Parallels between Old and New World religions

Maya Ceiba tree The following are numerous parallels between Middle Eastern and Mesoamerican cultures in particular, representing primarily religious and mythological iconography, doctrines and rituals. Oddly enough, there is no hard, scientific evidence showing diffusionism between Old and New World cultures of the past 5,000 or so years that explains these correspondences.

The explanations for these similarities are therefore confined to a few possibilities: One is that some of these commonalities were brought with tribes as they migrated, very possible with such concepts as the “sacred mountain” or myths revolving around the sun, moon and other celestial bodies or nature-worshipping aspects, such as the cross representing the four directions. The myths would change, naturally, as the peoples traveled, because the skies would look different, and the local species of flora and fauna would change from place to place and era to era.

Another apparent explanation is that these religious and mythological characteristics are hardwired into the human brain, as an aspect of the “God part” of the brain. Or, at the very least, the ability to think in this manner is certainly part of the mass human experience, as, if one human brain can come up with these ideas, then another can as well.

Then there’s the “100th monkey theory” pointing out that development in tool-making, for example, seems to spread at roughly the same time in various parts of the world, with no apparent physical link between cultures.

In any case, the parallels are real, startling, profound and fascinating.

  • Bearded “Semitic” men depicted on stelae
  • Gods on crosses
  • Cross as a sacred symbol
  • Dying and resurrected or reborn grain gods arising out of the underworld/ground
  • Gods’ body parts hung on a tree
  • Creation myths
  • Defeat of a father’s murderer
  • Slaying a monster to create the world
  • Creation via a god speaking “the Word”
  • Concept of order out of chaos
  • Gods, heroes and Orion
  • Gods whose bones are ground before being resurrected
  • Sun and moon as twin gods, heroes or eyes of a god or gods
  • Religious organizations with priests and building dedications
  • Councils of gods
  • New Year ceremonies
  • Kindling the yearly “New Fire”
  • Stretching the cord of the four directions
  • Ritual processions
  • Purification and baptism
  • 365-day year consisting of 360 plus five “empty” days added to the end
  • Raising of the “World Tree”
  • Rebirth and renewal of the king
  • Sacrifice as renewal of life
  • Fish symbolizing birth and rebirth
  • Gods as fishermen
  • Fish and grain myths
  • King lists
  • Symbolism in genealogies
  • Ancestor veneration
  • King as divine or servant of God(s)
  • Sacrifice of the sacred king proxy
  • King as guardian and gardener
  • First man/first father myths
  • King as axis mundi
  • Maya World Tree/crossKing as the World Tree
  • Pillars of the cosmos
  • Sacrifice of the tree
  • Milky Way as the sacred tree of life
  • World Tree of Life as a cross
  • Serpent worship
  • Supernatural or divine scribes
  • Scribal practices in common
  • Cardinal point myths
  • Wombs of Earth and Sky
  • Uterine symbolism
  • Emergence from caves myths
  • Winged sun disc glyphs
  • Moon goddess myths
  • Seeded earth symbolism
  • Tree of Life as mother
  • Earth separated from the sky by a divine figure holding up the latter while standing on the former
  • Primordial mound of creation/mountain
  • Primordial waters of creation
  • Temples or other sacred sites flooded with creation waters
  • Nine Lords of the Underworld
  • Dog as the guide to the underworld
  • Deceased as stars
  • Field of Reeds as point of creation
  • Wheeled funerary objects
  • Incense and horned altars
  • Images of victors standing or sitting on the backs of vanquished
  • Banners as symbols of divinity
  • Depictions of rulers grasping captives by hair, about to strike
  • Images of captives with jaws removed
  • Flower ear ornaments
  • Decapitation/dismemberment of the grain god
Egyptian skybearers

Egyptian skybearers

Mayan skybearers

Mayan skybearers

Regarding the term “Semitic,” which is used here to describe a type and as a reflection that I am quoting the original author’s work discussed in this thread, a book by Mormon writer Diane Wirth, it should be noted that neither Wirth nor the Mormon Church came up with this designation. Indeed, it was noticed shortly after the conquest during the 16th century that there were stelae with “Jews” on them, as they were then described.

Mayan gods fish from their boat, much like the Christian motif of Jesus and his disciples as "fishers."

Mayan gods fish from their boat, much like the Christian motif of Jesus and his disciples as “fishers.”

Combined with the observation of many other Mesoamerican religious and social characteristics similar or nearly identical to those in the Judeo-Christian doctrines and traditions, these images led many explorers, researchers and scholars of the past to submit that Israelites, Hebrews and Jews had made their way to the Americas, leaving behind their religion.

This notion was fleshed out for decades by many people, who sought to prove the “Lost Tribes” had made it to the Americas. As stated by William Stiebing in Uncovering the Past: A History of Archaeology (Oxford University Press, 1993; p. 174, etc.):

…one of the most popular theories credited American antiquities to the “Lost Tribes of Israel.”

If anything, this “Lost Tribes in America” literature led to the creation of the Mormon Church, not the other way around.

Note that my work refutes the religious arguments of the Mormon Church vis-a-vis the “Lost Tribes” making it to the Americas and a historical Jesus Christ “walking the Americas.”

It should be noted that the conquering Spanish were completely dumbstruck by the abundant use of the cross in Central America, and they made the typical apology of the prescient devil preceding them to put Christ’s symbols into the heads of the heathens.

Moreover, the natives of Mesoamerica were also so struck by the presence of their sacred cross symbol among the Spaniards that the Aztecs in particular believed Cortez was their god Quetzalcoatl returning to reign under this sign. In fact, it was significantly because of this parallel of the cross that the Spanish were given such access to the Mexican rulers, leading to the eventual conquest.

One major reason there are so many parallels between the Old and New Worlds is that many of the rituals, rites and myths revolve around our natural environment, including the sun, moon, planets, stars, constellations, wind, water, foliage and fauna. The differences between cultures frequently are based on location and era, with environmental factors contributing to myths and traditions.

Further Reading

The Maya and the Milky Way
Why do the Maya believe Christ is the sun?
Oldest Maya solar observatory and parallels between Old and New World cultures
Maya watchtowers discovered to align with solstices and equinoxes
Quetzalcoatl, the Maya Maize God, and Jesus Christ
World Tree as Milky Way growing out of the back of a turtle
Adventures in Mayaland, December 2012

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