Greetings, fellow Coppertops! This is the 2nd installment of my Paradigm symposium's personal review. If you missed the 1st part, you can find it here.
After having breakfast with Stuart and Graham at the French Corner Bistro --the French crepes are highly recommendable-- we walked to the Woman's club; while waiting for Darren to arrive --my Canindian buddy is not exactly what you'd call a 'morning person'... specially when on the 1st day the party ended long after midnight-- I recognized one of the vendors next to the Grimerica table as the person portrayed in one of the videos at the Open Minds Youtube channel, David Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong's controversial claims is that while he was in his early twenties, he managed to read several highly classified files pertaining to the recovery of flying saucers and alien bodies by the US military, beginning with the Roswell crash in 1947; all this and more he found while snooping inside his aunt's highly classified office inside the McClellan Air Force base in the early 70's.
I decided to strike a conversation with the man, and after a few minutes of listening and asking a couple of questions, Mr. Armstrong gave me the impression of being sincere in the account of his rather incredible tale. I then came up clean with him: I confessed that on the comments section on Youtube I wrote that I was highly skeptical of his account, because it seemed to touch upon every single aspect of the UFO mythos that has been gathered up so far, from the alleged location of the Greys' homeworld --first popularized thanks to Marjorie Fish's interpretation of Betty Hill's star map, which is nowadays regarded as undisputed truth that the short, black-eyed aliens hail from Zeta Reticuli-- to the idea that they blackness in the Greys' eyes is actually a lens protecting their large ocular globes --this was shown in the (in)famous Santilli video, which sadly is still considered by some to be genuine footage of an autopsy performed on the corpses of the aliens retrieved at the Roswell crash site.
Armstrong didn't seem to care much if I believed him or not, and he also insisted he didn't make up the story as some sort of ruse to gain notoriety and increase the sales of his wares --the music CDs he's produced, or the book he wrote about a near-death experience he purportedly had in his youth-- He stood by his story, and showed skepticism on my suggestion that perhaps the whole event had been some sort of staged disinformation campaign --which to me made more sense, given how convenient it seemed that he was left all alone inside an office allegedly containing what could potentially be the most important information in the history of Mankind!
All this left me with a conundrum: David Armstrong seemed honest and level-headed enough, despite the fantastic nature of his many claims. I still found the story about the classified documents hard to believe, so considering for a moment that neither his aunt of her Air Force colleagues were not involved in some disinformation op using him as an unwitting 'mule', could it be that the deception was coming from much higher in the command chain? Maybe even from the aliens themselves?
Later that day Graham and I recorded an interview with Armstrong, which only added to my confusion re. the man and his story. In the meantime the 1st presentation of the day had already started, so I hurried up to the auditorium's gallery.
It is partially thanks to the famous documentary Mystery of the Sphinx (1993) that the public first started to question the age of this and other famous Egyptian monuments, and why John Anthony West is one of the most famous and celebrated figures in the Alternative History community. But mainly the reason why he's attained such a central role is due to his indefatigable nature: The man is in his early 80's and he still has the energy to organize tours to Egypt, speak at conferences and grant interviews; all while enjoying the occasional glass of vodka on the rocks.
It's because of this that John has become something of a role model for me; for the Lord knows staying involved too long in this field can be quite taxing, both to your finances and to your health! I think his secret lies not on the vodka, but in the great sense of humor he possesses, which allows him to take the attacks of the orthodox historians --'quackademics' as he calls them-- with light-hearted philosophy; something his much younger colleague Robert Schoch would do well to emulate…
But getting back to his presentation, which went ALL over the place --from the Sphinx and the temple of Luxor, to the 30k year-old cave paintings in Chauvert, Gobekli Tepe, Schwaller de Lubicz and even Fulcanelli!-- it was clear that John has a very mystical attitude toward the ancient past. To him, the reason why the Egyptian culture managed to endure for 3000 years, is because there was a 'sacredness' to everything they did; all their temples were constructed by following the rules of sacred geometry, in an attempt to connect themselves to the greater Cosmos and manifest in everlasting buildings the all-encompassing dictum of arcane wisdom: As Above, So Below.
So what makes the sacred sacred? According to John, it's all the result of the mysterious relationship between Frequency and Form. To show this, he presented the audience with some rather amazing videos of different materials --sand, liquids, metal fillings, etc-- vibrating over metal plates using different sonic frequencies, causing them to create very elaborate geometric shapes, which almost looked like miniature Tibetan mandalas. The video below shows similar images:
This is where one is reminded of the 1st verse in the Gospel of John: "In the beginning was the Word..."--and what is a spoken word, if not a sound frequency modulated by our vocal chords, intended to materialize an intangible idea?
All this knowledge was gathered and compiled by the Egyptians in what John Anthony West calls "the Science of Immortality." A Science that also involved a deep connection with Astronomy, as suggested by the work of Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock.
"Egypt is like Sex: You can read all about it, even watch some pictures. But you really don't understand it until you go there."
Speaking of Sex, John also mentioned how the 1st god in the Egyptian pantheon, Atum ("the Voice without a voice") polarized himself and created the first man and woman by an act of masturbation. That's right, my dear Coppertops: We're all the product of a Cosmic Fapping!
I only wish that one day I myself may have the chance to experience the ecstasy of contemplating the wonders of Egypt. The time has come to reach 3rd base, baby!
After John Anthony West finished his 2+ hour presentation --which could've easily extended to twice that length-- it was time for a lunch break; but instead of rushing to the small coffee shop near the Woman's Club, I decided to join Darren and Graham in their podcast interview with Richard Dolan, one of the speakers I was most excited to meet this year.
I've been a fan of Richard ever since I read UFOs and the National Security State(vol. I and II), and I always try to listen to as many of his radio interviews as I possibly can. It was in his most recent appearance on Mike Clelland's podcast Hidden Experience, that I noticed a distinctive shift in his attitude toward the UFO phenomenon: From his beginnings as a "nuts-and-bolts" historian trying to document the United States' covert involvement with the mystery of flying saucers, Richard was now moving beyond the "hardware" aspect of UFOs, and acknowledging that we need to pay more attention to the role human consciousness plays in the phenomenon; a position that I myself have independently arrived, thanks in part to the writings of Jacques Vallee, John Keel, and also the more recent contributions of investigators like Grant Cameron and Greg Bishop.
These and other things we discussed on our recording for The Grimerica Show, and I also took the opportunity to ask Richard about the controversial subject of the so-called 'alien abductions'; because lately I've noticed that a few voices in the field have decreed them to be a 'fad of the past', which peaked in the mid 90's due to the X-Files' popularity, but have slowly died down coinciding with the passing of the famous abduction researcher Budd Hopkins, and before him John Mack.
I actually don't think abductions have gone away; it's only that those who claim to have had such experiences have moved from sharing their stories on support groups organized by some investigator, to directly posting them online through personal blogs or Youtube channels. But I wanted to know Richard's take on the matter, which you can listen to here.
I was very pleased that Dolan turned out to be as nice and approachable as I always imagined him to be --anyone who's a fan of Rage Against the Machine has already earned a few points in my personal list, anyway…
Due to the time we took with the D-man, I was forced to skip the presentation given by Laird Scranton, who had already been a speaker in 2013. When you go to Paradigm, sometimes you need to make such decisions, in order to take advantage of spontaneous opportunities. Like I said on the 1st part of this narration, it's not just a matter of attending the symposium just to sit on an auditorium and passively listen to the speakers.
But the next presentation, I wasn't going to miss it for the world!
There's no question that Mr. Hancock was the 'main attraction' of PS2014. If you make a list of the most influencial books in the Fortean field in the last 25 years, Fingerprints of the Gods easily ranks in the top 5.
Many things have happened since the 1st edition of Fingerprints was published, in 1995. For starters, there's the (re)discovery of Gobekli Tepe by the late professor Klaus Schmidt, which turned into one of the strongest supports for Hancock's proposal of an advanced civilization destroyed by the end of the last Ice Age. Also in 1995, Dr. Rick Strassman ended his clinical trials with DMT, which marked the resurgence of serious scientific interest over the medicinal and spiritual benefits of psychoactive substances.
Since then, there's been a widespread revival of the psychedelic scene despite the unwillingness of the US government to end the futile War on Drugs, and one of the strongest spokespersons in this revival has been Graham Hancock, who keeps speaking in favor of every adult's right to explore its own consciousness through the use of the 'plant teachers' like ayahuasca, peyote or magic mushrooms.
Because of all this, the sense in the packed-full auditorium was one of vindication. And so Graham gave the audience a little taste of all the things he's going to include in the upcoming book Magicians of the Gods, which will include a lot of the research gathered by Randall Carlson, a name that's starting to gain a lot of traction thanks to the exposure provided by the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Graham had just returned from a roadtrip across North America with him, in which they both explored the geological remains of the great catastrophe -- a cometary impact, according to Carlson-- which abruptly ended the (relative) warming period of the early Holocene age, and brought about the short-spanned glacial period known as the Younger Dryas.
If this doesn't sound as total crackpottery anymore, it's because we're starting to witness the 'bridge' between academic orthodoxy, and what was once considered unfounded 'pseudoscience' --even if Hancock never claimed to be a scientist.
He also proved that he's more cautious into jumping to conclusions than his critics give him credit for. He mentioned the Bosnian 'pyramid of the Sun', and although he feels Osmanagich has been sincere in his efforts to promote this alleged archeological site, Graham is not entirely convinced this is an actual pyramid. He is on the other hand much more excited with the new discoveries in Gunung Padang, which seem to indicate that this Indonesian megalithic site is actually a pyramid that is up to 20,000 years old!
For me one of the highlights of his presentation was the synchronicity he had when he climbed on top of the great Pyramid, and found an inscription left by none other than his own grandfather, P. Hancock, in 1960! Something he was not aware of prior to the discovery, yet was later confirmed by his father when he searched the journal of Graham's granddad. An easy 10 in the synchronicity scale --if you're not Darren Grimes, that is.
He continued on with slide after slide of all the ancient archeological sites he's investigated with his wife Santha: Yonaguni, Gobekli Tepe, Baalbek, Paracas and Tiwanaku, etc; all while poor Graham was waging a fight with his latest nemesis: the ("fucking!") clicker he was using to control the Powerpoint document. His frustration with the un-collaborating piece of modern technology created a sense of irony: Somehow our ancestors were able to lift blocks of 1200 tons, and the man who's devoted his life into popularizing their deeds was having trouble with a device which would have looked to be magical to the ancients.
And yet the comfort of modern technology has turned into a double-edged sword. The very last slide Graham showed, was a view of the nightside of our planet, as seen from space; North America and Europe glowed like a handful of jewels, while the rest of the undeveloped world remained engulfed in poverty and darkness. The accomplishments of our civilization has given us a false sense of invincibility, but if a cometary impact like the one that triggered the Younger Dryas happened tomorrow, it would be those dark spots in the picture the ones which would have a greater chance to survive and start over. And all the great works of Einstein, Rembrandt and Mozart would be lost forever, while the knowledge and the wonders that our forefathers toiled for so long to build, would fall into the realm of myth for the subsequent generations rising after our collapse.
We would become the Atlantis of the future.
After Graham Hancock's concluded his first intervention at the Paradigm symposium with a standing ovation, he stayed for half an hour signing books, and I took the opportunity to stand in line and personally express my admiration.
After I returned to the Grimerica table, Graham and I went on to interview David Armstrong, as I mentioned above. Because of this I ended up also missing Tom Fusco's presentation; since I'd already had the chance to chat with Tom in private last year for 2 whole hours --my brain ended up oozing out of my ears-- it didn't bother me that much.
The last official event of the day was a panel conformed by Graham Hancock, John Anthony West, Laird Scranton, John Ward, Barry Fitzgerald, Joseph Amara (owner of Magus Books and a second-time speaker) and Andrew Collins; it was moderated by Jim Harold, the host of the popular Paranormal Podcast, who IMO did a phenomenal job. This is another characteristic of the Paradigm symposium that needs to be pointed out: How in the same event there can be a wide array of differing opinions, instead of a common 'party line' the speakers need to adhere to.
It's also interesting how the 'flavor' of Paradigm has changed since the 1st symposium in 2012. That year the main emphasis of the conference was 'Ancient Aliens', but afterwards Paradigm has slowly shifted into more of an 'Ancient Antediluvian Civilization' conference --which does NOT necessarily mean that it was as technologically advanced as our own; rather, their scale of values was so different they might have been able to 'tap' into mental abilities which would have granted them 'direct knowledge' and levels of awareness beyond our own --a 4G connection to the Akashic records, as it were-- yet our current obsession with mechanistic science has caused us to neglect that aspect of the human potential.
Which is why when asked by Jim on his opinion re. 'Paleo-contact', Graham Hancock looked down on the simplistic "I don't know, therefore aliens" proposal of the AA guys. Because his personal entheogenic experiences have showed him that contact with entities from other realities is already within our reach --without having to resort to space-faring 'vimanas'. Other panelists expressed similar thoughts; one wonders what would have happened if von Däniken had attended the symposium, as it was originally planned…
The next point of discussion was their differences with the 'quackademics', and here's where John chimed in and said that there are Ivory towers even academics like him have to confront; and you just have to slowly chip away from the base, hoping that the next generation will be able to pick up the work after you. A point well taken, since it's easy to feel that things are moving far too slowly, only because we're assessing them from our own human-scale perspective.
During the panel session, Jim asked a very interesting question: If we forget the AA shortcut, then how in the world did the ancients managed to build those astounding megalithic sites? John Anthony West stepped in and compared the difficulty of building multi-tonne temples to the complexity of finding the right ingredients in the Amazons to brew ayahuasca: just 2 plants out of THOUSANDS which to us would look just the same if we were in the middle of the jungle. Likewise with Acupuncture, he said, which doesn't really follow the standard 'trial and error' method we follow with the scientific method. Hence the idea of the 'direct knowledge' (Gnosis) the ancients might have possessed, as mentioned above.
At this moment a debate started: John Ward, who's worked on Gebel el Sisila with his wife Maria --Sisila is the quarry where the blocks used to build all the temples in Egypt were extracted-- was in the minority when it came to the topic of how they managed to move those big-ass blocks and transport them with barges. Bauval and others emphasized that we still don't know how they moved 50-ton blocks, while Hancock pointed out to Baalbek as the mother of "how the hell did they do it?" megalithic sites. Interestingly enough, John Anthony West kind of sided with John, reminding the panel that the hieroglyphs themselves depict how the Egyptians moved their blocks and giant statues. In the end, the metaphysical returned to the discussion because if we consider that matter equals energy, then it stands to reason they chose to use such inconvenient blocks of rock because the purpose of those monuments required it so.
What was that purpose? To build a metaphysical machine intended to convert the physical body into stellar energy (starlight), according to Bauval. The whole panel were in agreement that attaining immortality was the central preoccupation of the Egyptians. Hancock, who could very well be considered a modern Gnostic, shared his belief that the scrolls found in Nag Hammadi were rooted in Egyptian wisdom, and John Anthony West once again remarked how the Egyptians put their best minds to work for 3000 years on the problem of life after death, so perhaps we should be open to the possibility that during that looong span of time, they managed to figure out a thing or two about immortality and the rebirth of the soul.
Next Xmas, I'm buying me a leopard loincloth.
Thus concluded the Mysteries & Hermetics panel, and the 2nd day of the Paradigm symposium, which was filled to the brim with insights, laughs and personal highlights. For myself, standing above them all was what happened after we returned to the Grimerica table to gather our things: My buddy Darren spilled the beans that it was my birthday, and next thing I knew everybody in the room started singing 'Happy Birthday' to me, followed by my buddy Jesse, who sang the Mexican version all by himself.
Words fail to describe the emotions coursing through me during that spontaneous display of warmth and friendship; I can only say that at that moment, I was the happiest luchador in this corner of the Multiverse.
Next week we'll continue our recap of PS2014. Hope you've been enjoying it reading it, as much I've enjoyed reliving it.