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A Gnostic Vision of the Conquest: A Review of Graham Hancock’s War God

[Before you read this book review, know that I not only intend to offer my opinion on the novel, but also explore the historical events of the Mexican Conquest in some depth. If you are a complete neophyte in the topic & want to enjoy Graham’s War God without ‘spoilers’, then I suggest you close this link & open the Amazon page to order it instead, since my ultra-ultra short review is “I liked it, get the book” anyway –same goes for anyone daunted by the prospect of reading a 3000+-word-long essay, which will only reinforce your decision to buy War God. For the undecided (and the masochists) please enjoy]

Broken spears lie in the roads;
We have torn our hair in our grief
The houses are roofless now, and their walls
Are red with blood.

Worms are swarming in the streets and plazas,
And the walls are spattered with gore
The water has turned red, as if it were dyed
And when we drink it,
It has the taste of brine

We have pounded our hands in despair
Against the adobe walls,
For our inheritance, our city, is lost and dead
The shields of our warriors were its defense.
But they could not save it.

We have chewed dry twigs and salt grasses:
We have filled our mouths with dust and bits of adobe.
We have eaten lizards, rats and worms
When we had meat, we ate it almost raw.
Weep my people
Know that with these disasters
We have lost the Mexican nation
The water has turned bitter
Our food is bitter
These are the acts of the Giver of Life.

~From the book The Broken Spears, chapter XV

As a literary fan, I honestly don’t know which would be harder: To write a completely fictional story, or a fictionalized account of a true historical event. The open-ended freedom of pure fiction could turn into a double-edged sword in the hands of an inexperienced writer; whereas with fictionalized events, you wouldn’t be allowed to surprise the reader by deviating too much from what was actually recorded in the History books – unless you’re Quentin Tarantino, that is.

Which is why I was very interested in reading Graham Hancock’s War God, his second published work of fiction & a novelized exploration of an event I probably know better than most: The Spanish Conquest of Mexico in the 16th century.

The reason I can unashamedly state the above is simple: As a Mexican, I have been familiar with the bloody events pertaining to the clash of the Old World & the New since elementary school: as kids we were taught of the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors to the shores of Veracruz; how their leader Hernán Cortés took full advantage of their technological superiority, endowing a small force of Spanish soldiers equipped with cannons and arquebuses the power to defeat armies ten or 20 times more numerous; and how he eventually imprisoned Emperor Moctezuma and enslaved the people of Mexico, all thanks to the treacherous collaboration of La Malinche, the native woman that acted as his translator & advisor – which is why to this day ‘malinchismo’ is used as an insult to depict someone who refuses their Mexican heritage in favor of foreign values (no doubt many could accuse me of being a malinchista, seeing how 99% of what I write is in English).

But the thing is that as you grow older, it becomes clear how what was taught to you in grade school is only one version of the Conquest; one devised as a nationalistic propaganda, in order to infuse a sense of pride for our ancient roots – ‘our glorious past’ as it were – in the minds of young Mexicans. And as with all propaganda, that version is rather biased…

Later in life, if your initial curiosity doesn’t get quelled by the dryness of official curricula – and their annoying insistence to memorize dates & geographic locations – you end up realizing that propaganda is as old as History itself. Indeed, perhaps most of the greatest historical monuments were erected as a way to promote the great deeds and virtues of some ancient king or queen, while conveniently white-washing their failures & defects.

With the Conquest of Mexico it was no different. From the beginning Cortés sought to sugarcoat his actions before emperor Charles V – while at the same time secure his legal status as legitimate conqueror of ‘the New Spain’ – through the Cartas de Relación. Letters he himself wrote and sent to the king, in which he gives his personal interpretation of all the events and circumstances surrounding the fall of the Aztec empire; it doesn’t take a History degree to presume the missives paint a rather subjective version of the facts, like for example the reasons Cortés provides to justify his insurrection from Diego de Velázquez, the governor of Cuba who had initially organized the expedition to the new lands.

A much more objective account was provided by Bernal Díaz del Castillo, one of Cortés’s soldiers who later in life wrote his memories of the Conquest. Bernal was a first-hand witness in the fall of Tenochtitlán, the ‘floating’ capital of the Aztecs, which he judged to be as beautiful & organized as any city in Europe.

During the morning, we arrived at a broad causeway and continued our march towards Iztapalapa, and when we saw so many cities and villages built in the water and other great towns on dry land and that straight and level Causeway going towards Mexico, we were amazed and said that it was like the enchantments they tell of in the legend of Amadis, on account of the great towers and temples and buildings rising from the water, and all built of masonry. And some of our soldiers asked whether the things that we saw were not a dream.

But in this epic clash of civilizations, what of the fallen? Those ‘heathen barbarians’ Cortés and his men came to save with the cross in one hand and the sword in the other? In 1959 the book The Broken Spears was published (Spanish title: Visión de los Vencidos), which is a compendium of original native chronicles of the Conquest, gathered and translated by the anthropologist Miguel León Portilla (1926 -). In these texts the reader can not only find the point of view of the conquered Aztecs and the stupor caused by the irruption of the ‘white gods’ into their world, but also a faint glimpse of all the ‘bad omens’ preceding the arrival of the Spanish fleet – strange lights observed in the heavens, and the appearance of a comet in the night sky – which had a great deal of influence in the impressionable mind of emperor Moctezuma, convincing him that the old prophecies had been fulfilled, and the legendary god Quetzalcóatl had finally returned as it was long foretold – a mistake that cost him his kingdom… and his life.

It is almost as if a string of weird circumstances all conspired to create the ‘perfect storm’, which brought down the empire controlling most of Mesoamerica. And HERE is where Graham’s book offers a unique interpretation of this fascinating moment in History.

The best way to describe War God is that it is a Gnostic novel – a label I’m sure he’d rather appreciate, since it follows his own personal philosophy. At the risk of offending scholars & theologians alike with my crude summary, the main gist of the Gnostic cosmovision can be boiled down into 2 basic notions:

  • What we call ‘Reality’ is nothing but a veil preventing us from perceiving the true nature of the world.
  • That veil was put before our eyes by entities seeking to manipulate us, for their own devious purposes.

In the case of War God, that deceiving entity is Huitzilopochtli: the highest deity in the Aztec pantheon, and the one they believed led their people on their pilgrimage from the mythic region of Aztlán, to the little island in the Texcoco lake where they founded Tenochtitlán in 1325. In Graham’s novel he portrays the god as a demonic being – or a ‘demiurge’, in the proper Gnostic lingo – using Moctezuma as a puppet who subserviently tends to its insatiable hunger for blood and human hearts; but the demon also manipulates Cortés, to whom he appears as the figure of St. Peter in his dreams, filling his head with promises of glory and endless riches.

The true meaning of the Náhuatl name of the War God is a matter of some debate among scholars; some translate it as “left-handed hummingbird” or “southern hummingbird”, but the fact that the Aztecs linked their hungry god of war with a cute little bird, has always fascinated me due to its apparent incongruency. Lately I’ve been thinking however, that perhaps the key in the name of the word lies in the humming caused by the quick flapping of the wings of these tiny creatures.

Is there some connection between the god Huitzilopochtli, and the buzzing sound that is so characteristic in ‘paranormal encounters’, as related by our own Greg Taylor in his Darklore essay “Her Sweet Murmur”? And then what of other ancient deities adored in other regions of the world? I often think of how Baal, the god of the Canaanites, was later transformed into a demon by the Hebrews after they finished invading the Holy Land, and given the mocking appelative of Beelzebub, which is often translated as ‘the lord of flies’ – buzzing yet again… maybe Graham is onto something…

Since I’ve mentioned the Hebrews, I’d also like to point out some interesting parallelisms between them and the Aztecs: Not only did both cultures view themselves as ‘the chosen people’, and had their own Exodus story in search of ‘the promised land’, as we have already stated – 40 years with the Hebrews, 261 years with the Aztecs but the legends of their pilgrimage are rather similar; according to friar Bernardino de Sahagún, a priest or leader among the Aztecs named Mezitli or Mexitli was the only one who would ‘speak’ with Huitzilopochtli, the same way Moses would get in contact with Yahweh. Other chronicles report that Huitzilopochtli was an actual warlord who led the Aztecs out of Aztlán; as with many aspects of ancient Mexican history, there are huge gaps in the records causing a lot of confusion… gaps, one should point out, caused by the burning of the old codexes at the hands of Sahagún’s colleagues during the Autos de Fé’

Different legends also relate how Huitzilopochtli would provide the Aztecs with food during their more arduous part of their pilgrimage – Mana, anyone? In the book of Exodus it is stated how Yahweh appeared in front of the Israelis as a ‘pillar of cloud’ during the day and a ‘pillar of fire’ in the night; with the Aztec chronicles, it is sometimes mentioned how Huitzilopochtli would guide them in the shape of a ‘resplendent eagle.’

And as for the war-like nature of Yahweh when compared to Huitzilopochtli, well… not only do we have the Biblical passages in which the god of the Israelis demanded the utter extermination of all the enemies of ‘his people’, but there are plenty of references in the book of Exodus and other parts of the Ancient Testament that, quite simply, portray Yahweh as a real dick – there, I said it.

Getting back to the novel, I found Graham’s depiction of the main historical characters to be interesting and entertaining: Moctezuma as this irascible king showing a facade of confidence to his subjects, while at the same time trembling with joy and fear every time he had visions of Huitzilopochtli; Cortés as a brave leader of men and a bold strategist who was obsessed with his desire to prove he was worthy of a higher station in Spanish society; Pedro de Alvarado as an equally brave warrior, yet consumed by a lust for gold and an even greater lust for violence.

Granted, Hancock took liberties with some of the characters in order to make the plot more interesting, portraying Cuauhtémoc (the last Aztec emperor & the one who eventually surrendered to Cortés) as Moctezuma’s nephew and the son of his brother Cuitláhuac – in reality Cuauhtémoc was Moctezuma’s cousin and the son of the emperor before him; ascendancy to the throne among the Aztecs was different than in European kingdoms, and instead of directly inheriting the crown the new emperor was chosen by a council of elders from a small group of candidates of royal blood. Personally I didn’t mind those historical discrepancies at all, and felt they added dynamism to the story.

Where it was easier to take liberties was with the figure of Malinal (Malinche) and that’s because – surprisingly – we know so very little about this key figure in Mexican history. We know she joined the Conquistadors as part of a gift of 20 slave women offered by the natives of Tabasco, who were among the first to know the might of the Spanish army. Bernal Díaz del Castillo tells in his chronicle of her grace and beauty, which is why in the end Cortés kept her as his personal companion, and the other thing we can infer from the original chronicles was her keen intelligence, which she used to act as a translator between Moctezuma and Cortés –with the help of Jerónimo de Aguilar, a Spanish sailor who had been shipwrecked on the Yucatán coast on a previous expedition, survived and learned to speak Maya before being rescued by Cortés. Yet again the weird chain of circumstances…

In the end Malinal not only became a ‘language’ bridge between the Spanish and the Aztecs, but the first biological bridge between the Old World and the New, when she gave Cortés the first son of Mestizo origin. Whether we like it or not, Malinal is the true mother of Mexico and Latin America, so it’s high time we started addressing her differently; for starters, we should stop viewing her as a traitor, since she didn’t have ANY reason whatsoever to show allegiance to the Aztecs, who kept demanding a tribute of material goods – along with slaves for sacrifice – to all the native nations they kept in submission.

But getting back to War God, by far the most interesting characters are the completely fictional ones, and standing above all of them is Tozi, a young indian ‘witch’ endowed with incredible abilities who plays an important role in unfolding the train of events that culminates in the fall of Tenochtitlán. Whether Tozi’s powers are the result of Graham’s imagination, or rather a tantalizing taste of things he’s actually witnessed during his many adventures, remains an open question…

The portions of the book the reader will probably enjoy the most are Graham’s vivid depictions of the battles between the Spaniards and the Chontal Maya. Here he recreates the military superiority of European warfare: the disciplined formations they inherited from the Romans; their advantage given by fire weapons and crossbows over bows and arrows, not to mention Spanish steel over obsidian-tipped wooden clubs; the terror inspired by the giant war dogs hungry for indian flesh; and the armored cavalry which endowed Cortés and his knights with a supernatural appearance in the eyes of the native warriors. But above all, the huge differences in the way the two cultures practiced ‘the art of war’: to Europeans battles were fought to win territories and obliterate the enemy, whereas Mesoamericans sought to capture as many live prisoners as possible, for these would later be offered to their gods in sacrifice.

At the end the reader is left both horrified and inspired by the boldness & brutality of the Conquistadors, who fought in close quarters against endless swarms of fierce enemies at the cry of “Santiago and at them!”

It’s also worth pointing out how Graham, ever the promoter of the forgotten splendour of ancient civilizations, doesn’t miss the opportunity of reminding his readership that the Mayans confronting Cortés were but the descendants of the great builders who erected the wondrous cities of Tikal, Palenque, Uxmal, etc, hundreds of years before the arrival of the Spaniards; by then the Chontal Maya kept the glory of their forefathers only as vanishing legends, while their old temples and palaces were crumbling under the jungle canopy.

But speaking about Graham’s other interests, particularly his activism in defending the sovereign right of responsible adults to explore their own consciousness through the use of psychoactive substances, another reason I found War God a valuable read is because it serves as a cautionary tale to our present times. Many people in the left-wing political spectrum – and also members of the New Age community – have this doe-eyed notion that the eventual legalization of Marijuana and other drugs is by itself going to bring about the Age of Aquarius, with flying unicorns coming down from the sky, shooting singing rainbows out their asses… or something.

Meanwhile, in the novel Graham shows the Aztecs as a culture of blood-thirsty fanatics, who happily indulged in the use of entheogens to commune with their gods; just look how nicely THAT turned out for them.

Members of the alt-thinking community should *always* keep in mind that these psychotropics substances are incredibly powerful tools that command respect, and that they’re only useful to boost that which is already inside of you. As I wrote in my essay The Mushroom Eucharist, LSD was the key which helped both Ram Dass and Charles Manson become who they really were – same experience, different results.

So in the end, what do we make of this notion of some multi-dimensional 5th columnist, playing both sides of the conflict for its own obscure motives? Could it be Huitzilopochtli deliberately sought the fall of Tenochtitlán, because it marked the dawn of one of the greatest genocides in the history of humanity? By 1519, the year in which War God starts, there was probably 1 to 1.2 million humans living in the Central Valley of Mexico. By 1595 the entire Indian population was decimated, with some historians giving figures of a 90% decline in numbers. And after Mexico, almost the totality of the continent fell under the control of the Spanish crown, who let their priests and friars destroy the blood-stained heathen temples, and set up the Inquisition’s acts of penance against anyone who refused to convert to the ‘true religion’ – a human sacrifice, by any other name.

What of Quetzalcóatl’s return as predicted by the ancient legends, then? Was this a ruse exploited by the demiurge, or was the legend a metaphor symbolizing a ‘restore of balance’ from the Aztec domain, in the same confusing – and disappointing – manner we Star Wars fans were confronted with after watching the last of the prequels?

Overall I enjoyed this book even after knowing the topic so well beforehand, so I’m confident our pal Graham Hancock will be able to finish up his historical trilogy better than George Lucas did. I eagerly await getting my hands on the next instalment of the War God series to find out what happens with Malinal, the beautiful slave-turned-councilor; with Pepillo, the young scribe accompanying Cortés who exchanged the cloistered walls of a Cuban monastery for the dangerous jungles of New Spain; and especially with Tozi, the young witch who seeks to use her powers to topple an entire empire.

And I’m also eager to see if my suspicions will turn out correct regarding where the story might culminate…

  1. “Many people in the left-wing
    “Many people in the left-wing political spectrum – and also members of the New Age community – have this doe-eyed notion that the eventual legalization of Marijuana and other drugs is by itself going to bring about the Age of Aquarius, with flying unicorns coming down from the sky, shooting singing rainbows out their asses… or something.”

    A lovely review marred by the above statement which is a meretricious caricature.

    1. Caricature
      A fair opinion.

      Maybe I went too far with the puns, but the argument still stands. We need to use these substances responsibly, even if you’re only seeking recreation out of them –something I don’t particularly condone, but I’m not going to impose my personal morals on someone willing to explore psychotropics.

      1. Oh I agree – I am just
        Oh I agree – I am just growing weary of this “new age” moniker that wants to simply consolidate a lot of different viewpoints under one abstract heading.

  2. There were more peoples in mexico than Aztecs, Maya, and “Olmec”
    Hola RPJ –

    As usual, your writing is terrific.

    The continued romanticization (from the english word “romance”) of the Aztec really irks me.

    This is like romanticizing the Nazis.

    To my knowledge, the Aztec were uniquely genocidal among the peoples of the Americas.

    That is why their neighbors hated them, and why they helped Cortes.

    How the hell the other peoples of today’s Mexico got left out of Mexican history is a great question for historiographers.

    As far as dealing with racism in modern Mexico, that is not my problem either.

    I enjoyed your observation on unicorns and rainbows.

    1. Romanticizing
      Hey EP,

      I completely understand where you’re coming from. It took me a long while to come to terms with the fact that what I had been taught on grade school as a child was painted with a propaganda brush.

      Having said that, it’s hard not to go to some of the ancient ruins still standing to this day that werd erected by the aztecs, like the ceremonial center of Malinalco for example, or to visit the Templo Mayor museum in Mexico city’s downtown, and not feel a bit of awe about the things the Aztecs managed to accomplish.

      Would people in the future feel the same kind of awe if the Nazis had managed to win the war, and Hitler’s architect Speer had had the chance to build all the buildings intended to express the power of the 3rd Reich? I honestly do not know. While some may be shocked by this statement –which is clearly NOT a sign of admiration for Nazism or what they stood for– one would be naive in not recognizing how the passage of time puts things into a different perspective. Gengis-Khan was BY FAR a more ruthless killer than Hitler, but if someone dares to a bit of admiration for the Mongol empire, I guarantee you it wouldn’t cause people to raise as many eyebrows as if someone did the same with 3rd Reich, now would we?

      I’m just coming back from the Paradigm Symposium in Minneapolis –and BTW it still bothers me that to this day I seem to be the only Grailer attending this event!– and one of the presentations showed the artwork found near Tiwanaku, and there’s a lot of depictions of fierce warriors holding the decapitated heads of their enemies –we haven’t changed that much in the last 5 or 10000 years have we?

      So it’s tricky for sure, but at one point one needs to differentiate between the accomplishments of both ancient and modern civilizations, and what they stood for.



  3. Rave Review
    Hi RPJ,

    I’ve just finished writing a new book about another one of histories greatest killers, Alexander of Macedon. So, I definitely relate to your comments. The fascination with sociopaths reminds me of a Bible verse that always astonished me, even as a child:

    “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” – Job 13:15 KJV
    (Is this not co-dependency taken to the ultimate level?)


      1. Cortés and Alexander
        There are in fact some interesting parallels between the young and reckless Cortés and Alexander, as well as the “supporting cast” in each Era. For example, Darius III is universally characterized as fearful and indecisive. Cortés had his Aztec mistress and Alexander brought the Persian Barsine into his confidence. The wonder of the Greeks entering Persepolis must have been identical to that of the Spaniards in Tenochtitlan. The destruction of Persepolis was ostensibly an act of revenge for earlier Persian atrocities. The Greek Conquest was also very much an Exodus event, which was by design intended to result in massive reduction in world population. The Ephors that governed Greek cities (particularly Sparta) during Persian rule were quite similar to the counsel of elders that presided over Aztec life. The case can also be made that Ephors were also in the pay and service of the “foreign” overlords. I haven’t studied the Spanish Conquest enough to say it was an “inside job,” but wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it was. The appearance of Cortés in the “prophesized year” is certainly a big hint that there was contact between the Old and New Worlds prior to Columbus, and even some degree of royal “networking” going on.

        1. Prophesized year
          Hmmm, well that’s an interesting concept, especially if you follow the theory that the Templars already had a foothold on the Americas well before the ‘official’ discovery.

          I dunno. As a student of Twilight Language, I interpret those ‘coincidences’ as hints that everything in human history is part of a script written by forces beyond human control or understanding. Whether the writer is closer to Stephen King than Dr. Seuss is something I’m yet to figure out 😉

          1. The Day of the Dead Ahead
            I can’t say I have thought very deeply about it. It’s not even a concept really, but a spontaneous response to your review.

            But to develop the non-idea a little further, we should say that the Spanish Conquest was an Exodus from the perspective of Spain. The native Americans were in the role of “Canaanites.” The Aztec Exodus had taken place centuries earlier.

            We could also say that from the perspective of Myth, the so-called Old and New Worlds were connected, with the Americas being the legendary western/southern “Land of No Return” and “The Land of the Dead.” Gods and their envoys could go back and forth with considerable sacrifice (and even loss of life). Whether this tradition continued during the historical period is of course difficult to prove and meets with much Academic resistance, however the expectation was definitely there. In other words, the royal court of historical times always strove to emulate the gods and their practices. And the biggest precedent set by the gods was that of “one world rule.”

            I sent a message to Greg about possibly doing a feature article on Alexander. It has been 10 years since the Mary Magdalene article, so maybe it’s time for another appearance of “Senior Chucky” on the shores of TDG, haha. This new article would be more of prequel than a sequel to the original article. I’ve found that to get a better understanding of the 1st Century Grail story, one has to travel back in time, not forward, and specifically to the time and person of Alexander. Alexander turns out to be the most significant source of the Grail tradition. Incidentally, he also was said to have made a journey to the “Underworld,” which suggests he might have even more in common with Cortes than first suspected!

          2. Alexander and the Grail
            Wow, I’d never heard of that connection before! That really sounds like Darklore-worthy material 😉

            Now that I think about it, there seems to be a certain similarity between Cortes and Alexander. They both invested EVERYTHING in their conquest, much to the dismay of their followers. And there’s certainly a deep symbolism in Cortes destroying his ships in order to dissuade any potential mutiny against him; traditionally it was thought he actually burned the vessels, so the phrase ‘quemar las naves’ (to burn your ships) still endures to this day.

          3. Data is what data is
            Hola RPJ –

            I did not know the Minneapolis event was going on.
            I may have sold books, if they had vendor space,
            but then in the world of impact research we are very “judgemental” and rigorous, and work in the world of “was”, not “might have been”.

            I was in Missouri with fans of Native America at the time, and had a very productive meetings.

            When I was in Europe, the engineering and architecture of the large buildings of the Fascist period fascinated me, though my companions found them “opressive”. I realized that I associated that architecture with Roosevelt and the New Deal.

            As far as the engineering at Tenochtitlan goes, I’ll believe it was Aztec when they excavate proof. I think it probably came from other peoples who had previous experience with it.

            It is very important to understand exactly how genocides occurred.

          4. Tenochtitlan

            As far as the engineering at Tenochtitlan goes, I’ll believe it was Aztec when they excavate proof. I think it probably came from other peoples who had previous experience with it.

            Hmm. That’s an unusual assertion. I’d never heard of anyone doubting it was the Mexica (Aztecs) the ones who erected Tenochtitlan. This was originally a swamp found unsuitable for life by the previous settlers of the Anahuac valley.

            In any case, their military might gave them the leverage they needed to convince their ‘neighbors’ to teach them what they knew about architecture, astronomy and mathematics. And, like all mighty empires before or after them, they summoned the talent of the very best and brightest to help them build their temples and palaces.

            PS: Paradigm is happening next year. You should try to contact Scotty & John to see about getting vendor space for your books 🙂


          5. Different Cultures, Same Rulers
            The needed Paradigm Shift in our perception related to the rise and fall of ancient cultures is that the royal family didn’t actually change. They were multi-lingual and multi-cultural. When the time was deemed right, they just swapped out one dominant ethnic group for another. It was a zero sum game as far as the royal family was concerned. Almost all battles were staged affairs in which the outcome was known in advance. This resulted in maximum loss of life (keeping the population in check). A true succession battle was the exception rather than the rule, and in any event was between two very closely related individuals, regardless of what armies they were leading!

            The ancient economic model was based on exploiting a people and then replacing them with another people when they were used up. We still have much the same mentality today. “Robber barons” make obscene fortunes, then use that wealth to exploit other people and places. It’s a vicious cycle, and there is little or nothing that can stop it. We are programmed by religion and other cultural factors to accept this system as normal.

          6. De-Programming
            It starts by recognizing that from time immemorial human life on Earth has been dominated by a Mafia-style network (called royalty). In my Alexander book, I show how the transition between Persian to Greek rule took place without any change in actual ruling family. I think we’ll find the same thing was going on in the Americas.

            My research has not concentrated on what has happened after the fall of traditional royal rule, but it’s fairly clear that the tendency has been toward a return to extreme concentration of wealth. Anti-trust and RICO Act legislation in America hasn’t done much to stem that tide. We are also beginning to see many of the same tried-and-true manipulation techniques that were formerly used by royalty. Is there an alternative? I guess that depends upon those that currently have the wealth and power. The rest of us don’t presently have the collective consciousness to change the course of history. The many are, as usual, at the mercy of the few. Maybe it’s a universal law. I’m not seeing a lot of resources being devoted to finding a sustainable system (for Humanity and the Earth) that can’t be hacked.

          7. Time Immemorial
            But wouldn’t you consider the fact that, for what surely was the majority of our species’ time-span in this planet, the most common form of societal life-style was communal and egalitarian? Among hunter gatherers, the people who was appointed as ‘chief’ or ‘leader’ was the one who had proven him or herself to be trustworthy and knowledgeable by the rest of the tribe –they didn’t pick you to be leader, if they saw you REALLY wanted to be one.

            Many researchers have pointed out how all this changed after the introduction of Agriculture. In fact, in Andrew Collin’s new book on Gobekli Tepe, he points out to the idea that the ‘forbidden fruit’ that Humanity wasn’t supposed to eat, was in fact wheat, as a symbol of Agriculture and the transition from a nomadic lifestyle that was more in tune with Nature, to a system that for the 1st time allowed the accumulation of wealth in a few hands.

            And with the accumulation of wealth, the obsession with property translated to other fields, like sexual relationships, for example. Among hunter gatherers nobody was really too preoccupied with whose kid had been fathered by whom; but in agrarian societies the monopoly over one’s wife and ensuring her children were exclusively yours became pervasive.

            So, one could make the argument that our current pyramidal structure in society is fairly recent, even if it goes back to 20,000 years or so.

          8. Did Cortes Come From “Heaven”?
            20,000 years is a fair figure for “time immemorial.” I could be happy with that. However, the Sumerian records suggest that kingship was not organic, but was “lowered from heaven” and went back hundreds of thousands of years and multiple instantiations. There is also the sense that the purpose of kingship was mainly to “occupy” (just hang out, so to speak) in between visits of the gods/ET, although other interpretations are certainly possible. Kingship preserved certain things (Science 101) bestowed by “the gods,” but in most respects was not an institution that fostered progress, at least by the modern definition. It preserved human life on Earth, but one of it’s main duties was to strictly (and ruthlessly) limit population growth.

            As a static system the royal model was nearly perfect and nearly foolproof. This is why the invasion of Cortes is so fascinating. He should not have been able to break down the Aztec network of “client states” so easily. However, the same can be said for Alexander’s conquest. There is no way he takes down Persia with his tiny army without Persia’s permission (i.e., the decision of the royal family for this transition to happen). Had Montezuma already gotten “the memo?” It’s a fair question, but not one that mainstream academics would ever be allowed to explore!

            The one Achilles heel of the royal system of rule seems to have been the debilitating effects of extreme inbreeding over countless generations. If it were not for this, the royal family would probably still be in charge today. Instead, the royal family has been replaced by other (spin-off?) predatory organizations and networks, and world population is exploding.

            Is this really an accident? We do have the biblical snippet that “knowledge is increased” before the end of an Age. Are the normal restriction on population size lifted only because a catastrophe is going to take care of that issue anyway? Or has the agenda changed? What’s going on now appears to be unprecedented (at least from time immemorial, haha).

            Getting back to Meso-America, Year 2012 in the Mayan Calendar has not passed. Our chronology is not accurate going back as far as the start date of the Mayan Calendar. That infamous date is still some years or decades into the future. One can perhaps see the wisdom in allowing a population increase prior to a major disaster. It might increase the odds that some will survive and their knowledge with it. (Not sure why the gods would care about that though.) In fact, after the previous “big one” (just prior to the Egyptian Old Kingdom) too many made it through and most of them ironically had to be killed off (ala the Narmer Palette).

            Eat, drink, and surf the web … for tomorrow may not be a good day to buy Apple.

            By the way RPJ, I really enjoyed your talking head debut. I do think that black programs know a lot more about UFO’s than they are letting on. Not that it does anything for you and me. Talk to MUFON because the Pentagon ain’t listening, haha!

          9. Lo Cortés no quita lo Celeste
            Thanks, Charles. And thanks also for the food for thought. I’ve never been a fan of royalty myself –although I really did like the movie ‘The King’s Speech’ ;)– but the idea of kings deliberately trying to limit population growth had never crossed my mind. Something to mull over…

          10. Late, but here.
            [quote=red pill junkie]

            As far as the engineering at Tenochtitlan goes, I’ll believe it was Aztec when they excavate proof. I think it probably came from other peoples who had previous experience with it.

            Hmm. That’s an unusual assertion. I’d never heard of anyone doubting it was the Mexica (Aztecs) the ones who erected Tenochtitlan. This was originally a swamp found unsuitable for life by the previous settlers of the Anahuac valley.

            In any case, their military might gave them the leverage they needed to convince their ‘neighbors’ to teach them what they knew about architecture, astronomy and mathematics. And, like all mighty empires before or after them, they summoned the talent of the very best and brightest to help them build their temples and palaces.

            PS: Paradigm is happening next year. You should try to contact Scotty & John to see about getting vendor space for your books 🙂


            Hola RPJ –

            Considering that milpas had already been used since the early formative in Belize and southern Yucatan for about 3,000 years, I really doubt the Aztec claim to them.

            The same thing goes for Aztec monumental architecture.

            As to what was already there, only excavation will demonstrate.

            Your conjecture that the Aztec held captive the engineers of the people they conquered is likely to be very correct.

            Despite Charle’s vigorous assertions here, this is not universal in all cases of conquest, but demonstrating this goes well beyond a post here at the Grail.

            The topic was covered in depth in my book “Man and Impact in the Americas”, and there are used copies of it available now on Amazon at very reasonable prices, which are not likely to continue for very long. Aside from that, my book is always available to read for free via inter-library loan.

            The idea of vending at Paradigm there is a good one, but if it is held the same time of year, I will probably be in Missouri again, depending on fate.

          11. Speaking of stupid old
            Speaking of stupid old institutions, how about this one?

            Medieval Feminine Hygiene
            The menstrual cycle and what to do about it

            – – ADULT THEMES – –

            Some doctors called menstruation a sickness although it was generally agreed that it was a punishment from God upon women to pay for Eve’s original sin in the Garden of Eden and was therefore deserved and not in any way in need of medical relief. If a woman suffered with cramps or excessive flow, it was because God willed it. It was also seen as extremely significant that holy women were often found to not menstruate, thus substantiating the belief of regular women were sinners who deserved their lot.

            In reality, the extremely frugal diets of very pious women were probably the underlying cause for the lack of menses. With a strict monastic diet and lack of proper nourishment, the body could not longer sustain a pregnancy or reproduce and the menses stopped. If a woman left the harsh religious life and returned to the secular world and diet, her menses would return. Again, this was seen as an undisputed sign from God of the holiness of nuns and the worldliness of other women generally. Another possible reason for the lack of menses in holy women is that many wealthy women only turned to a life of religious contemplation very late in life and were possibly post-menopausal.

            Either way, troubles associated with menstruation were seen to be something that was not in need of any medical intervention.

            Those who were more medically minded believed that the menses blood-letting started at the head and traveled throughout the body collecting poisonous wastes and humors. A popular belief was that sex with a menstruating woman would kill or mutilate the semen and produce horribly deformed offspring or children with red hair or leprosy. Just the gaze of an old woman who still had her periods was thought to be poisonous- the vapours being emitted from her eyes.

            It was also believed by some that the touch of a menstruating woman would cause a plant to die- a belief which was probably not shared by landowners who required women to work alongside men in the garden and would not have wished to lose days of productivity each month. Pliny the Elder, in the first century, declared that the menstrual fluid was most potent-

            Contact with it turns new wine sour, crops touched by it become barren, grafts die, seeds in gardens dry up, the fruit of the trees fall off, the bright surface of mirrors in which it is merely reflected is dimmed, the edge of steel and the gleam of ivory are dulled, hives of bees die, even bronze and iron are at once seized by rust, and a horrible smell fills the air; to taste it drives dogs mad and infects their bites with incurable poison.

            Pliny reported that the poisonous properties of menstruating women could be put to good use. If menstruating women go round the cornfield naked, it would act as a powerful insecticide, he wrote. Caterpillars, worms, beetles and other vermin were expected to be eliminated. During plagues of insects, Pliny had read, menstruating women had been instructed to walk around the fields with their clothes pulled up above their buttocks. He does not note whether this proved a successful remedy or not.

            Pre-menstral Tension
            As with our modern society, premenstrual tension was not undiagnosed. Known as melancholia, very little effort was spent in seeking causes or cures as it was once again seen as God’s natural design for the female and therefore not necessary of change. In spite of this, many herbal remedies were widely known and used.

            The astringent leaves of Lady’s Mantle alchemilla vulgaris, at left, were helpful with profuse menstruation. Thyme thymus species was used for ‘women’s complaints’ and as an ointment for skin troubles. Fresh leaves of Woodruff asperula odorata (shown at right) made into tea and drunk was recommended for nausea.

            Aldobrandino of Siena produced a work Regime du Corps which included advice on feminine hygiene, skincare and gynaecology. According to the 14th century manuscript, Tacuinum Sanitatis, fennel was particularly useful for menstruation. It also advises that acorns would prevent menstruation from occurring, but does not indicate how the acorns should be eaten. It goes on to say that this could be countered by having the acorns roasted with sugar.

            The theory of the wandering womb
            Medical practitioners during the middle ages failed to agree on a rather unusual point connected to feminine complaints- whether the womb was stationary or whether it wandered around inside the body causing a variety of other ailments- including vomiting if it stopped at the heart, and loss of voice and an ashed complexion if it stopped at the liver. The stress of a wandering womb was usually believed to be the cause of hysteria. Indeed the word hysterical translates loosely as madness of the womb. Even physicians who did not adhere to the theory of the wandering womb, agreed that hysteria was a solely female complaint and was probably caused by a lack of intercourse when uterine secretions built up and were not released, thereby causing the entire body to be poisoned.

          12. Re:E-book
            [quote=red pill junkie]Is your book available in electronic format, E.P.?[/quote]

            Hola RPJ –

            No. I do not anticipate doing an e-book of the first edition.
            So running it through an online translator for ease of reading will also be impossible.

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