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Montezuma & the Venus Transit
by Ken Gillman

Ed. N.: This article has been previously published in Considerations ( volume XVI number 2, May - July 2001). You will need the font 'Astrolabe1SP' to read the text. Please download it here.

WHEN THE q rises over New York City on 8 June 2004 at 5:25 AM EDT (09:25 UT) it will do so with a small black circle on it, visible against the bottom half of the q ’s disk, moving across it to the right. The black circle will be r , making an unusual transit across the face of the q , and this will be visible from the Earth. It will be worth getting up early that day and viewing this phenomenon through a smoked glass. It is a rare event.

The last time a r transit of the q was visible from anywhere on our planet was on 6 December 1882. This was five days before a theater (the Bijou in Boston) was first lit by electric light, it was around the time the Statue of Liberty arrived in the USA, and shortly before the opening of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

Source: Jean Meeus. Transits. Richmond, Virginia: Willmann-Bell, 1989.

If you miss seeing this one, there will be another eight years later, on 6 June 2012, but after that there are no more until the year 2117. In 6,000 years, between –2000 and +4000, there are only 81 of them. They are indeed rare and only occur when the inferior conjunction of r with the q occurs close to one of the r nodes.

ACCORDING to most, if not all, histories of astronomy, the first time a r transit is known to have been observed was at 3:15 PM on 4 December 1639 by Jeremiah Horrox in Hoole (53N38, 2W55), a small village 15 miles north of Liverpool, England. There is, however, strong evidence that one was seen in the previous century.

Montezuma, the leader of the Aztec people in pre-Columbus Mexico, was known as The Great Speaker, for among his responsibilities he had to foretell and speak what would happen. Accordingly, each night at sunset, midnight and dawn, Montezuma observed the sky from his palace roof to divine the course of future events. To him, the signs in the sky marked the marching of fate, and his policies were dictated by the starry symbols of the gods in the night sky, by the movement of the planets and the appearance of comets; all gave him the information he needed.

In 1518 a tiny black speck crossed over the rim of the q and moved slowly and steadily across the face of the disk in the late afternoon of 25 May. It was still moving from left to right across the face of the q when the q set. The next morning, at sunrise, it was no longer there. Montezuma would have either seen this or been informed of it. It was not the usual sunspot, with which it might have been confused, but the planet r in transit, as Montezuma appears to have been well aware. A jade figure of the god Quetzalcoatl, an aspect of r , wearing the q as his neck ornament, is a memorial of this rare event. It is now in the British Museum. This celestial event, occurring only once every 300 years or so, appears to have been the first warning of events that were about to occur.

Chart 1 depicts this moment. It is cast for 10:31:50 PM UT, which is when r first would have become visible as it began to encroach across the rim of the q , as seen from Tenochtitlan, the capital city the Aztecs built on islands in the center of the Lake of the Moon. Modern Mexico City stands on the same site.

q A r is A e and D y . The w is void of course. i is about to set, F u. Some minutes later, at 10:49 PM, r completely crossed onto the disk of the q . It was then first visible as a complete black, rounded body against the q. The Ascendant was then 12º 22’ x , G y ; with the ^ at 26º31’ s D o . This degree area in s-x was particularly important for the Aztecs: the q was believed to have been in the 12th degree of s at both Quetzalcoatl’s birth and subsequent disappearance.

Whether based alone on his interpretation of this r transit or not, Montezuma apparently possessed a detailed knowledge of approaching catastrophe. The motivations for his actions may be obscure, but there is no doubt that his assessment of the future was correct – coming destruction was utterly inescapable.

For the Aztecs, r had two aspects, as if it represented twin gods. One is the gracious and kindly Morning Star, and this is the Precious Twin, Quetzalcoatl. He lifts the sun into the sky in the morning. He is the god of the wind, of the breath of life, and the protector of all growing things.

His dark twin is Xolotl, a monster with the head of a strange, blunt-faced animal, with long tusks. His feet are twisted, and very often the feet are represented as turned backwards. He is a crooked hunchback, usually shown with a slavering mouth, and at least one eye is always pendant on his cheek instead of being set in its socket. This dreadful monster brings misfortune and trouble. As the Evening Star, he pushes the sun into the darkness and tramples on him, to secure his own elevation.

The two great gods, Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl, two facets of r , can be seen as two sides of the human mind. Quetzalcoatl being conscious intelligence, and Xolotl the unconscious ‘shadow’. The Aztecs saw the fate of their nation as hanging on the confrontation between these two gods.

The great 'calendar' stone that once stood on a platform half-way up
the great pyramid of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. The symbols on
this monolith contained enough information for the prediction of
solar eclipses. At the center is the grotesque mask of the sun god, with
his tongue lolling thirstily from his mouth, crying out for the blood of
sacrifice to help him do his fiery work. Surrounding the mask is a
group of symbols depicting the great terrible earthquake that will end
the world. This in turn is surrounded by a band containing all the
signs of the days of the Aztec year. The next ring contains triangular
rays representing the flaming of the sun. Finally, the outer ring is
made up of two great interlinked serpents which represent the
material universe.

In another time and place, unknown to the Aztecs, the Babylonians had similar beliefs concerning r . As a morning star, rising ahead of the q in the early morning hours, the planet was considered benefic. As an evening star, however, one that set in the western sky after the q , r was no longer a benefic, instead it was destructive and malefic. This belief appears to have been reversed in mediaeval astrology. William Lilly and others of his time considered e and r as evening stars to have an accidental dignity – that is, to have added strength at this time. The same two planets, according to Lilly, were termed in accidental debility (reduced in strength) when they were morning stars.

The Aztec people believed it was dangerous to go out in the evenings when the Evening Star was shining. They feared that its rays would send darts of illness or even death towards them. But to be shone on by the Morning Star was a matter of great good fortune. Every morning they would look out of their doorways to see if the Morning Star was in the sky. If it was, they would cut their ears with a cactus spine and take two drops of blood on two fingers that were then lifted up to cast the blood in the direction of the Morning Star. This was a little offering of discomfort and life’s substance, meant to please the god Quetzalcoatl and give him strength and life.

Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, Lord of healing and magical herbs, teacher of the arts and of all things beautiful, originator of the calendar and giver of maize, the Lord of Hope and the brilliant Lord of the Morning Star, is the spirit who brings up the sun in the morning, and so brings the beneficent power of the sun god to all humans, animals and vegetation. Quetzalcoatl, rather like King Arthur, is both a real person and a myth. He had been sent by the supreme god to be an earthly king. He was a good ruler but fell victim to temptation by a witch goddess. The magic mushroom she controlled intoxicated him, and in a euphoric daze he had sexual intercourse with her. When he recovered, he realized that he had broken the scared traditions and must leave Mexico, taking with him his dwarfs and hunchbacks, who all eventually died on the journey. When Quetzalcoatl reached the seacoast, he embarked on a raft of serpent skins and sailed towards the sunrise. He was absorbed in the fire of the rising sun, though his heart was seen rising up like the Morning Star to join the sun.

With Quetzalcoatl fallen from glory and departed into the east, the cruel sun god Tezcatlipoc, patron of warriors and war, became the driving force in Mexico. To him the Aztecs attributed the glories of their conquests, and in his name they built great temples. At the top of a pyramid, blood and human hearts were constantly offered to the sun god’s image. We are told that 20,000 individuals were slain, the whole manpower of three Mixtec tribes from the mountains of Oaxaca, when the Aztecs dedicated the great temple in Tenochtitlan. [Burland, C. & Forman, W. Feathered Serpent & Smoking Mirror. London, Orbis Publishing, p. 67.]

It had been foretold that Quetzalcoatl would return on the anniversary of his birthday, accompanied by a fair-faced retinue from the east. He would then destroy the followers of Tezcatlipoca and resume sway over his people. The priests did not know when he would return only that the year was One-Reed and the day Nine-Wind, a combination that occurs once every 52 years. And in the Mexican calendar the year 1519, when Cortés arrived with his company of fair-faced companions, was the year One-Reed, and 22 April, corresponded to the day Nine-Wind.

On the morning of Good Friday, 22 April 1519 a small party of Spanish conquistadors led by Hernando Cortés landed at the site of present-day Vera Cruz, on Mexico’s eastern coast. This day was the all-important anniversary of Quetzalcoatl’s birthday. With their gray faces, their ‘stone’ garments, their arrival in waterborne houses with white wings, their magic fire that burst from tubes to kill at a distance, and their strange beasts that carried them on their backs, all suggested the supernatural to the Aztec people.

Informed by the local inhabitants, who hated their Aztec overlords, of the riches and power of the capital, Cortés boldly set out to conquer the great city. He made alliances along the way with the Tlaxcala tribe, chief rival of the Aztecs, and sent word ahead that he was the ambassador of a foreign prince.

The Aztec leader, Montezuma, made no move to stop them or bar their way. He decided that their leader was Quetzalcoatl returned. He sent splendid gifts borne by a hundred slaves: jewels, textiles, gorgeous featherwork and two huge plates of gold and silver "as large as cart wheels" that excited the Spaniards’ greed. On 8 November 1519, Cortés and his men arrived at Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, where they were made welcome. The Aztec army, waiting in the hills for a signal to attack, was never called, although it could have annihilated the invaders.

It soon became plain from their ceaseless demands for gold and provisions that the visitors were all too human and not connected to Quetzalcoatl. As proof, the Aztecs killed two of the Spaniards left behind at Vera Cruz and sent the head of one of them to the capital as evidence. Cortés immediately put Montezuma in chains and forced him to yield up the perpetrators whom were burned alive.

Any remaining illusion of a relationship with the gods vanished and the Aztecs rebelled. The Spaniards brought out Montezuma to halt the fighting, but his people stoned him as a coward and traitor. On 30 June 1520, Montezuma, the last Great Speaker of the Aztecs, was killed.

A year later, on 13 August 1521, the last of the Aztecs surrendered. The Spaniards then completely leveled the city of Tenochtitlan, built their own city on the debris and stamped their rule upon Mexico, Aztecs and allies alike, for the next three hundred years.

Let us see whether the Babylonian methodology, using charts for the first appearance of the new lunar crescent in each of these years, explains what happened.

Figure 2 is set for Mexico City, the site of Tenochtitlan, at the time of the first appearance of the lunar crescent following the vernal equinox of 1519. This is the chart Babylonian astrologers would have used to forecast events in the following twelve months. u is appropriately at the IC, and an elevated t opposes both u and p. y is visible in the east, conjunct Spica, to indicate the appearance of foreigners in the land. The cardinal grand cross on the angles, involving u, p, t, y , the q and r (celestial symbol of Quetzalcoatl), is surely more than sufficient to indicate the invading foreigners, who appeared out of the east and conquered the mighty Aztec empire, virtually without opposition or bloodshed. i is at 11º s , the position of the q in some many key Mexican charts.

Figure 3 is set for the appearance of the lunar crescent on 25 October 1519. It covers the month in which Cortes and his men arrived at Tenochtitlan. i , exactly on the Ascendant, points to surprising changes, an unexpected happening, to the arrival of something or someone who is unusual, to an event that is likely to drastically alter the lives of people living at this location. t has moved to A L and e , separating the setting q from the newly visible w – Montezuma, represented by the q , will be separated by force ( t A L ) from his people ( w ).

The following year, 1520, began with the new lunar crescent first visible on 20 March, see Figure 4. The q is D p at the IC (the king will feel desolate and alone, his supporters will desert him) and the w ( S r by antisica) is D u and applying to F p (a humbling period, involving death and mourning). After this, the w moves on to aspect the t-e conjunction in n , exactly on the Regiomontanus 6th cusp (the Spaniards brought smallpox with them, which decimated the Aztec population, killing thousands), and then to cross l A i (upsets, shared by many) part of a fixed T-cross with y and r – not a pleasant sequence of events. This is the year in which Montezuma died, the event occurring on the day of a full moon at this chart’s IC.

Given the importance of r , the planetary symbol of Quetzalcoatl, the god Montezuma believed was returning to dispossess Tezcatlipoca and his Aztec followers, it is appropriate that r is the ruler of the Ascendant in Figure 4 and that the w ’s initial aspect is to oppose the r antiscion at 6º 16’ x , while its final aspect is to D r at 23º 44’ b .

Montezuma died on 30 June 1520. Figure 5 illustrates the prior lunar crescent. p is on the Ascendant – a major change will occur, one likely to completely transform all and everything. The w , the indicator of the events that will take place, is void of course but significantly A r by antiscion. r rules the MC. This is the only month of the year in which the new crescent can be close to S u — whatever was indicated by w D u in the 20 March 1520 chart will come to fruition in this month. Note the position of y at 12º x , the area of the Zodiac that is traditionally so very important in Mexico, opposing the i of Figure 2.

WHEN WAS Quetzalcoatl born? Do we have sufficient information to hazard a guess? This assumes of course that he was a real person and not simply a figment of unsubstantiated myth.

We are told that 22 April 1519 was the anniversary of both his birth and his death, and that the year 1519 was One-Reed, as was the year of Quetzalcoatl’s birth and death. This is possible because the Aztec years ran in a 52-year cycle, thus One-Reed was the Aztec name for 1519 and also for 1467 and other years 52 years apart.

Archeologists tell us that the great empire of the Toltecs, of which Quetzalcoatl was reputedly the first king, lasted from around 750 AD to about 1000. If we go back in time in multiples of 52 years, we find 687, 739 and 791 as possible years around 750 for the birth or death. If we shift the archaeologist’s date from 750 to 760 then a birth in 739 is reasonable.

If there is any basis in these mythological dates, 27-28 April in the year 739 is the possible birthday. The q in the 11th degree of s is conjunct Alycone, the main star of the Pleiades, the point at which the Aztec calendar began. This is the same position that the q held on 22 April 1519, the day Cortés landed in Mexico, which we are told was the anniversary of the birthday of Quetzalcoatl. It is also S ASC in Figure 1.

At one minute before local midnight on 27 April 739 (6:36 AM UT on 28 April) there was a full moon, with the w on the MC and the q at the IC, and i is at the Ascendant – the signature of a self-regulated anarchist, of someone whose only consistent identity is one of change. y S u is close. t , the sign ruler of the MC and exaltation ruler of the Ascendant, is trine the l and square p – a combination that can indicate a suppressed sexual nature, and dramatic life changes allied with sexuality. This could very well be the chart for the birth of this mythical man-god. q at the IC is certainly appropriate for someone who will be honored long after his death.

Now go forward another 52 years to 791, the year in which Quetzalcoatl would have left Mexico, were he born in 739. The annual crescent was first visible on the evening of 9 April. One aspect is sufficient: q D p , with p at the IC – the very same configuration that we have seen in figure 4, the crescent of 1520, the year in which Montezuma was killed. The lunar nodes are at 13º f-¦ , on the y S u of the proposed nativity.

When transit w came to A p (a nasty jolt or fright, causing one to flee), which it did at the MC close to sunrise on 28 April, it is the day of the solar return with the q again in the 11th degree of s . As the legend requires, r is visible in the eastern sky as the morning star, about to disappear in the light of the rising sun.

To cite this page:
Ken Gillman: Montezuma & the Venus Transit
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