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The Wasp Star

6 April 2014
Ancient history

The 'wasp star' – does that not smack of something buzzing, or making a droning noise. In The Times of March 29th (page 82), Norman Hammond provides some information on The Codex Laud, named after an archbishop of Canterbury who donated it to the Bodleian Library in 1636, to the effect it is one of just a few surviving pre-Columbian manuscripts anywhere in the world. It is just 15cm square but unfolds to 4m (14 feet) in length. It is made from an animal skin, possibly that of a deer, covered in a thin film of lime wash. On it are painted various scenes of divination and prophecy using the 260 day ritual calendar. It is bound in an animal skin – the pelt of a jaguar. The jaguar was a potent symbol, one of the Lords of the Night (with gleaming green eyes). Published in the Mexicon volume 36 page 13-4.

Norman Hammond, on another day in The Times, reports on jailbird scholars (and how meticulous they proved to be). The have, apparently, shed new light on the Venus references made by the Maya. They called Venus the Wasp Star (but Venus does not buzz). In the Dresden Codex the planet is personified as a warrior hurling spears (which could I suppose be interpreted as electric discharges, or lightning bolts). The Maya kept track of Venus throughout its 584 day cycle and the Dresden Codex has a set of hieroglyphic tables allowing the planet's movements to be documented. Scholars have been arguing over the years on the dates involved – were they retrospect or anticipatory? A group of three Native American prisoners in California, the 'In Lok'ech Study Group', have just completed and had published 'The Rise of Chuk Ek' in Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing – and have received a lot of positive reaction. They conclude the Venus year in the Codex approximates the planet's average synodical cycle (which varies between 580 and 587 days) and the main focus is the heliacal rising of Venus as the Morning Star. However, they have also determined that it was also  geared towards risings associated with the day Ajaw, one of 20 named days on the Mayan 260 day cycle. Ajaw means lord or master and was of symbolic importance – the table enabled a Mayan astronomer priest to co-ordinate ceremonies and ritual at canonical dates allowing them to issue auguries and the like, purporting to predict favourable days to go to war and the like (on a practical level). The original date of the tablet start point was in the 7th century AD, or so it has been worked out (and agreed on by mainstream scholars). The Study Group propose a new date of December 11th 1129AD was introduced and the older date went out of use – for some reason. On the new date there was a heliacal rising of Venus as the Morning Star – for what it is worth. The Codex itself was written down in the 14th century AD, which agrees with forensic evidence from elsewhere, which is another interesting point in time. See also www.precolumbia.com/bearc

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