I must confess that I have never heard of Nik Turner, a musician from the space rock band Hawkwind, and to be entirely honest, I’ve never heard of “space rock” either. Apparently there was a 1970s subgenre of rock that used musical beats borrowed from science fiction movie scores and wrote lyrics about outer space. It seems that over the intervening decades Turner’s views on the cosmos have curdled some, and he now says he’s working on a new album that will evangelize Zecharia Sitchin’s version of the ancient astronaut theory. Turner recently told The Quietus
I’m also working on an album with Helios Creed about the origins of humanity and the Anunnaki and the planet Nibiru. How the Annunaki are supposed to have seeded humanity upon the Earth in order for humanity to serve them in the goldmines, which is what they were interested in having from the Earth. I think the Toltecs and the Olmecs and the Nephilim were all giants, from that planet that’s behind Pluto that’s supposed to be the twelfth planet of the solar system.
This is hardly the only recent album devoted to Nephilim and ancient astronauts. Apparently fringe history has infested certain areas of rock music, for reasons I can’t quite fathom. But I was struck a bit by Turner’s suggestion that the Toltec and the Olmec were giants. That’s an unusual claim, and one that even ancient astronaut theorists are unlikely to spontaneously suggest.
The connection between the Toltec and giants is fairly straightforward, if a bit odd. In Aztec mythology, the city of Teotihuacan was believed to be the home of a lost race of giants. Bernardino de Sahagún, in book 10 of the Universal History of the Things of New Spain (i.e. The Florentine Codex), wrote that pyramids of the Sun and Moon in the city had been constructed by a vanished race of giants. Torquemada confirms the story in book 1 of his Monarquia Indiana, though he changes the details a bit and attributes discovery of the giants to the Toltecs rather than the Aztecs. At any rate, Sahagún, writing in 10.29, specifically identified the Toltecs as being giants, though not as big as the ones that built Teotihuacan: “The Toltecs were tall, of larger bodies than those living now, and being so tall they were able to run and advance quite far, for which they were called tlanquacemilhuique, which means that they ran a whole day without rest” (my trans.). So, to that end, there is at least some historical precedent for declaring the Toltecs giants, even if that isn’t really where Turner got it from.
Instead, Turner is identifying the Toltecs with the Nephilim on account of old nineteenth century ideas, probably unknown to him, that suggested that the Toltecs were actually a lost white race. It would be pointless to list all of the fringe figures who embraced this claim, but Ignatius Donnelly does a fair job of assembling quotations from them in his Atlantis: The Antediluvian World. In that book, Donnelly identified the Toltecs with the white survivors of Atlantis, who in turn he identified with the antediluvian Nephilim. “Their mental superiority and command of the arts gave them the character of giants who arrived from the East,” he said of these white godlike civilizers.
It is from this point a rather simple thing to reverse Donnelly’s efforts to make the Nephilim into symbolic giants and instead declare the Toltec to be literal giants.
As for the Olmecs, that is a more convoluted question. Donnelly can help us here, too. He presents a quotation, without attribution, that begins to fold the Olmecs into the story. I am here going to correct Donnelly’s transcription errors and complete the quotation he gives only in part:
Of the Nahua predecessors of the Toltecs in Mexico the Olmecs and Xicalancas were the most important. They were the forerunners of the great nations which followed. According to Ixtlilxochitl, these people—which are conceded to be one—occupied the new world in the third age; they came from the East in ships or barks to the land of Potonchan, which they commenced to populate, and on the shores of the River Atoyac, between the Ciudad de los Angeles and Cholula, they found some giants who had escaped the calamity which overtook that race in the second age of the world. Here then comes the destruction of the giants referred to above.
This quotation comes from John Thomas Short’s The North Americans of Antiquity (1880). We find this passage repeated in explorer Percy Fawcett’s notebooks, where he cribs more or less directly from Short: “There were, for instance, the Olmecs and Xicalancas, who claimed a great antiquity and were said to have been the destroyers of the last of the giants. For the sake of simplicity I call them Toltecs” (Exploration Fawcett, 1953, p. 241). You can see how closely Fawcett drew from Short for his understanding of “giants” in pre-Columbian Mexico.
But the trouble is that in all of the older sources, the Olmecs are presented as the heroes of the story, the slayers of giants, not as giants themselves. And yet, if we look at the occult literature of the last four decades or so, we find some attempt among Nephilim theorists to say the Olmecs are themselves the giants. For example, E. J. Clark and B. Alexander Agnew, writing in The Ark of Millions of Years vol. 4 (2011) make this identification, and relate the Olmec to Nephilim. Afrocentrist Nephilim theorist Ivory Simion, writing in The Books of Simion: Prophecy (2015) concurs, but adds that the giants were Black African superheroes. Patrick Chouinard, a gigantologist, splits the difference in his Lost Race of the Giants (2013), arguing that the Olmec were merely one branch of an indigenous race of “red-haired giants” remembered as the Jaredites of Mormon lore. He calls these Jaredite giants “a once proud and noble race of Caucasian ‘superhumans.’” (When he appeared on Coast to Coast A.M. the show described Choinard as a researcher of “ancient Caucasian origins and lost civilizations,” so the racism seems to be built directly into his world view.)
What we’ve learned from this is that the recasting of the Toltecs and the Olmecs as the giants that early Spanish accounts say they once fought seems to be due largely to the influence of Sitchinites, Nephilim theorists, and gigantologists who happily mix and match material at will and borrow from one another despite working at cross purposes. The Olmec can’t very well be Black African kings, white proto-hippie Atlantean scientists, and ruthless Bible giants all at the same time.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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