The Milky Way
Classical Western astronomy does not have a tradition concerning the rotation or revolution of our own Milky Way galaxy which spins and moves through the universe like any other heavenly body. Mexica-Maya-Andean culture has extensive traditions concerning our home galaxy which they recognize as the Wakah Chan, the World Tree from which all energy and spirit is transferred to our Sun, solar system, and Earth. The Mexica-Maya-Andean scientists have tracked the rotation of the Milky Way since time immemorial; and have clocked its spinning movement in relation to the zodiac -in those places where it intersects the zodiac in Gemini-Taurus and Scorpio-Sagittarius which marks the Black hole matrix of our galaxy. This long tradition proves that ancient people were well aware of the center of our galaxy through which energy and spirit were recycled from our solar system to and from the universe through the cosmic vagina of the Milky Way Galaxy. Ancient astronomers marked their global maps with a Prime Longitudinal Meridian which marked a triangular position to the Black Hole (60 degrees counterclockwise). This Prime Meridian was once in Costa Rica, then the Atlantic Prime Meridian through the Cape Verdes, and now upon Jerusalem in Palestine. The PM is a function of the rotation of the Milky Way in relation to the Earth.
Susan Milbrath (Maya Cosmos p.10-11) writes that a zodiac-like sequence from Yucatan reveals specific animal constellations. The constellations on the sky-bands depicted by the Maya are linked specifically with imagery of the ecliptic crossing the Milky Way. In the Classical Period, the Milky Way is depicted by the Cosmic Monster, with his two heads symbolizing the crossing points of the ecliptic. Some rulers like King Pacal were transposed into the planet Jupiter, while others were transformed into Venus after death. Mostly all of the people traveled the 'soul's road', the Milky Way, to reach their celestial abode.
Milbrath (p.279, 283) carefully distinguishes between two sections of the Milky Way -the underworld, or the black road (where the ecliptic crosses between Scorpio/Sagittarius); and the upperworld, or the white road (where the ecliptic crosses between Taurus/Gemini). The Milky Way is also represented as a male and female pair known as Citlaltonac (where the stars shine) and Citlalcue (star skirt [reminiscent of the star-mantles of Greek goddesses and the Virgin Mary]). Again the Milky Way is celestial river, a stream of blood (as sacrifice or sustenance) or celestial dew, a serpent or dragon. The ritual of baptism in an earthly river seems to symbolize the soul's resurrection and re-birth during its journey through the celestial river of the Milky Way.
Milbrath devotes chapter 7 to the Milky Way. She writes (p.251) that "Constellations located at the intersection points of the Milky Way and the ecliptic (the Sun's path through the zodiac) seem to be especially important in Precolumbian Maya cosmology. The Pleiades are represented by the rattlesnake's rattle in Yucatan, an image that is also found in central Mexico. Orion's Belt represents a turtle constellation, but other stars in Orion may be linked with the Hearthstones of Creation. Scorpio is a scorpion in the northern Maya area, but to the south it may be a skeletal serpent known as the White-Bone-Snake. There is a fish-snake constellation in the region of Sagittarius, a star group associated with the Quadripartite God forming the rear head of the Cosmic Monster. The Cosmic Monster itself seems to embody the Milky Way, and the two areas where it intersects the ecliptic represent opposite seasons. Itzamna...may symbolize the entire sky, his four bodies formed by the two sides of the Milky Way and the two sides of the ecliptic. A similar configuration is suggested by the four roads of the Popol Vuh."
The Milky Way is of course the heavenly river like spilled milk, sometimes referred to as a net of fish transformed into this celestial stream. Milbrath tells us (p.253) that in the Classical period, disembodied eyes and crossed bones represented the night sky and the starry underworld (portrayed on the Vase of the Seven Gods). The Milky Way has a dual aspect of male (Citlaltonac -where the stars shine) and female (Citlalicue -star skirt). The Milky Way is also generative and destructive -creator and destroyer of the Great Cosmic Ages and Epochs. In this sense the Milky Way is also the Cosmic Monster (Milbrath p.275-7). The Cosmic Monster has reptile skin, a sky band body, deer ears, eyes, antlers, and feet; and may portray the Underworld and Upperworld portals of the Milky Way where the ecliptic of the Sun's path crosses the Milk Stream. The Milky Way bestows the nimbus, or halo, upon those born under its divine auspices like St. Francis and Padre Pio.
Crossing Points of the ecliptic and the circle of the Milky Way at Gemini/Taurus & Scorpio/Sagittarius -Portals of the Milky Way
The ecliptic is the Sun's path which is marked by the constellations of the Zodiac. Our solar system is a part of the Milky Way which we see as a milky circular band crossing the ecliptic on the borders between Taurus and Gemini, and on the other side of the ecliptic on the borders of Scorpio and Sagittarius. Stars and stars groups in the vicinity of Taurus/Gemini and Scorpio/Sagittarius are extremely significant for the ancient people who regarded them as portals of energy and spirit, doorways to heaven and the underworld.
The entrances to the 'White Road' of the Milky Way are through the underworld of Scorpio/Sagittarius (Milbrath p.265), somewhat like the Christian idea that the soul must first descend into Hell (xibalba be) for some days before it may ascend into Heaven. Milbrath reiterates (p.274) that the dead enter the sky in the south in the xibalba be region before ascending to the northern sky region of heaven.
Scorpio/Sagittarius: Sagittarius is portrayed in Maya art as a fish-snake, the skeletal snake, the White-Bone-Snake, snaggletoothed dragon. The constellation of the Southern Cross represents the holy ceiba tree, the place where the souls of the dead ascend into heaven and the land of milk and honey -where they become stars (Milbrath p.270-3).
Taurus/Gemini: Sirius, Orion = 'Heart of Sky'; Orion's belt = Turtle and/or three hearth-stones of creation, and also 'the fire drill'; Pleiades = rattlesnake; Castor and Pollux are the brightest twin stars in the sky, and may be associated with the twin dwarfs, and also with the copulating peccaries. This region is also identified with the plumed-serpent and Hurricane, the stars Rigel and Betelgeuse, and the patron bird -the owl (associated with Mercury). The stars in Orion are linked with the Maize God and the World Tree as a corn stalk. -the Foliated Cross (Northern Cross).
In Maya art diametrically opposite (180°) constellations such as Turtle (Orion) and Scorpiius may appear next to each other on a sky-band to indicate the astronomical opposition of these opposite places (Milbrath p.264).
Star groups like the Pleiades and Orion around these vital crossing points of the Milky Way and the ecliptic were considered vitally important in ancient astronomy. Milbrath (p.253-263) shows images of the cosmic turtle's shell with the three bright stars of Orion's belt. In Maya cosmology these Orion stars were called 'the three hearth-stones of creation'. Milbrath says that the Yucatan Maya called the Pleiades, tzab, 'the rattlesnake's rattle'. The tzab were special insignia of the priests who carried a short stick with rattlesnakes' tails attached to it. The Pleiades are located on the crossing of the ecliptic and the Milky Way, and referred to as 'the rattlesnake constellation'. The association of the Pleiades carries over to the Chicchan serpent, a feathered rain serpent connected with agricultural fertility since Olmec times. Karl Taube suggests that this serpent may be related to Quetzalcoatl. The rain-productive planet Venus in the vicinity of the Pleiades occurs roughly between mid-March and mid-June. The Chicchan serpent in the Madrid Codex take the form of a hook. The Pleiades and constellation Perseus appear as a natural pair resembling a bent serpent (like the symbol of the rain god Chac) in the Madrid Codex. Chac rides the Chicchan serpent when he is pouring rain from his jar. The rainy season is associated with the Sun's entrance into the regions of the Pleiades (Taurus) and Gemini. At Chichen Itza the feathered-serpent columns with rattle-tails (Temple of the Warriors) and the Sun, Venus, and the Pleiades are all associated together.
The Cosmic Monster
Milbrath says (p.282-5), "We can conclude that the Cosmic Monster is one of the main images of the Milky Way in both Classic and Post Classic times. During the Classic period, its two heads represent a form of opposition [dichotomy] that seems to reflect seasonal duality." Milbrath also points out that the quadripartite creator god Itzamna personifies the four celestial roads of white (around Taurus/Gemini), black (around Scorpio/Sagittarius), red road (the Sun's path during the dry season), and green/yellow (signifying the rainy season and the maturity of the yellow maize crop). Itzamna has four aspects: red to the east, white to the north, black to the west, and yellow to the south. Itzamna is translated as 'the magician who has knowledge of the creative power', magician who gives birth to life on earth', and 'wizard of the water'. Itz refers to liquid drops of dew, tears, milk, and seamen. The Milky Way is the often called the 'dew road' which dispenses the manna and spirit of life and sustenance to the world.
Milbrath writes (p.251 from Lamb) that Yucatan Maya refers to a star as the spots on a jaguar and a deer. Stars are called 'the flower of the night' and the 'flowering sky'; as well as 'eyes of the night'. Individual stars may be represented as birds such as Rigel and Sirius as woodpeckers (p.253).
Embalming and Preservation of the Body
The Roman Catholic religion believes in the Resurrection of the Body of those souls that have lived well in the accord of God's laws. The Inca of Peru used to parade the embalmed bodies of their dead rulers through the streets on significant astronomical festivals. These ideas and rituals celebrate the mystical union of the spirit and matter on Earth -and thereby give reverence to past times and history by honoring their ancestors. This reverence celebrates the timelessness of the entire universe, and the importance of every spirits union with material body. Just like the holy mandala designed to celebrate the holy cosmos; the human body is a mandala of the spirit that inspired its form.
The Connection of Myth and Astronomy
Many researchers such as Nonnos of Panopolis, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Francois Dupuis, the astronomer Bayer, Franz Boll, Victor Stegemann, Giorgio de Santillana, Hertha von Dechend have recognized that myth is indeed very ancient history often transmitted through an astronomic component. No one to date has cracked the code that relates astronomical cycles with historical epochs. R.A. Schwaller De Lubicz has certainly failed to synchronize the Precession of the Vernal Equinoxes with the grand ages of time. He has however documented that climate change is an exponent of the Vernal Cycle. The reason for the failure of synchronizing history and astronomy is that Western culture lost and forgot the connection of culture to the Cycle of the Milky Way.