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


Graham Hancock is the king of speculation. His books will either convince you there’s a lot more to human history or make you scoff at his speculation. Regardless, it is damn entertaining. One of the first books I ever bought was his Fingerprints of the Gods (1996) which discussed how anomalies associated with ancient monuments tend to indicate a wide-spread ancient advanced civilization. Even though I was intrigued by the way Hancock tied all those threads together I’m still deeply skeptical of his overall thesis. And yet, I’ve been completely hooked by his 2007 book Supernatural. This one is deeply convincing because anyone can follow his thesis with a little supplemental research. Using the bitterly accepted idea proposed by anthropologist David Lewis-Williams, that ancient art depicted what early humans saw in altered states of consciousness, Hancock weaves a story that gets at the very heart of what it means to be a member of our species. Where academics might be starting to accept Lewis-Williams’ idea, they are far from ready to use the same plants and rituals that produced these early trance states. This is where Hancock picks up, by starting taking the iboga vine, the plant that enables men to see the dead, and follows with the sacred ayahuasca brew of the Amazon.Where I’m sure I would have been more sympathetic to Hancock’s other works if I had actually been to the monuments he describes, I can follow the writing here because of my own exposure to these ancient plants. Before I knew the themes and details in this book, my own experiences were eerily similar to those described in Supernatural. I’ve been the archetype of the wounded man and had interactions with serpents. Reading the story of someone thousands of years ago describing something that happened to me (along with its “mystical” significance) is a chilling synchronicity. Hancock’s sketch on p. 52 of the beings he encountered while doing his field research were exactly the same things I’ve seen, and as I learned by reading, have been seen for thousands of years by scattered native groups across the world accessing these same states through various means.Hancock ties the similarities of the modern UFO/abduction phenomena to experiences that indigenous tribesmen have in altered states to the mythology of the medieval fairies. In doing so, he uncovers that throughout human history our species has been describing the same thing from different angles. Whatever this phenomena is, it appears to be changing over time, evolving and advancing. Hinting at a form of intelligence. All of these encounters have similar themes, particularly in encountering entities with an interest in human sexuality and reproduction mechanisms. That fairies allegedly impregnated and abducted women or danced around in circles to fly into the sky draws more than a few parallels to modern UFO lore. While the case Hancock lays for these similarities takes up the first half of the book, it is in the second half of Supernatural where the mind gems really shine through.All human languages have a direct, exact, unvarying mathematical relationship between the rank of a word and the actual frequency of occurrence of that word. This relationship is known as Zipf’s Law, named after linguist George Zipf and has proved to hold true for every human language. Oddly enough, when the non-coding regions of DNA are analyzed according to Zipf’s Law a perfect linear Zipf Law linear plot emerges. In fact, the chemical “writing” of the non-coding regions of DNA appear to have all the features of a language, and may in fact be a language. Perhaps it is this language that ancient plant based sacrements tap into. Hancock brings to light the evidence that our interactions with ‘the other’ could be enabled by ancient plant substances because these chemicals allow us to access information encoded in the 97% of our DNA we currently think of as ‘junk DNA’. Further work in this area was done by Dr. Jeremy Narby in his book The Cosmic Serpent, which Hancock touches on briefly, specifically regarding the presence of snake constituted helixes in nearly every culture. That the snake in mythology is often a reference to DNA.Since Hancock published Supernatural, the knowledge that Francis Crick discovered the shape of DNA while using LSD has become widely known. What is less well known is that Crick later published a book where he explains that DNA is so complex no mechanism of evolution could have produced it on this planet, concluding it must have originated elsewhere in the universe. Strangely, the mythology of many tribes in the Amazon tell the exact same story, of serpents falling from the sky and living inside us. While anthropologist Michael Harner ingested ayahuasca in 1961 he reported seeing, “dragon-like creatures that came to earth from deep in outer space after a journey that had lasted for eons.” These dragons explained that they hid in the multitudinous forms life and that humans were the receptacles for these creatures. Similar encounters have been described by other scientists ingesting these ceremonial brews and ancient cultures are inundated with related stories. Hancock hesitates from drawing any sort of conclusion other than that these ancient myths and timeless sacraments may be far more interesting than we could ever guess. Personally I agree.Even stranger is that psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) is essentially orally active DMT, an indole compound with a phosphorylated functional group which exists nowhere else in nature. If this pattern exists nowhere else in nature, where could it have come from? What if the alien we’ve been searching for has been here inside us all along? A chilling prospect to consider, but after reading through Supernatural you’ll be forced to confront this possibility in all of its grandeur.


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.

Clive Perry

Absolutely mind blowing made me stop in my tracks and think not the easist book to read but should be read by anyone who thinks.


everything I disliked about Fingerprints of the Gods is even worse in this book: Boring adventures of the author, long winded repetition.I am hoping my friend who got this for me lets me know that there is nothing more shocking than the idea that hallucinogens were responsible for early human spirituality, so that I can stop reading it.Because I am over my limit for reading about Graham's drug trips and written descriptions of cave art pictures.update: I hyper skimmed to about halfway through and didn't really find more that couldn't be summed up in a few sentences, and now the owner has asked for it back.Someone come up with a comic book version of this, please? GOD what a boring book.


I am a fan of Graham Hancock since I’ve first read his Fingerprints of the Gods . His works stand out amidst all the books for Alternative History because of his dedication and extensive research. While this book is as good as The Fingerprints of the Gods and The Sign and Seal , it lacked the scholarly approach that these two books have. He explained the likelihood that mankind have Supernatural teachers that may have influenced the culture of the early civilization. (that will raise the eyebrows of the religious readers but if you have an open-mind this book is for you)(view spoiler)[I was so skeptical when Hancock started his book with his “hallucinations” (that’s what I first called it), but I later applauded him for it. Its not everyday you get a respected person do that to himself for research purposes. I really don’t want to read any further because I believe in objective reasonings. But, as I thought about it I realized that I sounded like those scholarly people who don’t want to believe in Supernatural things and the main reason that I started reading Hancock’s works in the first place is because I want to read an unconventional take on our history. Hancock didn’t falsify his “evidences” and he’s always open to situations that will question his assumptions so I believe his accounts of his otherworldly experience.(hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

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.

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.


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!

Alex Hoganism

I will have to re-read Supernatural at least two more times to fully grasp the gravity of information Graham Hancock has divulged. My mind is blown. I have a lot too think about; A lot of questions I now have that were never there before. My spirituality has taken on a whole different perspective. Completing this book has left me with such love and yearning for more knowledge. We know nothing, how exciting, endless opportunities await.

Michael Sloan

Pretty much the best thing I have read all year. I have been exposed to aspects of Hancock's thesis elsewhere, but never this extensive lineage of the whole picture, of how altered states of consciousness may in fact be more than hallucinations, with evidence spanning as far back as Paleolithic cave art. The less you know about it the better, best to read it yourself. Some dangerous ideas, and even if it is a bullshit story, this is one of the best, most original ideas I have encountered in my life. Somebody make a documentary about this.


** spoiler alert ** great information on the DMT Spirit Molecule while experimenting with several drugs in different parts of the world that induce altered states of consciousness. the author draws connections with cave art, engravings, crop circles and many other discoveries from many parts of the world which are made all by different cultures on opposite sides of the world who could have never been in communication with each other, yet whose drawings all somehow relate in the story that seems to slowly be unfolding. the author makes comparisons of the fairies of the upper paleolithic, to the elves of Europe, to the half man/beast of ancient times, and now to the aliens the modern world people seem to claim exist in our time. he makes these connections as to show the reader that whether they be fairies of more than a thousand years ago, elves, or aliens of today, they are not only nothing more than a mere illusion/imagination of the mind but that these are in fact real beings that exist in another metaphysical world(realm)(other dimension) that co-exists with our own but because it operates at a different frequency, and one that the human mind cannot connect to, we are unable to see this living world around us.


One thing that really impresses me about Graham Hancock's books is the amount of research that goes into them and this one is no different. I thought it may be a hard read for me since I haven't been reading a lot lately but the opposite was true, I had a hard time putting it down. The subject matter is fascinating covering topics including cave art, shamanism, fairies, alien abduction, DNA and the premise that all are linked and what we know as reality is barely the tip of an iceberg. How is it that our world's first art, created deep inside caves seems to depict exactly the same kind of images that modern day Amazonian shamans experience after drinking Ayahuasca and how is it that these images appear to tell stories that have been told by countless others throughout history upon returning from altered states of consciousness. What is it that causes us to evolve? Natural selection or something else?What secrets does our so called 'junk' DNA (97 percent of our DNA) hold and why does it follow Zipf's law of language?Be aware that in order to discuss altered states of consciousness the author does delve into the use of hallucinogens such as dmt, ayahuasca, and psilocybin. The conclusions he draws are , well, let's just say you need to read the book and draw your own conclusions!I did find it a little bit repetitive at times but that probably want a bad thing as the amount of information conferred was enormous and it helped me to keep track of what I had already read.

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.

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.

John Naylor

I'm nearly speechless, and I cannot recommend this this book and author enough. An incredible eye opener and an incredible experience in and of itself. Suggesting that humanity has most likely learned and developed who we are from our ancestors by taking psychedelic substances and inducing altered states of consciousness/reality. With around 1000 footnotes, G.H. conducted his thorough research and provides the reader with a relatively objective perspective on the topic. Citing arguments from both sides of the fence, the reader is left to form ones own opinion. A beautiful read with spectacular pictures and photos. This book will give the reader a truly amazing perspective on where we came from and how we as humanity evolved in a non Freudian perspective. Stop reading these reviews and read this book NOW!Enjoy!

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