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What Would God Drive?

font size="1">sourcehariot of Fire, woodcut for 'Die Bibel in Bildern', 1860, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld.
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Chariot of Fire, woodcut for ‘Die Bibel in Bildern’, 1860, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld.

Divine chariots are described quite a bit in the Bible. They are often hard to distinguish from descriptions of Yahweh himself, who was known for making big noisy fiery spectacles in the sky. In fact, as many people have noted, Yahweh behaved a whole lot like a jet airplane.

Below are some descriptions of divine chariots in the Bible (you may also be interested in my post about vehicles of other deities).

Isaiah 66:5 For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.

Psalms 68:17 The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.

Jeremiah 4:13 Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.

Zechariah 6:1 And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.

2 Kings 6:17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

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'Viktor Vasnetsov. The Flying Carpet (1880). Oil, canvas. 165x297 сm. a depiction of the hero of Russian folklore, Ivan Tsarevich, on exhibit at the Nizhny Novgorod Art Museum.'

In an experience reminiscent of flying carpets, Zechariah reports:

Zechariah 5:1 Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll.
2 And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits.

A cubit is about the size of a typical forearm, about 20 inches.

In the book of Acts, Peter gets take-out delivered by Yahweh:

Acts 10:9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

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Mystic Wheel (Ezekiel's Vision) by Fra Angelico, circa 1451.

And then there’s Ezekiel’s wheel, the Biblical prophet’s famous encounter with the physical “word of God” and his very detailed (if odd) description of it, which so many people have interpreted as describing a spaceship.

Ezekiel 1:1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
2 In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity,
3 The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.
4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.
5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.
6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.
7 And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass.
8 And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings.
9 Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward.
10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.
11 Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies.
12 And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went.
13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.
14 And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.
15 Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces.
16 The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.
17 When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went.
18 As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four.
19 And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.
20 Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
21 When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.
22 And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above.
23 And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies.
24 And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.
25 And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.
26 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.
27 And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.
28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

We can’t blame Ezekiel for being confused; it sounds as if he just had no frame of reference for what he was seeing. Even modern-day people having encounters with “UFOs” have trouble understanding and describing what they have seen, and try to make sense of it by comparing it to things they do understand—in Ezekiel’s case, “living creatures” and wheels. For info on various interpretations of Ezekiel’s vision, see the section on the Book of Ezekiel on Wikipedia’s Ancient Astronauts page.

sourceEzekiel's Wheel. Woodcut for 'Die Bibel in Bildern', 1860, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld.
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Ezekiel’s Wheel. Woodcut for ‘Die Bibel in Bildern’, 1860, by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld.
sourceEzekiel's Wheel in St. John the Baptist Church in Kratovo, Macedonia.
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Ezekiel's Wheel in St. John the Baptist Church in Kratovo, Macedonia.
source'Engraved illustration of the 'chariot vision' of the Biblical book of Ezekiel, chapter 1, after an earlier illustration by Matthaeus (Matthäus) Merian (1593-1650), for his 'Icones Biblicae' (a.k.a. 'Iconum Biblicarum').'
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'Engraved illustration of the 'chariot vision' of the Biblical book of Ezekiel, chapter 1, after an earlier illustration by Matthaeus (Matthäus) Merian (1593-1650), for his 'Icones Biblicae' (a.k.a. 'Iconum Biblicarum').'
sourceThe Vision of Ezekiel, oil on wood by Raffaello Sanzio, 1518.
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The Vision of Ezekiel, oil on wood by Raffaello Sanzio, 1518.
Zechariah sees two chariots come out from between two mountains of brass.
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Zechariah sees two chariots come out from between two mountains of brass.

Zechariah 6:1 And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.
2 In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses;
3 And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses.
4 Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord?
5 And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country.
7 And the bay went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth.

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Legend of St Francis, Vision of the Flaming Chariot, by Giotto di Bondone, circa 1300 CE.
In another painting by Giotto di Bondone, circa 1300 CE, St. Francis is receiving stigmata from a divine creature and/or chariot. It's often hard to tell the gods from their vehicles.source
In another painting by Giotto di Bondone, circa 1300 CE, St. Francis is receiving stigmata from a divine creature and/or chariot. It's often hard to tell the gods from their vehicles.
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'God in Majesty' from Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry.
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According to Babelfish's translation from the Russian caption, 'Paternity of icon (Yaroslavl, 17 c.) of.jpeg FATHERLAND Yaroslavl'. Third quarter OF XVII v. Tree, levkas, the tempera.'
A sun god drives his divine chariot across the sky.
A sun god drives his divine chariot across the sky.
This painting is reportedly at the altar of the Visoki Decani Monastery in Kosovo, Yugoslavia, circa 1350.
This painting is reportedly at the altar of the Visoki Decani Monastery in Kosovo, Yugoslavia, circa 1350.
A detail from the above painting.
A detail from the above painting.
A second vehicle from the above painting.
A second vehicle from the above painting.
sourceElijah and the Chariot of Fire, painting by Antonio Cifrondi.
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Elijah and the Chariot of Fire, painting by Antonio Cifrondi.
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God Is an Astronaut

Read for Free Online: God Is An Astronaut. No registration needed.
gGodIsanAstronautbookcover

It is easy, with a bit of scholarly research, to prove that Yahweh, the God of the Jews and Christians, started out as a thunder god worshipped by polytheistic ancient Semites. It’s also easy to show that Biblical descriptions of Yahweh almost always resemble an inhabited flying machine more than a living being.

Yahweh is described in the Bible as lightning, fire, noise, danger, a destroying warrior. The idea of Yahweh sending down a bolt of lightning to destroy those who offend him — the premise of many modern-day jokes — is well-supported in the biblical record as a reported actual event. For instance, in the famous Song of David, King David gives thanks to Yahweh for having helped him win a battle:

Psalms 18:13 The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire.
14 Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.

It doesn’t take much research to document that Yahweh was a member of a Divine Council, sharing dominion over the Earth with 69 other “Sons of El,” and that Yahweh was assigned the Hebrews as his people, and was extremely angry when his people worshipped other gods (other members of the Divine Council). It’s also easy to show that the other gods — if they survived at all in the minds of the populace — were eventually demoted to divine beings such as angels, since there could be only one god.

Obadiah 1:4 Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.

Yahweh’s determination to triumph over other gods is a major theme of the Old Testament — as is his determination to locate his people in a “land flowing with milk and honey” that was already, inconveniently, home to other tribes.

These are just a few of the basic facts that point to a truth more and more of us find obvious: God Is an Astronaut. It’s time for us to assess the “gods” from today’s perspective, and realize that, although our ancestors couldn’t understand, we now know that people in flying machines, who can do amazing things, are not gods. As writer/scientist Arthur C. Clarke says, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

In my free online book, God Is an Astronaut: Biblical Descriptions of God, Angels, and Divine Chariots, I get right to the heart of the issue. I provide the relevant Biblical texts, the relevant information you need to know about those texts, and documentation with endnotes to show how rock-solid the information is. Not only does the book make a convincing case that yes, of course, God is an astronaut; it also provides much evidence that angels, demons, divine councils, and divine chariots were various manifestations of the ancient astronaut experience.

Descriptions of the gods are often at least partly descriptions of the vehicles in which the gods travel — leading to some odd-looking gods, and perhaps leading to the invention of gods with multiple aspects, called avatars. Gods magically transform from fiery serpent to human form as they step out of or slide off of their fiery serpent, or thunderbird, or silver eagle, or flying elephant.

Divine chariots are described quite a bit in the Bible, and are also extensively described in religions around the world. For instance, ancient Hindu texts are crammed full of descriptions of various types of flying chariots — vimanas — and information on how to make them, fuel them, and control them. The thunderbirds of the Native Americans are similar to the flying things called “gods” by very many ancient cultures — and similar to the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds of today. Yahweh, along with other thunder gods, was known for making noisy fiery spectacles in the sky. In fact, as many people have noted, Yahweh behaved a whole lot like a flying vehicle.

Click to read God Is an Astronaut: Biblical Descriptions of God, Angels, and Divine Chariots.

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Lots of Deities Drove Cooler Vehicles than Yahweh

The Pushpak Aircraft
The Pushpak Aircraft, by Balasaheb Pandit Pant Pratinidhi, 1916.
In addition to the very interesting divine vehicles associated with Yahweh (the God of the Christians and Jews), many gods and goddesses have driven massively cool vehicles. In fact, as I point out elsewhere, many of their avatars (changed aspects) may be the vehicles themselves rather than a transformation of the deity.

Divine chariots are described quite a bit in the Bible, and also are described a lot in religions around the world. For instance, ancient Hindu texts are crammed full of descriptions of various types of flying chariots — vimanas — and information on how to make them, fuel them, and control them.

According to Wikipedia, a vimana is:

A chariot of the gods, any mythical self-moving aerial car, sometimes serving as a seat or throne, sometimes self-moving and carrying its occupant through the air; other descriptions make the Vimana more like a house or palace, and one kind is said to be seven storeys high.

The pushpaka (“flowery”) is the vimana of Ravana, who is the hero of the great Hindu epic The Ramayana, which describes the pushpaka as follows:

The Pushpaka chariot that resembles the Sun and belongs to my brother was brought by the powerful Ravana; that aerial and excellent chariot going everywhere at will …. that chariot resembling a bright cloud in the sky … and the King [Rama] got in, and the excellent chariot at the command of the Raghira, rose up into the higher atmosphere.

Rama being welcomed back to Ayodhya. He is also shown flying in the celestial flying machine, the Pushpak Vimana.
Rama being welcomed back to Ayodhya. He is also shown flying in the celestial flying machine, the Pushpak Vimana.
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The Thunderbirds of the Native Americans are similar to the flying things called “gods” by very many ancient cultures — and similar to the United States Air Force Thunderbirds of today. See my post on Thunder Gods, Such as Yahweh….

The Persian king Kai Kavus built himself a Flying Throne and flew it to China.

King Solomon reportedly had a flying carpet 60 miles square that could “get from Damascus to Medina within a day”. The wind once caused the carpet to drop 40,000 people to their deaths, due to Solomon having too much pride.

The Greek god Helios drove the Chariot of the Sun across the sky every day; it was drawn by fire-darting steeds. Phaëton, his son, borrowed the chariot, but lost control and plunged into the river Eridanos. Thor drove his Chariot of Thunder across the sky; it was pulled by his two magic goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. Poseidon frequently drove his Chariot of the Sea through and atop the ocean, pulled by hippocampi (sea-going horses with fish-like hindquarters).

Kali with her chariot Vitthakalai.
Kali with her chariot Vitthakalai.
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Maa Kali drives a gold-decorated chariot called the Vitthakalai. Sol, the Norse sun goddess, flew in a chariot pulled by the horses Arvak and Alsvid, whose manes shone like the sun. Dionysus’s chariot was pulled by panthers, tigers, or centaurs, or by a bull, a panther, and a griffin, or something — as usual, no one was exactly clear on what they were seeing.

Dinoysius driving his chariot pulled by a bull, a panther, and a griffin.
Dinoysius driving his chariot pulled by a bull, a panther, and a griffin.
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The Authentic Experience of Ancient Gods

Ahura Mazda is the highest god in Zoroastrianism, creating and upholding truth.
Ahura Mazda is the highest god in Zoroastrianism, creating and upholding truth.
Religion has been part of all societies,1 but why? A lot of intellectual discourse has tackled the subject, much of it reaching the conclusion that people just need to have gods and so they make them up. But even a quick scan of ancient religious history will show that authentic experience of something awesome—perhaps not “God” or “gods,” perhaps beings with technology so advanced it seems like magic—inspired the creation and growth of religions around the world.

It was easy for religion to take root, both because authentic experience makes for enthusiastic converts and proselytizers, and because religion indeed fills some human needs. Ancient people expected to deal with the normal troubles of life on their own, but, as Rodney Stark writes in Discovering God, they hoped that the gods would help them with the forces beyond human control:

[P]rimitive peoples … call upon the supernatural for rain, for help in finding game, and for safe voyages. In doing so, they acknowledge the fundamental principle that the supernatural is the only plausible source of many things that human beings greatly desire. Therein lies one key to the universality of religion—its capacity to overcome the generic limitations of human power by invoking entities or forces that transcend nature. Whether it is a Bantu priest in Nigeria chanting that Awwaw grant a good harvest, or a Baptist congregation in Georgia singing, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear,” religion offers an alternative means to achieve greatly desired ends, when direct methods fail or do not exist.

The earliest religions—lost in prehistory and based, perhaps, on real experiences—were more sophisticated than most of the religions they later spawned, and they were more morality-based than later versions. Most stories about gods show them as wrapped up in their own lives, giving little or no thought to the welfare of humanity or individual humans, or to humans' morality or lack of it. Exceptions are the “bringers of civilization,” divine teachers, deities or demigods whose role is to help, such as Oannes.

The failure of humans to pay proper tribute to the gods—such as neglecting to make sacrifices—gets attention, but instead of striking deficient humans dead, the gods tend to destroy the whole city (much as a few annoying ants might encourage us to take out a whole anthill).

Gods and goddesses around the world have usually been thought of as a lot like humans, except with superpowers and immortality. They have humanlike needs and desires, and display the whole range of emotions and behaviors, for better and worse. Often, the gods are depicted as human or humanoid forms, with perhaps a pair of wings and eagle head and talons to show they can fly.

Since creation stories of many societies state that humans were made from divine matter—often the blood, spit, or semen of a god or gods — deities that look more or less like us are not necessarily reflecting a lack of imagination on the part of those depicting them; it would be reasonable for ancient gods to look a lot like humans, and in ancient stories, including Bible stories, they are able to pass as human when visiting Earth. Homer writes, “The gods, likening themselves to all kinds of strangers, go in various disguises from city to city, observing the wrongdoing and the righteousness of men.”

Kamadhenu is a Hindu bovine goddess, the source of all prosperity.
Kamadhenu is a Hindu bovine goddess, the source of all prosperity.
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But it's obvious when looking at depictions of gods that the ancients sometimes had a hard time figuring out what they were seeing, or hearing described. “It's a bird, it's a plane….” Of course, planes were beyond the understanding of ancient people, as were machines generally. If it moves, it's a human or other animal. If it flies, it has to be a bird, but, wait, it's long like a snake, and omigosh it's breathing fire! If it's operating a weapon, it must have hands. If it makes loud noise, it must have a mouth.

Descriptions of the gods are often at least partly descriptions of the vehicles in which the gods travel (see Divine Chariots) —leading to some odd-looking gods, and perhaps leading to the invention of gods with multiple aspects, avatars—magically transforming from fiery serpent to human form as they step out of or slide off of their fiery serpent, or thunderbird, or silver eagle, or flying elephant.

In another realm from most gods and goddesses is the high god, or creator god, a feature of many ancient religions. The high god creates the universe and/or Earth. In many cases, he or she or they afterwards withdraw into remotest heaven, leaving “down-to-Earth” gods to take on the day-to-day work of running the worldly creation.

Jupiter Ammon, shown on this terracotta slab from the first century CE, was one of the many versions of Jupiter, who was equated  with the Egyptian high god Amun after Rome conquered Egypt.
Jupiter Ammon, shown on this terracotta slab from the first century CE, was one of the many versions of Jupiter, who was equated with the Egyptian high god Amun after Rome conquered Egypt.
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Almost without exception, societies that emphasize high-god beliefs feature many gods, who are all subordinate to the high deity. Adherents seemed to find the lesser gods more real, more relevant and accessible compared to the abstract and omnipotent high gods. The monotheist religion of high god Yahweh required that the various gods who were originally in his pantheon be downgraded to divine beings, such as angels and demons, since there could only be one god (see Yahweh’s Roots in Polytheism).

Many scholars believe that the prevalence of high god beliefs is the result not of ancient people around the world making up similar stories, but of essentially the same, authentic, ancient revelations (encounters with “God” or “gods”) being experienced by many primitive cultures globally.

High gods usually are sky deities or sky fathers, ruling over the other gods from the heavens. But many, many other gods are also able to fly, and they put in a lot of time in the sky.



1. Rodney Stark, Discovering God: The Origins of the Great Religions and the Evolution of Belief (USA: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008), 38.

The Nile god pouring water over the soul of Osiris.
The Nile god pouring water over the soul of Osiris.
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Ravana is a king (or “demon king”) of ancient Lanka, whose main claim to fame is kidnapping Sita, Rama’s wife. Rama is an avatar of Vishnu and king of the Indian city of Ayodhya, and the story of how he gets Sita back is told in the ancient Hindu epic, the Ramayana (Rama’s Journey).
Ravana is a king (or “demon king”) of ancient Lanka, whose main claim to fame is kidnapping Sita, Rama’s wife. Rama is an avatar of Vishnu and king of the Indian city of Ayodhya, and the story of how he gets Sita back is told in the ancient Hindu epic, the Ramayana (Rama’s Journey).
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The Hindu Lord Vishnu is portrayed here in his universal form, Vishnu Vishvarupa. Source
The Hindu Lord Vishnu is portrayed here in his universal form, Vishnu Vishvarupa.
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The Aztec god Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl combines the deities Ehecatl, the wind god, and Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god. Ehecatl is usually considered an aspect (similar to a Hindu avatar) of Quetzalcoatl. This illustration is from the Codex Borgia, a graphics-filled pre-Columbian divinatory and ritual manuscript painted on animal skins, 35 feet long, folded into 39 sheets. Source
The Aztec god Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl combines the deities Ehecatl, the wind god, and Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god. Ehecatl is usually considered an aspect (similar to a Hindu avatar) of Quetzalcoatl. This illustration is from the Codex Borgia, a graphics-filled pre-Columbian divinatory and ritual manuscript painted on animal skins, 35 feet long, folded into 39 sheets.
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Amun, the Egyptian creator god, later merged with the sun god Ra to become Amun-Ra.
Amun, the Egyptian creator god, later merged with the sun god Ra to become Amun-Ra.
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Possible representation of Quetzalcoatl wearing a conical cap with a skull in front and long earflaps, characteristic elements of the Huasteca culture, from Naranjo, Veracruz.
Possible representation of Quetzalcoatl wearing a conical cap with a skull in front and long earflaps, characteristic elements of the Huasteca culture, from Naranjo, Veracruz.
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