The Guatemalan Secret Doctrine
Theosophical Quarterly, October, 1919
Among students of occultism, there have been persistent traditions of a branch or branches of the Great Lodge in the New World; Peru, the mountains of Guiana, the Mexican Sierras, have been mentioned as possible sites; and it has more than once been suggested that high Masters of the American Lodge have interposed in events connected with the Theosophical Movement.
The purpose of the NOTES AND COMMENTS1 is, not so much to express an opinion on the existence of branches of the Great Lodge in one or all of these regions today, but rather to put in evidence certain remarkable occult records, hitherto little known, though long accessible, which prove to demonstration that, within times comparatively recent, there were schools of occultism indigenous to the American continent, and possessing a part at least of the Secret Doctrine, as made known to us through the Stanzas of Dzyan.
The parts of the Secret Doctrine are contained in a Scripture in the Quiche language, a tongue still spoken over hundreds of square miles in southern Mexico and Guatemala; a language obviously of Atlantean origin. This last fact is proven by its richness in consonants, which increased in number and variety with the advancing sub-races of the Fourth Race. In a former issue of THE THEOSOPHICAL QUARTERLY, under the title “A Lesson in Lemurian,” the predominant character of the Third Race Lemurian tongues—their richness in vowels and the meagreness and simplicity of their consonantal framework—were dwelt on at some length. Readers who recall that study, or who may wish to look it up, will be interested to compare what is there said of Lemurian speech with the following undoubtedly Atlantean sentences from the Guatemalan Secret Doctrine:
Sha ca chamauic, ca tzininic chi gekum, chi agab. Shantuquel ri tzakol, bitol, tepeu, gucumatz, e alom, e qaholom go pa ha zaktetoh.
The translation being:
“Nought was, but motionlessness and silence, in the darkness, in the night. Alone, the Creator, the Moulder, the Dominator, the Plumed Serpent, Those who engender, Those who give life, brood over the deep, like a growing light.”
The likeness to the Stanzas of Dzyan is striking, even in these few lines. It comes out even more clearly, when the whole passage from which they are taken is read:
“This is the narration of how all was in suspense, all was calm and silent; all was motionless, all was at rest, and the immensity of the heavens was void.
“The face of the world was not yet manifest; only the quiet deep existed, and all the expanse of the heavens.
“Nought yet existed that was embodied, nor anything that adhered to anything; nought that soared or rustled, or made a sound throughout the heavens.
“There was nought that stood upright; there was only the quiet and illimitable deep; for nought existed yet.
“Nought was, but motionlessness and silence, in the darkness, in the night. Alone, the Creator, the Moulder, the Dominator, the Plumed Serpent, Those who engender, Those who give life, brood over the deep, like a growing light.
“They are clothed in green and azure, therefore they are called the Plumed Serpent; theirs is the being of the greatest sages: Thus the Heavens exist; thus also the Heart of the Heavens; such is the name of the Divinity; thus is He named.”
The history of the book, from which these opening sentences are taken, has long been public property. It was “discovered” by the Dominican friar, Father Francisco Ximenez, about the year 1675, in southern Mexico, at the Quiche town of Santo Tomas Chichicas-tenango, “nine miles south of Santa Cruz del Quiche, and sixty-six miles north of Guatemala.” The good Dominican can hardly be suspected of having invented it. With hot indignation, he described its cosmogony as a “devil’s travesty of the Holy Scriptures.” But, having denounced it, he preserved the text, and compiled a voluminous dictionary of the Quiche language—a language still widely spoken today. Armed with this dictionary, a work as remarkable as the great Aztec-Spanish dictionary of Molinos, printed in Mexico City before 1575, the Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg printed the Quiche text, with a French translation, and published it at Paris, in 1861. There are several copies in American libraries. From one of those, the present extracts are made.
The Aztec tongue is still spoken in its purity in many native towns within a few miles of Mexico City, by tens of thousands of descendants of the race that ruled, and tyrannously ruled, central Mexico and the immensely fertile plateau of Anahuac, for several centuries before the coming of Hernando Cortes, just four hundred years ago. Las Casas, the great missionary and protector of the natives of Mexico, who followed close in the footsteps of Cortes, speaks of picture-writing and phonetic symbols in use among the Aztecs, and similar writing was found among the Mayas and Quiches, in southern Mexico, Yucatan and Guatemala. It is a matter of history that the Latin alphabet was taught to Mexican natives of the upper classes, which included the priesthood, as early as 1522, within three years of the landing of Cortes, who reached the Mexican coast on Good Friday, 1519, and named the place of his landing “the City of the Holy Cross,” or Vera Cruz. It is, therefore, easy enough to understand how one of the Quiche priesthood, in possession of a picture-written scroll of the Guatemalan Secret Doctrine, was able to transcribe it in Spanish characters, putting it in the form in which, a few years later, it was “discovered” and denounced by Father Ximenez at Chichicas-tenango.
With these explanations, the extracts from the opening Stanza of the Guatemalan Secret Doctrine may be continued:
“Thus did His Word come, with the Dominator and the Plumed Serpent, in the darkness and in the night. Thus the Word spoke with the Dominator, the Plumed Serpent.
“They spoke together and took counsel and meditated; they understood each other; they joined their words and counsel.
“As they took counsel, the day began to break; at the moment of dawn, Man was manifested, while they held counsel on the forthcoming and the growth forests and plants, on the nature of animal and human life, formed in the darkness and in the night, by Him who is the Heart of the Heavens, whose name is the Great Breath.”
Students of the Secret Doctrine will easily recognize in the sentences the teaching of the Logos, which Philo of Alexandria, an Initiate of the Egyptian Lodge, so finely calls “the Mind of God,” with the formation in the Logos, in “the thoughts of God,” of the outlined plan for the early Rounds, in which Life was to be manifested, in mineral, vegetable, animal, and human form.
The Atlantean mystery-name, which is here rendered “the Great Breath,” has, curiously enough, found its way into many modern European tongues. In the Quiche text, it is “Hurakan,” the “Storm-wind,” from which come the English “hurricane” and the French “ouragan.” The Logos, therefore, in the Quiche text, is Hurakan: “the Wind that bloweth whither it listeth.” The triune nature of the Logos is set forth in the next sentences of the Stanza:
“The Lightning is the first sign of the Great Breath; the Furrow of the Lightning is the second sign; the Thunder is the third sign. And these three are the Heart of the Heavens.
“They came with the Dominator, the Plumed Serpent; They took counsel concerning intelligent life: how the seeds should be formed, how the light should come, who should be the sustainers, the support of the divinities.”
Then the beginning of manifestation is recorded, with its splendid spiritual motive: that the heavens might declare the glory of God, that the firmament might show His handiwork:
“’Thus shall it be done! Be ye filled! Let the waters withdraw and cease to be a hindrance, so that the world may come into being, that it may become firm and manifest its surface; that it may receive seed, and that the light may shine in the heavens and on the earth. For We shall receive neither glory nor honour from all that We have created and formed, until Man exists, the being endowed with intelligence.’
“Thus They spoke, while the world was being formed by Them. Thus did the birth of things take place, thus did the world come into being. ‘World!’ They said, and immediately the world took form.
“Like a mist, like a cloud, was the world formed when it took shape, when the mountains appeared above the waters. And in an instant the great hills came into being.
“Only by a marvellous force and power was it possible to carry out what had been decided upon: the formation of mountains and valleys, with cypresses and pines upon their surface;
“Then the Plumed Serpent was filled with joy: ‘Thou art Welcome!’ He cried, ‘O Heart of the Heavens! O Hurakan! O Furrow of the Lightning! O Thunderbolt!’
“’What We have brought into being and formed, shall have its accomplishment,’ They answered.”
It is not difficult to see in the Plumed Serpent, who has his symbol in the seal of The Theosophical Society, the Power called Fohat, “cosmic electricity,” who ran circular errands throughout the universe. The progress of the earlier Rounds is then rapidly, yet beautifully outlined:
“And first were formed the earth, the mountains and the plains; the course of the waters was divided; the rivers made their way among the mountains; it was in this order that the waters came into being, when the great hills were revealed.
“Thus was the creation of the world, when it was formed by Them, Who are the Heart of the Heavens and the Heart of the earth; for thus are They named, who first made fruitful the heavens and the earth, that had been suspended inert in the midst of the waters.
“Thus was the world made fruitful, when They made it fruitful, while its development and its completion were being meditated upon by Them.”
So far, the first chapter of the Popol Vuh, the Guatemalan Secret Doctrine, covering the cosmic dawn, and the first Round, in which germinated the creative seeds carried over from past manvantaras.
The second chapter covers, in the same rapid way, and with a like use of symbolism, the second and third Round, in which vegetable and came into being.
“They gave fertility to the creatures of the mountains, to the guardians of the forests; the creatures that dwell among the mountains, the deer, the birds, the lions, the tigers, the serpents, vipers, snakes, guardians of creeping plants.
“Thus spake He who engenders, He who gives life: ‘Was it to remain in silence, to continue without movement, that the shaded woods and creeping plants were made? Therefore it is good that there are beings to dwell among them!’
“Thus They spoke, while They brought fertility into being; and forthwith beasts and birds came into being. Then They gave the beasts and birds their dwellings:
“’Thou, deer, along the river banks and in the ravines shalt thou sleep; here shalt thou rest, in the brushwood and undergrowth. In the forests shall ye multiply, on four feet shall ye go!’ Thus was it fulfilled, as it was declared to them.
“The dwelling places of the greater and the lesser birds were given to them in like manner: ‘Birds, ye shall dwell in the tree-tops and among the creeping plants; there shall ye make your nests and there shall ye increase! Ye shall dwell upon the branches of the trees and among the twigs of the creeping plants!’ Thus was it declared to the deer and to the birds; and they took possession of their dwelling places and their lairs. Thus to the creatures of the earth did He who engenders, and He who gives life, distribute their abodes.
“Therefore, when all were made, both beasts and birds, it was proclaimed to the beasts and birds by the Creator, by the Moulder, by Him who engenders, by Him who gives life:
“’Cry out! Sing! Since the power to cry out and sing has been given to you; let your voices be heard, each according to his kind, according to his race!’ Thus was it said to the deer, to the birds, to the lions, the tigers and the serpents:
“’Call upon Our names! Honour Us, who are your Mother and Father! Call upon Hurakan, the Great Breath, upon the Furrow of the Lightning, upon the Thunderbolt! Call upon the Heart of the Heavens, the Heart of the Earth, upon the Creator, the Moulder, upon Him who engenders, upon Him who gives life! Give voice! Call upon Us! Greet Us!’ Thus was it proclaimed to them.
“But to them it was not given to speak as man speaks; they could only chatter, or trill, or croak, without semblance of speech, each one uttering his proper sound.
“When the Creator and the Moulder understood that the creatures could not speak, They said once more to each other:
“’The creatures cannot utter Our names, though We be their Creators, their Moulders. It is not well!’ Thus They said to one another,—He who engenders and He who gives life.
“And to the creatures it was proclaimed: ‘Ye shall be changed, because it is not given to you to utter speech. Therefore, We have changed Our purpose: Your food and your sustenance ye shall retain; your lairs and your dwellings ye shall possess. They shall be the woods and the ravines. But Our glory is not perfect, since ye call not upon Our names.
“’Other beings shall come into existence, who will have the power to call upon Us; We shall give them power to obey. Fulfil, therefore, your destinies! As for your bodies, they shall be consumed!’”
This closes the third Round. Nowhere, perhaps, in the Scriptures of the world does there exist a finer, nobler definition of man, than this in the Popol Vuh, the Quiche Scripture of Guatemala: Man is the being who can worship. Man is the being who can pray and call upon the Divinity. Man is the being to whom is given the power to obey.
From this point, from the opening, namely, of the fourth Round, the parallelism between the Popol Vuh and the Stanzas of Dzyan, as expounded in The Secret Doctrine, becomes exceedingly close. In symbolism, it is true, but in a symbolism that hardly veils the truth, is set forth the history of the earlier races; the first formative attempts, when “Nature, unaided, failed.” The stanzas follow:
“Thereupon a new effort to form beings was made by the Creator and the Moulder, by Him who engenders, by Him who gives life: ‘Let the trial be made again! The time of the seeds approaches. The dawn is at hand. Let Us make those who shall support and sustain Us!
“’How shall We compass it that We may be invoked and commemorated upon the face of the earth? We have made trial already of Our first work, Our first creation. They cannot call upon Our names, nor honour Us. Therefore let Us make beings who may obey and worship Us, beings who may nourish and sustain Us.’
“Thus did they speak. Then took place the creation and the moulding of a new being; of wet clay his flesh was moulded. But They saw that Their work was not good. For the new creature was without coherence, without stability, without movement, without strength, watery and feeble. He could not move his head. His face was turned in one direction only. His vision was veiled and he could not look backwards. He had received the gift of utterance, but he was without understanding. In the waters he melted away, and was not able to stand upright.
“Therefore once again the Creator and the Moulder spoke. ‘The greater our labour over him, the less can he go forth and multiply. Therefore, let us seek to make an intelligent being!’ said They.
“So They once more unmade and destroyed Their handiwork and Their creation. Thereupon They said: ‘How shall We bring to being creatures that may adore Us and invoke Us?’”
The next stanzas introduce two mysterious beings, to whom are given, in the old Atlantean tongue, the names of Shpiyacoc and Shmucané, “the Hunters who shoot upward and downward with Their blowpipes.” It is a symbol somewhat like that of the mystical opening verses of Genesis, when the Lord God breathed into the nostrils of man the breath of life; but the power suggested in the Guatemalan Scripture seems to be spiritual rather than vital fire, the enkindling fire of Buddhi. In other words, these two mystery beings, with their strange, harsh-sounding names, seem to represent the hosts of the Planetary Spirits, the descending Manasaputras, without the infusion of whose life there can be no intelligent mankind; without the inbreathing of whose life-breath, Nature, unaided, fails. The stanzas follow:
“Then They said, as They took counsel once more with one another: ‘Let Us call to Our aid Shpiyacoc and Shmucané, the Hunters who shoot upward and downward with the blowpipe. Let Them seek once more to cast the lot of man, to divine the time of his formation!’
“Then to these Seers, ancestors of the sun, ancestors of light, They spoke. For thus are They called by the Creator and the Moulder. They spoke to the Lord of the sun, to the Lord of formative power, to the Seers, saying:
“’The time has come for Us to agree upon the signs of the man We are to create, that he may uphold Us and sustain Us, so that We may be invoked and worshipped!
“’Begin, then, to speak, O Thou who engenderest and Thou who givest birth! Our Grandmother and Grandfather, Shpiyacoc, Shmucané! Let the seeds germinate! Let the dawn come!’”
But the time had not yet come; for the newly formed man, the man of the second and early third Race, though more coherent than the first, yet lacked intelligence. The symbol is a quaint one, and there is, in the narrative, a certain strain of genuine humour:
“In the same moment there came into being a manikin made of wood. Men were produced, who thereupon peopled the earth. They increased, they multiplied, but their offspring were manikins made of wood. They had neither heart nor understanding, nor remembrance of their Creator. Their life was purposeless, like the lives of beasts.
“They remembered not the Heart of the Heavens; and this is how they failed: they were but a makeshift and a failure; at first they spoke, but their faces dried up; without firmness were their feet and hands; they had neither blood nor substance; the cheeks of their faces were dry; their feet and hands were stiff, their bodies were devoid of suppleness.
“This is why they bethought them not to raise their faces towards their Creator, their Father, their Providence. These were the first men who dwelt in numbers on the surface of the earth.
“Thereupon came their end, their ruin and their destruction, the ruin of these manikins made of wood, who were put to death.
“The waters began to swell, through the will of the Heart of the Heavens, and a great flood came, which rose above the heads of the manikins made of wood. . . . Thus was their destruction: they were overwhelmed by a flood, and thick pitch descended upon them from the heavens. . . .
“It is said that their descendants are the monkeys who dwell in the forests today; they became monkeys in the woods, because they were manikins made of wood. This is why the monkeys look like men. They are of another race, sprung from the manikins made of wood.” . . .
Then at last, with the incarnation of the Manasaputras, true men came into being:
“They spoke and they reasoned. They saw and they heard. They walked, they had feeling; beings perfect and beautiful, whose faces were the faces of men.
“Intelligence dwelt in them. They looked, they raised their, eyes, their vision embraced all things; they beheld the whole world, and, when they contemplated it, their vision turned in an instant from the vault of the heavens, to regard anew the surface of the earth.
“Things most deeply hidden they saw at will, without need of moving beforehand; and when they turned their vision upon the world, they beheld all that it contains.
“Great was their wisdom; their genius was extended over the forests, over the rocks, over the lakes and seas, over the mountains and over the valleys. Truly marvellous were they. . . .
“Then they gave thanks to their Creator, saying: ‘In truth, we give all manner of thanks! We have received being, we have received life! We speak, we hear, we think, we walk; we perceive and know equally that which is far and that which is near.
“’We behold all things, great and small, in the heavens and upon earth. Thanks, therefore, to You, we have come into being, O Creator, O Moulder! We have life, O our Ancestress, our Ancestor!’ Thus did they speak, rendering thanks for their creation and their being.
“And they encompassed the measure and perception of all that is—the four comers and the four angles of the heavens and of the earth.”
Years ago Mme. H. P. Blavatsky called attention to this description in the Popol Vuh of the early divine race, who saw and knew all things, through their possession of the Third Eye. How that miraculous eye was dimmed is related in the following stanza:
“But the Creator and the Moulder were displeased when They saw these things. ‘What these creatures tell us, is not well! They know all things, great and small!’
“Therefore They once more took counsel of Him who engenders, of Him who gives life: ‘What are we to do with them? Let their vision be diminished! Let them see but a small part of the surface of the earth!
“’It is not well! Their nature is not the nature of creatures! They will be as gods if, at the time of the seeds and of the dawn, they do not procreate and multiply.
“’Let Us diminish Our handiwork, that there may be something lacking; for what We behold is not well! Will they not seek to be equal to Us who have made them, whose knowledge stretches far, embracing all things?’
“Thus it was said by the Heart of the Heavens, by Hurakan the Great Breath, by the Furrow of the Lightning, by the Thunderbolt, by Him who engenders, by Him who gives life, Shpiyacoc, Shmucané, the Builder, the Moulder. Thus did They speak, labouring once more on the fashioning of Their handiwork.
“Then a mist was breathed over the pupils of their eyes by the Heart of the Heavens; their eyes were veiled, like a mirror breathed upon. They saw only what was near; This alone remained clear to them.
“Thus was the wisdom and knowledge of these men taken away, with its principle and its source. Thus were formed and created our ancestors and our fathers, by the Heart of the Heavens, by the Heart of the earth.
“Then their wives came into being, and their women were formed. The Creator took counsel once more, and, while they slept, they received beautiful wives, and when they awoke, their wives were there. And their hearts were filled with joy because of them. From them sprang all mankind, all the races, great and small. . . .
“Many men came into being and multiplied. They lived together, and great was their renown in the lands of the Sunrise.
“They lived in happiness, races black and white; peaceful was their aspect, sweet were their words, great was their intelligence. All were of one speech; they invoked neither wood nor stone, remembering only the word of their Creator, the Heart of the Heavens, the Heart of the earth. And thus they prayed:
“’Salutation to Thee, O Creator! Thou who seest and hearest us! Abandon us not, nor turn away from us! O Divinity, who art in heaven and on earth, continue our posterity so long as the sun shall move, so long as the dawn shall break! Let the seeds germinate! Let the light come!
“’Grant to us to walk always in open ways, in paths without ambush! Let us ever remain at peace with our people; let our lives pass in happiness! Grant us a life free from reproach! Let the seeds germinate! Let the light come!’”
1. This refers to the lead-section of the Theosophical Quarterly, which featured articles from various students of theosophy throughout the magazine’s existence. The present article formed the “Notes and Comments” section of the October, 1919 edition. [ED.]