Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind

Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind

by Graham Hancock


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Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind by Graham Hancock

Less than fifty thousand years ago mankind had no art, no religion, no sophisticated symbolism, no innovative thinking. Then, in a dramatic and electrifying change, described by scientists as "the greatest riddle in human history," all the skills and qualities that we value most highly in ourselves appeared already fully formed, as though bestowed on us by hidden powers.

In Supernatural Graham Hancock sets out to investigate this mysterious "beforeandafter moment" and to discover the truth about the influences that gave birth to the modern human mind. His quest takes him on a detective journey from the stunningly beautiful painted caves of prehistoric France, Spain, and Italy to rock shelters in the mountains of South Africa, where he finds extraordinary Stone Age art. He uncovers clues that lead him to the depths of the Amazon rainforest to drink the powerful hallucinogen Ayahuasca with shamans, whose paintings contain images of "supernatural beings" identical to the animalhuman hybrids depicted in prehistoric caves. Hallucinogens such as mescaline also produce visionary encounters with exactly the same beings. Scientists at the cutting edge of consciousness research have begun to consider the possibility that such hallucinations may be real perceptions of other "dimensions." Could the "supernaturals" first depicted in the painted caves be the ancient teachers of mankind? Could it be that human evolution is not just the "meaningless" process that Darwin identified, but something more purposive and intelligent that we have barely begun to understand?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781932857849
Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser
Publication date: 09/01/2006
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 225,275
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Graham Hancock is the author of the international bestsellers The Sign and The Seal, Fingerprints of the Gods, and Heaven's Mirror. His books have sold more than five million copies.

Read an Excerpt


By Graham Hancock

Random House

Graham Hancock
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0385662165

Chapter One

The Plant that Enables Men to See the Dead

I lay on a couch in the darkened drawing room of a 200-year-old townhouse in the English city of Bath. The streets outside were deserted and offered few clues to remind me of the familiar world. It was reassuring to find that I could still read the luminous dial of my wristwatch if I held it in front of my eyes. Ten minutes passed, then 20, then 35. I began to feel bored, restless, even a little blase After 45 minutes I closed my eyes and directed my thoughts inwards towards contemplation, still noticing nothing unusual. But at the end of the first hour of my vigil, when I tried to stand up and walk around, I was amazed to discover that my legs would not work. Out of nowhere, an enervating feebleness had ambushed my limbs, the slightest physical effort set off uncontrollable tremors and stumbling, and I had completely lost my sense of balance.

A wave of giddiness and nausea washed over me and I fell back exhausted on the couch, drenched in cold sweat. I remembered with a shudder of finality that I could not change my mind because there was no antidote. Once it was underway, the process I was going through could not be stopped and would simply have to be endured.

My hearing was the next faculty affected. At intervals, there would be a tremendous ringing and buzzing in my ears, blotting out all other sounds. My eyesight also rapidly deteriorated, soon becoming so obstructed at the edges with strange black lines, like fence-posts or gratings, that I could no longer see my watch and had to abandon all control of time. For what felt like a very long while the poison remorselessly tightened its grip and I fell prey to indescribable sensations of physical and psychic unease. There was a great deal of pain, weakness and discomfort. It was as if my body were being slowly and systematically smashed and dismembered and I began to fear that I might never be able to put it back together again.

In a moment of stillness when my eyes were closed a vision popped up-a vivid moving tapestry of intertwining branches and leaves, elaborate arabesques and Celtic knotwork. I blinked my eyes open. Instantly the writhing patterns vanished and the darkened drawing room returned. But as soon as I closed my eyes the patterns came back.

More unmeasured time passed while the patterns continued to expand and multiply. Then another great gust of dizziness hit me and I winced at the terrifying new sensation it brought of balancing on a swaying tightrope over a bottomless abyss. I found that if I lay on my back, looked straight up at the ceiling and stayed absolutely still I could minimise these uncomfortable effects. But all it took was the slightest movement of my head to left or right to bring on another spectacular surge of vertigo.

When at last I closed my eyes again the sinuous intertwined patterns reappeared with renewed intensity and then were abruptly overwritten by a profile view of a heavily built blond young man with his eyes turned towards me in a glare of reproach. He appeared right at my side, startlingly close. His skin was pallid and his brow blotched with patches of green mould.

Shamanic portals

In the Central African countries of Gabon, Cameroon and Zaire certain age-old ancestor cults still flourish in the twenty-first century. Their members share a common belief, based they say on direct experience, in the existence of a supernatural realm where the spirits of the dead may be contacted. Like some hypothetical dimension of quantum physics, this otherworld interpenetrates our own and yet cannot ordinarily be seen or verified by empirical tests. It is therefore a matter of great interest, with highly suggestive research implications, that tribal shamans claim to have mastered a means, through the consumption of a poisonous shrub known locally as eboka or iboga, by which humans may reach the otherworld and return alive. How they mastered this skill is told in the origin myth of the indigenous secret society known as the Bwiti:
Zame ye Mebege [the last of the creator gods] gave us Eboka. One day . . . he saw . . . the Pygmy Bitamu, high in an Atanga tree, gathering its fruit. He made him fall. He died, and Zame brought his spirit to him. Zame cut off the little fingers and little toes of the cadaver of the Pygmy and planted them in various parts of the forest. They grew into the Eboka bush.
The pygmy's wife was named Atanga. When she heard of the death of her husband she went in search of his body. Eventually, after many adventures, she came to a cave in the heart of the forest in which she saw a pile of human bones:
As she entered the cave she suddenly heard a voice -- as of the voice of her husband -- asking who she was, where she came from, and whom she wished to speak with. The voice told her to look to the left at the mouth of the cave. There was the Eboka plant. The voice told her to eat its roots . . . She ate and felt very tired . . . Then she was told to turn around in the cave. The bones were gone and in their place stood her husband and other dead relatives. They talked to her and gave her a [new] name, Disoumba, and told her that she had found the plant that would enable men to see the dead. This was the first baptism into Bwiti and that was how men got the power to know the dead and have their counsel.
Today several million people distributed across Gabon, Cameroon and Zaire have no difficulty resisting well-financed efforts at conversion aimed at them by Christian and Islamic missionaries. Their allegiance instead is to the Bwiti, into which they have been initiated by consuming huge amounts of eboka root-bark shavings and experiencing a journey into supernatural realms.

Eboka, also known as iboga (the spelling that I will use from now on), is classified scientifically as Tabernanthe iboga and is a member of the Apocynacae (Dogbane) family. Its root bark turns out to be very special, as the myth of the pygmy asserts, and contains more than a dozen unusual chemicals belonging to a class known as the indole alkaloids. One of them, ibogaine, is the potent hallucinogen responsible for the convincing and life-changing visions experienced by Bwiti initiates, notably 'encounters with supernatural beings' and 'encounters with the spirits of the dead'. Many report meeting their deceased fathers or grandfathers, who act as guides for them in the spirit world. However, the bark must be eaten in toxic quantities if the visionary state is to be attained, and initiates confront an ever-present risk of fatal overdose as they seek out their ancestors.


Even without the barbaric threat of a jail sentence, ibogaine is a very serious business, so I had not gone lightly into the decisions that had led me to this couch, this night, and this state of helpless prostration to whatever was coming next.

Excerpted from Supernatural by Graham Hancock Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Supernatural 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Frankly, I always had the impression that Graham Hancock was one of those New Age authors marshalling pseudo-scientific evidence for unprovable theories about grand conspiracies, which is why I never read anything by him. But since 1988, as a freelance journalist, I began reading the most objective reports I could find about UFOs and alien abductions and began writing for UFO Magazine (based in Los Angeles) And then I studied shamanism and began experimenting with psychedelics. Eventually, I decided (partly because of research, partly from mystical experiences, natural and induced) that the spiritual path that best explained the nature of the world was Gnosticism (per Stephan Hoeller's books on the subject). But I still had questions about who these beings were who were interferring with the human race. Hancock's work here will be eventually recognizes as a landmark in understanding who we are and our relationship with the supernaturals. And no one should think the latter's intentions are entirely benign, as some alien enthusiasts do. But buy this book now--it will blow your mind.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An awesome book that really captivates the nature of our past and how we came to be. I raises many more questions then it answers and I love the mystery. A great read, I really recommend this book! Do not listen to the skeptics, they have no idea what they are talking about!
Yeti More than 1 year ago
According to Graham Hancock, the non-coding DNA in every living entity follows Zipf's Law which is a law formulated using mathematical statistics that applies to all of the spoken languages on Earth. If I understand correctly, he's suggesting that non-coding DNA also known to molecular biologists as "junk-DNA" might not be a random sequence, but instead an unknown language, or set of instructions from the makers. Fierce!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This brave world explorer examines firsthand the prehistoric painted caves of Europe and South Africa and the paintings of Amazonian shamans while participating in their indigenous mind-altering ceremonies, that the same 'super-natural beings' are seen over and over again. How can that be if consciousness is not a flowing stream, a 'field,' of imagery common to mankind? Of course, it cannot no matter how the skeptics slice and dice it! Anyone worth their salt as a 'quantum' neuro-scientist, of whatever ilk (e.g., biology, psychology, physics, even theology) knows that all paranormal phenomena are screaming this singular truth at us today: 'We are one global human being!' That is, we share a unified field of mind that is only partitioned out into six billion bodies presently. We even have a name for this type of biological distribution throughout nature we call it 'fractal geometry.' Thus, it is not much of a leap when cell biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton declares in The Biology of Belief that our 'DNA/RNA' itself is constructed in accordance with this same mirror-image, self-replication, process of the world around, and within, us. I can't help but meditate on the wisdom of 'as above, so below, as within, so without,' and wonder where did that gem come from anyway -- a third-eye-open shaman? Hancock is right-on-target, therefore, when he forcefully declares: 'Gifted and experienced shamans the world over really do know more -- much more -- than they [scientists] do.' (p. 285) To the point: Is the world we see outside of us, also inside of us, but a fractal spiral at varying scales within the Mind of God? I mean do states of trance and 'vision' plants let us see behind the curtain of creation? Could we be peering into the neurological soul of invisible albeit 'real' realms -- the archetypal, ideal, home of gods? Indeed as this rhetorical question is asked in this book: 'Could it be that human evolution is not just the 'meaningless' process that Darwin identified, but something more purposive and intelligent that we have barely begun to understand?' Ya' think? Go figure! How about when we all learn the secret truths of the shamans' rituals and begin to focus our minds as a single laser of cutting-edge consciousness to solve our planet's problems of pollution? How about when we form larger spiritual communities to heal one another using the 'solar' power, the photosynthesis, contained within organic, natural, plants? That is to say, don't we grasp that we are a cancer-haunted, dis-eased society today because we live, and move, and have our being, for the most part, in a low-energy, highly-toxic, radioactive, asphalt jungle? Oh, now there's the deeper meaning to this astute explorer's 'supernatural' revelations -- we are tasked with restoring the Garden of Eden now! As Hancock himself proclaims, as I do profusely, 'This is hardly surprising since Christ was so obviously and so profoundly a shaman.' (p. 499).
velocireader76 More than 1 year ago
For those not familiar with Graham Hancock's bestselling work, Fingerprints of the Gods (about ancient lost civilizations), will find this book a bit far off and too deep into the wormhole of explored far-out ideas of altered states of consciousness but it does question preconceived notions of what is reality and what is the mind. The main topic is ayahuasca and DMT. Reading the chapter titles alone might intrigue some and will definitely put off others. 
Guest More than 1 year ago
I¿ve followed Graham Hancock¿s work through the years with great interest and appreciation, even when he has been on a few side trails. History is less easily tested than the ¿hard¿ sciences, but Hancock has made a career of gathering together many small bits and pieces of things to reveal the underlying patterns that were not as noticeable before, but now appear strongly and certainly to be true. ----- Always in pursuit of the presumed lost civilization that gave birth to our own, Hancock has been all over the world and even under the seas in his recent book, Underworld, searching for empirical evidence in ruins of human structures dateable to a time before the commonly accepted genesis dates of civilization. It was quite a twist for me, then, when I learned that he was writing a new book on a totally different angle. In Supernatural, Hancock takes us on an epic journey from the famous pre-historic cave art of Europe and rock art from Africa with its strange menageries of part human-part animal beings, through modern expressions of shamanistic beliefs and techniques, and the use of and research into psychoactive substances that seem to open a doorway into another reality. These things, he maintains, are all connected and should be given the consideration of representing something real rather than being casually dismissed as primitive superstition or ¿brain fiction¿ caused by chemical reactions in the molecules of the brain. ----- This is a philosophy I¿ve been personally exploring for some time, and it is quite a treat to have a researcher with the time, resources, and courage of Hancock, to forge so strongly ahead in a direction I was going. He has locked on to the same literary resources that propelled my own interest - Narby¿s ¿Cosmic Serpent¿, Shanon¿s epic ¿Antipodes of the Mind¿, Strassman¿s ¿DMT The Spirit Molecule¿, etc. Plus, he has now personally experienced the effects of those natural psychoactive plants that have opened a portal for humans for millenia, from magic mushrooms to iboga to ayahuasca. Far from being ¿pleasure trips¿, most of these substances are difficult and extremely unpleasant to use. The ritual and sacremental use of them is endured in order to experience the non- ordinary realities that they can reveal. Realities that seem to include non-human entities. Hancock takes us through the centuries with stories of angels, demons, fairies, goblins, and all the ¿other beings¿ called by various names through the centuries. Not the least of these are the modern concepts of extra-terrestrial aliens. He shows how these are all expressions of the same phenomenon, from the part-human/animal cave art depictions to the grey aliens of UFO¿s, and how their interactions with humans over time has seemingly evolved towards some purpose. ----- The first part of the book dealing with the cave art can get somewhat long and repetitive, but I realize that Hancock is being rather more careful these days to back up what he is saying with the most thorough research job he can achieve in order to deflect as much of the certain academic backlash as possible. ----- Supernatural is a very important book for those seeking a quantum jump forward into unknown but extremely compelling territory. Its subject matter will certainly cause it to be profoundly ignored or at most crassly denigrated by the orthodox scientific/academic community, but that is the nature of human nature. It takes someone with courage who has no turf to protect to simply go in pursuit of these things with the golden purpose of finding out what is real. That is certainly my goal, and it is a valued resource, as well as a pleasure and a comfort, to have Graham Hancock on that road with me.
Skywolf on LibraryThing 8 days ago
Fascinating. Brilliant. This book will change the way you think - about yourself, about history, about religion, about the paranormal, about the world. Highly recommended.
NateyB More than 1 year ago
If you have any interest in psychotropic drugs, theories of alternate dimensions, the origin of DNA, "mythological" huamnoids (aliens, fairies, etc.), this is the book for you. Fully backed by clinical studies, first-person accounts and medical science, the claims made are hard to refute.
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Y2J More than 1 year ago
I love the ayahuasca reflections and spirituality, but dont enjoy the part where he basically says that gods are real. And that smarter humans used to live on earth. Cmon now, be serious. Maybe he had one trip too many,but I love his writing and am tempted to go to the amazon myself now
Guest More than 1 year ago
Books like Hancock's are nonsense. Any books whose titles include any of the words 'mysterious', 'secrets', 'Templar', 'alien', 'code', 'supernatural', 'mythic', 'cosmic', are just giving away the fact that they are unscientific rubbish. They are based on wishes and dreams, but we should all know that children wish, adults decide.