Road – news    November 14, 2005

Ten years… Last weekend, Herman Hegge and I organised and were amongst more than a dozen of speakers at the Frontier Symposium 2005. This year’s conference was special, if only because it was the celebration of ten years of our organisation and occurred for the first time over two consecutive days. It was made extra special because of the appearance of Ramana, to bedazzle us with what he claims is a mixture of “magic and trickery”… which includes levitation and spoon bending.

In 1995, Frontier Sciences Foundation started as a mail order catalogue and a magazine with 250 subscribers. Today, it has over 1200 subscribers in the Netherlands and Belgium, where it is mainly available as a newsstand magazine. We have since added Frontier Publishing (with over fifteen titles published, both in Dutch and English) and our own Amsterdam bookshop, Frontier Bookshop, to our offering.

Back in 1995, we were the sole distributor of Nexus in continental Europe; since then, many national editions have come about. We continue to maintain a close working relationship with Nexus and its many satellite publications, in recent years best expressed by the fact that the Nexus Europe conference is held in the same venue, and organised by the same team, as the Frontier Symposium.

In recent years, Frontier Symposium has also become a social gathering for many friends, and this year, both Herman and I greeted our parents and other family members as honorary guests. Finally, the symposium was extra special as it coincided with the Dutch edition of my Rosslyn chapel book.

The Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, in the very heart of Amsterdam, holds fond memories, as it was where the idea of FSF was born in October 1994 – both Herman and I can still identify the exact location in the St John’s Room. On February 2, 2005, during an inaugural meeting in Arnhem, with four other founding members, Frontier was born.

Both Herman and I are equally amazed about the success of our organisation, and the inspiration it has given others, specifically on a national level. Since 2001, this is best expressed in the so-called Frontier Award, the “Dutch Oscar” for the person who made an outstanding contribution to frontier sciences in one single year, which this year was won by Robin de Ruiter. He symbolised the continuous drive of so many people, including the 80 year old Dr. Hans Moolenburgh, to bite away at the edges, to redefine the boundaries – a new frontier. We hope to remain a forum both in Amsterdam and beyond… hip hip hip hurray ! November 6, 2005

Questing Questions On November 5, I was able to present the main axis of The Canopus Revelation at the Questing Conference, one of the longest running conferences in Britain… and at present the only one who continues to have a London venue. The organiser, Andy Collins, introduced my lecture as “The Truth about Egypt’s Star Religion”, which meant I had a lot to live up to! I do hope that the audience left seriously questioning the accepted status of “Osiris equals Orion”, which is in my opinion no longer tenable.

The conference was a great chance to meet up with Jeremy Narby, whom I had not seen in many years… the same applied to Ian Lawton, each of which had to contend with the Guy Fawkes’ bonfires during their lectures. The other speakers were Colin Wilson, Graham Phillips, Andrew Collins himself, Michael Carmichael (a relatively late substitution because of Stan Gooch’s cancellation) and Philip Gardiner & Gary Osborn.

Most lectures touched upon the role of psychedelics, coinciding with the publication of Graham Hancock’s Supernatural, a book which hopefully will make a great contribution to the subject, and which in my opinion is the niche where Hancock is truly at home, unlike some of his previous books. Jeremy and I reflected that ten years ago, Rob La Frenais organised The Incident conference in Fribourg, where these same subjects were discussed, but at a time when the general audience did not yet seem ready for “the message”. Let’s hope that from 2005 onwards, it will be different… October 31, 2005

Witchful thinking I live on the spot where, on Halloween 1590 and thus 415 years ago, allegedly 200 witches raised the devil, in an effort to kill King James VI, on his return from Denmark with his wife Queen Anne. Whether the coven happened or not, is up for debate, though there is sufficient evidence that shows that groups of people at the time were practicing “alternative forms of medicine”, including several midwives. This extensive group was rounded up, and virtually all burnt as witches. The trial is famous as it was not only allegedly directed against the king of a country, but that the trial itself was attended by that person himself.

James VI decided to follow a vogue that was popular in Europe, in an effort to show to “his” people that “evil” lurked amongst them – and everyone was a suspect… and could be rounded up. Four centuries onwards, it seems that the world has not changed much…Tomorrow, the Catholic world will remember their saints, followed by their ancestors. Today, in the tradition of “trick or treat”, we should perhaps remember those that died innocently, even though the official accounts have robbed them of their innocence. October 30, 2005

Seven wonders of the modern world The oldest and sole survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid, has only secured eighth place in an updated list of modern marvels, which include monuments from all continents, as well as natural marvels. But the top spot is reserved for a “Wonder of the New World”, the Inca city of Machu Picchu.

The new listing is the result of a poll by the readers of the travel magazine Wanderlust. In second place is the vast temple complex of Angkor in Cambodia, with India’s Taj Mahal third, and the ancient city of Petra in Jordan fourth. The last three places were taken by the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Great Wall of China and the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador.

The seven wonders of the ancient world were the pyramids at Giza; the hanging gardens of Babylon; the temple of Artemis at Ephesus; the mausoleum at Halicarnassus; the statue of Zeus at Olympia; the Colossus of Rhodes, and the lighthouse at Alexandria.

The new list does not stop at number seven though. Stonehenge is found in fiftieth place and, of course, the Great Pyramid just fell outside the top seven. October 17, 2005

Frontier Bookshop opening Three years ago, the first Frontier Bookshop opened in Amsterdam. On October 15, we celebrated the move of our bookshop to even more central and bigger premises, on Leliegracht 42, thus not abandoning the Jordaan area. The opening was a joyous event, with good and old friends from the Netherlands and abroad present. Duncan Roads (owner of Nexus Magazine), David Hatcher Childress (author and owner of Adventures Unlimited Press), Marcus Allen (manager of Nexus Magazine UK) and Ken Thomas (author) were amongst those who provided the international flavour. The Dutch compartment was – of course – much larger, and included many contributors and staff members of Frontier Magazine, as well as – of course – staff of the bookshop itself. For all of those who will find themselves in Amsterdam, the shop is now twice as big, and offering some absolute gems: books that elsewhere are either out of print, or selling for hundreds of pounds, we are offering at the “correct price” – don’t thank us; it’s the Dutch law! Our team in the bookshop will be more than happy to meet you and help you in your queries… October 2, 2005

The Rosslyn Music code In The Stone Puzzle of Rosslyn Chapel, we reported on the possibility that the cubes of the ceiling of the Lady Chapel could contain a musical code. Now, Scottish composer Stuart Mitchell states that he has cracked the code. Apparently, each cube contained different patterns to form an unusual 6½-minute piece of music for 13 medieval players.

The melody was unravelled after Mitchell realised the cubes formed a cadence (three chords at the end of a piece of music) of which there were only three types in the 15th century. According to Mitchell, the music sounds like a nursery rhyme. “It is in triple time, sounds childlike and is based on plain chant which was the common form of rhythm of the time. In the 1400s, there wasn’t a great deal of guidance for tempo so I have chosen to make it run for six and a half minutes but it could be stretched to eight minutes if a different tempo was used.”

The Edinburgh musician, who has named the piece The Rosslyn Canon of Proportions, added: “The key was recognising the cadences and that each arch was the music for a different musician.” Mitchell plans to use the illustrations in the chapel of the musicians with different medieval instruments to prepare the recording of the piece, as it was meant to be heard. The strange combination of instruments in the piece includes bagpipes, whistles, trumpet, a medieval mouth piano, guitar and singers. September 23, 2005

Italian Rosslyn After the Italian edition of “L’Enigma di Rosslyn” was published in May 2005, the Italian television programme Voyager spent one week filming in and about Rosslyn, for an episode to be aired on September 27, 23h00 CET. The Voyager team used the The Stone Puzzle of Rosslyn Chapel as the main axis around which to develop their show.

Voyager began in 1999 as a television programme, but has since also become a popular newsstand magazine – there is now even a TV series for children: Voyager Boys, whereby the magazine now caters for both adult and younger audiences.

On August 29, I was interviewed by the Italian state television RAI, within their studios in Turin, by the magazine’s anchor man Roberto Giacobbo, surrounded by his very friendly and informed team. To give a more Masonic perspective on certain aspects of the chapel, the station had also invited Aldo Molda, historian and professor. For those of you who have an opportunity to watch the broadcast, pay special attention to the incredible set, which with the impressive camerawork, resulted in surreal images.

The team deviated from the norm, in the sense that they also filmed extensively in Temple… and were greatly pleased to come up with some real scoops, which we will leave for them to discuss… September 5, 2005

The end of Easter Island William Basener, assistant professor of mathematics at Rochester Institute of Technology, is unravelling a mystery surrounding Easter Island, by creating the first mathematical formula to accurately model the island’s societal collapse.

Between 1200 and 1500 A.D., the small, remote island, 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, was inhabited by over 10,000 people and had a relatively sophisticated and technologically advanced society. During this time, its inhabitants used large boats for fishing and navigation, constructed numerous buildings and built many of the large statues, known as Tiki Gods, for which the island is now best known. However, by the late 18th century the population had dropped to 2,000 and islanders were living in near primitive conditions, with almost all elements of the previous society completely wiped out.

Basener argues that the population crash stems “from the fact that the inhabitants eventually ran out of finite resources, including food and building materials, causing a massive famine and the collapse of their society. Unfortunately, none of the current mathematical models used to study population development predict this sort of growth and quick decay in human communities.”

Population scientists use differential equation models to mimic the development of a society and predict how that population will change over time. Since incidents like Easter Island do not follow the normal progression of most societies, entirely new equations were needed to model the outcome. Computer simulations using Basener’s formula predict values very close to the actual archaeological findings on Easter Island. Basener will next use his formula to analyze the collapse of the Mayan and Viking populations. August 28, 2005

Return from Rennes-le-Château I spent the third week of August in the Rennes-le-Château area. Since early March, André Douzet, I and several other people have created a new French newsstand magazine, Les Carnets Secrets. Uptake of the magazine is excellent and the expansion of the magazine, even including foreign distribution, is rapidly developing.

At the same time, the success of The Da Vinci Code in general and specifically its link with Rennes-le-Château has meant that conferences on the “mysteries” are well-attended in the area – though in the village of Rennes-le-Château itself, apparently most conferences have resulted in aggressive debate between a small number of people, which has left most audiences dejected.

Such animosity was not the case in the two lectures I helped with. The first was on Sunday evening, August 14, in the Hostellerie of Rennes-les-Bains. The room is able to cope with eighty, but in the end, there were 135 – which meant some had to sit in the entrance hall. Tellus Film screened its first production [the DVD contains German, French and English commentary], after which there was room for debate. André Douzet and I used the opportunity to show footage dating back to 1993 and 1994, of the infamous vault at the foot of Notre-Dame-de-Marceille. It shows aspects of the vault long before it got mentioned in The Templar Revelation and achieved some fame of its own.

The second event was a lecture by André Douzet on the enigmatic mountain, Bugarach, which occurred in the Domaine de la Salz, a remote and enigmatic location in the hills above Rennes-les-Bains. The entire organisation needs to be thanked for a more than warm welcome.

Most of these events are organised by Tellus Film, mostly through their French representative, Sigrid “Sigi” Scherf, who is also the mastermind behind the bookshop in the very heart of Rennes-les-Bains – which is selling many of my books (including some of the Dutch titles!). The bookshop is only expected to operate during the summer season, when Rennes-les-Bains is transformed into a veritable tourist magnet – people who come to appreciate its fine surroundings, and not so much the mysteries. Altogether, it makes for a much more relaxed atmosphere, whereby the audience members come to be informed and entertained, rather than be the centre of attention, as happens in the village of Rennes-le-Château. We will return to the area in late November, for more conferences. July 22, 2005

Peruvian ‘writing’ system from Caral A display of artefacts retrieved from Caral has gone on display in the National Museum in Lima, Peru. It shows that the ancient culture used knots and strings to convey information. The device is called a “quipu” and its presence in Caral means that its existence is now thousands of years older than previously believed.

Previously, the oldest known quipus, often associated with the Incas, dated from about 650 AD. But Ruth Shady, the archaeologist leading investigations at Caral, said that quipus were among a treasure trove of articles discovered at the site, which is about 5,000 years old: “This is the oldest quipu, and it shows us that this society … also had a system of ‘writing’ (which) would continue down the ages until the Inca empire and would last some 4,500 years,” Shady said.

The quipu, with its well-preserved, brown cotton strings wound around thin sticks, was found with a series of offerings including mysterious fiber balls of different sizes wrapped in ”nets” and pristine reed baskets.

Shady said no equivalent of the “Rosetta Stone” that deciphered the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt had yet been found to fully unlock the language of the quipus, but said their existence pointed to a sophisticated, organized society where such information as production, taxes and debts were recorded. “They came up with their own system because, unlike cities in the Old World which had contact with each other and exchanged knowledge and experiences, this (city) in Peru was isolated in the Americas, and advanced alone.”

The exhibition also includes some of the 25 huge whale bones fashioned into chairs found at the site, as well as a cotton-soled sandal and flutes and pipes made from animal horns, pelican or condor bones or reeds.

The remains of jungle fruits, cactus fiber and shells revealed trade with distant regions and a block of salt the size of a small laptop computer was found in Caral’s main temple, suggesting salt may have had religious as well as commercial value. Shady said that representations on clay figurines had helped show that nobles wore their hair in two long ponytails each side of the face, with a fringe at the front and the hair on the top of the head cropped close to the skull. July 6, 2005

Caerlaverock Old Castle report published The 1998-1999 excavations at Caerlaverock Old Castle have been published. It has ended the mystery of why the Maxwells spent so much money developing their seat in the south west, only to move it 200 metres inland after only 50 years. Martin Brann, assistant inspector of ancient monuments, said: “Popular opinion among the site excavators, and the many visitors to this damp dig, was that the castle inhabitants were driven away by the midges.”

The report has rephrased this as “repeated storms, changing sea level and rapid coastal change during the 13th century occupation of the castle”. It seems that the periodic influx of sea water to the castle ditch system added to the problems. The excavations also uncovered the first Islamic glass from a Scottish medieval context. “The broken shards found are from a glass beaker with an Arabic inscription, the decoration and style of which places its origin most probably in 13th century Damascus.”

It is also possible that the site already had a fort, built by one of the Celtic lords of Nithsdale. July 1, 2005

Fringe Preparations In preparation for their appearances on The Fringe and various other initiatives they are working on, I met up with the team of Duat Magazine earlier in the week. From left to right: myself, Simon Cox, Andy Gough and Mark Foster. Our initial target was the Grand Lodge of England’s Freemason’s Hall in central London. As our scheduled meeting was slightly delayed, we decided to take the guided tour while waiting.

An American tourist, three minutes into the guided tour, asked the guide about Rosslyn and where it all featured in the history of Freemasonry. For all we know, the tour guides get this question all the time, but we felt it was very funny that the question was asked in the presence of two authors who have discussed Rosslyn Chapel in various publications and formats – without anyone on the tour knowing we were there. We can only assume that once you have decided to venture into the fringe, these things will happen…

The venue’s strict no photography policy meant that the accompanying photograph had to wait until the meal afterwards. June 20, 2005

Dating the Nazca lines In Antiquity (Volume: 79, number: 304, page: 390–401), W.J. Rink and J. Bartoll report on their dating of the Nazca lines. “The authors used optically stimulated luminescence dating of quartz buried when the stone lines were constructed to give new dates for contexts associated with geoglyphs on high mesetas near Palpa. They conclude that the stone lines at sites at San Ignacio and Sacramento were constructed between AD 400 and 650. This suggests that they were made in the later part of the Early Intermediate Period by people of the Nasca culture.”

These discoveries do more to confirm, rather than add anything new to the Nazca debate, which continues to be a hotbed of tourist interest and speculation. June 6, 2005

Sub Rosa opens up its secrets Greg Taylor, Mark Foster et al. are continuing to move the frontiers of alternative publications ever further. Not only is there the Daily Grail website, one of the best portals in the field, which after a few various transformations is now back in its good old proper format, there is now also an online magazine, Sub Rosa. We hope that the team will be able to succeed where previous efforts, such as Phenomena Magazine, have failed. A soft launch is in my opinion always a good way to start. We did it with Frontier Magazine in 1995, and it reached newsstand in Belgium and the Netherlands shortly afterwards. The recent success of Les Carnets Secrets has also proven that rather than talk, getting a magazine out there and showing you are able to do it, is the best way to prove to everyone you can do it… rather than just talk about it and wait for other people to give you money or find advertisers. Over the years, many magazines have taken off, but few have survived. The team has used one of this site’s article, on Terence McKenna, as one of its features… So we have a special fondness when wishing them good sailings… may the rose flourish… May 16, 2005

Encounters of the Da Vinci kind At the Amsterdam Nexus Conference 2005, this year once again with another intriguing line up of speakers, I met up with Simon Cox, a friend of many years. As fate would have it, both he and I have written guides to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Simon’s has been translated from his English edition (held by me – right), my own was done solely for the Dutch market (held by Simon). As a consequence, an exchange of books had to occur. April 22, 2005

Machu Picchu threatened Tourism and landslides are treatening the Inca citadel Machu Picchu, as evidenced during the April 2004 landslide that occurred in the valley below the world famous site. The government of Peru has submitted a $132.5 million plan to the United Nations’ cultural body to preserve the famous Inca citadel, to avoid losing its status as a World Heritage site. The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, warned in 2003 that it could put the stone citadel on its list of at-risk sites after experts said unrestricted tourism and landslides had damaged Machu Picchu and its surroundings.

Machu Picchu has become South America’s best-known archeological site and attracts almost half a million tourists every year. About 2,500 visitors a day visit the site, perched on a mountain saddle, near the southern Peruvian city of Cuzco. March 4, 2005

Peruvian earth drawings predate Nazca lines Archaeologists have discovered a group of giant figures scraped into the hills of Peru’s southern coastal desert that are believed to predate the country’s famed Nazca lines. About 50 figures were etched into the earth over an area roughly 90 square miles near the city of Palpa, 220 miles southeast of Lima. The drawings include human figures as well as animals such as birds, monkeys, and felines. One prominent figure appears to represent a deity commonly depicted on textiles and ceramics from the period. They are believed to be created by the Paracas culture, sometime between 600 and 100 BC. The Nazca culture flourished between 50 BC and 600 A.D., making the “Palpa figures” older. January 15, 2005

Rosslyn Chapel imposes visitor rules Fans having read The Da Vinci Code are flocking to visit Rosslyn Chapel, which features in the climax of the novel. But unsupervised visits have been banned over fears that the huge numbers of sightseers could spoil the chapel.

The fragile carvings in the 15th century Midlothian church risk being damaged by people brushing against them and the humidity from their breath. To control numbers and avoid overcrowding this summer, the chapel trust will allow only hourly guided tours. It will be the first time access has been restricted.

Visitor numbers have soared by 56 percent to 70,000 per year. In July 2004, there were 9000 visitors – a 96 percent rise. The extra numbers are helping fund a £3million restoration project but the overcrowding could damage the very objects that people have come to see. Interest in the chapel is set to increase further with a Hollywood movie of the book to be released in 2006.