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Supernatural by Graham Hancock

Supernatural by Graham Hancock

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Published by Pieter Uys
Book review.
Book review.

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Published by: Pieter Uys on Jun 02, 2012
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04/24/2013

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Supernatural by Graham Hancock
Reviewed by Pieter UysThis fascinating book by alternative historian Graham Hancock investigates theorigins of consciousness with reference to the work of David Lewis-Williams andhis theory of the neuropsychological origins of cave art. It also goes further inproposing that those worlds and entities encountered in shamanic visions are notmere hallucinations but very real and that altered states are the means to gainentry to them.
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Part One: The Visions, includes the author's experiences with the Africanhallucinogenic plant Iboga, looks at the cave of Pech Merle and then examinesthe theory of David Lewis-Williams. It also includes a section on Hancock's use of the South American plant Ayahuasca.Part Two explores the cave art of Upper Paleolithic Europe, with a closer look atthe half-human half-animal representations that are so widespread. These"therianthropic" designs also occur in the rock art of Southern Africa andelsewhere. Hancock examines recurring themes in this ancient art, like that of the Wounded Man. He also discusses other aspects of this art, like the dots,starbursts, nets, ladders and windowpane-like geometrical figures. He closelyexamines the similarities and the differences between the art of ancient Europeand that of Africa. For example, the European art is found in dark subterraneancaves while in Africa it is most often found in open rock shelters.Chapter Six looks at the history of the academic study of rock art and concludesthat it led nowhere until the theory of Lewis-Williams came along. Hancockdemolishes the criticisms leveled at the work of Lewis-Williams and exposes thesmear campaign waged against the South African academic. Among otherinteresting topics, he considers the 19th century notebooks of Bleek and Lloyd onthe mythology of the San. These valuable documents provide clues to thereligion of the San and the trance or altered state experience.Part Three: The Beings, starts with discussions of the experiences and work of William James,Aldous Huxley, Albert Hoffman and Rick Strassman. It also looksat the UFO abduction experience and compares it with the shamanic explorationof other-worlds, with supernatural myths and folkloric traditions like that of fairies and elves. There really are fascinating correspondences between fairylore, the UFO abduction experience and certain hallucinatory states.Part Four: The Codes, looks at the structural similarities and connections and the
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common themes like therianthropic transformations, small robot-like humanoids,the breeding of hybrid infants, the idea of the Wounded Healer, etc. Hancock isconvinced that the mind is a receiver and not simply a generator of consciousness. In this section he relates his impressions after smoking DMT, andthen goes into a deeper exploration of the work of Dr Rick Strassman who isfamous for his work with this substance. The passages on DNA are particularlygripping, especially the idea that our DNA might contain specific information onour origins and future. Hancock also discusses the work of other researchers likeJeremy Narby, Terrence McKenna, Benny Shanon and Francis Crick, thediscoverer of DNA.Part Five: The Religions, examines the belief in supernatural entities in all theworld's major religions. He points out how "Father Christmas" and St Sebastianare ancient shamanic figures, the first for his red and white clothes whichresemble the colours of the Amanita Muscaria mushroom and the second forbeing a therianthrope with a dog's head. Dreams and visions are theninvestigated, including those of Joan of Arc and Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes.Also the vision of Ezekiel, the mysteries of Eleusis and the role of Soma in Vedicreligion. Hancock concludes this section with similar themes in the religion andmythology of ancient Egypt and the Maya.Part Six: The Mysteries, returns to the work of Lewis-Williams and the fact thatthe ancient cave art is the oldest surviving evidence of the belief in spirit worldsthat exist at the heart of all religions. He disagrees strongly with Lewis-Williamsabout the reality of these realms and beings. He observes that people haveconsistently reported the same pattern of experiences from every part of theglobe and from all cultures. Hancock believes that these alternative realms arevery real and that we may gain access to them via the trance state, whether it isbrought about by ingestion of substances, trance dances, fasting or otherpractices that cause a change in consciousness.There are many black and white illustrations and paintings throughout the book
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