by Scott Corrales
Imagine that the X-Files’ Mulder and Scully had been alive some 500 years ago in Mexico: the emperor Moctezuma Xocoyotzin might have well commissioned them to find the truth behind a distressing number of paranormal events which affected the mighty Aztec civilization in the early 1500’s, and which could well be considered the earliest UFO wave in the Americas.
The Codex Florentino, a chronicle of Aztec events compiled by Franciscan priest Bernardino de Sahagun based on the testimony of native chroniclers, indicates that paranormal activity in Mexico was in high gear since 1502 — the year of Moctezuma’s accession to the Aztec throne. Ten years prior to the conquest, a great pillar of flame was seen in the horizon all day and night, causing much consternation among the indians. This pillar, we are told, “seemed to be anchored in the sky”, and assumed a roughly triangular shape. This omen lasted for an entire year. This is reminiscent of the Biblical pillar of flame that accompanied the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt.
The second omen was the sudden fire which levelled the temple of Huitzchilopotchli. This “fire of unknown origin” consumed the entire straw-topped edifice with the intensity of one of our contemporary incendiary devices. Clearly artificial in origin, it was a blow to the Aztec psyche. The third omen, the destruction of another temple, that of Xihutechutli, was produced by a “ray” from above falling during a fine mist. This temple was levelled as well.
The fourth omen is perhaps the most important, since it describes “comets in the heavens flying in threes” and making a ringing sound in their wake. While these may have been a bolides or fireballs, modern reports of UFO’s splitting into three and then reforming, or throwing sparks, or accompanied by a buzzing or ringing of bells have been documented by contemporary UFO investigators.The fifth omen was a total flood of the Mexican lake without wind or rain. The waters suddenly became turbulent and engulfed homes and temples, creating untold suffering.
The sixth omen, the eeriest of all, has become ingrained in Mexican folklore and is very well known. Modern UFO flaps, or periods of heavy paranormal activity, have included reports of monsters shambling about the countryside, more often than not under cover of darkness. During this omen, the voice of a woman could be heard at night, weeping and pleading in stentorian tones: ” Oh , my children! All is lost…where shall I hide you?” This terrifying spectral figure, better known as La Llorona (“The Crying One”), has been the Mexican equivalent of the Bogeyman for generations, and reports of sightings in later ages are not uncommon either. Historians identify this figure with the Aztec goddess Cihuacoatl “She who screams at night”. This could point to a recurring paranormal phenomenon not unlike accounts of other parts of the planet reportedly haunted by a particular entity or entities (along the lines of the Sasquatch, the Yeti, the lake monsters of Europe and America or the sirens of the Arctic latitudes). The seventh and eighth omens also involve exotic creatures of an obviously paranormal sort, although one less gruesome than the other.
A winged bird of a kind never seen before was reportedly captured by fishermen in Lake Texcoco and brought before Moctezuma. This bird, a crane or swan-like creature, bore on its head a round mirror through which the stars could be seen quite clearly, particularly the Gemini constellation. Needless to say, such a creature was perceived as the direst omen so far by Moctezuma’s astrologers. But the emperor was undaunted. He took a second look into the “mirror” (a TV monitor?) and witnessed a vast number of people harnessed as if for war, astride strange deerlike beasts (the Aztecs had never seen horses). Other sages were summoned to examine the remarkable creature, but as is the case with all paranormal creatures (the occupants of what Loch Ness monster researcher Ted Holiday aptly referred to as “the phantom menagerie”), the mystery-bird vanished into thin air. But that was no problem, for the eighth omen involved the two-headed monster-men known as Tlacanzolli (literally, “split men” in Nahuatl). These creatures were seen at many places and times throughout the Aztec realm, and were considered a sign of the impending change to come, and the new manner of beings that would inhabit such a world. On repeated occasions, these monsters were actually captured and brought to the imperial palace (picture Bigfoot being brought to the White House, or Springheel Jack brought in irons before Queen Victoria). In true paranormal form, the creatures would dissolve into nothing before allowing the Aztec equivalent of the National Academy of Sciences to dissect them.
Corroboration for this supernatural free-for-all that culminated in Cortes’s conquest of Mexico comes from the Aztecs’ bitter enemies, the aforementioned Tlaxcalans, who aligned their interests with those of the invaders and cemented their allegiance through marriages between Conquistadores and Tlaxcalan women. For well over a year, the horizon became filled with a strange brightness which filled the natives with fear. No explanation was found for this, nor to a more impressing “funnel cloud” which rose from the high reaches of the Sierra Matlalcueye into the heavens.
The presence of a bona fide “flying saucer” is confirmed in two Nahuatl codexes: in 1492, a succession of terrible earthquakes and a solar eclipse was followed by the appearance of the dreaded Moyohualitohua (“He Who Speaks in the Night”) — an enormous “shield” that boomed dire warnings at the Aztecs and their vassals.
As impressive as all these events may seem to us, they are merely curiosities when we realize that Mexico may have well been visited millennia before the Aztecs by the very beings they would later come to consider as their deities.
Cuicuilco: The Forgotten Pyramid
Jorge Luis Borges, one of South America’s most distinguished authors and a pillar of modern literature, described in his short story “The Circular Ruins” a timeless circular pyramid surmounted by a temple to the fire god. Does this well-known story describe the mysterious Mexican ruins known as the Cuicuilco pyramid?
Archaeologists do not like to be reminded about Cuicuilco. The massive, circular pyramid complex that straddles an ancient lava bed to the south of Mexico City is “a blow in the face of history,” as one Mexican investigator called it. Even now, many scholars are silent accomplices to its destruction: shopping malls, multi-family dwellings and industrial parks are encroaching upon the ancient ruins. The city’s formidable pollution problem, coupled with the threat of acid rain, will surely take care of this archaeological embarrassment if no action is taken.
The embarrassing controversy has been swept under the carpet and discussion of the subject is discouraged. Tourists will find no postcards of the circular ruins and only passing mention is made of them in most tourist literature.
All experts agree that the Cuicuilco pyramid is the oldest structure in the Anahuac Valley, which houses modern Mexico, and the very first monumental construction in the Americas. Disagreements as to its antiquity and the people who built it continue to this very day. Official records state that the Cuicuilco structures can be no older than 600 B.C., but revisionist figures claim the structure was built between 8000 to 10,000 years ago, thus making it almost as old as the “Tepexpan Man” — the earliest prehistoric dweller found in Mesoamerica.
Cuicuilco measures some 17 meters in height and has a diameter of 115 meters. A series of ramps provided access to its uppermost tier, which housed a temple with a statue of Huehuete¢tl — the “Old God of Fire”, the very first deity worshipped in this continent. The mighty circular pyramid is surrounded by smaller structures and rectangular buildings with well-finished floors which must may been homes. The contented lives of the prosperous, unwarlike Cuicuilcans came to an end when the Ajusco, a 4000-foot tall peak located on the same mountain range as the Popocatepetl volcano, began to exhibit volcanic activity. The earthquakes which rocked Anahuac Valley caused an enormous hole to open in the ground — a smaller volcano called Xitle, which poured a torrent of lava that destroyed nearby Copilco before engulfing Cuicuilco itself.
Its inhabitants fled before the destruction, and all that was left behind was an eighty square mile lava field known today as El Pedregal. Debate also rages around the date of the Xitle’s eruption, which geologists have placed as far back as some seven thousand years, while archaeologists squarely place it at between 500 and 200 A.D.
The circular pyramid’s base, twice the length of a soccer field, has also yielded its share of mysteries. The Spanish physician Hernendez, sent to Mexico by order of Philip II, visited Cuicuilco and wrote his sovereign about having found the bones of large beasts along with those of “men” in excess of five meters tall. Natives expressed a belief that Cuicuilco’s enigmatic structure had been built by giants.
Whatever the case, serious archaeological work was not undertaken until 1922, when a team led by Dr. Byron Cummings of the University of Arizona began digging what could well be the oldest pyramid on Earth. The site was apparently visited one night by an unidentified flying light which hovered over the ruins before speeding off into the distance.
While this UFO event did not put a halt to the excavation of the Cuicuilco pyramid, the expense of digging through solid lava eventually did. The pyramid remains only partially uncovered, and the bulk of the Cuicuilco site is covered by a thirty square mile lava field with an average thickness of some twenty feet. The rapid growth of Mexico City now makes further excavations impossible, and we will never know what other artifacts might have given us a better clue as to the origin of the circular pyramid, its purpose and its builders. Scientists insist that its one-of-a-kind shape is a representation of the volcano beside it, but a reconstruction of the pyramid — found in Mexico’s National Anthropology Museum — would cause even the most disinterested party to wonder: why was it shaped like a flying saucer?
Gods and Giants in Ancient Mexico
Trudging through fields of maguey and scrub vegetation toward the pyramid complex of Teotihuac n is the closest that the casual tourist can come to being on another planet. Even on a fine sunny day, there is a certain alienness to the landscape which makes the enormous pyramids of the Sun and Moon seem a trifle frightening. On a cloudy day, the entire region and its surrounding mountains appear to have been designed according to the descriptions of the terrifying otherworldly realms imagined by H.P. Lovecraft.
Thousands of tourists visit Teotihuac n every year; tens of thousands of postcards and books depicting the complex are sold throughout the country and overseas, but we still do not know who built the stone metropolis. The Aztecs treated the site with awe and reverence, naming it “the city of the gods” when they could not imagine whoelse but gods could have built such a place. Superstition kept the Aztecs from ever occupying Teotihuac n, and when the conquering Spaniards first reached the location, it was covered by dense layers of alluvial mud. Historians tell us that the monumental complex was built around 200 A.D. and was sacked by the Toltecs in 856 A.D.There is evidence that the Mexican pyramids are far older than the ultraconservative figures given by scholars. According to British archaeologist H.S. Bellamy, the excavations at Teotihuac n required the removal of layers of earth measuring up to one meter in thickness. Bellamy himself reckoned the pyramid to have been built around 5000 B.C..
The question of Teotihuac n’s origin was solved in ancient tradition by the presence of deities (visitors from space?) and the ubiquitous giants which have appeared in every single cultural tradition in the world. Fernando de Alba Ixtilxochitl, a chronicler from colonial times, manifested in his writings that “there were giants in New Spain (Mexico). Furthermore, their bones may be found everywhere, and ancient Toltec historians have dubbed them Quinametzin, against whom they fought many wars and had much strife in this land called New Spain…”
It may well be that the bones of these giants corresponded to those of mastodons and other early mammals, but the description of these clearly nonhuman creatures abound in the ancient records. Fray Andr&Mac226;s de Olmos, quoting from native sources, stresses the “divine” origin of these giants: “The four gods created the giants, who were very large men, endowed with enough strength to uproot trees with their hands…the Indians have outstanding
recollections of them and call them quinametzin huetlacame, which is to say, large and deformed men.” The colonial chronicler adds the curious detail that the giants were afraid of falling down, since they found it impossible to stand up again (due to Earth’s gravity?). Tradition has it that it was these giants, the Quinametzin, who were put to work at building Teotihuac n for unknown purposes. Nahuatl codexes go as far as to mention a king among the giants, Tlatlotl, “who built great things and was taken for a god.” Another chronicle describes how Xelhua, another giant, built an artificial column “in the shape of a pyramid”. Curiously enough, the Codex Vaticanus 3738 depicts one of these giants.
The presence of giants in contemporary ufology, particularly in Latin American cases, cannot be overlooked in this regard: creatures measuring up to twelve feet in height have been reported in Brazilian and Argentinean encounters. Could these be the otherworldly kinsmen of the giants who built the mighty Mexican monuments?
French author Michel Cargese has explored this aspect of the giants as master builders in his own works. He provides the example of a prehistoric tool kit found in Agadir, Morocco: the 300,000 year old set of tools was designed to be used by someone with hands corresponding to those of a 16-foot tall giant. He adds that other cyclopean works found in other parts of the globe have also been the handiwork of these giants.
Lest the reader dismiss all this talk of giants as the same old hearsay that permeates most cryptoarchaelogical articles, it is perhaps worth noting here that the remains of physical giants continue being found in contemporary times. In 1975, Mexico’s premier ufologist, Pedro Ferriz, visited the town of Calvillo, Aguascalientes (on the Pacific coast, famous for its intricate mazes of unexplored manmade caves) to inspect some ancient petroglyphs on the property of V¡ctor Mart¡nez, a local landowner. Mart¡nez told the ufologist that he was ambivalent about the petroglyphs, which he considered unlucky, particularly since “that affair with the giants”. When asked to elaborate on what he meant, Mart¡nez explained that he had stumbled upon the ancient skeletons of two extraordinarily large men while tilling the soil. Mart¡nez went into Calvillo to notify the authorities about his find, only to discover that the local police believed him to have killed both giants and wanted to incarcerate him! The farmer finessed his way out of the predicament, returned to his farm, and set fire to the bones.
The Mysterious Lord Pakal
Ever since Erich Von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods? appeared almost thirty years ago, a considerable amount of attention has been paid to the massive slab — depicting the so-called “Palenque Astronaut” — which covers the tomb of the Mayan god Pakal, whose replica is on display in Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology. The slab, which ostensibly shows the reincarnation of man into corn, resembles more closely the presence of an astronaut within a space capsule. Experts have pointed out a number of features — from the depiction of throttles and exhaust ports to the fact that the Mayan figure’s hair appears to be suspended in weightlessness — which indicate that Pakal is traveling aboard a spacecraft of some sort.
The slab was discovered on June15, 1952 in the depths of the Temple of the Inscriptions in Palenque. While the temple itself had been known since 1787, it wasn’t until 1934 that Mexican archaeologist Miguel Angel Fern ndez became aware of the existence of a rectangular slab with twelve holes on its surface; some years later, Alberto Ruz Lhuiller would begin the actual excavation, which necessitated the removal of some three hundred tons of limestone. Their efforts were rewarded with the discovery of the funeral chamber of the god Pakal-Kin. In spite of the jade mask and jewelry covering the bones contained within the massive sarcophagus, nothing was known about the personage within. Was the “god” Pakal a being from another world or merely a human ruler gifted with above average height and talents?
Dozens of books about ancient astronauts — or paleoufology — have filled bookshelves since the 1970’s and their conclusions leave the reader none the wiser for the experience. The archaeological world is crawling with anomalies that hint at advanced civilizations which existed centuries earlier than modern scholarship is prepared to accept. To invoke the participation of aliens from another planet in the achievements of these forgotten peoples is premature and unnecessary: human beings of past millennia were certainly as resourceful as they are today, and were perfectly equipped to make the best use of the materials at their disposal. It is another matter entirely to say that these cultures represented the visits of interplanetary/interdimensional creatures in their artwork, architecture and even in their language: Quetzalcoatl, the “Venusian” deity worshipped as the embodiment of the force of spirituality and good in ancient Mexico, was the son of Chimalma, the “mirrored shield”. Could this mean that the deity emerged from a brilliant disk that landed on the ground, a shield-shaped vehicle? Who can say?
The mystery is as disturbing to us today as it was to the Aztecs five hundred years ago; disturbing enough to prompt Netzahualcoyotl, the Poet-King, to write the following line of verse: “There is above us a bursting of rays, spying upon us and always watching…”