Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind

ISBN: 1932857400
ISBN 13: 9781932857405
By: Graham Hancock Rick Strassman

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About this book

Less than 50,000 years ago humans had no art, no religion, no sophisticated symbolism, no innovative thinking. Then, in a dramatic change, described by scientists as 'the greatest riddle in human history', all the skills & qualities that we value most highly in ourselves appeared already fully formed, as tho bestowed on us by hidden powers. In Supernatural Hancock sets out to investigate this mysterious before-&-after moment & to discover the truth about the influences that gave birth to the modern mind. His quest takes him on a detective journey from the beautiful painted caves of prehistoric France, Spain & Italy to rock shelters in the mountains of S. Africa, where he finds extraordinary Stone Age art. He uncovers clues that lead him to the Amazon rainforest to drink the hallucinogen Ayahuasca with shamans, whose paintings contain images of 'super-natural beings' identical to the animal-human 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 1st depicted in the painted caves be the ancient teachers of humankind? Could it be that human evolution isn't just the meaningless process Darwin identified, but something more purposive & intelligent that we've barely begun to understand?AcknowledgementsPart 1: Visions 1: Plant that enables men to see the dead 2: Greatest riddle of archeology 3: Vine of souls Part 2: Caves 4: Therianthropy5: Riddles of the caves6: Shabby academy 7: Searching for a Rosetta Stone8: Code in the mind 9: Serpents of the Drakensberg10: Wounded healer Part 3: Beings 11: Voyage into the supernatural 12: Shamans in the sky 13: Spirit love 14: Secret commonwealth15: Here is a thing that will carry me away16: Dancers between worlds Part 4: Codes 17: Turning in to channel DMT18: Amongst the machine elves19: Ancient teachers in our DNA?20: Hurricane in the junkyard Part 5: Religions 21: Hidden Shamans22: Flesh of the GodsPart 6: Mysteries 23: Doors leading to another world Appendices Critics & criticisms of David Lewis-Williams' Neuropsychological theory of rock & cave artPsilocybe semilanceata-a hallucinogenic mushroom native to Europe / Roy Watlng Interview with Rick StrassmanReferences Index

Reader's Thoughts


Let me start off by saying that if you read a lot of Hancock, this is not his typical style. This read more as a completely fact less and speculative book than the others, until about half way through. It then starts to delve more into the scientific proof less expounding that I love about his writings. I personally enjoyed the detailed analysis of the prehistoric cave art. I have travelled to many of the sites in the Southwest and have always been struck by their many similarities to alien descriptions. I could have done without the endless descriptions of drug trips. That read more like a teenager doing his first acid trip and desperately wanting to tell everyone about the most minute detail. That is how Hancock works though, it takes him a while to give all of his descriptions and usually evidence before he gets to his big idea. His discussions about shamans, saints, holy visions, sacred places, and pilgrimage sites was all very well done and fascinating. I like the idea of humanity having shared hallucinations and I don't find it that hard to believe. Unlike him, I do not find it that hard to believe that a drug affecting our brain could produce the same geometric shapes and beings within all of us. Like he says, we are 99% similar to other animals on this planet, but we are even more similar to each other. I find his conclusions about DNA very flawed. He has this idea that human DNA could hold a long message, but DNA didn't start off that long, so if it was sent here in order to begin life then how did it create so many more chapters from only a few words.There are a few of his conclusions that I am looking forward to pondering more:-Origin of religion and belief in life after death is from taking hallucinogenics that give you a sense of being surrounded by spirits-Clowns, Aliens, and Fairies are actually all the same hallucination-People who believe they have been abducted by aliens are those whose brains from time to time spontaneously over produce DMT-Zipf's law states that given some corpus of natural language utterances, the frequency of any word is inversely proportional to its rank in the frequency table. Junk DNA appears to follow Zipf's Law. I had no idea about this Law and am now fascinated with it.Most importantly this book gave me a new task to put on my "Things to do before I die" list: Consume psychedelic mushrooms at a prehistoric megalith site at sunrise. :)

travis lawrence

one of the best books that i have read in ageshancock picks up where terence mckenna left off with a more familiar background in ancient civilizationsand picks up where rick strassman couldnt safely go any further for the sake of his academic careeranyone interested in the progression of shamanism over time in relation to mythical creatures, into religious figures, onto fairy folklore, into modern alien/UFO caseshancock does an excellent job at detailing the evolving shape these cases have taken over time from our earliest archaic ancestors to the modern daysupernatural gives an easy to read idea of the language concept hidden in our DNA to the possibility of interacting with multiple dimensionsthis is a progressive book much needed for our upcoming changing of the era

Maze Martinez

By J. W. Kennedy on "Hancock repeats himself over and over ad nauseum to drive his point home, but the book can be condensed down to this: Alien abductions = fairy abductions = shamanic spirit journeys. Increased levels (either naturally or artificially induced) of DMT in the brain bring on vivid hallucinations, and for some reason the basic content of these "dreams" is consistent across times and cultures. Could it be that there's an objectively "real" spirit world which we can perceive in altered states of consciousness? Or is it that these visions are somehow hard-wired into the human brain to play out whenever chemically triggered? A "rational" scientific thinker would favor the second option, but that raises the question of WHY - why is this information installed in our brains? Where did it come from? What purpose does it serve? What evolutionary advantage did it bestow on our ancestors?"My thanks to J.W. for posting what I was already thinking. There was quite a bit of fascinating information in this book, but most of it was from other books that are probably more interesting. The one original aspect of this book is Graham Hancock's subjective testing of his theory using the hallucinogens in question. Unfortunately, in an attempt to appear objective, he downplayed this part of his narrative and in the end, left what should have been the climax completely untold!I suppose the sections of the book dedicated to the DMT/DNA correlation and religions were interesting enough. Over all, I would suggest people look at the sources Hancock used to write this book, and read those instead. Because once you take those out of this book, there is nothing left of any substance at all.

Marie Harbon

A well researched and thought provoking concept. This was one of the books I used to research my novel series 'Seven Point Eight'. Hancock uses a blend of his own experiments with psychedelic compounds and the history of shamanism. It also covers UFO folklore and faery mythology, which is put into context along with aspects of neuroscience.He draws much of his key research from the work of Rick Strassman and his experiments with DMT, so readers who enjoyed Hancock's book should check out 'DMT: The Spirit Molecule' too. However, Hancock develops this further by personally experimenting with a range of hallucinogenic compounds. His experiences make fascinating reading and push us to question the concept of 'reality'.The only negative is that at times, it was repetitive so it could have benefited from downsizing a little. But otherwise, an enthralling read.

Brian Markey

This is the second Graham Hancock book I have read. The first was Fingerprints of the Gods.I didn't like Supernatural quite as much as I did Fingerprints, but it is a good one nonetheless.Hancock is a good researcher, and he does a lot of interviewing, reading, and traveling to collect information for his books. For Supernatural Hancock took a number of hallucinogens including DMT, Datura the South American Shamanistic brew Ayahuasca.The details of his experiences are pretty good, but they pale in comparison to the visionary eloquence of the true western Shamanic guru Terence McKenna. I would recommend that anyone who has an interest in the topics covered in Supernatural check out McKenna's books, or even better, the audio recordings of his lectures.This topic is perfect for Hancock because he is very good at speculating and, to this point, all humans have been able to do is speculate about the so-called supernatural world.

Tom Stevens

** spoiler alert ** The title of this book created an image in my mind where I imagined the author conjuring up spirits of some ancient distant past and somehow receiving communication from them.This image stayed with me for a while, but soon began to shift into something completely unexpected. It eventually emerges that the teachers of mankind were not humans. They were not aliens either, though the alien topic is not shied away from. Somehow universal knowledge, deeper perception, and even the knowledge necessary for the building of civilization are available through trance. What Hancock demonstrates is that the trance state is accessed in various ways around the world. Rhythmic dancing, iboga bark, certain mushrooms, lotus flowers, certain seeds or berries, leaves (like the ayahuasca brew), are all gateways to accessing this altered state. While there are similarities, there are also differences with the results of each of the methods. The same is true of each person's experience. There are similarities and differences.Hancock explores the cave paintings found in Europe and does his best to draw a direct line from those made 30,000 years ago to more recent times. He does an admirable job and unearths some incredible work done by researchers in Africa who were able to document how the San tribe drew their trance experiences on rocks and in caves.He spends a great deal of the book refuting claims that the right kind of mushrooms were not found on the European continent 30,000 years ago.I was surprised that he does not mention John Marco Allegro, who wrote about mushroom use in the Levant. Though upon reflection I surmised that either Hancock did not want to taint his book with the scholarship of an author who had been ostracised, due to his linking mushroom use to the beginnings of Christianity, or he was not aware of Allegro, though I seriously doubt the latter.I like the fact that Hancock travels in order to research his book, and his inquisitive nature explores all aspects of mysteries he is faced with. I was able to follow his train of thought as he approached completely illogical situations with a clear head and systematic approach applying what I see as logic to the best of his ability, given the difficult subject matter.

Ben Bazor

This book discusses anthropological evidence that there may be "supernatural" entities. I believe that the author would agree that the book does not rigorously establish their existence, but rather raising up mysterious connections across cultures throughout the world and eras of humanity.I found some claims/assertions tenuous, such as DNA being the source of these connections and that the supernatural entities have evolving standard operating procedures. Regardless, the book did have a particularly powerful core takeaway. The evidence surrounding supernatural entities may not prove their existence (I'm still unconvinced), but it does strongly challenge the materialist hypothesis that conscious experience is limited to one's personal experiences. The commonalities across otherwise unconnected people is too strong to dismiss.

Nell Grey

Almost the whole of the first half of the book deals with the images found in prehistoric cave art and Graham Hancock's personal journeys (in the interests of authentic and balanced research), into the realms of hallucinogenic plants used by shamans in all parts of the world past and present. My focus is on the role of altered states of consciousness in the origins of religion, in the cultivation of authentic religious experiences, and in the inspiration of religious imagery. My own opinion is that once religions abandon, forget, or even outlaw the deliberate induction and use of altered states of consciousness, then they lose contact with their roots and wellsprings, and great ugliness and materialism can be expected to ensue. If the first half is interesting and informative, the second half of the book is both fascinating and compelling. The author not only pulls together possible connections to folklore and mythology (not to mention modern sightings of UFOs and alien abductions) in order to work out what's happening when the shaman or participant is in a state of trance, but explores and analyses the scientific aspects too. I loved the connections and insights put forward in this book - food for much thought - and was thrilled to find a convincing answer to the patterns (especially Celtic spirals) found incised into our very own ancient monuments.

Dana O'brien

A friend suggested I read this - fascinating book tying in Shamanism, Ancient Cave Art, DMT, Aliens, sounds crazy....but Hancock does a convincing job of tying all these things together with a theory that mind altering drugs actually "tune" our brains into a different channel of reality. Hmmmm... after recently watching the movie "What the Bleep do We Know" which is about recent advances in Quantum physics,energy, non-linear time, etc.... I found some of parrallels interesting. If you find any of this stuff interesting, this book is for you.


Psychedelic. Appropriately. This book is all about psychedelics and their impacts on our society, our history, the formation of our religions, myths, and mysteries. It also delves into the impact on the lives of individuals, how it can help open peoples minds, prepare us for death, alleviate our fear of death, and even potentially cure us of addictions or even cure PTSD. This book flies in the face of our preconceptions of psychedelic drug use, the misinformation campaigns that have wreaked their havoc upon our people, our hurt, our ignorance, and sought to enslave us with prescription drugs. Just because ayahuasca, iboga, psilocybin, and other psychedelics don't come in the form of little colorful pills with initials or logos printed or pressed into their sides doesn't mean they aren't useful drugs.Do not get me wrong, this author does not, nor do I, endorse the idea of recreational use of these serious substances. These things are not just there for the fun of it. These things can deeply impact their users. Its best to have people around you who know what they're doing, people who have been trained to handle you if you freak out. THATS THE REAL PROBLEM HERE.Our sick society refuses to legalize these useful things and properly regulate them. Yes they're serious drugs. Yes they can be dangerous in the wrong hands. But that's the point, we need shamanism to be embraced, to be regulated and monitored so it can become something like psychiatry, or therapy. We have licensed people we can go to for pills, we have licensed people we can go to for therapy of all sorts, so why don't we have this for psychedelics? They're just as useful, if not more-so than your typical psychiatric medicines. We need to stop outlawing useful, natural things like... PLANTS!I know plants can be so incredibly scary. Their sitting. Their growing. Their scent. Their roots. Their fruits. Their spreading. They're so scary... oh my goodness, there's plants outside of my window, they're just... staring at me! Someone save me! The plants... they're... not... doing... anything. Oh, maybe I'm freaking out for nothing. Well, duh.Chemicals on the other hand. We all know the side effects section of the average drug commercial on TV lasts longer than the "useful" list of things the drug does for you. There's always a new class action lawsuit being filed for a drug that was rushed through the approval process and has since hurt thousands, even killed hundreds of people. Can we please just stop allowing chemicals to be thrust upon us, and allowing these same companies to influence our politicians and bureaucrats to make "dangerous" things like plants illegal?Psychedelics are useful, they can cure PTSD. They can cure people of their addictions. Ibogaine from the iboga plant is legalized throughout much of Europe for this very set of problems. There are current approaches at work attempting to legalize MDMA (street name: extacy) in the USA as a treatment for veteran soldiers returning from war with PTSD. Its been shown to cure PTSD in as few as 1 or 2 treatments. Not the sort of thing our drug companies like to hear, I'm sure. They'd prefer we be stuck with a little colorful pill for the rest of our lives. This is ultimately a form of slavery. There is much left to be learned about psychedelics and their impact on our psyches, our lives, our society. Much more research needs to be done, I don't deny it. But that's one of the biggest problems, our gov't, our drug companies, they won't allow it. They quash most attempts to do research on psychedelic drugs. In turn, they're quashing attempts of our species to grow, to learn, and to evolve. This is incredibly dangerous . If we do not learn everything we can from psychedelics, if we do not learn everything we can about the expansion of the mind, if we are not allowed to, as Mr. Hancock says, "have sovereignty over our own consciousness", then what the hell?!Our own species is denying itself mind expansion.Our own species is denying itself cures for PTSD.Our own species is denying itself cures for addiction.Our own species is hobbling our own species evolution.Please read this book.Please research psychedelics.Please open your damn mind.Take a stand.Wake up.

Kevin Saldanha

A little off kilter but I enjoyed his other book "the fingerprints of the gods"From this book, it is obvious that Graham Hancock is a believer in the supernatural. He uses the common hallucinations of ghosts, goblins, fairies, elves and aliens to explain that drugs can get regular people to tap into a supernatural realm that is otherwise only available to religious practitioners.Unfortunately, there is absolutely no proof for the same... and with the ever increasing study of neurology, neurophysiology and neurotheology there are other explanations for why we have a common fascination (or fear) of snakes and insects which feature prominently in these drug or trance induced hallucinations.His scientific approach will appeal to scientific believers but holds little water with the skeptics as he omits too much significant data.

Philippa Dowding

What a fascinating, albeit bizarre, read. Again, one of those books suggested to me by my big brother, so not a book I would have picked off the shelf by myself. However, I was drawn in by Hancock's description of ancient European cave art in the early chapters, then found I couldn't put it down. He's a vivid writer and sets out to answer very intriguing questions: why DID humans first turn to symbolic expression 35,000 years ago? Why do so many shamanic cultures from opposite ends of the planet share similar visionary experiences? I respected his thorough knowledge of ancient civilizations, shamanism, and his willingness to experience hallucinogenics (not my thing, but if you're going to write about it, you should probably experience it). He lost me a little during the alien abduction chapters (and the fairy chapters), I had to force myself to read them and found them a bit tiresome. Still, an intriguing look at ancient and modern cultures of shamanism around the world, and the intriguing possibility that humans share similar hallucinatory experiences encoded into our DNA by ... fairies, little green men, the Gods, the vagaries of random selection? Take your pick.

Pieter-Jan Beyul

This book is an ambitious study on the dark corners of the mind and the relevance of psychedelics in our human evolution. These mindscapes have been explored by shamans and other psychonauts ever since the dawn of man, but have sadly been ignored by modern societies. From the trance-inducing cave paintings of the paleolithicum to the elves of medieval times and the alien abductions of today, Hancock seeks to show the common ground humans in all these epochs shared. We aren't dealing here with mental illness or mere hallucinations, but with contact with an Other. This Other has been with us ever since we hunted and gathered on the plains of Africa and has followed us deep into our post-industrial world. The only difference being, we as so-called enlightened humanists have totally forgotten and even ignored this call from beyond, thus creating a rupture with the teachings of these mentors of our species. This book is a small but very significant step towards a renewal of contact with the other side. This is the book that led me to discover thinkers like McKenna and has convinced me to experiment with psychedelics myself. If a book can achieve that, than it succeeds in its attempts!


Clearly an intelligent guy. Lots of fascinating stuff. But TOO much fascinating stuff. Too many tenuous connections. Needs an editor. 588 pages should be 288. You start trying to make too many things connect--ayahuasca, fairies, UFOs, cave paintings--and you start to come across as a tinfoil hat guy. Which is a shame. Because he clearly is smart.


I can't recommend this author highly enough, his writing style is very clear and readable, he does tons of research and supports his ideas extremely convincingly. I recommend ANYTHING this author has written. This book talks about altered states of consciousness, ayahuasca ("vision vine" used in S. America) experiments, DMT experiments, trance states commonly used by shamans, ancient cave paintings, the San people who once lived in the Kalahari, and commonality of experiences of drug and trance states, an interesting take on religion and how the Catholic church co-opted some curious experiences and oriented them towards the Virgin Mary, and an interesting discussion of what the brain might really be doing... just a great read if you like any of these subjects.Monumentally good!

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