The Secret of Life

by Andrew Collins

(Note: this article is a chapter from Andrew Collins' sensational book, The Cygnus Mystery, reprinted by permission. The Cygnus Mystery has caused a complete reevaluation of many aspects of ancient history, the most controversial and least important of which is how the ancients aligned major sites to the constellation of Cygnus, including the Giza pyramids. Perhaps the most important aspect of the book is how it explains human evolution.)

There are over 100,000 different plant species in the Rain Forest, and yet somehow the Ashaninka Indians of the Peruvian Amazon were able to isolate an MAO (monoamine oxidase) inhibitor which blocks the body’s natural enzymes that normally make ayahuasca’s active ingredient, DMT, ineffective when consumed orally. This, and the fact that along with so many other tribes of the Rain Forest, the Ashaninka have a pharmaceutical knowledge of thousands of plants and herbs, utilised for everything from a simple headache to accelerating the healing of wounds, prompted anthropological student Jeremy Narby to enquire as to how they accumulated their incredible understanding of the natural world.

The answer the village elders gave was simple. The information was conveyed to the ayahuasqueros, the drinkers of ayahuasca (‘vine of the dead’), by the spirit world, or more correctly the spirits of the plants themselves. Narby didn’t believe a word of it, and so went back to studying the tribe’s indigenous lifestyle as part of his doctorate in anthropology with Stanford University. He thought no more of the matter until one day his own niggling back problem was miraculously cured by a special concoction prepared for him by one of the tribe’s medicine men. This got him thinking, and so finally he accepted their invitation to experience what it was that the ayahuasqueros saw under the influence of ayahuasca.

Television of the Forest

The evening came, and after beginning the proceedings by accepting a toke from a rolled cigarette called toe, which he later found contained extracts of a highly toxic variety of thorn apple, he quickly gulped down the foul-tasting ayahuasca cocktail that was handed to him. Not unexpectedly, the concoction made him hallucinate fairly rapidly. His entire body, including his hands, arms and internal organs were now glowing red, like he could see through his own pale skin. Suddenly feeling ill, he staggered away from the clearing and was immediately sick. The contents of his stomach exited his mouth as a fire-red snake, an image found among the amazing psychedelic art of Peruvian ayahausca drinker and shaman Pablo Amaringo, and also amid a writhing mass of finger-drawn serpents drawn on the ceiling of the Serpent Dome, a Palaeolithic room of cave art in the Grotte de Rouffignac, near Lascaux in the Dordogne.

For Jeremy Narby, the visions then began in earnest and unexpectedly he saw before him two rainbow-coloured snakes, giant boa constrictors with bodies that seemed as much as two metres thick. They were aware of his intrusion into their world, and conveyed to him the idea that he was ‘a mere human being’, puny in comparison to the greater universe. Wanting to get back to the clearing, Narby more-or-less stepped over the pair of boas, and stumbled across to where the ayahuasqueros awaited his return. They asked him whether he had now seen the ‘television of the forest’, the understated term they use to describe ayahuasca visions. On telling them what he had just witnessed, they simply joked that everybody sees snakes, and that he would get used to it.

Yet Jeremy Narby did not get used to it. This and other subsequent experiences with ayahuasca – where on one occasion he actually felt himself becoming a large feline complete with a taste for blood (he was a vegetarian at the time) - left him unable to explain what was truly going on, a sentiment that remained with him even after his return to Canada, where he then lived. For several months the experiences plagued his memory, as he began to read up on everything he could on the neuropsychological, biological and philosophical effects of drug use among indigenous cultures worldwide. He also explored the works of psychedelic gurus, and studied the symbology of shamanism searching for an answer, which when it finally came was stunning in its simplicity, yet far reaching in its consequences.

Jeremy Narby concluded from his researches that the ayahuasca experience was independent and real, and that the twin snakes were the key to understanding why. Everywhere in art, mythology, alchemy and religion, serpents are shown intertwined, like those that curl around the Caduceus wand of Hermes. Moreover, he found that twin serpents are universally seen by shamans during psychedelic experiences (once again, see the extraordinary visionary paintings of Pablo Amaringo), as are ropes, cords, vines, and ladders which, as we have seen, are familiar visual aids used to achieve entry or exit into the sky-world.

The Genetic Code

All these symbols, Narby felt sure, were created by human consciousness in order to convey a specific message regarding their true nature, which he felt could be explained in just three little letters – DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the hereditary gene molecule that adopts the form of the double helix and carries within it the instructions for making up our entire bodies, creating who we are and what we look like.

Despite its vital function in the body, DNA is not known to possess any kind of self-awareness or consciousness. Yet Narby noted that there is always intelligence at work on a cellular level. Gene cells are always sending signals between themselves in the form of proteins, and this basic data tells other cells either to divide or not divide, and at any one time a cell is receiving hundreds of incoming signals, and it has to make the right decision, and this is how intelligence works.

In addition to this, DNA operates as information by using a written code of letters, one chemical for each letter, which is easily understandable, since it is a linear language meant to be read in a straight line. Moreover, we find that it is digital, in that each letter bears the same importance. However, it is a much simpler operation to read the DNA code, since it only has four letters, represented by the letters A, C, G and T, all of which might suggest some kind of intelligent design at work here.

What Narby began to ask himself is whether or not it is possible that DNA not only has a sense of purpose, but is also able to communicate with DNA outside of its own cellular environment, arguably between one living organism and another. As a functioning consciousness, it might act collectively to convey coded information between species, in order to relate specific ideas, such as which plants are deadly, edible or psychedelic; or how they might best be grown. This empathic link would thus exist between any life form, humans to plants, animals to trees, even humans to animals, or vice versa, exchanging fundamental information and consciousness, explaining why Narby had on one occasion felt himself becoming a large feline creature with an overwhelming blood lust.

Signal Nonlocality

Such an idea is made possible by the quantum theory of signal nonlocality, which holds that certain sub-atomic particles when separated will continue to communicate with each other even if placed at opposite ends of the universe. A kind of unbreakable bond exists between them whereby information is conveyed as instantaneous signals, causing a two-way action-reaction process. On its own, signal nonlocality is an interesting curiosity at best, but should these signals between particles be multiplied indefinitely, then it creates a means of consciousness generation and information transference on a sub-atomic level without any obvious link between the two parties, whether we are talking about DNA molecules or fully formed life forms such as ourselves.

So the ayahuasqueros of the Upper Amazon might well have been correct when they said that the spirits of the plants were responsible for providing them with their extensive pharmaceutical knowledge. Yet Narby believes that it is not spirits in the true sense of the word that provide us with this information, but some kind of quantum consciousness of DNA, received and interpreted by our minds as visual or emotive communication with real spirits. Very often this knowledge transfer will come with symbolic imagery that mimics DNA’s double helix structure, seen in terms of intertwined serpents, ropes, vines or ladders, which feature in shamanic traditions worldwide.

The True Gods of this World

I read Jeremy Narby’s ground-breaking book The Cosmic Serpent (1995) just after my return from South-east Turkey in 2004. Indeed, it was recommended to me in the wake of my observations regarding the suspected mushroom cult evidenced from the Early Neolithic art of the region. I was flabbergasted by the Swiss anthropologist’s theories. However, it was the deeper implications of his findings that really excited me.

Those who undergo psychedelic experiences very often believe that the alternative realities they enter and the sentient intelligent beings they encounter are objectively real. For example, anthropologist Michael Harner experienced the effects of natemä (the Ecuadorian name for ayahuasca) with Jívaro Indians of the Ecuadorian Amazon, and gave the following account of his experiences:

I found myself, although awake, in a world literally beyond my wildest dreams. I met bird-headed people, as well as dragon-like creatures who explained that they were the true gods of this world. I enlisted the services of other spirit helpers in attempting to fly through the far reaches of the Galaxy. Transported into a trance where the supernatural seemed natural, I realised that anthropologists, including myself, had profoundly underestimated the importance of the drug in affecting native ideology.

What makes a respected man of Harner’s calibre come to such far reaching conclusions? Did he really fly ‘through the far reaches of the Galaxy’ as he imagined, and meet ‘bird-headed people’ and ‘dragon-like creatures’, whom he felt were the ‘true gods of this world’?

The Machine Elves

Years beforehand, philosopher and writer Terence McKenna and his brother Dennis travelled to the jungles of South America where they met with shamans and drank ayahuasca in ‘heroic’ doses. Very quickly they became convinced that psychedelic substances such as ayahuasca and psilocybin were vehicles that enabled the mind to interact with other life forms in the universe, either in inner space - ‘hyperspace’ as Terence McKenna called it - or in outer space. He was also amazed at the consistency of the experiences, with many users of DMT entering a strange realm inhabited by what he came to refer to as the ‘self-transforming machine elves’. When extracted, purified and then smoked, it would cause the user to enter a realm that bore the appearance of a brightly lit medical room, where dwarfish entities immediately began examining them in a manner reminiscent of the classic alien abduction scenario.

Room 531

Due to US drug laws forbidding research into illegal substances, very little work has been conducted into the true potential of hallucinogens extracted from plants and mycetes. Yet in 1990 Dr Rick Strassman, the Associate Professor in Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico's School of Medicine in Albuquerque, instituted the first new research in the United States on the effects of psychedelic substances on the human brain for over twenty years. He invited subjects to experience the effects of DMT, and in just five years administered around 400 doses of DMT to sixty volunteers from various different walks of life. Their experiences were meticulously recorded and analysed.

What Strassman found during his experimental work in Room 531 - where subjects received their prescribed dosage and then waited to see what happened - was entirely unexpected. A high percentage of the volunteers consistently entered what they perceived as parallel realms, where elfish entities awaited their arrival. They often communicated and interacted with them in futuristic medical rooms where the creatures would frantically expunge all impure parts of the body, recreating a form of astral excarnation. Although some of the imagery experienced by Strassman’s subjects was culturally or circumstantially motivated, much of it was unique with its own separate existence.

In his controversial book DMT: The Spirit Molecule (2001), Strassman summed up the nature of his subjects’ seemingly objective encounters with separate realities in the following manner.

I believed that these experiences were hallucinations, albeit rather complicated ones … However, research subjects tenaciously resisted biological explanations because such explanations reduced the enormity, consistency, and undeniability of their encounters. How could anyone believe there were chunks of brain tissue that, when activated, flashed encounters with beings, experimentation, and reprogramming?’

The subjects also resisted other logical explanations for the experiences. They denied that they were either waking dreams, or mere hallucinations with symbolic meaning and purpose, based on wishes, fears or unresolved issues. Some volunteers did simply shrug their shoulders and accept that it was all just the effects of the drug, but many others remained wholly convinced that they had undergone real and very vivid experiences in some alternative reality that co-existed with our own, leading Strassman to admit:

How could their imagination generate a scenario that felt more real than waking consciousness? If it were ‘real,’ how does one now live his or her life, knowing that existing right now are multiple invisible realms inhabited by intelligent life-forms? Who are those beings? What is the nature of their relationship to the volunteers now that they had made ‘contact’?

Strassman is an academic who started off believing that DMT trips were simply hallucinations. Eventually, however, he came to the conclusion that what his subjects had experienced was real indeed. What is more, the sensation of entering another world and communicating with supernatural entities is so common in psychedelic experiences that we can be sure that such encounters have been taking place among indigenous cultures worldwide for many thousands of years. Moreover, if we accept this, then there is no reason to doubt that our Early Neolithic forebears in Upper Mesopotamia were not going through the same thing during their assumed journeys to the sky-world, accessed via the cosmic axis envisaged as synonymous with the Cygnus constellation. Even before them the Palaeolithic shamans of South-west Europe must have been experiencing similar encounters with supernatural entities and strange co-existing realities, hence the cave images of chimeras, therianthropes, snakes and anthropomorphs (human-like figures). Although they would not have seen what we might be pre-conditioned to see under such circumstances, the core experiences, I surmise, would have been almost identical.

Exploring Panspermia

If Narby is correct and some form of two-way non-local communication can occur between the collective consciousness of DNA in different life forms, then what if, as astrobiologists are now coming to believe, life did not originate on earth? What if DNA arrived on this planet complete, with genetic instructions to create and evolve new life to its ultimate end? This thought-provoking theory is known to the world as panspermia (which means ‘seeds everywhere’), a concept proposed as far back as the fifth century BC by the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras (c. 500-428 BC) of Clazomenae, a town near the city of Smyrna in what is today Southern Turkey. He believed that the ‘seeds of life … swarm throughout the cosmos’, and are not exclusive to earth. More intriguing is that Anaxagoras, who was an influence on Socrates and thus Plato, envisaged these ‘seeds’ not as molecular in nature, but as actual seeds containing the essence of life itself. Panspermia would have been accepted as the true origins of life back then had it not been for the philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) coming up with the theory of spontaneous generation of life, which was preferred by the more scientifically minded, and remained a workable theory through until the nineteenth century, when it was finally disproved by the French chemist Louis Pasteur (1822-1895).

In the wake of Pasteur’s work into microbiology (which included determining that infectious diseases were caused by germs), various ideas were proposed on the origins of cellular life, but it would not be until 1903 that the matter of panspermia would raise its head again. In that year Swedish physical chemist and Nobel Prize winner Svante August Arrhenius (1859-1927) wrote in an article that life on earth emerged from microscopic spores that were propelled across space by what he saw as the radiation pressure of star light.

Arrhenius’s theories received a fuller treatment in his book Worlds in the Making (1908). It answered key criticisms of his theory, including the belief that potentially lethal ultra violet light rays would kill any microscopic spores that existed in deep space. He was optimistic that at low temperatures the spores could remain intact for extremely long periods of time, and in his final opinion, ‘all organisms in the universe are related and the process of evolution is everywhere the same’.

Spreading Spores

Strangely, hard evidence for panspermia has been around for almost half a century. In 1961, a meteorite examined by Spanish American biochemist Juan Oro was found to contain micro-fossils of an algae-like organism known as adenine, as well as the component nucleic acids of RNA (ribonucleic acid) and DNA, enough to produce ATP (Adenosine triphosphate), a major energy-releasing molecule in living cells. Then again in 1969, a meteorite that landed in Victoria, Australia, was determined to possess a complex series of organic compounds, including some of the nitrogen bases and amino acids that are the building blocks of DNA. Subsequent tests by Dr Ron Brown of Monash University of Melbourne revealed there were ‘formations in the meteorite reminiscent of a very primitive form of cell structure’.

All this is, of course, aside from the now famous five-pound (2.5 kilogram) meteorite ALH 84001 discovered in the Antarctic in 1984, which was subsequently examined and found to contain a variety of organic chemicals, including carbon molecules formed in water and created by single-celled organisms, remaining as ‘fossil-like impressions of micro-tubular and other organisms.’ This example was, as we know, determined to have been ejected from Mars, re-igniting the age-old debate as to whether or not there is, or was, life on the red planet.

Hitching a Ride

Panspermia is a theory that has had some heavyweight scientific support over the years. During the 1970s, renowned British astronomer Fred Hoyle (1915-2001) and his Sri Lankan-born colleague Chandra Wickramasinghe put their combined efforts behind the theory, proposing that complex organic compounds might well have evolved within interstellar dust clouds. They wrote that interstellar spores or micro-organisms have continued to rain down on earth in the form of flu viruses and diseases which seem spontaneously to develop without any kind of common mutation from an existing strain. These micro-organisms, they argued, eventually settle in the earth’s upper atmosphere, where they become caught up in the jet stream. Eventually they mix with lower winds rising up over mountain ranges such as the Himalayas, which take them down on to the plains of neighbouring countries, where the viruses are soon transferred to birds, animals and, finally, human beings.

Sugar and Space

In 2004, a bizarre new twist in the panspermia debate came in the form of a quite revelatory press release from NASA. The story claimed that using the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia astronomers had detected faint radio emissions, giving the signature of a sugar called glycolaldehyde. They were coming from a giant interstellar gas cloud dubbed Sagittarius B2, located close to the centre of the galaxy. Since glycolaldehyde - an eight-atom molecule made up of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen - can react to create the simple amino acids necessary to form life, NASA now felt it extremely likely that the building blocks of life existed first in deep space, and were then transported here by a comet. This discovery came just two years after the spectral ‘fingerprint’ of glycine, a simple amino acid, was detected in three interstellar gas clouds, one of which was Sagittarius B2.

For a space organisation of the calibre of NASA to have personally released such information meant that panspermia was now being taken very seriously. Yet it took until October 2005 for them to announce finally that organic compounds called PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) were not only ‘abundant in space’ but, more significantly, had more in common with life on earth than had previously been recognised. New Scientist magazine reported that Douglas Hudgins and his colleagues at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffat Field, California, initiated a search for PAHs using the Spitzer Space Telescope, launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 25 August 2003. Their initial findings revealed that not only do PAHs exist everywhere in the galaxy, but that a high percentage contain nitrogen. As plain as this discovery might seem, nitrogen-containing compounds are found in chlorophyll, DNA and haemoglobin, a fact which more-or-less confirms that Carbon-based organisms evolved originally in deep space, and only afterwards made the journey here.

Crick’s Great Secret

As mind blowing as some of these notions might seem, they will become directly relevant to the Cygnus mystery in due course, but for the moment it is time to examine the case of someone whose entire creative genius owes a great debt to psychedelic exploration. I speak of Francis Crick (1916-2004) the Nobel prize-winning co-discoverer, with his brilliant American colleague James Watson, of DNA’s double helix structure in 1953.

Following his death at the age of 88 in July 2004, the news media revealed what had been common knowledge for some time. The fact is Crick not only used ‘small doses’ of LSD (Lysergic Acid Diathylamide), or ‘acid’ - a synthesised substance replicating the psychedelic alkaloids present in fungi such as ergot, which grows on rye - but he was also high when he cracked the DNA code. Indeed, according to the story exclusively revealed in the Mail on Sunday on 8 August 2004, ‘Cambridge academics used LSD in tiny amounts as a thinking tool, to liberate them from preconceptions and let their genius wander freely to new ideas. Crick … perceived the double-helix shape while on LSD’.

Such an admission - which in life Crick kept secret, light heartedly threatening to sue any newspaper that printed the story - is stunning in itself, even though it has prompted a fierce reaction from his friends and family, who deny this was the case. Yet what is not so well known is that Crick became a fervent supporter of what he called ‘directed panspermia’, writing a key essay on the subject in 1973 with his colleague Leslie E Orgel. The Nobel prize winner went on to author a popular book on the subject entitled Life Itself: Its origin and nature (1981).

Crick’s theory – which he stood by even after in 1995 he admitted that the book ‘might have been misguided’ and a ‘mistake to do’ - was that the earth had been seeded originally by micro-organisms sent here from outer space. Crick speculated that whole colonies of micro-organisms were sent out, perhaps even by a race of intelligent life forms, knowing that most would fail to reach a planet that possessed the necessary amino acids to create life. Yet if only one found its target, then a complete eco-system might be created that would one day replicate the life found on the planet of departure.

To Crick, life on earth formed part of a bigger cosmic picture, leading him to comment ‘we may be part of a cosmic wildlife park … Perhaps we are under some sort of discreet surveillance by higher beings on a planet of some nearby star. It is not clear how these cosmic game-wardens would do this without our detecting them …’ In the same breath, he asked: ‘… perhaps they are trying to send us signals of some sort’, before adding, finally: ‘This is too complicated a topic to develop fully here.’

How did Crick come to believe in such fantastic theories, which clearly did not go down well among his contemporaries? Is it possible that he was himself rewired through his extensive use of psychedelic substances, which, among other things, revealed to him the secret of life itself? I am certain that it was under very similar conditions that he came to believe in panspermia, and also that the human race were part of a much greater plan that involved the existence of highly-intelligent entities that he saw as watching over us like a shepherd looking after his flock. And what did he mean by suggesting that these life forms might be attempting to send us ‘signals’? The answer probably lies in the fact that the true key to our cosmic origins might be found much closer to home.

Messages in our DNA

DNA is the hereditary molecule, present at the heart of genes in every life form. Yet it is a fact that almost all DNA is considered scientifically useless. The human genome is composed of 3 billion base pairs of nucleotides arranged to form the familiar double helix, although just three percent represent functional genes. The remaining 97 percent are seen as ‘junk DNA’, simply because their function remains unclear. This is not just 97 percent of DNA in human beings, but a high percentage of DNA in all life forms (the amount varies from species to species). Junk DNA is simply that which does not produce proteins, since it contains no blueprint to do so. Only the other three percent of DNA is able to transform itself into RNA in order to produce the proteins that make us what we are.

The exact nature of junk DNA remains an enigma to molecular biologists, but in August 2004 a ground-breaking article in New Scientist by physicist and writer Paul Davies proposed that encoded ‘messages’, countless millions if not billions of years old and of extra-terrestrial origin, might well be contained in the genomes of terrestrial organisms. Here they will remain dormant until something triggers the encoded ‘message’ into revealing itself. Davies speculated that these signals were sparked into life by ‘carefully crafted viruses’, which infect host cells containing the ‘message-laden DNA’.

Since the DNA molecules that instruct normal living cells to grow are prone to mutation, messing about with them could cause random errors in its genetic sequence, making it completely unsuitable for revision. Thus in order to minimalise the effects of mutations, unchanging segments of DNA would have to be used, and this is where junk DNA comes in, for it has recently been shown that certain types are conserved in exactly the same format across millions of years. Thus it could well be primed with all kinds of ‘genetic oddments’, without it affecting the performance of other living cells, which operate entirely independently. As he concludes, ‘If ET has put a message into terrestrial organisms, this is surely where to look’.

Expansion of the Brain

Paul Davies’ views on the existence of these hidden messages seem to me too materialistically deduced, based on Hoyle and Wickramasinghe’s own dark vision of the panspermia epidemic. Surely, it would be simpler to propose that these messages, Crick’s ‘signals’, preserve knowledge regarding the cosmic origins of life, and how we might link with it today. Such ideas are already being contemplated by left-field astrobiologists such as Rhawn Joseph, Ph. D, of the Neurodynamics, Brain Research Laboratory. He writes that human beings are on the verge of a ‘cerebral metamorphosis and expansion of the brain’, caused through the activation of some hidden facet of junk DNA. This brings to mind the overriding effects of the psychedelic experience, including the possibility of contact with other worlds and perceived supernatural intelligences. Is it possible, therefore, that psychedelics open up what philosopher and writer Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), author of A Brave New World (1932) and renowned mescaline experimenter, referred to as the ‘doors of perception’? Is it such substances, and not ‘carefully crafted viruses’, that spark the ‘message-laden DNA’ into action?

Quantum Tunnels

In my opinion, it is some inert quality of the junk DNA that when unleashed creates neural transmissions that open up previously dormant sub-atomic pathways and even quantum tunnels that enable unmitigated signal nonlocality to take place. This enables the brain to function as a receiver of new information, or ‘messages’, not accessible to normal human consciousness. As bold as such a theory might seem, similar ideas concerning junk DNA being utilised to link all life forms via hyperspace were proposed as early as 2001 by two German science writers Grazyna Fosar and Franz Bludorf in their ground breaking book Vernetzte Intelligenz (‘Networked Intelligence’).

Inspired by the work of Finish physicist Matti Pitkänen into the concept of magnetic wormholes, Fosar and Bludorf view junk DNA as like antenna, using the mysterious force of gravity as a bond to contain microscopic wormholes, which act like a fiber-optic network, a process they refer to as ‘hypercommunication’. Moreover, they see incoming information and data as being received by junk DNA, and then transmitted via the body’s neural network to the brain, which transforms it into very real human experiences of the type triggered most usually during altered states of consciousness.

Opening the doors of perception to allow such hypercommunication via quantum tunnels would be like unzipping and configuring a computer program, opened only when the correct mental stimulus is given. If correct, then what more obvious stimulus can there be than psychedelic substances, freely available in plants and mycetes that grow all over the world. Indeed, it might be argued that they exist to supply us with these substances, which, we should recall, were made known to the indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon by the plant’s alleged spirits.

Quite literally, the psychedelic experience is the key to unlocking what might be described as personal cosmic consciousness, and if this is correct then the possibilities are endless. Inner space communications of this order could result in a much greater acceleration of evolution as new universal data and information is projected into the human mind like some kind of organic program download.

I was intrigued by the statements of some of Rick Strassman’s subjects who felt as if the entities encountered during their DMT experiences were changing or transforming them in some way. One account, from a person named Rex reads as follows:

When I was first going under there were these insect creatures all around me. They were clearly trying to break through … the insectoids began to feed on my heart, devouring the feelings of love and surrender … There was no feeling of space. Everything was so close … I don’t know if they were male or female or something else, but it was extremely alien, though not necessarily unpleasant. The thought came to me with certainty that they were manipulating my DNA, changing its structure. And then it started fading. They didn’t want me to go.

Interestingly, it was American astronomer and science writer Carl Sagan (1934-1996) - a regular user of marijuana - who first proposed that ‘perhaps the [ETI, extra-terrestrial intelligence] messages are already here, present in some everyday experience that we have not made the right mental effort to realize’. This idea was later explored by two Japanese biologists Hiromitzu Yokoo of Kyorin University Hachioji and Tairo Oshima of the Mitsubishi-kasei Institute of Life Sciences, who speculated that these ‘messages’ might well be carried in the DNA of a simple organism, such as a bacterium. So they tested a bacteriophage called øX174, a virus that inhabits the human gut, looking for an ETI message, but after studying a prominent section of its DNA, they concluded that there was nothing there.

It now looks as if these Japanese biologists were searching in the wrong place. Had they looked more closely at junk DNA, then there is every chance that they would have made some remarkable discoveries. Sagan himself went on to use the idea of instant communication with ETI without coming face to face with aliens in his novel Contact (1985), subsequently made into a Hollywood movie with Jody Foster playing the lead role. Did this inspired idea, so close to Paul Davies’ own theory regarding junk DNA, come from Sagan’s regular use of marijuana? I feel the answer is going to be yes.

Life’s Origins Elsewhere

During the 1970s, UFOs were big news, and the likelihood of some kind of extra-terrestrial contact being made was a thrilling prospect. Unfortunately, however, modern UFO encounters and abductions, although of huge scientific interest, have failed to confirm the popularly-held view that extra-terrestrials exist, or that they have visited the earth using conventional hardware. More damning still is that nothing so far discovered in the archaeological record argues for the intervention of alien beings in the evolution of human kind. This is unfortunate, and yet the connection between life on earth and the cosmos is something that our ancestors categorically accepted, and would have continued to do so if it had not been for Aristotle’s more rational theory of the spontaneous creation of life.

In Chinese mythology some of the earliest kings of China were said to have been sons of star-gods, while the kings of Sumer and Akkad in ancient Iraq bore a star symbol after their names indicating that they were the product of a divine union with sky-beings. Beyond this is the view shared by ancient peoples all over the world that even though we might have been born on earth, and are the descendants of the first human couple, our true self, our soul, originates elsewhere, and upon its release at death it will be free to return from whence it came. This recalls the magico-religious beliefs of the shamanic-based societies of Asia who considered that the souls of children sat in the upper branches of the World Tree where they await a shaman to draw them into incarnation, or even the European folk belief in storks, or swans, bringing new born babies into the world.

In Chapter Three we saw how the Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran believed that the human soul passed beyond the North Star, identified here as Deneb in Cygnus, where it would join a sky-boat that would take it across the celestial river, arguably the Milky Way, to one of the countless ‘worlds of light’, home to their dead kinsmen. In these blissful realms, governed by ‘great spirits of light’, they would encounter their purified souls as well as their own ‘dmutha or over-soul’.

Then there is the work of cultural historian William Sullivan, who, as we saw in Chapter Seven, highlighted the Andean belief that: ‘In this world we are exiled from our homeland in the world above [hanaq pacha]’, which is ‘up there’, in the northern night sky, once again in the direction of Cygnus (even though Peru is in the Southern Hemisphere). He compared this native concept with those of the seminomadic Naskapi of Labrador in Canada, who ‘speak of the possibility of contact between worlds along the Milky Way, which they call “ghost trail,” or “dead person’s path.”’ Sullivan pointed out that for these indigenous peoples, ‘the souls of the living originated in the sky, where they “rest in the firmament until they become reincarnated.”’ Similar ideas on the transmigration of the soul lay at the heart of almost all ancient religions, such as that of Dynastic Egypt, inspiring the belief in a celestial heaven, somewhere that was accessible not just to spirits or souls of the dead, but also shamans who, as we have seen, believed that they could enter the sky-world via a ‘hole’, door or gate beyond the northerly placed cosmic axis.

In the Indonesian archipelago, several island cultures are said to be directly descended from sky-beings. The Posso-Todjo Toradja, for example, say that they are the children of Lasaeo, the ‘sun-lord’, who married a Toradja woman. Eventually, he ‘returned to the sky’, and his people departed from Pamona and founded a line of chiefs at Waibinta Luwu. In Formasa (modern Taiwan), the Tsalisen say that their ancestors came out of the moon, while the Kayan and Kenyah say that sky-beings made the first man and woman in the form of stone images. The Totemboan say that To’ar, a ‘sun-lord’, married their daughter Lintjambene, while her son Si Marendor was said to have been half sky-born and half made of stone.

These examples are given simply to demonstrate how across the world indigenous cultures have believed that their entire existence is as a result of life on earth having been seeded from elsewhere whatever way their creation myths might have interpreted such information. Many other examples might be cited, such as the Native American peoples who point towards a star and say it is their original homeland, or the African tribes, including the Dogon of Mali (see Appendix I – The Dogon Mystery), that likewise claim to be descendants of sky-beings.

The Dark Between Stars

The importance here is not to assume the reality of such accounts, but simply to acknowledge that in the past there was no stigma attached to the idea that life came originally from the sky. Indeed, I sense it was the norm. The celestial abode was not only the homeland of the sky-beings, but also the place of cosmic creation, where life, or souls at least, originated, and would return in death, as in the Judaeo-Christian concept of heaven. So how did the world come to believe such views of life’s cosmic origins, which were invariably attached to the stars of Cygnus as the cosmic axis and northern apex of the Milky Way?

From the evidence presented in this book, I suspect it was as a result of the shamans or priestly elite of the communities, telling them exactly this, since it was through their contact with otherworldly agencies that the ancients most probably came to accept life’s universal nature, the modern concept of panspermia. What is more, the possibility that psychedelic substances can enable the human mind and body to achieve a state of DNA-linked cosmic consciousness allows us to perceive of the shamanic experience as authentically real.

The prospect of extra-terrestrial contact on a neuropsychological level alone makes perfect sense. With our clumsy space technology, SETI-inspired radio telescopes scanning tiny fractions of the night sky for incoming alien signals, and well-lit landing pads ready to welcome incoming UFOS, we are unlikely to make contact with ETI any time soon. This will not be through lack of trying, but simply because we are dealing with enormously vast distances between stars. As Carl Sagan pointed out in his book Broca’s Brain (1974), the epic journeys of spacecraft such as Pioneer 10 and 11 and Voyager 1 and 2, sent up from earth and boosted by gravitational assistance from Jupiter, will take tens of thousands of years to travel interstellar distances. ‘Unless some special effort is made to redirect them,’ he said, ‘they will never enter another planetary system in all the tens of billions of years of future history of the Milky Way Galaxy. The star-to-star distances are too large. They are doomed to wander forever in the dark between the stars.’

The universe is quite simply too big to cross using conventional nuts and bolts spacecraft, and the theory that we might one day be able to create wormholes or produce hyperdrives in order to cross the galaxy is at present no more than theory. And this is not simply our problem, for if there really are other intelligent beings out there, then wouldn’t you think that they also face the same pressing issues, no matter how technologically advanced they might have become?

Because of this sober conclusion, it is obvious that any highly evolved ETI out there would have created a means of communication and/or contact with distant planets that was more or less instantaneous. So if we are to accept panspermia and the idea that junk-DNA triggered by psychedelic experiences has the ability to wire us into cosmic consciousness, then it means that human beings have always been capable of contact with intelligences anywhere in the universe, and that this might well be a necessary part of our evolution.

I am not proposing that the human mind is able to project itself through space to communicate with some alien intelligence in another star system. What I am saying is that there exists some kind of universal consciousness that can link together the brains of Carbon-based life forms, wherever they are. It exists not in outer space, but in inner space, that is inside our heads, and can be imagined like some kind of neuropsychological Internet chat room, where we appear as ourselves, and the consciousness (or spirits) of visiting entities, both terrestrial and non-terrestrial, can interface with us either in their own natural forms, or as morphians - beings that take whatever form either they, or our minds, deem acceptable for purposes of communication. These links occur in a co-existing higher dimension that exists beyond the space-time so familiar to us, just like the avataristic identities users assume in an Internet virtual world. And like the Internet, it is always available to us, its activation or online facility occurring via our DNA under the correct circumstances, most obviously during the psychedelic experience.

Judging by the achievements of drug users such as Francis Crick and Carl Sagan we need to understand this process, which could be important to human evolution. Moreover, we should recall also the final words of Rick Strassman’s subject Rex, who proclaimed that the entities he encountered ‘were manipulating my DNA, changing its structure’. If this is what really happens to us under such circumstances, then our entire genetic make-up becomes altered in some way, either temporarily or even on a more permanent basis.

The Place of Emergence

It is time to point all this new knowledge back towards the Cygnus mystery, and this I will do by saying that if non-local contact with supernatural beings and worlds is available through the activation of junk DNA, then it is a process that has been going on since time immemorial, or at least since humanity first began ingesting psychedelic substances. Although this might well coincide with the appearance of anatomically modern human beings in Ethiopia as much as 195,000 years ago, the most concrete evidence for its emergence comes from the Upper Palaeolithic cave art of South-west Europe between 40,000-10,500 years ago (the oldest San rock art in Africa dates to 23,500-21,000 BC).

We must, however, acknowledge the Neanderthal bear cult, with its alleged astronomical associations, sometime around 75,000 years ago, as well as the recent discovery in South Africa’s Blombos cave, which overlooks the Indian Ocean, of a piece of red ochre with a flat surface on which are incised parallel lines with cross hatching between them. It is the oldest recorded example of prehistoric art, and was unearthed in a layer that has provided a date in the region of 77,000 years BP (before the present).

Somehow deep caves were extremely important to the evolution of rock art and religion among our Palaeolithic forebears. It was an environment they sought out time and time again, and the quite novel reason how this might have come about will at last begin to provide some real answers as to why our earliest ancestors came to view Cygnus as the source of cosmic life and death.

This account of Jeremy Narby’s experiences in the Peruvian Amazon is taken from Narby, The Cosmic Serpent; his presentation ‘Beyond the Cosmic Serpent’ at the Questing Conference/QuestCon05 on 5 November 2005, and personal communication between him and the author in 2005.

See Luna and Amaringo, Ayahuasca Visions, Vision 12, pp. 70-2; Vision 35, pp. 116-8.

Nougier and Robert, The Cave of Rouffignac, pl. 17, op. p. 102.

Harner, ‘The Sound of Rushing Water’, in Harner, Hallucinogens and Shamanism, pp. 16-7.

Strassman, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, p. 200.

Ibid., p. 201.

Joseph, Astrobiology, pp. 55, 58.

Arrhenius, ‘The Propagation of Life in Space’, DU 7 (1903), p. 481. Reprinted in Goldsmith, The Quest for Extraterrestrial Life, pp. 32-33.

See Arrhenius, Worlds in the Making.

Joseph, p. 59.



See, for instance, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, Lifecloud, and Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, Diseases from Space.

‘Sugar in Space’, 20 June 2000, Science@NASA, available at

Chalmers, ‘Amino acid detected in space’, PhysicsWeb, available at

‘Alien life seems yet more likely’, NS 188: 2522 (22 October 2005), p. 22, cf. The Astrophysical Journal 632, p. 316.

See Watson, The Double Helix.

Rees, ‘Nobel Prize genius Crick was high on LSD when he discovered the secret of life’, The Mail on Sunday, 8 August 2004, pp. 44-5.


Crick and Orgel, ‘Directed Panspermia’, Icarus 19 (1973), pp. 43-57. Reprinted in Goldsmith, pp. 34-7.

‘Francis Crick’, obituary, The Times, 30 July 2004, pp. 68-9.

Crick, Life Itself, p. 158.

Ibid., p. 159.

Davies, ‘Do we have to spell it out’, NS 183:2459 (7 August 2004), pp. 30-1.

Ibid., p. 30.

‘Junk DNA’, NS 188:2526 (19 November 2005), p. 54.

Davies, p. 31.

Joseph, p. 312.

Huxley, The Doors of Perception.

Fosar and Bludorf, Vernetzte Intelligenz.

Ibid., pp. 30, 187, 317, 324,

See, for instance, Ibid., pp. 11-2, 28-9, 42-7.

Strassman, p. 206.

See Southwell, Secrets and Lies, p. 147; Larson, ‘Stoned Scientists’ (04 Apr, 2003), CannabisCulture Marijuana Magazine, available at

Ashpole, The Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence, p. 145.

, Ibid., pp. 145-6.

Mackenzie, Myths of China and Japan, p. 275.

Drower, The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran, p. 199.

Sullivan, The Secret of the Incas, p. 57.


Ibid., p. 49.

Ibid., p. 367.

Perry, The Megalithic Culture in Indonesia, p. 72.

Ibid., p. 78.

Ibid., p. 80.

Ibid., p. 91.

Sagan, Broca’s Brain, p. 77.

Perlman, ‘Cave’s ancient treasure 77,000-year-old artifacts could mean human culture began in Africa’, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 January 2002, available at


Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted with permission of Andrew Collins from Chapter 19 of his powerful and thought-provoking book The Cygnus Mystery, which is available from

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