Among the Maya...

"  It seemed logical that the Maya part of Chichen had been built first; then a warlike group of Toltecs, led by a king bearing the ubiquitous name of Quetzalcoatl, had invaded Yucatan and made Chichen the capital of a brief and bloodthirsty Mexican state. Almost every aspect of this neat reconstruction is now being challenged.

First, it appears that Yucatec cities such as Uxmal are not later than those of the Peten classic. Second, there's circumstantial evidence that the Maya and Toltec parts of Chichen Itza were built at the same time. Last, and most disquieting, is that a void of several centuries now seems to exist between the ruins themselves and their history recorded in colonial sources. 

Even the Thompson correlation has been rattled: some Yucatan specialists argue that a shortened chronology, putting the end of the Classic in the thirteenth century instead of the tenth, would best close the gap. Unfortunately, such a revision is hard to reconcile with radiocarbon dates from wooden lintels and much of the astronomical data in Classic inscriptions" (Ronald Wright, 1991  p. 342).


Archaeologists Esther Pasztory (1978 a), Marvin Cohodas (1978 a, 1978 b) and the late Lee A. Parsons (1969), have been at the center of the controversy. Their evidence indicated that the Puuc and related styles of architecture began in the seventh century, and peeked in the eighth century, a sequence in Yucatan that further favored the Spinden correlation.

In contrast, archaeologists like Gordon Willey (1978) believed that the Puuc style of architecture lasted from A.D. 800 to A.D. 1000, favoring the GMT correlation. Cohodas  estimates  a A.D. 650 date for the construction of the great ball court of Chichen Itza (Porter-Weaver, 1981 p. 399).  


         Quoting Maya archaeologist  Gordon R. Willey...

" In his 1945 paper Thompson put forward the idea that the Puuc, Chenes, and Rio Bec sites and building of the northern Lowlands were contemporaneous with the Late Classic (Tepeu) Period in the southern Lowlands. This was a change from Morley's position, which had seen the northern architectural florescence as occurring later." (Essays in Maya Archaeology 1984 p. 195)


At the ruins of Chichen Itza in the area known as "Old Chichen" there is a group of excavated structures known simply as the "Date Group", because here archaeologists have found complete dated inscriptions. According to the Thompson GMT correlation the dates cluster around A.D. 889 in the Christian calendar (Alma M. Reed 1966, p.307).

Archaeologist Johan Normark a postdoctoral researcher at the Göteborg University (formerly  Stockholm University) pursues the subject in an article published on the Internet, writes quite a bit on the correlation debate on his internet blog, (Johan Normark's neorealistic blog: Archaeology, the Maya, 2012, climate, travels, and more)....  He writes...

          Quoting Johan Normark...

"the Iglesia structure at Chichen Itza has radiocarbon dates of AD 600 +/- 70 and AD 780 +/- 70 (average 690) and the Casa Colorada dates to 610 +/- 70. These buildings are associated with inscriptions that record their dedications (or the groups they are part of). According to the GMT these dates are much later than those provided by radiocarbon dating. The Iglesia structure is part of the Monjas complex which according to the GMT was dedicated on 4 february, 880. This is roughly two centuries after the radiocarbon dates. The Casa Colorada has two inscribed dates whose GMT dates are 11 September, 869 and 12 June, 870. This is also roughly two centuries later than the radiocarbon date". 

"The Castillo itself is not associated with any inscriptions but the High Priest Grave, which is a similar but smaller radial pyramid, has an inscription dating to 8 May, 998. The Castillo cannot be much earlier than this date but it has provided the radiocarbon dates AD 755 +/- 70 and AD 776 +/- 100. It is, once again, a roughly two centuries difference between the GMT correlated date and the radiocarbon date".(Normark, 2010)


"Thompson makes another move to allow continuity between the Chronicle of Oxkutzcab and the Landa equation. He changes the Christian years to correspond to the beginnings of the Maya years, rather than the endings. Hence he changes the supposed 13 Ajaw 8 Xul katun to 1539 instead of 1540 which is the actual recorded date in the chronicle (well, there it is actually 13 Ajaw 7 Xul). Basically, Thompson argues that Juan Xiu (the author of the chronicle) knew that the New Year 11 Ix 1 Pop and the “katun” end/beginning 13 Ajaw 8 Xul occurred in 1539 but since the Year Bearer (11 Ix) ended in 1540, Xiu assigned both dates to 1540. This is a move that is necessary for the GMT correlation but “it masks an argument that Thompson cannot really convince even himself of” (p 29).

In a publication which appeared in Archeoastronomy in the Americas, Judith Ann Remington writes that, the Thompson or GMT correlation does not fit the astronomical evidence very well, and that when the  Carbon 14 dating process became available, it supported the Spinden correlation. She writes that "the GMT correlation  was accepted perfunctorily  at a time when the Spinden correlation  was  being rejected because of Spinden's "ungentlemanly ways" (Clarifications: The Correlation Debate: internet source, John Major Jenkins, http://alignment2012.com/fap3.html).

Stephan de Borhegyi just happened to be working in Guatemala in 1951 with the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and was asked to go to Tikal to collect samples of Sapodilla wood from dated lintels (beams which span the temple doorways, Group C. Str. 60; tested in Feb. of 1951 ) for radiocarbon testing. The results of these radiocarbon tests in 1951, favored the Herbert J. Spinden correlation (R.E. Taylor 2009, p.194) (Kulp et al. 1951:566).  

More carbon 14 tests were conducted in 1955, using samples of wood taken from a dated lintel at Tikal with a Long Count date of 3 Ahau 3 Mol, which also favored the Spinden correlation (R.E. Taylor 2009, p.194) (John Paddock, Ignacio Bernal 1970 p.5).  According to these tests (Libby 1955, p.132) the date obtained was A.D. 481 +/- 120 years, with other samples belonging to the same Maya inscription cumming in at A.D. 469 +/-  120 years, and A.D. 433 +/- 170 years. In the Spinden correlation this inscription would correspond to 481, and in the GMT correlation at A.D. 741.

A few years later two other independent carbon 14 tests were performed (W.B. Dinsmoor?) again from dated inscriptions on wooden beams from Tikal (see Satterthwait 1965 p.630, Vol. 3 Handbook of Middle American Indians). These radiocarbon tests place the Maya dates from the inscriptions only 23 years later than the 12-9 correlation proposed by Spinden.


Quoting R.E. Taylor author of Six Decades of C-14 Dating in New World Archaeology 2009 p.194...

"Surprisingly, rather than supporting the GMT correlation the [first] C-14 value on the lintel supported the Spinden correlation scheme, which yielded ages exactly 260 yr. earlier than did the GMT formula (Kulp et al. 1951:566).

"A second C-14 determination on another inscribed wooden lintel from Tikal bearing the same long-count data as in the first test was undertaken at Chicago by Libby and also supported the Spinden correlation" (Libby 1954:740).

"These results were criticized on the basis that they were derived from wood samples from existing museum collections whose size had been reduced for transport and thus had lost their outside rings"  (R.E. Taylor 2009, p.194)


So later tests were performed in 1959 by Elizabeth K. Ralph of the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania, and those tests using wood samples with due consideration of the problem of missing tree rings, called the "pre-sample growth error"  seemed to favor the GMT correlation in most cases (Elizabeth K. Ralph 1971:4).


According to Robert Sharer....

"twelve samples were dated from Temple IV. Of these, ten were consistent with the age span predicted by the GMT correlation (A.D. 741-51), and only one fell within the span based on the Spinden correlation (A.D.  481-91)" This test, along with those based on samples from other Tikal temples, offers strong support for the GMT correlation (Morley / Sharer 1983 p.563).


Due to these and other discrepancies in the testing, radiocarbon dating has not resolved the matter as to which correlation is correct. Lacking such decisive archaeological evidence, the archaeological community--pressed to provide usable dates in the Gregorian calendar, came to a consensus favoring the GMT correlation over the Spinden correlation. A study of the history of the controversy reveals that this consensus, rather than being based on solid scientific evidence, was heavily influenced by the personalities and personal lives of the two archaeologists, Spinden and Thompson.  


        Yale archaeologist Michael D. Coe...

"it is a tragedy that so many of his (Spinden) insights about Mesoamerican civilization were pushed aside and ignored during the Age of Thompson as a consequence of his lifelong espousal of a Maya-Christian  correlation".  (Breaking The Maya Code 1999 p.175)


History has shown that Thompson was not right about all things. Michael Coe devotes nearly an entire chapter to this subject in his book Breaking The Maya Code.  In it he writes at length about Thompson being wrong about Yuri Knorosov's  theory of phoneticism in Maya hieroglyphic writing,  Thompson's claim was that Maya hieroglyphs had nothing to do with the spoken word, and also how Thompson was wrong in his assessment of the antiquity of the Olmec civilization.  

Quoting Michael Coe,  "Thompson could talk himself and his colleagues into any position if it coincided with his own preconceptions." (Breaking the Maya Code 1992, 1999)

Thompson refused to accept the Olmec Long Count date as being the same dating system used by the ancient Maya. According to Maya archaeologist Gordon Willey, Thompson challenged the Smithsonian Institution's archaeologist Matthew Sterling on his interpretation of the bar-and-dot inscription dating from the seventh baktun found on a stela at the Olmec site of Tres Zapotes. (1987, p.196)  

"The attack on the claimed antiquity of Olmec culture was led by Eric Thompson, the formidable British-born "brains" of the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Maya program" (Breaking The Maya Code 1999 p. 61) 


The earliest known Long Count dates recorded in Mesoamerica are not from Maya archaeological sites but from the Olmec influenced sites of Chiapa de Corzo in Chiapas Mexico, and Takalik Abaj on the Pacific coast of Guatemala.  Although the date on Stela 2 at Takalik Abaj remains controversial, Stela 2 at the Olmec site of Chiapa de Corzo records a date of 36 BCE, using the GMT correlation, or 296 BCE using the Spinden correlation. 

Speaking of Takalik Abaj, here is more evidence that favors the Spinden Correlation..   


Quoting Maya archaeologist Marion Popenoe de Hatch, from her 1998 article (FAMSI.org), "The Conquest Of Tak'Alik Ab'aj"....

 "According to the stratigraphic evidence and the analysis of ceramics recovered in recent excavation, it would seem that Tak'alik Ab'aj was conquered by K'iche [ also spelled, Quiche] groups at the beginning of the Early Postclassic period (ca. 1000 AD). This date goes a long way back from the period comprised between  1400 and 1450 AD that many ethno-historians claimed for the K'iche expansion towards the South Coast of Guatemala".

"The problem is when, and the Tak'alik Ab'aj information suggests that the expansion had been initiated at the beginning of the Early Postclassic period and not at the beginning of the Late Postclassic, that is to say around 1000 AD, contemporary to the dispersion of the Tihil Plumbate pottery. The chronicle states that the conquest took place in 1300 AD, but archaeological evidence shows that this happened around three centuries prior to that date, that is, around 1000 AD".


The general belief has been that the Quiche Maya, who claimed Toltec ancestry, entered the Guatemalan highlands from the eastern lowlands after the abandonment of Chichen Itza in Yucatan. The date in text books for their entry has been set between  A.D. 1250-1300,using the GMT correlation. (Porter Weaver, 1981, p. 477;  Fox, 1978).   According to S. W. Miles, in a Summary of Preconquest Ethnology of the Guatemala-Chiapas Highlands and Pacific Slopes writes that, "Robert Wauchope,(1948a, pp.29-40; 1949, p.18)  working three main sites at Gumaarcah, Iximche, and Zacualpa could not find archaeological coordination earlier than ca.A.D. 1300 between ceramics and genealogical reckoning" (see S.W. Miles 1965, Vol. 2 p. 282-283, Handbook of Middle American Indians).

Borhegyi called this date into question in a letter written to Robert Wauchope in response to Wauchope's1947 publication "An Approach to the Maya Correlation Problem through Guatemala Highland Archaeology and Native Annals,".   Borhegyi wrote: 

Dear Bob:

"I will try to put down in as concise form as possible, my questions concerning Quiche archaeology.
1) As you know, Dick Woodbury found cremations in Tohil effigy jars at Zaculeu. If cremations are to be connected with the Quiche expansion under Quicab this would mean that Zaculeu was occupied by them during the Early Post-Classic period.

2) You postulated Quicab's reign in the middle of the 15th century. These lately discovered cremations at Zacueu would infer an earlier date for this reign, i.e., around 1300. If I remember correctly, you derive the date for Quicab's reign from a passage in the Annals of the Cakchiquels, which states that the daughter-in-law of Quicab died in 1507. Can it be that this passage refers to Quicab II, and not to Quicab I ? In this case, Quicab I could have reigned in 1300.

3). I think the arrival of the Quiche-Cakchiquel's to Guatemala (probably following the Usamacinta River from the Laguna de Terminos) can be correlated with the first appearance of Fine Orange X wares, Mexican onyx vases, Tohil plumbate, and effigy support tripod bowls. ... On the other hand, the Quiche expansion under the reign of King Quicab falls together with the distribution of white-on-red ware, red on buff ware, red-and-black-on-white ware, and micaceous ware. This data also suggests a reign of around 1300 for Quicab.

4). I have long wondered about the quick "Mayanization" of the Quiche and Cakchiquel tribes, who supposedly came from Tulan. Using Morris Swadesh's lexicostatistical system, it is quite improbable that by the time of the conquest all these tribes could have spoken Maya with practically no retention of their original language. Could it be that the Quiche and Cakchiquels, like the Itzas and Xius of Yucatan were actually Chontal speaking Mayas from the Laguna de Terminos region, who wandered southward after being influenced by Nahuatl speaking groups"I wonder if Quetzalcoatl, after leaving Tula for Tlapalan, settled among these Chontal Mayas and introduced among them a new religious cult, based on the worship of idols. Could it be that only a few of Quetzalcoatl's followers (who actually could trace their origin to Tula) led these Chontal Mayas down into Guatemala? If so, they must have arrived to the borders of Guatemala around 1000 and not, as you once postulated, around 1300. Their arrival, around 1000 AD coincides with the appearance of Fine Orange X wares, Tohil plumbate etc. (we have lately found Tohil plumbate sherds at Altar de Sacrificios and at Santa Amelia). I would appreciate very much your comments on this hypothesis and questions mentioned above. If you'd like, I could even write it up for the Research Records, amplified with the latest distributional studies of the above-mentioned wares. At any rate, I would be very much interested to know your opinion. "  As ever, Steve  (Borhegyi to Wauchope, April 1954, MPM archives)


Popenoe de Hatch's evidence would suggest that Borhegyi was right after all !


Thompson, the most influential archaeologists of the time, was also a major doubter of Borhegyi's ancient Maya mushroom cult theory. In a letter to de Borhegyi  Thompson scoffed at the proposition of a mushroom cult, arguing.....


                 Quoting Sir J. Eric S. Thompson.... 

"I had heard of the theory that these stones might represent a narcotic mushroom cult, but I would think it a difficult theory to prove or disprove... I know of no reference to their use among the Maya, ancient or modern" (Thompson to de Borhegyi, March 26,1953, MPM Archives). 


Stephan de Borhegyi was the first archaeologist to propose a mushroom cult among the ancient Maya after finding a significant number of small, mushroom-shaped sculptures in the collections of the Guatemala National Museum and in numerous private collections in and around Guatemala City.


Thompson was not unfamiliar with mushroom stones. He had found an anthropomorphic mushroom stone representing a seated individual with a mushroom cap in the course of a trial survey of the Southern Maya area. The mushroom looking specimen came from the Central Highlands of Guatemala. Thompson described the piece as a huge mushroom-like object that some anthropologists thought to be stone stools.

Borhegyi, like many archaeologists at this time, greatly admired Thompson, but Thompson scoffed at Borhegyi's theory of a mushroom cult among the ancient Maya, arguing that the mushroom-shaped sculptures were more likely used as stools, though Thompson conceded that they would not have been very comfortable!

Borhegyi's proposal of an ancient Maya mushroom cult met with limited, highly skeptical acceptance at best, among his archaeological colleagues. Few in the Mesoamerican archaeological community seriously considered the possibility that the mushroom sculptures had an esoteric religious significance.

In the years that followed Borhegyi's untimely death, the existence of a mushroom cult in ancient Mesoamerica, and specifically among the ancient Maya, was denied or essentially dismissed as inconsequential.   

Borhegyi noted that mushroom stones that carry an effigy, like the ones depicted above of a human (god?), monkey, bird, jaguar, toad and other animals, have been mostly found at the higher elevations of the Guatemala Highlands. This is an area of woodlands and pine forests where the Amanita muscaria mushroom grows in abundance. The Amanita muscaria mushroom contains muscarine and ibotenic acid, the substances that cause the powerful psychoactive effects.  The Amanita mushroom was likely the inspiration or model for the ancient stone carvings.  Borhegyi dated the mushroom stone cult from as early as 1000 B.C. to A.D. 900. and he noted that mushroom stones first appear in the Preclassic period in the highlands of Guatemala and at sites along the Pacific slope.  In 1957  he published a typological breakdown of mushroom stones according to their chronology and distribution (Wasson and Wasson, 1957) noting that the mushroom stones from the lower altitudes were of the late type and either plain or tripod. Some of the earliest mushroom stones which date to Olmec times bear toad images carved on their base.

The discovery of numerous toad bones in Olmec burials at San Lorenzo suggests that the Olmecs may have used other mind-altering substances, such as hallucinogenic toad toxin, in various ritual practices (Coe, 1994:69; Furst, 1990: 28; Grube, 2001:294).   Certain toads discard a toxin from the skin when touched, that can be dried and can be smoked or taken orally (Eva Hopman, 2008).

Gordon Wasson was the first to call attention to the pervasiveness of the toad and it's association with the term toadstool, with the intoxicating or poisonous mushrooms in Europe. Wasson noted the recurrence throughout the northern hemisphere of a toad deity associated with the entheogenic mushroom (Wasson 1980, p.184-185). 

Mushroom stones bearing toad images carved on their base have been found throughout Chiapas, Mexico, the Guatemala highlands, and along the Pacific slope as far south as El Salvador.  (Borhegyi, 1957, 1961, 1963, 1965a, 1965b). 


The Psilocybe mushroom, called teonanacatl, by the Aztecs, contains the substance psilocin and psilocybin, the active ingredient that causes the mushroom hallucination. The psilocybin mushroom is indigenous to the sub-tropical regions of the U.S, Mexico, and Central America. The plain or tripod mushroom stones, which carry no effigy on the stem (stipe), have been typically found at lower elevations and may indicate the ritual use of the psilocybe mushroom in these regions. 

Despite all the evidence of the religious use of mushrooms recorded in the pre-Columbian codices and described in the Spanish chronicles, the academic and archaeological community as a whole has been reluctant to recognize and accept the important cultural and religious role played by mushrooms in ancient New World society. Both my father, and Gordon Wasson noted this fact over a half century ago. Though both added enormously to the body of published ethnographic and archaeological information on the subject, it remains to this day virtually unknown.  


In 1971 an ancient Maya codex, surfaced in New York City, called the Grolier Codex. The codex which Thompson, called a fake, got its name when it was put on exhibit at the Grolier Club in New York City in 1971 by Michael Coe (Breaking the Maya Code  1999 p.228).

The Grolier codex if complete, (fragments of 10 out of 22 pages: Coe, Revised edition 1999 p.227`) would have covered 65 cycles of the planet Venus and apparently supports the evidence for the Spinden correlation placing the date of the origin of the Maya calendar at 3374 B.C. and the end date at A.D. 1752 (Peter Tompkins 1976, p.295).

The Grolier codex has been dated between A.D. 1400 and 1500 (radiocarbon date A.D. 1230, + or - 130 Coe 1999 revised, p.228), and according to Charles Lacombe,who directed the hieroglyphic studies department, at the Institute of Maya Studies, Miami Museum of Science, its "the world's first and only known perpetual calendar of Venus ever produced by any civilization."


 Cryptographer Charles Lacombe...(Tompkins 1976, p.295) 

"To those who have suggested that this newly found codex could have been a fake, no forger could have been clever enough to fake such data for which there is no other source among Mayan scripts."    

"this ancient Mayan document must rank among the supreme intellectual achievements of human history."


 According to Michael Coe...

"The denouement of the Grolier Codex affair was that it is now considered authentic by almost all those Mayanist who are either epigraphers or iconographers, or both; that the archaeoastronomer John Carlson has shown that it contains concepts about the planet Venus which have come to light only after it was exhibited in New York;and that it is probably the earliest of the four known codices." (Breaking the Maya Code 1999 revised p.229)


In 1905 a news paper editor in California named Joseph P. Goodman was the first to correlate the Maya and European calendars and arrive at a date based on the earlier work of Ernst Forstemann who deciphered that all dates in the Maya Long Count calendar were calculated from a starting point equivalent to 3114 B.C., GMT correlation (Gallenkamp 1985 revised edition p. 51). It should be noted that the start date of the Hindu calendar, the Kali Yuga was in 3,102 BC. 

Michael Coe points out that the late David H. Kelley who was one of the great pioneers of Maya decipherment, also rejected Thompson's GMT correlation (BREAKING THE MAYA CODE, 1992,1999, page 158).   

Kelley pointed out the similarity between the Mesoamerican calendar and the Hindu lunar mansions, a resemblance far to close to be merely coincidental (M.D. Coe, The Maya, fifth edition 1999, p.45).  Kelley saw the resemblance between the Mesoamerican cycle of the Nine Lords of the Night, to the Hindu planetary week of nine days, and noted the parallel belief of four previous world ages and their cataclysmic destruction, a belief shared by Hindus, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians (Susan Milbrath, 1999, p.292).  

      Quoting Michael Coe....
"David Kelley recognizes that his relationship with Thompson was never particularly close; Eric obviously disliked Dave's non-conformist views on the historical nature of the Classic monuments and inscriptions (in which he anticipated a revolution that was to follow), his non-acceptance of the Thompson (or GMT) correlation, his theories about the trans-Pacific diffusion of the Mesoamerican calendar from west to east (Dave made this the subject of his Ph.D dissertation), and his interest in phoneticism" (page 158) . 
"When Dave's massive Deciphering the Maya Script appeared in 1976, a year after Thompson's death even the most loyal Thompsonians were faced with irrefutable evidence that Knorosov had been right and Eric very, very wrong" (page 160).
Coe writes that when Joseph Goodman first came up with the correlation in 1910,  that we now accept as the Goodman, Martinez, Thompson correlation, (GMT),  it was generally rejected in favor of the correlation developed by the other great Maya archaeologist, Sylvanus G. Morley, and later espoused by Spinden. When, in 1926, Juan Martinez Hernandez resurrected the Goodman correlation, Thompson "joined suit" and threw in the full weight of his considerable reputation behind it. Even when most of the new radiocarbon dates seemed to go against him," Thompson "defended his position until the end of his days." (Breaking the Maya Code 1992, 1999 p. 132). 
According to Coe..."Back in the age of Thompson, it wasn't considered necessary to know any Mayan language to be a glyph expert.  Thompson, for example, could neither speak nor read Yucatec or any other member of the Mayan language family" (Breaking the Maya Code  1999  p.199)


           Quoting J. Eric S. Thompson.......

I do not wish thereby to indicate that the correlation that I have sponsored is necessarily correct. I am very far from feeling that it is infallible, and have said so on many occasions” (from “Maya Chronology: the Correlation Question”, Contributions to American Archaeology, xiv (1935) 53-104, p.75).     


The author calls attention to this research so that students on the subject of correlation or the Classic Maya Collapse, may re-visit the Spinden correlation in an effort to solve the many complex archaeological problems. To date there are almost ninety different theories or variations of theories purporting to explain the "sudden", Classic Maya Collapse. Between AD 900 and A.D. 1000 there appears to have been a disruption of Classic Maya civilization, where no new construction was undertaken and monumental stelae ceased to be erected. We are led to believe that some mysterious fate befell the Classic Maya, and that people just suddenly disappeared and the once great Maya cities of the Classic Period were all abandoned.


        Quoting Maya archaeologist Robert L. Rands...

"Achievement of absolute dating is a fundamental goal in efforts to understand the collapse of Classic Maya Civilization. A slight shift forward or backward in time can make a significant difference in how one visualizes the pattern of events" (Patrick Culbert, 1973 p.43)    


While there was indeed a general abandonment of the great Classic Maya cities of the northern lowlands, their so-called "Collapse" might well have been more of a slow decline if dated according to the Spinden correlation 260 years earlier in time.  


        Quoting Maya archaeologist T. Patrick Culbert...

" The evidence all indicated that the Classic Maya had disappeared somewhere in the time-shrouded past and had left no modern descendants with even a faint touch of their glory and accomplishments" (Culbert 1974; The Lost Civilization: The Story of the Classic Maya,  p.105)


One theory or explanation for the so called collapse of Classic Maya Civilization, may be of a Toltec invasion into the Maya region by Chontal Maya tribes also known as the Putun Maya. These Chontal Maya may have disrupted so called Classic Maya civilization, because they were devout followers of Quetzalcoatl and his mushroom religion. The Classic Maya Collapse is a time period that takes place between A.D. 900 and A.D. 1000, when archaeologists see an abrupt halt of any new construction and that dated monuments with Long Count dates called stelae ceased to be erected. Its during this time period in the Central lowlands of Guatemala that archaeologist see a sudden decline in population or the abandonment of Maya cities.   


           My father formulated this theory  in 1953......


         Dear Gordon,

 "This is a completely new theory that I have recently formulated.  It is quite revolutionary, and I will try to publish it as soon as possible.  When you carefully check the Annals (of the Cakchiqueles) and the Popol Vuh, you will read that, in spite of the fact that the Quiche and Cakchiquel tribes claim origin in the legendary city of Tollan, throughout their trip until they reach the Guatemalan Highlands (they) encounter only tribes speaking a language similar to their own.  The country between the Laguna de Terminos and the Usamacinta region was and still is populated by Chol Mayas.  Consequently, the Quiche and Cakchiquel's must have understood this language, and therefore were also Maya speakers.  When they reached Guatemala, they met the Mams and in the Annals, they referred to them as "stutterers", thus implying that they spoke a language somewhat similar to their own. J. Eric Thompson, a few years ago advanced the theory that the Itzas (who) came to Chichen Itza about 1000 A.D. were Mexican influenced Chontal Maya Indians from the Laguna de Terminos region.  The Yucatecan Mayas called the Itza invaders "stutterers", or "people who speak our language brokenly".  I therefore suggest that the Quiche's and Cakchiquel's were equally Nahuatl influenced Chontal Mayas.  I think that the story is as follows: the priest king Quetzalcoatl /Kukulcan, (Gucumatz) was expelled by his enemies from Tula (Tollan), sometime around 960A.D (Quetzalcoatl was accused with sodomy and incest.).  He left with a small group of his followers and went to Tlapallan, that is, the Laguna de Terminos region.  Here he apparently settled down.  It would seem that some of the Chontal tribes accepted the mushroom cult introduced by him and after a few years, the pressure of enemy tribes forced them to move on, led by descendants of Quetzalcoatl and his followers.  Some went northeast to Chichen Itza; others moved southward following the Usamacinta toward Guatemala.  The archaeological picture of Northern Guatemala, favors this theory.  Linguistically, it is far more plausible than the other.  The few leaders could still refer to their homeland as Tollan, and probably continued for a while to speak Nahuatl. (The Itza leaders in Yucatán, according to the Chilan Balam of Chumayel, continued to speak a secret and sacred language called "the language of Zuyva".)  The great mass of followers, however, did not speak this language and therefore probably spoke Chontal Maya.  The Quiche and Cakchiquel Maya are, of course, linguistically related to the Chol and Chontal Maya.  Please understand, this is a completely new theory.  I am in the process of gathering archaeological data, which might support it." 

     As Ever, Steve



Against his better judgement Borhegyi later revised his time line on Quiche archaeology, as found in another letter to the late Gordon Wasson..


“Both the Quiché and Cakchiquel people presumably arrived in Guatemala around 1100 or 1200 A.D.  At that time, however, the mushroom stones were no longer in use.  The confusing picture is now that here we have definite literary evidence of the mushroom cult practiced in a period when mushroom stones were no longer in use.  On the other hand, we have the archaeological evidence of the use of mushroom stones, prior to 1200 A.D., without any literary evidence that they were connected with a mushroom cult.   I think they [mushroom stones] prove beyond any doubt that at least some sort of a mushroom cult must have existed among the Quiché and Cakchiquel Mayas.  As you remember, these are the regions from where we got the most satisfactory linguistic information.  It would seem, therefore, that even if a mushroom cult is not in existence today among these two groups, it was in evidence 300 years before the conquest.”

As Ever, Steve






The  sketch above,  (original by Rubén Manzanilla López and Arturo Talavera González) is of a petroglyph that was found on a hillside near the southern Mexico Pacific court city of Acapulco. The petroglyph depicts a monkey jumping from what looks to be an Amanita muscaria mushroom (mushroom first noted by the author) with an apparent Long Count date, of

 Research of this petroglyph and its probable Long Count date, conducted by Pedro de Eguiluz Selvas entitled, "Origins of the Long Count," suggests that the correlation of this Long Count  date with the Christian calendar fits the Spinden correlation perfectly, making it equivalent to the year 3 Monkey in the Unified Account of Anawak (CUAN). While this identification tends to reinforce the Spinden correlation, it calls into question the generally accepted Goodman-Thompson-Martinez correlation, and its end date of December 21, 2012. Thus the Long Count date of would be an important key to locate the origin of the long count at 3374 BC and the famous end to the Mayan Calendar at 1752 rather than in December, 2012.

(LAS MANIFESTACIONES GRÁFICO RUPESTRES EN LOS SITIOS QUEOLÓGICOS DE ACAPULCO. / Rubén Manzanilla López, Arturo Talavera González. México, D.F.: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 2008. 152p. 26cm. Bibl., bibl. notes, illus., photos. Catálogos. ISBN: 978-9680302949),  and Pedro de Eguiluz Selvas "Los Origines del Calendario Maya/Olmeca, 26 March 2009, Internet)


Mexican archaeologists Manzanilla López, Rubén, and  Arturo Talavera González, published two articles on the monkey petroglyph which bears a probable Long Count date of  The date is shown between the left shoulder and the tail of a monkey (see below) holding a five-pointed star and jumping off what I believe to be is a sacred mushroom. Researcher Pedro de Eguiluz Selvas ("Origins of the Long Count,") reports that the date as calculated by the Spinden correlation, (ie: 2168 B.C.in the Gregorian calendar) corresponds in the Unified Count of Anawak correlation (CRAN) to the  year 3 Monkey  in the Maya/Olmec Calendar. There is no corresponding association using the more often cited Goodman-Thompson-Martinez correlation. Further study of this date 3 Monkey is needed and might explain the many painted Maya vessels, plates, and bowls which depict three monkeys.  

 In order to understand the special nature of these associations, and why it may have been important to the ancient artist to record this date,  we need to refer again to the image of the monkey in the petroglyph. First, the monkey appears to be jumping off an Amanita muscaria mushroom, an hallucinogenic variety considered to be highly sacred throughout Mesoamerica because of its mind-altering qualities. The identification of the mushroom as an Amanita derives from the characteristic"skirt" on the mushroom's stem. The monkey also holds in his right hand a 5-pointed star, an iconic symbol identified by Mesoamerican scholars as linked to the planet Venus and it's 5 synodic (5 x 584 days) cycles in the Dresden Codex.  It should be noted that the number 5 was "specifically associated with Quetzalcoatl and his quincunx symbol, and also with Venus, one aspect of Quetzalcoatl". "The synodic revolution of Venus (Quetzalcoatl) is 584 days, and these revolutions were grouped by the Nahuas in fives, so that 5x584 equaled 2,920 days, or exactly eight years" (Nicholson, 1967 pp. 45-46).

Eguiluz has, in addition to deciphering the long count date, called attention to the two concentric circles in front of the monkey's stomach. These he associates with the calendrical cycle of 13. He also notes that, counting counterclockwise from the fourth point, three parallel rows of dots probably allude to the Nine Lords of the Night.  Eguiluz sees the two larger dots on either side of the monkey as alluding to the tonalpohualli date of 2 Wind, and the shape of the monkey's tail as a symbol of the wind. According to the Five Suns cosmogonic accounts as interpreted by scholars Mary Miller and Karl Taube (1993; p.118), Quetzalcoatl in his guise as Ehecatl (the Wind God) presided over the second sun, ehecatonatiuh, the sun of wind, until it was destroyed by great winds. The survivors of that era were turned into monkeys and Quetzalcoatl was their ruler,  Finally, Susan Milbrath writes in her monumental book on Mesoamerican archaeoastronomy entitled, Star Gods of the Maya (1999,p. 256 ), that an analysis of the Dresden Codex identifies the monkey, itself,  as also related to Venus as the Morning Star. 

In summery, if Eguiluz's interpretations are correct, the petroglyph of the monkey jumping from an Amanita muscaria mushroom (first noted by the author) commemorating  the calendar year 3 Monkey, would be the earliest known date associated with both the mushroom cult and Venus cult,  with both cults linked with the god Quetzalcoatl. That fact alone is of great significance. However, since it lends heavy weight to Spinden's correlation of the Maya calendar,  it not only establishes the date for the beginning of the First world cycle at  3374 B.C.  It  places the "so-called" end of the Mayan Fifth world cycle at 1752  CE rather than 2012.  In other words, contrary to much contemporary hype, the end of the "Fifth world" may  have already occurred.  If so, instead of Armageddon,  the Mayan Calendar simply began another cycle.     


As mentioned earlier, I have in my possession the unused portion of  sapodilla wood  taken from the dated lintel at Tikal (Group C. Str. 60)  and tested in Feb. of 1951, that favored the Spinden correlation.  I would love to have this controversial sample retested.  

                      Your thoughts, comments, and concerns are most welcomed. 





                 THE MONKEY AND THE MUSHROOM  


      Photographs © Justin Kerr

Maya vase K1789  depicts three monkeys holding stones, a Maya metaphor for the 3 hearth stones of Maya creation.                     



Photographs © Justin Kerr

Above is a monkey dressed in the guise of the Aztec/Toltec god Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, the Wind God, wearing Quetzalcoatl's trademark shell ear flairs and chest ornament called the ehecailacocozctl,  or "wind jewel", a spirally cross-cut conch shell, worn by rulers or high priests, who in turn represented the incarnation of the god-king Quetzalcoatl through royal blood and dynastic ascension.  It is said that to ancient Mesoamericans the shell spiral represented birth (Nicholson 1967, p.90) reminding us that Quetzalcoatl was the procreator of man and that  the cross cut shape of the conch shell looks like a half star, a  symbol of the planet Venus to which Quetzalcoatl was to rise and be reborn. The conch shell was also the sacred symbol for Quetzalcoatl in his role as Ehecatl the Wind God.

As the Morning Star, rising before dawn, Venus seemed to "resurrect" the Sun from its daily journey through the Underworld.  Venus as the Evening Star appears to follow the sun into the underworld as the Sun's executioner. For this reason Venus became closely associated with death in the underworld and resurrection from the Underworld. Venus also appears to die and rise again from the underworld with great regularity, and every eight years it can be predicted to return to exactly the same location in the sky. This Venus cycle referred to as the "fiveness" of Venus comes from the fact that five Venus cycles equals, almost to the day, eight solar years (Milbrath 1999,51). The early sky watchers who figured out this pattern of predictability were believed to have acquired divine knowledge. This knowledge was believed to have been bestowed upon them by the same god who delivered magic mushrooms and fire from the lightning bolts that came down from the sky.  Depicted as a feathered serpent with feline attributes, Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc are the avatars of the planet Venus, a dualistic god whom Mesoamericans believed created the universe and humankind. He also gave to man the sciences, the calendar and writing, and the knowledge to fix certain days for feasts and blood sacrifice. Rulers who were bestowed with this divine knowledge were believed to be incarnates of this god. Maya scholars Linda Schele and David Freidel mention in their book, A Forest of Kings (p.192)  that, on the date April 12, 711 (GMT) when Venus appeared as the Morning Star,  a Maya ruler from Tikal now known as "Smoking Squirrel" timed his campaign of raids for captives to this sacred event.Warriors, as well as rulers, emulated this God of underworld resurrection known to the Aztecs and Toltecs as Quetzalcoatl-Tlaloc. In his guise as the Evening Star, Quetzalcoatl-Tlaloc presided as Lord of the Underworld, god of life from death, and who, like all those who enter the underworld, was transformed into a jaguar or "were-jaguar" .

Maya scholars David Freidel and the late Linda Schele (A Forest of Kings page 410) write that when the image of the Monkey God, known as God C, and meaning "divinity," is merged with another object it marks the image as "holy."

In Maya religion the monkey represents the first of the Nine Lords of the Night or Underworld. Called the Bolon Ti Ku, these gods were responsible for guiding the Sun (identified as an underworld jaguar), into the underworld to be sacrificed by underworld decapitation and reborn and deified as the new Sun, baby jaguar. The first god associated with re-birth was the Monkey (GI) and Quetzalcoatl (G9) was the last associated with death and completion. The word K'uh in Classic Mayan glyphs was assigned to the monkey god and in glyphs his monkey profile was used to describe "holy" or "sacred," referring to "divinity" or "god" (M.D. Coe 2001, p.109).  My father, Stephan de Borhegyi was the first archaeologist to suggest that mushroom stones had a  ceremonial association with the Nine Lords of the Night, and gods of the underworld.             



Above is a sculpture of the Aztec/Toltec god Quetzalcoatl-Tlaloc, depicted here I believe as both the Evening Star (above) and Morning Star (below) aspect of the planet Venus.  They are depicted above as a dualistic god linking both Tlaloc and Quetzalcoatl with Venus and the Evening Star. Note the three monkeys above Tlaloc's head. Is this a date, 3-Monkey? Or is it a reference like the three dots above Quetzalcoatl-Tlaloc's head to the three hearth stones of Maya creation. In Nahua (Mexican) religion Tlaloc, an avatar of Quetzalcoatl, reigns as G-9, the highest of the Nine Lords of the Night, and as such represents the completion of time, period endings and ritual decapitation. By representing life from death and that split moment in time, G-1, the First Lord of the Night, identified as a Monkey God, represents rebirth.  (photograph from www.americas-fr.com/.../aztecas/tlaloc.jpg)



       Photograph © Justin Kerr   

The carved Maya vessel above K5420,  depicts an esoteric scene of creation taking place in the Maya  Underworld.  I propose that the bearded deity on the far right represents the bearded god Quetzalcoatl.  He is depicted with a trefoil symbol reminiscent of the Old World fleur-de-lis,  symbolizing lordship and divinity.  I also propose that the symbolism and iconography on the far left of Maya vase K5420, depicts what appears to be a stylized mushroom emerging from the anus of an upside-down turtle (note carapace). The animal inside the carapace, however, may represent a sacrificed dog or deer or even a feline. In both Nahua and Maya mythology a dog or a dwarf often accompanies the deceased into the Underworld. A dwarf may be depicted on the right sitting in front of the bearded deity just below what appears to be a monkey.  In the event the animal inside the turtle carapace is a sacrificed deer, it should be noted that many hallucinogenic mushrooms, among them Psilocybe and Panaeolus genera mushrooms, grow in the dung of herbaceous quadrupeds such as deer, making the deer extremely sacred in mushroom rituals. Mushrooms found growing in the dung of deer were easy to find and safe to consume. They were also very easy to cultivate for the purpose of trade.


          Photographs © Justin Kerr

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Place of Manufacture: El Petén, Guatemala, El Mirador Basin, Nakbé area 11 x 12 cm (4 5/16 x 4 3/4 in.) Earthenware: black and red on cream slip paint.

Maya vase K1181, should be read left to right, It depicts a scene in the underworld. On the far left  is a monkey in the guise of a  sacrificial deer as indicated by his antlers. The monkey is identified as G I of the Bolon ti ku, or Nine Lords of the Night and represents, metaphorically, the humans who survived the previous world age that was ruled by Quetzalcoatl. The monkey in this scene will transform into the underworld jaguar depicted directly behind the monkey by  consuming the mushroom under the jaguar's tail.  Note that the mushroom is tied with a knot, a metaphor for bloodletting rites and the summoning of the Vision Serpent and Venus god known as K'awil. Kawil's head can be seen emerging from the jaguar's tail. The monkey's tail is curled into the  "loop symbol" which, as I have demonstrated (see Home page--Breaking the Mushroom Code), represents Quetzalcoatl's mushroom-Venus religion of divine underworld resurrection. The monkey holds in his hand a ritual object of decapitation and around his neck he wears the scarf of underworld decapitation and sacrifice of the underworld Sun God. The jaguar wears the same scarf, and his tail is curled into the same loop symbol as the monkey's tail. Behind the jaguar is the upright toad that in Maya glyphs represents rebirth.Thus we see in this vase painting the monkey's sacrifice as the sacred deer transforms him into the underworld jaguar, to be ritually decapitated. Thus deified he is reborn, symbolized by the upright toad.The enigmatic god K'awil whose head is depicted at end of the jaguar's tail spews a mushroom vision of rebirth, is also known as Tohil or God K and G II of the Palenque Triad, I suspect, based on hieroglyphic texts, that 3 Monkey is a reference to the trinity of gods, G I, G II, and G III known as the Palenque Triad. These three gods, born before the creation of our present world, may also represent the three stones of  Maya creation. The sacrificial jaguar holds an offering plate that contains an open hand, a symbol that, I am told, represents a completion ceremony or period ending. The so-called "disembodied eye" on the offering plate suggests the completion of one's own life and the assurance of  the resurrection of one's soul. The disembodied eye also represents the esoteric mushroom vision that sees through deaths door.


           Photographs © Justin Kerr

Above, on Maya vase K8733, we see the same monkey/underworld jaguar transformation story as on Vase K 118.. Once again the monkey wears the antlers of the sacrificial deer, as well as the sacrificial scarf. The underworld jaguar is again behind the monkey in the act of  bending down to pick the sacred mushroom which is under the monkey's tail. The sacrifice and rebirth of the underworld jaguar assures the deer of divine resurrection, and thus the deer is depicted by the artist with iconography associated with portals. The serpent coiled around the deer's body represents the manifested mushroom-Venus portal that is the god K'awil. The X-icon located on the deer's ear represents divine resurrection associated with underworld decapitation. I have been told that, when we see the disembodied eye dangling from the eye socket, as we see in the deer depicted above, it represents a constellation or star and that the deer is now looking down on us from the heavens.



         Photographs © Justin Kerr

Maya vase K1203, is another example in which the monkey's tail represents code for a symbol I believe identifies the Quetzalcoatl's mushroom-Venus religion. Once again the monkey appears to wear the sacrificial scarf of underworld decapitation and rebirth, and may be in the guise (note the antlers) of the sacrificial deer. In his hand the monkey holds an offering plate that contains a disembodied eye, which I would suspect is a reference or code similar in concept to Tlalocs's goggled eyes. The offering plate also contains an opened hand, a Maya symbol, identified with period endings in the Long Count Calendar, symbolizing what scholars believe represents the raising of the world tree portal, at the center of the universe. The stylized mushroom, underneath the monkey's tail, depicts what I suspect is a bundle knot on top, which would be an esoteric reference to a mushroom ceremony prior to the bundle ceremony at the completion of a period ending. Once again the monkey represents the symbol of rebirth as the first god, G-I of the Nine Lords of the Underworld. The peccary on the right, which appears to be undergoing the effects of underworld jaguar transformation, depicts a nose for sniffing out the whereabouts of ritual mushrooms. The peccary in this case is the likely metaphor representing death and underworld sacrifice, as he wears around his neck the scarf of underworld decapitation, symbolizing times completion, thus bringing about the holy act of rebirth in which the monkey is the divine symbol.


          Photographs © Justin Kerr

Maya vase K2010 depicts another scene in which the monkey, again in the guise of the sacrificial deer, wears the scarf of underworld decapitation in commemoration of a probable period ending in the  260 day ritual calendar. Below the monkey's tail is once again what I suspect represents a stylized mushroom with a symbolic bundle knot on top. The turkey vulture on the right in Maya religion represents the supreme bird deity of the underworld and in Maya hieroglyphic writing the vulture glyph bears the name Ahau, meaning Lord.


To summarize again, if Eguiluz's interpretations are correct, the petroglyph of the monkey jumping from an Amanita muscaria mushroom, commemorating  the calendar year 3 Monkey, would be the earliest known date associated with both the mushroom cult and Venus cult,  with both cults linked with the god Quetzalcoatl. That fact alone is of great significance. However, since it lends heavy weight to Spinden's correlation of the Maya calendar,  it not only establishes the date for the beginning of the First world cycle at  3374 B.C.  It  places the "so-called" end of the Mayan Fifth world cycle at 1752  CE rather than 2012.  In other words, contrary to much contemporary hype, the end of the "Fifth world" may  have already occurred.  If so, instead of Armageddon,  the Mayan Calendar simply began another cycle.     


I have in my possession the unused portion of  sapodilla wood  taken from the dated lintel at Tikal (Group C. Str. 60)  and tested in Feb. of 1951, that favored the Spinden correlation.  I would love to have this controversial sample retested.  


   Your thoughts, comments, and concerns are most welcomed 

         About Carl de Borhegyi                


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