Tertullian, an early Christian apologist, came to the attention of a contemporary physicist delving into the occult, and he, J. Ziegler, has supplied us with this quotation which can introduce this chapter and the next:
The philosophers know the distinction between common and mysterious fire. The First that serves man's use is one thing. The fire that ministers to the judgment of God is another, whether flashing the thunderbolts from the heaven or rushing up from the earth through the mountain tops. For it does not consume what it burns, but, even while it spends it, repairs the loss. So the mountains remain, ever burning; and he who is touched by fire from heaven is safe -no fire shall turn him to ashes.
Lightning expresses only a small fraction of electrical processes. Electricity is everywhere. It presents itself in the smallest particle and, some of us believe, commands the behavior of every remote galaxy of stars. It is part and parcel of every natural transaction. Perhaps it is the hunger of protons for electrons that initiates all natural behavior, whatever the scale or intensity.
Earth scientists have been reluctant to admit electricity to their domain. There is a confined interest in "hard" lightning, taken over by metereologists now, and geophysics must trespass upon nuclear physics in connection with chemical bonding and radioactivity. Historically, earth scientists have led the parade of debunkers when meteoroids were reported to fall or when lightning took unusual forms. Of course, when geologists stood upon mountain tops and St. Elmo's fire flowed from their beards and hammers, they could not well deny this "god's fire" of the ancients  . But one searches in vain for a treatise on St. Elmo's fire, one of the oldest and most fascinating phenomena continuously reported.
In fact, there exists no treatise on the full range of electrical behaviors related to geology. This universal presence of electricity in geological events does not excite systematic attention, no more than it has in astronomical events up to the present. If one seeks a rational explanation for this neglect, it may lie in the unreadiness of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere to display their electrical history, letting the electrical be considered transient and superficial.
If one seeks non-rational explanations of an ideological or psychiatric sort for such avoidance, it may be in the quixotic or miraculous appearances of electrical phenomena. Bordering upon the religious and the occult, these set up psychological resistances among "hard" scientists. As we shall see, even the famous subject of lightning, which can hardly be ignored, is little understood. The latest literature on lightning is still at the state of trying to survey its extent and intensity, and not even its forms are classified.
The ancient Etruscans thought that they could discern eleven different types. So wrote Pliny, but a modern Etruscan expert, Rilli, says that they recognized thirty kinds of lightning  . Ancient sources that refer to fire often are speaking of electricity, "god's fire." Applying the modern meaning of "fire" as combustion and conflagration, one cannot comprehend their outlook. To early theologians and philosophers," fire" meant a set of qualities exhibited by the "aether", loosely translated as "air", and when "air" was considered a basic element of existence, electrical phenomena were deemed to be integral with it.
The large importance given to electrical phenomena in ancient times, drives us to believe that their manifestations were much more in evidence. Furthermore, although there are a few indications that the Egyptians may have employed wire on occasion to transmit electricity, unquestionably they were preoccupied with electrostatics, the exploitation of the generous and ready electrical potentials of the ground atmosphere. This I have discussed in my study of Moses.
Lately, the ionization of the atmosphere has come to be studied. Even the ground beneath our feet has come to be conceived as a conveyor of waves of numerous types, ranging from the gross seismic tremors that topple whole cities to the delicate motions of the wire in the hands of dowsers in search of underground water  . Ions are electrified particles; they affect the growth, fibres and nervous system of plants, animals, and humans in ways mostly unknown  . Many students think that an abundance of negative ions in the atmosphere produces a sense of well-being, but that "excessive" positive ions provoke depression, irritability, and illness.
The Earth's surface contains a charge; it too is unknown in extent and effects  . The charge is called negative originally because it is of the kind that comes from rubbed resin, and conventionally because it comes from the ground. On a clear day an electric potential of about 100 volts per meter of height occurs. The charge of Earth tends to persist in the absence of exoterrestrial intrusions, employing the lower atmosphere as an insulator. The charge in our opinion, will have varied greatly over the human past. Then its variation, as well as its constancy, must have had significant effects upon human behavior and ecology.
The Earth may have presumed once to have been in the grip of a constant heavy charge, for reasons that will unfold below and are also treated in Solaria Binaria. It began to lose this charge, both gradually and in series of catastrophic discharges. Today, solar flares excite large surges in the flow of charge from upper atmosphere to ground. Too, thunderstorms may be principally a method of balancing the atmosphere-lithosphere equation by releasing ground electricity  .
There persist certain phenomena that may reflect this decline of charge. All over the world there are pathways that were worked out mysteriously (part instinctively and part deliberately) by ancient men and that are followed today. Michell has sought out the English paths especially. He shows that they are often not the shortest way between two points  . Rather they have seemingly pursued geodetic "power lines" which thereupon developed as religious routine, ritually followed. As with many customs, people follow behavior that originally had a perceived and sound meaning.
Waterlines have been explored successfully by following the cues provided by traditional water-dowsers. It may well be that underground water moves along paths which are electrically distinctive. In other cases, it may emulate the course of lightning that once travelled along root networks and also fractures formed by lightning. Seismic fractures also are important conduits of water.
Lightning has been used as a kind of naturally-provided instrument for studying the electrical nature of the ground. Aside from numerous ancient observations along these lines, a few modern studies exist  to indicate that soils of high conductivity (e. g. marshes) are lightning-prone; that ironstone outcrops attract lightning; that strata discontinuities attract lightning. So do underground springs; so do areas of high negative ion concentrations. Masts, lightning conductors, and buried metal pipes invite strokes.
Experiments by Stekolnikov showed that soils attracted sparks depending upon their conductivity. Certain trees are stroke-prone, the oak, for example. The variety of effects is scarcely understood -the fancy dendritic patterns sometimes displayed underground, the killing of flocks of sheep, the escape unimpaired of a girl enveloped in lightning flames, the subsequent death of a man seemingly unaffected at the moment of stroke, and so on.
In 1977 an American physicist, J. Ziegler, published a study of the knowledge and uses of electrostatics among the ancient Hebrews and other peoples of the Near East and Greece  . His thesis, elaborated shortly thereafter by the present author in a book on the period of Moses, maintained that these ancient peoples possessed devices for inducing and displaying electrical effects in their religious practices. The most spectacular of the devices was Moses' Ark of the Convenant, which G. C. Lichtenberg, a German Electrician of the 18th Century, termed a form of Leyden jar.
The Leyden jar is called an electric capacitor. A metal rod based upon a metal lining within an insulating (e. g. wood) vessel will store a charge from the air. When the outside of the vessel is also lined with metal that is in touch with the ground, an opposite charge is induced. The potential between the two poles may accumulate to a level at which a spark will jump the gap between them. The frequency, brilliance, and power of the spark or arc (Ark = box = Aron in old Hebrew) depend upon the size of the gap and the voltage differential that is generated.
The condition of the atmosphere and ground are critical factors. The higher the box and the wetter its grounding contact, the greater the electrical effects. That is, the effectiveness and potency of the devices depends upon local conditions that can to some degree be manipulated. Aside from this, the general electrical state of the Earth and atmosphere (including exoterrestrial influences affecting these bodies) determines the overall effect.
In an atmosphere where electrical and dust turbulence were prevalent, as in times of Exodus and other periods that I have identified elsewhere, and the Earth was discharging at an effectively higher level than it is today, the incitement of electric displays without motors, pumps, and wires was easy: large potential differences continuously presented themselves for exploitation. Electrical effects became essential to political and religious roles and were subjects of jealous contention within and between governments. A full social analysis is presented in my treatise on Moses; what may be stressed here is that the existence and activity of such devices evidences that the Earth was then in a state of heightened electrical activity relative to modern times.
With the settling of the skies, the intensity of electric phenomena diminished. The divine spark manifested itself less and less; the arks were carried more and more up to the mountain temples (e. g. both the Temple of Solomon and the Temple of Jeroboam). The angels, demons, and mountain gods manifested themselves in electrical demonstrations on high with the aid of crosses, trees, and poles  .
These, too, could not be maintained. Empedocles, when discussing the four elements, fire, earth, air and water, says that fire has ceased to "travel", and no lower forms of fire remain  . Plutarch wrote at the end of the pagan age an essay on why the highly placed Delphic oracle had lost its influence; he gave the vaguest of references indicating a failure of electric current, but the question itself is significant  . By late classical times, the knowledge of arks and of the exploitation of "god's fire" was largely defunct.
Yahweh became "invisible", who before, declares the Bible, could be seen in flaming display upon the Ark of Moses. So later philosophers gave new meanings to words: realities became metaphors and abstractions; thus, the "word" and "presence" of the divine became thoughts, rather than the noises and signs of electrical divinity.
The profuse electrical references in the Bible, in ancient Near East documents and Greek Mythology, in the Hindu Vedas -all were reduced to metaphors, generalized into ordinary meanings ('fire' becomes 'conflagration'), and metaphysical abstractions (the commandment to worship no other God nor image is interpreted philosophically rather than realistically). The obelisks whose points once lit up as the eyes of the hidden god Amon (Amen) came to be variously interpreted as giant sundials, emblems of royal power, phallic symbols, or sign boards for vainglorious inscriptions. As Ziegler suggests, the Greek word "obelisk" itself might have meant "ob-el-ish," or "serpent-light-fire."
Von Fange recounts a century-old report on a Babylonian ziggurat, which may have been the Tower of Babel. The structure can be placed several centuries earlier than Moses but also in a highly electrical epoch.
It appeared that fire struck the tower and split it down to the very foundation. In different parts of the ruins immense brown and black masses of brickwork had changed into a vitrified state. At a distance the ruins looked like edifices torn apart at their foundations. Evidently the fiercest kind of fire created the havoc. The most curious of the fragments found several misshapen masses of brickwork, black, subjected to some kind of heat, and completely molten.
The whole ruin has the appearance of a burnt mountain. On one side, beneath the crowning masonry, lay huge fragments torn from the pile itself. The calcined and vitreous surface of the brick had fused into rock-like masses. It is difficult to explain the cause of the vitrification of the upper building. Great boulders were vitrified, and brickwork had been fused by fire  .
Here possibly was cosmic fire. Another effect deserves mention. A major electrical discharge in which a number of humans are stimulated, as in a town on an eminence, may proceed slowly and without killing. It leaks rather than blasts. It might affect people's minds. Today, a fearful side-effect of electroshock therapy, which is used to treat persons suffering from depression, is amnesia; whole sections of the person's store of memories will be erased.
The Tower of Babel was probably erected at a time when electrical perturbations were attributed, if my analysis in Chaos and Creation is correct, to movements of the planet Mercury  .
The arrogance of the builders in attempting to reach the sky was punished, recites the Bible, but in a peculiar way. They who spoke the same language when they began their work were caused to "babel" in many tongues. The Earth shook long beforehand; the tower partly sank into the ground, so say Jewish legends; but also much of the tower was destroyed by fire from the sky. The work had to be abandoned and afterwards the nations spoke different languages.
I offer a scenario for consideration. The Tower of Babel was being built in terror and hope of appeasing sky-bodies, possibly Jupiter-Marduk or Mercury. Conscripts or slaves of many countries made up a work force of 50,000 men. They put together a rough lingua franca from the language of the area to communicate on the job. The approach of a large body (there were actually many adoring and frightened references to planet Mercury around this time) occasioned the build-up of charge and then a flowing discharge through the structure, creating a confusion in administrative orders and a linguistic amnesia especially in the lingua franca. No longer could people understand each other. And then the whole edifice was stuck by immense cosmic bolts, partly fractured, and exploded.
"Slow lightning" is the geologically and biologically effective discharge of terrestrial electricity. A "slow lightning flood" may be conceivable, too. The curious vitrified forts of Scotland may be a case in point  . They remind us of the Ziggurat of Babylon. Their stone and mortar are fused solidly with the cliff-tops to which they adhere.
The forts are much in need of study. The early interpretations of them as cattle pens is uncomplimentary to a people that lived in hovels that experienced no such fusion. The idea of brush being heaped outside the precipitous walls, and then burning them with an intense heat, would require a mobile ceramics oven and vent.
We would argue that the lightning here was not "bolt-thin" and "lightning-quick" but poured upwards over seconds, diffusing through its medium, ferruginously-mortared stone. There would have been an approaching unequally charged great body or gas cloud that had pierced the electrically balanced plasma and drawn away or brushed aside the magnetic space sheath of Earth. The Earth below would have collected on its highest surfaces a charge to meet the incoming charge. This would begin to flow upwards. Heavy leader strokes descending would have collapsed the roofs of houses. A tube of ionized dust would arise and descend, make contact from both ends and set up a fierce heat that would scorch its "vessels." A final flash, and then the body would pass or the cloud dissipate, and a rain of dust and vapors would fall back upon the ground, calcinating it.
It is probable that many thousands of burnt eminences exist around the world whose tops have seen the fusion of rocks, perhaps even Troy IIg, the "Burnt City" so-called  .
The famous site, whether or not it was the real Troy, is on an eminence. While not high, the city would have had many small reservoirs of water, whereas the ground outside might already have been dried out. In Troy IIg a sulphurous color suffuses all outdoor spaces and passageways of the town. A deposit of lead and copper melted and flowed around the town. (It is possible that this melt had been scavenged after Schliemann reported it in the 1880's and the discoloration was all that was discoverable when the Blegen expedition re-excavated the site in the 1930's).
No human hand could have or would have set such a fire. The heat was fierce. The ash was far too abundant for a deliberate fire from local materials, and carried a red color. In places it was like calcinated rock, a meter or more in depth, perhaps like the vitrified Scottish forts. No one would have wanted to destroy precious metals (not so mention even more precious metal left in abundance in the scorched houses and the Treasure of Priam, found on a Wall). Noteworthy is the absence of human and animal skeletal material in the ruins. Either they turned to dust from the heat, or the electrical build-up was sensed, as it is by animals before earthquakes for example, and they fled from the hill onto the plain where the sensations were absent.
Perhaps a heavily charged cosmic body was approaching or was near the Earth with an opposite charge or inducing one to collect on Earth; this would cause numerous discharges. Every eminence, one might imagine, would offer an exit for lightning, especially if it held the slightest metallic component, and were not surrounded by damp lowlands. Buildings are not needed.
If settlements seem to have been affected by slow lightning flood, unsettled eminence should often have endured the same experience. I have explored as a candidate a conical hill of Stylida, Naxos, Greece (Alt. 152m)  . The top is a hard silicate with bits of ferruginous rock in the eroded (burst?) rubble. It nests among loose, hardly consolidated rocks that have fast fallen away from the columnar core. This phenomenon is usually seen as an ancient metamorphosis. Somehow the temperature of water-laden deep limestones and granites mounted and caused them to nearly melt and to rise. Limestone is a common environment of silicification. Silification is abundant around igneous metamorphism. In a hot and fast reaction, siliceous fluid is introduced hydrothermally and replaces the host rock, such as limestone, into which it intrudes.
Such is the case where an electric charge is seeking an exit from far below. With or without water, a hot electric discharge current can assemble and proceed quickly up the core of a hill, heating and silicifying as it move. On top of the hill, it forms a cap just as caps will form on the sparking end of a discharging rod. The charge, that is, uses the plastically flowing rock as a conductor and then builds a deposit from which it may discharge more easily.
The taller the mountain, the less time and chance for the siliceous fluid to reach and cap its peak. At the same time, electricity of this type may even build mountains. Juergens has suggested that mounds may have been formed on the planet Mars by the same process. An electrical process may also be involved in the vigorously erupting mountains of Io, satellite of Jupiter. These are casting material to heights of several hundred kilometers from caldera-like structures. Unless Io is newly emplaced, all water or carbon dioxide would have long ago been exhausted as propellant media. Spectroscopy evidences no water on Io, moreover. Sulfur would be too heavy to gain the speed of eruption required for such lofty explosions.
Therefore, Thomas Gold turns to the electric current of 5x10 6 amperes that cyclones upwards from the Jovian surface arguing that it is "largely conducted through the body of Io  . The current contracts along a narrow tube of passage which is kept hot and therefore more conductive. As it emerges into cold space, the current encounters conductive resistance and, hence, forms heat spots of several thousands of degrees Kelvin.
"Most current spots are likely to be volcanic calderas, either provided by tectonic events within Io or generated by the current heating itself."
The electric volcanism is steadied by the "accurately repeating" electric arc from Jupiter. So now we find here a model for processes that may once have occurred on Earth as well, supposing a sufficiently intense terrestrial discharge were occurring at a weak spot for even a few days.
The "slow lightning" may shape not only eminences but also subterranean cavities. Von Fange writes that,
"The same phenomenon has been observed in the mounds and barrows of the British Isles. Some have at one time been filled with an intense heat. Their walls are melted and their contents fused. The stones of the innermost cell of a long barrow near Maughold on the Isle of Man have been fused together like the mysterious vitrified towers of Scotland and elsewhere." 
Many Egyptian tombs and the interiors of pyramids are scarred by intense heat. Caliche (CaCO3) adhering to bones and rock undersides in a California burial cairn provide radiometric dates of 19,000 to 21,000 years, whereas archaeological estimates of the many such cairns give 5,000 B. P. or less  .
The famed caves of Aquitaine (France)  whose primeval users carved and sculpted images upon the walls, may surprise the naive visitor. One expects to find a general similarity of the interiors. Not at all. Each interior is unique. Some are serpentine, others like grand ballrooms; some have magnificent silicate columns and startling naturally formed shapes; others are plain and dull, save for the signs of human occupancy. All are of limestone; all are elevated, if only slightly, above the flat river and stream valleys around.
Why are they so different? Caves are said to be formed by the percolation of water through weak stone, cracked stone, or interstices of layers of stone. The filtering drops become trickles, and then streams. The cavity is enlarged. The river deviates or dries up and the interior is prepared for occupancy. Time elapsed may be "millions of years."
However, Worrad reports that limestone caves can be rapidly formed by water -"that in one year a cave of 3ft. x 6ft. cross section x 120ft. long would be formed per square mile of the surface," and opines that the Deluge [not to mention other floods] provided huge amounts of water for limestone solution and cave foundation  . Dripstone would be formed rapidly, too. A National Geographic Magazine photograph (1953) carried a picture of a bat "entombed" inside a stalagmite, which, therefore, could not have formed at the "0.001 inch per annum or so rates " usually assumed  .
In Brixham caves (Devonshire), the bones of fossil mammals, of the types drawn in the Caves of Dordogne, are stuck in the ceiling -so writes a correspondent, U.E.Ramage, to this author -as well as in the sides and floor. In as much as these species' extinctions were quite recent, this shows that it may not take long to hollow out a cave. Furthermore, the small cave is "prettily ornamented with concrete growths."  So we would appear to have a very recent catastrophic bone assemblage of animals, then or soon extincted as species, followed by a geologically instant cave-making, and prompt furbishing with stalagmites and stalactites.
Although water may quickly hollow out caves, the role of electricity is not to be ignored. Electric fields, as Asakawa has demonstrated experimentally, enhances heat transfer in nearby gases ( up to 1.5 times); liquids (up to 2.0 times) and solids (up to 1.6 times), depending upon the positioning of electrodes and the strength of the applied fields  .
Perhaps caves are ancient hotspots, electrical calderas, where creation time is shortened by the blasting impatience of electrical arc currents.
Back to Contents
Notes (Chapter Five: Electricity)
1. Cf. 44 abstracts of such experiences in Wm. Corliss, Sourcebook GLD-001 to 044, GI-81 to 110.
2. Pliny, Natural History, Rockham tr. (Cambridge: Harvard U. Press, 1967), II. LIII; N. Rilli, Gli Etruschi a Sesto Fiorentino (Florence: Giuntina, 1964).
3. Guy Underwood, The Pattern of the Past (London: Abacus, 1972) Treats dowsing, electricity, geodetic lines, and cultural associations all together.
4. Fred Soyka and Alan Edmonds, The Ion Effect (Toronto: Seal Books, 1978); S. W. Tromp, op. cit., 112-5.
5. Fernando Sanford, Terrestrial Electricity (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford U. Press, 1931), Chapter 4.
6. "Solar Activity and Terrestrial Thunderstorms," 81 New Scientists (1979), 256.
7. A View Over Atlantis, (1969).
8. See the survey of unusual ground effects by B. L. Goodlet, J. Inst. of Elec. Eng. 81 (1937), 1-26.
9. Jerry Ziegler (pseud. Zeromiah II), YHWH, Princeton: Metron Publns., 1977.
10. Ibid., 53ff.
11. Hock, God in Greek Philosophy, 99, cited in Ziegler.
12. "Why the Oracles Cease to Give Answers," IV, 56. See Ziegler, Chapter 19.
13. Erich A. von Fange, "Strange Fire on the Earth," 12 Creat. Res. Soc. Q. (Dec. 1975), 132.
14. Op. cit., 210 ff.
15. James Anderson, 5 Archaelogia (1777), 241-66; ibid., (1980), 87-99. and see the materials reprinted in W. R. Corliss, Strange Artifacts (Glen Arm, Md.: Sourcebook Project, 1974) vols. M-1, M-2, under "Forts."
16. A. de Grazia, "Paleo-Calcinology: Destruction by Fire in Pre-Historic and Ancient Times." I Kronos (April 1975), 25-36; II Kronos (August, 1975), 63-71.
17. The author thanks geologists Dr. Gerd Roesler and Dr. Poul Andriessen, who aided me notwithstanding their scepticism.
18. "Electrical Origin of the Outbursts of Io," 206 Sci (30 Nov. 1979), 107 1-3. On sulphur as the medium, cf. Guy J. Consolmagno, "Sulfur Volcanos on Io," 205 Sci (27 July 1979), 396-7.
19. Op. cit., 132.
20. P. J. Wilke, "Cairn Burials of the California Deserts," 43 Amer. Antiquity (1978), 444-8.
21. Inter alia cf. J. P. Rigaud and B. Vanderneersch, eds., Sud-Ouest (Aquitaine et Charente): Livret-Guide de 1' Excursion A4, IX Congrés U. I. S. P. R. Paris, 1976.
22. Worrad, Creat. Sci. Res. Q. 197; see also letters by D. Cardona and B. Raymond in 3 Pensée (Winter, 1973), 48- 50; and E. L. Williams and R. J. Herdklotz "Solution and Deposition of Calcium Carbonate in a Laboratory Situation," 13 Creat. Res. Sci. Q. (March 1977), 192-9.
23. Ltr. of Felix Fernando, III Pensée (1973), 50, citing Nat. Geog. (Oct. 1953).
24. 8 Sept. 1967 from Ceylon; Villey Aellen And P. Strinati, Guide des Grottes d'Europe (Paris: Delachaux, 1975), 130.
25. Y. Asakawa, "Promotion and retardation of heat transfer by electric fields," 261 Nature (20 May 1976), 220-1.