This is an excerpt from an equally lesser known Thompson book, Blue Jade from the Morning Star. I’ve yet to get my hands on a physical copy but hopefully will soon! For now, this is from google books.
Of Quetzalcoatl history knows little, of Quetzalpetlatl, nothing. As “elder sister” and consort of Quetzalcoatl in the mysteries, she appears in the Annals of Cuauhtitlan simply as an expression of his fall. On the surface she appears to be a traditional male perception of the female, a perception of the male as the physical body into which the male spirit falls in drunkenness and unconsciousness. In this fall of the celibate high priest into human sexuality is a reflection of the fall of the evening star under the earth where it remains until it emerges from its journey as the purified morning star the prepares the way for its father sun. And in this fall into sexuality is also an echo of the fall of the eternal and unlimited spirit into a mortal and animal body.
Quetzalcoatl is the serpent that turns into a bird, Quetzalpetlatl is the caterpillar that turns into a butterfly; in both cases we are presented with an image of transformation, of a movement from earth to air, from matter to spirit.
The plumed serpent is, of course, not unique to Mexico. The staff of the god of Mercury, the caduceus, is the most familiar image from the classical world of Greece and Rome, but this religious hieroglyph goes back even further to Egyptian culture.
The quetzal bird is said to make its nest only on the top of trees in the full light of the sun. The serpent that has turned into a bird thus has to make its way up the trunk of the tree to move out of the dark into the light. And so it is with the phoenix, for it is said to have once been a lowly worm that fed in the dit, but then as it slowly made its way up the trunk of the tree, it began to become transformed into a bird. Once on the top of the tree, it no longer ate the gross food of earth but the more refined nectar of flowers and rare essences of herbs. Here in the nest atop the tree it created its own funeral pyre and was transformed into flames, but from the matter left behind, the ashes, another phoenix was born.
Since a quetzalcoatl is a snake which turns into a bird, and since at least one historical quetzalcoatl is said to have burned upon a funeral pyre, with his ashes rising up to become the morning star, it would be a simple matter to see both the myth of Quetzalcoatl and the pyramids of Mexico as having been inspired by direct cultural contact with Egypt. But it would be too simple. The religious iconography of the bird-tree-snake is almost universal.Anyone who has been trained in these techniques of meditation would instantly recognize that what is being presented is an imagistic representation of the nervous system as it is affected during the various stages of esoteric practice.
When knowledge is stored in images it can survive for a very long time, for stories are literally forms of cultural storage. But when the esoteric meaning and practice are lost, the image suffers from what Whitehead called “mis-placed concreteness,” and so we end up with the snake charmer performing his art for the tourists outside luxury hotels. A much more diabolical form of misplaced concreteness occurred in pre-Columbian Mexico. In the religion of Quetzalcoatl, one not only learned how to teach the serpent to fly, but how to open one’s heart to the light of the sun. The opening of the heart chakra to the light is one of the sublime religious, and this image was used, and is still used today, by the Sufis as the insignium of their practice. The Aztecs, however, perverted the ancient practice, reduced it to a fundamentalist literalism, and began to rip open the chests of sacrificial victims so that the priest could hold the heart up to the sun.