by Leonard Farra
When the Spaniards arrived in Colombia, South America, 500 years ago, they heard legends about a Golden Man, (El Dorado), which triggered a rush to find a fabulous city of gold.(1) This fantastic story came from the Chibcha speaking Muiscans who lived in the high valleys in the north of present Colombia. The Muiscans were a large confederation of peoples, divided into two main groups, and Bacata, modern Bogata, was the capital of their southern region. In order to appreciate the deeper significance of the El Dorado tradition, we need to know that many Early World peoples had legends of a serpent linked civiliser who visited Earth from the Sky-World. Many people, especially some of the Native Americans, said that he had the appearance of a tall, white, bearded, man and that he wore a long white robe and sandals. The early people knew him under various names and in the New World, the Incas called him Viracocha, the Aztec s- Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent), and the Muiscans – Bochica. There is a huge statue of Bochica in the Colombian town of Cuitiva Boyacá.
Statue of Bochica in the Colombian town of Cuitiva Boyacá
In many early cultures this being was associated with the Pleiades but as the Muiscans had no system of writing, and their inner religious traditions were unreported, or were not disclosed to non believers, it’s unclear if they believed that he came from these stars. The Pleiades were featured in numerous traditions throughout the Americas. The small Barasana tribe of Colombia, for example, call them the Great Mother, and the creator of man and Earth (Hugh-Jones), and like many other peoples, the Colombian Kogi, (The Elder Brothers), place special significance on their rising on the summer solstice.
The North American Natchez Indians claimed that their ancestors were visited by a great white being, of dazzling appearance, who came from the Sun. The Incas believed that Viracocha created the Sun, Moon, and stars but they also called him ‘the Son of the Sun.’ According to one Incan legend, he appeared in the south , after a period of darkness, when the Sun rose from an island in Lake Titicaca. (2) The Sun is of golden appearance and this may be the reason why gold was special to the Muiscans and why they called Bochica ‘the Son of the Sun’. It’s also possible that he was also known as Sua-the name of the Sun (3) Could it be that the Ancients used the Sun as an appropriate symbol to represent the hom , (the craft), of this Pleiades linked being?
Many early people had legends of a great flood that was caused by a god, or gods, who destroyed the evil people of the previous age, and the indications are that this was not connected with the end of the Ice Age, as generally believed, and that it occurred around 5,000 years ago when there was climate change, and substantial flooding, in various parts of the world. This era was claimed to be the Dawn of Civilisation in the Middle East but current research indicates that civilisation also had its beginnings in parts of the New World such as in the region around the Caribbean in Cuba, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and, interestingly, in the Yucatan Peninsula because the Mayan calendar ,which begins in 3113 b.c.e. follows the destruction of the previous age.
The Incas said that Viracocha caused floods to destroy his enemies (4) and the Muiscans believed that when the people forsook the teachings of Bochica, and became wicked, the land in the region of Bogata was engulfed in a flood. Bochica returned on a rainbow and created the Tequendama Falls through which the flood waters drained away. After the Flood, the gods left this world and were never seen again.
Snake God – Quetzacoatl Pyramid at Teotihuacan, Mexico
The Aztec god Quetzalcoatl as depicted in the Codex Telleriano-Remensis (16th century)
According to the Aztecs, after Quetzalcoatl left them, he departed in the East and instructed the four men, who accompanied him, to divide Earth and to rule it until his return. In the traditions of the North American Algonquin Indians, his counterpart, Michabo, helped rebuild the Earth, after it was flooded, and he was accompanied by the guardians of the four directions. The four quarters, and the centre, were of special significance in many early cultures and the Aztec tradition is reflected in a popular Mexican custom in which four men descend on ropes from the top of a pole whilst a fifth man remains perched at the top. Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, was built on an island and divided by four roads into four quarters. The most sacred region was at the central crossroads where there were palaces and temples, including one dedicated to Quetzalcoal, and the Great Templo Mayor Pyramid. Cuzco, the capital of the Incan Empire, was surrounded by four regions and in its centre was the sacred Coricancha temple which was devoted to the worship of the Sun, Viracocha, and the Pleiades. In the month of December, (the Summer solstice) the Incas celebrated the festival of Capac Raymi when departed souls returned to Earth, and on its eve, the priests blew conch shells. The other main Incan festival, on the June solstice, was when ‘ the Pleiades gave birth to the sun’. (5)
Thousands of miles away in China, the Shang Kingdom was reputedly divided into five regions with ‘the capital and its environments at the center surrounded by the four districts’. This was claimed to be ‘the cultural world of south-east Asia. (6) Similarly, the ideal type of Hindu city has the form of a ‘moated rectangular enclosure exhibiting cardinal orientation and axiality. ‘It’s then divided into four wards by two axial avenues terminating in impressive gopura’. (A monumental tower) . (7) The circled cross, representing the four quarters, was a symbol used by many of the North American Natives and also by the Celts on the other side of the Atlantic where it was later adopted by the Church as a form of the Christian cross. Tara, the early capital of Ireland, in Meath, was surrounded by the four other provinces (8) One of the legends associated with it is related to a symbol of the Sumerian civilising god Ea,(9 ) to concentric symbolism carved on rocks in various parts of the world, such as on the summit of a mountain top in Brazil, (10) to numerous early religious rituals relating to a new beginning, to a form of symbolism linked with the Egyptian god Osiris, and to one inscribed on a wall of Cuzco’s Coricancha temple which was associated with Viracocha.(11)
Inca’s god Viracocha aka Wiracocha, Apu Qun Tiqsi Wiraqutra, and Con-Tici (also spelled Kon-Tiki)
The main Muiscan temple, of the sun-god, Sue, has been reconstructed by Professor Silva Celis. It was a circular sanctuary in the sacred city of Sogamosa where on the Summer (June) solstice the Muiscans celebrated the Day of the Sun-god. Professor Silva Celis believes that there were four access roads to the temple, which coincided with the cardinal points, and which marked the passage of the Sun. So it would appear that like other early temples, and some of the pyramids in Central America and Egypt’s Great Pyramid, which were aligned to the four directions, this one stood in the centre of the world and the claim that the god Bochica had visited the town links him with the area and, possibly, with the summer solstice ceremony. It’s also said that the Chibchas were taught about the importance of the ‘cross’ by Bochica and it explains why their graves were marked by a cross (12 ) and why among their confederations there were four chiefdoms.
Circles were an important feature in many Early World traditions and, among Stone Age people, a standing pillar marked the sacred central position. The Muiscans lived in circular homes, had a circular main temple and there were circles of stone columns in their territory where religious rituals may have taken place. In one of their large stone circles, a post hole marks the spot where a central post once stood.( Reichel-Dolmatoff.) The Muiscans had a sacred lake, called Guatavita, ‘where a snake god lived’, and where the El Dorado rituals were enacted. In these ceremonies, a man, called Zipa, was stripped naked and covered with gold dust. Bearing in mind that four was a sacred number to the Muiscans, and to many Native Americans, and that four lesser beings accompanied the civiliser of man, who was represented in a central position, it seems not to be a coincidence that the Golden Man, who appears to have represented Bochica as the sun-god, was accompanied by the four high priests when he sailed ‘to the centre of the circular lake’ on a ceremonial raft of rushes, upon which four sacred fires burned.
After the Muiscan ceremony, the huge congregation of people threw offerings of jewellery, and precious objects, into the water. (13) It’s not recorded when this sacred ritual took place but it may have been on the June Solstice as this was when the Muiscans celebrated the Day of the Sun-god which was highlighted by an east-west alignment of stones in the Moniquira Valley. It would therefore seem that on the summer solstice sunrise, an actor, representing the Pleiades linked? extra-terrestrial civiliser of man, was involved in a fabulous colourful ceremony which celebrated his annual return. And with regard to the story that the Spaniards heard about a land of gold, this was pure myth..