A dramatic Total Solar Eclipse occurred on 8 August 1496 with maximum eclipse at 20:36 UT. It must have been frightening for the indigenous people The eclipse plunged the Sun into darkness for 5 minutes and 30 seconds at maximum, creating an extraordinary spectacle for observers in a broad path up to 236 km wide. The dramatic quality fo this eclipse means that to a great extent it speaks for itself.
First, we do well to put ourselves in the position of the observers. The Maya, for example, were sophisticated astronomers time-keepers and interpreters of eclipses. This eclipse had dire implications for several cultures in the region, but it behoves us to focus on one for the time being.
Ethan Watrall provides a succinct comment on Mayan culture: “The Mayans religion involved several aspects of nature, astronomy and rituals. Most Gods represented a form in nature, for example, Sun God, Kinih Ahous, or Maize God, Yum Kaax. The Mayans were known for their calendars and astronomical buildings. These were used during their religious rituals. Similar to the Egyptians, the Mayans built Pyramid like temples for religious reasons. The main difference in shape being [sic] that the Mayan pyramids have a flat top to build temples on top. The best-known pyramid is El Castillo or Temple of Kukulkan in the archaeological site Chichen Itza, in the Mexican state of Yucatan.” Mayans Religion: Gods, Animal Spirits and Pyramids
.The first encounter with the Yucatec Maya themselves may have occurred in 1502, when the fourth voyage of “came across a large trading canoe off Honduras. The eclipse appears as a tidal wave of death for the inhabitants of the region. Keeping in mind that all these cultures held a special place for the Sun as a source of life itself, it must have a profound effect and would no doubt be taken as a bad omen.
I managed to recreate the chart, using Cancun as the location. However, the eclipse path continued through Mexico, Central American through what is now Venezuela and beyond.Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus), whose name means “Christ-bearing colonizer was the catalyst that changed the world of ancient American civilisations forever.
New Sun God Temple Reveals Maya Beliefs – Courtesy National Geographic
Most immediately, we can see that the eclipse is in the Fixed Sign and Leo, with Mars and a Venus ahead of the Sun. This is all happening in the Eighth House, associated with Death. Even Jupiter and Saturn are disposited by Mars. Moreover, according to Bonnati, the Sun is Hyleg, giving a stronger sense of the loss of life.
In a Fixed Sign and of above average duration, at 5 minutes and 30 seconds, we can expect the full force of this to be felt more than five years into the future. In fact, in the same region, the concerted plan to exterminate as many natives as possible and sieze both lands and resources was well underway, just a few short years after contact. We can say that even by the time of the eclipse, there was no realistic option of reversal and the Spanish used everything at their disposal, including germ warfare in the form of smallpox-infected blankets. The natives had no resistance to these diseases and were reduced by as much as 90% For these people, the events of the late 15th C. to the mid 16th C. in particular, were like an apocalypse.
Sanderson Beck tells us that by the end of 1499 Columbus had discovered “that there were extensive gold fields in Española. Columbus had already written to the Spanish sovereigns saying he planned to take as many slaves as he could; now he told them of the rebellion and asked them to send a competent judge. Meanwhile, they had authorized Ojeda to visit the mainland Columbus had discovered and which Ojeda named Venezuela, where he found valuable pearl fisheries.” Spanish Conquest 1492-1580 By the time of the eclipse, the seeds were already being sown and an apocalypse was unleashed on the indigenous population of what are now several countries.,