The society to which we belong, our contemporary society, has conceived the notion that God-the original unity-is man's invention, although some of its members think rather that the deity is a human discovery produced at a certain stage of history. In both cases, it is man who creates God, in absolute contradiction of the unanimous assertion of all traditions and civilizations on record, which declare and establish the correct hierarchical relation between creator and creature. 

This flagrant inversion is a logical consequence of our current ignorance where the sacred is concerned, an ignorance that obliges us unconsciously to "humanize" the concept of God, to anthropomorphize it-which is tantamount to reducing the deity to the categories of human thought and conception. We are obliged to minimize the concept of God to the scale of today's men and the narrowness of their vision. Hence the latter find nothing better to do than to put the gods to death, to "believe" no longer in them but rather in the "human"-which, alas, is taken for progress-as if it were possible for the cosmic and harmonic energies whose principles the deities express to cease to be or exist by virtue of the simple expedient of denying them. 

We are accustomed to regard the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Chaldean, or Mayan pantheons-or even those of the Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, or Buddhists-as if their gods were the private property of those peoples and religions, and furthermore, as if these gods were altogether different from one another, having perfectly particular identities in a classified imaginary system. Thus, the reality of the sacred is reduced to mans' "speculative" capacity-or to a memo in a file cabinet. Yet it passes unobserved that these same men have acknowledged the deity by way of "numbers," or harmonic measures as patterns or modules of universal thought and the expression of the archetypal ideas. These archetypal ideas are always present-as constitutive parts of the cosmos, as these peoples' calendars reflect-and the symbols represent them. Their energy-force has never ceased to manifest itself, nor ever will, as long as time and space exist. 

The same thing occurs in the case of the stars and planets, especially the Sun, the Moon, Venus, and the Pleiades. Here we have symbols of the gods on a determinate level. There are planets and constellations that have certainly survived the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Mayans, and we can even observe them with the naked eye on a clear night. These stars and planets signify the cosmic energies that are the expressions of the divine principles, and it is essential to recall that it is these same stars and planets of today that were contemplated in the celestial vault-barely five centuries ago, before the "discovery of America"-by the Precolumbian peoples. Those peoples identified them, in their cosmogony, with particular key ideas, whose manifestation-visible in all things-they express in the immensity of that sky on which the earth and man depend. 

We are other persons, we who dwell beneath the firmament, on the land the ancient American* civilizations worked; but numbers, and the stars-those incarnations of the eternal principles-are still the same, and are as alive as the deities, which, for their part, continue to be expressed as natural and atmospheric phenomena, and as psychic and spiritual energies, ever present in creation. After all, we know that gods do not die, and this is precisely what has made them immortal in every time and place. Or better, they are immortal because they have died to death and can die no longer. The sacrificed god rises again, is regenerated, and transforms his energies, crystallizing them in heaven-his authentic dwelling, from which he has actually come-under the form of a planet, a symbol of the principle to which this god testifies in an active, manifest manner. Indeed, the gods are anterior to this creation, and their sacrifice is actually what produces it "when it was still night," as the Teotihuacan myth tells us. 

Foundation of Tenochtitlan, Codex Mendoza
The Precolumbian cosmogonies constitute a modality of the archetypal Cosmogony (in which man is included), out beyond any personal speculation, and despite the variety of forms or modes in which it is expressed in accordance with the characteristics of space, time, or manner-which both conceal and reveal its prototypal content, its essence. This is why these cosmogonies are still alive today, in the indigenous peoples' symbols and myths, waiting to be experienced through knowledge of them, through their invocation, in order for them to generate all of the magnitude of their potential energy. Ancient men have disappeared, but not their eternal gods-Quetzalcóatl, Kukulkan, Viracocha1-who still live with us, and shape a large part of the history of our American countries and (although we do not notice it) our own history.  

Actually, many millions of persons-in the north, middle, and south of America-still call upon them in ancient traditional rites, as well as under different religious forms of folklore. The deity, in itself, is the same for all of the peoples who know it, regardless of what they call it, or of the particular shape it takes. This is valid for all traditions, living or dead, since the deity is ultimately one alone, although its manifestations be multiple. When the Nahuatl sages, the tlamatinime, were questioned about their beliefs by the first twelve Catholic religious to arrive in Mexico, and heard from the lips of their inquisitors that their gods no longer existed, they asked to die with them. Then they accepted to speak calmly. "We will talk a bit, we shall reveal the secret, the ark of Our Lord." "You have said that we do not know the Lord closely and intimately, the one to whom the heavens and the earth belong. You have said that our gods are not true. This is a new word that you utter, and so we are disturbed, and so we are uncomfortable. Our forebears, you see, those who have been, those who have lived upon the earth, were not accustomed to speak in this way." Whereupon, in simple fashion, that they might be understood, they enumerated and described a series of images of the divinity, their tradition, and their ritual, which, incidentally, corresponded to Christian analogues. Then they summed up: "We know to whom we owe life, to whom we owe birth, to whom we owe generation, to whom we owe growth, how we must pray, how we must beseech." 

As we see by their own words, the tlamatinime were simply incapable of grasping the missionaries' proposition. It was beyond them. How could human beings suppress the gods by decree? And how could the one reality, the one certain thing, be annihilated by illusions and shadow? Let us hear them: "Surely we still do not believe [what you say]. We do not hold it for the truth, though this may offend you."2 

Offended or not, the conquistadors proceeded to abolish the Precolumbians' image of the world, space, and time, their conception of life and man, and their myths and rites. They destroyed nearly the totality of their culture. And since, unfortunately, these cultures are seemingly dead, in order to hear them we must follow a difficult process of reconstruction, by way of its fragments, incomplete codes and monuments, the chronicles of the conquistadors, and various other testimonials, as well as by still living cultural remnants, of folklore, dance, the designs wrought on fabric and basketwork, and so on. But especially, we shall be on firm footing if we attend to these cultures' clear, precise cosmogonic and theogonic symbols and myths (which correspond to the symbols and myths of other peoples), including their model of the universe and their cultural structures-evident, for example, in the constructive symbol, with its geometrical and numerical basis. 

This will enable us to make an analogical approach to a knowledge of the Indians' traditions, and to have a sufficiently distinct vision of them, at least as the foundation of an attempt to grasp them in their essence, so that they will no longer signify only mournful ruins or meaningless relics, or an unknown, hypothetical, and glorious past of which we remain altogether ignorant. On the other hand, as we have said, despite the plunder, systematic annihilation, and manifold harassment they have suffered, the Precolumbian traditions are still alive and flourishing, revealed in their symbols, in their myths, and in their cosmogony, in their archetypal ideas, their harmonious modules, and their gods, which only wait to be called back to life in order to actualize their potency. That is, they need only be apprehended, understood with the heart, in order to act upon us.

* Note from the translator: The author makes use of the terms America and American, throughout this work, in their most extensive meaning, including in them not only North America (U.S.A. and Canada), but also Central and South America.
1 Of whom it is said that they are to return.
2 El libro de los Coloquios de los Doce, chap. 6 of the Nahuatl text published by W. Lehmann.