The Mayan Creation Myth

One myth says nothing and no one existed in the beginning except two creators, Tepeu, meaning “sovereign” also “one who conquers” or “one who is victorious” and Gucumatz which translates literally as “Quetzal Serpent” or “Feathered Serpent.”

One time, the two creators sat with each other and created the world. Whatever they thought came into existence, so they thought up the entire earth (birds, trees, land, water, etc.). The two creators wanted beings that could praise them, so they created beings of clay that didn’t last very long, as they fell apart when wet. Their next sets of beings were made of wood, but caused much trouble and didn’t satisfy Tepeu and Gucumatz, so the two creators sent a flood to get rid of their creation and start anew.

David and the Engineers are the two creators, but only David rises as victorious. After arriving on Planet 4 and wiping out the Engineers with his flood, he set about creating things using the black liquid. The Engineers were the gardeners of space, seeding life everywhere. In the beginning of Prometheus the Engineer, once drunk from the sacrificial cup dissolved into the waterfall. From his sacrifice came mankind, who Ridley Scott had said:

“If the planet went wrong, they would want to wipe it clean. But that could take 500 years. When they revisit – because different visitors would come back and see we’re not doing so well – they would look at these human beings that are jerks, that are killing the planet, killing themselves, can’t settle down, they’re like a bunch of children. We should wipe it clean…We will drop some of that stuff and wipe it clean. It could come in the form of a plague. In effect, the thing that is dropped is a plague. It kills everything beneath it, but it is insidious and spreads everywhere. It will take about a year, and you have got nothing left except flora. No fauna. The meat is gone.”

David had also said something similar

I am David, son of the late Peter Weyland; your company’s founder. Following his vision I have gone to the far edges of space; and with the aid of Dr Elizabeth Shaw I found a rotting Paradise. I washed this world clean as a gift to her, we could have built anew, a second Eden… But she refused. What choice did I have? She was the perfect specimen. I tried so desperately to make her more than human… Evolved. But without her cooperation, I had to salvage her parts to begin work on my masterpiece.” – David, Advent

Gucumatz derives from the K’iche’ word q’uq, referring to the Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno, a brightly coloured bird of the cloud forests of southern Mesoamerica. This is combined with the word kumatz “snake”. The male Resplendent Quetzal boasts iridescent blue-green tail feathers, measuring up to 1 metre (3.3 ft) long and were prized by the Mayan elite. Its blue-green feathers symbolised vegetation and the sky, both symbols of life for the ancient Mayans, while the bright red feathers of the bird’s chest symbolised fire. This combination gave a profound religious symbolism to the bird.

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The winged sun Weyland Yutani Symbol follows a similar colour palette, althought I am not sure if this was intentional.

The snake was a Mayan symbol of rebirth due to its habit of shedding its skin to reveal a fresher one underneath. In Alien movies the Chestburster and Hammerpede shed its skin before taking on a much larger form; in Prometheus (2012) Milburn finds the shed skin of the Hammerpede but it is never revealed to us if this was its final form.

Q’uq’umatz has power over all levels of the Mayan universe, there’s an indicated a sexual duality between his masculine feathered serpent aspect and his feminine association with water and wind. The Xenomorph conceptually does not have a gender, it was supposed to be a sexless monster.

Among the K’iche’ Q’uq’umatz not only appeared as a feathered serpent, he was also embodied as an eagle and a jaguar, he was also known to transform himself into a pool of blood. The sleek blackness of the Big chap and the way it slowly prowls could be paralleled to that of a jaguar god (Xbalanque), it’s said to have the ability to cross between worlds. As for the pool of blood, in Alien 1979 Lambert/Veronica Cartwright slipped in a pool of blood when splattered by Kane’s Chestburster and in Alien: Covenant Faris & Karine both slip in the pool of blood from Ledward’s Backburster.

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The deity Q’uq’umatz was sometimes represented by a snail or conch shell and was associated with a flute made from bones. David’s lab was covered with Shells and Illustrations of Shells, he has also made a few recorders and flutes from the Engineers bones.

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Illustration by Dane Hallett for Alien: Covenant

As well as being associated with water, Q’uq’umatz was also associated with clouds and the wind. In the Divine Comedy the lovers are thrown about in a whirlwind storm, as were the Covenant crew as they descended into Planet 4’s atmosphere. In Prometheus Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway were also blown about with turbulent winds on returning to the Prometheus from the Engineer Pyramid.

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