Chapter 52 -
Like a Thief in the Night
There are certain structures in the world, certain ideas, certain
intellectual treasures, that are truly mysterious. I am beginning to
suspect that the human race may have placed itself in grave jeopardy
by failing to consider [the implications of these mysteries.
We have the ability, unique in the animal kingdom, to learn from the
experiences of our predecessors. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for
example, two generations have grown to adulthood in awareness of the
horrific destruction that nuclear weapons unleash. Our children will
be aware of this too, without experiencing it directly, and they
will pass it on to their children.
Theoretically, therefore, the
knowledge of what atom bombs do has become part of the permanent
historical legacy of mankind, whether we choose to benefit from that
legacy or not is up to us. Nevertheless the knowledge is there,
should we wish to use it, because it has been preserved and
transmitted in written records, in film archives, in allegorical
paintings, in war memorials, and so on.
Not all testimony from the past is accorded the same stature as the
records of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On the contrary, like the
Canonical Bible, the body of knowledge that we call ‘History’ is an
edited cultural artifact from which much has been left out. In
particular, references to human experiences prior to the invention
of writing around 5000 years ago have been omitted in their entirety
and myth has become a synonym for delusion.
Suppose it is not delusion?
Suppose that a tremendous cataclysm were to overtake the earth
today, obliterating the achievements of our civilization and wiping
out almost all of us. Suppose, to paraphrase Plato, that we were
forced by this cataclysm ‘to begin again like children, in complete
ignorance of what had happened in early times’.1 Under such
circumstances, ten or twelve thousand years from now (with all
written records and film archives long since destroyed) what
testimony might our descendants still preserve concerning the events
at the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 of
the Christian era?
1 Plato, Timaeus and Critias,
Penguin Classics, 1977, p. 36.
2 The Bhagavata Purana, Motilal
Banardass, Delhi, 1986, Part I, pp. 59, 95.
It is easy to imagine how they might speak in mystical terms of
explosions that gave off a ‘terrible glare of light’ and ‘immense
Nor would we be too surprised to find that they might have
formulated a ‘mythical’ account something like this:
The flames of the Brahmastra -charged missiles mingled with each
other and surrounded by fiery arrows they covered the earth, heaven
and space between and increased the conflagration like the fire and
the Sun at the end of the world ... All beings who were scorched by
the Brahmastras, and saw the terrible fire of their missiles, felt
that it was the fire of Pralaya [the cataclysm] that burns down the
And what of the Enola Gay which carried the Hiroshima bomb? How
might our descendants remember that strange aircraft and the
squadrons of others like it that swarmed through the skies of planet
earth during the twentieth century of the Christian era?
possible, probable even, that they might preserve traditions of
‘celestial cars’ and ‘heavenly chariots’ and ‘spacious flying
machines’, and even of ‘aerial cities’.4 If they did, would they
perhaps speak of such wonders in mythical terms a little like these:
‘Oh you, Uparicara Vasu, the spacious aerial flying machine will
come to you—and you alone, of all the mortals, seated on that
vehicle will look like a deity.’5
‘Visvakarma, the architect among the Gods, built aerial vehicles for
‘Oh you descendant of the Kurus, that wicked fellow came on that
all-traversing automatic flying vehicle known as Saubhapura and
pierced me with weapons.’7
‘He entered into the favourite divine palace of Indra and saw
thousands of flying vehicles intended for the Gods lying at rest.’8
‘The Gods came in their respective flying vehicles to witness the
battle between Kripacarya and Arjuna. Even Indra, the Lord of
Heaven, came with a special type of flying vehicle which could
accommodate 33 divine beings.’9
3 Ibid., p. 60.
Dileep Kumar Kanjilal, Vimana in Ancient India, Sanskrit Pustak
Bhandar, Calcutta, 1985, p. 16.
5 Ibid., p. 17.
6 Ibid., p. 18.
9 Ibid., p. 19.
All these quotations have been taken from the Bhagavata Purana and
from the Mahabaratha, two drops in the ocean of the ancient wisdom
literature of the Indian subcontinent. And such images are
replicated in many other archaic traditions. To give one example (as
we saw in Chapter Forty-two), the Pyramid Texts are replete with
anachronistic images of flight:
The King is a flame, moving before the wind to the end of the sky
and to the end of the earth ... the King travels the air and
traverses the earth ... there is brought to him a way of ascent to
the sky ...10
Is it possible that the constant references in archaic literatures
to something like aviation could be valid historical testimony
concerning the achievements of a forgotten and remote technological
We will never know unless we try to find out. And so far we haven’t
tried because our rational, scientific culture regards myths and
traditions as ‘unhistorical’.
No doubt many are unhistorical. but at the end of the investigation
that underlies this book, I am certain that many others are not ...
For the benefit of future generations of mankind
Here is a scenario:
Suppose that we had calculated, on the basis of sound evidence and
beyond any shadow of a doubt, that our civilization was soon to be
obliterated by a titanic geological cataclysm—a 30° displacement of
the earth’s crust, for example, or a head-on collision with a
ten-mile-wide nickel-iron asteroid travelling towards us at cosmic
Of course there would at first be much panic and despair.
Nevertheless—if there were sufficient advance warning—steps would be
taken to ensure that there would be some survivors and that some of
what was most valuable in our high scientific knowledge would be
preserved for the benefit of future generations.
Strangely enough, the Jewish historian Josephus (who wrote during
the first century AD) attributes precisely this behaviour to the
clever and prosperous inhabitants of the antediluvian world who
lived before the Flood ‘in a happy condition without any misfortunes
falling upon them’:11
They also were the inventors of that peculiar sort of wisdom which
is concerned with the heavenly bodies, and their order. And that
their inventions might not be lost—upon Adam’s prediction that the
world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire, and at
another time by the violence and quantity of water—they made two
pillars, one of brick, the other of stone: they inscribed their
discoveries upon them both, that in case the pillar of brick should
be destroyed by the Flood, the pillar of stone might remain and
exhibit these discoveries to mankind; and also inform them that
there was another pillar of brick erected by them ...12
10 The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, p. 70, Utt. 261.
11 The Complete
Works Of Josephus, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan,
Likewise, when the Oxford astronomer John Greaves visited Egypt in
the seventeenth century he collected ancient local traditions which
attributed the construction of the three Giza pyramids to a mythical
The occasion of this was because he saw in his sleep that the whole
earth was turned over, with the inhabitants of it lying upon their
faces and the stars falling down and striking one another with a
terrible noise ... And he awaked with great fear, and assembled the
chief priests of all the provinces of Egypt ... He related the whole
matter to them and they took the altitude of the stars, and made
their prognostication, and they foretold of a deluge.
The king said,
will it come to our country? They answered yes, and will destroy it.
And there remained a certain number of years to come, and he
commanded in the mean space to build the Pyramids ... And he
engraved in these Pyramids all things that were told by wise men, as
also all profound sciences—the science of Astrology, and of Arithmeticke, and of Geometry, and of Physicke. All this may be
interpreted by him that knowes their characters and language ...13
Taken at face value, the message of both of these myths seems
crystal clear: certain mysterious structures scattered around the
world were built to preserve and transmit the knowledge of an
advanced civilization of remote antiquity which was destroyed by a
Could this be so? And what are we to make of other strange
traditions that have come to us from the dark vault of prehistory?
What are we to make, for example, of
the Popol Vuh, which speaks in
veiled language about a great secret of the human past: a
long-forgotten golden age when everything was possible—a magical
time of scientific progress and enlightenment when the ‘First Men’
(who were ‘endowed with intelligence’) not only ‘measured the round
face of the earth’ but ‘examined the four points of the arch of the
As the reader will recall, the gods became jealous at the rapid
progress made by these upstart humans who had ‘succeeded in seeing,
succeeded in knowing, all that there is in the world.’14 Divine
retribution quickly followed:
‘The Heart of Heaven blew mist into
their eyes ... In this way all the wisdom and all the knowledge of
the First Men [together with their memory of their] origin and their
beginning, were destroyed.’15
The secret of what happened was never entirely forgotten because a
record of those distant First Times was preserved, until the coming
of the Spaniards, in the sacred texts of the original Popol Vuh. The
abuses of the conquest made it necessary for that primordial
document to be concealed from all but the most highly-initiated
sages and replaced with a watered-down substitute written ‘under the
law of Christianity ’:16
‘No longer can be seen the book of Popol Vuh
which the kings had in olden times ... The original book, written
long ago, existed—but now its sight is hidden to the searcher and to
the thinker ...’17
13 John Greaves, Pyramidographia, cited in Serpent in the Sky, p.
14 Popol Vuh, p. 168.
15 Ibid., p. 169.
16 Ibid., p. 79.
17 Ibid., p. 79-80.
On the other side of the world, among the myths and traditions of
the Indian subcontinent, there are further tantalizing suggestions
of hidden secrets. In the Puranic version of the universal flood
story, shortly before
the deluge was unleashed, the fish god Vishnu warned his human
protégé that he ‘should conceal the Sacred Scriptures in a safe
place’ to preserve the knowledge of the antediluvian races from
Likewise, in Mesopotamia, the Noah figure Utnapishtim
was instructed by the god Ea,
‘to take the beginning, the middle and
the end of whatever was consigned to writing and then to bury it in
the City of the Sun at Sippara’.19
After the waters of the flood had
gone, survivors were instructed to make their way to the site of the
City of the Sun ‘to search for the writings’, which would be found
to contain knowledge of benefit to future generations of mankind.20
18 The Bhagavata Purana, cited in Atlantis: The Antediluvian World,
19 Berossus Fragments cited in The Sirius Mystery, p. 249.
Strangely enough, it was the City of the Sun in Egypt, Innu, known
by the Greeks as Heliopolis—which was regarded throughout the
dynastic period as the source and centre of the high wisdom handed
down to mortal men from the fabled First Time of the gods. It was at Heliopolis that the Pyramid Texts were collated, and it was the
Heliopolitan priesthood—or rather the Heliopolitan cult—that had
custody of the monuments of the Giza necropolis.
More than just Kilroy was here
Let us return to our scenario:
1 - we know that our late twentieth-century, post-industrial
civilization is about to be destroyed by an inescapable cosmic or
2 - we know—because our science is pretty good—that the destruction is
going to be near-total;
3 - mobilizing massive technological resources, we put our best minds
to work to ensure that at least a remnant of our species will
survive the catastrophe, and that the core of our scientific,
medical, astronomical, geographical, architectural and mathematical
knowledge will be preserved;
4 - we are of course aware how slim are our chances of succeeding on
both counts; nevertheless, galvanized by the prospect of extinction,
we make an almighty effort to build the Arks or Vars or strong
enclosures in which the chosen survivors can be protected, and we
focus our considerable ingenuity on ways to transmit the essence of
the knowledge we have accumulated during the 5000 years of our
We start by preparing for the worst. We assume that there will be
survivors but that they will be blasted back into the Stone Age by
the cataclysm. Realizing that it may take ten or twelve thousand
years for a civilization as advanced as our own to rise again like a
phoenix from the ashes, one of our top priorities is to find a way
to communicate with that postulated future civilization.
least we would want to say to them: KILROY WAS HERE! and to be sure
they got the message no matter what language they spoke or what
ethical, religious, ideological, metaphysical or philosophical
leanings their society might exhibit.
I’m sure we’d want to say more than just ‘Kilroy was here’. We’d
want, for example, to tell them—those distant grandchildren of
ours—when we had lived in relation to their time.
How would we do that? How would we express, say, AD 2012 of the
Christian era in a language universal enough to be worked out and
understood twelve thousand years hence by a civilization that would
know nothing of the Christian or of any of the other eras by which
we express chronology?
One obvious solution would be to make use of the beautiful
predictability of the earth’s axial precession, which has the effect
of slowly and regularly altering the declination of the entire
star-field in relation to a viewer at a fixed point, and which
equally slowly and regularly revolves the equinoctial point in
relation to the twelve zodiacal constellations.
predictability of this motion it follows that if we could find a way
to declare: WE LIVED WHEN THE VERNAL EQUINOX WAS IN THE
CONSTELLATION OF PISCES we would provide a means of specifying our
epoch to within a single 2160-year period in every grand
precessional cycle of 25,920 years.
The only drawback to this scheme would become evident if a
civilization equivalent to our own failed to arise within 12,000 or
even 20,000 years of the cataclysm, but took much longer—perhaps as
much as 30,000 years. In that case, a monument or calendrical device
declaring ‘we lived when the vernal equinox was in the constellation
of Pisces’ would no longer be unambiguous.
If discovered by a high
culture flourishing at the very beginning of a future Age of
Sagittarius for example it could be read as meaning ‘we lived 4320
years before your time’—that is, two full precessional ‘months’
prior to the Sagittarian Age (the 2160-year ‘months’ of Aquarius and
But it could also mean ‘We lived 30,240 years before
your time’, that is those two ‘months’ plus the full previous precessional cycle of 25,920 years. The Sagittarian archaeologists
would not only have to use their wits to work out the meaning of the
message (i.e. WE LIVED WHEN THE VERNAL EQUINOX WAS IN PISCES), but
would need to decide from other clues which Age of Pisces we had
lived in: the most recent, or the one in the previous precessional
cycle, or perhaps even the cycle before that.
Geology would naturally be of assistance in making such broad
If we could find a way of saying WE LIVED IN THE AGE OF PISCES, and
could specify the altitude above the horizon of certain identifiable
stars in our own epoch (say, the prominent belt stars of the Orion
constellation), we would be able to signal our dates to future
generations with greater precision. Alternatively we could do as the
builders of the Giza pyramids appear to have done and lay out our
monuments in a pattern on the ground reflecting exactly the pattern
of the stars in the sky in our time.
There would be several other options and combinations of options
open to us, depending on our circumstances, on the level of
technology available to us, on the extent of the early warning we
were given, and on which chronological facts we wanted to transmit.
Suppose, for example, that there was not time to make proper
preparations prior to the catastrophe. Suppose that the disaster,
like ‘the Day of the Lord’ in 2 Peter 3, crept up on us unseen ‘as a
thief in the night?’21 What prospects might humanity be faced with?
21 2 Peter 3:10.
Whether as the result of an asteroid strike or an earth-crust
displacement or some other cosmic or geological cause, let us
1 - massive devastation all around the world;
2 - the survival of only relatively small numbers of people, the
majority of whom rapidly revert to barbarism;
3 - the presence, among this remnant, of a minority of well-organized
visionaries—including master-builders, scientists, engineers,
cartographers, mathematicians, medical doctors and the like—who
dedicate themselves to salvaging what they can and finding ways to
transmit the knowledge to the future for the benefit of those who
might eventually understand it.
Let us call these hypothetical visionaries ‘the civilizers’. As they
banded together—at first to survive, later to teach and to share
ideas—they might take on something of the manner and belief systems
of a religious cult, developing a clear sense of mission and of
No doubt they would make use of powerful and easily
recognizable symbols to strengthen and express this sense of common
purpose: the men might wear distinctive beards, for example, or
shave their heads, and certain archetypal imagery like the cross and
the serpent and the dog might be used to link the members of the
cult together as they set out on their civilizing missions to
relight the lamps of knowledge around the world.
I suspect, if the situation were bad enough after the cataclysm,
that many of the civilizers would fail, or meet with only limited
success. But let us suppose that one small group had the skill and
dedication sufficient to create a lasting and stable beach-head,
perhaps in a region which had suffered relatively little damage in
the disaster. Then let us suppose that some other unexpected
disaster were to occur—an aftershock or series of aftershocks from
the original catastrophe perhaps—and the beach-head was almost
What might happen next? What might be salvaged from this wreckage of
a wisdom cult which had itself been salvaged from a greater wreck?
Transmitting the essence
If the circumstances were right it seems possible that the essence
of the cult might survive, carried forward by a nucleus of
determined men and women. I suspect, too, with the proper motivation
and indoctrination techniques, plus a means of recruiting new
members from among the half-savage local inhabitants, that such a
cult might perpetuate itself almost indefinitely.
This could happen,
however, only if its members (like the Jews awaiting the Messiah)
were prepared to bide their time, for thousands and thousands of
years, until they felt confident that the moment had come to declare
If they did that, and if their sacred objective were indeed to
preserve and transmit knowledge to some evolved future civilization,
it is easy to imagine how the cult members might be described in
terms similar to those used for the Egyptian wisdom god Thoth who
was said to have,
succeeded in understanding the mysteries of the heavens [and to
have] revealed them by inscribing them in sacred books which he then
hid here on earth, intending that they should be searched for by
future generations but found only by the fully worthy ...22
22 The Egyptian Hermes, p. 33.
What might the mysterious ‘books of Thoth’ have been?
necessary to suppose that all the information they were purported to
contain should have been transmitted in book form?
Is it not worth wondering, for example, whether Professors
de Santillana and von Dechend might have earned their place among the
‘fully worthy’ when they decoded the advanced scientific language
embedded in the great universal myths of precession?
In so doing, is
it not possible that they might have stumbled upon one of the
metaphorical ‘books’ of Thoth and read the ancient science inscribed
upon its pages?
Likewise, what about Posnansky’s discoveries at
Tiahuanaco, and Hapgood’s maps?
What about the new understanding that is dawning
concerning the geological antiquity of the Sphinx at Giza?
about the questions raised by the gigantic blocks used in the
construction of the
Valley and Mortuary Temples?
What about the secrets now being
teased, one by one, from the astronomical alignments and dimensions
and concealed chambers of the pyramids?
If these, too, are readings from the metaphorical books of Thoth, it
would seem that the numbers of the ‘fully worthy’ are increasing,
and that new and even more startling revelations may soon be at hand
To return briefly and for the last time to our evolving scenario:
1 - at the beginning of the twenty-first century of the Christian era,
the cusp of the Age of Pisces and the Age of Aquarius, civilization
as we know it is destroyed
2 - among the devastated survivors a few hundred or a few thousand
individuals band together to preserve and transmit the fruits of
their culture’s scientific knowledge into a distant and uncertain
3 - these civilizers split into small groups and
spread across the globe
4 - by and large they fail, and
perish; nevertheless, in certain areas, some do succeed in
making a lasting cultural impression
5 - after thousands of years—and perhaps several false starts—a branch
of the original wisdom cult influences the emergence of a fully
Of course the parallel for this last category is once again to be
found in Egypt. I would seriously propose as a hypothesis for
further testing that a scientific wisdom cult, made up of the
survivors of a great, lost, maritime civilization, could perhaps
have established itself in the Nile Valley as early as the
fourteenth millennium BC.
The cult would have been based at Heliopolis, Giza and
Abydos, and perhaps at other centers as well,
and would have initiated Egypt’s early agricultural revolution.
Later, however, beaten down by the huge floods and other
disturbances of the earth which took place in the eleventh
millennium BC, the cult would have been obliged to cut its losses
and withdraw until the turmoil of the Ice Age was over—never knowing
whether its message would survive the subsequent dark epochs.
Under such circumstances, the hypothesis suggests that a huge and
ambitious building project would have been one way cult members
could preserve and transmit scientific information into the future
independently of their physical survival. In other words, if the
buildings were large enough, capable of enduring through immense
spans of time and encoded through and through with the cult’s
message, there would be hope that the message would be decoded at
some future date even if the cult had by then long since ceased to
The hypothesis proposes that this is what the enigmatic structures
on the Giza plateau are all about:
1 - that the
Great Sphinx is indeed, as we have argued in previous
chapters, an equinoctial marker for the Age of Leo, indicating a
our own chronology of between 10,970 BC and 8810 BC;
2 - that the
three principal pyramids are indeed laid out in relation
Nile Valley to mimic the precise dispositions of the three stars of
Orion’s Belt in relation to the course of the Milky Way in 10,450
This is a pretty effective means of ‘specifying’ the epoch of the
eleventh millennium BC by using the phenomenon of precession, which
has been rightly described as the ‘only true clock of our planet’.23
Confusingly, however, we also know that the Great Pyramid
incorporates star shafts ‘locked in’ to Orion’s Belt and Sirius at
around 2450 BC.24
23 By Robert Bauval, personal communication.
24 See Part VII.
The hypothesis resolves the anomaly of the missing
years by supposing the star shafts to be merely the later work of
the same long-lived cult that originally laid out the Giza
ground-plan in 10,450 BC. Naturally, the hypothesis also suggests
that it was this same cult, towards the end of those 8000 missing
years, that provided the initiating spark for the sudden and ‘fully
formed’ emergence of the literate historical civilization of
What remains to be guessed at are the motives of the pyramid
builders, who were presumably the same people as the mysterious
cartographers who mapped the globe at the end of the last Ice Age in
the northern hemisphere. If so, we might also ask,
Why these highly
civilized and technically accomplished architects and navigators
were obsessed with charting the gradual glaciation of the enigmatic
southern continent of Antarctica from the fourteenth millennium
BC—when Hapgood calculates that the source map referred to by
Phillipe Buache was drawn up—down to about the end of the fifth
Could they have been making a permanent cartographical record of the
slow obliteration of their homeland?
And could their overwhelming desire to transmit a message to the
future through a variety of different media—myths, maps, buildings,
calendar systems, mathematical harmonies—have been connected to the
cataclysms and earth changes that caused this loss?
An urgent mission
The possession of a conscious, articulated history is one of the
faculties that distinguishes human beings from animals. Unlike rats,
say, or sheep, or cows, or pheasants, we have a past which is
separate from ourselves. We therefore have the opportunity, as I
have said, to learn from the experiences of our predecessors.
Is it because we are perverse, or misguided, or simply stupid that
refuse to recognize those experiences unless they have come down to
us in the form of bona fide ‘historical records’? And is it
arrogance or ignorance which leads us to draw an arbitrary line
separating ‘history’ from ‘prehistory’ at about 5000 years before
the present—defining the records of ‘history’ as valid testimony and
the records of ‘prehistory’ as primitive delusions?
At this stage in a continuing investigation, my instinct is that we
may have put ourselves in danger by closing our ears for so long to
the disturbing ancestral voices which reach us in the form of myths.
This is more an intuitive than a rational feeling, but it is by no
My research has filled me with respect for the
logical thinking, high science, deep psychological insights, and
vast cosmographical knowledge of the ancient geniuses who composed
those myths, and who, I am now fully persuaded, descended from the
same lost civilization that produced the map-makers, pyramid
builders, navigators, astronomers and earth-measurers whose
fingerprints we have been following across the continents and oceans
of the earth.
Since I have learned to respect those long-forgotten and still only
hazily identified Newtons and Shakespeares and Einsteins of the last
Ice Age, I think it would be foolish to disregard what they seem to
be saying. And what they seem to be saying to us is this: that
cyclical, recurrent and near-total destructions of mankind are part
and parcel of life on this planet, that such destructions have
occurred many times before and that they will certainly occur again.
What, after all, is the remarkable calendrical system of the Mayas
if it is not a medium for transmitting exactly this message? What,
if not vehicles for the same sort of bad news are the traditions of
the four previous ‘Suns’ (or sometimes of the three previous
‘Worlds’) passed down in the Americas since time immemorial?
same token, what might be the function of the great myths of
precession which speak not just of previous cataclysms but of
cataclysms to come and which (through the metaphor of the cosmic
mill) link these earthly disasters to ‘disturbances in the heavens’?
Last but by no means least, what burning motive impelled the pyramid
builders to erect, with such care, the powerful and mysterious
edifices on the Giza plateau?
Yes, they were saying, ‘Kilroy was here’.
And, yes, they found an ingenious way to tell us when they were
Of these things I have no doubt.
I am also impressed by the enormous lengths they went to to provide
us with convincing proof that theirs was a serious and
scientifically advanced civilization. And I am even more impressed
by the sense of urgency—of a vitally important mission—that seems to
have enlightened all their works and deeds.
I go on intuition again, not on evidence.
It’s my guess that their underlying objective could have been to
transmit a warning to the future, and that this warning could be to
do with a global cataclysm, perhaps even a recurrence of the same
cataclysm that so clearly devastated mankind at the end of the last
Ice Age when,
‘Noah saw that the earth had tilted, and that its
destruction was near, and cried out in a bitter voice: “Tell me what
is being done on the earth that the earth is so afflicted and shaken
These words are from the
Hebrew Book of Enoch, but similar
afflictions and shakings have been foretold in all the Central
American traditions that speak of the demise of the present epoch of
the world—an epoch, as the reader will recall, in which ‘the elders
say [that] there will be a movement of the earth and from this we
shall all perish.’26
The reader will also not have forgotten the date calculated by the
Ancient Maya calendar for the end of the world:
The day will be 4 Ahau 3 Kankin [corresponding to
23 December AD 2012], and it will be
ruled by the Sun God, the ninth Lord of the Night. The moon will be
eight days old, and it will be the third lunation in a series of six
In the Mayan scheme of things we are already living in the last days
of the earth.
In the Christian scheme of things too, the last days are understood
to be upon us. According to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society
‘This world will perish just as surely as did the
world before the Flood ... Many things were foretold to occur during
the last days, and all of these are being fulfilled. This means that
the end of the world is near ...’28
Similarly the Christian psychic
Edgar Cayce prophesied in 1934 that
around the year 2000:
‘There will be a shifting of the poles. There
will be upheavals in the Arctic and the Antarctic that will make for
the eruption of volcanoes in the Torrid areas ... The upper portion
of Europe will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. The earth will
be broken up in the western portion of America. The greater portion
of Japan must go into the sea.’29
1 Enoch, LXV, in The Apockryphal Old Testament (ed. H.F.D. Sparks),
Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1989, p. 247.
26 Pre-Hispanic Gods of
Mexico, p. 24.
27 Breaking the Maya Code, p. 275.
28 Will The World
Survive? Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1992.
Circulating File, Earth Changes, Extracts from the Edgar Cayce
Readings, Edgar Cayce Foundation, Virginia Beach, 1994, p. 36.
Curiously the epoch of the year 2000, which figures in these
Christian prophecies, also coincides with the Last Time (or highest
point) in the great upwards cycle of the belt stars of the Orion
constellation, just as the epoch of the eleventh millennium BC
coincided with the First Time (or lowest point) of that cycle.
And curiously, also, as we saw in Chapter Twenty-eight:
A conjunction of five planets that can be expected to have profound
effects will take place on 5 May in the year 2000, when Neptune,
Mercury and Mars will align with the Earth on the other side of the
sun, setting up
a sort of cosmic tug-of-war ... 30
Could the recondite influences of gravity, when combined with our
planet’s precessional wobble, the torsional effects of its axial
rotation, and the rapidly growing mass and weight of the Antarctic
ice-cap, be enough to spark off a full-scale crustal displacement?
We may never know, one way or another—unless it happens. Meanwhile,
I do not think the Egyptian scribe Manetho was being less than
literal when he spoke of a harsh and deadly cosmic power at work in
Just as iron is likely to be attracted and led after the loadstone,
but often turns away and is repelled in the opposite direction, so
the salutary, good and rational movement of the world at one time
attracts, conciliates and mollifies that harsh power; then again,
when the latter has recovered itself, it overthrows the other and
reduces it to helplessness ...31
In short, through metaphors and allegories, I suspect the ancients
may have tried to find many ways to tell us exactly when—and why—the
hammer of global destruction is going to strike again. I therefore
think, after 12,500 years of the pendulum, that it would only be
wise for us to devote more of our resources to studying the signs
and messages that have come down to us from that dark and terrifying
period of amnesia which our species calls prehistory.
A speeding up of physical research at the Giza plateau would also be
highly desirable—not only by Egyptologists determined to resist any
threats to the scholarly status quo but by eclectic teams of
investigators who could bring some of the newer sciences to bear on
the challenges of this most enigmatic and impenetrable of sites.
Chlorine-36 rock-exposure dating technique mentioned in Chapter Six,
for example, looks like a particularly promising means of resolving
the impasse over the antiquity of the Pyramids and the Sphinx.32
30 See Part V.
31 Manetho, pp. 191-3.
The Chlorine-36 rock-exposure dating technique has been developed by
Professor David Bowen of the Department of Earth Sciences at the
University of Wales. In The Times of London, 1 December 1994, Brown
‘One way of resolving the controversy of the ages of the Sphinx and
the Pyramids may be through the application of Chlorine-36
rock-exposure dating. This provides an estimate of the time that has
elapsed since a rock was first exposed to the atmosphere. In the
case of the Sphinx and the Pyramids this would be when the rocks
were first exposed by quarrying activity ...’
In 1994 Bowen ran preliminary tests on the famous ‘bluestones’ of
Stonehenge in England, hitherto believed to date to 2250 BC. What
the tests showed was that these 123 four-ton monoliths could have
been quarried during the last Ice Age—perhaps as early as 12000 BC.
See The Times, London, 5 December.
Likewise, if the will is there, then a way can be found to get
through to whatever lies beyond the little door concealed in the
Great Pyramid 200 feet up the southern shaft of
the Queen’s Chamber. At the same time serious efforts should be made
to investigate the contents of the large, square-edged and
apparently man-made cavity in the bedrock, deep beneath the paws of
the Sphinx, that was discovered when a seismic survey was carried
out at the site in 1993.33
Last but not least, far away from Giza, I suspect that our efforts
might also be repaid if we were to undertake a proper investigation
of the subglacial landscapes of Antarctica—much the most likely
continent to hide the complete remains of a lost civilization. If we
could establish what destroyed that civilization, then we might be
in a better position to save ourselves from a similar cataclysmic
In making these latter suggestions I am, of course, fully aware that
there are many who will be scornful and will assert the
uniformitarian view that ‘all things will continue as they have done
since the beginning of creation.’34 But I am also aware that such
‘scoffers in the last days’35 are those who for one reason or
another are deaf to the testimony of our forgotten ancestors.
33 Mystery of the Sphinx, NBC-TV, 1993.
34 2 Peter 3:4.
35 2 Peter
have seen, this testimony appears to be trying to tell us that a
hideous calamity has indeed descended upon mankind from time to
time, that on each occasion it has afflicted us suddenly, without
warning and without mercy, like a thief in the night, and that it
will certainly recur at some point in the future, obliging us—unless
we are well prepared—to begin again like orphaned children in
complete ignorance of our true heritage.
Walking in the last days
Hopi Indian Reservation, May 1994:
Across the high plains of
Arizona, for days and days and days, a desolate wind had been
blowing. As we drove across those plains towards the tiny village of Shungopovi, I went over in my mind all I had seen and done in the
previous five years: my travels, my research, the false starts and
dead-ends I had encountered, the lucky breaks, the moments when
everything had come together, the moments when everything seemed
about to fall apart.
I had travelled a long road to get here, I realized—far longer than
the 300-mile freeway that had whisked us up into these austere
badlands from Phoenix, the state capital. Nor did I expect to return
with any great degree of enlightenment.
Nevertheless, I had made this journey because the science of
prophecy is still believed to be alive among the Hopi: Pueblo
Indians, distantly related to the Aztecs of Mexico, whose numbers
have been reduced by
attrition and misery to barely 10,000.36
Like the Ancient Maya whose
descendants all across the Yucatan are convinced that the end of the
world is coming in the year 2000 y pico (and a little),37
believe that we are walking in the last days, with a geological
sword of Damocles hanging over us.38
According to their myths, as we
saw in Chapter Twenty-four:
The first world was destroyed, as a punishment for human
misdemeanours, by an all-consuming fire that came from above and
below. The second world ended when the terrestrial globe toppled
from its axis and everything was covered with ice. The third world
ended in a universal flood. The present world is the fourth. Its
fate will depend on whether or not its inhabitants behave in
accordance with the Creator’s plans ...’39
36 Community Profile: Hopi Indian Reservation, Arizona Department of
37 Breaking the Maya Code, p. 275.
38 Book of the Hopi.
39 World Mythology, p. 26.
I had come to Arizona to see whether the Hopi thought we were
behaving in accordance with the Creator’s plans ...
The end of the world
The desolate wind, blowing across the high plains, shook and rattled
the sides of the trailer-home we sat in. Beside me was Santha, who’d
been everywhere with me, sharing the risks and the adventures,
sharing the highs and the lows. Sitting across from us was our
friend Ed Ponist, a medical-surgical nurse from Lansing, Michigan. A
few years previously Ed had worked on the reservation for a while,
and it was thanks to his contacts that we were now here.
On my right
was Paul Sifki, a ninety-sixyear-old Hopi elder of the Spider clan,
and a leading spokesman of the traditions of his people. Beside him
was his grand-daughter Melza Sifki, a handsome middle-aged woman who
had offered to translate.
‘I have heard,’ I said, ‘that the Hopi believe the end of the world
is coming. Is this true?’
Paul Sifki was a small, wizened man, nut-brown in colour, dressed in
jeans and a cambric shirt. Throughout our conversation he never once
looked at me, but gazed intently ahead, as though he were searching
for a familiar face in a distant crowd.
Melza put my question to him and a moment later translated her
‘He says, “why do you want to know”?’
I explained that there were many reasons. The most important was
that I felt a sense of urgency:
‘My research has convinced me that
there was an advanced civilization—long, long ago—that was destroyed
in a terrible cataclysm. I fear that our own civilization may be
destroyed by a similar cataclysm ...’
There followed a long exchange in Hopi, then this translation:
said that when he was a child, in the 1900s, there was a star that
exploded—a star that had been up there in the sky for a long while
... And he went to his grandfather and asked him to explain the
meaning of this sign. His grandfather replied:
“This is the way our
own world will end—engulfed in flames ... If people do not change
their ways then the spirit that takes care of the world will become
so frustrated with us that he will punish the world with flames and
it will end just like that star ended.”
That was what his
grandfather said to him—that the earth would explode just like that
exploding star ...’
‘So the feeling is that this world will end in fire ... And having
viewed the world for the past ninety years, does he believe that the
behaviour of mankind has improved or worsened?’
‘He says it has not improved. We’re getting worse.’
‘So in his opinion, then, the end is coming?’
‘He said that the signs are already there to be seen ... He said
that nowadays nothing but the wind blows and that all we do is have
a weapon pointed at one another. That shows how far apart we have
drifted and how we feel towards each other now. There are no values
any more— none at all—and people live any way they want, without
morals or laws. These are the signs that the time has come ...’
Melza paused in her translation, then added on her own account:
‘This terrible wind. It dries things out. It brings no moisture. The
way we see it, this kind of climate is a consequence of how we’re
living today—not just us, but your people as well.’
I noticed that her eyes had filled with tears while she was talking.
‘I have a cornfield,’ she continued, ‘that’s really dry. And I look
up into the sky and try to pray for rain, but there is no rain, no
clouds even ... When we’re like this we don’t even know who we are.’
There was a long moment of silence and the wind rocked the trailer,
blowing hard and steady across the mesa as evening fell around us.
I said quietly,
‘Please ask your grandfather if he thinks that
anything can now be done for the Hopi and for the rest of mankind?’
‘The only thing he knows,’ Melza replied when she had heard his
answer, ‘is that so long as the Hopi do not abandon their traditions
they may be able to help themselves and to help others. They have to
hold on to what they believed in the past. They have to preserve
their memories. These are the most important things ... But my
grandfather wants to tell you also, and for you to understand, that
this earth is the work of an intelligent being, a spirit—a creative
and intelligent spirit that has designed everything to be the way it
is. My grandfather says that nothing is here just by chance, that
nothing happens by accident—whether good or bad—and that there is a
reason for everything that takes place ...’
At the millstone grinding
When human beings from around the globe, and from many different
cultures, share a powerful and overwhelming intuition that a
cataclysm is approaching, we are within our rights to ignore them.
And when the voices of our distant ancestors, descending to us
through myths and sacred architecture, speak to us of the physical
obliteration of a great civilization in remote antiquity (and tell
us that our own civilization is in jeopardy), we are entitled, if we
wish, to stop our ears ...
So it was, the Bible says, in the antediluvian world:
‘For in those
days, before the Flood, people were eating, drinking, taking wives,
taking husbands, right up to the moment that Noah went into the Ark,
and they suspected nothing till the flood came and swept all
In the same manner it has been prophesied that the next global
destruction will fall upon us suddenly,
‘at an hour we do not
suspect, like lightning striking in the east and flashing far into
the west ... The sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its
brightness, the stars will fall from the sky and the powers of
heaven will be shaken ... Then of two men in the fields, one is
taken, one left; and of two women at the millstone grinding, one is
taken, one left ...’41
40 Matthew, 24: 38-39.
41 Matthew, 24: 27-41.
What has happened before can happen again. What has been done before
can be done again.
And perhaps there is, indeed, nothing new under the sun ...