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Teotihuacan: The City of the Gods

 •  A dramatization of ancient belief.

In 1967 the Mexican government staged the spectacle, "Teotihuacan: The City of the Gods." Presented in Teotihuacan itself, the original script was written by Salvador Novo, and the English version by V. S. Pritchett.

In his introduction to the script, Agustin Salvat, head of the Mexican Government Tourism Department, states:

"Using the technical media of the present, [the spectacle] honors and exalts the creative triumphs of those who peopled her soil in the remote past ... a people who evolved a culture and in the monuments of Teotihuacan left us a legacy of a permanent lesson on the miracles which faith in destiny can bring about, when men gather, live together and share the bounties of nature ... when they venerate the life giving elements of the earth—the sun, the water, the common patrimony of humanity, and from them create prosperity and beauty.

The governments originating from the Revolution have recognized the fact that the Indian population of Mexico incarnates the most authentic material and spiritual treasures of the nation."

Owing to the interest it holds for those who have studied Velikovsky's work, we present here an abridged version of "Teotihuacan: The City of the Gods."

NARRATOR 1: We are in Teotihuacan, the sacred city.  In Indian language it is "the place where gods are born."  About two centuries before our era, a clever race of people came to settle in this valley.  They saw the land was rich.  They were a peaceful, worshipping people, great artists who created a culture out of the myths and legends they lived by.  The pyramids we see before us now were the work of their genius.

NARRATOR 2: The people of Teotihuacan made their gods out of the forces of nature: earth, fire, wind and rain.  The chief priest, who was a god himself, was called Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent.  This fantastic image of the flying snakes has a deep meaning: the snake crawls on the ground, the bird flies in the air, but joined together in one creature they teach that man is able to join the earthbound with the heavenly, the lowest with the highest.  He can rise and he can perfect himself.  It was Quetzalcoatl who taught his people the arts and trades.  He taught them to grow crops, to carve stones, to sing, to build palaces and temples and to paint them in bright colors.  Time has not been able to destroy them.

[Music.]

NARRATOR 3: There were no mountains here.  So they built an artificial mountain.  They made it over 200 feet high with a base 700 feet long.  They modelled it first out of adobe, then covered the adobe with blocks torn from the distant sierra.  They carried them here without the help of horse, mule or oxen.  The wheel was unknown to them.  They fashioned the stone with stone, with chisels made of obsidian.  They set the blocks in place.  They mortared them.  The pyramid rose higher and higher.  They built stairways and terraces.

NARRATOR 3: The first was the great Pyramid of the Sun.  The next was the smaller Pyramid of the Moon.  Between these two pyramids lies what they named the Path of the Dead, which was a series of small temples, monuments and tombs.

NARRATOR 2: That is how Teotihuacan was built, the city where men, when they die, become gods.  The story of its far-off origins has been handed down in legend.

NARRATOR 1: At the beginning of time when the gods created the world, it was a monstrous emptiness without form, without men or animals, without trees or life of any kind.  And there was no light. [Blackout.  Music.]

VOICE:  MITOA IN OC YOHUAYAN, IN AYAMO TONA, IN AYAMO TLATHUI, QUILMACH, MOCENTLALIQUE, MONONOTZQUE IN TETEO IN UMPA, TEUTIHUACAN.

NARRATOR 1: When there was only night, when there was still no day, when there was still no light, the gods crept up together one by one; they gathered in council at Teotihuacan.  They spoke among themselves.  They said:

GOD 1: Closer, closer, oh gods.  Who will take upon himself the task of the sun, who will declare that day shall come and light be born?

GOD 2: The god who dares to become that ball of fire shall offer up sacrifices to us.

GOD 3: To turn into sun he must pierce his flesh with thorns of maguey; he must offer his very blood to the gods.

GOD 4: He shall cast his body into an altar fire, a fire of sacrifice.  Into fierce flames, red as blood. [Music]

GOD 2: Light the fire!

GOD 1: Who will take upon himself the labor, who will declare that day shall come and light be born?  Speak, let the gods be heard.

TECUCIZTECATL:      I, Tecuciztecatl, Lord of the Shells, I will bring light to the earth.  I shine, I sparkle with quetzal feathers, with precious stones.

GOD 1: Lord of the Shells!  Favorite god among gods.  Proud and boastful and ornate.  What is your sacrifice?  Where is your offering?  By what merits do you claim this honor?

TECUCIZTECATL:      I sacrifice quetzal feathers, sacrifice globes of gold; thorns made of precious stones, branches of coral fused with the blood of my godhead.

GOD 1: The sacrifice is noble.  It pleases us, Tecuciztecatl, You are young, you are great and wise, and you are rich.

GOD 2: But remember!  You must give your blood and your life.  He who claims this splendor must first be destroyed by fire and die.

GOD 1: Which other god is willing to make this sacrifice so that light shall come to the earth?  Speak, let the gods be heard.

NANAHUATZIN: I, Nanahuatzin, I hunger to become sun!  Lust has eaten up my body.  I am diseased and tortured by sores.  I, Nanahuatzin, crave to become sun. [Laughter.]

TECUCIZTECATL:  Wretched Nanahuatzin.  Shrivelled up and feeble.  You drag your twisted feet.  Your body is raw with stinking pustules.  You also claim this honor! [Laughter.  Music.]

GOD 2: So be it.  Come near.  The fire is ready for the body of the chosen.  Tecuciztecatl:  you are the first.

GOD 1: And you, Nanahuatzin!  Come close to the fire.  Which of you will throw himself into the fire, which of you will burn to light the world?

GOD 4: Look!  Nanahuatzin staggers on his feet, he gropes his way.  His body runs with blood and pus drips from his sores.

NARRATOR 1: The sky began to redden.

NARRATOR 1: All round, the horizon was lit up by the coming dawn; the light became stronger.  All the gods went down on their knees, waiting to see where the one who had turned into the sun would appear. [Music.]

TECUCIZTECATL: No, let me try again.

GOD 1: For the last time - fling yourself in.

GOD 4: Nanahuatzin — Nanahuatzin... Yours is the honor.  Throw yourself into the flames.

NANAHUATZIN:  Here.  I offer my sick body.  I throw it to the fire!

GOD 2: Nanahuatzin has been the first!  The sick god shall be the sun.

TECUCIZTECATL:  I, too ... I throw myself into the flames.

NARRATOR 1: When they saw these two gods fling themselves into the fire, the eagle and the tiger also threw themselves in.  The eagle was burned utterly; that is why his feathers are all dark and brown.  But the tiger was only scorched; that is why the tiger's fur is boldly striped with black.  When the two gods threw themselves into the fire, they were burned to ashes.

NARRATOR 1: Now the gods sat down and waited to see where the sun would come up and bring the dawn. [Blackout.]

NARRATOR 1: The sky began to redden.

NARRATOR 1: All round, the horizon was lit up by the coming dawn: the light became stronger.  All the gods went down on their knees, waiting to see where the one who had turned into the sun would appear. [Music.]

And at last the sun came up, there he was in the sky.  He was red all over as if he had been dipped in dye.  There was no sign of a face on him.  At once he hurled out his rays; the heat penetrated everywhere. [Music.]

NARRATOR 1: After him the Lord of the Shells came up.  Just as they had fallen into the fire, the one after the other, so they rose from the fire, one following the other.  And the light of one was the same as the light of the other.  When the gods saw their light was the same, that they were both alike, they again took council amongst themselves, and they said:

GODS:  What is this?  What shall we do?  Will they travel together through the sky following the same path?  With the same blinding light?

GOD 4: So be it!  Let this be done!  You, God of the Wind, smudge the face of Tecuciztecatl with a rabbit!  Snuff out his light!

NARRATOR 1: And so it happened, the second sun, the vain one who was afraid, was turned into the pale moon.

NARRATOR 2: But though the gods created them by their sacrifices, neither the sun nor the moon moved.  They hung in the sky, dead and still.  So the gods took council again:

GODS:  We cannot live like this.  The sun does not move!  When there are the people on the earth how will they live?  Let us give our strength to the sun.  Let us sacrifice ourselves; let all the gods die!

NARRATOR 1: And the gods gladly went to their death.  They gave up their lives so that the sun could start moving, so that there could be days and nights, and spring and winter, and man could live.

NARRATOR 2: So the Fifth Sun was created, our sun, the sun of the age we live in. Its name is Fourth Movement.  The city of Teotihuacan bears its sign: the proof of it. It was here the sun issued out of the fire, sprang from the holy earth of this city.  He was also the sun of our Prince of Tula, or Quetzalcoatl, the Fifth Sun; Fourth Movement is his sign.  He is called the Sun of Movement because he moves, he travels on his way.

NARRATOR 2: When they became gods through death, the dead went on to inhabit Tlalocan, the paradise kingdom of the god Tlaloc.  The name means "he who is stretched over the earth." Tlaloc is the Teotihuacan god of rain, the god whose favor is called for so that the crops can be gathered in.

NARRATOR 1: The legend says, in the course of the centuries four great catastrophes have destroyed mankind.  The Sun of Water, the Sun of Fire, the Sun of Wind, and the Sun of Earth ... these divide the ages before the Spaniards came ... one after the other destroyed all life on earth. [Blackout.]

NARRATOR 1: After each of these catastrophes men had to be created again, each time more perfectly, by the good god, Quetzalcoatl. [Music.]

QUETZALCOATL:     The earth is empty.  The earth must be filled with people again.  For the gods require praise from the earth.

NARRATOR 2: Four times men had been created ... four suns.  As many times they had been destroyed...

MAN 1: By tigers   ...

WOMAN 1: By the winds...

MAN 2: By fire..........

WOMAN 2: By water.

QUETZALCOATL:     And I, how was I born?  Am I not a god?  And why am I alone on earth?

GOD 2: Your father was Mixcoatl.  He struck Chimalma with his arrows.  That is how you were conceived.  That is how you came to be born... and your mother and father died.

QUETZALCOATL:     Give me the bones of my father.  Out of them I shall make people again.

NARRATOR 1: When men had once more been created and inhabited the earth, the gods saw they must be fed.

GOD 1: What shall the people eat?

GOD 2: Make the grain come down that they can live, Quetzalcoatl.

GOD 3: You have created men once more—how will the gods feed them?

QUETZALCOATL:  I shall go and look for maize.  I saw a black ant carrying a grain of sweetcorn on her back when she was returning from her travels.  She knows where the maize is.

NARRATOR 1: Time is long and time is slow.  Fifty-two years have passed.  For a full cycle of eighteen thousand nine hundred and eighty days; for fifty-two years, each day, the sun has come up in the east and it has made the crops grow and has given the earth and its people light and heat.  At night he has gone down into hiding and in the morning has come up again. [Crowd.]

NARRATOR 2: Those who had not been born when this story began are now young people.  Those who were young are now old.  A great nation has grown and multiplied in these fifty-two years.  Temples, palaces, homes and tombs have been built.  The gods have been honored and invoked.  With his life-giving waters Tidloc has given fruit to the earth.  And there has been food; maize and beans and amaranth and sage.

NARRATOR 1: The painters have decorated the temples where the priests meditate, where the astrologers talk with the stars; the palaces where the Lord of the Word lives.  The artists who use feathers have perfected their craft and passed it on; and the potters, and the goldsmiths, and those who polish precious stones and those who weave cotton, and those who sing, and those who dance, and play music. [Music.]

MAN 1: The nation is large and beautiful and rich. The houses, the cultivated fields, the gardens, have sprung up and spread.  Everywhere there is the clear laughter of children. [Music.]

NARRATOR 2: But it could all end and very suddenly.  It could happen; it has happened before ... life could be extinguished, the world could be destroyed and many could vanish again.  Suppose the sun did not rise, but remained in the mansion of the dead; then night would rule the world. [Pause.] If the forces of evil broke up the order of the heavens, the world would be destroyed once more. [Crowd.]

PRIEST: Listen to me everyone.  Everyone give heed to what I say.

CROWD 2: Quiet!  Silence!  Let us hear the word of our father... the Great Priest... the leader and guide of mankind!

PRIEST:  All of you—listen to me!  Everyone listen.  Today, the life of the god who gave us light and warmth has ended.  For fifty-two years, for a century, he has lived and worked like us and for us.  Today for the last time we have seen him cross the thirteen heavens and sink to visit the ghostly dead.  Already darkness is coming down.  There is danger.  There is danger that the sun will not rise again, that the shadows will triumph, that the life of mankind will be put out forever.

CROWD 4: Tell us what to do, our father!  Save us!  You speak with the gods.  You know what they have in store for us.

PRIEST:  Go to your homes.  All of you.  Pray to the gods.  Put out all the fires in your homes, put out the torches, the braziers where the copal burns.  Keep silent.  Not a word.  Slash your flesh in sacrifice so that we may be worthy of the birth of a new sun!  I will lead the priests and warriors in procession to the summit of the sacred mountain.  We will pick out a man.  He shall be the sacrifice.  On his breast we will light the new fire; and then wait to see if it is the will of the gods that mankind shall live for fifty-two years more. [Crowd.]

PRIEST: Go now!  Back to your homes!  Do as I command. [Music]

MAN 2: Wake up the children.  Did you make the masks of maguey leaf for their faces?

WOMAN 2: Yes, there they are.  And I have got the large earthen jars ready, the jars where we store the sweetcorn.  We'll hide the children in the jars.

MAN 2: Wake them up.  Put on their masks.  Put on your mask too.  I will be here outside on guard with the rest.  Do not let the children fall asleep, or they'll turn into mice. [Children awaken and cry softly.]

WOMAN 2: There. don't cry.  Do not cry!  You'll be safe here.  I am near you.  Look at the pretty mask I have put on your brother!  This is yours.  I have put mine on.  Look at me. [Children laugh].

PRIEST:  Let us start the procession.  Let the gods see that we have dressed ourselves like them.  Let them have offerings of paper, rubber, sweet gum, sound the bells.  Bring the one chosen for the sacrifice.  Make him march with us. [Music.  Crowd.]

PRIEST:  The sun has been born!  Light the new fire on the breast of the sacrifice, the god-man who feeds the new sun with the blood of his heart.

PRIEST:  The great fear has gone!  Mankind is saved!  Life has come again and goes on! [Crowd.]

PRIEST:  Let the runners light their torches in the new fire and carry it forth to all the homes of men! [Music.]

NARRATOR 1: In the temples and the palaces the fires are rekindled.  The women and children come out of their hiding places.  And the old people and the young noisily smash the old jars and dishes, and sing, and dance, and burn incense, and make offerings ... while the new sun, the young sun, armed with arrows, triumphantly and gloriously lights up the heavens.

NARRATOR 2: Here, where the first men of America left us their immortal example of communion with the sun, the water and the earth; where a wise and sensitive people peacefully cultivated food for the body and dedicated the majesty of the pyramids to the elevation of the soul.

NARRATOR 1: Here, where Quetzalcoatl, reptile and bird, is a symbol of the mediator—here, in Teotihuacan, open your hearts to the ancient faith that the world shall be saved from darkness. [Music.]

Here, strengthen the hope that the civilizations forged by man shall survive, without war, in peace and harmony, in happiness and joy, under a sun that is continually reborn and will always make the seeds grow; and preserve and show to our children's children, for centuries without end, the works of man and the beauty of the earth. [Music FINALE.]

PENSEE Journal III

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