by Paul Horn

From Inside Paul Horn, Paul Horn

HarperSanFrancisco, 1990 -Chapter 14


As head of Epic’s A &: R department, David Kapralik saw the potential of Inside the Taj Mahal when nobody else did and released it. Now, eight years later, in a casual conversation, he planted another seed.

“Lately, Paul, I’ve been thinking about something. It seems to me you ought to go to Egypt and record in the Great pyramid. It’s the logical successor to Inside the Taj Mahal.”

About a year after that, his idea became a reality. In early 1976, I packed my bags, brought recording engineer David Greene and photographer Roger Smeeth with me, and flew to Egypt.

Before leaving, I read a number of books on the pyramids, including Secrets of the Great Pyramid, by Peter Tompkins; The Secret Power of pyramids, by Bill Schul and Ed Pettit; and A Search in Secret Egypt, by Paul Brunton. Reading these books, I found myself fascinated with the unbelievable dimensions of the Great pyramid and with the mystery left to us from that ancient civilization.


There are many theories, but no one knows exactly when, why, or how this pyramid was built. The Great Pyramid is the tallest, so huge it staggers the imagination. We could build thirty Empire State buildings from its stones. Its dimensions are perfect, and it is the only one that has chambers within the structure itself. Supposedly it is a tomb built for Cheops and his family, but no bodies have ever been found.

The books talked about people who had various experiences inside the pyramid, some of which were frightening. When author Paul Brunton came out, he was terrified.


When Napoleon conquered Egypt, he visited the Great pyramid and asked to be left alone in the King’s Chamber while his soldiers waited outside. When he emerged from the pyramid, all of the color had drained from his face. He was ashen and looked absolutely shaken. People asked what happened, but he refused to talk about it and ordered that he never be asked again. On his deathbed someone remembered this incident and said to him,

“Do you remember the time you spent in the King’s Chamber and wouldn’t speak of it? What happened?”

Even on his deathbed, Napoleon refused to discuss the matter. These things fascinated me.

Some of the books talked about pyramid power, a special energy that exists within the pyramid’s perfect geometrical structure. If someone builds a small replica of the pyramid, keeping the dimensions exactly in proportion and aligning the model with true north, certain very interesting things happen.

For instance, you can place a piece of fruit inside the replica, and it will not rot for one month or more. You can easily test it by putting one apple inside, one outside. In a few days, the apple outside decays, while the apple inside does not. Razor blades placed inside remain sharp for weeks when used, whereas ordinary blades left outside become dull after three or four shaves. Plants watered with water left inside the pyramid flourish better than plants watered with regular water. Such experiments were easy to set up and verify. These and many other things intrigued me.

Before leaving, I received a call from a man named Ben Pietsch from Santa Rosa, California. He introduced himself by saying he was a pyramidologist. He had lectured and written many articles on the Great Pyramid, including an unpublished book, Voices in Stone, which he later sent me - a fascinating work. He had heard via the grapevine that I was going to Egypt to play my flute inside the Great pyramid. He loved the idea and said that sonic vibrations constituted an integral part of the structure. In fact, he said, every room has a basic vibration to it; if we found it and identified with it, we would become attuned to that particular space. I had never heard that theory before, but it made sense to me.

The King’s Chamber is the main chamber in the Great pyramid. Within this chamber is a hollow, lidless coffer made of solid granite. Pietsch said that if I struck this coffer, it would give off a tone. I should tune up to this tone in order to be at one with it, thereby attuned with the chamber. “And by the way,” he said, “you’ll find that note to be A-438.” In the West, our established A-note vibrates at 440 vibrations per second. He was saying that the A-note of the coffer was two vibrations lower than ours, which would make their A-note slightly flat, only a shade lower in pitch, but different nevertheless. Although he had not personally visited the Great Pyramid, he seemed to know this quite definitely.

In the weeks to follow, I located a battery-operated device called a Korg Tuning Trainer, which registers on a meter the exact pitch of any tone. “What the heck,” I thought. “Just in case.”

The Great pyramid of Giza is the largest, heaviest, oldest, and most perfect building ever created by human hands. Eagerly, we bounded up stairs carved in rock to the entrance 20 feet up, a forced entrance, created in A.D. 820 by a young caliph named Abdullah Al-Mamun. At that time, the original secret entrance, 49 feet above the ground, had not been discovered. I had seen diagrams of the inner passages and chambers, so I knew that once inside we would soon arrive at what is called the Ascending Passage, a low, narrow passage 129 feet long, 3’5” wide, 3’ 11” high, and quite steep.

Handrails had been placed on either side of the passage, and wooden slats covered the slick granite floor. The passage was well lit, but still a difficult climb for anyone but a midget. At the end, we entered an utterly amazing passage called the Grand Gallery, 157 feet long, ascending at the same steep angle. It is some 7 feet wide and 28 feet high; its sides are made from huge monolithic slabs of polished limestone, which weigh up to seventy tons each.

At this point, instead of continuing upward, one can follow a very low horizontal passage for 127 feet, ending in a bare room approximately 18 feet square with a gabled ceiling 20’ 5” at its highest point. This room became known as the Queen’s Chamber, because the Arabs entombed their deceased women in rooms with gabled ceilings.

Deciding to visit this room later, David and Roger and I continued on to the top of the Grand Gallery. Again, the handrails and wooden slats assisted our climb, which culminated when we mounted a huge rock 3 feet high, 6 feet wide, and 8 feet deep, called the Great Step. By this time, panting, dripping with perspiration, we stopped to get our breath. Looking down, we saw almost to the end of the 300-foot stretch we had just climbed.

Going ahead, we had to stoop down and pass through a horizontal passage about 28 feet long, called the Antechamber, before entering the most famous and mysterious room of the Great pyramid-the King’s Chamber-which is 34 feet long, 17 feet wide, 19 feet high. Its walls and ceiling are made of red polished granite; nine slabs compose the ceiling, each a seventy-ton monolith. The lidless coffer, or sarcophagus, carved out of a single huge block of granite, stands at one end of the room, one of its corners chipped away by souvenir hunters. Behind it, to one side, rests a big slab, the purpose of which is unknown, and against the north wall stands another rock, about 3 feet high, also a mystery. It appeared to me to be an altar. Two vent-holes on the north and south sides emit fresh air and keep the room an even sixty-eight degrees throughout the year.

Deep silence permeates the environment. We sat on the floor and relaxed, propping our backs against the wall. I meditated for a while. Gradually we stopped perspiring and soon felt comfortable.

We spent the better part of an hour there and began our descent, exploring the Queen’s Chamber on the way, after which we felt tired from all of our stooping and climbing, so we returned to the hotel.



At the very last minute, just before Frank, our Egyptian guide, picked us up, I thought it would be a good idea to bring candles along. We rushed around the hotel but couldn’t find any new ones. A busboy grabbed a bunch of used candles, half-burned from the night before, scraping them off the tables. I also brought along a picture of Maharishi and some incense and a couple of flashlights, just in case.

Frank picked us up right on time, and we were on our way through rush-hour traffic, which, for lack of a more precise description, I’ll characterize as utterly insane-bumper-to-bumper, everybody uptight after working all day, horns squawking, drivers shouting and waving their fists, nobody obeying any laws whatsoever.

On the way, Frank filled us in on the details of his meetings. He had managed to get permission from the minister of antiquities, the main authority at the Cairo Museum. Two of us could spend three hours alone in the Great pyramid, beginning at 6:00 P.M. We were to deliver our official permits to the authorities at the plateau. At 9:00 P.M. sharp, we were to be out.

In half an hour, we arrived at the Giza plateau. A few officials waited for us in another car. Frank got out and talked with them. We then walked over to a nearby police hut, showed our permits, and everything was set. A guard got the keys and joined Frank and Dave Greene and me; the four of us walked to the pyramid. It was so much more peaceful here at this time of day. No tourists, no street hustlers, no cars or camels or horses. Just a warm gentle breeze in the air, with a red-orange sun setting over the vast surrounding desert, a magical beginning to a magical evening.

The guard opened the great iron gate at the entrance and threw a switch, turning on all the lights. We told him we’d like him to turn the lights out once we were settled in the King’s Chamber, estimating it would take about twenty minutes to get there. Frank left us, saying he’d pick us up afterward. The guard waited below to throw the switch, after which he, too, would leave, locking us in for the designated time.

Dave and I began the long climb, which was more difficult this time because we had a lot to carry and didn’t want to make two trips. In one shoulder bag, I carried my flutes; in another, blank tapes. Dave carried his tape recorder, the mike, and all the cables. It was hard going, especially in the Ascending Passage, which had a very low ceiling. We stopped and caught our breath for a few minutes at the bottom of the Grand Gallery before continuing. By the time we reached the King’s Chamber, we were both dripping wet and out of breath. I lit some candles and placed them at several points in the chamber and began unpacking my flutes.

While Dave set up his equipment in the Antechamber, the lights suddenly went out. What a difference! The humming from the fluorescent tubes disappeared, and for the first time we felt the pyramid’s absolute stillness quiet, so peaceful. Fantastic.

We hurried to finish our preparations. I then lit some incense and performed a short ceremony called a puja on the large stone by the north wall, which I felt had been an altar at one time. I had not planned this ceremony; it happened spontaneously. Feeling a strong spiritual force, an intense, eternal energy permeating the atmosphere, I simply responded to it.

I subscribe to the theory that the Great pyramid was a temple of learning; that the priests held very advanced, specific knowledge; and that this chamber was a temple of initiation for people ready to receive that knowledge.

Written in Sanskrit, the puja is the integral part of teaching someone meditation. I learned it at the ashram in India. Its purpose is to eliminate the teacher’s ego. The teacher-initiator is just a link in a long chain of privileged individuals who have been assigned the responsibility of perpetuating the pure knowledge of how to experience the Self directly. Once the puja has been performed, the technique of meditation can be passed on in a pure state from the nonegoistic teacher to the receptive student.

The puja was also a way of expressing my gratitude for the privilege of being there and of expressing my respect for the sanctity of the King’s Chamber, acknowledging the spiritual value of whatever purposes this chamber had served in the past. As well, I thanked God for the gift and blessing of life, not only for myself, but for all sentient beings everywhere.

After the ceremony, I sat cross-legged in front of the coffer and meditated. David also sat quietly and closed his eyes. In that deep, deep stillness, I heard what seemed like chanting voices far away, very clear and very real, but so distant I couldn’t make out a specific melody. They sounded like whispered chants from thousands of years ago, or like strings inside a piano sympathetically resonating quietly after you finish playing a note on the flute. They were beautiful tones and seemed to envelop me and the whole room. There was nothing spooky about this. I felt warm and comfortable. It was as if the chamber accepted me, welcoming my presence, and I felt quite happy and secure.

After ten minutes or so, I opened my eyes. David looked comfortable, peaceful, and relaxed. At first, I wasn’t going to say anything about the voices, but the sound seemed so real. “You know, as I was sitting here, Dave, I thought I heard voices, like angels softly chanting from far, far away.” Immediately, I felt self-conscious and wished I hadn’t spoken -it sounded weird. David simply looked at me and said, “So did I.” Both of us had heard the same thing.

I thought of Ben Pietsch from Santa Rosa, and his suggestion that I strike the coffer. I leaned over and hit the inside with the side of my fist, producing a beautiful round tone. What resonance! I remembered Ben’s saying,

“When you hear that tone, you will be immersed in living history.”

I picked up the electronic tuning device I’d brought and struck the coffer again. There it was, A-438, just as Ben had predicted.

Ben’s concept of living history is interesting. Everything that has ever happened on the face of this earth since the beginning of time is still in existence somewhere. An action, a spoken word, even a thought has energy, and this energy endures. Although it diminishes, it is still there and can never be not-there. History is alive.

In a confined space like the King’s Chamber, the events and peoples of the past are still present; their energies continue to exist. If you are quiet enough, as I was in my meditation, you can sense them. I believe those distant voices were the voices of people who sang inside this temple many centuries ago.

I felt comfortable in the room, with no fear in my heart-regardless of Napoleon’s and Paul Brunton’s frightening experiences; and my receptivity opened me to the comforting and protective spirits that were still there. I was immersed in living history, and I felt its presence in the deep silence of my meditation. When I played, I opened myself to these vibrations; their presence came through me, into the music, out into the air.

The moment had arrived. I adjusted my flute to the A-438 pitch Ben had predicted and attuned myself with the room, an important part of this process. Each room has its own sound. Its vibration is the essence of the room’s walls and ceiling and floor. It is dependent upon the shape and size of the room, the materials used to build it, its function, and whatever presence or presences still exist within it from the past. If the people who used the room were peaceful and loving, the vibrations of the room are also peaceful and loving.

The King’s Chamber had its own vibration, made up of all events that had taken place there. David Greene and I were in the heart of the power center, enclosed within a huge mass of solid rock, bathed in the tremendous energy that came through because of the structural perfection of its geometric dimensions and its exact true-north alignment. Our own vibrations mingled with the vibrations of the room, increasing the intensity of our feelings.

Sitting on the floor in front of the coffer, with the stereo mike in the center of the room, I began playing alto flute. The echo sounded wonderful, lasting about eight seconds. I waited for the echo to decay and then played again. Groups of notes suspended in air and came back together as a chord. Sometimes certain notes stood out more than others, always changing. I listened and responded, as if I were playing with another musician.

This recording was not as innocent as the Taj Mahal album because I came to the pyramids with the intention of recording a commercial product. I had thought about the pyramids and prepared myself emotionally for this evening’s music. The Taj Mahal experience could never be repeated, and I knew that.

Nevertheless, I still felt a certain kind of innocence. I hadn’t written anything specific to play. A precomposed work written back in the States would be totally inappropriate here - this was a different place, a different mood, a different atmosphere, and certainly a different time. Clock time had no meaning here. Within these chambers lived the spirits of kings and queens and their servants, people who had walked and talked upon the earth thousands of years ago. I wanted to be in touch with them, not with my personal self. So, although my intention was not as innocent, I still kept the music pure through improvisation, which is the true expression of the living moment.

My job was to open myself as much as possible to the vibratory influences permeating these rooms and to respond to them as intuitively and deeply and honestly as I possibly could. By transcending preconceptions and personal ego trips and then improvising music in response to the environment, I could bring to the album an experience that would be psychologically clean and spiritually innocent.

I became totally absorbed in the music. I gave myself up to the eons of vibrations and ghostly choirs present in the chamber, letting the music flow through me with a life of its own. About one minute before each twenty-two-minute reel ended, David signaled to me, at which time I brought the solos to a close.

I switched to the C flute, but for this room the alto flute seemed more appropriate, so I switched back. I’ve never sung on record before, but here for some reason, I felt like trying. My voice had a different resonance than the flutes, and the act of singing turned out to be one of the most personal musical experiences I’ve ever had. Now I myself was the resonating instrument, not the flutes, and it felt great.

Human bodies contain seven energy centers, known as chakras, which range along the spine from the base of the spine to the top of the head. If the chakras are open, life-energy flows freely within the body. If they are closed, the flow is restricted. Most of these centers are closed to us because of stress. As we expand our consciousness, our nervous system becomes more purified, the chakras open, and the energy flows freely.

Specific sounds can open the chakras. I think the music that evening was pure enough to open those of receptive listeners. I did not play with that intention, but I was so open that the music which came through seems to have the power to awaken those centers.

Many people have told me over the years that this pyramid music is especially meaningful for them, even more so than Inside the Taj Mahal. Some people felt they experienced through the music the essence of the pyramids, without having been there. Others said the music brought back recollections of past Egyptian lives.

It seemed a magical time. The best thing I could have done was perform the puja, which aligned me with the inner spirit of the place, got rid of whatever ego I had, and helped me return to my natural innocence. I could be wide open, a clear channel for whatever came through my flute in addition to the notes that were played.

Two hours flew by. With only one hour of precious time remaining, I suggested to Dave that we move on to the Grand Gallery and the Queen’s Chamber. David had acquired a new friend, a flat-nosed mouse who seemed more interested in the cables than in David - it probably thought the cables were something new to eat. Its flat nose looked funny, and we laughed. Perhaps the mouse was descended from an ancient species, but Dave and I figured he’d bumped into too many walls in the dark. We said farewell to the mouse and moved on.

I stood at the top of the Grand Gallery and played a few notes, which I eagerly looked forward to hearing. In Secrets of the Great Pyramid, author Peter Tompkins repeatedly mentioned “the unusual echo” of that room, and I wanted to hear it. Much to my surprise, there was no echo. In fact, the notes sounded dead, and the echoless passage was literally as quiet as a tomb, appropriately so, of course, but nevertheless surprising and somewhat disappointing.

Time was running out, so we moved on quickly to the Queen’s Chamber. I felt more inclined toward the higher flutes here and played the piccolo as well as the C flute. Although this room doesn’t have the acoustic qualities of the King’s Chamber, it has a special feeling of its own, reflected in the improvisations.

When David signaled the end of the tape, our watches said 8:55 P.M. We started packing up. At exactly 9:00 P.M., the lights suddenly flashed back on. The guards kept precise tabs on us. We hastily gathered our gear and hurried down to the main entrance. I didn’t want to take advantage of the people who had been kind enough to give us this marvelous opportunity.
Outside, Dave and I strolled across the sand to the road a hundred yards away and sat down on the curb to wait for Frank. The night air was cool, and the skies were clear and dark, with all the stars shining brightly up in the heavens.


We sat in silence, looking at the pyramid. We had done so much talking and planning, and we had traveled so far, not knowing whether we were going to be able to do this. Now we were here, sitting quietly on the curb beneath the starry skies, looking at the pyramid, reflecting upon our adventure. Our dream had fulfilled itself. Now it was a thing of the past. Dave put his arm around my shoulder and said, “You did it, man.” I looked at him and smiled. That Thursday evening, May 6, 1976, gave us an unforgettable experience.