Ancient Keys to the Future

By Walter Cruttenden

Author Walter Cruttenden by Walter Cruttenden

Textbooks tell us that civilization is about 5000 years old. At least, that's about as far back as we find the first writing and the first significant man-made structures such as ziggurats and pyramids. Before that is a period called prehistory. Unrecorded, it is a time assumed to be far more primitive than our own.

No one would argue that a lot has happened since "prehistoric" times, useful things like the invention of the television remote control, escalators, and computer dating services. O.K. maybe some of these aren't essential but they do show how different life is now from 5000 years ago. In fact, most of the products and services that fill our lives today were absolutely inconceivable to our distant ancestors, and not just because they didn't have the technology. Without knowledge of our peculiar modern society, they would be hard pressed to imagine the innovations of today. And that's the point. Just as our great great grandfather could hardly envision our present so too is it exceedingly difficult for us to see our distant future.

Just one hundred years ago, few could have imagined we would now be sending robots to the surface of Mars, cloning plants and animals and carrying around little mobile devices that enable us to instantly talk to or text someone half way around the world. If we could go back in time and query a 19th-century farmer about these things he would probably say, "What's a robot and how did it get to Mars?" or "Why do you want to talk to someone in China? Can they understand you?" And cloning would probably frighten him – if he believed you. Relevance is a prerequisite for understanding the future – without context, it is hard to conceive of where we have been and where we are going.

While predicting specific technologies might be very difficult our lost ancestors did leave us a key to comprehending the future – at least in a broad sense. They talked about it in myth and folklore and certain ancient texts, Plato called it The Great Year.

Ancient cultures around the world believed that history or consciousness moved in a vast cycle of time with alternating Dark and Golden Ages. Of course, most scholars consider this just a myth nowadays and assume there was no fabled Golden Age. But an increasing amount of evidence suggests our remote ancestors (long before the classical Dark Ages) possessed tremendous knowledge.

Ancient Inventions

For example, we find evidence of precision engineering in the pyramids and canal systems of ancient cultures in both Mesopotamia and South America. There are also tell- tale signs of a massive agricultural society in Brazil where we find the famed Tera Preta de Indio soil. It is self-replenishing, containing billions of living organisms per cubic centimeter that plants thrive in. It is found all over the Amazon basin, measured in plots averaging 2 to 4 hectares and laden with pottery shards, so we know it was used extensively by some unknown culture. This ancient manmade super soil has been studied at Cornell University but still no one today knows how to recreate it.

And scientist John Burke (see sidebar) has shown us the megalithic stones at Avebury are neatly aligned by polarity. The amazing non-random pattern tells us the unknown ancient builders could somehow detect the subtle magnetism in these stones thousands of years before we developed the magnetometer to do the same. All these things were thought to be impossible for ancient civilizations according to most 20th century textbooks. Yet here they are popping up left and right. Most of us are familiar with the more mundane examples:

Schools teach that Volta invented the battery in the early 1700's but ancient batteries have been found in Babylon dating to the BC era (the famed Baghdad Battery).

Textbooks state that complex geared devices were not developed until the great clock making era around 1300AD to 1400AD yet highly sophisticated gears were discovered in the Antikythera device, used to plot the motions of the planets. This was computer like machine was found in a Greek shipwreck that dates to the BC era, at least 1500 years before geared devices were supposed to exist. Is it an anomaly?

Orthodontics and dentistry were thought to be developments of a modern society but now we find some Egyptian mummies wore orthodontics 4000 years ago, and 13 skulls found in Pakistan show neatly drilled rear molars that date to almost 8000 years ago.

We were taught that Copernicus discovered the heliocentric system (earth revolves around the sun) in 1543, but it has recently come to light that the ancient Vedas taught the same and so did Aristarchos of Samos and Archimedes, two Greeks that taught the heliocentric system almost 2000 before it was "discovered" by Copernicus.

This story repeats again and again with engineered structures, metallurgy, plant hybridization, mathematics and many other sciences – it seems we are just rediscovering that our ancient ancestors weren't so primitive after all.

With this new knowledge the almost universal ancient myth that our ancestors saw an ebb and flow of the ages, wherein history and consciousness move in a vast cycle of time, needs to be taken more seriously. Alas, these tales fly in the face of modern history theory and our evolutionary notions that anything before us must be more primitive. Could we have possibly oversimplified things?


Around 4,700 to 5000 years ago, the largest henge in England was erected just 30 miles down the road from Stonehenge. Avebury is roughly three times the size of its famous cousin and even contains a small English village inside. The purpose of these henges, and other megalithic structures from the Neolithic period, has long been a mystery. The recent and startlingly findings of two international scientists, American John Burke and Dane Kaj Halberg, only increases the enigma. They spent a month at the site and took over 1000 readings with their flux magnetometer: Of the 66 remaining upright stones at Avebury, all have their north poles pointing towards the next stone in the circle!

This implies that the Neolithic architects and builders could somehow determine the polarity of the stones and had a purpose for the arrangement of the small degree of magnetism present in the stones at Avebury. Like loadstones all stones have magnetic polarity stemming from the time they were first formed by the earth in relation to the north and south poles. But with most, like the sarsen stones at Avebury, this polarity is so slight it is impossible to determine without the use of modern scientific equipment. Consequently, it is highly unusual to find anything but a random arrangement of the polarity of the stones at Avebury. And the odds of this non-randomness being accidental 66 times in a row is equivalent to flipping a coin 66 times and having it come up heads every time, more than a billion billion to one! The configuration of the polarity is strangely similar to a modern particle accelerator like the Large Hadron Collider now coming on stream in Europe. No one is suggesting the ancients knew anything of such technologies. But the massive site and the unidirectional alignment of magnetic polarity must have had a purpose.

Burke and Halberg have now taken an electrostatic voltmeter and magnetometer to over 80 ancient sites in Europe, North America, and South America. They have found many similar examples of highly knowledgeable use of naturally produced and harnessed electromagnetic forces. These are cataloged in their recently published book: Seed of Knowledge, Stone of Plenty: Understanding the lost technology of the ancient megalith-builders. They believe that many of the ancient mounds and megaliths were created to boost agricultural yields by exposing seeds to certain natural occurring electromagnetic forces found at these sites. It is known science that seeds subjected to a mild electrostatic charge tend to propagate faster than seeds left unexposed. However, they are still puzzled by the strange arrangement of polarity at Avebury. [End Sidebar]

The Dark Ages

It should be noted that more than a few pre-Dark Age cultures (including Ancient India, Egypt, Babylon, and Greece) predicted their own decline as a natural process of the Great Year. And they were right! Every last one of them slipped into a worldwide Dark Age that obscured the ancient knowledge and fairly destroyed the culture. Many of the ancient discoveries, from the heliocentric system of the Greeks to the Babylon battery were lost for millennia and not rediscovered until the "renaissance" (French for "rebirth" of the cycle) or later.

So how did these people know they were headed for a decline? Hesiod and the Greeks spoke poetically of a long lost Golden Age but knew their own time was in a lower age and still descending era. They had hundreds of stories about the amazing course of life and history, tales that we now call myth and folklore, but they believed to be a part of nature, and true.

These people lived much closer to nature than we do today. Their view was just as the earth spins on its axis and gives us the cycle of night and day, and just as the earth goes round the sun and gives us the cycle of the seasons so too did the slow motion of the stars across the sky, the precession of the equinox, depict a larger cycle. And this cycle, their Great Year or eon, had its own type of seasons or "ages of man", each with specific characteristics, and marked by the position of the equinox as it moved through the twelve constellations of the zodiac.

The Greeks broke the cycle into the Iron, Bronze, Silver and Golden ages. And when the four ages progressed in that order (ascending) they believed everyone and everything evolves to great heights. They implied that consciousness would expand as mankind rose through these the stages also called the age of man (Iron), the age of the hero (Bronze), the age of the demi-god (Silver), and finally the age of the gods (or Golden Age). And then just as the solar year must recede after reaching the height of summer they accepted the cycle of the Great Year would also slowly wane from Golden to Silver, to Bronze and finally back to the winter of life on earth; the Iron Age.

The ancient people of the Indus Valley (whom Alexander the Great called the Indoos the writers of the Vedas) called each ascending and descending phase a "yuga", and one yuga cycle equals one Great Year seen as one precession of the equinox in the sky. They broke it into the Kali, Dwapara, Treta and Satya yugas, corresponding to the Greek metallic ages. Other cultures from the Hebrew to the Hopi also spoke of it although it was often in obscure language.

Giorgio de Santillana, the former professor of the history of science at MIT, mentions in his book Hamlet's Mill, several hundred similar myths from over thirty ancient cultures, many of them from diverse regions of the earth. This shows the acceptance and universality of cyclical knowledge before it was lost in the Dark Ages. Giorgio suggested that we should try to understand why the Great Year (and its attendant motion of the heavens, the precession of the equinox) was so important to these natural people.

There is an increasing body of modern and scholarly work that examines the cycle, its nuances, cause and consequences. In fact the annual "Conference on Precession and Ancient Knowledge", most recently held at the National Academies of Science on the University of California campus hosted dozens of scientists, historians and students of ancient history presenting papers or making oral presentations on the topic.

Our focus in this paper is not so much to discuss the merits or mechanics of the cycle, but to consider that if the ancients are right, how the ebb and flow of the cycle might give us a glimpse into our own future.

Back to the Future

According to the Vedic scholar Swami Sri Yukteswar, author of The Holy Science, the most detailed book on the cycle of the ages, the cycle takes about 24,000 years (which is within 7% of the currently accepted value of about 25,700 years for one precession of the equinox). By his reckoning, the last Golden Age peaked in 11,500BC and consciousness slowly declined from this time until bottoming out around 500AD. We can see from the historic record that most of the world's great ancient civilizations are indeed in decline leading up to this point in time. In particular, Egypt, Sumer, Akkad, Babylon and many of the cultures in the Mideast region had fallen to the point that they were almost nomadic societies, unable to build any of the ziggurats, pyramids or engineered structures of their ancestors, by the time of Dark Ages. In Europe too Greece and Rome had fallen to very chaotic and brutal states. Most historians consider the final fall of Rome, and the shuttering of Plato's Academy (by Justinian in 529AD), the beginning of the "classical Dark Ages". China went through a similar process loosing much knowledge and turning fierce with the Han Dynasty. Many of the cities of the early Americas from Caral to Teotihuacan had also apparently been abandoned by this time, but these histories are not as well known.

From 500AD onward , very slowly at first, we evolved to once again become capable of building great cities, codifying laws and at least not openly crucifying people in the street anymore. With the burst of the renaissance (when the equinoctial cycle moved the earth from the lowest age of Iron to the next higher age of Bronze in the Greek schema) we have rediscovered many ancient technologies and began developing many new ones. At the same time we have brought back the democracies of the Greeks, and are slowly but surely building a more civilized society.

It should be noted that some people hypnotized by the nightly news have the impression that we are now worse off than we were 500 to a thousand years ago. However, it takes only a cursory review of history to realize that 500 years ago every nation was at war with one another, and 500 years before that every county and duchy were warring, there were no standardized laws or rights, plagues and brutality ravaged the land, life spans were half of what they are now, etc. We are definitely in the ascending age although the worldwide expansion of consciousness is sometimes painfully slow.

According to Sri Yukteswar we have not even scratched the surface of human potential.
As he explains, when we are in the lowest age mankind is only aware of the things he can perceive with his senses and has no knowledge of finer forces such as electricity or magnetism. Then as consciousness progresses mankind slowly becomes aware of these forces, as well as other subtle forces and subtle laws. Later in this current age (the Bronze or Dwapara Yuga) we are supposed to fully realize the energetic nature of reality and begin to see ourselves as energy beings (wearing physical bodies). If we are to trust our leading physicists in quantum mechanics (that say all matter is mostly space and vibrating energy) then maybe such a concept is not so far fetched.

In the next highest age, the Silver or Treta beginning in 4100 A.D., according to Paramahansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, we are supposed to return to a pre-Babel state of consciousness where "clairvoyance and telepathy are once again common knowledge". Supposedly then writing, as we know it, is no longer required. Perhaps that is why it does not seem to come into being until the post Babel age, even though mankind was capable of great engineering projects, and other works that would seem to demand detailed plans and written communication as a prerequisite.

After that humanity supposedly becomes so advanced that the earth is returned to a Garden of Eden and mankind communes with the stars and overcomes all limitations of time and space. Maybe then we will know what some of the earliest starry hieroglyphs really mean. These kinds of things sound fantastic and impossible to our present state of consciousness. But Yukteswar and other proponents of the cycle would simply say we do not yet have the capacity to understand. The many ancient tales of magic and mankind becoming demi-gods or gods are nowadays deemed to be the gibberish of a primitive people – even though Christ himself once said "these things that I do ye shall do also and greater things". Perhaps we just can't believe it. But if 2000 year-old stories of a heliocentric system were found to be true (and remember everyone thought the notion was crazy at the time – enough to arrest Galileo), then maybe, just maybe, the Great Year might be discovered to have a basis in fact. And if so, we have a roadmap for the future.

For more information about the natural mechanisms and science behind the great cycle please read the book "Lost Star of Myth and Time" or view the DVD "The Great Year", both authored by Walter Cruttenden. Or if you have time, plan to attend the 10th Conference on Precession and Ancient Knowledge to be held September 30-October 2, 2016 at the Westin in Rancho Mirage, California.