If you've been enjoying the World Cup soccer games (or, as most other countries call it, "football"), it may interest you to know that games involving the putting of a ball through a goal have a history which stretches back for thousands of years, and that they appear to have been connected to the awe-inspiring celestial cycles which form the foundation for the ancient wisdom imparted to the various cultures on every continent and island of our planet.
In this previous blog post, published on December 21 of 2011 and entitled "The staggering implications of the Maya Long Count," I linked to an article published in 2001 by John Major Jenkins entitled "Izapan Cosmos: A brief survey of Izapan iconography and astronomy in the Group F ballcourt."
John Major Jenkins was one of the most prolific researchers and authors on the celestial significance of the Maya Long Count, before his untimely death in 2017. In his books, and in the article linked above, he offers analysis which demonstrates that the alignment and iconography of the ancient Maya monuments at Izapa, in the southernmost part of modern-day Mexico, incorporate solstitial alignments and artwork which suggests that the Maya Long Count pointed towards the era when the Milky Way would align with the horizon on the morning of the December solstice and the "rebirth of the year."
Not only does the December solstice signify the rebirth of the year, previous posts have provided extensive discussion arguing that the celestial metaphors employed by the world's ancient wisdom invest this great "turning-point" with profound spiritual significance -- see for example "Here it has reached the turning-point: the celestial map of the soul's spiritual trek."
As John Major Jenkins explains in the articles and books linked above, the significance of the countdown to 2012 involved the additional celestial cycle of precession, a phenomenon which slowly but irresistibly "delays" the background of stars such that over long periods of time, the background of the heavens, including all the stars and constellations, will be slightly "delayed" from their accustomed positions on any given day of the year -- including the significant point of winter solstice. The turning of the great gears of precession is so slow that the background of stars will only be delayed by a single degree of angular distance after seventy-two years.
The delaying motion of precession is most evident over periods of thousands of years. Thus, in the image at the top of this post, the moment of sunrise on December 21 (the winter solstice) is depicted for the years 2100 BC, 200 BC, and AD 2012. As you can see from the images, the constellations -- and the brilliant band of the Milky Way galaxy -- are delayed over the course of thousands of years, such that they are lower in the sky at the moment of winter solstice sunrise as the millennia roll onward, due to the motion of precession.
In the top image, showing the stars and constellations (as well as the Milky Way band) at sunrise on December 21 of 2100 BC, we can see that the Milky Way band has already risen well into the sky by the time the sun begins to peek over the eastern horizon:
In the image above, depicting the sunrise on December 21 in the year 2100 BC, we see the sun just cresting the horizon, in the constellation of Capricorn.
Nearly 2000 years later, in the year 200 BC, we see that the motion of precession has "delayed" the background of stars, such that the Milky Way has not risen as far above the horizon as it had on the same morning of winter solstice in the year 2100 BC:
Note how much lower the Milky Way is relative to the horizon and the sun's position cresting the horizon in the year 200 BC on the winter solstice, as shown above. The sun is now nearing the constellation Sagittarius at winter solstice, and Capricorn is still well below the horizon (because the entire background of stars has been "delayed" by the motion of precession).
As John Major Jenkins explains in the article linked above, the Maya site of Izapa in the region of modern-day Chiapas was most active between the years we designate as 300 BC and AD 50 -- thus the scene above showing the sunrise on the morning of December 21 in the year 200 BC is very similar to what would be seen at Izapa on during its heyday (although the star chart above depicts the sky as seen by an observer in a more northern latitude).
After more than 2000 years of continued "delay" due to the phenomenon of precession, the Milky Way will be "held back" to the point that at the time of winter solstice in 2012 (and for many centuries thereafter), the sun's rising on the significant morning of December solstice -- the point of "rebirth" and of "spiritual birth" as explained in some of the articles linked above -- will actually be within the brightest and widest portion of the Milky Way, as depicted in the star-chart below for December 21, 2012:
Observe that the "delaying motion" of precession has now "held back" the Milky Way band such that it is basically lying horizontally along the eastern horizon as the sun crests over the hills on the morning of December solstice. The background of stars has been delayed such that the sun is now rising between Scorpio and Sagittarius on the morning of December solstice in the present epoch, and as we see in the above chart both Sagittarius and Capricorn are still well below the horizon as the sun is making its appearance (the upper portion of Scorpio is seen rising above the horizon, beneath the looming figure of the constellation Ophiuchus).
As John Major Jenkins explains in his writings, and as can be observed in the star-chart above, the bright portion of the Milky Way in the vicinity of Scorpio, Sagittarius, Ophiuchus and the other constellations in the chart above is marked by a dark pathway which is known as the Great Rift or the Dark Rift of the Milky Way -- and which was explicitly referred to by the Maya as the "Birth Canal." Thus, by the year 2012, the "delaying motion" of precession has "held back" the Milky Way to the point that the winter solstice sunrise (which already signifies "spiritual birth" or "rebirth" by virtue of its place in the annual cycle) is now aligned with the great galactic "Birth Canal" signified by the Dark Rift in the Milky Way band.
All of this analysis is explained in greater detail in the writings of John Major Jenkins -- including in the article "Izapan Cosmos" linked above, which contains illustrations demonstrating his arguments that the iconography and alignments of the stones and artwork at Izapa (and in particular "Group F" at Izapa) point towards this alignment -- which was still thousands of years in the future during the time Izapa was most active.
Intriguingly, John Major Jenkins observes that the long axis of the Ballcourt in the Group F section of Izapa is also aligned to the winter solstice sunrise. While we do not know all the details of the "Maya Ballgame" which would be played on these celestially-aligned stone Ballcourts, we know that they involved putting the ball through a circular "goal" -- and thus likely dramatized the arrival of the sun itself at significant points on the annual cycle, such as the solstices and the equinoxes. The alignment of the axis of the Ballcourt at Group F in Izapa with the sunrise point on the morning of December solstice reinforces this conclusion.
Scholars also believe that the battle between the two sides during these ancient Mesoamerican Ballgames was seen as being representative of the endless struggle between daylight and darkness -- which makes the alignment of the Ballcourt axis with the sunrise axis of winter solstice all the more meaningful, in that the points of the solstices and equinoxes are especially evocative of the endless interplay between light and darkness throughout the year (with hours of daylight being longer than hours of darkness during the "upper half" of the year between spring equinox and fall equinox and including the summer solstice, while hours of darkness dominate over hours of daylight during the "lower half" of the year between fall equinox and spring equinox and including the winter solstice). The point of winter solstice, again, is the great "turning-point" when days stop growing shorter and finally "turn back around" and star to grow longer again (for those in the northern hemisphere).
This endless interplay of daylight and darkness was invested with spiritual significance in the ancient myths imparted to the various cultures around our globe in remote antiquity. While we might jump to the conclusion that daylight signified "life" and darkness signified "death," Alvin Boyd Kuhn actually argues the opposite in his 1940 masterpiece, Lost Light. There, he argues that the upper half of the year (dominated by daylight) signifies the realm of spirit in the code employed by most of the world's ancient myths, while the lower half of the year (dominated by darkness) represents our plunge down into this "lower realm," in which the divine spark of our spirit is entangled for a time with the lower elements of matter, as we journey through this incarnate life.
The analysis of John Major Jenkins regarding the cosmic significance of the monuments at Izapa is extremely significant, with profound implications. His work deserves to be studied in its entirety.
The discovery that the long axis of the Ballcourt at Izapa in Group F aligns with the rising of the sun on the morning of winter solstice is also extremely significant -- and indicates that these tremendous heavenly cycles, imbued as they were with deep spiritual meaning, were not only encoded in the artwork and monument stones and stelae of the ancients, and not only personified in the Star Myths of the cultures of the world, but that they were also acted out in hard-fought Ballgames involving the sending of a spherical ball through a stone goal, almost certainly representative of the sun's "crossing through" the major stations that framed the year and the Age.
While I cannot help but observe that the sport of basketball perhaps has a goal which is most reminiscent of the goals used in the ancient Mesoamerican Ballgames, it is certainly likely that the sport of soccer (or "football") contains elements which connect with and perhaps even descend from the ancient games played by our distant ancestors as a way of dramatizing the endless struggle of light and darkness, spirit and matter which we encounter in our journey through the "lower passage" of this incarnate life.