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Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind Paperback – September 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


"Graham Hancock is no stranger to controversy. The former journalist, whose books have sold five million copies in the past 10 years, has repeatedly dared to challenge scientific shibboleths, taking a run at entrenched thinking in archaeology, geology and astronomy."
-The Globe and Mail

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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Disinformation Books; Revised edition (September 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932857842
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932857849
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,184 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am the author of the forthcoming Magicians of the Gods, published on 10 November 2015, and of the major international bestsellers The Sign and the Seal, Fingerprints of the Gods, Heaven's Mirror, Underworld, and Supernatural.

I share below the story of the journey that led me to these books

In the early 1980's, when I was East Africa correspondent of The Economist, writing about wars, politics, economics and aid programmes, I had no idea where fate was going to lead me or what strange seas of thought I would find myself sailing on. But in 1983 I made my first visit to Axum in northern Ethiopia, then in the midst of a war zone, and found myself in the presence of an ancient monk outside a little chapel in the grounds of the cathedral of Saint Mary of Zion. The monk told me that the chapel was the sanctuary of the Ark of the Covenant and that he was the guardian of the Ark, the most sacred relic of the Bible, supposedly lost since Old Testament times. What he said seemed ludicrous but for some reason it intrigued me. I began to look into the Ethiopian claim and found much surprising and neglected evidence that supported it, not least the faint traces of a mission to Ethiopia undertaken by the Knights Templar in the twelfth century. I kept adding to that dossier of evidence while also continuing to pursue my current affairs interests (including Lords of Poverty, my controversial book about foreign aid, published in 1989), and finally, in 1992, I published The Sign and the Seal: A Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant, my first full-fledged investigation of a historical mystery.

As well as to Ethiopia and to Israel, my research for The Sign and the Seal had taken me to Egypt and opened my eyes to the incredible enigma of the Great Pyramid of Giza, while the "technological" aspects of the Ark (shooting out bolts of fire, striking people dead, etc) had alerted me to the existence of out of place technologies in antiquity. The stage was now set for my next project - a worldwide investigation into the possibility of a lost, prehistoric civilisation that resulted, in 1995, in the publication of Fingerprints of the Gods, undoubtedly my best known book. The Message of the Sphinx (co-authored with Robert Bauval) followed in 1996, looking specifically into the mysteries of the Great Sphinx of Giza, and then in 1998 Heaven's Mirror, photographed by my wife Santha Faiia, which shows why many ancient sites in all parts of the globe replicate the patterns of constellations on the ground and are aligned to important celestial events such as the rising points of the sun on the equinoxes and the solstices. In 2002, I published Underworld, the result of five years of scuba diving across all the world's oceans to find ancient ruins submerged by rising sea levels at the end of the Ice Age.

After Underworld, I decided to step away from lost civilisation mysteries for a while and my next non-fiction book, Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind, published in 2005, focussed on shamanism, altered states of consciousness and the astonishing universal themes that appear in rock and cave art from deepest antiquity right through to the paintings done by shamans in the Amazon rainforest today.

From my years as a journalist I've always distrusted armchair theorising and believed I have a responsibility to seek out direct personal, "boots on the ground" experience of what I'm writing about. That was why I did five years of often difficult and dangerous scuba diving for Underworld. And it's also why, as part of my research for Supernatural I travelled to the Amazon to drink the visionary brew Ayahuasca with shamans there. As well as better equipping me to write Supernatural, my experiences in the Amazon changed my life and brought out a new side of my own creativity. I've continued working with Ayahuasca ever since and in 2006, during a series of sessions in Brazil, in a ceremonial space overlooked by images of a blue goddess, my visions gave me the basic characters, dilemmas and plot of the book that would become my first novel, Entangled, published in 2010. Entangled tells the story of two young women, one living 24,000 years ago in the Stone Age, and the other in modern Los Angeles, who are brought together by a supernatural being to do battle with a demon who travels through time.

Since the publication of Entangled I have also written the first two volumes of a series of three epic novels about the Spanish conquest of Mexico - the War God trilogy. The first volume, War God: Nights of the Witch, was published in 2013, and the second volume, War God: Return of the Plumed Serpent, was published in 2014. The third volume, War God: Apocalypse, is already more than half written and will be published in 2016 but in the meantime my new non-fiction book, Magicians of the Gods, is published on 10 November 2015. Magicians is the sequel to Fingerprints of the Gods, and presents all the new evidence that has emerged since 1995 for a great lost civilisation of prehistoric antiquity and for the global cataclysm that destroyed that civilisation almost 13,000 years ago - a cataclysm on such a scale that it forced mankind, as Plato put it, "to begin again like children with no memory of what went before."

My ideas on prehistory and on the mysterious nature of reality have made me something of a controversial figure. In 1999, for example BBC Horizon made a documentary ("Atlantis Reborn") attacking my position on the lost civilisation. But part of that documentary was found by the UK's Broadcasting Standards Commission to be unfair - the first time ever that the flagship Horizon series had been judged guilty of unfairness. The BBC took the problem seriously enough to put out a revised re-edited version of the programme a year later. More recently, in 2013, my TED talk "The War on Consciousness" was deleted from the TED Youtube channel on grounds that TED itself later admitted to be spurious by striking out every one of the objections it had originally raised to my talk. TED, however, refused to restore the talk to its Youtube channel resulting in dozens of pirate uploads all over the internet that have now registered well over a million views.

I make mistakes like everyone else, but ever since my time with The Economist I've felt it is important to strive for rigour and accuracy, to check facts, to set out my sources clearly and openly for all to see and to admit my mistakes when I make them. As I continue to explore extraordinary ideas in my works of non-fiction, and in my novels, I'll also continue to do that.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

397 of 406 people found the following review helpful By JAMES AGNEW on October 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
Graham Hancock, the author of Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind could never be accused of pussyfooting around the revelations of his research, and he certainly postulates the heck out of the place of consciousness altering agents in the shamanic origins of religion and consciousness itself. It's a brilliant, breakthrough book which comes close to being the unified field theory of, if not all of the supernatural, at least of all encounters between humans and supernatural beings.

Hancock begins with a description of his own visionary experiences with the hallucinogen Ibogaine, which he took, with a logical vigor that escapes most academics, in order to truly gauge its effect, and therefore the validity of his theories. He follows this with a (perhaps too) meticulous examination of the cave paintings that represent the beginnings of human art, concentrating on their bizarre and seemingly inexplicable nature, at once representative and fantastic, a contradiction that the bonehead academics have (naturally) been totally unable to puzzle out in over a hundred years of trying.

But just when I thought the book was going to be one of those tedious Fortean catalogues of weird stuff, Hancock brought forth his first thesis, based on David Lewis-Williams's The Mind in the Cave. Lewis-Williams's idea is simple - that the enigmatic cave paintings were produced by shamans in a trance state and are representations of the shamanic experience.
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254 of 260 people found the following review helpful By J. Chasin on September 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a book that casts an extremely broad intellectual net, but Hancock quite ably holds it all together and offers some compelling and though-provoking insights into the nature of spirituality, cognitive evolution of mankind, and, yes, the supernatural.

Most of Hancock's work is in a field I'd call archeological investigative journalism-- perhaps an arcane field, but he is the best there is at it. In Sign and the Seal he went looking for the Ark of the Covenant (not unlike Indiana Jones); in Fingerprints of the Gods he went looking for Atlantis.

Here, he begins by investigating cave paintings, the earliest known artwork left to us by early man. Beings very much like modern day humans had lived for tens of thousands of years, but suddenly, about 25,000 years ago, they began making cave paintings. Hancock asks the two obvious questions: WHY did they suddenly start painting, and WHAT were they depicting?

In brief, Hancock makes a compelling case that the trigger of the act of cave painting was the experiencing of shamanic visions-- essentially the first, core, religious experience-- resulting from the ingestion of hallucinogenic herbs and plants. And too, he makes a compelling case that the content of these early paintings is quite simply the "visions" one sees in such an altered state. He demonstrates that the same plants and psychoactive substances have generated a remarkably consistent set of imagistic responses in humans across time and culture and setting, and shows how the icons and symbols of cave paintings are indeed replications and renderings of these visions (for instance, the part-man, part-animal creatures that dominate cave paintings and indeed Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Native American mythology.
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143 of 148 people found the following review helpful By Peter Uys HALL OF FAME on January 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
This fascinating book by alternative historian Graham Hancock investigates the origins of consciousness with reference to the work of David Lewis-Williams and his theory of the neuropsychological origins of cave art. It also goes further in proposing that those worlds and entities encountered in shamanic visions are not mere hallucinations but very real and that altered states are the means to gain entry to them.

Part One: The Visions, includes the author's experiences with the African hallucinogenic plant Iboga, looks at the cave of Pech Merle and then examines the 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 at the half-human half-animal representations that are so widespread. These "therianthropic" designs also occur in the rock art of Southern Africa and elsewhere. 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 closely examines the similarities and the differences between the art of ancient Europe and that of Africa. For example, the European art is found in dark subterranean caves 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 concludes that it led nowhere until the theory of Lewis-Williams came along. Hancock demolishes the criticisms leveled at the work of Lewis-Williams and exposes the smear campaign waged against the South African academic.
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