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The Orion Zone: Ancient Star Cities of the American Southwest (cont.)
By Gary A. David

Egyptian Parallels to the Arizona Orion

In their bestseller The Orion Mystery [23], Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert have propounded what is known as the Star Correlation Theory. (Their book, incidentally, provided the initial impetus for writing the present article and recently published book.) These co-authors have discovered an ancient "unified ground plan" in which the pyramids at Giza form the pattern of Orion's belt. According to their entire configuration described briefly here, the Great Pyramid (Khufu) represents Alnitak, the middle pyramid (Khafre) represents Alnilam, and the slightly offset smaller pyramid (Menkaure) represents Mintaka. In addition, two ruined pyramids --one at Abu Ruwash to the north and another at Zawyat Al Aryan to the south-- correlate to Saiph and Bellatrix respectively, while three pyramids at Abusir farther south correspond to the head of Orion. Bauval and Gilbert also believe that the pyramids at Dashour, namely, the Red Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid, represent the Hyades stars of Aldebaran and Epsilon Taurus respectively. Furthermore, this schema correlates Letopolis, located due west across the Nile from Heliopolis, with Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. As co-author Gilbert states in his later book:

"It was Bauval's contention that the part of the Milky Way which interested the Egyptians most was the region that runs from the star Sirius along the constellation of Orion on up towards Taurus. This region of the sky seemed to correspond, in the Egyptian mind at least, to the area of the Memphite necropolis, that is to say the span of Old Kingdom burial grounds stretching along the west bank of the Nile from Dashur to Giza and down to Abu Ruwash. At the centre of this area was Giza; this, he determined, was the earthly equivalent of Rostau (Mead's Rusta), the gateway to the Duat or underworld." [24]

The region in Hopi cosmology corresponding to the Duat is called Tuuwanasavi (literally, "center of the earth"), located at the three Hopi Mesas. Similar to the ground-sky dualism of the three primary structures at the Giza necropolis, these natural "pyramids" closely reflect the belt stars of Orion. In addition, the entry to the nether realms is known in Hopi as the Sipapuni, located in Grand Canyon. This culturally sacrosanct area mirrors the left arm of Orion. Whereas the Egyptian Rostau is coextensive with the axis mundi of the belt stars formed by the triad of pyramids, the Hopi gateway to the Underworld in Grand Canyon is adjacent to the center-place but still close enough to be archetypally resonant.

In a later book entitled The Message of the Sphinx, Robert Bauval and co-author Graham Hancock describe the cosmic journey of the Horus-King, or son of the Sun, to the Underworld: "He is now at the Gateway to Rostau and about to enter the Fifth Division [Hour] of the Duat -- the holy of holies of the Osirian afterworld Kingdom. Moreover, he is presented with a choice of 'two ways' or 'roads' to reach Rostau: one which is on 'land' and the other in 'water'." [25] We have been blessed with a wealth of Egyptian hieroglyphic texts, both on stone and on papyrus, with which we can reconstruct the Egyptian cosmology. Unless we consider petroglyphs more as a form of linguistic communication than as rock "art," the Hopi and their ancestors, on the other hand, had no written language; hence we must rely on their recently transcribed oral tradition. In this regard the Oraibi tawa-mongwi ("sun watcher") Don Talayesva describes an interesting parallel to Rostau.

As a young man attending the Sherman School for Indians in Riverside, California during the early years of the twentieth century, Talayesva became deathly ill and, in true shamanistic fashion, made a journey to the spirit world. After a long ordeal with many bizarre, hallucinatory visions [26], he reached the top of a high mesa and paused to look.

"Before me were two trails passing westward through the gap of the mountains. On the right was the rough narrow path, with the cactus and the coiled snakes, and filled with miserable Two-Hearts making very slow and painful progress. On the left was the fine, smooth highway with no person in sight, since everyone had sped along so swiftly. I took it, passed many ruins and deserted houses, reached the mountain, entered a narrow valley, and crossed through the gap to the other side. Soon I came to a great canyon where my journey seemed to end; and I stood there on the rim wondering what to do. Peering deep into the canyon, I saw something shiny winding its way like a silver thread on the bottom; and I thought that it must be the Little Colorado River. On the walls across the canyon were the houses of our ancestors with smoke rising from the chimneys and people sitting out on the roofs." [27]

In this narrative the dry, narrow road filled with cacti and rattlesnakes, where progress is measured at just one step per year, is contrasted with the easy, broad road quickly leading to the canyon of the Little Colorado River. A few miles east of the confluence of this river and the Colorado River is the actual location of the Hopi "Place of Emergence" from the Third World to the present Fourth World. Physically, it is a large travertine dome in Grand Canyon to which annual pilgrimages are made in order to gather ritualistic salt. In correlative terms the Milky Way is conceptualized as the "watery road" of the Colorado River at the bottom of Grand Canyon-- that sacred source to which spirits of the dead return in order to exist in a universe parallel to the pueblo world they once knew. This stellar highway is alternately seen as traversing the evergreen forests of the San Francisco Peaks, upon whose summit is a mythical kiva leading to the Underworld.

Talayesva's account also includes such traditional otherworldly motifs as "the Judgment Seat" on Mount Beautiful, which supports a great red stairway, at least in his vision. (This peak is actually located about eight miles west of Oraibi.) Furthermore, we hear of a confrontation with the Lord of Death, in this case a threatening version of Masau'u (the Hopi equivalent of Osiris), who chases after him. Like the Egyptian journey to the Duat, the Hopi journey to Maski (literally, "House of Death") has two roads-- one on land and one on water. In this context we must decide whether the latter is really a code word for the sky. In the "double-speak" of the astral-terrestrial correlation theory, are these spirits in actuality ascending to the celestial river of the Milky Way? Is this, then, the purpose of the grand Orion schema? To draw a map on earth that points the way to the stars?

Returning to the subject of Orion projected upon the deserts of both Egypt and Arizona, we find both discrepancies and parallels. In terms of distinction the Egyptian plan is on a much smaller scale than the one incorporating the Arizona stellar cities, using tens of kilometers rather than hundreds of miles. Furthermore, the bright stars of Betelgeuse and Rigel are perplexingly unaccounted for in the Egyptian schema. [28] In addition, the Giza terrestrial Orion from head to foot is oriented southeast to northwest, while the Arizona Orion is oriented southwest to northeast. Of course, the pyramids are located west of the Nile River, while the Hopi Mesas are located east of the "Nile of Arizona," [29] namely, the Colorado River. We should also point out that Abusir is not in the correct location to match Orion's head on the constellatory template. Bauval and Gilbert state that Abusir is "...a kilometre or so south-east of Zawyat al Aryan…" [30], which is Bellatrix (Orion's left shoulder). It is in fact about six kilometers southeast. In other words, Abusir is nearly four miles south-southeast of where it should be according to the Star Correlation Theory. Unlike Bauval, Gilbert, and Hancock, the present author has not traveled to Egypt, but the consultation of any scale map will verify this statement. [31]

Despite these few differences, the basic orientation of the Egyptian Orion is similar to that of the Arizona Orion, that is, south, the reverse of the celestial Orion. According to Dr. E.C. Krupp of the Griffith Observatory, this is one of the factors that invalidate the Orion Correlation Theory. [32] This critique, however, is the result of a specific cultural bias in which an observer is looking down upon a map with north at the top and south at the bottom. Imagine instead that the observer is standing on top of the Great Pyramid (or for that matter, at the southern tip of First Mesa) and gazing southward just after midnight on the winter solstice. The other two pyramids (or Mesas) would be stretching off to the southwest in a pattern that reflects the belt of Orion now achieving culmination in the southern sky. We can further imagine that if the upper portion of the terrestrial Orion were simply lifted perpendicular to the apparent plane of the earth while its feet were still planted in the same position (Abu Ruwash and an undetermined site in the case of Egypt; Canyon de Chelly and Betatakin in the case of Arizona), then this positioning would perfectly mirror Orion as we see it in the sky.

When the Anasazi gazed into the heavens, they were not looking at an extension of the physical world as we perceive it today but were instead witnessing a manifestation of the spirit world. Much like the Egyptian Duat, the Hopi Underworld encompasses the skies as well as the region beneath the surface of the earth. This fact is validated by the dichotomous existence of ancestor spirits who live in the subterranean realm but periodically return to their earthly villages as clouds bringing the blessing of rain. Even though the eastern and western domains ruled by Tawa remain constant, the polar directions of north and south, controlled by the Elder and Younger Warrior Twins (sons of the Sun) respectively, are reversed. Thus the right hand holding the nodule club is in the east and the left hand holding the shield is in the west, similar to the star chart. However, the head is pointed roughly southward instead of northward. This inversion is completely consistent with Hopi cosmology because the terrestrial configuration is conceptualized as a reversal of the spirit world, of which the sky is merely another dimension. An alternate explanation for the change of directions is the possibility that the pole shift, which destroyed the Hopis' Second World, reversed the position of the constellation's mundane aspect.

Looking up at Orion on a midwinter night, we can imagine that our perspectives have switched. Suspended high above the land, we gaze southwest toward the sacred katsina peaks and the head of the celestial Masau'u suffused in the evergreen forests of the Milky Way. Ironically, it is here on the high desert of Arizona that we also intuit the truth of the hermetic maxim attributed to the Egyptian god Thoth (Hermes Trismegistus): "As above, so below."

For more on The Orion Zone, go to:

The Orion Zone: Ancient Star Cities of the American Southwest
By Gary A. David

Publisher: Hayriver Press (a division of Ancient American magazine), November 2005
333 pages, perfect-bound trade paperback, 6" X 9", glossy
Includes 57 photos of ruins, rock art, diagrams, astronomical charts, and maps; 40 pages of notes and references
Cover price: $21.95 USD + $3.00 shipping and handling.
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  1. Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert, The Orion Mystery: Unlocking the Secrets of the Pyramids (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1994), p. 125 ff.
  2. Adrian Gilbert, Signs in the Sky (London: Bantam Press, 2000), p. 65.
  3. Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval, The Message of the Sphinx: A Quest For the Hidden Legacy of Mankind(New York: Three Rivers Press, 1996), p. 175.
    --The discussion by Bauval, Gilbert, and Hancock of the Egyptian master plan is a great deal more complex than what is merely sketched out in this article. Their opus involves various facets such as precession of the equinoxes, star-targeted shafts in the Great Pyramid, and other topics that are not directly relevant to our discussion. However, this compelling work overall has challenged many orthodox ideas in Egyptology and has spawned heated debates both on the amateur and the professional levels.
  4. Is it simply just another coincidence that the Hopi word tu'at, also spelled tuu'awta, meaning "hallucination" or "mystical vision," sounds so close to the Egyptian Duat-- indeed spelled by E.A. Wallis Budge, former director of antiquities at British Museum, as Tuat, that seemingly illusory realm of the afterlife?
  5. Don Talayesva, Leo W. Simmons, editor, Sun Chief: An Autobiography of a Hopi Indian (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974, 1942), pp. 121-128.
  6. Recently two independent Egyptologists, Larry Dean Hunter and Michael Arbuthnot, claimed to have found all the stars of Orion represented by constructions on the Egyptian landscape. However, their terrestrial correlations are somewhat different than those originally put forth by Bauval and Gilbert. See "The Orion Pyramid Theory" in the Research/Articles section of the Team Atlantis website.
  7. Reid and Whittlesey, The Archaeology of Ancient Arizona, p. 112.
  8. Bauval and Gilbert, The Orion Mystery, p. 139.
  9. T.G.H. James, Ancient Egypt: The Land and Its Legacy (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1989, 1988), p. 41.
  10. E.C. Krupp, Skywatchers, Shamans, & Kings: Astronomy and the Archaeology of Power (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), pp. 290-291.

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