Discoveries like the ancient Greek Antikythera computer (1500 years before the invention of precision geared devices) the Baghdad batteries (2000 years before Volta "invented" the battery) or dental and brain surgery artifacts found in ancient Pakistan (8000 years out of historical sequence) appear "anomalous" within our current paradigm of history. However, they are not unexpected according to the ancient cyclical view.
Giorgio de Santillana, the former professor of the history of science at MIT, tells us that most ancient cultures believed consciousness and history were not linear but cyclical, meaning they would rise and fall over long periods of times. In his landmark work, Hamlet's Mill, Giorgio and co-author Hertha von Dechend showed that the myth and folklore of over 30 ancient cultures around the world spoke of a vast cycle of time with alternating Dark and Golden Ages that move with the precession of the equinox. Plato called this the Great Year.
Although the idea of a great cycle timed by the slow precession of the equinox was common to multiple cultures before the Christian era most of us were taught this is just a fairytale; there was no Golden Age. However, an increasing body of new astronomical and archaeological evidence suggests the cycle may have a basis in fact. More importantly, understanding the cycle might provide insight into where society is headed at this time and why consciousness may be expanding at an exponential rate. Understanding the cause of precession is key to understanding the cycle.
The standard theory of precession says it is principally the Moon's gravity acting upon the oblate Earth that must be the cause of the Earth's changing orientation to inertial space, a.k.a. the "precession of the equinox." However, ancient sources say the observation of an equinox slowly moving or "precessing" through the twelve constellations of the zodiac is simply due to the motion of the solar system through space (changing our viewpoint from Earth). Here at the Binary Research Institute, we have modeled a moving solar system and found it does indeed better produce the precession observable and resolves a number of solar system anomalies such as the uneven distribution of angular momentum within the solar system and the variable rate of precession. Beyond the technical considerations, a moving solar system might provide a logical reason why we have a Great Year with alternating Dark and Golden Ages. That is, if the solar system carrying the Earth actually moves in a huge orbit, subjecting the Earth to the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum of another star or EM source along the way, we could expect this would affect our magnetosphere, ionosphere and indirectly all life in a pattern commensurate with that orbit. Just as the Earth's smaller diurnal and annual motions produce the cycles of day and night and the seasons (both due to the Earth's changing position in relation to the EM spectrum of the Sun), so might the larger celestial motion be expected to produce a cycle that affects life and consciousness on a grand scale.
The hypothesis for how consciousness would be affected in such a celestial cycle builds on the work of Dr. Valerie Hunt, a former professor of physiology at UCLA. In a number of studies she has found that changes in the ambient EM field (that surrounds us all the time) can dramatically affect human cognition and performance. In short, consciousness is affected by immersion in EM fields. Consequently, the concept behind the Great Year or cyclical model of history, consistent with myth and folklore, is based on the Sun's motion through space, subjecting the Earth to waxing and waning stellar fields (all stars are huge generators of EM spectrum), resulting in the legendary rise and fall of the ages over great epochs of time.
In Lost Star of Myth and Time, we looked at some of the ancient myths about rising and falling ages tied to the precession cycle, explored current precession anomalies, outlined a dynamic solar system model that better explains the precession observable, and suggested a hypothesis for how a change in proximity to stellar-generated electro-magnetic fields might be the mechanism that induces cyclical changes on Earth. Here we would like to use this model as a guide to better understand where we have been in terms of consciousness and ancient civilizations in the past, and more importantly, where we are going in the future. As Graham Hancock stated, this "new -- or very old -- approach to the greatest problems of human history" could be "the "key to the mystery of the ages."
Current theories of history generally ignore myth and folklore and do not consider any macro external influences on consciousness. For the most part, modern history theory teaches us that consciousness or history moves in a linear pattern from primitive to modern with few exceptions. Some of its tenets include:
--Mankind evolved out of Africa,
--People were hunter-gatherers until about 5000 years ago,
--Tribes first banded together for protection from other warring parties,
--Written communication must precede any large engineered structures or populous civilizations.
The problem with this widely accepted paradigm is that it is not consistent with the evolving interpretation of recently discovered ancient cultures and anomalous artifacts. In the last hundred years, major discoveries have been made in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, the Asian plains, South America, and in many other regions that break the rules of history theory and push back the time of advanced human development. Specifically, they show ancient man was far more proficient and civilized nearly 5000 years ago than he was during the more recent Dark Ages of just a thousand years ago. In Caral, an ancient complex on the west coast of Peru, we find six pyramids that are carbon dated to be 4700 years old, a date contemporaneous with Egyptian pyramids and rivaling the time of the first major structures found in the so called "Cradle of Civilization" in Mesopotamia. However, Caral is an ocean away from the "cradle," and we find no evidence of any writing or weaponry, two of the so-called necessities of civilization. At the same time we do find beautiful musical instruments, astronomically aligned structures and evidence of commerce with distant lands. Clearly, such sites defy the standard historical paradigm. But what is stranger still is that so many of these civilizations seemed to decline en mass.
In ancient Mesopotamia, Pakistan, Jiroft, Iran and adjacent lands we see knowledge of astronomy, geometry, advanced building techniques, sophisticated plumbing and water systems, incredible art, dyes and fabrics, surgery, medicine and many other refinements of a civilized culture that seemed to arise from nowhere yet were completely lost over the next few thousand years. By the time of the worldwide Dark Ages, every one of these civilizations had turned to dust or nomadic ways of life. Near the depths of the downturn there were ruins and little else to be found. And in some areas where larger populations still remained, such as throughout parts of Europe, poverty and disease were often rampant and the ability to read, write or duplicate any of the earlier engineering or scientific feats had essentially disappeared. What happened?
While records of this period are still very spotty, the archeological evidence indicates consciousness, reflected as human ingenuity and capability, was greatly diminished. We just seemed to have lost the ability to do the things we used to do. Ironically, this is just what many ancient cultures predicted. The world's foremost Assyrianologist, Stefan Maul, shed light on this phenomenon in his Stanford Presidential Lecture when he told us that the Akkadians knew they lived in a declining era; they revered the past and tried to hang on to it but at the same time lamented and predicted the Dark Ages that would follow. His etymological studies of cuneiform tablets show the ancient words for "past" have now become our words for "future," whereas their words for the "future" have now become our words for the "past.." It is almost as if mankind orients his motion through time depending on whether he is in an ascending or descending age.
We find this principle of waxing and waning periods of time depicted in numerous bas-reliefs found in ancient Mithraic temples. The famed Tauroctany or bull slaying scene, is often surrounded by two boys, Cautes and Cautopetes. One holds a torch up on one side of the zodiac, indicating it is a time of light, the other holds a torch down on the other side of the zodiac, indicating it is a time of darkness. As the accompanying chart will show, these time periods correspond with the Vedic description of when the Earth goes through periods of rising and falling consciousness.
Jarred Diamond, the well-known historian anthropologist and author of Guns, Germs and Steel makes a good case that it is primarily local geographic and environmental advantages on the planet Earth that determine which group of humans succeeds or fails versus another. Those that have the steel, guns and bad germs win. While this helps explain many regional differences of the last few thousand years, it does not address the macro trends that seemed to have affected all cultures (including China and the Americas) as they slipped into the last worldwide Dark Age. The cyclical or Great Year model overlays and augments Jarred Diamond's observations giving a reason for the widespread downturn. It suggests that it is not just the geography and environment of man on Earth that determines his relative success but it is also the geography and environment of the Earth in space that affects mankind on a vast scale. Just as small celestial motions affect life over the short term, so do large celestial motions affect us over the long term.
Understanding that consciousness may indeed rise and fall with the motions of the heavens gives meaning to ancient myth and folklore and puts anomalous artifacts, such as the Antikythera device, into an historical context that makes sense. It speaks to why so many ancient cultures might have been fascinated with the stars and it provides us with a workable paradigm in which to understand history. It could also help us identify the forces that propelled the Renaissance and that may be accelerating consciousness in the current era. Myth and folklore, the scientific language of yore, provide a colorful look at consciousness throughout the different ages.
Character of the Ages
The Greek historian Hesiod tells us of the wonderful nature of the last Golden Age when "peace and plenty" abounded. Hopi myths tell us of cities on the bottom of the sea. Typically ancient peoples broke the great cycle into an ascending and descending phase, each with four periods. For example, the Vedic or Hindu culture tells us that when the Autumnal Equinox moves from Virgo to Ares we go through the ascending Kali, Dwapara, Treta, and Satya Yugas (the golden era) before slowly declining in reverse order as the equinox completes its journey. The Greeks and other early Mediterranean civilizations used like periods and labeled them the Iron, Bronze, Silver, and Golden Ages. More distant cultures such as the Maya or Hopi used still other names such as "worlds" or "Suns," and labeled them "fourth or fifth," to identify the recent epochs.
A relatively modern proponent of the cyclical system was the Sanskrit Sage, Swami Sri Yukteswar, author of The Holy Science. He taught that the position of our solar system relative to another star now indicates we are in recent transition from the lowest material age, the Kali Yuga, into the electrical or atomic age, the Dwapara Yuga. In this period, it is said, we begin to see the world as more transparent as we move from an awareness of self as a physical body in a strictly physical universe, to an awareness that we are something more, living in a universe filled with subtle forces and energies. The technological discoveries of the laws of gravity, electricity and magnetism just in the last few hundred years give this idea credence -- and the trend is accelerating. In the last century it has even been discovered that physical matter is not really solid at all. We have found it is made of molecules and these in turn are made of atoms, which are themselves constituted of 99.9% empty space. The little bit of matter that does exist in the heart of the proton and neutron, is now thought to be principally vibrating energy, at least according to the latest String Theory. Indeed, reality is looking more and more ethereal just as the hoary Vedas predict.
Ages beyond the present are difficult to grasp because a lesser consciousness cannot behold a greater consciousness any more than a cup of water cannot hold the ocean. So we tend to extrapolate the past material view of things when envisioning the future, i.e., more gadgets and technology. But the Oriental teachings about cycles indicate this is just a passing phase. They say the real trend is towards a god-like state where the physical is but a manifestation of something from the netherworld. And so it seems when we read Greek mythology or pages of Vedic scripture.
The Silver Age or Treta Yuga, the third age (from the bottom) is the Greek "age of the demigods," or to the yogis of India, the age of divine magnetism and the mind. While this is a difficult concept to grasp, consider the story of Babel.
Supposedly before Babel (pre 3100 BC in the last descending Treta Yuga) humanity spoke with one tongue and communed freely with nature. The Old Testament tells us mankind began to build "towers" and then languages were "confused" and people could no longer understand one another (Genisis 11:1-9). In the standard theory of history this story makes no sense, but in the cyclical model it has great meaning. It would have occurred around the time of the first tower buildings in ancient Mesopotamia, probably between 3000 BC and 3500 BC. This is precisely around the time (3100 BC) when according to Sri Yukteswar the world declined from the descending Treta Yuga into the descending Dwapara Yuga, a time when clairvoyance and telepathy were lost (see chart, below). We learn from Paramahansa Yogananda, another proponent of the yuga cycle and the famed author of Autobiography of a Yogi, that this time will come again in the year 4100 AD when we pass from the ascending Dwapara into the ascending Treta Yuga. He tells us at this time there will once again be a "common knowledge of telepathy and clairvoyance." Perhaps then we will better understand the meaning of the ancient myths.
The Treta Yuga is said to be the age of levitation, telepathy, a time of shamans and wizards of old, when tremendous physic and mental abilities were common, truly an "age of the demigods." We have all heard stories about mythical powers of saints and sages who have these gifts. The majority of people don't take these reports seriously or realize that we too might have this same latent ability in a higher state of consciousness. Yet, this is exactly what the ancients told us. In fact, Christ was quoting the far more ancient scriptures of the Old Testament when in the depths of the last Dark Age he said, "Is it not written that ye are gods," and he himself embodied this consciousness when he said, "These things that I do ye shall do also."
Chart by Laurie Pratt, published in East West Magazine in 1932. The zenith of the Golden Age last took place in 11,502BC. The pit of the last Dark Age was in 498AD.
The final stage in the cycle of time is the Golden Age or Satya Yuga. It is considered the highest time on Earth. If the Treta or Silver Age is inconceivable to us today, then the Golden Age must sound like a myth or a dream. The Greeks called it the "age of the gods" and the myth and folklore of the Vedas and ancient Egypt hint that this was a time when gods literally walked the Earth and most of mankind lived in perfect harmony with nature and the heavens. While there now remains very little physical evidence of this long ago period, we do find that virtually every ancient megalithic construction prior to the year 1500 BC seems to be oriented towards some astronomical or cardinal point. Going back further there are signs that multiple structures may have been aligned to mirror constellations or the larger heavens. The Golden Age is said to be a time when we could perceive and communicate with astral or causal realms and directly know God without the intermediacy of any religion. Again, this sounds like little more than a fairy tale given our current state of consciousness, but it is a theme common to ancient peoples who spoke and wrote of the long lost higher ages.
Admittedly, the higher ages sound incredible but we hope to show evidence at the next CPAK and through future papers, books and film that the cycle has a basis in fact, driven by the solar system's motion through space. Just as the seasons of the year, caused by the Earth's orbit around the Sun, can be forecast in time (through calendars and various astronomical means) so can the seasons of the Great Year be calculated by the slow precession of the equinox.
The cyclical model is not only precisely measurable (by monitoring the annual change in the precession rate, now about 50.29 arc seconds per year), but I believe it has predictive value. I am presently working on a new book showing changes we can expect over the next few decades to few thousand years as we progress through the Great Year. It is based on cross interpretations of myth and folklore, extrapolation of trends and interviews with futurists. During the current transition from the Kali age (of gross material consciousness) to the early Dwapara era (of an awareness of energy and finer forces) we are manifesting our heightened awareness and increasing ingenuity through an endless array of technology that allows us to annihilate the barriers of time and space. We can now fly just about anywhere on the globe within the time it takes the planet to make one spin on its axis. Likewise, we can instantly communicate with someone on the other side of the Earth and send them a picture or video of almost any event, in real time. All these things were not only impossible but also unthinkable just a hundred years ago.
Underlying this trend there is actually a greater concern for nature. We will see, more and more, a return to living in tune with Mother Earth and it will be facilitated by greater understanding and thinner technology. As technology becomes something hidden in the background, we can expect some amazing changes. For example, while we currently still need antennas to transmit communications (and soon power) or silicon to compute or store information, even these may be outmoded in the future. Physicist John Dering (a CPAK regular) has speculated that given the trend of computer power, sometime in the not too distant future we will develop interface devices that allow us to pick up the wave forms captured by trees or the antennae of bugs, and we may be able to tap into and decipher all the information (waveforms) that have ever passed by a rock or any inanimate object in the landscape. Could it be that our ancient ancestors better understood the subtle qualities of stone? Another CPAK author, John Burke, has already shown that ancient cultures had a tremendous knowledge of electromagnetism as evidenced by the outer stones at Avebury where he has demonstrated all of the standing stones magnetic poles are identically aligned. He has also shown that some Indian Shamans in the American West can find areas of high electrostatic charge or geophysical discontinuities just by feel. They use these areas for healing purposes. Contemplating these ideas gives new meaning to the stories of our ancient ancestors. Understanding their wisdom may be key to understanding our future.
This article addresses one of the general topics of conversation at the upcoming "Conference on Precession and Ancient Knowledge" to be held on October 10, 2009 at the University of California, Irvine. For more info click here.
Walter Cruttenden is the Director of the Binary Research Institute, an archaeoastronomy think tank located in Newport Beach, California. His focus is on the astronomy, mythology and artifacts of ancient cultures, with an emphasis on history theory and cycles of consciousness. He is the author of Lost Star of Myth and Time (from St. Lynn's Press). Lost Star is a studied look at ancient cultures throughout the world and their belief in a vast cycle of time with alternating Dark and Golden Ages. Previously Cruttenden wrote and produced the award winning documentary, The Great Year, narrated by James Earl Jones. The Great Year looks at the myth and folklore of ancient cultures and seeks to find the message that these cultures left for modern man.
Antikythera image by WalkingGeek, courtesy of Creative Commons license.