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Blog - Category: Archaeology

Ancient Civilizations and the Spirit World

In many ways I straddle a couple of different communities – indeed, different worlds. I am a trained and “card-carrying” academic. I earned a Ph.D. in geology and geophysics at Yale University and I am currently a fulltime tenured faculty member at Boston University. Yet I take a deep and serious interest in various topics that the majority of my fellow academics find, to put it mildly, loathsome. I have challenged mainstream status quo dogma and explored topics that, I have been advised, are best left unexplored if I want to have a successful university career.

My work on ancient cultures, challenging the mainstream view that the origins of civilization do not extend further than five thousand to six thousand years ago, has not endeared me to my more conventional colleagues. Beginning with my re-dating of the core body of the Great Sphinx, which sits on the edge of the Sahara Desert and shows evidence of water weathering and erosion despite the hyper-arid climate of the region during the last five millennia, I have argued that there was an earlier cycle of civilization that well preceded – by thousands of years – the dynastic Egyptians. Since my original work on the Great Sphinx, the discovery and excavation of the tremendously sophisticated megalithic site of Göbekli Tepe in southeastern Turkey, the oldest portions of which date back to the end of the last ice age, confirm that advanced civilization existed thousands of years prior to the period when conventional wisdom asserts civilization began (for further discussion, refer to my book Forgotten Civilization: The Role of Solar Outbursts in Our Past and Future, 2012).

Geologically, based on detailed ice core analyses and other data, the last ice age ended suddenly and dramatically circa 9700 BCE. For decades the cause of the sudden warming remained a mystery, but piecing together multiple lines of evidence, my conclusion is that there was a major solar outburst at this time. Our star, our Sun, spewed forth mighty solar flares, coronal mass ejections (CMEs), and related phenomena that literally scorched parts of our planet’s surface, set wildfires, melted high latitude glaciers suddenly, and ultimately snapped us out of the last ice age. The release of pressure on Earth’s crust due to melting glaciers initiated earthquake and volcanic activity. And as glaciers melted and water evaporated, the atmosphere became overloaded with moisture that came down again as torrential rains, causing widespread flooding and erosion (such as the erosion seen on the core body of the Great Sphinx). The magnetosphere, ionosphere, and ozone layer were probably compromised, allowing dangerous levels of radiation to penetrate to the surface of Earth. The best way to escape was to go underground – and indeed there is evidence that pockets of human survivors did just this, as witnessed by natural caves and artificial underground shelters utilized during this period and subsequently; the Cappadocia area of Turkey is a prime example, with its rock-cut houses and underground cities that could shelter thousands of people along with their animals and food supplies. Likewise, there were major extinctions of large animals at the end of the last ice age, animals who could not easily escape the surface devastation.

Advanced civilizations had developed by the end of the last ice age, but this earlier cycle of civilization came to an end with the solar outburst catastrophe of circa 9700 BCE. A “solar-induced dark age” (SIDA) ensued, one that lasted some six thousand years, until civilization re-emerged in Egypt, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and elsewhere.

Interestingly, the story of Atlantis as recounted by Plato places the fall of that mighty civilization at circa 9600 BCE, in close correspondence to the modern dating of the end of the last ice age. Furthermore, Plato’s descriptions of the catastrophes that brought the Atlantean civilization to a close sound very much like the results that could ensue from a major solar outburst. When I point out such correspondences to my academic colleagues, I generally get either smirks or downright outrage. After all, according to the mainstream view, the Atlantis legend is just that, a legend or myth – perhaps a political (or even musical, according to some) metaphor with no basis in reality when it comes to chronology and genuine events in the physical world. My conventional colleagues assure me that the civilization of Atlantis never actually existed. Successful and accomplished university professors do not go hunting for Atlantis or even discuss the topic other than in the context of literature or philosophy.

Another realm I have explored, and which has piqued rather than endeared me to my academic colleagues, is what might be loosely termed the “spirit world”. I have long had a serious interest in psychical research, the paranormal, and subject matter that is generally termed more technically parapsychology. My interest arises in large part from my studies of ancient civilizations, for ancient peoples consistently included psychic and parapsychological phenomena among their core belief systems. And, whether we care to acknowledge it or not, humanity in today’s world of modern technology is still shaped and influenced by our cultural inheritance from remote ancient times.

One aspect of this very ancient inheritance is a set of beliefs and practices that in modern times has been broadly termed “shamanism”. I have to admit that I cringe a bit when I read or hear the term “shamanism” as in my assessment it has been overused and even abused during the past few decades, becoming a catch-all phrase, but perhaps at this point there is no better replacement term. Modern classical shamans and their belief systems are centered in the region of Siberia (see for instance the masterful 1935 study by S. M. Shirokogoroff with the evocative title Psychomental Complex of the Tungus [reprinted 1999]) and in its present form Siberian shamanism may be only a few centuries old, but the antecedents of shamanic beliefs go back to well before the end of the last ice age.

The core of shamanism is the belief in, and acknowledgment of, spirits and the spirit world. A shaman is a person who has become “a master of spirits, at least of a group of spirits” (Shirokogoroff, p. 271; italics in the original). According to shamanic beliefs, the cosmos is inhabited by spirits who can at times interact with and affect humans. There is a world of spirits, a world that exists simultaneously with the ordinary physical and material world we all take for granted. A human, such as a shaman, can interact with and visit the spirit world. Such fundamental shamanic beliefs can be traced back tens of thousands of years, and were common to the ancestors of all living humans (see E. J. Michael Witzel’s insightful 2012 tome, The Origins of the World’s Mythologies).

Well, it is fine and good from a conventional academic perspective to study primitive belief systems, such as those of shamanism, but one must never take such superstitious nonsense seriously – that would certainly be crossing the proverbial line at the risk of exile to the academic equivalent of Siberia. But there was in recent times a well-known and distinguished anthropologist who had crossed this line: Edith Turner (1921 – 2016; she was in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, at the time of her death). In various publications Turner testified that during a traditional curative ritual in Zambia she witnessed a spirit form. As she described it, “the traditional doctor bent down amid the singing and drumming to extract the harmful spirit” . . . “I saw with my own eyes a large, gray blob of something like plasma emerge from the sick woman's back” (E. Turner, “The Reality of Spirits”, published in the journal Shamanism, volume 10, number 1, Spring/Summer 1997). This, I dare suggest, is hardly an isolated incident. Many people have had similar experiences, but such persons and their testimonies are simply dismissed by traditional academics who consider it all a matter of delusions, self-delusions, or downright fraud. The average anthropologist may record such stories told by informants, but certainly not take them as literal recountings of what really happened.

If there is such a thing as the serious academic study of spirit phenomena, then it would fall under the realm of parapsychology (which also goes by the older name of psychical research). Here what I mean by “serious academic study” is not the study of such phenomena as primitive nonsensical superstitious beliefs that might simply serve the function of bonding a society together or relieving social stress, but rather considering “spirit phenomena” objectively (if indeed such is possible – one can try to do one’s best) and ask whether or not such phenomena are genuine, and if they are, what might be the underlying causative factors. Are the spirits real? Is there a true spirit world?

Perhaps needless to say, parapsychology is itself generally considered a fringe discipline by other academics and is often dismissed out of hand. Yet over a century of serious scholarly studies of telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, unconventional medical cures, “ghost sightings”, poltergeist occurrences, psychokinesis/telekinesis, and so forth, have demonstrated that these types of phenomena genuinely occur, although granted there are also numerous cases of fraud and charlatanism (for an introduction to this field, see the 2008 anthology that I co-edited, The Parapsychology Revolution; see also Chapter 14 and Appendices 2 and 4 of Forgotten Civilization). These types of phenomena have been traditionally attributed to spirits and a spirit world. Many parapsychologists do not want to hypothesize spirits to explain the strange phenomena they study. Instead, they may invoke new discoveries or exotic phenomena in other fields, such a quantum entanglement, in an attempt to explain the telepathic transmittal of information or other paranormal incidents. But is this ultimately any more “scientific” than postulating, at least as a working hypothesis, that there might be a spirit world? Indeed, it strikes me that postulating a spirit world is not incompatible with postulating “exotic” physical processes (some of which have not even been discovered) to explain various unconventional parapsychological (paranormal) phenomena.

Maybe a spirit world exists, genuinely exists, in another realm or dimension. This is an idea that is hardly new. Across Siberia there is an often-told story about a person who accidentally visits the spirit world. Through a hole in the ground or some sort of cave, a man (or woman) unknowingly enters into the realm of the spirits, not realizing where he is. Wandering along, he comes upon a camp where there are people gathered. He attempts to interact with these people, but they step on him and bump into him. It becomes evident that they cannot see him. When the man touches any of the people, and in one version of the story when he teases some girls, they become ill. The dogs in the camp bark at the man, apparently sensing his presence. The people suspect that something is wrong, and they hire a shaman to rid them of the “evil spirit” that is plaguing them. The human man slowly comes to understand that he is among spirits, he has entered the spirit world, and from the perspective of the spirits (who consider themselves human), he is considered an evil spirit. The spirit shaman is ultimately successful and drives the human from the spirit world and he returns to the world of humans (a version of this story is recounted by Charles Stépanoff, Inner Asia, volume 11, number 2, 2009, p. 292).

One of the lessons that might be drawn from this story is that, as a group, spirits are neither all good nor all bad – just as not all humans are alike. An “evil spirit” may be nothing more than a spirit “out of place” and interacting, perhaps inadvertently, with the human realm. An accomplished shaman can redirect the misplaced spirit to the world where it belongs. Of course this does not preclude genuinely “good” or “evil” spirits, but it may well be that such appellations are often inappropriate and the majority of spirits never interact with the human realm (or vice versa).

Returning to the question of whether or not spirits might be real, might be genuine, this widespread story leads me to ponder the possibilities. Is it conceivable that there is literally a spirit world, either very different from our world, or perhaps parallel to the world of humans (as depicted in the story from Siberia)? Might a spirit world exist in another dimension or time frame that only occasionally or under peculiar circumstances intersects with, or interacts with, the world with which we are familiar? Could the spirit world be composed of some form of exotic matter that we cannot readily detect, such as the hypothetical dark matter or mirror matter of modern physics?

The concept of mirror matter is something that I find particularly fascinating. To greatly oversimply the concept, our world is composed of particles that are said to be “left-handed” at a fundamental level, and theoretically there could be matter that is “right-handed”. Such right-handed matter, or mirror matter (also known as shadow matter or Alice matter; mirror matter is not to be confused with antimatter) would create a world unto itself that is very similar to, or from a physics point of view, virtually identical to, our own world. That is, mirror matter particles would interact with each other in the same manner that ordinary particles interact with each other. But, very importantly, mirror matter particles and ordinary matter particles would barely interact with one another. A wall composed of mirror matter would not only be invisible to you, but you would be able to walk right through it. If a spirit world were composed of mirror matter, we would not normally be aware of it. (It can be argued that we should be able to detect mirror matter via gravity anomalies, but depending on the density and distribution of mirror matter, such anomalies may either effectively cancel out or be negligible, possibly beyond the reach of the most sensitive equipment currently available.) But perhaps under incredibly unusual circumstances, for we still do not actually know if mirror matter exists – although there is some evidence that it does – or exactly what all of its properties might be, we could just possibly interact with mirror matter organisms. Could a spirit world be composed of mirror matter? Could the interaction of a mirror matter world and our ordinary matter world occasionally give rise to balls of “plasma” (essentially electrically-charged particles) by a process referred to by physicists as “kinetic mixing” of mirror photons and ordinary photons, or some other interaction of mirror and ordinary subatomic particles? Could this be the explanation for the “gray blob” that Edith Turner observed emerging from the sick woman’s back? One might argue that the energies involved to create observable interactions between mirror matter and ordinary matter would be much higher than the energies observed in everyday life, but then again we really do not know, given that we do not have a good handle on the properties of mirror matter vis-à-vis ordinary matter – that is if mirror matter even exists.

Another explanation for spirits, or at least certain types of spirits or ghosts, is that they are composed of collections of hydrogen (the simplest atom) and/or subatomic particles of which hydrogen and all other atoms are composed – an idea that my wife, Catherine Ulissey, first proposed when pondering the ancient Egyptian belief that upon death we are reborn as stars in the sky. If stars are composed largely of hydrogen (hydrogen clouds which collapse into suns due to gravitational forces, as the basic theory of star formation asserts), and if some of the elements in the human body can be traced back to stars (“stardust”), then is it not reasonable to conclude that upon death our hydrogen is released from us and, being light, it floats upward to space eventually completing a grand cycle?

The basic postulate of this hypothesis is that we as living organisms with physical bodies are in large part made of hydrogen. Hydrogen is found in water (H2O), in all of our carbon-hydrogen organic compounds and molecules, and so forth. Information can be encoded in hydrogen and the subatomic particles that make up our hydrogen just as it has been demonstrated experimentally that pure liquid water can encode information (this I discuss in Chapter 14 of Forgotten Civilization). When we physically die, some of our hydrogen (and its constituent subatomic particles) is released. This released hydrogen carries detailed information about us, and furthermore these hydrogen atoms and associated subatomic particles are, to use the jargon of quantum physics, entangled (having been closely associated in life in an organism, in a personality), and thus tend to aggregate, collect, and stay in “communication” or connected together, upon release from the body. Furthermore, when a person dies, various diverse collections of hydrogen carrying different sets of information, may be released from the physical body. If the personality, the consciousness, of a person from this life is to survive in a recognizable form in the next life, it may be important and necessary to combine and re-integrate these “psychic components” in the hereafter. Indeed, the ancient Egyptians had very complex notions of the different aspects of a person – much more sophisticated and detailed than the modern and rather simplistic notions of body, soul, and spirit. And the ancient Egyptians, as well as many other ancient and indigenous peoples, emphasized the necessity of reintegrating the “soul components” when a person passed to the other side. Modern science may once again demonstrate the truth of the insights of ancient traditions.

But here, once again, I am treading on dangerous ground – at least when it comes to academic respectability. To even discuss such matters raises suspicions amongst many of my conventional academic colleagues. It is taboo. But what about the global belief in spirits, a belief that can be traced back tens of thousands of years? All nonsense? Or, as the cliché goes, where there is smoke there is fire; is there some underlying basis for the acceptance of the spirit world? And then we have the direct testimony of Edith Turner. Perhaps the spirits do exist, but as we have accelerated our technological developments we have also pushed the spirit world ever more into the background. Then again, perhaps ultimately technology will fully reveal the realm of the spirits to us. I am not sure what to think, but it definitely makes me think. 

Sacred Sites

Spiritual Self-Help Centers

The Native American tribe Hopi describes the creation as such: in the beginning, the Creator made the first human and sent him with a drum to the south pole. Once there, this person heard the heartbeat of the Earth Mother and beat his drum. When the two reached a sympathetic vibration, the Earth sent streams of energy to the surface whereupon it became abundant with life force. But there were places where this life force was more abundant, and the Hopi called them the “spots of the fawn.”

These hotspots of energy would, in time, form the foundations of future temples and sacred places we see today. And there's the rub: if you ever feel your life to be lacking in connection to the source of things, go sit in a sacred space, which can be referred to as spiritual self-help centers.

In the last three decades science has made enormous advances in measuring what sensitive people, gnostics and antiquarians have known for thousands of years: that every sacred site on Earth is underpinned by a subtle force that affects human consciousness to an extraordinary degree. Energy measurements of ancient sites such as Carnac stone circle in France and Avebury stone circle in England reveal how such megalithic structures attract electromagnetic energy, which in turn is stored in the unique stones, then released throughout the day.

It only takes a small change in the local electromagnetic field to alter the human biological system. In fact, the three prime elements found in every sacred site — water, electromagnetism and quartz — are those that make up the human body. In a sense a temple is a mirror of the human temple in its perfect state.

Ancient systems of knowledge teach that we are born perfect, but the worries of the world soon deflect the soul from its perfect state, leaving us disconnected and dis-eased. That is, 'out of ease' with our environment. It was for this reason, above all others, that our predecessors embarked on a global temple-building project.

The idea is really quite simple. Attract the human into the heart of the temple, and by a subtle process of energy exchange, this person who wandered in out-of-alignment walks out whole, or as we have come to call this state, holy. The idea forms our culturally shared experience of pilgrimage.

And it isn't just a matter of recharging the body's system. By their very nature, ancient sacred sites are open portals to every level of existence, they mark places where one is able to access the Otherworld and its unique library of information. Depending on the intent you take there, it is possible to fine-tune the information your conscious and subconscious needs to become a fully operational being, to the degree that some temples are even used in healing.

In an age where we have become increasingly disconnected from the natural world that birthed us in the first place, it is important we find time to visit these self-help centers to discover, even if for a few minutes, that umbilical connection to the source. Interestingly, many sacred sites have always been associated with a golden thread or a hollow reed that links the terrestrial temple to the Otherworld. In 2008 NASA discovered that every eight minutes, portals of magnetic energy link locations on the surface of the Earth to the Sun. They even used the word 'portal' in the press release. So it is more than idle conjecture that legends and myths are mere colorful stories, for they actually contain kernels of universal truth as well as instructions telling us where to source energy and information. It is for this reason that ancient seers were also “sourcerers."


Sacred Energy Spaces are Everywhere, and You Can Find One Near You

You might have heard others say that not everyone is fortunate enough to live within easy proximity of an ancient temple or sacred site. That is not correct. I am writing this article from my desk in downtown Portland, Maine, within three feet of one of those “spots of the fawn.” It is a natural vortex, the result of two converging telluric currents or energy pathways. In the late 19th century this location was overlaid with a Victorian building. The other person attracted to this site is a healer who now lives on the first floor, and whose clients love coming here to find a degree of connectivity, even though they are not aware of the subtle forces at work inside the building. In essence, we live in a brick building atop a sacred space, a “spot of the fawn."

These hotspots of energy are everywhere, which makes finding your very own self-help center that much easier. One way to discover your local hotspot is to take a deep breath and go for a walk, even if it's downtown Manhattan. Clear your thoughts and observe where your body takes you, because both your body and your subconscious are better equipped than your conscious self to look for that which they need to feel connected and whole.

You will know when you locate a 'spot of the fawn' when you feel a sense of ease and joy. Cliché, but true. Contrary to modern media, happiness and peace is the natural state of the human body, and this state comes about only when it feels no disconnect between all levels of reality.

Some of these places may not surprise you: a park, an open space, a view by a river. But some will. An unusually placed bench, a bookstore, a soda fountain, the quiet corner of a local cafe. Even modern places can occupy hotspots where one feels one with the environment, maybe because the people who put them there also felt the very same sense of belonging.


The Purpose of Sacred Sites in the 21st Century

Sacred sites have been around for thousands of years and there are many theories as to what they were used for around the time of their construction. However, could these sacred sites such as Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza serve a purpose for us in present day? In an interview for AAE TV, Freddy Silva talks about the second book he wrote called “The Divine Blueprint” which contains nearly 1,000 references that describe the various encounters people have with sacred sites. He raises the question of – What is the origin of sacred sites, and what makes them sacred? Freddy doesn’t limit his investigation of sacred sites to places of origin that date back thousands of years, but instead he includes recent crop circle formations in his research. His investigations of sacred sites are nothing short of thorough – as he makes use of scientific evidence, eye witness testimony from prominent sources, and pieces the whole puzzle together with the myths and legends of the local population.

Crop Circles

Some people don’t believe there is any mystery to the crop circle phenomenon. Others maintain the belief that all crop circles are made by two people holding a string and a board. However, Freddy woke up to a greater reality when he started noticing luminous objects above crop circle formations that he couldn’t ignore. He began to travel the world in search for answers with the belief that when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear; and the teacher always did. Postal workers, policemen, military personnel, politicians, and 80 other eyewitness testimonies in Freddy’s book: “Secrets in the Field” claim to have seen crop circles being formed. In addition to these testimonies, Freddy’s book has over 400 images and diagrams to help explain this phenomenon. In many of these accounts the witnesses say they see tubes of light coming down from the clouds and that the crop formation would appear in under 15 seconds. In some cases the formation would appear the following day. He doesn’t end the discussion there, but instead he postulates that these formations could be created by sound, plasma or the manipulation of local gravitational fields.

“Some people think that crop circles are either hoaxes or that they are made by UFO’s, neither is actually the case – They are created by consciousness,” Freddy said.

Freddy dissects the crop formations’ sacred geometry, known meanings, hidden messages, and connections with ancient symbols. He believes the phenomenon works alongside human consciousness. He conducted many experiments where he would ask a mathematical question in his mind, and the answer would be revealed in the formation of a crop circle.


What makes a site sacred?

“Sacred space is where you come in contact with everything. The veiled world of the universe gets lifted.”

Freddy mentions that there are certain spots on the Earth that feel different. The environment feels different, your state of perception feels more developed and it might feel as though you’ve come into contact with another level of reality. Scientists Freddy has spoken with, say that beyond the measuring, and beyond the scientific evidence they found about the differences in the electromagnetic field, they say there is a palpable difference in how they feel when they step into and out of the sacred space.

“Part of the reason why we find temples in every culture of the world when we look at the myth, legend, traditions and what took place at these sites, it becomes pretty obvious that they are all looking for the same thing – a controlled out of body experience,” Freddy said.

He mentions that even the left-brained early mathematicians like Plato and Pythagoras had experiences in certain temples where they accessed another level of reality. These places were built with a purpose. They are astronomical markers because the stone circles do align with stars and constellations, but also there is a history of healing at these sites as well. However, the one thing that ties all of the theories about these sites together is the ability for people to go in and journey, and use the elements at the places to help them release their soul from their body and disengage from the material world for a certain amount of time (sometimes as long as 3 days). People like Isaac Newton or Leonardo Da Vinci, who both belonged to secret societies, went on similar journeys. He says that they had accessed certain areas of their brain, certain levels of consciousness, in order to put themselves into a situation where they could receive information from a bigger library of information.


How do the Sacred Sites affect us in the present day?

The boundary between belief and science fiction is slowly disappearing as we learn more about the Sacred Sites and their possible links to the higher levels of consciousness, to aid us in our awakening as a whole planet. We do not have all the answers yet, but people are going to sacred sites (Freddy suggests there is a 5,000% increase in people attending sacred sites) because we are awakening to the realization that there is something missing in our understanding of the world we live in. Why can we not replicate the same sacred sites that were made thousands of years ago? How can we dismiss nearly 100 known eyewitness testimonies of the formation of crop circles? Why is there so little knowledge and understanding of sacred sites, and why is the scientific evidence dismissed so readily? There is undoubtedly a misunderstanding of how the world really works, and the way to bridge this gap is not necessarily a stepping stone of finite proportions, but could be more like a giant leap – A paradigm shift.



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