May 6, 2012

Past and Portents in Graham Hancock's Mexico

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

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Well, this could explain all the piercing tones I've been getting in my head for the past couple of weeks. (Of course the supermoon hasn't helped this weekend. I mean these pics are pretty but, oh, my head.)

North America's second-tallest volcano recently rumbled to life, putting authorities on edge. Big eruptions of Mexico's massive Popocatepetl volcano are "few and far between," as one geologist says. Yet even without any dramatic fireworks, 17,800-foot (5,425-meter) "Popo" has the power to wreak havoc.

. . .

Popocatepetl lies about 40 miles (70 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City. The mountain reawakened in December 1994 after five decades of silence. Yet in the nearly 20 years since, the volcano has rarely exhibited the kind of vigorous activity that began the week of April 12.

Minor earthquakes have rocked the mountain, it has spewed out plumes of gas and ash, and multiple explosions have shot glowing rocks from the summit. [ Images of Popocatepetl in action.]

The mountain has the potential to erupt magnificently once every 2,000 or 3,000 years. "It has big eruptions, but they are so few and far between," Sheridan said. "But they have been pretty big. So that is the scary part."

I have a particular affection for the Mexico City area and tend to be sort of dialed in to earth changes there. It is an area rich in history. One of the most transformative experiences of my life involved a trip to Mexico City. And I owe at least a little of that to Graham Hancock. I was reminded of that yesterday morning when I stumbled on this lecture he did some years ago.

Fingerprints of the Gods, which he discusses here in some depth, was the first of Hancock's books I read, and it began a love affair with his writing. But the way I came to read that book was somewhat peculiar.

The book had belonged to a friend of mine. I noticed it on her bookshelf where it looked a little out of place. I borrowed it and had begun to read it when she and I had a huge falling out and I had to the give it back. I had fully intended to get the book for myself but I hadn't yet got 'round to it when, some months later, an opportunity to travel to Mexico City came up. It's a long and complicated story but suffice it to say it wound up with me going there to do a Flower of Life teacher training with Drunvalo Melchizedek.

When it came time for me to make my travel arrangements, it occurred to me that I should probably do at least a little research about the area first. I stopped by the Montclair Book Center to pick up a Fodor's. There, thoroughly misplaced in the travel section, sort of shoved in awkwardly on its side, was Fingerprints of the Gods. I picked it up and started to leaf through it. And there it was. Teotihuacan. Now, geography has never been my long suit and I really hadn't grasped until that moment that the ancient site was spitting distance from Mexico City. I really knew very little about it except that Hancock had included it as a site of some importance in advancing his theory of an ancient, lost civilization. But in the split second it took me to put those few pieces together I resolved that one way or another I was going to get there during my trip.

It occurred to me that Drunvalo might take us there as part of the seminar but I wasn't going to leave that to chance. I built an extra day into my trip so I could go there alone if needs be. As it turns out, he did not take us to Teotihuacan. Although he did take us to Cuicuilco, a round pyramid that isn't nearly as well known, and that was also an amazing experience. But the opportunity to go to Teotihuacan fell into my hands as if by magic. There was a gentleman in the class who was a professional tour guide. He graciously extended an offer to anyone who wanted to go there on the Monday following the seminar which, as luck would have it, was the day I had left open for just that purpose.

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Temple of Quetzalcoatl,
Archaeological Zone of Teotihuacan
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Hancock goes into some detail in this presentation on the relevance of Teotihuacan to his theory of a lost civilization. I had read everything he had to say about Latin America, with its ziggurats and plumed serpents, before I got there. Even so, I was unprepared for the intensity of this "place where men become gods."

I spent that day doing rituals with the small group of travelers and our wonderful guide. We came to realize the entire experience was one long ritual and we were not the one's directing it. Mostly, our job was to listen and do as we were told. Teotihuacan is inhabited by wise spirits of ancient origin. 

The conspiracy of events that put me in Mexico City at that particular time with those particular people is something I could only marvel at. And the process of transformation that was initiated in me at that time is something I'm still sorting out.

One of the things that struck me as I was listening to Hancock explain his research is just how impermanent it all is. I still marvel at the hubris with which so many people disregard doomsday theories. I'm not saying that I think 2012 signals such a doomsday and I think if anything is clear about the Mayan long count calendar, it's that, for all the theories, no one really understands it. It remains a tantalizing mystery. But something is happening and the energy shifts we've been experiencing are fairly amazing. So are the earth changes.

Hancock touches briefly on Charles Hapgood's theory of crustal displacement and the possibility that we may have had previous pole shifts. Whether any of that is tied into the vestiges of a lost civilization and the out of place artifacts Hancock has spent years researching is hard to say. Even harder to say is whether it will happen again. But to pretend that civilization ending cataclysms are silly wives tales is arrogant. The people of Pompeii were apparently enjoying life as usual when they found themselves engulfed by the sudden, massive eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. We certainly know more about volcanoes now than those ancient Romans did but we are no more immune to a grandiosity that convinces us that we know enough.

I was reading the other day about some new theories on the volcano that is Yellowstone. Something many Americans don't realize is that Yellowstone is actually a "supervolcano" and a full scale eruption would be devastating. The new study I was reading up on found that it might not "wipe out half of the United States, covering the rest in 3 feet of ash and pushing the world into hundreds of years of nuclear winter, challenging human civilization to a game of death and survival." So that's... kind of... good news. The bad news? It's much more active than previously believed and even a lesser eruption would be inconceivably disastrous.

My point is simply this. As tempting as it is to think that we know all we need to about the potential for sudden, radical change on this planet, history has shown over and over that we don't. And the clues are there to a prehistory of which we know nothing with any certainty. Embrace the mystery. That's all I'm saying.

A side note: I love Jungian synchronicities. As I write this I notice that the movie Matilda has come on ABC Family. It's one I've watched over and over. But the first time I ever saw it was when I was taking my red-eye flight back from Mexico City, after a full day of tromping up and down those divine temple monuments. On the nearly empty plane, I stretched out over several seats and drifted in and out of sleep, surfacing just long enough to ask myself questions like: Is that little girl making things fly around the room? This movie is about a telekinesis? Maybe I should be paying more attention? Zzzzzzzz...

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  1. Funny, I just concluded this morning that 'Fingerprints of the Gods' will be the first of his books that I read. I can hardly wait to get started on it!


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