Robert Hall, Ed Krupp, Mike Mathiowetz, Susan Milbrath, Polly Schaafsma

Paper #: 11-02-007

This paper assembles differing but related Native American views of Venus as seen from the perspectives of cultural contexts of varied complexity. Ascribed values and packets of symbolic meanings attributed to Venus are examined between Mesoamerica, West Mexico, the American Southwest and Southeast. In Mesoamerica the timed disappearances and reappearances of Venus became a metaphor for life cycles of both maize and humans. As a bellicose planet, Venus was widely associated with both war and death as well as with the complementary notion of renewal. Its associations with a war/fertility complex among maize agriculturalists was/is pervasive. We address case studies that consider how Venus ideology was manifest in art and ritual in the different areas under investigation. Background events for historical interaction especially between the Southwest and Mesoamerica are briefly considered.