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

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.

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.


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"]>


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.


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.

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.

Nick Mather

Although Hancock is not a traditional scholar, this book is very well documented and well argued. In the first 200 some pages Hancock makes the connection between shamanism and the paleolithic cave painitings. This is a no-brainer for me, but Hancock acts as if it is still a controversial thesis to present, which maybe it is. In this first section, the writing can be a bit dull though he is trying to be very, very careful and support all that he presents. When he finishes with the cave paintings, he turns his attention else where and makes a very convincing case that naturaly occuring hallucinogens are behid things like UFOs, fairy sightings and some other unexplained phenonmenon. Ultimately, I think there is something of great value here and Hancock's thesis will eventually become more accepted by traditional academia.


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.

Andrea Allison

We can agree the supernatural has been apart of our culture for thousands of years. This statement is the subject of Graham Hancock's new novel Supernatural. But who is Graham Hancock?Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Hancock spent most of his younger years in India. Later, he went to school and university in the northern English city of Durham and graduated from Durham University in 1973 with First Class Honors in Sociology and pursued a career in journalism. He wrote for newspapers such as The Times, The Guardian and The Independent and was co-editor of New Internationalist magazine from 1976-1979. He is known for asking legitimate questions and challenging popular views of orthodox scholars. Hancock is the author of the major international bestsellers The Sign and The Seal, Fingerprints of the Gods and Heaven's Mirror. I believe his latest novel will fall in that category as well.When I first read a synopsis of Supernatural, I was excited. I love learning new things and ideas in this area. I have to say after reading a few chapters it wasn't what I thought it would be. It starts out with Hancock describing his experience with a session of a hallucinogen. He wasn't experimented with such drugs just for the fun of it. He did it to prove a point. Throughout part of the book, he makes a case as to how hallucinogens help shamans reach another realm of existence. This includes how some images depicted in cave art links the hallucinations they have (there are illustrations throughout the book to show you what he is referring to).Next, his arguments shift to UFOs and hallucinogens. You would think it proves aliens don't exist and it's all in our minds. Actually, it's the opposite. Many of those who have had experiences with hallucinogens describe similar images including that of an alien-like figure. His belief is that they help connect us to them. Skeptics may think that's a stretch especially since we are basically taught that hallucinations are nothing and we shouldn't believe what we see. What if they are actually real?Fairy abductions factor in this equation as well. These took place throughout Europe before UFOs became popular in the 1960s. Fairies were known to "take" people randomly to Fairy Knolls, some never returned. Others were taken to be midwives or mother figures for hybrids. They were also known to switch "Changelings" for human babies. Some even claimed to be "tortured by fairies" much like the alien operations. These stories mimic those of UFO abductees. Is it possible they are one in the same? Maybe considering there hasn't been a fairy abduction since UFOs came into play.Last stop in the book tour, is DNA. It's a popular theory we owe our existence to a comet hitting the earth carrying an organism of some kind. In Hancock's book, he explains how some scientists believe it may have been more than that. Actually their thoughts are that our DNA may actually contain messages recorded by "clever entities" which we can access during sessions with hallucinogens. Since the function of 97 percent of our DNA is unknown, I can see how someone would propose such a theory. Most scientists have thought the large portion was nothing but junk DNA that it didn't really serve a high purpose. Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, supposedly admitted to his colleagues that he was under the influence of LSD when he came up with the double helix shape. Does that prove our DNA holds some secret message(s). I really don't know. The drug may have picked up information he already knew.This is but a large taste of what you'll find in Supernatural. If you love reading and learning about the abnormal aspects of life, you will love this book. I think anyone willing to put themselves out there and test their own theories (even if it means putting yourself through some risky "experiments"). Graham Hancock has that way of making you really think about what society has taught you.

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

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.


** 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.

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.

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.


Basically this book provides a decent overview of encounters with so-called supernatural beings over the course of time. It is part of the book's thesis that these encounters can be explained by psychedelic experience (which here includes but is not limited to drug-induced experience). The author writes tirelessly that 2% of people can experience hallucinations normally and other people can attain them via drugs, shamanistic trances, or pain (fasting, multilation, etc). This thesis is interesting though an introduction to it is better facilitated (in my opinion) by Pinchbeck Breaking Open the Head A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism or Harner The Way of the Shaman (Which I remembered having read while reading this). This book isn't more than an introduction, but it is much longer, redundant, and annoyingly paced. Thus why the other books are recommended for containing relatively the same amount of information.The standard points of particular interest to me are present:- DMT (a powerful psychedelic) naturally occurring in all humans, and- "Talking" to DNA, beings who claim or seem to represent it on various psychedelics (especially Ayahuasca)Additionally, an idea I hadn't considered much before:- the strange effects of LSD on animals, such as spiders or antsNow, the book's primary thesis (an expanded version of the above general one):The book allows that "compelling" parallels between (encounters with) spirits, aliens, and faeries means they must be one-and-the-same, "real", and furthermore evolving. That's a hard ticket to swallow. Especially since it doesn't go to much length to clarify what "real" means in this context. Apparently this is on the Huxley level of a constantly transmitting frequency that our receiver-brains are capable of tuning into. I'm not sure that's "real" by many other people's definitions. The author argues that common symbols and metaphors across witnesses' visions proves witnesses are accessing the same channel--whereas I tend to take the skeptic's route that witnesses are rather using the same cognitive tools to make sense of their experiences.The connections drawn are interesting but I couldn't help but think there are a vast number of conclusions that can be drawn from the same data and felt the author's predilection for this particular conclusion was far from compelling. Interesting enough, I'll grant.Furthermore the constant repetition of some of the arguments became tiresome. Some crucial parts of his argument were evidenced briefly and then resounded like some mantra at the beginning of each section. For what reason? It reeks of insecurity.I understand there's a lot of aversion to the argument the author is making and he feels that he must reiterate what he considers to be its proof in the face of its critics, but it's actually really unnecessary. Most critics would feel childishly attacked and most readers of this book (who already are somewhat open-minded and interested in the concept) will find it monotonous and oppressively boring.Finally, while I'm on a good rant, although I've actually read Eliade Shamanism Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, I'm not sure why anyone else would in this day and age--since every book which even touches shamanism seems to quote half of it.

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