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Supernatural: Meetings With the Ancient Teachers of Mankind [Hardcover]

Graham Hancock
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov. 1 2005
Less than 50,000 years ago mankind had no art, no religion, no sophisticated symbolism, no innovative thinking. Then, in a dramatic and electrifying change, described by scientists as “the greatest riddle in human history”, all the skills and qualities that we value most highly in ourselves appeared already fully formed, as though bestowed on us by hidden powers.

In Supernatural Graham Hancock sets out to investigate this mysterious “beforeand-after moment” and to discover the truth about the influences that gave birth to the modern human mind.

His quest takes him on a journey of adventure and detection from the stunningly beautiful painted caves of prehistoric France, Spain and Italy to remote rock shelters in the mountains of South Africa where he finds a treasure trove of extraordinary Stone Age art.

He uncovers clues that lead him to travel to the depths of the Amazon rainforest to drink the powerful plant hallucinogen Ayahuasca with Indian shamans, whose paintings contain images of “supernatural beings” identical to the animal-human hybrids depicted in prehistoric caves and rock shelters. And 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” first depicted in the painted caves and rock shelters be the ancient teachers of mankind? Could it be that human evolution is not just the “blind”, “meaningless” process that Darwin identified, but something else, more purposive and intelligent, that we have barely even begun to understand?

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"Graham Hancock is no stranger to controversy. The former journalist, whose books have sold five million copies in the past 10 years, has repeatedly dared to challenge scientific shibboleths, taking a run at entrenched thinking in archaeology, geology and astronomy."
The Globe and Mail

About the Author

Graham Hancock is the author and co-author of a number of bestselling investigations of historical mysteries, including The Sign and the Seal, The Message of the Sphinx, Heaven’s Mirror, The Mars Mystery, and Underworld. His books have been translated into twenty languages and have sold more than four million copies around the world.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought Jan. 10 2007
This thought-provoking book by the alternative historian investigates the origins of consciousness with reference to the work of David Lewis-Williams and his theory of the neuropsychological origins of cave art. It also goes further in proposing that those worlds and entities encountered in shamanic visions are not mere hallucinations but very real and that altered states are the means to gain entry to them.

Part One: The Visions, includes the author's experiences with the African hallucinogenic plant Iboga, looks at the cave of Pech Merle and then examines the theory of David Lewis-Williams. It also includes a section on Hancock's use of the South American plant ayahuasca.

Part Two explores the cave art of Upper Paleolithic Europe, with a closer look at the half-human half-animal representations that are so widespread. These "therianthropic" designs also occur in the rock art of Southern Africa and elsewhere. Hancock examines recurring themes in this ancient art, like that of the Wounded Man. He also discusses other aspects of this art, like the dots, starbursts, nets, ladders and windowpane-like geometrical figures. He closely examines the similarities and the differences between the art of ancient Europe and that of Africa. For example, the European art is found in dark subterranean caves while in Africa it is most often found in open rock shelters.

Chapter Six looks at the history of the academic study of rock art and concludes that it led nowhere until the theory of Lewis-Williams came along. Hancock demolishes the criticisms leveled at the work of Lewis-Williams and exposes the smear campaign waged against the South African academic. Among other interesting topics, he considers the 19th century notebooks of Bleek and Lloyd on the mythology of the San.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shamanic return just in time March 31 2006
By A Customer
Graham Hancock has unleashed a veritable typhoon of unorthodox ideas in this book. It is not for those who enjoy staying on the firm ground of familiar paradigms. As the sufis put it so brilliantly: 'If it is safety you seek then stay on the shore, but if it is the jewel of the deep you are after then dive in.'
This is a book for those who are dog tired of the materialist mantras that blithely inform us without any substantial evidence that:
a) We are descended directly from primates
b) Consciousness is the result of neural activity
c) History is about five thousand years old and we were in caves
picking our noses all day long previous to that
d) DNA just happened to show up as it was vomited out of the 'cosmic soup'
e) Anything that does not correspond with the above view of reality is a 'hallucination'
Ad nauseam..
No this is a book for individuals who have questions literally pouring from their neural software. How did we get all the art and creative power that seemed to erupt about 35,000 years ago? How is it that every culture on Earth and throughout all history (until very recently) speaks of beings that do not exist physically, such as faeries and elves? Where in the galaxy does the very specific information contained in our DNA originate? What indeed are these 'other worlds' and where are they-the ones that every single culture on Earth has some form of information on-whether it be ancient rock art or modern day Peruvian shamans?
Hancock has really gone out on a long thin limb this time but without losing the rigorous intellect of a true journalist. He does not cave in easily to all the alternative explanations we are spoon fed by the scientific elite.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books of the genre ever written March 26 2006
By A Customer
Graham Hancock's "Supernatural: Meetings With the Ancient Teachers of Mankind" follows in a tradition that goes back to the turn of the last century, as cited in various books listed in the author's extensive end-notes and bibliography.
More recently, the lineage includes "Breaking Open the Head," By Daniel Pinchbeck, "The Cosmic Serpent," by Jeremy Narby and "DMT: The Spirit Molecule," by Dr. Rick Strassman. Various works by Ralph Metzner and Dr. Benny Shanon are also solidly part of this explosive new resurgence in consciousness research and reality exploration.
All are highly recommended, but Mr. Hancock's "Supernatural" is by leaps and bounds one of the most provocative, intellectually sustaining and emotionally riveting reads of the last few decades.
The book begins with a plaintive, haunting question: What makes us what we are? What made our species come out of the daze of our historical existence on this planet and enter into a rich, complex, transcendental sense of the interior life?
The path that Mr. Hancock takes us on, to address this conundrum, is like being immersed in a sweeping, cinematic experience of epic proportions. From the caves of Neolithic humankind to the molecular dimensions of our own DNA, from hallucinogenic substances to multiple dimensions, the journey's propulsive trajectory starts in the mists of our most distant past and establishes a continuous link to our current experience as human beings and how our meat-based brains process "reality."
The odyssey is truly shamanic in scope.
Eschewing easy answers to existential problems that are often glossed over with platitudes by some "New Age" writers, Mr.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this book.
Published 1 month ago by Roberto
5.0 out of 5 stars Hancock, Last of the Great Explorers!, Supernatural is Super-good!,
The world is a truely fantastic and mysterious place and Graham Hancock is one of the remaining explorers in possesion of both an 'open mind' and a scientific
knowledgeable... Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2010 by Paco
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but misguided
It's too bad I couldn't give this book a better review, as there is a lot of fascinating information in it, and I agree with several of Hancock's conclusions. Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2010 by Harrison Koehli
3.0 out of 5 stars Hancock's Supernatural
As can be expected from Graham Hancock, his material is thoroughly researched and his style of writing is quite engaging, but beware of where he will lead you. Read more
Published on June 24 2009 by David Mcgowan
5.0 out of 5 stars Magisterial work and riveting read
This fascinating book by alternative historian Graham Hancock investigates the origins of consciousness with reference to the work of David Lewis-Williams and his theory of the... Read more
Published on Jan. 4 2007 by Pieter Uys
3.0 out of 5 stars More long, strange trips
Science bashing is easy, particularly if you're a bully. Research over the past century has revealed an immensity of new information. The cosmos has expanded and retracted. Read more
Published on May 19 2006 by Stephen A. Haines
3.0 out of 5 stars Supernatural - a disappointment
I expected more substance in this new book. I felt the facts were bent to fit into the author's beliefs that ancient cave drawings were all done by shamans under the influence... Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2006 by Joyce K. Pratt
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