Here is an amazing episode of Magical Egypt featuring the work of John Anthony West and other researchers -- his pioneering and penetrating work can be found at his website here. The segments of the video can be found by following the links below, and it is well worth consideration as an introduction to a whole new layer of insight into the civilization of ancient Egypt.

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The incisive analysis of Mr. West illustrates a truth that I have stressed before in previous posts: namely, that just because there are clear astronomical and mathematical truths encoded in ancient myths and texts, this does not take away the many other rich layers of meaning which are also present. In other words, seeing celestial codes in literature does not take away from the deep and powerful illumination of other aspects of the human condition in that literature. It only adds; it does not take away (see for example the discussion in this previous post and this previous post).

The documentary segment above neatly illustrates the way numerous other layers may be going on at the same time that celestial truths are being preserved. For example, the videos begin with an extensive and erudite explanation of the text of "The Book of What is in the Duat" found in the tomb of Tuthmoses III (reigned 1479 BC - 1425 BC) by John Anthony West. This is an extremely important text (also known as the Amduat) and it is well worthwhile to listen to Mr. West's explication of it. Its first complete known appearance is in the very tomb of Tuthmoses III shown in the video. Tuthmoses III was the great-great-great grandfather of Tutankhamun, or the grandfather of the grandfather of Tutankhamun's father Akhenaten.

At approximately 8:40 in the second of the above six videos, Mr. West describes "a familiar figure" which confronts the progress of the solar bark through the twelve hours of the Amduat. This figure, we are told, is the "great serpent, which is being chopped up by knives. This is the serpent Apep, or Apophis, which is a form of Set, the opposition." The point of bringing this up is to show that, while Set plays an incredibly important role in the astronomical knowledge hidden in the Egyptian myths (which surface again and again in mythology around the world), a role which is described in Hamlet's Mill and elaborated upon in greater detail in Jane Sellers' Death of Gods in Ancient Egypt and in the Mathisen Corollary, this celestial role does not mean that Set cannot also stand for several other principles which have less to do with astronomy and more to do with life, death, and the human condition. This is an important point to consider.

Along these lines, the transition of the discussion in the above videos to the work of dimethyltriptamine (DMT) researcher Dr. Rick Strassman follows an extremely interesting analysis of the Amduat text which begins at approximately 3:00 minutes into segment three of six above. There, the assertion is made that the geometry and negative spacing of one drawing of two human figures flanking two intertwined serpents topped by a solar disc suggests a human skull, with the sun disc approximating the location of the pineal gland (and the Uraeus headdress).

From there, the videos explore the rather controversial theory of Dr. Strassman, who believes that the powerful hallucinogenic compound DMT may be naturally produced in certain conditions in the human body, perhaps by the pineal gland, and that this substance is tied to the perception of mystical experiences as well as to visions of the afterlife and the well-known reports of near-death experiences by numerous individuals. Small amounts of naturally-occurring DMT have been found in human tissues, and the theory of some researchers is that certain types of meditation or certain levels of stress could trigger increased production of DMT and possibly the onset of powerful visions and otherworldly experiences.

A brand-new documentary discussing Dr. Strassman's theories, and the implications of DMT in general, based upon and named after Dr. Strassman's book The Spirit Molecule, is currently being released.

The implications of this theory, as well as the very interesting ties to ancient Egypt discussed in the remaining segments of the video above, are fascinating to consider, whether one accepts them or not. Another important theme of this blog and my book is the importance of considering alternative theories and examining all the available evidence for and against them, rather than rejecting them out of hand as is too often the case today. Thor Heyerdahl's approving reference to a quotation by Edgar Smith Craighill Handy is worth repeating in this context: "There is such a variety of possibilities open in the matter of relationships and derivations that my own feeling is that there is only one sure way of being in the wrong, and that is by asserting dogmatically what is not true" (cited in American Indians in the Pacific 8).

If a naturally-occurring chemical compound is in fact responsible for mystic visions and concepts of otherworldly beings and an afterlife, does this mean that critics can dismiss the reality of a soul and a spirit world, mystical revelation, and other related concepts as mere figments of a chemically-induced altered state of consciousness?

One strong argument against Darwinian evolution is the extensive evidence for a spiritual aspect to human existence. Spirits or souls cannot really be explained by Darwinian evolution at all, which is why the existence of such concepts is vehemently rejected by most Darwinian apologists. If any supernatural experiences can be attributed to naturally-occurring hallucinogenic compounds, perhaps produced by the pineal gland, then this would appear to be a powerful new argument in the evolutionists' arsenal.

However, there are several counters to this line of argument as well. First and most obvious among them is the possibility that naturally-occurring DMT is not responsible for visions at all (this hypothesis is still speculative and has not been proven). Another counter is the fact that some DMT users (and near-death experience survivors) appear to have experienced things that they would not be expected to know or that their brains could not be expected to have "dreamed up," whether under the influence of a chemical or not. There are also other evidences of spiritual aspects to the human experience which do not seem to rely upon altered states of reality among those who experience them (for instance, some of the physical feats performed by yogis, fakirs, or advanced martial artists). Finally, there is the entire discussion in the final videos of the series above in which doors and passwords for use in the afterlife are discussed, and the insightful comment of the narrator at the beginning of the discussion that such knowledge, in order to be useful, implies the transmission of data and knowledge from someone or something from the "other side."

Again, to discuss these things is not to imply agreement with or acceptance of everything that is discussed. However, it is a fascinating layer of analysis of a very ancient civilization, and an important line of clues into their "technologies" (technologies not only in the sense in which we commonly use the word, but also in the sense that martial arts and other forms of human achievement and science can be thought of as technology). It is important that researchers and analysts such as John Anthony West, Rick Strassman, and the others involved in the video and in ongoing investigations continue to probe in new and unconventional directions, because one never knows what will be discovered and when a new breakthrough might occur.

We should all be stimulated to apply our own gifts and areas of expertise in the same way to areas of research or analysis to which we are drawn, as the mystery of human existence and mankind's ancient past is too big for any one individual to decode in its entirety.