The Orion Temple in Colorado – Part 2
(Part 1) Was the Sun Temple used solely as a solar indicator? Compelling evidence points to another possibility. It may in fact have been a stellar temple as well, especially during the winter months.
The positioning of the three kivas within the structure perfectly reflects the belt stars of Orion. Kiva A corresponds to Mintaka, Kiva B to Alnilam, and Kiva C to Alnitak. It is significant that Kiva A is somewhat smaller than the other two and slightly offset—similar to Mintaka in the triadic row that forms the constellation’s belt. The relationship of the measurements between the kivas is proportional to the apparent visual distances between the stars (as opposed to the light year distances).
Many readers are familiar with the Orion Correlation theory developed by Robert Bauval in The Orion Mystery. His book posits that the arrangement of three major pyramids on the Giza plateau directly corresponds to the belt stars. As seen in the diagram, the pyramids, the trio of stars, and in this case the three kivas all coincide.
Orion dominates the celestial landscape during December, rising in the east, arcing across the southern sky, and setting in the west. It achieves its highest point (meridian) around midnight. On December 21st, winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sun rises and sets at the farthest point south on the horizon. During the night of the same date, the spot between Alnitak and Alnilam (the left side and the middle of the belt respectively) reaches 175º azimuth at exactly twenty minutes past midnight.
As the diagram shows, the nearly vertical line runs from a point halfway between the two kivas of the main part of the structure, past the recess in the southern wall and continues along an imaginary line to the stars just mentioned. Why 175º and not 180º (due south)? Was this the signal to begin the winter solstice ceremony—when the line-of-sight from a point equidistant between the two main kivas ran through the southern doorway and reached toward the corresponding position in the heavens?
Another piece of architectural evidence in favor of a dual function –both solar and stellar– is the previously mentioned Sun Shrine in the southwestern corner. Although the basin has radiating from it like the Sun, its center also has three indentations, one of which is offset. These may have been artificially worked in order to resemble Orion’s belt.
(Image left: “Sun Shrine” with three cupules, possibly representing Orion's belt setting in the west.)
One tribe that claims to be direct descendants of the Ancestral Puebloans is the Hopi. For this highly ritualistic native group the most important part of the winter solstice ceremony, or Soyal, occurs after midnight. In fact, the ethnographer A. M. Stephen witnessed this ceremony in the village of Walpi in 1891. He claims that the “Star Priest” signaled the most crucial phase of the ceremony just after 1:00 a.m., when Orion’s belt begins its descent toward the west. Or as Frank Waters puts it in his classic Book of the Hopi, “…when Hotomkam [Orion’s belt] begins to hang down in the sky.”
In regard to what may with impunity be called the Orion Temple, the exact moment when the belt stars were just five degrees prior to reaching their highest point in the sky was the signal for the ceremony to begin. Thus, the “Sun Temple” may have been oriented according to the position Orion assumes when the most important ceremony of the year was supposed to commence.
Whether one believes that this “temple” at Mesa Verde is primarily a solar structure or a stellar one (or perhaps both), it is hard to deny the exquisite beauty of its architectural design. This is not merely an accident or the result of a talented but uninformed builder. A special type of spiral is instead incorporated into its very master “blueprint.” We recall how the Ancient Ones of the American Southwest were fond of carving spirals into stone to serve as solar calendars.
The specific spiral found within the structure is created in nature according to what is called the Golden Mean, Golden Section, or Divine Proportion, which is simply the ratio (phi) of 1 : 1.6180339... It is derived from Fibonacci’s series, or a numerical list whereby each new number is the sum of the previous two numbers: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144... ad infinitum. Regardless of how large the spiral becomes, the ratio of its dimensions remains constant. For instance, the proportion AB to AC is the same as BC to BD or CD to CE.
The growth of many objects in nature is determined by the Golden Mean, including the whorl pattern of sunflowers, the distribution of leaves on a stem, the horn of the bighorn sheep, the individual seeds of pine cones, and even the rotating shape of hurricanes.
In the case of the “Sun Temple,” a natural aesthetics overlays the complexity of encoded astronomical relationships. Amid the lost echoes of Mesa Verde, it is the soul’s task –not the mind alone– to synthesize both the natural and human-made worlds into a sacred cosmology.
Orion Temple with superimposed Golden Mean Spiral
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