The War Between the Gods Calendar Reform

On page 4 of the Nuttall codex, there is a scene of "war in heaven" that seems to be tied both to a calendar change and to positions of the tropical year. The calendar dates referred to below are in the Julian calendar, rather than the retro-dictive Gregorian dates often used in Mesoamerican studies.

Interpreted mythologically, it is a brief summary of a Mixtec version of the descent of Hun Hunahpu and Vukub Hunahpu to the ball court of the Lords of Death. Interpreted astronomically, it deals with solar data in relationship with data on Venus, but unrecognized factors are probably also involved. As calendrics, it deals with a one-day shift in the names of the gods, accompanied by functional changes. Because of the tremendous importance of the calendar names of the gods, this is depicted, in part, as a war between the gods of the old names and the gods of the new names. It may have other facets, not necessarily excluding historical interpretations.

Interpreted theologically, the most important facet is that the brothers are shown descending to the underworld after

15 There are three possibilities, however, which are fairly close (see Kelley 1983, p. 183), although none of these has ever been seriously suggested as the correct correlation. Bryan Wells has spent a considerable amount of effort examining one of these (660,205) and convinced DHK that it is substantially more probable than any of those proposed by Thompson.

their death and cremation—something that certainly does not come out in the Popol Vuh.

We know that in the manuscripts of the Borgia codex group, Venus phenomena were marked by the series: Crocodile, Snake, Water, Reed, and Earthquake, corresponding to the Mayan days Imix, Cicchan, Muluc, Ben, and Caban, the set being shifted one day forward from the Mayan series in the Dresden Venus Table in which mean heliacal risings are associated with the days Ahau, Kan, Lamat, Eb, and Cib. Two of the Mayan Venus day names appear as Ring Number bases. 1 Ahau 18 Kayab appears at -2200 days, which represents a back-calculated heliacal rising in a formal 584-day table in DHK's interpretation; 3 Kan 17 Mac appears at -456, marking disappearance before inferior conjunction. 1 Ahau + 1d = 2 Imix (2 Crocodile); 3 Kan + 1d = 4 Chicchan (4 Snake). The principal attacking god appears in one scene as Four Snake and immediately thereafter appears with two calendar names: Two Crocodile and Four Snake, each one day after the names for the two calendar positions marked in the Dresden codex as Ring Numbers. As Kelley (1976, pp. 76-78) has pointed out, the characteristics of this god are those of the god shown in the Dresden codex Venus table (p. 49), although his astronomical function does not seem clearly defined there. The year 10 House marked below the name Four Snake is that of the birth of Four Snake (more clearly specified as such in the Vienna codex). It is calculated as the equivalent of Mayan 4 Chicchan (3 Zec), JDN 2,052,050,17 March 906, with the celestial longitudes of the Sun and Venus at 1° and 320°, respectively (see §2.3.3). Two dates are given in connection with the attack: days 7 Crocodile and 8 Wind of the year 12 Flint, JDN 2,057,526 and 2,057,527, 14 and 15 March 921. The celestial longitude of the Sun, 10, was 359° on 7 Crocodile and 0°, at the spring equinox, on 8 Wind. The next scene takes us forward to 12 Earthquake of the same year: 2057622,18 June 921, with 10 = 91° (a day past summer solstice), and Venus in conjunction with Mercury at = 108°. An eagle named "One Jaguar" is being sacrificed. Cihuacoatl, "Snake Woman," widely regarded as a Moon goddess, is called "the Eagle Woman," and DHK suggests that the sacrifice represents a following eclipse; four days later, the date 3 Crocodile occurred, which DHK has suggested represents a node passage goddess, and the day after that was 4 Wind, 2,057,627, 23 June 921, the date of a lunar eclipse. This was followed 15 days later on 2,057,642 (6 Earthquake) by a solar eclipse.

The next scene shows the identities of the losers, the cremation of the bodies of Seven Flower and Four Earthquake. Seven Flower was the Mixtec equivalent of the name Vukub Hunahpu. Four Earthquake is identified repeatedly in our sources as a Sun god, particularly associated with the spring equinox in Duran. Figure 12.17 shows a drawing of Four Earthquake from the Borgia codex.

The Sun god is often shown with the red and white stripes of the diving gods. Another Sun god was One Flower (Hun Ahau, Hun Hunahpu). Four Earthquake here substitutes for One Flower, perhaps partly because One Flower seems also to have been a name for several other gods. Regrettably, the date shown in the printed version is 2 Earthquake of the year 6 Rabbit, probably an error, because dates within a

Figure 12.17. From the Borgia codex, Year 1 Reed, day 4 Earthquake, the Sun God on his throne: The event is interpreted as winter solstice, 936 a.d. Drawing by Sharon Hanna.

single passage are normally in chronological order, and the following date is 13 Reed, identified with 934, but no 6 Rabbit falls between 921 and 934. Expanding by a 52-year cycle would remove either the earlier dates or the later ones from their positions at equinoxes and solstices.

The final scene shows "Four Earthquake" and "Seven Flower," apparently none the worse for their cremation, seated at a ball-court marked with a skull, that is, presumably the ball-court of the Lords of Death. The date is 2 Deer, year 13 Rabbit, corresponding to Mayan 2 Manik 5 uayeb, the last day of a Mayan year, and to JDN 2,062,552, 17 December 934, with 10 = 271°. The day 2 Deer follows the day 1 Death, and the Popul Vuh tells how the younger brothers defeat the Lord of Hell called One Death. The same is apparently true of the elder brothers in some senses, despite the sad tales told of them; on the same CR date, 2 Deer of the year 13 Rabbit, in the Vienna codex, One Flower appears in the Sun disk as a Sun god. At any rate, some sort of equivalence seems to be indicated. The first date on the following page shows the year 1 Reed, the day 1 Crocodile, the well-known "mythical beginning" date. The date is JDN 2,063,006, 15 March 936, with the Sun at l = 0, at spring equinox. Mercury was near conjunction with Saturn (l = 344° and 348°, respectively).

Thus, we have close approximations to three spring equinoxes, one summer solstice, and one winter solstice, with one probably erroneous date, associated with red and white diving gods who are known to have Sun deity associations. On pp. 20-21, we find a similar scene of red and white diving gods in the year 12 Flint with the days 8 Wind (already considered) and 12 Flint (either the year naming day or 260 days later). The date may be JDN 2,057,583, 10 May 921. This was the date of a zenith passage of the Sun within the Mixteca and may be what this date indicates, but there seem to be no clear indications of the relevance of the date. The other date on the page is a repetition of 1 Reed 1 Crocodile.

The codex shows a figure named "Three Flint," accompanying a man named "Twelve Wind." Kelley (1980) has suggested that "Three Flint" was a name for Mercury. "Twelve Wind" holds the so-called "Venus staff" and has a loop over his nose, roughly corresponding to the so-called "cruller" of the Mayan Jaguar god; however, Kelley identified the latter with Jupiter, rather than with Saturn. DHK suggests the following relationships for the day names of some of the individuals of pp. 20-21. "One Death," of Sun Mountain, with a personal name derived from a decorated Sun disk with the previously mentioned winter solstice of JDN 2,062,551, 16 Dec. 934; her husband, "Four Crocodile," with the date JDN 2,063,646, 15 Dec. 937, three My later. "Four Crocodile's" personal name is "Blood-drinking Eagle." Although both Sun and Moon are sometimes identified as Eagles, it is the Sun who is said to need blood in order to move. Hence, the personal name equates "Four Crocodile" with the Sun. That "Four Crocodile" may equate with a winter solstice Sun is suggested also by his representation with two faces looking in opposite directions, Janus-fashion. On the preceding page of the manuscript, "Four House" and "Three Monkey" (identified in other manuscripts as Four Crocodile's great grandchildren) are shown being cremated wearing the red and white stripes particularly typical of Sun gods. The name of "Four House" also appears above a skyband with a Sun disk on p. 21. Their names may represent the following summer solstice and fall equinox: for 3 Monkey, JDN 2,063,828,15 June 938, with 10 = 88°; and for 4 House, JDN 2,063,920, 15 Sept 938, I0 = 177°. There are, however, no year dates to verify these positions for One Death, Four Crocodile, Three Monkey, and Four House.

In the date 2 Earthquake 6 Rabbit, if one ignores the year 6 Rabbit as necessarily some sort of error, there is one day, 2 Earthquake, in this period that fits this pattern. This is JDN 2,061,642, 20 June 932, when I0 = 93° and = 92°, three days past summer solstice and the day before conjunction. This was the year 10 Reed. If this was the scribe's intention, a calculation error seems more likely than one due to copying. This day 2 Earthquake corresponds to the Mayan 2 Caban 5 Yax and is the replacment for the preceding day, 1 Vulture (1 Cib 4 Yax). The Dresden codex Venus table shows 1 Cib 4 Yax as a station for mean disappearance, four days before inferior conjunction. This would thus be three days from mean position. The coincidence of month position offers some support for regarding this as intended.

There are two other dates that agree with this pattern, both iconographically and with respect to the associated dates. In the Nuttall codex (p. 9), there is a depiction of a Sun disk in a tree; below it is a naked woman in the water with a knife covering the genital area. The associated date is the day 13 Vulture of the year 12 Rabbit. DHK reads this date as 20 Jun 791 Julian (JDN 2,010,141), the date of a lunar eclipse with the Sun at ecliptic longitude l = 91°, the day following summer solstice. It was also the date of a conjunction between Jupiter (l = 70°) and Mercury. The only other occurrence of a Sun disk in a tree in the Nuttall codex is on p. 44 with the day 6 Snake of the year 6 Reed. In the chronology used here, it is 16 June 980 Julian (JDN 2,079,170) at the summer solstice with Venus at l = 92°, and at new Moon.

A set of dates in the Tulane codex includes a repetition of one of the Nuttall CRs and several others associated with eclipses and the tropical year. The first and the last date are separated by twice the length of the Dresden eclipse table. The last date is that of a winter solstice between a solar and lunar eclipse, with a conjunction of Jupiter (l = 277°), Mars (l = 278°), and Mercury (l = 281°) and another conjunction of Venus (l = 292°) and Saturn (l = 296°). See Table 12.15.

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