Another Look at Reality

In my last post I floated the idea that even if we were able to somehow travel back in time and communicate freely with people from a bygone age, there would only – at best – be certain aspects of shared experience.  This, I argued, is because ‘truth’ or what we term ‘reality’ is a subjective interplay between a person’s mind, brain and the objects and events that form to produce each person’s perceived world.

‘Aha,’ you may say, “If that were the case, how would you and I share a common view of a scene before us?  Even a short discussion would prove that our vision of what lay around us was identical.  We could even take photographs to demonstrate it!’

Well certainly we citizens of the 21st century share a common perception of the objects and events around us.  Perceptive reality has strong links to social cohesion and the ‘training’ we were given in infancy. 

Fantasy, Fairy Tale Forest, Girl, ForestOur culture has a slightly strange take on sharing our World View with new arrivals.  A rich mythic tradition is passed on to our children – Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, giants, goblins, elves and trolls appear in huge numbers of their storybooks and the bedtime tales we share with them.  Talking animals and fabulous beasts abound.  Then, as the children mature, these wonders are, one by one, consigned to a scrapheap of untruths.  Those stories, they are told, were ‘just pretend’.  Now they are expected to cast away such childish delights and focus on a world that can be seen, prodded and proved to be ‘real’. 

“So are dinosaurs real?” asks the confused child. “What about dragons?  What about Father Christmas…?  Why did you lie to me?”

Parents and carers struggle to justify their actions.  They are doing as their parents did.  They are rearing their young in the way our society dictates.  Once they reach the age of 7 or 8, even the child who knows she once saw fairies in the garden or glimpsed a fiery dragon from her window has put such things aside and conformed to the accepted and shared idea of how reality looks and feels.  Mostly.

Stonehenge, England, Uk, MonumentOf course there are still different perceptions within our common perceptual framework.  If we imagine a hypothetical twenty people standing and regarding Stonehenge in the 2020s, all would probably be in agreement as to the size and bulk of the stones, the green of the grass, the colour of the sky, strength of the wind and sound of the passing traffic on the A303.

One observer, though, might be hugely excited at the sight of a military aircraft flying over the scene – an aspect of the experience missed totally by others.

Another of the people might be high on a hallucinogenic drug or have what is currently called a ‘mental illness’.  That person might be seeing quite different colours strobing and wheeling around the stones and hearing sounds or voices the rest of the observers would not be aware of.

A third might be a synesthete.  He or she might be tasting or smelling the colours and textures in a manner quite alien to the rest.

Perhaps two or three members of the group might have psychic sensitivities which allowed them to see spots of bright light or hazy halos surrounding certain stones or perhaps glowing crystals buried deep beneath the ground.  They might even perceive shadowy figures from other times.

Winter, Snow, Landscape, Trees, SnowfallAs is the custom in our age, more or less all these visitors would take out their phones and photograph the scene before them.  If they then compared the results, all the images would show the grass, the stones, the path and so forth, yet some would include mysterious orbs or thin coloured arcs of light.  Depending on their personal World Views, these would be variously interpreted as aliens, angelic beings, reflections of light from mundane sources or pieces of dust on the camera lens.  Each, of course, would be entirely correct, according to their World View.

I would further suggest that if the group of 20 people were standing around Stonehenge in c2500BC, their perception of what lay before them would be markedly different to that of the 21st century visitors.  Their common take on ‘reality’ would link to their shared prior experience and social conditioning and their society almost certainly perceived the world around them in markedly different ways, with senses responding to stimuli in a manner that we could not grasp.

Clearly, I have no way of demonstrating this.  Those ancient people standing on a wind-blasted plain in southern England left us no written record or clues as to what was going through their minds and how their world looked to them.  They simply, for their own reasons, created a massive structure that survived into our age.

Fortunately for the curious among us, not all World Views are as poorly recorded.  Next time I’d like to take you to a culture that has been meticulously documented by its people, in a language we can read and understand.  In certain ways it is markedly similar to our own, but in others quite, quite incomprehensible.

Perceptive Reality – A Time-Traveller’s Guide

The restrictions of the past year have made it an ideal time for the armchair traveller – or time-traveller, often, in my own case – to indulge in flights of imagination and contemplation.

Stonehenge, Stone Circle, EnglandI will happily spend many hours watching documentaries or reading about archaeological discoveries and documents from other times and places and wishing I could see the temples and sacred places as they appeared in their zenith.  That alone, though, would be no more than mere sightseeing, which to my mind is a fairly empty and pointless activity.  How often I’ve stood and gazed on some great and ancient construction – Stonehenge, the temples of Malta, the Orcadian landscape around the Ness of Brodgar – and yearned for an understanding of the circumstances, the significance, the reason for their construction.

Yes, I can read the guide books, digest the various expert theories, wonder at the brilliance of the technologies that created them, but I lack the World View of those who built and used these structures.  So, of course, do the experts.  They can make educated guesses but might I be so bold as to suggest that in a time when religion is fragmented, science, business and technology are the closest many have to gods and upheaval is everywhere we look, 21st century people are not best placed to frame any possible mindset that could explain the concepts and ideologies behind the enduring wonders of the past as we gaze upon them?

The Roman Empire is an exception.  We have no problem understanding that.  It is so close in morality and intent to our own recent past that we can comprehend their purposes, intentions and ideals with very little difficulty.  Their buildings, military and societal organisations make perfect sense to us.  I will often flick through film and TV drama choices and note that the majority of people in our culture apparently find pleasure and entertainment in watching the murder, death and the anguish of others as much as Romans did in their amphitheatres.

Just as, according to the infinite monkey theorem, a monkey spending long enough at a typewriter keyboard could theoretically type the text of Hamlet, so an infinite number of World Views are bound to throw up some close matches.  That’s not to say we have any sort of continuum that leads logically and developmentally from Rome to here.  This has nothing to do with evolution.  World Views come and go, for reasons I hope to consider in subsequent posts.

(Let me just suggest in passing that any society which believes itself to be at the pinnacle of human development has enough pride to be heading inexorably towards a fall.)

I believe a World View is something more than Zeitgeist, too, although there are more parallels with this idea than with the evolutionary one.  I’m not denying the spirit of a particular generation as being easy to recognise in retrospect.  The 20th century alone threw up several of these.  For me a World View is something deeper, more pervasive and far longer-lasting than a decade or so’s trend.  Perhaps it is the spirit of a Great Age…

Peru, Sacsayhuaman, Sacred, Scenic, SiteThe societies who constructed the Great Pyramid, the Stonehenge and Avebury landscape, the polygonal-walled buildings of Peru or the structures of Göbeklitepe, for example, would have technologies, ideas and concepts of the world so radically different to our own that endless scrabbling in the dust to unearth pottery fragments or the contents of spoil heaps will give us little or no idea of their beliefs and intentions.

Each generation of antiquarians and archaeologists has a view on the purpose of the structures, that view arguably having more to do with contemporary interests and fixations than that which provoked the original constructions.  Thus an ancient site may have been variously viewed by later visitors as a geoglyph,  a landing site for spacecraft, a centre for human or animal sacrifice, a temple for religious worship, an astronomical calendar, a tomb (big favourite, regardless of whether or not there are human remains), a place of pilgrimage or for rites of passage.

So could I, as a time-traveller with many months or years at my disposal and a Babel Fish stuffed firmly in my ear, ever learn to understand the World View of the culture who created one of these enduring monuments?

Probably not.

I suspect that the only point at which our understanding would meet would be in the physical as I perceive it and that, of course, is not where their World View resides.  I might learn vast amounts about their technologies, their methods of construction and the way in which their societies are organised, but the all-consuming beliefs and reasons for constructing such structures would not, I fear, be apparent to me.  Our views of reality would differ so fundamentally that there would be little common ground.  It is very possible that the structures themselves would not reveal to my senses the experiences those who created them would have.  There could be sounds, sights, emotional and spiritual experiences freely available to them which to me would remain hidden.  I recall being quite convinced of this when standing in the chambers of the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni.  I could see the walls, the carvings and the colours but there was so much almost palpable unavailable experience there just beyond my ken.

Seth, through channel Jane Roberts, explains the reason for this, with his customary clarity and eloquence:

Your many civilisations, historically speaking, each with its own fields of activity, its own sciences, religions, politics and art – these all represent various ways that man has used imagination and reason to form a framework through which a more or less cohesive reality is experienced. 

And that is the nub of it.  Reality is perceptive, not as our scientists fondly believe, objective.  My own Guides put it rather more bluntly:

Reality is barely existent.  There is only thought.  

In future posts I hope to explore aspects of different World Views and their varying perception of ‘reality’, as it is a subject I find fascinating.

Of Giants, Archaeologists and Magicians (2)

If you haven’t read my first post on this subject, you may want to check it here to find the context for this one.

IMG_20151113_084431 (1)Kate and I decided to utilise the idea pictured here (on my favourite tea towel, as it happens) to explore some of Mallorca’s most magical and ancient places.  ‘All things’ includes us, of course, as well as those who constructed and used these sacred places.  Therefore we decided to lightly look with the most delicate of our senses.  We used hunches and intuition, synchronicities, words and thoughts that appeared unbidden in our minds, dowsing and channelling, remote viewing (thanks to our friend William back in England) and meditation.

I could argue that this is far, far from simple guesswork, and some of you would believe me, while others would scoff.  That’s fine.  I’ll just report our findings and let you draw what conclusions you will.

 

The photos below show what remains of one of Mallorca’s many talayots.  Notice the huge stones compared to the far smaller ones used in habitation construction shown in my previous post on this subject.

IMG_20151107_151827 (1)IMG_20151107_151700IMG_20150414_145652

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entrance leads to this winding passageway, built into the wall of the structure.  The archway (visible behind the huge stone on the right) opens with a steep step down into an open circular space.  Due to the thickness of the walls, this inner area is only 3 or 4 metres across.

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This photo shows the massive column in the centre of the talayot’s inner space.  Like so many of the stones used in the ancient sites, it is riddled with veins of quartz crystal and there is a palpable energy around it.  Our minds can’t know what the original purpose of this structure was, but perhaps our subtle senses can …

From London, Will was able to tune in at once.  He remotely viewed a structure that appeared to rise suddenly out of the ground like a cliff.  He defined it as a ruin with steps and an archway.  He sensed the roundness and saw (invisible to us) writing or symbols that seemed to involve triangles.  He felt an energy signature which linked to animals.  These were not, he insisted, the sheep whose bells tinkled in the surrounding fields or passing birds or wildlife, but something connected to the original function of the place.

Kate used her dowsing rods to pick up energy lines within the talayot and beyond its walls, particularly to the left of the entrance.  She felt that this could show the extent of a nearby settlement.  A Mallorcan lady who accompanied us – one who routinely dowses her land for water sources – was able to find a much wider band of energy in the surrounding field.

We used my pendulum to reach guidance from those who were able and willing to share knowledge with us.  We were told that the talayots attached to villages were not for everyday use.  They were places of magic.  An elite group of shamanic elders travelled the island, performing ceremonies within the talayots, healing the sick and the land, observing the sun and moon’s progress through the skies, watching stars and comets, and using the structures as ‘libraries’ – repositories for knowledge handed down through the ages.  There was a connection to birds.  The idea of the shamanic ‘bird-man’ – able to shape-shift or link to the spirits of the black falcons who circle above – was a fleeting yet persistent image.

By synchronicity, I had been reading a passage from Seth Speaks on the journey out.  Seth had been describing ‘co-ordination points’ – locations where different dimensions intersected.  In these, he claimed, gravity is slightly different and anything built in such places lasts far longer than might be expected.  He cited the example of the Egyptian pyramids.  A Mallorcan man told me that there persists on the island a feng shui type belief that certain directions and positions can be found which are more auspicious for building than others…

As for the construction, in meditation I was shown the difference between attempting to lift a person as a dead weight, and one who is willing to be moved.  The latter is, of course, many times easier.  I sensed the rock as a conscious living substance – as alive and buzzing with atoms and molecules as we are; it is something sentient in its own right.  I felt the ancestors connecting their will – their energy – to that of the stone.  I felt a tremendous co-creative synergy between the people and the rock, allowing vast megaliths to be quarried, moved and placed into position.  There are woodcutters, still, who will speak to trees – explaining why they are to be cut, what their timber will become and enlisting their co-operation in what will be a joint enterprise.  I believe the ancient master masons had this connection to the stone, and their great works, constructed with care and awe on Seth’s co-ordination points, endure.

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Kate dowsing beside a talayot, November 2015

Perhaps, by putting reasoning and logic aside, we were able to move through time as easily as William’s thoughts moved through space, to approach something of the origins of these sacred and ancient places.

 

 

Kate hopes to organise another tour of the sacred places of Mallorca in April 2016.  Let me know if you’d like me to put you in touch with her.

Of Giants, Archaeologists and Magicians (1)

Sattelite image of Majorca

For the last two weeks (such a pitifully short time, but all I could afford for now) I’ve been immersed in explorations of some of our world’s oldest buildings.

Guided by Kate, a great friend whose intimate knowledge of the tiny Mediterranean island of Mallorca and keen sense of what is sacred and worthy of note have proved invaluable, I’ve walked in and amongst elaborately carved caves, megaliths, settlements and mysterious ‘talayots’ – towers found only on Mallorca and Menorca with walls so thick they make Norman castles look like plasterboard, tiny entrance ways and huge columns rising from the centre of the internal space.

IMG_20151029_123436Faced with a structure like the one in this photo, fitted together with jigsaw precision and formed in antiquity of huge stones, there are – to my mind – three ways of explaining how they came to be constructed.

The first was dominant for most of the last 2000 years.  People would stare in awe at these ancient places and pronounce that they had been made by gods, giants or the devil.  Elaborate stories often grew up around them: stone hurling contests between rival giants, perhaps, or cauldrons and punch bowls created magically for the devil’s personal use.  Even on my recent trip, a local visitor to one of the talayots was heard to pronounce, “Well that wasn’t made by humans!  My family do plenty of building and that just wouldn’t be possible.”

The second form of explanation is more recent, but has become almost universally accepted.  Visit almost any prehistoric structure and you will probably encounter a carefully illustrated information board with drawings of hairy men in even hairier underwear hauling on ropes and log rollers to move gigantic stones into position.  Grubby children run with pigs and goats while women crouch beside cooking pots to complete the scene.  It’s comfortable, seemingly logical and familiar.  We can identify with these ancestors and imagine their primitive, simple lives.

IMG_20151106_111553IMG_20151106_112020Strange and incomprehensible items, such as the grave goods shown here, will be explained away with labels suggesting:

Probably for ritual use

Careful archaeology, a database of similar sites and finds around the world and a general agreement on how ‘primitive’ societies function feed into this bank of information.  As tourists, we tend to blindly accept the word of these experts.

IMG_20151030_113250Kate and I, though, wanted to delve a little deeper.  We could accept the historians’ explanations of the domestic settlements, with their wells, hearths and doorways, peer at museum displays of grey pots and animal bones, admire the skills of the dry stone wall builders, whose works had stood the test of time.  Here we had human-scale homes where people lived, worked, reared the children, tended their livestock, picked figs, olives, lemons and pomegranates from the surrounding trees and generally lived a good life.

There was more, though – far more.

Dotted around these comfortable villages and elsewhere on the island were structures of a very different kind: the talayots with their huge building blocks and walls several metres thick; the strange caves and chambers with niches, ledges and benches carved out of the rock; the standing stones and the plethora of channels and square, rectangular and circular holes cut deep into the bedrock.

IMG_20151111_110717The descriptions offered for these by the experts didn’t seem as convincing.  Some of their attempts to forge logical explanations appeared little short of vandalism.  On one site – a natural stage rising above the island’s central plain – had been found thirteen standing stones.  An initial drawing (see right) of their positions remains.  IMG_20151031_151136However the archaeologist who worked the site decided there had been an aisled building here and the magnificent, quartz-veined stones were roof supports.  He took it upon himself to have twelve of the megaliths moved, drilled through so that steel rods could be inserted and replaced in neat rows, each two stones high, in order to fit his hypothesis.

So forgive me if, in my next post, I throw caution and logic to the wind and investigate a third way of interpreting such magical places.  I won’t rule out the giants or the gods, the ‘meeting rooms’ or the ‘lookout towers’ suggested by others.  I’ll place them neatly to one side and attempt to link to the timeless knowing of All-That-Is, to the dreams and thoughts and intentions of the ancestors and provide an interpretation which – though perhaps fanciful – may be no less so than some of those I have described today.

 

 

Reality is … where, exactly?

English: East Backwater Rhyne, Somerset site o...

A little over a hundred years ago, a man called Arthur Bulleid lived here in Glastonbury.  Arthur’s story has always fascinated me, so let me share it with you.

Arthur was a well educated young man from a wealthy family who had always had a passion for archaeology.  He went on a trip to Switzerland, where he was able to visit the remains of prehistoric lake villages, built on timber rafts with causeways to the mainland.

Arthur had a moment.  What would you call it – inspiration, intuition, remote viewing, hunch…?  Whatever it was, Arthur Bulleid ‘knew’ there would be villages like this close to his native town, so he came home and began searching for them.

Glastonbury Lake Village site - geograph.org.u...

I should explain that Glastonbury is a former island (the Isle of Avalon), since it was once all but surrounded by watery marshland which has since been drained to form the Somerset Levels.  That is really the only vague similarity to the topography he was seeing in Switzerland, yet, as I’ve said, he knew a similar village would be found here.

He set about excavating the slightly bumpy but otherwise unpromising field shown in these two pictures, which is a mile or two out of the town.  The finds soon began to appear – dugout canoes, cooking pots, jewellery, animal bones, knives and spears, weights from weaving looms… in fact every type of artefact to prove that a thriving community lived on the site, along with the remains of the wooden raft bases and the stakes they rested on.  Arthur had discovered exactly what he expected to find.

Strange, don’t you think?

Somewhere – I wish I could remember where – I heard a quote from a British archaeologist who had noticed a strange phenomenon.  He said that when they began a dig expecting to find Roman remains, that’s what they found.  When they expected Viking finds, these duly turned up, as did Saxon, mediaeval, Celtic and so forth.  He insisted that this was not because they already knew what was there, but seemed to link in some way to their expectations.

Perhaps you will have heard the strange and wonderful recent story of Philippa Langley, who King Richard III, by unknown artist. See sourc...‘knew’ that the bones of King Richard III would be found buried beneath a car park in Leicester.  Her story can be found here.  Once again we have a person with a passion for history and a conviction that somehow she knows the truth.

The first trench put into that car park revealed human bones.  Their dating fitted.  DNA tests linked these very bones conclusively to Richard’s remaining relatives and a curvature of the spine was noted which would have given rise to Shakespeare’s (somewhat biased – he knew which side his bread was buttered) depiction of Richard as a hunchback.  The facial reconstruction made using the skull’s measurements was eerily similar to this portrait.

There’s another Glastonbury story that fits here.  Most people dismiss it as a scam invented by the monks of Glastonbury Abbey to generate huge amounts of income, but I’m not so sure…  In 1191 a group of monks digging in the grounds discovered an oak casket – ancient even then – containing the bones of two people, along with this little cross bearing an inscription which reads:

Here lies interred in the Isle of Avalon the renowned King Arthur.

Arthur and Guinevere!  Obviously this caused massive interest.  The English King and Queen attended an elaborate re-interment ceremony and pilgrims flocked to the Abbey, making it one of the richest in the country.  Just before Henry VIII’s thugs sacked the Abbey, the tomb, bones and cross mysteriously disappeared.  No one, presumably, wanted Arthur’s remains getting into his hands.

I’m sure you can see the thread running through these stories.  It all comes down to cause and effect.

It sounds a ridiculous thing to say, I know, but I have an intriguing question to ask.  What came first – the desire and determination to make these discoveries or the remains themselves?  Were Arthur and Philippa, the thoughtful archaeologist and the mediaeval monks, the creators of this reality or the discoverers?  Did they somehow cause the objects of their intention to be found right there, right then, or was it some instinct and knowing beyond time which drew them to the correct sites?  Or both at once?

I have a personal reason for musing upon this; one which I may share at some future date…

From ‘What the Bleep?’, to The Secret, to the less hyped-up but nonetheless brilliant and revealing words of The Council  and Higgins, we are told that we create what we wish to have in our lives.  I believe that the examples above are a kind of chicken-and-egg scenario.  Neither came ‘first’.  The remains and the creator-discoverers simply came together as a result of a powerful emotional desire sent out by these individuals.  I’m not sure that I believe any more in an objective reality.

A few years ago, I was inspired to write a book based on this idea.  It was called Life: A Player’s Guide.  I’d like to finish this post with a paragraph from the final page of that book, which, I feel, links rather neatly back to Arthur Bulleid – and the rest of us:

Be The Creator. Be all-powerful and create your own life. Getting rid of the doubts and fears and the million and one reasons why you can’t follow your dreams takes patience and determination. But the potential is there. Maybe that’s why your God/self arranged for your character in this particular game to discover this book. Maybe your narrative in this lifetime-game is the story of the hero who ‘comes home’ to find the hidden treasure. You already know how those stories go. Main characters set out on their quest. They travel far and wide, cope with all kinds of trials and tribulations and have all manner of adventures and experiences. Eventually they return home, only to discover that they had what they were seeking in their possession all the time, although they needed all those apparently incidental experiences to enable them to find it. Once they’ve made that discovery, they are able to share the treasure with those around them.