Supernatural Gods: Spiritual Mysteries, Psychic Experiences, and Scientific Truths

Supernatural Gods: Spiritual Mysteries, Psychic Experiences, and Scientific Truths

by Jim Willis

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781578596607
Publisher: Visible Ink Press
Publication date: 09/01/2017
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 579,414
Product dimensions: 7.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Having earned his master's degree in theology from Andover Newton Theological School, Jim Willis has been an ordained minister for over forty years. He has also taught college courses in comparative religion and cross-cultural studies. In addition, Willis has been a professional musician, high school orchestra and band teacher, arts council director, and even a drive-time radio show host. His background in theology and education led to his writings on religion, the apocalypse, cross-cultural spirituality, and the mysteries of the unknown. His books include Visible Ink Press' Ancient Gods: Lost Histories, Hidden Truths, and the Conspiracy of Silence , Armageddon Now: The End of the World A to Z and The Religion Book. He also published Faith, Trust & Belief: A Trilogy of the Spirit. Willis resides in the woods of South Carolina with his wife, Barbara, and their dog, Rocky.

Read an Excerpt

Shape Shifting Superheroes of Mythology and Comic Books


It is considered likely that the earliest depictions of shape shifting capabilities comes from the Cave of the Trois-Frères, located in southern France. Though the purposes behind the images discovered there are constantly up for debate, and are unlikely to be definitively decrypted in the near future, many scholars believe that some of these drawings indicate a pre-historic belief in the ritual of transformation. The cave's depiction of "The Sorcerer", for example, gives the impression of both animal and human parts, his awkward position explained by placing him in the physical moment of alteration. If modern scholars are right about this, then beliefs in shape shifting and transmogrification can be traced all the way back to 13,000 BC.
(From Ancient Origins: Reconstructing the Story of Humanity's Past)

Shape Shifters of Myth and Fiction

Ask almost any modern child and he or she will tell you that Hogwart's Professor Minerva McGonagall can turn herself into a cat, Remus Lupin becomes a werewolf when he glimpses the full moon and Harry Potter's godfather often transforms himself into a dog. By the same token, scientist Bruce Banner becomes the Incredible Hulk when someone ticks him off and, if you're lucky, the frog sitting on that lily pad by the side of the pond might become a handsome prince if you get close enough to kiss it. The kids might not know that Zeus sometimes used to become a bull, a swan or even an ant, but they will almost certainly be aware that some of the X-Men have the ability to become wolves or eagles.

These are only a few examples of an age-old belief in shape shifting. The difference is that in the old days it was not considered fantasy. That holds true in some circles even today. Some of the oldest epic poems in literature, including the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Iliad, recount stories of shape shifting, and many examples of therianthropes, half-human and half animal, are found in rock art around the world.

Even today, shamans and other out-of-body travelers report meeting astral beings who appear to be half-animal and half-human. some of whom maintain the ability to change from one to the other. A few gifted shamans have reported morphing into animal envoys themselves while on a shamanic journey, and some are rumored to be able to step back and forth between shapes even while still in their material bodies.

An ancient fourth century Coptic text written by a man who called himself St. Cyril of Jerusalem attributes the ability to Jesus. According to his account, when Judas accepted his infamous thirty pieces of silver in return for betraying Jesus to the authorities, they said to him:" How shall we arrest him (that is, Jesus) for he does not have a single shape but his appearance changes. Sometimes he is ruddy, sometimes he is white, sometimes he is red, sometimes wheat colored, sometimes he is pallid like ascetics, sometimes he is a youth, sometimes an old man."

They arranged a sign. Judas would kiss Jesus on the cheek so they would be able to arrest the right man no matter what shape he had assumed that evening.
Where did all these ideas come from? They are certainly entertaining - Bruce Wayne turning into a Batman, mild mannered Clark Kent donning cape and form-fitting jumpsuit to become a Superman, Diana Prince turning around three times to become the red, white and blue clad (or maybe not-so-clad comes closer to it) Wonder Woman - these are the stuff of legend and pop culture. But where did the idea first originate?

Evidence seems to trace the practice back to the picture of the Sorcerer of Trois-Frères Cave at least 15,000 years ago, but it may go back even further than that. Do the legends recall our evolution from animal to human? Are they fantasies which reflect our desire to soar like the eagle or pad wolf-like through the primeval forest night? Perhaps they are merely wishful thinking.

Or is there an even more fantastic solution to the question?

Shape Shifting and Psychology

Do such creatures actually exist, if not in our material world than perhaps in an adjacent parallel dimension? Do beings beyond our ability to describe exist there, forcing our brains to form fantastic mental images in order to make some sense of what we are encountering when a veil is lifted for a time in dream or vision?
This is, of course, a pretty radical idea, but there is some good evidence, albeit from non-traditional sources, that claims our familiar surroundings are an elaborate illusion, reinforced by the collective unconsciousness of the entire human race. We see an animal, a tree or a bus because that's what we expect to see when energy forms what appears to be the familiar manifestation. But what happens when energy takes on an unfamiliar manifestation? Our brains are forced to makes some kind of sense of it. So we say, "That is a half-leopard, half-man," when we probably should say, "That appears to be a half-leopard, half-man." The image sticks, and since our ancient ancestors had brains similar to ours this process began a long time ago. Back then it became part of religion and folklore. Today it takes the form of popular entertainment. But it is the very same mental process at work.

However we choose to describe it, the fact remains that shape shifting is a basic and stable component in shamanic journeying and a rather common testimony from those who experience everything from out of body experiences to alien abduction. Thousands of people for thousands of years have claimed to be eyewitnesses to the process, usually in what is normally called the astral plain but sometimes even here in our material world.

Perhaps a clue to approaching the subject is to be found in modern cartoon-like comic books and TV shows. We often fantasize and even ridicule that which is strange or frightening. It is a way of diminishing it and making it less scary.

Is that what is going on with shape shifting? As long as we keep it securely bound to popular entertainment we don't have to treat it seriously. It's just a fantasy show.
But what if such things really happen, either in this world or another? After all, our ancestors of 15,000 years ago never saw a TV show. What were they depicting on those cave walls? The folks who invented mythology never read a Marvel comic book. Where did they get such fantastic ideas? Fairytales predate the Incredible Hulk by thousands of years. What was their genesis?

Theism and the Agricultural Revolution

The generally accepted version of how civilization came to be is that we humans took a giant stride up from our primitive, hunter-gatherer ancestral culture during a period known as the Neolithic Revolution. This theory, put forth in the 1920s by V. Gordon Childe, a flamboyant Australian-British thinker with a gift for synthesis, went something like this:
About 6,000 years ago, in an area called Sumer, some clever humans, probably women, since they were the ones who presumably gathered plants and seeds while the men hunted, discovered that due to warming weather patterns in the wake of the last ice age they could now plant wild grains, take care of them for a while, water them when the weather refused to cooperate, pull a few weeds, and then, after a reasonable wait, harvest them. The advantage was that this provided a predictable, reliable food source. The disadvantage was that they had to stick around while the crop matured. Before this time, for thousands upon thousands of years, humans had survived by following wild game and gathering what food crops they found while living in whatever shelter nature happened to provide. These were the “cave men” we learned about in grade school.

Domesticating crops, however, changed everything. It sparked what has since been called the Agricultural Revolution and marked the beginning of civilization. A stable, local food supply led to the birth of settled towns, which soon exploded into cities. Populations flourished. People began to adapt special occupations. A cobbler, for instance, could practice his trade and get paid for it in consumer goods. He didn’t need to go out and hunt anymore. Eventually money was invented to represent commodities such as food, thus making transactions easier to handle. Writing was developed to keep track of who got what and how much was paid. Economy was born. One city might grow barley while another grew wheat. Trade flourished. A merchant class grew to oversee caravans. You can see where this leads.

And, so the theory goes, there was yet another by-product. Trade between regions led to an immense social upheaval in the field of religion. Prior to agriculture, gods took the form of animals. After, gods were needed to oversee grain production by sending rain in due season. A priestly class arose. Because they lived in one settled place and now had the manpower to build, temples were constructed.

Here the story takes a dark turn. Inevitably one town’s fields began to encroach on another’s. Resources had to be protected. “This is our field, not yours!” To enforce that claim, armies developed. But armies need strong male gods. The Goddess can’t intimidate as well as the God. Mother Earth is gentle. Yahweh, Baal and Zeus are not.

The Bible tells the story in myth and poetry that stems from this very region of the world. Cain, the agriculturist, kills Abel, the pastoralist. He immediately goes out and builds a city. Genesis 4 lists some of the specialized occupations that developed: builders, agriculturalists, musicians, industrialists, soldiers, priests, lawyers. No wonder the final verse of the chapter says, “At that time, men began to call on the name of the Lord.”

Shortly after, a man named Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees, taking with him his own family army, and traveled across the Fertile Crescent to Israel. (The biblical writers used the name Canaan.) He went forth armed with an idea: “My God is better than your God!” (Later Hebrew composers would say it much more poetically in their psalms: “Our God is a great God, above all other Gods.”) From this journey evolved the concept of monotheism. Abraham emigrated because God told him to. Judaism, Christianity and Islam followed.
From these simple beginnings in the Fertile Crescent sprang specialized tools, pottery, writing, cities, trains and buses, wars, stress, high blood pressure, obesity, Facebook, Twitter and all the other benefits of modern civilization.

This is the accepted story. It has been poked and prodded, shaped a little differently and molded into academic shape, but it remains basically the same since Childe first called it the Neolithic Revolution, the Agricultural Revolution that took place in the New Stone (Neo-Lithic) Age, a radical change, fraught with revolutionary consequences for the whole species. He declared it to be “the greatest event in human history after the mastery of fire!”

A New Paradigm

That’s the way things stood until 1995, when a researcher named Klaus Schmidt, then with the German Archaeological Institute but since deceased, began to dig at a place in Turkey called, by the locals, Potbelly Hill, or Göbekli Tepe. What Schmidt found there caused him to report, “In 10 or 15 years, Göbekli Tepe will be more famous than Stonehenge. And for good reason!”

Göbekli Tepe is a temple built of immense stone pillars arranged in sets of rings. The tallest are 18 feet high and weigh 16 tons. Carved into their surfaces are bas-relief totemic animals of prey - a whole menagerie. The hillside in which all this was built is littered with flint tools from Neolithic times - knives, projectile points, choppers, scrapers and files. The T-shaped pillars themselves are immense, and they appear to form a very complex structure.

But what makes the discovery so fantastic is this: Göbekli Tepe was built 11,600 years ago! That’s 7,000 years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza and thousands of years before even the beginnings of Stonehenge. And, so far at least, there is no evidence whatsoever of existing agriculture in the surrounding area. The temple seems to have been built, impossibly, by hunter-gatherers with no communal support structure except for hunting teams that would fan out, kill what game they could, and bring it back to the workers. The bones of their evening meals consist mostly of auks and gazelles.

How did a hunter-gatherer culture supply the manpower to carve and move 16-ton rocks? It must have taken thousands of laborers. What motivated them? Religious temples supposedly didn’t come into play until generations after the Agricultural Revolution, but here was a huge religious temple found springing up from the landscape thousands of years before religion was thought to have been organized enough to even attempt such a thing! As far as we knew when Göbekli Tepe was discovered, it was by far the largest building project ever attempted by humankind up to that point in history and there seem to be no precursors - no trial and error, no history of evolving concepts, no evidence of any "practice sites" as is evidenced, for instance, by the pyramid-building tradition in Egypt or the standing-stone tradition culminating at Stonehenge. And it didn’t precede those traditions by a few hundred years. It was built almost 7,000 years earlier! If anything, the tradition seems to “de-volve” rather than “e-volve.” The most sophisticated building happened first, at the bottom of the dig. It appears that later generations built on top of it. But their work exhibits less and less skill with each succeeding layer. It seems as though Göbekli Tepe illustrates the unraveling of a tradition rather than the building of one. And at the end, it was completely and deliberately buried like a time capsule, preserving it intact so that it could be dug up and studied in 1995.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Premise: The Vision and the Quest
Prologue: A Supernatural Encounter
Introduction: Magic and the Quest for the Supernatural

Part I: The Object of the Quest : Introduction; Animal Envoys from Cave and Cosmos; Earth Spirits; Evolution and Punctuated Equilibria; Metaphysical Manifestations; Parallel Universes; "Religious" Concepts; Shape Shifting Superheroes of Mythology and Comic Books; Theism and the Agricultural Revolution; Visitors from Afar; The "Wounded Man" - Stories of Healing and Transformation; Conclusions

Part II: The Method of the Quest : Introduction; Astrology: Chemical Keys; Dowsing; Dreams; Hard-Wired for Spirituality; Hypnotism, Past Life Regression and Channeling; Intuition, Déjà Vu and Intentionality; Meditation and "Eastern" Spirituality; Miracles; OBEs and NDEs; Psychics and Sensitives; Shamanism; Spiritualism: Theoretical Physics and the World of Quantum Reality; Conclusions

Part III: The End of the Quest and Beyond : Putting it all Together; End of Times Prophecies; The Return of Supernatural Gods; Looking Ahead

Epilogue

Bibliography
Index

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