Millennial Myth-Making

An exclusive update to members of the Stargate Assembly



Despite its laudable intentions, 'Alternative Egyptology' is, in fact, a minefield.


Not only are there many competing theories claiming to solve the very real mysteries of ancient Egypt - which, until recently, have been the subject of a generally good-natured debate - but there are also individuals and groups with vested interests, who seek to use those mysteries in order to sell other ideas of a religious, esoteric or even political nature.

Which of the theories you accept usually comes down to whether you accept the author's particular interpretation of the data - the monuments, artifacts and texts that survive from ancient Egypt. However, when there is a disagreement about the data itself the debate becomes much more clear-cut: a statement of fact is either right or wrong.


Our research for The Stargate Conspiracy found serious factual errors in the works of some of the key figures in this field, in particular Robert Bauval, Graham Hancock, John Anthony West and Robert Temple.


These errors are so fundamental that, if we are correct, they undermine many of these writers' central theories.

The best example is the supposed significance of the year 10500 BC, which is promoted so strongly by Hancock and Bauval. The climatic and astronomical evidence that they put forward is, as we demonstrate, basically wrong.

Since The Stargate Conspiracy was published in July, none of the authors have responded to our criticisms - although there's been a lot of behind-the-scenes shenanigans, some threats of legal action, and a successful attempt to put commercial pressure on our publishers as 'punishment' for daring to publish the book.

Yet the authors we criticize have kept a remarkably low profile when it comes to responding to our points. For example, Graham Hancock was due to take part in a live debate with us on national radio recently, but pulled out at the last minute. And it is not only our criticisms they have blithely ignored, but also those by others within the Alternative Egypt field itself. Why are they avoiding the issue? After all, the easiest way to publicly undermine our credibility, and that of their other critics, would be to prove us wrong.

As one-time avid fans of their books ourselves, we certainly feel cheated at what appears to be such a lack of respect for their readership - to whom, after all, they owe their reputations - as to constitute outright contempt.

It's ironic that Bauval and Hancock have frequently taken the high moral ground and accused academic Egyptologists of brushing aside criticism and suppressing dissenting voices. We now appear to have a new Egyptological orthodoxy with all the dogmatism and high-handedness of the old. Yet it's not just the past that the New Orthodoxy seeks to reinterpret. They see the past as containing messages for our immediate future, giving prophecies of imminent global transformation - as in Bauval and Hancock's Keeper of Genesis, for example. In recent postings on the Daily Grail promoting his forthcoming book Secret Chamber, Bauval continues to build up Messianic expectations for the Millennium.

For example, in describing his visit to the chamber beneath the 'water shaft' at Giza, Bauval refers to the 'fabled Hall of Records'. 'Fabled'? Does the idea of the Hall of Records really have the long and venerable pedigree he implies?

The existence of a Hall of Records beneath Giza, connected with the Sphinx and dating from 10500 BC, appeared for the first time in the psychic readings of Edgar Cayce in the 1920s. Cayce also predicted that the Hall of Records would be rediscovered by 1998, and that this would usher in a New Age, in which the 'Master of the World' would return (taken by some to mean the Second Coming), a new race would appear and - tellingly - the ideals and doctrines of Freemasonry would dominate the world.

However, Cayce has one of the worst track records of any prophet: virtually all of his predictions to date have failed dismally.


Even so, many people continue to believe in him and his prophecies, particularly concerning the Hall of Records. Now that 1998 has passed without its discovery, there appears to be a concerted effort to link the it with the excavation of the water shaft chamber, which did happen last year (although, in fact, the chamber itself has been known about since the 1930s).

(The water shaft and chamber are discussed briefly in our book, but a more detailed examination appears in Ian Lawton and Chris Ogilvie-Herald's Giza - The Truth, published in the UK this week.)

Bauval has recently distanced himself from the Cayce circus, writing on Egyptnews (17 June):

'It is no secret that I do not condone either the so-called reading of Cayce or the other material that is promoted by the ARE, such as the Second Coming, reincarnated entities from Atlantis and such like hare brained stuff.'

This is fine as far as it goes, but by writing of a 'fabled' Hall of Records, Bauval is perpetuating the common fallacy that you can reject the prophet but keep the prophecy.


The fact is that the term 'Hall of Records' and the concept of an underground depository of lost wisdom connected with the Sphinx originated with Cayce. It is true that there are Egyptian, Arab and Masonic legends of hidden artifacts or texts in Egypt, but they relate either to the Great Pyramid or to places other than Giza.


None make the association with the Sphinx or with an underground chamber, and none use the term 'Hall of Records', which was an invention of Cayce's. Bauval goes further in his posting of 15 August, relating the Masonic symbolism of the Millennium Night ceremony in which a gilded capstone is to be placed on the top of the Great Pyramid, and the 'coincidence' of the culmination of Sirius at the same time, to Messianic ideas concerning the births of Horus and Jesus.

The meaning for American Freemasons of the capstone ceremony is explored in The Stargate Conspiracy.


Briefly, it relates to the symbolism of the design on the reverse of the Great Seal of the United States, which appears on dollar bills. This shows an incomplete pyramid with the famous (or notorious) 'eye in the triangle' symbol floating above it. In the early 1930s - but not, as far as we can trace, before - this symbol began to be associated with predictions of the global domination of the USA and Freemasonry.


The parallel with Cayce's prophecy relating to the Hall of Records, made around the same time, is obvious. (Significantly, Cayce was a Mason.) The first prominent Freemason to promote this concept was Henry A. Wallace, the politician who had the design incorporated onto dollar bills and who later became Vice President under Roosevelt. Wallace was also one of the key figures in the origins of what we call the 'Stargate Conspiracy' in the early 1950s.

To be fair, some readers have taken us to task for describing this image as Masonic, pointing out that it is not one of the traditional symbols of Masonry. This is true. Although the 'eye in the triangle' image is known from at least the 16th century, it does not appear as an explicitly Masonic icon until this century. Why it was chosen for the US Great Seal is unknown. However, the important point is that Wallace and other Masons came to believe that it was Masonic, and to interpret it in Masonic terms.

The placing of the gilded capstone on the Great Pyramid at the moment of midnight at the Millennium is - whether intentional or not - a potent symbol for modern American Freemasons who accept Henry Wallace's interpretation. It represents the 'completion' of the pyramid and this, according to Wallace, symbolizes the dawn of an era in which the United States and Freemasonry will be the dominant forces in the world.


The fact that this coincides with the culmination of Sirius - when it is directly south of Giza, and at its highest point - is something that will not have escaped those who seek to exploit the meaning of such apparently symbolic events.

On the subject of Sirius in Masonic lore, there is a difference of opinion among Freemasons. Many authorities attribute the symbols described by Bauval to Venus rather than Sirius - see, for example, Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas's recently-published Uriel's Machine. The fact that, seen from Giza, Sirius culminates a minute after midnight on 31 December 1999 is not as unique an event as Bauval implies.


In fact, it has culminated within a minute or two either side of midnight at New Year in most years since the beginning of the 20th century, and will continue to do until about 2100. And there have been about twenty occasions this century when, rather than culminating at 12.01, Sirius has reached its highest point at midnight exactly - a much more significant moment, if one is looking for symbolism.

By linking these events with the birth of Jesus (although his connecting Sirius and the Star of Bethlehem is, to say the least, extremely debatable) and the onset of the Age of Horus, Bauval has added a decidedly Messianic gloss. Is this - despite his skeptical words about Cayce's prophecy - a hint of the Second Coming?

The aim of The Stargate Conspiracy is to show how such potent symbolism is being deliberately manipulated by those with their own, very disturbing, agendas, specifically in order to heighten expectancy around the Millennium. The kind of Messianic message being strongly hinted at by Robert Bauval plays straight into their hands.


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A Statement
by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince

It has been suggested that postings on this web site, giving an overview of the content of The Stargate Conspiracy, imply that certain authors hold racist and anti-Muslim views.


We do not believe that the original postings had such a meaning and we never intended that it should. We would, therefore, like to make a clear statement of our conclusions on this matter.

What we call the Stargate Conspiracy is a concerted attempt to construct a new system of belief using highly evocative ideas about mankinds ancient past, the influence of extraterrestrials on human civilization, and predictions of global upheavals linked to the Millennium.


Those behind the conspiracy have pressed many ideas into the service of the new belief system, including the theories of Alternative Egyptology, the prophecies of Edgar Cayce, the belief in the Face and Pyramids on Mars and the alien abduction phenomenon. This includes selected parts of the ideas of popular authors on the mysteries of ancient Egypt, such as Robert Bauval, Graham Hancock, John Anthony West and Robert Temple, which have been used in ways that those authors would not support.

At the heart of the conspiracy is a network of people who believe themselves to be in communication with powerful extraterrestrial intelligences, the Council of Nine, who claim to be the gods of ancient Egypt. Ultimately, all the above ideas have been made to serve the belief in the reality of the Nine and therefore to support their teachings about mankind and its place in the cosmic scheme - teachings that are accepted by many thousands of people worldwide.


This includes anti-Muslim sentiments and racial ideas that many people, not just ourselves, find extremely disturbing and dangerous.

We are NOT saying, or even implying, that those whose ideas and theories are being used share these beliefs. We do not believe this to be the case. This should be clear from reading The Stargate Conspiracy.

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Bizarre Events on the Internet
An exclusive update to members of the Stargate Assembly

Many Assembly members have experienced problems accessing the web site or sending emails.


This is part of a series of bizarre events that have happened on the internet surrounding the publication and promotion of The Stargate Conspiracy.


These include:

1. The cancellation of Egyptnews' account with AOL, after a posting by us about Stargate, has already been discussed. As this was, according to AOL, the result of a complaint by another user, we put this down to an individual with an axe to grind against us.

2. For obvious reasons, we were careful to keep the exact contents of Stargate under wraps until publication was imminent.


The level of interest in what the book might say can be gauged by the many thousands of hits on the Templar Lodge Hotel web site in the weeks leading up to publication. This figure is for all hits, a large percentage of which were for the hotel pages, not just those relating to the Stargate Assembly.


However, after our first detailed postings on the Assembly, a very strange thing happened. The hit rate dropped by around 80% - again, for the site as a whole.

The site's service provider could only explain this by users being blocked from accessing the site in some way. This is confirmed by numerous complaints by users who were either unable to access the site or whose emails were not delivered.

It is interesting that about 70% of hits around this period were from the state of Virginia. The inhabitants of that state clearly have no problems accessing the site.


Is it a coincidence that Virginia is home to most of the US defense and intelligence agencies, such as the CIA? (The Stargate Conspiracy is, of course, about a major, long-term and ultimately terrifying plan involving the CIA.)

3. On 12 July the website was completely down, showing only a 'site under construction' message. Not only had no changes been made to the site, but attempts to resolve the problem by the service provider produced bizarre and illogical effects that their support personnel had never encountered before.


Although the situation was resolved within a couple of days, the service provider was unable to explain it in terms of a technical fault. Significantly, one of the support people stated that the problems experienced were 'impossible without interference' to the site - i.e. the problems were caused by some outside agency.

4. On the very same day, the website of Quest Research, a professional research business that was involved in the Egyptological aspects of Stargate and which has a page devoted to the book, went down. Again, the service provider (a different one from Templar Lodge) was unable to give any reason for the failure.

Thus the only two sites on the World Wide Web containing information on The Stargate Conspiracy were off line at the same time, and the cause of both failures remains a mystery.

5. So far, three individuals who made major research contributions to The Stargate Conspiracy, and who are known to be close associates of ours, have had their email accounts temporarily suspended.


Two happened simultaneously with the two web site failures. One of these was explained by the account incorrectly showing that it was in arrears, although the service provider was unable to explain how this happened. The other provider was unable to offer any explanation.

6. A significant component of the Templar Lodge Hotel's email facilities also went down at the same time, and has, at the time of writing, not yet been restored.


The service provider (a different one from the web site provider) have acknowledged that a there is a technical problem, but have not yet identified the cause.

While all of the above problems (except the hotel email) have been resolved, various sites and individuals were off-line at a critical time, and resolution proved time-consuming and frustrating for those involved. Such a catalogue of problems seems far beyond coincidence. It is significant that the majority of them happened within the space of a few days in the week leading up to the press launch of The Stargate Conspiracy at the Templar Lodge Hotel, presumably with the aim of discouraging interest in the event.


It seems that a concerted effort is being made to make access to information about the book on the Internet as difficult as possible. In particular, the two web site failures can only be explained by outside interference.

If you experience problems reaching the Stargate Assembly, please don't give up. We welcome your views and support. If nothing else, let's show Them that we will all fight to maintain freedom of speech.


(Editor's note: All email facilities and web sites have now been restored to their full operational capacities. However, service providers generally remain unable to provide further explanations behind each 'fault').


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The 'City of the Gods' Discovered at Giza

An exclusive update to members of the Stargate Assembly



Since the final manuscript of The Stargate Conspiracy was completed, a new claim of a discovery of wonders in Egypt has emerged. It is particularly interesting when set against the conclusions of our book. What we call the Stargate Conspiracy may at first seem like something from Chris Carter's nightmares, but even more horrifying is the fact that this is real.


Although several intelligence agencies are involved the prime mover is the CIA, indoor the plot began just a few years after it was formed. Briefly, the conspiracy involves manipulating potent archetypal symbols and ideas in order to create what is essentially a new global religion. The concepts they have stolen include the very real mysteries of ancient Egypt, the so-called Monuments of Mars and the belief in extraterrestrial contact in the remote past.

The ultimate message they are relentlessly pushing is that the gods of ancient Egypt were, in reality, advanced extraterrestrial beings - and that they are back. Already certain selected individuals believe themselves to be in psychic communication with them, and are preparing mankind for the reopening of direct contact.

One of the key pillars of the Stargate Conspiracy is the promotion of the belief in the imminent discovery of hidden wonders beneath the Giza Plateau - a discovery that will, in some way, pull all the threads together and, essentially, prove the reality of the space-gods. One of out greatest difficulties in researching The Stargate Conspiracy was in evaluating the many stories of secret searches for hidden chambers at Giza, either within the monuments themselves or beneath the ground.


On the one hand, there is undeniable evidence that such a search has been going on for nearly 30 years, and that, at least in the 1970s, agencies of the United States government were heavily involved in it. More recently, the search has been carried on by individuals and organizations with a more esoteric agenda, such as John Anthony West and the Association for Research and Enlightenment (ABE), the Edgar Cayce organization.


On the other hand, although there have been plentiful rumors of discoveries - either by excavation or remote sensing (hard science, not to be confused with remote viewing) - every one has turned out to be either insubstantial (e.g. the claim that chambers beneath the Sphinx were entered in the summer of 1998) or simply exaggerations of less sensational finds (e.g. the chamber beneath the water shaft that has received much attention recently).

Faced with such contradictory data, we could only conclude that either a highly secret search is under way at Giza, but is being hidden behind a smokescreen of disinformation, or (which seems to be increasingly likely) that certain parties want us to think that there is. In the latter case, the true purpose of the exercise is to foster a belief not only in imminent revelations from Egypt, but also that a privileged few already know there is something to he found.

A new book by Ian Lawton and Chris Ogilvie-Herald, Giza: The Truth, which is due out in August, should go a long way to clarifying the conflicting claims about hidden finds in Egypt.

It is against this background that the latest claim needs to be placed. One of the major figures in our investigation is Dr. James J. Hurtak, the Californian mystic and polymath who has played a key role in all the major aspects of the emerging belief system.


He was involved in explorations at Giza in the 1970s, was one of the major proponents of the Face and Pyramids of Mars (and their connection with Egypt), and, since 1973, has claimed to be in psychic contact with highly-evolved extraterrestrial intelligences, including the Council of Nine (who proclaim themselves the gods of ancient Egypt).


He is the author of The Keys of Enoch, which is based on the revelations given to him by his otherworldly source. Two years ago, the rumor began to circulate that Hurtak had discovered, and entered, a vast underground complex in the Giza area.


This was protected by some kind of force field, but Hurtak knew the correct acoustic key for disabling it. He was then privileged to see virtually a subterranean city including, among other marvels, the body of Osiris.


These stories were first reported in lectures by the New Age leader Drunvalo Melchizedek.


This individual. has a considerable international following in New Age circles, and is the head of a movement known as the Flower of Life. Melchizedek claims to be a walk-in (one who has agreed for their body to be possessed by a higher spirit entity) of an angelic being.

Nelchizedek's teaching incorporates such concepts as communication with the inhabitants of a planet orbiting Sirius B - citing Robert Temple's The Sirius Mystery as evidence - and the fall of Atlantis around 11000 BC.

Drunvalo Melchizedeks relationship with Dr Hurtak is unclear. Although Hurtak has disavowed any 'official' connection with him, there is a suspicious resemblance between Melchizedeks teaching and that of The Keys of Enoch.


Melchizedeks choice of alias is also suggestive - the significance of the Old Testament character of that name and the modern Order of Melchizedek is discussed in Chapter 6 of The Stargate Conspiracy.

In his 1997 lectures, Melchizedek described the opening of the Giza 'underworld' but did not name the individual concerned. Shortly afterwards, Dr Hurtak issued statements on the Internet denying rumors that he was the anonymous person.

However, in 1998 and early 1999, in lectures in Australia and Europe, Hurtak told essentially the same story, but this time acknowledged himself as the one who had found the way into this subterranean City of the Gods, as it is now called.


The full story was posted on the Library of New On-Line Australia by Paul White. (White is a documentary producer and director who has championed recent claims of a link between ancient Egypt and Australia.)

It is claimed that the complex was discovered by remote sensing in 1978, and that as a result a secret agreement was made (presumably by the United States) with President Anwar Sadat to allow exploration of the system. Dr Hurtak is described as one of the key scientists involved in this top-secret project.

In his lectures, Hurtak showed video footage of the halls and chambers. He has promised that this footage will be released later this year, in time for the Millennium. Those who have seen it claim that it shows vast, colonnaded underground halls the size of cathedrals, underground waterways and even a kilometer-wide lake, all deep beneath the Giza Plateau. Hurtak also claimed that records and other artifacts have been discovered in sealed chambers.

Obviously, we await public release of this material with considerable interest. Until then, we can only make some preliminary observations. The idea that there is a network of chambers and tunnels beneath Giza is not new. It is, for example, explored in Andrew Collins's Gods of Eden (1998).


Collins and others have pointed out that such a subterranean system should exist, as Giza is a limestone plateau, and caves and underground rivers are characteristic of such features.


There are suggestions in ancient Egyptian tests that the halls and pathways of the Duat are literal, rather than symbolic, descriptions of what lies beneath Rostau, the ancient name for Giza. If the ancient Egyptians had accessed and built in such a network this would, of course, be a major, exciting discovery.

But while it is possible that some kind of network of tunnels may exist under Giza, we should treat Hurtak's other claims more cautiously. For example, he states that it is 15,000 years old and that it was built by the civilization of Atlantis, which he describes as the fourth root race (thereby linking the discovery to 19th-century occult racial ideas that influenced, among others, the Nazis). How does he know?


And does this discovery really, as suggested, confirm the quasi-religious scheme outlined in The Keys of Enoch (a book which, as readers of The Stargate Conspiracy will be aware, in our opinion contains some very disturbing ideas) - Hurtak also links the discovery to imminent global changes and the return of higher beings who guided mankind in the remote past.


He states that we are currently at the end of a cycle that began 13,000 years (half a precessional cycle) ago, and that this will be a time of great upheavals and catastrophes which will mark the passing of the human race (or at least part of it) into a new evolutionary stage.


This, of course, draws upon ideas popularized by Robert Dauval and Graham Hancock in Keeper of Genesis (1996). Hurtak also puts forward the evidence for a lost civilization gathered by Hancock in Fingerprints of the Gods in support of his assertions.

In the final chapter of The Stargate Conspiracy, we predict that some kind of momentous event or revelation connected with Giza might well be stage-managed to coincide with the Millennium, and that this would have the effect of crystallizing the various elements of the new belief system.


This may be promoted off the back of a genuine discovery or could be entirely manufactured.

We await developments in this story with great interest. Anybody with more information, comments or observation can send an email to the Stargate Assembly.

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A New Approach to the Mysteries of Ancient Egypt
Exclusive extract from a lecture by
at the Templar Lodge Hotel, Gullane, near Edinburgh, Scotland,
7 June 1999

Spanish version


Our research for The Stargate Conspiracy - although mainly leading to the uncovering of the conspiracy of the title - also opened up other, more positive and exciting, avenues that offer a solution to some of the enduring mysteries of ancient Egypt.

Previously, we discussed the two most popular theories put forward to explain the puzzle of the ancient Egyptians' inexplicably advanced techniques - that the ancient Egyptians either learned their skills from a lost civilization, or from visiting extraterrestrials.


We would now like to offer an alternative theory, which, although not evoking Atlanteans or space-gods still has a resolutely otherworldly quality.


The technical achievements of the ancient Egyptians, as displayed most obviously in the building of monuments such as the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx of Giza, and the questions that they pose for conventional historians, are too well known to need repeating here.


But it was not only in this area that the Egyptians were so sophisticated. Even in the superficial field of cosmetics, recent discoveries have shown that their practical application of chemistry was far from primitive. In fact, they did what Givenchy and Christian Dior have only just begun to do, incorporating active sun-block into foundation creams. However, what most intrigued was the extraordinary cosmological knowledge that can be found within their religious texts.

The earliest religion known in ancient Egypt was that of Heliopolis.


Now buried under a suburb of Cairo, and marked by a single obelisk, Heliopolis was the greatest religious centre of ancient Egypt, and home to not only what we would call religion, bur also every other kind of knowledge, from philosophy and medicine to cosmology. The High Priest of Heliopolis also held the title that translates as 'Chief Astronomer'. Imhotep, the genius who designed and built the first pyramid, the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara, was a priest of Heliopolis.

We don't know when Heliopolis was established, but we do know that when records began in Egypt it was already the supreme religious centre. The religion of Heliopolis was the religion of the pyramid builders. In fact, the three Giza pyramids align with Heliopolis, which is 12 miles (20 km) away. This is one alignment that is even accepted by Egyptologists.


The religion of Heliopolis is encapsulated in the famous Pyramid Texts, which are hieroglyphic inscriptions covering the walls of some fourth dynasty pyramids. Although the earliest inscriptions date from some 200 years after the building of the Great Pyramid, there is no doubt that the texts are much older. From studying them, we can discover not only what the Heliopolitan priesthood believed in a religious sense, but also the extent of their knowledge in other areas.

The central theme of the Pyramid Texts is the afterlife - or rather the presumed afterlife - journey of the King, in which he is identified with the god Osiris and ascends to the heavens where he is transformed into a star. In this otherworldly realm he has many adventures in which he encounters various gods and other entities, and has to persuade them to accept him into their ranks. When this happens he is reincarnated as his own successor, in the form of Osiris's son Horus.

The most fundamental revelation of the Pyramid Texts is that the Heliopolitan religion was essentially monotheistic. (Will admirers of Akhenaten please take note!) Although there were many god-forms, they were all understood to represent the many aspects of the One God, Atum. In fact, all living things were considered as part of Atum, including mankind.

In the Heliopolitan creation story, in the beginning the Universe was a formless, watery void, called Nun. Out of this emerged a phallic-shaped hill, the primeval mound, the centre of all creation.


On this hill, Atum masturbated himself to an explosive orgasm that both gave birth to the Universe and seeded it with life. From this act, the Universe expanded outward, becoming ever more complex and unfolding through many levels of creation until the material world that we inhabit came into being. Atum was hermaphroditic, encompassing both male and female principles.


But immediately after his creative act, two beings, the god Shu and the goddess Tefnut, emerge. Another name for Tefnut is Ma'at, goddess of eternal justice and balance. Shu is the male principle, the active force, and Tefnut the female principle that limits, controls and directs the male. The principle of duality - similar to the Taoist yin-yang - is fundamental to the Heliopolitan system.

From the union of Shu and Tefnut are born Geb, the Earth god and Nut, the sky goddess. They, in turn, give birth to the famous double pair of brother-sister twins, Isis and Osiris, and Nephyts and Set.


They express the principle of duality in two ways - male-female and light-dark. These are the nine gods of the Great Ennead, but they remain only expressions of Atum, reaching through the levels of creation from the void Nun to the world of matter in which we live. To the Helipolitans, Osiris was also Geb, and Shu, and Atum.

Through the offspring of Isis and Osiris, the magical child Horus, the system is repeated. Horus becomes head of the Lesser Ennead, the nine gods of this world. Horus is to this plane of existence what Atum is to the Universe. Horus is, in effect, the god of this world. The Heliopolitan system is multi-layered and expresses several ideas at once in an extremely elegant way.


For example, in an association of imagery, the emergence of Atum's hill from Nun was equated with the rising of the sun, and the daily 'birth' of the sun was considered a microcosm of the original creation event. This is why Atum is associated with the sun-god Ra, sometimes referred to as Ra-Atum.

This explains much of the fluidity, and apparent confusion, in the way the ancient Egyptians seem to have mixed and matched their gods. For example, the association of Atum and Horus explains why the Sphinx of Giza was called variously, and simultaneously, the 'Living Image of Atum', Horakhti ('Horus of the Horizon') and Ra-Horakhti.


It was built to face towards the rising sun, Ra, which equated with the creation of the Universe by Atum, who was also identified with Horus, head of the Lesser Ennead and god of this world.

But there is more to this complex and elegant system than simply a series of metaphysical correspondences.

In the Heliopolitan creation myth the Universe bursts forth from a point of singularity and expands, as it does so becoming ever more complex as new levels of creation come into existence until the material world that we inhabit appears. This is strikingly similar to modern theories of the origins and evolution of the Universe - the 'Big Bang' and 'Expanding Universe' theories. But the Heliopolitan myths go a lot further than this.

Although Nun, the original void, is formless, it is also described as water. It is within this that Atum's Hill appears - which is equated with the sun. Interestingly, scientists have only recently discovered that water is found in interstellar space in far greater quantities than previously considered possible. It is now believed that such clouds of water play a vital role in the creation of stars - in other words, suns.


Modern scientists are, in effect, saying that suns emerge from water - formless clouds of water. Is it possible that the priests and priestesses of Heliopolis knew this as well?

There is another, equally provocative, parallel. Recently, a NASA team researching the origins of life in the Universe made an astonishing announcement. For decades, scientists have been trying to create, in the laboratory, some of the complex molecules that are necessary for life - and have always failed.


However, this NASA team recreated the conditions found inside clouds of gas in interstellar space - and found that these extremely complex molecules could not only be created very easily but virtually formed themselves. It is, therefore, easier for the molecules necessary for primitive life to evolve in space than on a planet. They are probably then 'seeded' onto planets by comets, where they can then begin to evolve into more complex life-forms.

This even led the leader of the NASA team to state: 'I begin to really believe that life is a cosmic imperative.'

In other words, life - or the potential for life - exists throughout the Universe. Belgian writer and researcher Philip Coppens has pointed out that all of this is implicit in the Heliopolitan creation myth, in which Atum seeds the Universe with life.

It is extremely significant that the most sacred object of Heliopolis was the ben-ben stone, which most Egyptologists believe to have been of meteoric origin. The name 'ben-ben' derives from the ancient Egyptian word meaning 'seed' or 'semen', brilliantly encapsulating the concept of the seeding of life on Earth by objects from space.

Faced with these realizations - as well as the well-known mysteries of the ancient Egyptians' advanced technical skills - we naturally came to consider the question of where they had acquired such knowledge. Where, or from whom, had they learned such things?

But we also asked another question.


These mysteries concern things that happened in the ancient past, and the obvious problem is that we cannot study the past directly. We cannot go back in time and see what happened for ourselves. Therefore we are left with the interpretation of archaeological and textual evidence, which inevitably leads to some degree of speculation.


The question we asked was: is there any parallel for the acquisition of inexplicably advanced knowledge that we can study directly - in other words, that is happening in the world today, We believe that there is.

But first, it is worth considering how we tend to think people learn new skills. We normally think that there are only two ways - whether we're talking about an individual or a civilization. Either we work it our for ourselves by experimentation or trial and error, or somebody else (who has already worked it out) teaches us.

This is, in a nutshell, the problem of the anomalous sophistication of ancient Egypt (and many other ancient civilizations). There is no archaeological evidence of a process of gradual development of these skills. So logically we have to invoke the second method, and assume that they were taught these things, either by a lost civilization or by ancient astronauts.

But what if there is a third way to acquire knowledge? On an individual level, we know that there is: inspiration. But can this work for an entire culture, and if so what would be the mechanism behind it? Is there any evidence for such a thing?

There is. And it is something that is happening today. During our research we came across the ground-breaking work of a Swiss anthropologist named Jeremy Narby, who in 1995 wrote a book called, in English, The Cosmic Serpent - DNA and the Origins of Knowledge.


About fifteen years ago, Narby was studying the indigenous people of the Peruvian Amazon, and became fascinated by their astounding botanical knowledge, specifically their use of plants for medical and other purposes. What intrigued him most was how these supposedly primitive people had acquired this knowledge.

Since they have no science in the sense that we understand it, they must have learned how to make their medicines by trial and error. But there are some 80,000 species of plants growing in the Amazon rain forest, so to discover an effective remedy using just two of them would theoretically require the testing of every possible combination - just under four billion.


But many of their medicines involve not just two plants, but several. If they had found their recipes by experimentation, it would have taken millions of years to find just a few, and yet they have a vast range of medicines and other useful substances.


Added to this, preparation of many of them involve long and complex processes with many stages. The classic example is curare.


This is a powerful poison whose ingredients come from several different plants, and which, Narby points out, fits a very precise set of requirements. The hunters needed something that, when smeared on the tips of blow-pipe darts, would not only kill an animal but also ensure that it does not tighten its death-grip on a branch and die out of reach (as often happens with animals killed by arrows).


And the meat would have to be safe to eat. It seems like a very tall order - but curare fits all these requirements perfectly. It is a muscle relaxant, which kills by arresting the respiratory muscles. It is only effective when injected directly into the bloodstream, hence its delivery by blowpipe, and has no effect when taken by mouth.

The most common type of curare requires a complicated method of preparation in which the extracts of several plants are boiled together for three days, during which lethal fumes are given off. And the final result needs a specific piece of technology - the blow-pipe - to deliver it. How was all this discovered?

The problem becomes even more baffling, because no fewer than forty different types of curare are used in the Amazon rain forest. All do the same job but use slightly different ingredients, because the same plants do not grow in every region. Therefore, in effect, curare was invented forty times.

After puzzling about such questions for a long time, Narby realized that the best way to find an answer was to ask the Amazonians themselves. So how do they claim to have discovered curare - and all the other plants-derived substances that they use? In fact, they take no credit for them. They claim that all were given to them by the spirits through their shamans.

Shamans have existed throughout the world, especially in tribal societies.


They are what used to be called witch doctors, especially talented and highly trained trance psychics, who use their gifts to heal, locate the best hunting and find water in times of drought. In short, they help to solve the problems of the tribe, and help it survive. The shaman does this by going into trance, which can be induced in a variety of ways, from whirling, drumming and dancing, to taking psychoactive drugs derived from plants or mushrooms.


Those studied by Narby in Peru achieve their trance by ingesting a plant mixture called ayahuasca, which mimics a substance found naturally in the human brain and which, in large doses, is a powerful hallucinogen.

When in trance, the shaman's spirit goes on a journey to another realm, in which he faces horrible dangers. But once he has overcome his adversaries he communicates with superior intelligences, who often appear in the form of animals, who answer his questions.

As in fairy tales, the spirits only answer the questions they are asked - they seldom, if ever, volunteer extra information. So, if the shaman asks them how to cure a little village girl's meningitis, they will give him that information - but they will not also tell him how to cure her mother's cancer unless he specifically asks. And that may involve another trip.

This is what the Amazonians told Jeremy Narby about how they know the properties of plants and how to combine them.


But they also claim that this is how they learned of specific techniques, such as woodworking and weaving - in fact, all the arts and crafts necessary for survival. We must stress that the Amazonians' knowledge of pharmacology (plant-derived drugs and their potential and actual uses) is not just surprising for what are considered primitive peoples, but actually exceeds that of modern Western science.


Many modern medicines were taken from those used in the Amazon - curare, for example, is used in heart surgery. Even the giant drug companies do not have the ability to develop products to meet specific requirements as quickly, easily - and naturally - as the Amazonian shamans can.

This is, in fact, an exact analogy for the problem posed by the ancient Egyptians' anomalous knowledge of, for example, highly sophisticated construction techniques. Although they are two very different fields of knowledge, the basic problem in accounting for the knowledge is exactly the same.

Could it be that the ancient Egyptians acquired the knowledge of how to build pyramids the shaman's way - by asking the great spirits directly? It might be thought that it is just too big a step from brewing up potions to designing and building one of the world's largest and most enduring buildings, but Jeremy Narby pointed out to us that in some ancient American civilizations both skills existed side by side.


The Aztecs, Incas and Maya constructed comparable temples to those of Egypt, and attributed their knowledge of how to build them to their gods. But they also maintained that the gods had also taught them other arts, such as the use of plants for healing, and astronomy.

So there is a direct analogue for the mysterious knowledge of, and evidence of advanced technology in, ancient Egypt - in something that is happening today.

So could the Heliopolitan religion have been based on a form of shamanism? It is instructive to look at the experiences of anthropologist Michael Harner among the Conibo Indians of the Peruvian Amazon in the 1960s.


He took the shamans' hallucinogenic drink and later wrote:

'For several hours after drinking the brew I found myself, though awake, in a world literally beyond my wildest dreams. I met bird-headed people, as well as dragon-like creatures who explained that they were the gods of this world.'

Bird-headed people. Doesn't this remind us of the ibis-headed god Thoth and the hawk-headed Horus? The Egyptians had many animal-headed gods, including the fearsome lioness-headed Sekhmet and the jackal-headed Anubis. Do they all live through the stargate of shamanic vision? In the Pyramid Texts there are many passages that are an exact parallel for the shamanic experience.

In the Pyramid Texts we read how the King, who is identified with Osiris, must face terrifying ordeals, similar to the myth of the god himself, in which he was cut into pieces by the evil god Set, later to be reassembled and brought back to life by his sister-wife Isis.


This is virtually identical to the classic shamanic experience in which the shaman is hacked to pieces and magically reassembled before ascending into the spirit world.

Jeremy Narby made a study of shamanism all over the world, and found many common themes in shamanic visions. A major example is that of snakes or serpents being bringers of wisdom. This is found even in cultures living in regions where there are no snakes.

Another common theme is that of the divine twins, also as bringers of wisdom. Narby points out that the Aztec word 'coatl', as in the name Quetzalcoatl, means both 'snake' and 'twin'. This reminds us of the two sets of twins in the Heliopolitan pantheon - Isis and Osiris, and Nephtys and Set.

Another central element common to shamanism all over the world is that of a ladder joining Heaven and Earth, which the shaman ascends to meet the spirits of wisdom.


As Narby says:

'They talk of a ladder, or a vine, a rope, a spiral staircase, a twisted rope ladder, that connects Heaven and Earth and which they use to gain access to the world of spirits. They consider these spirits to have come from the sky and to have created life on Earth.'

Significantly, the same imagery is found in the Pyramid Texts.


For example, speaking of Isis as the personification of the ladder, it says:

'As for any spirit or any god who will help me when I ascend to the sky on the ladder of the god; my bones are assembled for me, my limbs are gathered together for me, and I leap up to the sky in the presence of the god of the lord of the ladder.'

Ascension to the Milky Way is a central theme of the Pyramid Texts.


The fact that Isis is personified as the ladder is interesting because it brings up the whole question of the role of women in shamanism. We have been saying 'he' whenever we have talked about shamans, because virtually all of them are men.

We were at a conference in London about four years ago at which Jeremy Narby was speaking. During question time, one of the audience asked why he hadn't mentioned female shamans. He replied that women's' place in this is very interesting. In the Amazonian shamanic rites he had witnessed, the shaman takes ayahuasca, goes into trance, and then goes off on his otherworldly flight.


But next to him is a woman, and she accompanies him on his journey, experiencing exactly the same visions that he experiences. It is her job to make him recall them when he returns, because shamans often forget their experiences.


But she does this without touching ayahuasca.


How can the women do this without recourse to artificial means - the drug? It appears that certain women find the shamanic experience comes to them quite naturally. We don't know the details of this, because in tribal societies the men's mysteries and the women's mysteries are kept strictly apart.


Until recently, the vast majority of Western anthropologists have been male, so if they were let in on any secrets it was the male ones. As a result, the literature on female shamanism is virtually non-existent. The fact that Isis plays this role in the Pyramid Texts suggests that women played an important part in Egyptian shamanism - and we know that there were female priests at Heliopolis.

It is generally accepted as fact that the Pyramid Texts describe the afterlife journey of the King, but there is much internal evidence that this is simply not so - or rather that they do not exclusively describe an afterlife journey at all.

We believe that they actually describe the classic out-of-the-body flight of the shaman, who is, significantly, often regarded as physically dead while in his trance, in which he visits the world of the dead. The gods and monsters encountered in the Pyramid Texts are strikingly similar to those described across the world by tribal shamans.

There are many ways for shamans to become entranced, which include whirling, dancing, drumming and pushing the mind and body beyond the limit through induced pain. All of these techniques produce some form of altered state of consciousness, perhaps hallucinations, certainly an apparent physical deadness and mental and spiritual alertness. But it must be said that the most favored way of inducing shamanic trance is through the use of psychoactive drugs.

Jeremy Narby spent a lot of time researching the shamans of the Amazonian rain forest, in particular their use of ayahuasca. Narby himself took ayahuasca and, although at first it made him violently sick, he then entered into the sacred trance state, where he had a particularly significant vision.

He encountered two giant serpents who talked with him. They told him that he was 'only a human being', which humbled him. He later said that they induced thoughts that he wasn't then capable of having himself.


All of this made him examine his Western arrogance and preconceptions about life and humanity's place in the scheme of things, which led directly to him writing his ground-breaking book. As we will see, the serpents are very important.


For now, suffice it to say that Narby's own experience showed that the shamanic state can provide otherwise inaccessible knowledge and an entirely different way of looking at things.

We asked Narby whether he thought that his theory about the shamanic acquisition of knowledge could apply to ancient Egypt. He replied that he was reluctant to comment on this, as it was outside his area of specialism, but he did suggest that if we could establish that they used drugs for sacred purposes, this would make a strong connection with the shamanic cultures.

To be honest we didn't know then whether such drugs were used in ancient Egypt, but by an amazing piece of synchronicity virtually the next day there was a Channel 4 program in the Sacred Weeds series about the possible use of the blue water-lily as a psychoactive drug in ancient Egypt.

In fact, it has long been recognized that the blue lily was important to the Egyptians, because it was depicted in many wall paintings and papyri. It even forms the design of the pillars of the Temple of Karnak. Egyptologists believe that it was so popular simply because it is very pretty. There are many pictures of virtually naked young ladies in party settings with blue lilies stuck - often a bit askew - into their headdresses or belts.


In fact, the blue lily is so often associated with party scenes that some researchers were led to wonder if they were, in fact, not merely pretty, but recreational drugs.

The program set out to test the properties of the blue lily and, yes, it does have a psychoactive effect, although Channel 4 erred on the side of caution and only used a very mild dose on its volunteers. However, we have every reason to believe that the ancient Egyptians probably had no such scruples. At the end of the program, one of the contributors, the historian Michael Carmichael, said that in larger quantities the blue lily could be used to induce shamanic trances.

It is, perhaps, significant that the blue lily was sacred to Atum, the god of Heliopolis.

We contacted Michael Carmichael and discussed the whole subject. He said that the ancient Egyptians are known to have used many drugs, including opium, mandrake and cannabis. Carmichael had made a specific study of all this, but had not heard of Jeremy Narby's work, although he had come to virtually the same conclusions about the acquisition of knowledge while in shamanic trance.

We ought to say at this point that we are not in any way encouraging drug taking. It must be pointed out that shamans are highly trained and experienced in their techniques. Don't think that we can just take some drug or another and we'll all have extraordinary shamanic visions. We won't. We'll get very ill, perhaps suffer psychological problems, and maybe even die.


There are no shortcuts to enlightenment. And there are other dangers apart from the physical ones.


Not all the entities encountered in visions are benevolent. Many are tricksters, bent on deceiving the untrained and unwary. Shamans know how to recognize them and outwit them. Untrained people can be misled, or even possessed. So, we know that it is possible for people to acquire advanced, sophisticated knowledge direct from some source.


Is this how the ancient Egyptians discovered, for example, how to build the pyramids, or the secrets of the cosmos?

In fact, we may, paradoxically, be able to deduce that this is so from the things that the ancient Egyptians didn't know. Remember, the Amazonian shamans get specific answers to specific questions, no less, but certainly no more than they ask for.

The Egyptians, for all their advanced building techniques, had no concept of the arch. The arch is a particularly efficient way of distributing weight, compared to straight lintels.


However, building with an arch requires a conceptual leap and an understanding of weight distribution. Perhaps this also accounts for the fact that the ancient Egyptians did not build large bridges.

There is more evidence that they had no understanding of the intricacies of weight distribution. Recently, French Egyptologist Jean Kerisel argued that the cracks in the ceiling of the King's Chamber in the Great Pyramid were not, as generally believed, caused by an earthquake at some point in the monument's long history, but actually happened while it was being built.


This was because the builders did not appreciate the consequences of juxtaposing granite and limestone, which compress at different rates. Despite all the wonders of the construction of the Great Pyramid - the quarrying, transportation, shaping and placing of such mammoth blocks of stone - the builders made a simple technical error that would be avoided by any modern student of architecture. Everything about the ancient Egyptians is practice, not theory.

It is as if they were given specific answers to specific questions, just as the Amazonian shamans are.

It might seem a big leap from building the pyramids to understanding the properties of plants but we argue that the both skills came were the result of the same process.


We do not know the limits of the knowledge that can be acquired the shaman's way.

  • Could it, for example, include techniques for quarrying and shifting huge blocks of stone?

  • Could it include information about distant stars and the origins of the cosmos?

In our previous talk we looked at the mysterious knowledge of the West African Dogon tribe about the Sirius star system, which Robert Temple believes results from actual contact with beings from that system.


But could their knowledge have been acquired using the shamanic technique, by asking the spirits about the brightest star in the sky? There are clear shamanistic aspects of the Dogon religion and mythology.


For example, the gods of the Dogon are pairs of twins, which is a common theme of shamanism the world over.

All tribal cultures use the skills of shamans, but does this mean that it is a primitive practice, something that a society grows out of as it becomes more sophisticated?


In the Amazon, it is true that the shamans only give information that is necessary for day to day survival.

  • But what would happen if shamanism continued to exist as a culture became more organized and sophisticated?

  • What would be the limits of the knowledge that its shamans could gather?

  • What if the Egyptians had built shamanism into their advanced culture?

  • Could they have taken their quest for knowledge to new levels?

  • Could the priesthood of Heliopolis have been, in effect, a college of shamans?

  • The big question is, who or what bestows this information?

  • Are the entities, the spirits or gods real or some kind of dramatization of the shamans' subconscious?

  • Does the shaman actually go somewhere on his visionary flight, or is it 'all in the mind'?

The whole subject of otherworld reality is a very complex one that has received little scientific or academic attention, but which is now beginning to attract serious study at last.


In the final analysis we just don't know the answers, but at least some people are beginning to phrase the questions. Jeremy Narby has made a hugely thought-provoking suggestion. We have seen that he identified certain common elements in shamanism worldwide.


There is the theme of the twin gods and serpents as bringers of wisdom - often combined in the form of twin serpents who impart great secrets.


Narby himself encountered two giant snakes when he took ayahuasca. There is also the theme of the twisting rope ladder or the twisted vine. Another theme is that of the spirits that the shamans meet, who often claim that they are in some way present in every living thing - that they are life itself...

It occurred to Narby from that statement that those common images of twin serpents and twisted ladders are descriptions of the DNA double helix. In fact, if straightened out the strands of DNA would look exactly like a rope ladder.

What Narby suggests is that the shaman is, in some way, communicating with his own DNA, and this is where he is getting the information from. This may sound bizarre, but it must be remembered that we do not know the function of 97% of DNA, which science terms 'junk DNA', but which Narby suggests we call 'mystery DNA'. All the diversity of life is accounted for by just 3% of DNA, so it seems inconceivable that the other 97% has no function. But what could it do?

Narby goes further. He points out that it is known that DNA in one cell actually exchanges signals with the DNA in other cells.


He suggests that, once someone taps into their own DNA, it can then communicate across organisms, across species - even across the boundary between animal and plant - and that the totality of all the DNA in the world forms a kind of matrix.


Perhaps this could explain phenomena such as telepathy and ESP. The DNA in one cell transmits and receives signals from DNA in other cells. This is done by emitting photons - that is, they actually exchange signals in the form of light, oddly at a wavelength that is visible to humans.


Perhaps this is where we get the concept of being 'enlightened' from, and it could be a literal description of the 'Light' of Gnosticism.


It is early days for the DNA theory, but, in our view, it has a lot going for it. What is certain is that shamans acquire knowledge direct from some source without any process of trial and error. It is knowledge that they didn't have before, useful knowledge which we cannot explain - and which is often more advanced than ours.


This is something that is happening right now, and there is no suggestion of visitors from lost continents or spaceships landing.

We have called our book The Stargate Conspiracy, which some take to be a reference to the movie and the TV series. In fact, it is very largely a reference to the ancient Egyptian word sba which means both 'star' and 'gateway'.


Unlike the concept of the movie, in which there is a physical portal through which you can step up to meet the space gods, we suggest that the real stargate is much, much closer to home. It is probably even within each cell of our bodies.


Perhaps in seeking wisdom from gurus and those with secret agendas we are actually moving away from enlightenment.


Perhaps we should just recognize that not only the stargate, but also the gods are within us all.


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