MLP with Graham Hancock

Graham Hancock with Jenny and Priya from Mystical Life Publications

As a writer and journalist, Graham Hancock has investigated some fascinating topics like the evidence for an ancient and very advanced lost civilisation, the Orion correlation theory, and the ‘War on Consciousness’ – a talk that was infamously banned by TED.

We’ve been particularly interested in his research on ancient sites and the significance of their alignments to celestial patterns, as the lost spiritual knowledge of ancient civilisations is something that we’re helping revive today through the work we publish.

Inside the theatre just before the start of the show

Inside the theatre just before the start of the show

So we went along to see the ‘Magicians of the Gods’ book tour that he undertook to promote his latest book. Having seen some of Graham Hancock’s talks and documentaries online, I was pretty excited to attend this in person. Arriving at the venue, people of all ages and walks of life were buzzing around, from dreadlocked youth to distinguished types and everyone in between (like us!). The venue capacity was adjusted to accommodate 1030 people and from what I could see, it was mostly full.

Ark of the Covenant

Ark of the Covenant

Replica of the Ark of the Covenant, George Washington Masonic National Memorial. Photo by wikimedia user Ben Schumin published under Creative Commons license

The day-long presentation started with Graham reading from a hermetic Egyptian text that makes reference to an ‘ark’, and this began his first presentation on the Ark of the Covenant. Graham described how the Ark of the Covenant, best known for its importance in the Old Testament as containing the stone upon which was inscribed the Ten Commandments and the reason for building Solomon’s Temple, was also worshipped by the ancient Egyptians and referenced in their texts.

He discussed how the Ark was used in the Old Testament for destruction and war, citing its role in bringing down the walls of Jericho, and the destruction it wreaked upon the Philistines after they stole it. Graham contrasted this to the references to the Ark in ancient Egypt, where it was always a sacred object and never used as a weapon of war. He put forward an intriguing notion that the Ark of the Covenant had parallels to the Holy Grail, and described how the quest to find the Ark was similar to the quest for the Holy Grail, and how the Knights Templar (in their quest for the Holy Grail) occupied and guarded the site of Solomon’s Temple in the 12th century.

Having followed references to the Ark in literature and ancient texts, Graham put forward the idea that the Ark is a physical object with a certain type of nuclear capability, like a nuclear weapon. He also related his research as a foreign correspondent in East Africa during the 1980’s and his interactions with a Christian Orthodox church there, which led him to conclude that the Ark is currently located in Axum, Ethiopia, and worshipped and guarded by an Ethiopian Christian sect there.

The_Damsel_of_the_Sanct_Grael_or_Holy_Grail

A depiction of the chalice or the Holy Grail

The research and investigations that Graham has done into the Ark and the Holy Grail is quite impressive and I think the parallels he has drawn between the Ark and Holy Grail are worth considering. However, I found that while Graham focussed upon the physical evidence for the Ark and the Holy Grail, there is another consideration which is perhaps even more relevant – the fact that both the Ark and the Holy Grail are symbolic representations of a sacred spiritual knowledge which has been searched for, guarded, and protected by spiritual and esoteric groups through the ages. Spiritual knowledge, quests, and teachings were often coded and cloaked in symbology to protect it through the ages from those who would be hostile and seek to oppress it. Mystics and spiritual seekers understood that the relevance of certain objects in texts and stories actually had a symbolic spiritual meaning that transcended its physical representation, and were able to extract wisdom and spiritual insight through a deeper comprehension. Both the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail have a symbolic meaning which has been passed down through the ages – they are metaphysical symbols of salvation referencing the Alchemical work. Both these symbols have been used to represent Alchemy and the inner transformation of a person’s energies through sexual alchemy. The quest to find the Ark and the Holy Grail, is in fact the quest of an individual seeking enlightenment, and the sacred Ark and Grail represent the sacred practice of Alchemy needed to achieve salvation. The power of both the Ark and the Holy Grail refers to the ways that the sexual energies can be transformed either for divine (angelic) and sacred purposes, or for evil (demonic) and destructive purposes. Hence, the representations of the Ark and the Holy Grail do appear throughout ancient scriptures and legends as a metaphor and symbol of the spiritual work as the process of enlightenment is universal, so that’s why we see common symbols appearing throughout different cultures and traditions.

The War on Consciousness

Astral Projection Split - Mystical Life Publications

A representation of the ‘astral split’ – a person’s astral body coming out of their sleeping physical body during a conscious out-of-body experience

After a presentation on the research behind his fictional book ‘War Gods’, Graham presented what is perhaps his most well-known talk on the ‘War on Consciousness’, which caused controversy and was banned by TED due to his advocacy of the psychedelic plant Ayahuasca to experience altered states of consciousness. The talk began with another reading from an ancient Egyptian text, this time from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, called ‘Awakening Osiris’; an amazing and powerful piece. Graham pointed out the limitations that materialist science has with explaining and understanding consciousness, giving the example that things like visions are discounted as changes in brain chemistry, which disregards phenomena like past-life memories or out-of-body experiences where verifiable information is produced by someone without any rational explanation. He spoke briefly of the research of Ian Stevenson about past-life memories from children under 7 years of age, and also relayed his own near-death experience at age 17, when he was electrocuted and found himself floating up and seeing his body below. Interestingly, this near-death experience inspired him upon his path to search for and understand the nature of consciousness – something which I and many others can relate to as when I had my first out-of-body experience (not as a result of a near-death experience but through astral travel) it also spurred me to explore consciousness further. Graham summed it up by stating that materialist scientists do not have answers to death; however ancient civilisations like Egypt enquired into it extensively, which warrants consideration into their knowledge of life and death.

The_judgement_of_the_dead_in_the_presence_of_Osiris

Egyptian art showing the Judgement of the Dead in the presence of Osiris – note the scales of justice showing the heart weighed against a feather

Graham explained the ancient Egyptian view of life as an opportunity to learn and correct mistakes, and their belief in reincarnation until a person has become perfected. He described the ancient depictions of the judgement of the soul that can be found in Egyptian art, showing the heart (representing the soul) being weighed against a feather (representing truth, love and goodness) on a set of scales. Good deeds and correcting mistakes could tip the scales in your favour, and people were given many lives as a means to correct mistakes and learn. However, ancient Egyptian culture was all but destroyed after the Emperor Constantine became a Christian, and the spiritual knowledge that the ancient Egyptians were custodians of was driven underground and hidden. He spoke about the ancient texts found buried in a cave in Egypt known as the Nag Hammadi Library, and the Pistis Sophia, which describe the spiritual knowledge of the Gnostics, an early Christian sect that promoted the view that the individual had a divine spark within and could attain salvation directly without an intermediary. He described the Gnostics as a “fatal bullet to the 3 major religions” of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as they avowed liberation as a personal spiritual work and had no need for a hierarchical religious order. The Gnostics were subsequently persecuted, along with the Cathars in France who also shared Gnostic beliefs, and they were wiped out. Because the Gnostics no longer exist and their teachings are obscure to us today, Graham posited that in order for an individual to gain spiritual knowledge and expand consciousness today, psychedelics such as Ayahuasca used by Shamans can be employed to provide consciousness-altering states and gain spiritual insight. This is based upon his own personal experiences in taking Ayahuasca and the insights he gained as a result, which included an experience with a ‘Mother Goddess’ figure who showed him the destructive nature of his cannabis use. This experience spurred him to quit his long-standing addiction. This talk concluded with Graham making the observations that the freedom and sovereignty over our consciousness is a human right, and the war on drugs infringes this right.

Secret of the Golden Flower - out of body experience

Illustration from the ancient Chinese alchemical book ‘The Secret of the Golden Flower’ showing a conscious out-of-body experience through a spiritual practice

The points that Graham made about the woeful inadequacy of materialist science to explain death, and the value of the teachings of ancient civilisations like Egypt to understand death resonated deeply with me, as this too is what I’ve found from years of spiritual practice and study, and is also reflected in the works we publish. I believe we can go one step further however, and gain personal and direct knowledge of what happens with death through out-of-body experiences, and uncover the same spiritual knowledge of life and death that ancient civilisations sought. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that a near-death experience was a defining moment from Graham Hancock, as out-of-body experiences provide a whole new perspective to the nature of our existence and a radically different and profound way of gaining knowledge compared to conventional intellectual research and study. We don’t need to just study the relics left behind by ancient spiritual civilisations to learn their wisdom of life and death – we can find out for ourselves by using practices for astral projection.

Cathars Expelled

The Cathars were wiped out and persecuted during the Albigensian Crusade, and other spiritual groups suffered a similar fate

The links Graham made to the spiritual wisdom passed down through the ages from groups like the Gnostics and Cathars was also surprisingly synchronistic as I’ve personally been involved with the study of Gnosticism. I was reminded of the Secret Quest series which also drew together the commonalities of the esoteric traditions of groups like the Gnostics, the Cathars, and the Knights Templar, based upon the research of people who were practising a modern form of Gnosticism, which just goes to show how researchers with different approaches can reach similar conclusions about the sacred teachings and groups of the past.

One point of difference would be my approach to experiencing consciousness and spirituality today. I agree that today there is a war on consciousness, however I believe it is a broader thing affecting our ability to naturally gather, explore, and experience consciousness. This is where the real suppression of consciousness is, in the way that we’re marginalised, attacked, or censored from gathering and speaking about consciousness openly. I don’t feel that we need to rely on any kind of drugs to do this, or any external aids for that matter, as the same latent abilities that existed within the Gnostics and mystics of the past exist within us today. The same yearning for oneness with divinity that saw the ancient Egyptians dedicate their society to spiritual knowledge burns within us today, and I feel that if we want to explore and expand our consciousness and advance spiritually, we can use the same spiritual practices and techniques that have been used throughout time. Our ancient sacred past need only be obscure if we have no interest in rediscovering it, but we can activate consciousness in our lives and create the environment for the sacred knowledge of the past to once again flourish, if we want.

Ancient Lost Civilisations

Orion and pyramids of Giza

Pyramids of Giza superimposed over the constellation of Orion as it appeared 10,500 years ago. Photo by English Wikipedia user Davkal published under a Creative Commons license

Graham’s final talk was the one that we were undoubtedly most looking forward to, where he presented his research showing the alignment of ancient sites to constellations and astronomical occurrences such as precession, which suggests that sites like the pyramids of Giza and Angkor Wat are actually far older than historians and archaeologists give credit for. Both the pyramids and Angkor Wat align perfectly to the constellations of Orion and Draco respectively as they would have appeared in the night sky 10,500 years ago. Other points about the precise dimensions and construction of these sites shows that the people who built these sites not only had an extraordinarily high degree of knowledge of engineering, astronomy, masonry, and spirituality, but they had a shared knowledge that indicates they were connected in some way. Given that conventional history suggests our current civilisation only began to emerge from the Neolithic period between 10,000 and 3000 BCE, and that we only started sailing the oceans around 9000 years ago, the concept that older and apparently more advanced civilisations that had already made contact with each other could exist, flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

Other evidence suggesting that a much more ancient and advanced civilisation existed included the discovery of the Indus Valley civilisation, encompassing a huge area including most of modern-day Pakistan, and parts of India, Afghanistan, and Iran. Known as the Harappan civilisation, the major cities of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa have been only partially excavated and date to as far back as 7500 BCE, showing a highly advanced and organised urban city of up to 5 million, complete with running water and flushing toilets to each household. It is thought to have been the largest city in the world of its time, and sadly but ironically shows a much higher standard of living for the inhabitants of its time than for many living in the cities there today. There is also a huge amount of intriguing information underneath the waters off India and Japan on the ocean floor, which show sophisticated man-made structures that are older than 10,000 years old. These structures would have been built when the lands were above water, before the end of the last ice age. However, the reluctance of authorities to challenge the conventional wisdom of historians and archaeologists has meant that little interest and research has been done to discover more about these sites, apart from a handful of dedicated people who are working outside the establishment.

Spring Equinox at Angkor Wat 21 March 2012

Angkor Wat during the Spring Equinox. Photo by wikimedia user សុខគឹមហេង and published under the Creative Commons license

Having travelled to many ancient sites himself and undertaken research, Graham pointed out that the older the sites were, the more advanced and sophisticated they were. The sites that are older than 10,000 years show a greater level of skill in astronomy, engineering and so on than younger sites built 5000 or 1000 years ago. He suggested that this is evidence of an ancient lost civilisation that could have existed as far back as 12,000 years ago, such as the fabled Atlantis, which was then wiped out and the surviving inhabitants across the world sought to build sacred sites that contained their spiritual wisdom and knowledge for the future. This would explain why the most impressive sites appear to date to 10,500, as through the passage of time, society’s spiritual understanding degenerated as did its architecture. It is with some arrogance that today we believe we are at the apex of our civilisation with advanced technological capabilities, and that the people of the past were primitive and ignorant ‘noble savages’, when the reverse seems true – we have lost the knowledge and technology that allowed such wonders as the pyramids to be built.

Graham concluded the talk with a parting reflection on the resilience of the developed world compared to the majority of the world living in poverty, asking who would be most affected if another catastrophe engulfed the earth and wiped out populations – would the first world, so reliant on comforts and technology prevail to create a new society, or would it be the poor who have learned how to live and survive with little?

solstice6-MLPslider

Modern spiritual ceremony celebrating the solstice, based on ancient sacred ceremonies

Interesting food for thought, and got me considering humanity’s dilemma not only on a physical level, but a spiritual level too. What sacred knowledge would be our legacy? What have we created today that could inspire and spiritually connect with peoples of the future, the way that places like Stonehenge or Chichen Itza can today connect us to our ancient forefathers of the past? What could we point to, apart from something like the Eiffel tower or the Empire State building? What would that communicate about us to our descendants in one or two thousand years? I believe that gaining an understanding and appreciation of these ancient megalithic sites is an important first step, but also that we should not leave them as a thing of admiration, locked in the past, merely something to be visited on a once-in-a-lifetime trip with evidence we were there posted on Facebook. I believe the ability to have a spiritual understanding and relationship with the cosmos and to create sacred sites is latent within us now, and is our birthright as human beings. We can create a new golden age by unlocking the power of our consciousness and gain access to the same knowledge of the collective past that stirred within the hearts of the people who built sacred sites like the pyramids. We can unlock the keys of history and sacred spirituality within our own lives, using the same ancient mystical practices and ceremonies used for thousands of years, and create sacred places of our own today that enliven our consciousness and nurture our spiritual journeys.