Feature Articles –   Orion’s Image
The New World equivalent of the Gizeh pyramids may well be Teotihuacan, even in as much detail that its layout also mimics astronomical information, even that of Orion’s Belt.
by Philip Coppens

The citadel of Teotihuacan, just outside of Mexico City, is one of the most famous sites constructed by our ancestors. It bloomed between 300 and 600 AD and covered 20 square km (7.7 square miles), once holding a population of 200,000. The name means “place of the gods” or “where men were transformed into gods”, a name given by the Aztecs. It has lead to speculation that the structures were thus constructed by extra-terrestrial beings, or giants – if only because the central focus of the complex is a series of pyramids: the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun, whom together with the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, are the axis along which the city developed itself. The actual central axis is the “Avenue of the Dead”, running from the plaza in front of Pyramid of the Moon past the two other features, and beyond, originally 4 km long. It was named Avenue of the Dead because of archaeological discoveries alongside it. Still, the name may betray a mythical aspect, as Stansbury Hagar suggested that the Avenue may be a representation of the Milky Way – normally seen as a Way of the Soul.

Hagat stated that the entire complex was a map of heaven: “It reproduced on earth a supposed celestial plan of the sky world where dwelt the deities and spirits of the dead.” His conclusions were in line with those of Hugh Harleston Jr., who mapped the complex in the 1960s and 1970s and believed that the entire complex was a precise scale-model of the solar system.

If the centre line of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl was taken as the position of the sun, markers laid out northwards from it along the axis of the Avenue seemed to indicated the correct orbital distances of the inner planets, the asteroid belt, Jupiter, Saturn (the Sun Pyramid), Uranus (the Moon Pyramid) and Neptune and Pluto, represented by two mounds further north. Harleston’s suggestion fuelled speculation of extra-terrestrial intervention in the Mayan civilisation, as the planet Uranus had only been discovered in 1787, Pluto as late as 1930. How did the Mayans have knowledge of this?

Hugh Harleston Jr. also concluded that the entire site was constructed according to a system of measurement that he named the STU, Standard Teotihuacan Unit, which is equals 1.059 meters. This unit features into the length of a side of the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, as well as in the distance between the two pyramids. Others went beyond these observations. Alfred E. Schlemmer stated that the Avenue of the Dead might never have been a street, but instead was a series of linked reflecting pools, filled with water that descended through a series of locks from the Pyramid of the Moon, at the northern extreme, to the Citadel in the south.

Graham Hancock added: “The street was blocked at regular intervals by high partition walls, at the foot of which the remains of well-made sluices could clearly be seen. Moreover, the lie of the land would have facilitated a north-south hydraulic flow since the base of the Moon Pyramid stood on ground that was approximately 100 feet higher than the area in front of the Citadel.”

The Teotihuacan mapping project demonstrated that there were a series of canals and waterways that formed a network between the city and that ran to Lake Texcoco, ten miles away now – but possibly closer in Antiquity. Was it purely for economic reasons, or was it part of “religious engineering” involving the Avenue of the Dead? The Pyramid of the Sun These theories have added to the body of evidence, which suggests that the master plan for the site was a visual representation of astronomical knowledge.

The Pyramid of the Sun is aligned with a point on the horizon where the sun sets on May 17 and July 25, the two days of the year in which the sun sits exactly over the peak of the pyramid at noon (zenith), uniting the heavens with the centre of the world. This orientation explains the zenith 17-degree deviation from the north-south alignment of the Avenue of the Dead.

At the time of the equinoxes, the passage of the sun from south to north resulted at noon in the obliteration of a perfectly straight shadow that ran along one of the lower stages of the western façade. The whole process last just over a minute. It is possible that the spectacle occurred on all sides. As only the western side remains somewhat intact, it is impossible to draw any further conclusions. The other sides were excavated up to a depth of 20 feet, once again by Leopoldo Bartres.

Graham Hancock noted that “the angle of the fourth level of the Pyramid of the Sun is set at 19.69 degrees, the exact latitude of the pyramid itself (which stands at 19.69 degrees north of the equator).” Several authors, including Zecharia Sitchin and Graham Hancock, have repeated each other’s argument that there are major correspondences between the pyramids of Gizeh and those of Teotihuacan. The Pyramid of the Sun is 225m wide and 65 m high, constructed out of five successive layers of mud. Its ascent is via 242 stairs. The floor plan is rather close to that of the Pyramid of Khufu at Gizeh.

The Pyramid of the Moon is much smaller: 42 m high and 150 m wide, yet its summit is as high as that of Sun, because it sits on the site’s highest point. This feature can also be seen in Gizeh, where Khufu’s and Khafre’s pyramid reach an equal height, even though one is taller than the other. From the Avenue of the Dead, looking towards the Pyramid of the Moon The most obvious comparison, however, is that the layout of both the three pyramids at Gizeh and the three main structures of Teotihuacan represent the Belt of Orion. The Pyramid of the Moon compares with the smallest pyramid on the plateau, the Sun Pyramid with Khafre and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, which has the largest ground plan, but never was built into a full pyramid, compares with that of Khufu.

Though there are individual differences, I would suggest that the same ingredients have been used, answering to the same general ground plan: to represent the Belt of Orion, which in ancient Egypt was the symbol of Horus (not Osiris as Adrian Gilbert and Robert Bauval have argued) and in the Mayan culture was part of the creation mythology. Local legends stated that the complex was built to transform men into gods. For sure, an “alien space station” could be an interpretation of that, but it is clear that the answer needs to be located in the domain of religion.

On May 17, ca. 150 AD, the Pleiades rose just before the Sun in the predawn skies. This synchronisation, known as the heliacal rising of the Pleiades, only lasted approx. 100 year. It is now suggested that it was this event that was at the origin of Teotihuacan. The sun and the Pleiades are important in the religious rituals. The Sun-Pleiades zenith conjunction marked what is known as the New Fire ceremony. Bernardino de Sahugun’s Aztec informants stated that the ceremony occurred at the end of every 52 year Calendar Round. The Aztecs and their predecessors had carefully observed the Pleiades, and on the expected night they were supposed to pass through the zenith, precisely at midnight, when the ceremony was performed. The Pyramid of the Sun, seen from the Pyramid of the Moon The story is in line with the legend that the gods gathered together at Teotihuacan and wondered anxiously who was to be the next Sun. This conclave occurred at the end of the previous World Age, which had just been destroyed by a flood. Now, only the sacred fire could be seen in the darkness, still quaking following the recent chaos. “Someone will have to sacrifice himself, throw himself into the fire,” they cried, “only then will there be a Sun”. Two deities, Nanahuatzin and Tecciztecatl, both tried the divine sacrifice. One burned quickly, the other roasted slowly. Then Quetzalcoatl manifested himself and was able to survive the fire, ensuring a new World Age. There is a subterranean passage leading from a natural cave under the west face of the Pyramid of the Sun. It is 7 feet high and was found to run eastwards for more than 300 feet, until it reached a point close to the pyramid’s geometrical centre. Here it led into a second cave, which had been artificially enlarged into a shape very similar to that of a four-leaf clover.

Each “leaf” was a chamber, about 60 feet in circumference, containing a variety of artefacts such as slate discs or mirrors. There was also a complex drainage system of interlocking segments of carved rock pipes. This was strange, as there is no known source of water within the pyramid.

It is believed that this cave played an important role in the New Fire ceremony. The cave opening points directly at the setting sun on May 19 and July 25, the key dates for Teotihuacan. Part of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl The story of Teotihuacan fits within a Lost Aztec Codex, written down by Martin Matz from Mazatec Indians, who transmitted it for several centuries within their community. The text is known as the Codex Matz-Ayauhtla, or the Pyramid of Fire, and describes a series of legends, from the creation myth to the New Fire ceremony, a finale to the initiatory spiritual journey that is encoded into the codex. The text underlines the essence of Mayan belief, that life is a spiritual journey to ascension – a return to God, The One who created the universe.

The text reiterates how the supreme deity, Tloque Nahauque, manifested itself as three forces – a duality functioning against a neutral background, from which the four prime elements were created.

Matz made that journey himself; he visited an initiatory site with his shamanic initiator, where he took a hallucinogenic substance (in his case mushrooms), entered a cave at a specific moment in the calendar, and consequently was shown a landscape of pyramids, including one dedicated to the Moon.

The initiate is then taught about the World Ages, the success of Quetzalcoatl, and how ascension and world ages are connected via the New Fire ceremony – which the Mayans performed every 52 years, based on their calendar system. John Major Jenkins has gone into detail, highlighting the correspondences between the calendrical information of the codex, the Mayan calendar and the stellar connotations. John Major Jenkins has described this as “the ultimate self-sacrifice that is the ritual death attending the mystic initiation into divine life […] in order to merge with Quetzalcoatl, which according to my reconstruction of the New Fire ceremony represents the Pleiades in the zenith with sun at nadir”. Apart from a mystical dimension, there are clear connections with Teotihuacan, where the New Fire ceremony was performed, from 312 AD onwards: there is the presence of the cave inside the Pyramid of the Sun, with its specific alignment and use in rituals. But specifically, we need to ask whether the pyramids of Teotihuacan were perhaps a materialistic, visual representation of the hallucinogenic visions that the initiates had while inside the cave… Was Teotihuacan the materialistic representation of a dream – literally? The purpose of the codex and the essence of existence is the transformation of man into God. But how were man transformed into Gods? Was the New Fire ceremony the literal burning of men, who died for ascension? Was it purely a religious, symbolical ceremony, or was some form of technology used in the process? Technology, if anything, tends to ensure a more methodical approach to a process, guaranteeing a better success of the desired outcome. Detail from the Temple of Quetzalcoatl If the latter, there may be an explanation for the strange sheets of mica that have been found on the site. The first sheets of mica were found in between two of the upper levels of the Pyramid of the Sun. The discovery occurred in 1906, when the complex was restored. But the mica was removed and sold as soon as it had been excavated, by Leopoldo Bartres, the man in charge of the project.

More recently, a “Mica Temple” has been discovered on the site, but this time, the mica has remained in situ. The temple sits around a patio about 300 metres south of the west face of the Pyramid of the Sun. Directly under a floor paved with heavy rock slabs, they found two massive sheets of mica. The sheets are 90 feet square and form two layers, one laid directly on top of the other. As it sits underneath a stone floor, its use was obviously not decorative, but functional.

Mica is a substance containing different metals, depending on the kind of rock formation in which it is found. The type of mica found at Teotihuacan indicates a type that is only found in Brazil, more than 2000 miles away. The same South American mica was found in Olmec sites. It is clear that its presence in Teotihuacan involved a lot of effort – and it thus must have played an important role… In the past decades, a handful of researchers have uncovered the notion that Teotihuacan contains specific information in its layout, fitting within an archaeo-astronomical/religious framework. But making total sense of Teotihuacan will require more mirror gazing, before its final mystery is unveiled…