Star Trek Fan Theory: The Nephites were part of the Obsidian Order

Yup. You heard it. That’s right. Book of Mormon tribes were part of the Obsidian Order. All the sci-fi, fantasy, and religion worlds are coming together and it’s more than I can handle.

Except. It’s not as likely that the Nephites were involved in the Obsidian Order of the Star Trek universe, as much as the Obsidian Order of Mayan priesthood.

What is the Obsidian Order?

The Obsidian Order is a newly discovered class of Mayan priesthood. These guys were labeled as Taaj or “obsidian” because they were heavily involved in Mayan ritual such as blood-letting and sacrifice. These lovely and wholesome family activities often required the use of obsidian blades.[1]

Human-Sacrific-in-Mayan-Codex

Members of the obsidian order weren’t strictly “priests,” but rather special agents of the state. They helped officiate sacrifices and holiday rituals, they wrote texts, and they calculated astronomical sciences.[2] They also transmitted specialized knowledge, serving advisory roles in the king’s court and to the youth.[3]

The Discovery of the Obsidian Order

A brand new article from the Cambridge journal Ancient Mesoamerica has brought the Obsidian Order to light for the first time, based off of newly discovered murals in Xultun, Guatemala. These new murals drastically increased our understanding of priesthood in ancient Mesoamerica.

Up until recently, much of the discussion around Mayan religion was centered around shamanism, a largely un-centralized and un-bureaucratic system. However, these new murals add to our understanding of a more structured priesthood organization within Mayan religion.

The Details of the Murals

These murals were found in structure 10K2 of the Los Sabios group at the site of Xultun. The Los Sabios group is a non-royal, but certainly elite, residence within the main temple complex. Whoever lived in this residence was wealthy and elite, and probably a member of the Mayan priesthood.

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The murals are wrapped all around the 4 walls in the 10K2 room. Here’s a drawing of the murals:

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What you’re looking at is a depiction of the ruler of Xultun in the center (labeled “Niche”), flanked on both sides by sitting figures. Several of these figures are labeled Taaj or “obsidian,” indicating that they’re part of this distinct order of priesthood.[4]

Here’s an image of the main panel on the north wall in color:

north-wall

The guy on the right is the ruler of Xultan, Yax We’net Chan K’inich, and then the guy kneeling to his left is labeled as Itz’in Taaj, or a junior member of the obsidian order.[5]

What does any of this have to do with Star Trek?

Nothing. They share the same name of their specialized intelligence society

What does any of this have to do with the Book of Mormon?

Quite a bit.

Organization of Priests

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Alma the Younger Ordaining Priests, Jody Livingston via Book of Mormon Central

Like I said above, up until recently, most people thought of Mayan religion as consisting only of Shamans. This doesn’t gel too well with the Book of Mormon, since we know they talk about a complex system of priestly orders.

  • Mosiah 23:16-18 mentions high priests, priests, and teachers.
  • Alma 4:7 talks of teachers, priests, and elders.
  • Alma 13:6 talks of the priesthood being an “order” of God

Now that we know that Mayan society did have a structured system of religious leaders, the Book of Mormon’s system of priests makes all the more sense.

The Old Testament never talks about these supplementary offices of priesthood such as teachers and elders. Ancient Israelite priesthood mainly centered around a tribe of priests, with a presiding high priest. You would expect the Nephite civilization to follow the ancient Israelite priestly structure. However, what we see instead, is that by the 2nd century B.C.E., the Nephites had begun to adopt similar priesthood structures that later also find place in the New Testament.

Context for King Noah’s Court

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Abinadi Before King Noah, Arnold Friberg via lds.org

Remember, how I mentioned above how the members of this obsidian order served courtly roles in addition to religious ones? The story of King Noah’s court makes a lot more sense when you consider its cultural milieu.

Ancient Israelite priests largely served within the temple and for only the temple. We don’t have any attestation that your average run-of-the-mill priest would serve as an adviser in the King’s court. Yet, here in Mosiah 12:7, King Noah seeks to prosecute Abinadi by gathering his priests “together that he might hold a council with them what he should do with him.”

The idea of using your priests as an advisory board doesn’t necessarily fit an Old Testament context, but it certainly fits a mesoamerican one.

We already have indications that King Noah was exhibiting lavish traits of Mayan kingship that prophets like Abinadi clearly condemned. King Noah in his wickedness is more keen to adopt the traditions of surrounding cultures than to remain true to Israelite religion. It may very well be, that another example of King Noah’s wickedness is in calling false priests to serve in his court. After all, we never hear of priests in royal courts ever again in the Book of Mormon.

Well there you have it

The discovery of this “obsidian” order in Mayan priesthood is brand new, cutting-edge. The Book of Mormon fits this mesoamerican priestly setting perfectly. Once again, the Book of Mormon shows us that it just gets better with age.


Notes

[1] William Saturno, Franco D. Rossi, David Stuart, and Heather Hurst, “A Maya Curia Regis: Evidence for a Hierarchical Specialist Order at Xultun, Guatemala,” Ancient Mesoamerica First View (2017): 8.

[2] Saturno, “A Maya Curia Regis,” 1.

[3] Saturno, “A Maya Curia Regis,” 2.

[4] Saturno, “A Maya Curia Regis,” 3–4.

[5] Saturno, “A Maya Curia Regis,” 5.

5 Mesosamerican Themed Party Treats

I am such a nerd. I have become part of a “book club” or sorts for studying Mesoamerican topics in relation to the Book of Mormon.

To kick off our study group, I decided to make some treats, but of course, they had to be Mesoamerican-themed.

We’ve officially named the occassion “Pizzan-Itza”

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Here are a few ideas for if you want to throw a Mayan party of your own!

1. Pizzan-Itza: A Mayan Pyramid Pizza

Just get any old pizza and decorate it with toppings to create some mesoamerican design. I opted for creating a Mayan pyramid out of olives. Everyone hated the olives.

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On top of a pizza party with pyramid iconography, we needed other treats.

2. Mayan Designed Cookies

I didn’t actually make this for the party last night, but if I had more time I totally would have.

Bake some delicious spice cookies, and let your imagination run wild with Mayan and Aztec designs. If I were doing this one, I would probably make some circular ones that looked like the Mayan or Aztec calendars.

Check out the full instructions here

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3. Human Hearts: Balled Watermelon

Just use an ice-cream scoop to create spherical chunks of watermelon and voila! Human Hearts.

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4. “Obsidian” Macuahuitl: Preztels with Chocolate Chips

To get the full instructions, click the recipe here!

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5. Sun Chips

And to finish it off, we had Sun Chips because it was the Solar Equinox. Mayans were all about solar events and holidays.

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And there you have it, a full spread of Mayan/Mesoamerican treats for your nerdy study group on the Book of Mormon.

Mesoamerican Treat: Preztel Macuahuitl

Ever wanted to learn how to make an edible Mesoamerican sword? I’m sure it’s on the top of your bucket list. Well, for my nerdy soulmate out there who’s always wanted to craft treats of ancient civilizations, I’m posting a tutorial!

A macuahuitl (pronounced ma-KWA-weet) is an ancient Mayan weapon used in battle. It was the Mesoamerican equivalent of a sword, but instead of being a thrusting weapon, it was primarily a slashing one. It was typically made of wood, and edged with obsidian blades

Image result for macuahuitl

For us westerners, the idea of a wooden sword doesn’t sound that fearsome. We’re used to sharpened and polished steel-bladed swords. However, these bad boys can really do a number. When wielded by fierce warriors, they could easily hack off human limbs.

Today, we’re going to make an edible equivalent aka preztels with chocolate chips.

It’s a super easy treat to make and is a real crowd-pleaser for Mesoamerican-themed parties!

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Recipe

  • Serving Size: 20 macuahuitls
  • Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 package of pretzel rods (I used Snyder’s)
  • 1 package of chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk)

Instructions

1. Gather your ingredients

I included peanut butter in this picture because you can use peanut butter as the glue instead of melted chocolate chips, but I opted for the melted chips this time.

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2. Lay out your pretzel rods on a cookie sheet or flat surface with wax paper

You’ll want the wax paper because it can get messy and once the “glue” sets, it’s easier to remove the sticks from wax paper than a normal plate.

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3. Prep your glue

In my case, I used chocolate chips. Take a small handfull (1/4 cup is more than enough) of chocolate chips, and melt them in a small bowl in the microwave for about 1 minute.

Stir the chips all together until they become a viscous liquid.

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4. Start gluing chocolate chips to the sides of each pretzel

Take a tiny dollop of the melted chocolate, and dab it on the bottom of a chocolate chip. Press the chocolate chip to the pretzel, and make sure it’s secure enough so it won’t just fall off.

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Repeat this with 3-4 chocolate chips down 1 side of the pretzel

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5. Repeat on the other side of the pretzel

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6. Freeze

Once you have about 5-10 pretzels made, throw those succors into the freezer on a wax-papered cookie sheet. They only need to be in there for about 5 minutes for the chocolate to solidify and seal the chocolate chips to the pretzel. You can work on the next set of pretzels while the first batch freezes

7. Ta-Da!

That’s it you’re done! You can display your new macuahuitls on a platter, or stick them in some floral foam for a fun display. Have fun slashing human arms with these cool edible mesoamerican swords!

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