Venus Resurrects This Easter Sunday

by John P. Pratt

Reprinted from Meridian Magazine (Feb. 27, 2001)
©2001 by John P. Pratt. All rights Reserved.

Index, Home

1. Feathered Serpent
2. Cycles of Dawn Star
3. Morning Star
4. Resurrection Easter Repeats
5. Other Venus Cycles
5.1 8-year Cycle
5.2 40 Years
5.3 430 Years
5.4 A Strange Scripture
6. Conclusion
Have you noticed Venus, the Evening Star, currently blazing in the west after sunset? From Native American traditions we learn that in this phase it represents the Savior when he was at the heights of his ministry. In March it will plunge into the darkness below the horizon even as the Savior conquered the forces of death in the underworld. Then, in an extremely rare event,Venus will resurrect precisely on Easter (April 15, 2001) as the Bright Morning Star. That rare coincidence, which won't happen again for fifteen hundred years, can be witnessed around the world just before dawn on Easter Sunday wherever the eastern horizon is low and clear. This extraordinary sight was also witnessed on that Easter Sunday morning long ago when death was conquered by the Savior of all mankind.

The scriptures contain several references to the Morning Star, which we know as the planet Venus. In fact, the Savior clearly identifies himself as "the bright and morning star" (Rev. 22:16). Just what does that mean? Is it simply a figurative reference, meaning that Jesus was the most illuminating person ever to have come to earth, or is there a meaningful connection to the actual planet Venus?

Native Americans have preserved traditions which suggest that the cycles of Venus, the Evening and the Morning Star, symbolize the life of their white and bearded god, the Feathered Serpent, who was said to have visited them during the first century AD. Because of the account in the Book of Mormon of the visit of the Savior to the Western Hemisphere during that same century, much has been written supporting the idea that the Feathered Serpent was none other than the resurrected Jesus Christ.[1] There is much calendrical evidence supporting this identification, some of which will be presented in this article.

1. The Feathered Serpent

Nearly every Native American tribe has a legend of a great prophet who visited them in the distant past, and who promised to return someday. He was described as being tall, white-skinned and bearded. He taught a religion of love and service, and he forbade human sacrifice. He also taught agriculture, metallurgy, astronomy, medicine and government. Moreover, "it was held as true that he made the calendar."[2] He was known by a variety of names throughout the hemisphere, such as Totem in Alaska, Tacoma in Washington, Ioskeha in New York, Montezuma in Texas, Quetzalcoatl in Mexico, Viracocha in Peru, Wako in the Amazon, Temaukel in Tierra del Fuego and Tiki in Polynesia.[3]. The English translation of some of these names is the "Feathered Serpent." It was said that he was half man and half god, being the son both of a god and also of a beautiful mortal virgin. The "feathered serpent" symbol seems appropriate because the feathers, exemplifying the power to fly to the heavens, represent godliness, and the serpent represents mortality. This symbolism is virtually identical to Moses's imagery of a fiery, flying serpent which he used to represent the Savior lifted up on the pole to heal all who would look (Num. 21:6 9, 1 Nephi 17:41, 2 Nephi 25:20, Hel. 8:14-15).[4]

The Feathered Serpent.
If it is not already clear to the reader that the legendary Feathered Serpent was Jesus Christ, some calendrical evidence will now be marshalled to testify. First, the timing of the visit of the Feathered Serpent is given as about the time of Christ in the history written by an Aztec prince who converted to Christianity at the time of the Spanish conquest. He also specifically mentions the darkening of the sun and moon, and earthquakes as happening "at the same time when Christ our Lord suffered, and they say it happened during the first days of the year."[5] That was written about the year 1600, long before the Book of Mormon gave a similar account in 1830 (3 Nephi 8). The former was not published, however, until 1848, and then only in Spanish, so the Book of Mormon version could not have been copied from it.

A second calendrical testimony comes from the Native American traditions that link the Feathered Serpent to the cycles of the evening and the morning star. They record that "at the time when the planet was visible in the sky (as evening star) Quetzalcoatl died. And when Quetzalcoatl was dead he dwelt in the underworld... not until 8 days had passed did the great star appear; that is, as the morning star. They said that then Quetzalcoatl ascended the throne as god."[6]

This precious intelligence provides two great insights. First, it suggests one way to test the hypothesis that Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, was indeed Jesus Christ. The date of his Resurrection is clearly given in terms that most Bible scholars agree must refer either to what would have been called Sunday, 7 April AD 30 or Sunday, 3 April AD 33 on our calendar. Second, it allows us to reconstruct the symbolism of the entire cycle of Venus.

The first test perfectly fits one of the two proposed resurrection dates. On Sunday, 3 April 33, Venus was indeed rising as the Bright and Morning Star, whereas it was some three months past the rising in AD 30. That coincidence provides circumstantial evidence both that Christ was the Feathered Serpent, and also that the AD 33 date is correct for the Resurrection.[7]

It is the second insight that provides the key to reconstructing the entire Venus Calendar. This calendar allows us to pinpoint the exact day that Venus resurrects, and hence to appreciate the fact that it will again resurrect precisely on Easter Sunday this year. In order to understand the Venus calendar, we must first consider the motion of the evening and the morning star.

2. Cycles of the Dawn Star

Venus is closer to the sun than is the earth, which means that it can never be in the sky opposite the sun. If you see a bright star rising in the east after sunset, it cannot be Venus because Venus is always near the sun. Thus Venus is called the evening and the morning star because those are the only times it can appear in a dark sky. The illustration shows the key points in the orbit of Venus, as seen from the earth, so think of both the sun and the earth as at rest in this diagram, with Venus circling the sun with a period of 584 days.[8] When Venus is at position (1), it is invisible, being nearly in front of the sun. Then it rises about 4 days later at (2), when it first arrives at a great enough angle from the sun to barely be visible before sunrise, only to immediately disappear in the sun's light. Venus then rises a little earlier every morning until it becomes a blazing beacon before it nears point (3), where it reaches its maximum angle of over 45 degrees from the sun. It continues for an average of 263 days total as a morning star, at which time it disappears at (4). About 50 days later it rises at point (6) a dim evening star in the west, dim because it is so far from the earth. It then spends another 263 days, or nearly nine months, as an evening star before it again disappears at (8). As it nears the earth it gets its brightest about a month after passing point (7). It is near this brightest point at the time of this article's publication (20 Feb 2001), and it will stay that bright for about two weeks. So if you haven't seen it, be sure to go look immediately because it is so brilliant it will cast a shadow on a moonless night. It also appears to be a crescent shape if viewed in a telescope, because it is coming between us and the sun. After disappearing from the western sky, it spends about 8 days being invisible between the earth and the sun. Thus, the total period of the evening/morning star cycle is 8 + 263 + 50 + 263 = 584 days.[9] The next figure shows how these cycles appear to an observer. The actual path of Venus can be very erratic, sometimes changing to be from south to north. It truly appears to be a "wanderer," which is the meaning of the word "planet."

The mystery of how Venus relates to the life of Christ is solved by the Native American legends. The first appearance of Venus as a morning star "was probably the most important single event in Mayan astronomy. . . ." one noted astronomer concludes, "Little wonder that the theme of death and resurrection finds symbolic expression in the interaction of these two bodies" (the sun and Venus).[10] Knowing that the setting of Venus as an evening star represents death, allows us to fill in some other orbital symbolism. The rising of Venus as an evening star would represent birth, which is especially appropriate because it rises dim, like a newborn baby. Venus then slowly grows to manhood, but when it reaches its brightest point, it quickly plunges into the earth, even as the Savior was killed in his prime. This year, Venus will disappear toward the end of March. The planet then resurrects, becoming visible to the trained eye again probably about 5-10 April, depending on observing conditions. But as we will now see, there is a calendar date indicated for the official resurrection date of Venus, on which it is bright enough for all to see. That date this year coincides with Easter Sunday, 15 April 2001.

The Mayans provided us with a pattern for the four precise orbital points that were most important to them. Three of the four points were those of birth, death, and resurrection, which match fairly well the actual cycle of Venus. The fourth point has been a mystery. It occurs 90 days before birth, rather than 50 as one would expect if it coincided with the setting of the morning star. Scholars have concluded that it must have some ritualistic significance.[11] Because of the symbolism of the other three points, I propose that the fourth point represents the beginning point of the cycle. I refer to it as creation, and it probably represented conception. The point some forty days thereafter, when Venus descends into darkness most likely would represent the moment of "quickening," when the spirit enters the body, which was an important concept to Native Americans. These points are labeled in Figure 2. The Native Americans also identified a day when the Feathered Serpent "ascended the throne as god" which is probably near the point where Venus becomes brightest as a morning star, but my research has not identified that point with certainty yet.

Because we have no extant version of a long term Venus calendar, I have invented one based on these points identified by the Mayans. I have not yet finalized the details of this calendar, but there is a preliminary version on my web site.[12] The uncertainties, however, are minor and do not affect the conclusions of this article. The important point here is that there is a precise date indicated for each event.

3. Jesus Christ, the Bright and Morning Star

Several of the key dates in the life of Christ occurred on the "holy days" on the Venus Calendar. Although the birth date of the Savior has been somewhat controversial, the evidence to me seems compelling that the Savior was born during the night preceding Thursday, 6 April, 1 BC, which is indicated as Passover that year.[13] The Venus calendar day begins at midnight, when Venus can never be seen. If the birth was before midnight, then it would have been on the very beginning day of the Venus cycle, 1 Creation. In light of the multitude of Venus alignments which I have discovered, I propose that Jesus was born before midnight, when Passover coincided with the beginning of the Venus cycle.

It also appears that the Savior's baptism occurred on the day of atonement on the Judean calendar, Saturday, 6 Oct 29.[14] That day coincides with the last day on the Venus cycle before Prime, and the day on which he began his 40-day fast coincided with the day 1 Prime on the Venus calendar. On all of these sacred calendars both the last day and first days are usually considered holy, even as the days Sunday and Saturday in our seven-day week, with Christians celebrating the first day of the week and the Hebrews the last. Thus, both the day of the Savior's baptism, and the day he began his fast would be considered "holy days" on the Venus calendar. The other six holy days are 1 Creation, 1 Birth, 1 Resurrection, and the day preceding each.

The Savior began his ministry on Saturday, 6 April 30, which is the precise equivalent of his baptism day, but with Venus on the morning star side of its orbit, rather than the evening star side. I have not yet been able to determine it that is also a key orbital point, although astronomically we would expect it to be. As mentioned earlier, it could likely represent godhood, being a bright point after resurrection.

There is, however, no question about the alignment of the day of the Savior's resurrection. On the Venus calendar, if the resurrection was after the midnight which began Sunday, 3 April 33, then it coincided with the day 1 Resurrection on the Venus calendar. Thus of these three key dates in the Savior's life, all of them coincide with Venus holy days. The best symbolism, however, was that preserved by the Native Americans: The resurrection of the Savior coincided exactly with the resurrection of Venus. That means when the darkness cleared away in the morning, after the destruction experienced by the Nephites, one of the first sights that would meet their eyes would have been the rising of the Dawn Star, heralding the overcoming of death.

4. The Resurrection Easter Repeats.

This Easter Sunday we will have an opportunity to witness the resurrection of Venus precisely on Easter Sunday morning. That is an extremely rare event. There are two important dates in L.D.S. Church history which occurred on similar dates. First, the return of the prophet Elijah, prophesied by Malachi at the close of the Old Testament, occurred on Easter Sunday, 3 April 1836, which was calendrically one of the most similar days in history to that of the resurrection of the Savior.[15] To my knowledge, however, the similarity did not include any Venus symbolism. Another important date in Church history was the coming forth of the Book of Mormon on Thursday, 25 March 1830.[16] That day, which was New Year's Day on the Hebrew Calendar, was also the day 1 Resurrection on the Venus calendar. The planet Mercury, which is also an evening and morning star, was also at the same day of its cycle on both of these dates as it was on the Easter of the Savior's resurrection, acting as a second witness that these alignments were not due to chance. Thus there was symbolism for the resurrection of the Book of Mormon, when it could again speak to us like a voice from the dust. But that date was not Easter Sunday. Thus one of these dates aligned with Venus, and the other with Easter, but both of them aligned also with the planet Mercury. In the case of this coming Easter the alignment is with both Easter and Venus, but not with the planet Mercury.

Please understand that I am not expecting any great event to occur on Easter this year. Similar alignments have occurred in the past and to my knowledge they were not accompanied by any event the world would notice. But it seems like a wonderful time to actually witness the rising of Venus on Easter, just as it occurred at the Savior's resurrection. Just how rare is this alignment? Only one day of every 584 days is the day on which Venus resurrects, which can occur on any day of our year. Thus, we would expect about one Easter Sunday every 584 years to have this alignment. I checked to see when it will happen again, and it turns out that the next 1,500 years are not average, because it will not occur for more than another 1,500 years. So this is an event of a millennium to witness.

How can you best observe it? About an hour before sunrise on Easter Sunday, you should be somewhere where the eastern horizon is low, away from mountains if possible. Most of the United States will then have Daylight Savings time, so sunrise will be about 6:00 a.m. rather than 5:00 a.m. Even then it depends on where you live in the time zone, so listen to your local weather report. I will be giving a special Easter Sunrise and Venus Rise Service at 6 a.m. in Utah Valley discussing the importance of these calendrical alignments in the Savior's life. If you would be interested in attending it, please e-mail me at for instructions as to where it will be. It will be outside so there will be plenty of room for anyone interested.

5. Other Venus Cycles

There are many Venus cycles used throughout the scriptures. Perhaps I should mention a few here so that the reader will understand that the Venus alignments mentioned so far are not merely due to chance.

5.1 8-Year Cycle

There is an 8-year cycle which realigns both the moon and Venus with the year. The alignment is not perfect but it is close enough so that 8 years from this Easter, Venus will again be very near its Resurrection day on Easter Sunday. It won't be on the precise day, but it will be close enough that it will look about the same. Then 8-years after that it will be a little farther off, until Venus is no longer even close to the resurrection point at Easter.

The most obvious occurrences of this cycle in the L.D.S. church are the dates for baptizing children. If a child is baptized very near to the eighth birthday, then the baptism date will be similar to the birth date on our calendar, on the Hebrew calendar which includes the moon, and also on the Venus calendar. Note that the alignment is excellent. Five cycles of 584 days for Venus require exactly 8 years of 365 days (both equal 2,920 days). This suggests that ordinance dates may be important in each of our lives, and not just in the life of the Savior.

5.2 40 Years

There are many 40-year periods mentioned in the Bible. Forty years is a set of five 8-year Venus alignment periods, after which the planet realigns with the planet Mercury. As has already been mentioned, Mercury is an important second witness to many of these dates and has the same 8 holy days illustrated above during a 116-day cycle. It appears that many of the forty-year periods mentioned in scripture refer to Mercury/Venus alignments which coincide with Hebrew holy days.

5.3 430 Years

There are at least four references to 430-year periods in the scripture, and it turns out that 430 years is another Venus realignment period, when Hebrew holidays can occur on the same day of the Venus cycle. We are told that the Exodus occurred 430 years to the very day from the beginning of the sojourn of Israel (Ex. 12:40-41). What is the point being made about the accuracy of the very day? That may have to do with the fact that the Venus cycle is exactly 157,073 days, and knowing that, one could figure out the exact day of the Exodus. It was also 430 years from the birth of Peleg to the death of his father Eber (Genesis 11:17). Having the hint that the dates might be separated by a Venus cycle could be a clue to discovering the exact dates. Another example is the prophet Ezekiel was told by the Lord to lay on his side for a total of 430 days, which represented 430 years (Ezek. 4:5-6), which again could be a big chronological clue. Then, it turns out that the one chronological correction that the Prophet Joseph Smith made to Genesis was that Enoch did not live 365 years as stated in Gen. 5:23, but rather 430 years (Moses 8:1). What difference does that make? What does it matter if he lived 365 or 430 years? Perhaps it is important to know that Enoch was born and translated on a Venus cycle.

5.4 A Strange Scripture

What is the strangest scripture you can think of? While you think, here is one of the strangest scriptures that I know. The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that Enos was 134 years and 4 months old when he was ordained to the patriarchal priesthood (D&C 107:44). Now why would the Lord bother to tell us about those other four months? Was he hoping that we would know that 12 Venus cycles equal almost exactly 7,007 days (being a miniature of the 7,000 years of temporal existence), and that Enos might have been ordained when he had completed 7 such cycles which would take 134 years and 4 months? If so, we might be able to deduce the exact dates of his birth and ordination, and perhaps those dates would be important to know.

If that scripture is not strange enough for you, then I would challenge you to top the one only a few verses farther in that section. There we are told that Mahalaleel was 496 years and 7 days old when he was ordained (D&C 107:46)! When was the last time you heard that one quoted in church? Who cares about seven days in the life of someone 496 years old? Or could it be a clue needed to solve a puzzle which might otherwise be ambiguous? Another set of candidate strange scriptures are those where we are told the precise day on which the Great Deluge began, how long it rained, on what day the ark rested, when the mountains were seen, when Noah released some birds, and, strangest of all, the precise day on which the earth was dried (Gen. 7:11-8:14). Knowing that Genesis is a revelation from God and not a bunch of campfire stories might allow one to discover that the story of the flood contains a grand chronological template.

The point of all of this is mainly to convince you that there are a lot of unusual chronological tidbits in the scriptures, and that God might actually expect us to calculate some very precise dates in history.

6. Conclusion

Hopefully you will think of the Savior's mission whenever you see Venus, especially during the next two months. It really is a beautiful and striking symbol of the Savior. It has the pattern of his whole life mission. And hopefully we will take the time to at least try to see Venus in the morning sky on Easter Sunday morning, in an event that probably won't be repeated for over a thousand years.


The Venus Resurrection Easter Sunrise Service was held at 6:00 a.m. on Sun 15 Apr 2001 at Thanksgiving Point, Lehi, Utah. Click here to see the program and list of those who attended.
  1. See Hunter, Milton R., Christ in Ancient America, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1972.
  2. Juan de Torquemada, Monarquia Indiana (Madrid, 1723), vol. 2, pp. 40-50, quoted in Hunter, op. cit. , p. 31. Torquemada was a Catholic priest in the sixteenth century who preserved many Native American traditions.
  3. O'Brien, T.J., Fair Gods and Feathered Serpents, Bountiful, Utah, Horizon Publishers, 1997, p. 30. His book investigates a wide variety of possible identifications of the Feathered Serpent.
  4. Millett, Ronald P. and Pratt, John P., "What Fiery Flying Serpent Symbolized Christ?", Meridian Magazine, 9 Jun 2000.
  5. Hunter, Milton R. & Ferguson, Thomas S., Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, Oakland, Kolob Book, 1950, p. 190.
  6. Aveni, Anthony F., Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico, Austin, Texas, U. of Texas Press, 1980, p. 187.
  7. Pratt, J.P. "Dating the First Easter," Ensign (June, 1985), pp. 59-68.
  8. The period of Venus is only about 225 days relative to the stars. That is called the sidereal period and is the one listed in most planetary tables. But the cycle of the evening and morning star derive from the phases of Venus as seen relative to the sun, and it requires an average of 583.92166 days, the "synodic period," for its completion.
  9. These are the average periods given by Aveni, op. cit., p. 89. These are averages, the actual intervals can vary by weeks. The Venus calendar, however, is based on average periods.
  10. Aveni, op. cit., p. 86.
  11. Aveni, op. cit., p. 187.
  12. There is a calendar conversion program on my web site. It is not documented, you have to find it by selecting "Venus" from the calendar list.
  13. Pratt, J.P., "Passover: Was It Symbolic of His Coming?", Ensign, (Jan. 1994), pp. 38-45.
  14. This date is indicated by the Hebrew Calendar because it was the day of atonement, which is the proper day for reconciliation and covenant-making with God. It also explains why a multitude would be gathered to hear John the Baptist and be baptized. See Pratt, J.P. "What Every Mormon Should Know About Astronomy," Meridian Magazine, 12 May 2000, section 3.
  15. Pratt, J.P. "Symbolism of Passover and of Elijah's Return," Ensign (July, 1985), pp. 55-64 (section 3).
  16. See Pratt, J.P. "What Every Mormon Should Know About Astronomy," Meridian Magazine, 12 May 2000 (section 3).