by Regina Meredith

Executive Producer And Host Of The Broadband Learning Channel


from FourCornerMagazine Website







Graham Hancock is an explorer and author of the international bestsellers The Sign and The Seal, Fingerprints of the Gods and Heaven's Mirror. His books have sold more than five million copies worldwide and have been translated into 27 languages.


His public lectures and TV appearances, including the three-hour series Quest for The Lost Civilization, have put his ideas before audiences of tens of millions.


Graham Hancock is an unconventional thinker who raises legitimate questions about humanity's history and prehistory and offers an increasingly popular challenge to the entrenched views of orthodox scholars.

This interview is a joint venture between Four Corners Magazine and The Broadband Learning Channel. We caught up with Graham and his beautiful wife Santha at the C-Pak 2005 Conference here in Sedona in November. He spoke about the compelling ideas and research included in his new book entitled: The Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind.

See below the complete video interview of this article:




Graham Hancock - Mysteries of the Spirit World
by MysteriousBroadcast
January 24, 2011

from YouTube Website



Regina Meredith: Let’s start in the jungles of the Amazon where you began exploring the subject of ‘essence-expanded consciousness’ through the vine of souls, or ayahuasca.

Graham Hancock: The reason that I began to study this substance was because I wanted to investigate a mystery in human history. It is very clear from the evidence that the art of the painted caves of Paleolithic Europe (33,000 BC) and the art of the Sand Bushman in Africa (25,000 BC) appear to be the art of altered states of consciousness!

These artists put themselves into altered states, either by using plant hallucinogens, or with other techniques like prolonged rhythmic dancing, at which point, they then painted the visions of what they experienced.

Now as a writer, I have always believed that when I explore a subject, I must explore it personally. I must put myself into that story. And for that reason, I felt that if I was going to write about the role of altered states of consciousness in human history, I had to experience those states for myself.

It so happens that there is a very ancient shamanic culture in the Amazon, which goes back about 10,000 years. They make a beverage called “ayahuasca”. It is in fact a mixture of two plants, one of them is a vine and the other is a leaf that contains the potent hallucinogen DMT. When mixed together, they produce extraordinary effects. I went to the Amazon to drink it with a shaman.


I spent five weeks of in-depth research. Ayahuasca experiences are potent and very physical demanding so it is not something that you want to do every day. I spread it into eleven sessions. It makes you very ill when you drink it, causing severe vomiting and diarrhea.


It tastes like a ground up frog!


RM: What was your original inspiration to explore this kind of consciousness?

GH: The original inspiration, in my case, was the intention to explore the mystery of human origins. Most of the story is really boring. Our ancestors, even as their form changed to a modern form, behaved for millions of years in a very dull way. There was no creativity and no symbolism to evidence a spiritual life.


They were really just tool-using apes!



Even though they looked like us, which happened about 200,000 years ago, with full anatomical modernity, and the human brain the same size and structure as it is today, behavior still did not change. Still no creativity.


Then 40,000 years ago, it seems like a light was ‘turned on’ all around the world. The behavior that we recognize as ‘human’ was introduced all at once. What is key to this change?

What signaled this change was the birth of the first great art of the world. There had never been art before. Suddenly, in upper Paleolithic Europe about 35,000 years ago, you get the most extraordinary art being painted, and you get this all around the world. It is really as though a light had been switched on in the human mind. The brain was there, but had not been used until then.


Something happened that led to it being used and I believe that the evidence is compelling that our ancestors discovered altered states of consciousness. They may have come across hallucinogenic plants by chance; they may have thought they were food items, and then when consumed, it brought about a radical transformation in the way that they looked at the world. It changed everything about being human. This I felt was the crucial and vital ‘before-and-after moment” in the human story.


It is connected to altered states of consciousness, and that is why I had to investigate this subject in this way.

RM: How do you explain the cross-cultural similarities in art with people who theoretically had no communication with one another?

GH: This is one of the great mysteries, and one that I found myself confronting most closely in this research. Here is the bazaar thing; in experiences our scientists define as non-real or hallucinations, people all around the world universally report the same things. That is, the experience of passing through to another realm.

This is a realm that is convincingly real, seamlessly real, inhabited by intelligent beings who want to communicate with you. And these beings often take the form of half- animal, half- human hybrids. Overlaid with the perception of these beings, are geometrical patterns, grids, and zigzags, wavy lines that appear. And this is universal. It is found with all people, in all different cultures, and in all different times in history.

One possible explanation offered by shamans from around the world is that that other realm is real. That is why people see the same things because they are going to the same places. They are projecting their consciousness into the same places. This is the shamans’ view of the universe and what is real is significantly different from the beliefs of western science.

Western science believes that if you cannot weigh something, measure it and count it, then, it simple doesn’t exist and is an illusion. Shamans review things quite differently. They believe that whether we like it or not, we are tied up with the spiritual realm.


If we wish to deal with problems in this physical world then we cannot ignore that spiritual realm.



So rather then sticking their heads in the sand and pretending that it doesn't exist, shamans attempt become masters of that realm. They develop techniques for altering their consciousness at will. The most common method is by the use of hallucinogenic plants.


They enter the other realm and master it through communication; negotiate with the spirits there; and bring back useful information to this world, particularly to do with healing.


RM: Are these inspirations the source of religion?

GH: If you go back to the source of any of the great religions, you are going to find shamanic experiences. I don't want to offend christians, but St. Paul’s Damascus road experience, was very much a classic shamanic experience, with the light and state of consciousness, which later translated to religion.

Christ is a powerfully shamanic figure. Most shamans around the world today believe that they may have a mother or father in the spiritual realm. Of course, Christ is the same kind of figure. He is partly divine, partly human, part spirit, and part man. At the source and origin of every religion is a profound experience that an individual or group has had in an altered state of consciousness.


Then what happens is that the bureaucratic structures of humanity begin to impose themselves on that original experience, and within a few generations, the religion has moved away from the direct connection with the spiritual realm. It then substitutes a class of priests between the spirit world and us.


These priests are entirely motivated by this world’s concerns, and religion becomes an instrument of material oppression, control, and corrupted by the political establishment, when at the heart of the religion is a direct experience of another world. The direct experiences are relegated to ‘myth’.

In fact, you will find that many religions as they develop, turn against those who experience altered states of consciousness. Many religions are opposed to altered states of consciousness, even though their own religious validity derived from them. This is a normal process. This is what human beings do. Human beings are power animals, and at any point can be corrupted to the power interests of a particular group.


That is what has happened with religions.


RM: Are there cross-cultural commonalties with altered-state experiences?

GH: Yes, commonalties, as well as some differences. This suggest to me that there are multiple realms out there, and perhaps, different substances put us onto the right wave-length for different realms. In every case, it is a convincing encounter with different levels of reality. This encounter takes two forms.


The ayahuasca experience was for me rather like traveling for the first time to another country, a wonderful country, filled with incredible sights and sounds. There were beings of great wisdom and intelligence that wished to communicate with me.


But first of all, I had to learn the rules of that realm.


RM: What were these new rules?

GH: First of all, you have to deal with the physical consequences of the ayahuasca state. Sometimes the physical consequences come back 3 or 4 times during a session, so it is a constant interruption. But at the same time, the visions always return too. All together, across the eleven sessions that I did in the Amazon, I was beginning to get genuine communications. Information was coming to me. It is not that these beings speak in human voices, the communication is telepathic. I had to overcome my fears, my preconceptions, and my own ideas of what was going on, in order to listen to and understand what was being said.

Interestingly, part of my experience was an inward journey. I found myself confronted with many things that I had done in my life, going right back to my childhood. The purpose of that ‘life review’ was to give me a vision of myself in very unflattering terms. I couldn’t hide from it.

I realized that you could not go back and change the past, but that I didn’t have to be like that in the future. I did find it a profound teaching experience in that respect. Not only was it at that level of personal development, but of also at a broader level.


There was an enormous amount of extremely valid and valuable information that was beamed at me from this other world. I need to do more work to get clear about what was being said. That is why I am going back to Brazil next year and spend a couple of weeks working with shamans and drinking ayahuasca, because I want to explore that other country more carefully, over and extended period of time.

I have spent many years investigating the ancient Egyptians and Maya. Now I have come to understand that their entire approach to religions, and spirituality, and the mystery to what it is to be alive, was mediated through altered states of consciousness. Both of these cultures used altered states to explore the realms beyond. I do believe that there are realms beyond. The shamans are right, we must not cut ourselves off from these worlds, we must know about them.


It is vitally important for us to know about them.

I think that it played a huge role in the success of the Egyptians civilization. The ancient Egyptians devoted their minds for 3,000 years to exploring life after death. The Egyptians had an answer to that. It was that there is a journey that we must make after death and that in that journey we must confront the consequences of the lives that we have lived. It is possible that these experiences

that we could undergo (in altered states), may be a vital prep for what happens to us beyond death. We might be able to (better) orient ourselves for that transition.

I do feel strongly that we need to take our consciousness back into our own hands. On the input side, western civilization has taken control through television; the consumerist ethic is being beamed at us 24/7.


And on the second front, western civilization has demonized and criminalized all experiences involving altered states of consciousness, including the substances.



There is clearly a war of a consciousness that is going on.


Our society has an investment in limiting our exploration of altered states of consciousness. Perhaps there is a deep fear that if we do explore these altered states; we will not accept the power structure and the fairy tale delusion of material wealth.


Consider the predicament of billions of highly intelligent people who are lulled into a state of sleep by this consciousness bomb of television, and those who are not allowed to explore the mysteries of their own consciousness, using the methods of the shamans.

If we do follow (the ancient footprints), we are considered to be criminals and are stigmatized by society and put in prison.


This is a reversion to the world of the Spanish Inquisition, If as an individual I am not sovereign over my own consciousness, if I cannot decide what to do with my consciousness which is the heart of my being, then I am not free. And I need not talk about freedom, or living in a free society, or such issues as democracy, if my society will not allow me to explore my own consciousness.

If in an altered state of consciousness my behavior is disruptive in a public arena, then that behavior should rightly be controlled by society.


But the personal and private exploration of our consciousness is our business and not the business of the state!








Meetings With The Ancient Teachers Of Mankind
by Graham Hancock

from GrahamHancock Website

My intention at the outset was to write a book exploring the mystery of human origins.


There are many gaps in the fossil record between about 7 million years ago (the date of our supposed last common ancestor with chimpanzees) and the emergence of the first civilizations recognized by historians around 5000 years ago.


My thought was that if I probed these gaps diligently enough something might emerge – some insight, some scrap of previously neglected information – that might shed light on the great puzzles of the human predicament. Why, alone amongst animal species, have we developed culture and religion, beliefs in life after death, beliefs in non-physical beings such as spirits, demons and angels, elaborate mythologies, the ability to create and to appreciate art, the ability to use and manipulate symbols, consciousness of ourselves and of our place in the scheme of things?


Did these abstract, even “spiritual”, qualities develop slowly, over millions of years, or were they switched on suddenly, like lights in a darkened room?

To cut a long story short, what I discovered is that during most of the first 7 million years of human evolution there is no evidence at all for the existence of symbolic abilities amongst our ancestors.


No matter how intensively we probe what is known about the fossil record, or speculate about what is not yet known about it, all that we see evidence for throughout this period is a dull and stultifying copying and recopying of essentially the same patterns of behavior and essentially the same “kits” of crude stone tools, without change or innovation, for periods of hundreds of thousands, even millions of years.


When a change is introduced (in tool shape for example) it then sets a new standard to be copied and recopied without innovation for a further immense period until the next change is finally adopted. In the process, glacially slow, we also see the gradual development of human anatomy in the direction of the modern form: the brain-pan enlarges, brow ridges reduce in size, overall anatomy becomes more gracile – and so on and so forth.

By 196,000 years ago, and on some accounts considerably earlier, humans had achieved “full anatomical modernity”. This means that they were in every way physically indistinguishable from the people of today and, crucially, that they possessed the same large, complex brains as we do. The most striking mystery, however, is that their behavior continued to lag behind their acquisition of modern neurology and appearance.


They showed no sign of possessing a culture, or supernatural beliefs, or self-consciousness, or any interest in symbols. Indeed there was nothing about them that we could instantly identify with “us”.


Dr Frank Brown, whose discovery of 196,000-year-old anatomically-modern human skeletons in Ethiopia was published in Nature on 17 February 2005, points out that they are 35,000 years older than the previous “oldest” modern human remains known to archaeologists:

“This is significant because the cultural aspects of humanity in most cases appear much later in the record, which would mean 150,000 years of Homo sapiens without cultural stuff…”

Brown’s colleague, John Fleagle of Stony Brook University in New York State, also comments on the same problem:

“There is a huge debate regarding the first appearance of modern aspects of behavior… As modern human anatomy is documented at earlier and earlier sites, it becomes evident that there was a great time gap between the appearance of the modern skeleton and ‘modern behavior’.”

For Ian Tattershall of the American Museum of Natural History the problem posed by this gap – and what happened to our ancestors during it – is “the question of questions in palaeoanthropology”.


His colleague Professor David Lewis-Williams of the Rock Art Research Institute at South Africa’s Witwatersrand University describes the same problem as “the greatest riddle of archaeology – how we became human and in the process began to make art and to practice what we call religion.”

I quickly realized that this was the mystery, and the period, I wanted to investigate. Not that endless, unimaginative cultural desert from 7 million years ago down to just 40,000 years ago when our ancestors hobbled slowly through their long and boring apprenticeship, but the period of brilliant and burning symbolic light that followed soon afterwards when the first of the great cave art of southwest Europe appeared – already perfect and fully formed – between 35,000 and 30,000 years ago.

A most remarkable theory exists to explain the special characteristics of these amazing and haunting early works of art, and to explain why identical characteristics are also found in prehistoric art from many other parts of the world and in art produced by the shamans of surviving tribal cultures today.


The theory was originally elaborated by Professor David Lewis-Williams, and is now supported by a majority of archaeologists and anthropologists. In brief, it proposes that the reason for the similarities linking all these different systems of art, produced by different, unrelated cultures at different and widely-separated periods of history, is that in every case the shaman-artists responsible for them had previously experienced altered states of consciousness in which they had seen vivid hallucinations, and in every case their endeavor in making the art was to memorialize on the walls of rock shelters and caves the ephemeral images that they had seen in their visions.


According to this theory the different bodies of art have so many similarities because we all share the same neurology, and thus share many of the same experiences and visions in altered states of consciousness.

There are lots of ways of inducing the necessary altered state.


The bushmen of South Africa get there through night-long rhythmic dancing and drumming, the Tukano Indians of the Amazon do it through consuming the hallucinogenic beverage Ayahuasca. In prehistoric Europe I present evidence that the requisite altered states may have been reached through the consumption of Psilocybe semilanceata – the popular little brown “magic mushroom” that is still used throughout the world to induce hallucinations today.


In Central America the Maya and their predecessors used other psilocybe species (P. Mexicana and P. Cubensis) to induce the same effects.

I took LSD once in my twenties, at the Windsor Free Festival in 1974, and had a fantastic, exciting, energizing 12-hour trip in a parallel reality. When my normal, everyday consciousness returned – and it did so quite abruptly, like a door slamming – I felt grateful for such a wonderful experience but so much in awe of its power that I vowed never to do it again.


Suppose things had gone the other way? Suppose instead of an exciting medieval Otherworld through which I had been allowed to travel like a knight-errant, I had been ushered into some hell-realm for 12 hours? How would I have handled that? Would I have handled it at all?

Now, in my 50’s I had to confront the psychic challenges of major hallucinogens again. In order to research my subject properly, and to know what I was talking about when I spoke of altered states of consciousness, I drank Ayahuasaca with shamans in the Amazon and self-experimented with DMT, psilocybin and the African visionary drug known as Iboga – “the plant that enables men to see the dead.”

The extraordinary experiences I went through convinced me that David Lewis-Williams is right and that visionary states of this sort, brought on by the accidental discovery of plant hallucinogens, did indeed provide the inspiration for ancient cave and rock art traditions all around the world.


Lewis-Williams is also right to insist that it is to the proper examination of such altered states of consciousness that we should turn if we wish to discover the source of the first religious ideas ever entertained by our ancestors.

It was precisely at this point, however, that I began to part company with Lewis-Williams and his theory. Whatever the cave artists saw in their trances, and no matter how devoutly they may have believed that what they were seeing was real, the South African professor is adamant that the entire inspiration for 25,000 years of Upper Palaeolithic cave paintings reduces to nothing more than the fevered illusions of disturbed brain-chemistry – i.e. to hallucinations. In his scientific universe there is simply no room, or need, for the supernatural, no space for any kind of Otherworld, and no possibility that intelligent non-physical entities could exist.

I found I couldn’t leave the matter there, with the inspiration for cave art and the birth of religion neatly accounted for by disturbed brain-chemistry, with the earliest spiritual insights of mankind rendered down to mere epiphenomena of strictly biological processes, with the sublime thus efficiently reduced to the ridiculous.


To have established the role of hallucinations as the inspiration for cave art is one thing – and David Lewis-Williams, in my opinion, has successfully done that. But to understand what hallucinations really are, and what part they play in the overall spectrum of human experience and behavior, is another thing altogether, and neither Lewis-Williams nor any other scientist can yet claim to possess such knowledge, or to be anywhere near acquiring it.


Gifted and experienced shamans the world over really do know more – much more – than they do. So if we were smart we would listen to what the shamans have to say about the true character and complexity of reality instead of basking mindlessly in the overweening one-dimensional arrogance of the Western technological mindset.

Because I had been shaken to the core by my experiences with Ayahuasca and Iboga I decided to take my investigation further and to explore the extraordinary possibility that science is unwilling even to consider and that David Lewis-Williams dismisses out of hand.


This is the possibility that the Amazonian and African hallucinogens had obliged me to confront face-to-face and that shamans contend with on a daily basis – the possibility that the spirit world and its inhabitants are real, that supernatural powers and non-physical beings do exist, and that human consciousness may, under certain special circumstances, be liberated from the body and enabled to interact with and perhaps even learn from these “spirits”.


In short,

  • Did our ancestors experience their great evolutionary leap forward of the last 40,000 years not just because of the beneficial social and organizational by-products of shamanism but because they were literally helped, taught, prompted and inspired by supernatural agents?

  • Could the “supernaturals” first depicted in the painted caves and rock shelters – and still accessible to us today in altered states of consciousness – be the ancient teachers of mankind?

  • Could it be they who first ushered us into the full birthright of our humanity?

  • And could it be that human evolution is not just the “blind”, “meaningless”, “natural” process that Darwin identified, but something else, more purposive and intelligent, that we have barely even begun to understand?


  1. Why did Nobel Prize-winner Francis Crick keep concealed until his death the amazing circumstances under which he first “saw” the double-helix structure of DNA?

  2. And why did he become convinced that the DNA molecule did not evolve naturally upon this planet but was sent here in bacteria by an alien civilization?

  3. Why does the 97 per cent of DNA that scientists do not understand – so-called “junk DNA” – contain chemical “sequences” arranged in patterns and frequencies that are otherwise only found in the deep coding of all human languages?

  4. Why do Western lab volunteers, placed experimentally under the influence of hallucinogens such as DMT, psilocybin, mescaline and LSD, report visionary encounters with non-physical “beings” in the form of animal-human hybrids identical to those described by Amazonian shamans and to those painted by our ancestors in the prehistoric caves?

  5. What is the significance of the astonishing similarities between the entities known as “aliens”, ET’s” or “greys” in modern popular culture, the entities known as “fairies”, “elves” and “goblins” in the Middle Ages, and the entities that shamans in surviving tribal cultures know as “ghosts”, “gods” and “spirits”? Why are such figures also depicted in prehistoric art as far afield as Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australia?

Such questions, I know, sound preposterous and pointless to anyone committed to “objective” science and the Western logical positivist tradition.


The more closely I pursued them, however, the more convinced I became that they point towards matters of extraordinary substance, and that science has done us an immense disfavor by its policy of ridiculing and discouraging all rational inquiry in this area.