Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Snapshots of Serpent Deities:The Feathered Serpent

By Bethany Youngblood

Quetzalcoatl
http://pigs-in-the-parlor.blogspot.ca/2009/07/uk-quetzalcoatl-headdress-crop-circle.html

Known as “Quetzalcoatl”, “Kulkulcan”, and “Viracocha”, this serpent deity was venerated by the Olmec, the Maya, the Aztec, and even the Inca. As mentioned in our blog post “Serpent Sanctuary”, many names have been used for this deity, but we know it collectively as the “Feathered Serpent” of Meso-America. Here is a brief snapshot of who and what this deity represented in the ancient world.

Quetzalcoatl - The Names


The name “Quetzalcoatl” is the most well-known name for the Feathered Serpent, but it is certainly a mouthful! It is pronounced: ket-sahl-koh-aht-l and means "feathered snake". It comes from the Nahuatl words quetzalli (feather) and coatl (snake).[1]  The name could also be translated as "plumed serpent", just as the serpent deity of the Olmec was known. The Maya name Kulkulcan also means "feathered snake".

“Viracocha”, the Incan version of this deity, is the only name that does not translate into "serpent". Viracocha is actually never recorded to have appeared in the form of a snake at all. So why is he included in the list of names for the Feathered Serpent? Because the Feathered Serpent did not always appear as a snake; he had other forms.   
 
Kulkulcan

One Deity, Many Forms


The Feathered Serpent is most commonly described just as its name suggests: a winged, plumed, or feathered snake. However, the pagan god apparently had other forms as well. He could take the form of the wind and other elemental deities;[2] for the Aztecs, the serpent deity was the morning and evening star, the planet Venus.[3]

What about Viracocha? All three, Quetzalcoatl, Kulkulcan, and Viracocha, are said to have appeared at one time in the form of a white, bearded man in long robes who came from across the sea.[4]
                                           

Viracocha, Wikimedia Commons

Brief History


Commonly the deities that fall under the "Feathered Serpent" title are credited with creation of the world and mankind.[5] Furthermore Quetzalcoatl, Viracocha, and Kulkulcan, in the form of a white man with a beard, apparently arrived from afar and brought wisdom to man. He built the foundations of civilization and spread his knowledge through the help of his many messengers. But the myths and legends also tell us that he left with the promise to return (some say he was exiled while others say he left by his own choice).[6]

There seem to be two versions of the cult surrounding this deity. Its earliest form describes the Feathered Serpent as a peaceful entity. He introduced justice and only required minimal sacrifices.

Later the cult underwent a revision[7], with the exception of Viracocha, who appears to have remained a peaceful entity replaced by sun worship.[8] The Feathered Serpent became the patron of priests, representing death and renewal. Human sacrifices became necessary to appease him, and this bloody legacy is what remains most prominent about the Feathered Serpent today.

Conclusion


Studying serpent deities can’t help but lead us back to the Garden and the Serpent of Old. His deceptions and counterfeits continually pop up, influencing cultures in ancient times in ways that we don’t yet fully know. Yet because we know the truth, by God’s grace, we can see the distortion for what it really is, false worship and rebellion against the true God.

Always More Questions


As is usual with ancient studies, we’ve left you with a plenty questions to mull over and intrigue you:
  • Why do you think the peaceful creator-god morphed into the bloody feathered serpent we know today?
  • Were the names Quetzalcoatl, Kulkukan, or Viracocha once applied to an actual flesh-and-blood man who came to the native peoples in ancient times and shared knowledge with them?
  • Why are there three names for one very similar deity?
  • Based on your own research you probably have different answers and theories for these questions that we would love to hear about! Share your thoughts in the comments or send us an email! 







[1] “Quetzalcoatl.” Web. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/487168/Quetzalcoatl
[2] “Quetzalcoatl.” Micha F. Lindemans. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/q/quetzalcoatl.html
[3] Ibid.
[4] “Viracocha/Kulkulkan/Quetzalcoatl.” Web. http://the-truth-seekers.org/viracocha.htm
[5] “Quetzalcoatl.” Web. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/487168/Quetzalcoatl
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] “Viracocha and the Legendary Origins of the Inca.”  Christopher Minster. http://latinamericanhistory.about.com/od/ancientlatinamerica/p/Viracocha-And-The-Legendary-Origins-Of-The-Inca.htm

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Serpent Sanctuary

By Bethany Youngblood

Wikimedia Commons

Cultural similarities are one of the most intriguing aspects of ancient man to study. Common structures such as pyramids, mounds, and stone monuments can be found all over the world; the same goes for artistic talents and technological works of genius. Naturally we find similarities among religions and beliefs as well.

In chapter nine of The Genius of Ancient Man we briefly cover the commonalities in world religions and legends. Remarkably, many religions were monotheistic in their beginnings and we can even find traces of Judeo-Christian beliefs woven throughout ancient practices.[1] This makes sense because after the Flood, Noah and his sons would have passed down the true accounts of God's work. 

However, as mankind continued to rebel against God and reject the truth, pagan counterfeits began to twist truth and proper worship of God. Distorted beliefs mixed with truth were passed down and dispersed with the people across the globe after the Tower of Babel. So just like we find traces of Judeo-Christian beliefs in ancient religion, we also find numerous similar distortions throughout ancient cultures. In this article we will be focusing on the prominence of serpent worship.

Worshiping Snakes? 


In our modern eyes these creatures do not seem like something to be venerated. And in ancient times it wasn't so much the snake itself that was worshiped but rather the symbolism behind the snake.
 
Serpent in the Garden - Creation Museum, Kentucky
(Flickr. com - nofilmrequired)
From a biblical standpoint, the snake seems tainted because it was the form Satan took when he tempted Eve in the garden. Satan is even known as the “Serpent” or “Dragon”, in the Bible. So then are snakes evil like Satan is evil? No! Snakes are only created creatures whose image is used to symbolize certain ideas.

That being said, there is substantial proof for the existence of an evil cult-like worship of the serpent across the ancient world. This post will briefly describe the trail of this symbolic snake as it slithers through history.

How did Snake Worship Start?


Is this obsession with snakes really a worldwide thing? Consider how one author put it:

"No nations were so geographically remote, or so religiously discordant, but that one--and only one--superstitious characteristic was common to all; that the most civilized and the most barbarous bowed down with the same devotion to the same engrossing deity; and that this deity either was, or was represented by the same sacred serpent.”[2]

But what’s the source? Like everything else we can trace this back to a counterfeit that likely spread out from Babel.

Because Satan always perverts God’s truth, the biblical account of Eve and the serpent was twisted. [3] And the snake became a symbol of the one who brought secret knowledge of good and evil to man. The snake was also associated with sun worship, which seems to have emerged at the same time. The sun was worshiped as the one who brought physical enlightenment, and the snake as the one who brought spiritual light to man.[4] [5]

Therefore serpents in worldwide religions are commonly deities of the sun, fire (representative of the sun), sky, wisdom, civilization, regeneration, and healing. Some ancient cultures described comets as flaming serpents.[6] And because snakes shed their skin they are also associated with the regeneration of men's souls through fire or death.


Serpent Deities Around the World


There are far too many examples of serpent deities to compile a complete list, so we will just take a look at some of the most prominent serpents around the world.

 
The Rainbow Serpent - Flickr.com (iansand, 2005)
The Rainbow Serpent - This is a deity found in both Australia and Africa, though more prominently in the former. The Rainbow Serpent is known by countless regional names and is credited with the creation of all life on earth. Shamans are ritually 'consumed' by the serpent and then emerge reborn so that they might gain spiritual power.[7]
 
Apep
http://www.dragonsinn.net/middle_east6e.htm
Apep - This serpent deity originates in Egypt. It dwells in the “celestial Nile”, or the Milky Way. Other Egyptian serpent deities include Wadjet, Aker (an earth dragon), Am-Mut (eater of souls), Atum, and Denwen (another dragon).[8]

Lung - This is the basic name for the Chinese dragon or serpent deity. Chinese mythology claims there were four great dragon kings, and one serpent that had nine sons who did great deeds. Other Chinese serpent deities include: Chien Lung (the Great Serpent), Kung Shih (wisdom), Shen Lung (rain), and Nu Kua (the serpent mother goddess).[9]

Quetzalcoatl
Quetzalcoatl - Kulkulcan - Viracocha  - These three names all describe a similar feathered serpent deity from Aztec, Mayan, and Incan religion. This deity was credited with creation, the bringing of wisdom, and the founding of civilization.[10] These three deities, though symbolized as a serpent, also supposedly appeared to the native people as a white, bearded man in long robes from across the sea.[11]

Coatlicue - The Aztec serpent mother. This deity was known to the Inca as Chalchiuhticue and to Brazillians as Iara. Serpent mothers and other mother goddess figures appear all over the world.

Other Mesoamerican snake deities include:
  • Aztec: Huitzilopotchili, Tezcatlipoca, Xiuhtecuhtli (fire serpent), and Mixcoatl.
  • Mayan: Gucumatz, Hunab Ku (sky serpent), Labna, Tlactoc (rain serpent), Xiuhcoatl (fire serpent), and Youalcoatl (storm serpent)[12]
Avanyu
http://symboldictionary.net/?p=3141

Avanyu - The feathered sky serpent of the Pueblo people was also associated with rain and lightning. Other North American serpent deities include: Uktena (Cherokee), the Horned Serpent (various tribes), and Winged Serpents (various tribes). [13]

Serpents were also venerated in the form of mounds (serpent-shaped mounds [effigies] exist in North America, England, and Scotland)[14] monuments, and innumerable pieces of artwork in the ancient world were also dedicated to the worship of the snake. 

Conclusion


This introduction certainly does not touch on every aspect or implication of serpent worship throughout the world. There are many intriguing connections that can still be explored.
  • How many cultures had a mother goddess?
  • What is the significance of the 'rebirth' rituals practiced by Australian and African Shamans?
  • What about those South American legends of white, bearded men from across the sea?
  • Why were some of the serpent deities called dragons? Maybe they were based on actual living creatures of the time?

Hopefully this introduction has opened doors for you to see more connections between cultures in the ancient world and more counterfeits as well. With serpent worship, or other related cults like sun worship, we're seeing evidence of man twisting created things into gods.

This passage written by the Apostle Paul applies well:

"...although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things....who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." (Romans 1:21-23,25 NKJV)



What are your thoughts on this eerie serpent worship cult? Let us know your questions and opinions in the comments or send us an email!
 
Interested in more? 







[1] “The Genius of Ancient Man”. Landis, Don. Chapter 9. Pg. 72.
[2] Clark, Hyde. Serpent And Siva Worship and Mythology in Central American, Africa, and Asia. And The Origin of Serpent Worship. Hyde Clarke, M.A.I., and C. Staniland Wake, M.A.I. 1877. Google Books.  pg vi-vii
[3]  “Snake Worship”. William T. Pelletier, Ph.D. 2008. BibleScienceGuy. Web. http://biblescienceguy.wordpress.com/2008/12/28/4-snake-worship/
[4]  “Nature Worship”. Pg. 287. The New International Encyclopedia, Volume 14. By Daniel Coit Gilman, Harry Thurston Peck, Frank Moore Colby.
[5] “Druids”. In Note, pg. 437. Owen, Davies
[6] “The Mystery of Serpent Worship”. Farra, Leonard. Web Article. http://blog.world-mysteries.com/strange-artifacts/the-mystery-of-serpent-worship/
[7] Ibid.
[8] “List of Serpent Gods”. Web Discussion. http://theumbi.com/index.php?/topic/2621-list-of-serpent-gods/ 
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
[11]  “The Mystery of Serpent Worship”. Farra, Leonard. Web Article. http://blog.world-mysteries.com/strange-artifacts/the-mystery-of-serpent-worship/
[12] Ibid.
[13] “The Reptilian Agenda: Horned Serpent, Feathered Serpent.”. Hidden Mysteries (1998-2005). Web. http://www.reptilianagenda.com/myth/m010105d.shtml
[14] Ibid.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Who were our Human Ancestors?

by Brian Mariani
Model of Neanderthal Man, at one time thought to be human ancestors
http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/feb/04/neanderthals-modern-humans-research
Were our early ancestors ape-like creatures and dumb cavemen or were they fully formed human beings created intelligently? Why do people think humans evolved from animals?

While an evolutionist would defend the ape-to-human evolution paradigm, citing various pieces of “evidence” throughout history and describing multiple transitional species along the long journey to homo sapiens, we believe that the correct interpretation of Scripture rules out all that conjecture.

As Genesis 1 describes, on day 6 of creation God made man and he was originally very intelligent and even walked with God. Man did not evolve from lower forms of human and was not a dumb caveman. In creation, God made man and ape as two different creatures.

“There are many differences between humans and apes that can be seen in fossil remains. These include the fact that humans walk erect and so have appropriate/distinctive knee and hip joints, backbone, toes, etc. Humans also have an opposable thumb, make and use sophisticated tools as well as fire, and engage in diverse creativity. They have a larger brain capacity than apes, smaller teeth set in parabolic or V-shaped, rather than U-shaped, jaws, and they sometimes write, paint or make and play musical instruments. Communication by language is another crucial difference, as is the ability to do mathematics. Other differences include the exercise of reason and free-will, rather than just instinct.”[i] Many of these characteristics obviously cannot be observed from fossils but are easily studied in the living species today.

Then why the confusion?


Imagine the fame, the prestige, and the money that follows the discovery of a new link in the chain of human evolution.Many evolutionists will find human and/or ape bones and claim them as human ancestors to get more funding for their research. “Evolutionists looking for evidence of apemen search for fossils that show anatomical features that look ‘intermediate’ between those of apes and humans, or that show some but not all of the above bodily characteristics. This has provided a fertile field for hoaxers.”[ii]

There have indeed been many human ancestor hoaxes that deceived even the scientific community and have been taught incorrectly for decades.

Reconstructed portrait of Piltdown Man
http://www.clarku.edu/~piltdown/map_intro/faked_foss_prim.html
  • Piltdown Man was “’discovered’ in England from 1908 to 1912…and was probably the most quoted ‘evidence for evolution’ for around 40 years.” The evidence for Piltdown Man turned out to be a human skullcap matched with the lower jaw of an orangutan that were stained and filed to fit.[iii] 
  • “The Illustrated London News for June 24, 1922, printed” Nebraska Man “as an upright-standing apeman, showing the shape of his body, head, nose, ears, hair, etc., together with his wife, domestic animals, and tools.” The evidence was one tooth, which later turned out to be a tooth from an extinct pig.[iv] 
  • Ramepithecus was “once widely regarded as the ancestor of humans, it has now been realized that it is merely an extinct type of orangutan (an ape).”[v]


Beyond the hoaxes


An evolutionist article admits that “over decades excavating sites in Africa, researchers have named half a dozen different species of early human ancestor, but most, if not all, are now on shaky ground.”[vi] One of the problems is that the quality of the fossils are typically very poor and paleontologists base new species on minor details with fragments of skulls or other bones. Assumptions can play a huge factor as scientists glue the bone fragments back together.

In fact, this challenge is evident with one of the most famous human ancestors theorized in a partial skeleton: Australopithecus afarensis, otherwise affectionately known as Lucy. Some have claimed that Lucy is nearly 40% complete, but with only 47 pieces of bones and 206 in the modern human body, that percentage is closer to 20%.[vii]  

Different artist depictions of Lucy
https://answersingenesis.org/human-evolution/lucy/bringing-lucy-to-life/
Even the oldest bones of our supposed human ancestors (Orrorin tugenensis) only consist of 13 fossils that make up a partial femur, bits of a lower jaw and a few teeth. It is fascinating to read through evolutionary teaching and see the evidence that has been collected: fragmented bones and skulls. Assumptions, questions, and guesswork is abundant in this field of science.[viii]

Changing the Family Tree


Hominid species are classified by head shape, hip structure and other cues. At Dmanisi, Georgia, parts of five skulls were found; each of “these human skulls all had very different shapes, [and] they were buried together within a short time…Instead of showing different transitional human forms living at different times and leading up to modern humans, the fossilized remains at this site showed variation occurring at the same time. Assuming the remains were all human...these results end up ‘drastically simplifying the story of human evolution,’"[ix]

Tim White, an expert in human evolution admits that “some paleontologists see minor differences in fossils and give them labels, and that has resulted in the family tree accumulating a lot of branches...The Dmanisi fossils give us a new yardstick, and when you apply that yardstick to the African fossils, a lot of that extra wood in the tree is dead wood. It's arm-waving."[x]

 “If the Dmanisi fossils represent ancient humans, then they show that generations of experts in human evolution have spent effort, time, and research dollars arranging fossil fragments of human skulls into an evolutionary line of descent that never really existed.”[xi]The theory of human evolution requires one or more missing links, so in the post-Darwin era many candidates have been put forward. Not one has stood the test of honest, rigorous investigation, as all have turned out to be from either an extinct ape or an extinct human.”[xii]

Conclusion


The Bible tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) – from the beginning of time, when God created man male and female in the garden (Matt. 19:4), to the child conceived this very minute. History tells the story of incredible intelligence, creativity, and skill all inherent in the lives of ancient builders, farmers, philosophers, and scientists.

We have not descended from mindless apes but were rather created and formed by the greatest mind of all!

Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. (Psalm 111:1-3)

Read more about our amazing human ancestors!  







[i] Russell Grigg, Are there apemen in your ancestry?, December 2002, Creation 25(1):16-19, Creation Ministries International, http://creation.com/are-there-apemen-in-your-ancestry#lucys-bones, accessed August 28, 2014.
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] Ibid. .
[v] Is There Really Evidence that Man Descended from the Apes?, January 21, 1998, Answers in Genesis, https://answersingenesis.org/human-evolution/ape-man/is-there-really-evidence-that-man-descended-from-the-apes/, accessed August 28, 2014.
[vi] Ian Sample, Skull of Homo erectus throws story of human evolution into disarray, October 17, 2013, The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/oct/17/skull-homo-erectus-human-evolution, accessed August 27, 2014.
[vii] Russell Grigg, How many bones does Lucy have?, January 11, 2012, Creation Ministries International, http://creation.com/are-there-apemen-in-your-ancestry#lucys-bones, accessed August 28, 2014.
[viii] PBS, Origin of Humankind, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/humans/humankind/, accessed August 29, 2014.
[ix] Brian Thomas and Frank Sherwin, Human-like Fossil Menagerie Stuns Scientists, November 8, 2013, Institute for Creation Research, http://www.icr.org/article/7843/, accessed August 27, 2014.
Robert Lee Hotz, Skull Suggests Single Human Species Emerged From Africa, Not Several: Well-Preserved Find 1.8 Million Years Old Drastically Simplifies Evolutionary Picture, October 17, 2013, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304384104579141600675336982, accessed August 27, 2014.
[x] Ian Sample, Skull of Homo erectus throws story of human evolution into disarray, October 17, 2013, The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/oct/17/skull-homo-erectus-human-evolution, accessed August 27, 2014.
[xi] Brian Thomas and Frank Sherwin, Human-like Fossil Menagerie Stuns Scientists, November 8, 2013, Institute for Creation Research, http://www.icr.org/article/7843/, accessed August 27, 2014.
[xii] Russell Grigg, Are there apemen in your ancestry?, December 2002, Creation 25(1):16-19, Creation Ministries International, http://creation.com/are-there-apemen-in-your-ancestry#lucys-bones, accessed August 28, 2014.