by Graham Hancock
I'm just home from five weeks on the road in the US, living out of a suitcase, promoting my new book Entangled: The Eater of Souls.
Until now I've been known entirely for my non-fiction. My big books about archaeological mysteries (such as The Sign and the Seal: A Quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant and Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Earth's Lost Civilisation) have sold several million copies worldwide since I entered the genre in the early 90s.
But Entangled is very different from anything else I've ever written. It's a work of fiction -- a fantasy-adventure, sci-fi, time-slip novel, with strong elements of horror thrown into the mix, set part in the twenty-first century, part in the Stone Age. Brindle is a young Neanderthal man and Ria a young human woman living in northern Spain twenty-four thousand years ago. They're caught up in a cosmic battle of good against evil, and supernatural forces bring them together with Leoni, a troubled teen in modern Los Angeles, to confront a demon who travels through time.
The Neanderthals, as I portray them in Entangled, are highly evolved spiritual beings, pure innocence and love -- less competent with material things than humans, but far ahead of us in matters of spirit. They use the raw cosmic power of their goodness only for healing, to communicate telepathically with one another and to live in balance with the Earth. Beauty and truth shine forth from them but it is precisely these qualities that attract the demon's attention and make him seek their destruction. If he succeeds, the psychic charge he draws from their mass murder will allow him to manifest physically in the twenty-first century and weave the doom of all mankind.
There's a general view that the brain makes consciousness much as a factory makes cars. But there's no proof that this is how things work. The brain could equally well be a receiver or transceiver that manifests consciousness on the physical plane -- rather in the way that invisible TV signals are transmuted into visible images by our TV set. Research done at the University of New Mexico in the 90s suggests very strongly that this may be so and highlights the possible role of dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a natural neuro-hormone, in "retuning the receiver wavelength of the brain." The study was conducted by Rick Strassman MD who later wrote (in his book DMT: The Spirit Molecule): "I claim little understanding of the physics underlying theories of parallel universes and dark matter... What I do know, however, causes me to consider them as possible places where DMT might lead us... These worlds are usually invisible to us and our instruments, and are not accessible using our normal state of consciousness. However, just as likely as the theory that these worlds exist 'only in our minds' is that they are, in reality, 'outside us' and freestanding. If we simply change our brain's receiving abilities, we can comprehend and interact with them."
Despite occurring naturally in humans, and very widely in other hosts (in animals, fish, plants and trees), DMT is a Schedule 1 illegal drug in the United States -- and indeed everywhere else. Rick Strassman had to go through years of bureaucratic and legal obstacles before he was finally granted permission to give this immensely potent hallucinogen to human volunteers, but when he did so the results were explosive.
The volunteers weren't comparing notes. But when they came down from their DMT trips and reported what they'd seen it was obvious that many had "journeyed out of body" to the same "realms" and encountered the same "beings" -- almost as though these places and entities were real.
Other studies have shown similar inexplicable "trans-personal elements" in Ayahuasca visions -- Ayahuasca being the "vine of souls," a hallucinogenic brew containing DMT that has been used by shamans in the Amazon for thousands of years as a portal to supernatural realms.
This intriguing research background is fundamental to what many will undoubtedly see as the wilder speculations of Entangled. In the novel hallucinogens (rather than time machines or flying saucers, for example) are the vehicles that transport my heroines into the weird parallel realm where they meet the angelic being who sets them on their mission to fight evil. It is DMT (in a project a little like Rick Strassman's), and later Ayahuasca in the Amazon that allows the modern heroine Leoni to leave the confines of her body in the 21st century and project her consciousness across time to her encounters with Ria in the Stone Age. Ria is taught by the Neanderthals to use psilocybe mushrooms -- psilocybin is closely related to DMT -- for the same purpose.
As far as I'm aware this is the first time that hallucinogens have been used as time-travel devices in a science fiction novel, but I predict it will not be the last. After decades spent out on the despised margins of our society several new research initiatives announced in 2010 leave no doubt that these mysterious substances that so profoundly alter consciousness are being brought in from the cold. Up till now the new research concentrates on therapeutic models (e.g. the use of psilocybin to induce spiritually-oriented altered states, and relieve the fear of dying, in terminal cancer patients). But it cannot be long before some daring scientist picks up the baton where Rick Strassman left it after his breakthrough studies at the University of New Mexico. The shared experiences of parallel realms and entities that Strassman's volunteers reported, and the exciting possibility raised by his research that these "otherworlds" may be real in every meaningful sense of the word, is just too important, and potentially fruitful, to be left to lie fallow for much longer.
Since I feel this way, and make no secret of it, it was inevitable that I would be asked several times on my US tour whether I have experimented with Ayahuasca, psilocybin and DMT myself -- despite their present status as illegal drugs.
The answer is yes. Moreover I intend to continue my work with them and continue to speak openly and passionately about what I learn. In my view, the last great human rights struggle still remains to be fought. This is the right of adults, so long as they do no harm to others, to exercise full sovereignty over their own consciousness. So far it is a right that is not respected by governments in any Western democracy. Yet it is meaningless to call ourselves "free," and to seek to impose our form of political "freedom" in other lands, when we may be sent to prison for many years in our home countries simply for choosing to explore the most precious, the most sacred, the most unique and the most intimate part of ourselves -- the very thing that makes us human in the first place -- namely our own consciousness.
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