Popol Vuh

Show images and move Venus as required.

Let’s start at the beginning of the Mayan story, the Popol Vuh, when there is nothing but Venus as a morning star.

Early morning is the time when life begins and, in the beginning, the first humans are made out of corn. They are twins named One Hunter and Seven Hunter.

VISUAL 27 (still): Boys Playing Ball
[Fade on image.] 
Boys Playing

It is not long before the boys are old enough to play ball. 

VISUAL 28 (still): Men Playing Ball
[Crossfade the Boys Playing Ball image with the image of Men Playing Ball.]
Men Playing Ball

From ancient times to the present, the Maya play a game that is a combination of soccer and basketball. In the Popol Vuh story, the ball represents Venus.

If we watch Venus for several months at dawn, it will appear higher and higher for a while, and then lower and lower each morning. Since Venus goes up and then comes down over the months, it behaves like the ball in the twin boys’ ball game!

[Fade off the Men Playing Ball image.]

Run sidereal time (focused on the Sun) 184 days to show Venus rising up and then down below the eastern horizon over 10 seconds. Venus should slowly move up and down like a ball, then go back below the horizon.
Have all the students stamp their feet to make the sound of thunder to announce the “Lords of the Underworld.”

But there are evil beings, the Lords of the Underworld. 

They are the evil lords of disease and death who live in the Underworld, Shi-Bal-Ba. They make people sick. They make people die. They live below the Earth, and it is not safe for anything to go below the Earth. The twins’ ball game has disturbed the evil lords and they are angry and jealous. They summon the boys to the Underworld to play ball. They want to play ball, too. But theirs is a game of death. 

When the boys take their ball to the Underworld, Venus no longer appears as a morning star, and it will not be seen at all for many days. It is in the Underworld.

When the boys go to the Underworld they are confused. The evil lords trick them into sitting on a hot seat. When they play ball against the evil lords, the twins are defeated. Because they lost the game, the twins are murdered by the evil lords. To celebrate the victory, the evil lords hang the twins’ heads up in a tree.

Jump in time to 2013/05/05, approxmiately 1 hour after sunset, in 3 seconds as a date when Venus is visible as the evening star. Run diurnal motion backwards to sunset to show Venus rising in the west over 10 seconds. 

Now, Venus reappears, but in the west after sunset as the evening star. When Venus is in the west, it is in a place associated with death.

VISUAL 29 (still): Blood Woman Riding Deer to Earth
Image of the Blood Woman, centered above Venus in the west.
[Fade on image of the Blood Woman, centered above Venus in the west.]

Blood Woman is the daughter of an evil lord. She hears that there is a tree with delicious forbidden fruit that looks like a human head. When [she goes to sample the fruit, the head spits a seed into her hand. This is the first pregnancy and the first birth will soon occur. From this day on, the people’s death is not the end because their children will carry on the family traits and traditions as the cycle of life continues. Blood Woman carries the seed from the tree up to the surface of the Earth. The seed will become her twin sons, Hunter and Jaguar-Deer, the heroes of the story.

Venus appears as a morning star again when these twins are born. The East is a place associated with life and birth and light.

[Fade off the Blood Woman image.]

DIGITAL EFFECT: Venus in East 2
Set Venus over 5 seconds. Jump in time to 2014/01/21, approximately 2 hours before sunrise, in 3 seconds as a date when Venus is visible as the morning star. Finally, run diurnal motion until sunrise, with Venus rising before sunrise in the eastern sky over 10 seconds. 

Fade up morning sounds again.
VISUAL 27 (still): Boys Playing
[Fade on image of the Boys Playing again.]

These newborn twins must destroy the evil lords to make the Earth a safe place for people. They must make the sky safe for the Sun, Moon, and planets to make their journeys below the Earth. Like their fathers, the boys grow up and play the ball game again.

[Fade off the image of the Boys Playing.]
Boys Playing
Run sidereal time 304 days over 10 seconds until Venus disappears below the eastern horizon. Move Venus up and down again in the East.
Have all the students stamp their feet to make the sound of thunder to announce the “Lords of the Underworld.”

The cycle of Venus continues. Venus again gets higher and higher each morning just like at the beginning. Again, the Lords of the Underworld hear the ball game and summon the boys to play. Again, Venus is not visible in the sky.

[Show that Venus has disappeared.]

But this time, the boys are not fooled by the evil Lords. The Lords cannot trick the boys. When the Lords try to freeze the boys they start a fire. But the evil Lords cut off Hunter’s head and use it as a ball in the game. The evil Lords believe they have won again.

This is a time of death, and Venus appears as the evening star in the west.

DIGITAL EFFECT: Venus in West 2
Jump in time to 2014/12/08, approximately 1 hour after sunset, in 3 seconds as a date when Venus is visible as the evening star. Run diurnal motion backwards to sunset to show Venus rising in the west over 10 seconds.

But the evil Lords are tricked because Jaguar-Deer substitutes a pumpkin for Hunter’s head and returns the head to Hunter’s body. In the end, the evil lords’ desire for death is so strong that the twins trick the evil lords into killing themselves. 

Finally, the triumphant twins go to the grave of their father. They open the earth, and the spirit of their father becomes Venus. They tell him, “Now the world is a safe place for your children . . . safe for all people to be born, live their lives and die in peace. Now the world is a safe place for the Sun and the Moon to rise and set without being disturbed.” 

Venus rises again as a morning star to mark the beginning of a new cycle. One of the boys becomes the Sun and the other becomes the Moon, which can now appear in the sky safely. Deer carries the Sun, and Rabbit carries the Moon.

DIGITAL EFFECT: Venus Sun Moon Rise
Make Venus set over 5 seconds. Then jump in time to 2015/09/10, approximately 3 hours before sunrise, in 3 seconds as a date when Venus is visible as the morning star and appears near a waning crescent Moon. Set the realtime “sky”.  Fade atmosphere on. Then make Venus, Moon, and then Sun rise in the east. Fast forward to approximately 1 hour after sunrise over 30 seconds.

Fade in flute and drum music. End of recorded story.
Run diurnal motion forward to sunset over 20 seconds, and then fade on the image of the Dresden Codex while time is running.
VISUAL 30 (still): Dresden Codex
[Can be used before sunset is reached, if desired.]
Dresden Codex

These pages are from a Mayan book about Venus. The book shows that the Mayan people knew with precision the 584-day cycle between reappearances of Venus as a morning star. They knew that five Venus cycles equaled eight solar years. They integrated all this into their calendars and lives. Although most of their written records were destroyed by the Spanish invaders, some of their knowledge survived. It is still passed on by Mayan people living in Central America today.

The people continue to watch the cycles of the Sun, Moon, and Venus in the sky as they rise and set to mark the passage of time. For the Maya, Venus is a guide, and future generations continue creating the story in cycles of birth and death, forever. Understanding the sky is an essential element in the complex web of interactions through which we weave our life paths.

[Fade off the image of the Dresden Codex.]

Fast forward until approximately 90 minutes past sunset, then fade off the atmosphere and cardinal directions. Turn on stars and four colors at cardinal points.