[disinformation ed.'s note: The following is the foreword from the new book by Erich von Däniken, Twilight of the Gods: The Mayan Calendar and the Return of the Extraterrestrials, courtesy of New Page Books.]
What is a “cargo cult”? The term refers to the real-life ethnological phenomenon of what happens when a technologically primitive society comes in contact with a technologically more advanced society. On countless documented occasions, ethnologists have observed that if technologically advanced visitors live among technologically – not intellectually! – primitive cultures for short periods of time and then leave, soon thereafter, the visitors’ advanced nuts-and-bolts technologies causes the native population to view these rather ordinary humans as gods and begin to worship them. On many occasions during their stay, the visitors would interact with the native population, giving them goods and food – cargo! After the departure of these “gods,” the native culture surmised that they would return if they practiced intense worship, sacrifice and emulation. Examples of modern-day cargo cult behavior can be found in the regions of the South Pacific during WWII. Why is this phenomenon so important?
It is important because if cargo cult behavior still takes place today, then it is a rather logical conclusion that cargo cult behavior also took place thousands and thousands of years ago. The cargo cult phenomenon illustrates the basic premise of the Classic Ancient Astronaut Theory: Thousands and thousands of years ago, technologically advanced flesh and blood extraterrestrials arrived on Earth in nuts and bolts spaceships. Intellectually-speaking, our ancestors were not stupid (they essentially had the same brain as we have today), however, because their technological frame of reference was limited, they did not comprehend the nuts and bolts aspects behind the arrival of those flesh and blood extraterrestrials and so our ancestors misinterpreted them for being divine in nature, which, of course, the visitors were not. And thus, the “gods” were born. Out of a simple (yet major!) misunderstanding.
According to the ancient texts and traditions, a long, long time ago, the gods (lower case ‘g’) descended from the sky and taught mankind in various disciplines. Why is it so hard for us to believe, living in a culture so rich in metaphor, that our ancestors drew similar comparisons? Is it really such a stretch of the imagination that whatever is described in the ancient texts is nothing more than the description of misunderstood, flesh and blood extraterrestrials who arrived here in nuts and bolts spaceships?
Mainstream science believes it is. They believe that all of these ancient stories and traditions are a figment of our ancestors’ imagination and that all of those legends were nothing but fantasy. But can something really be created out of thin air?
For many years, I attended an international boarding school high up in the mountains of Switzerland. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, our school welcomed a few new students from the former USSR. I remember sitting in art class, and our assignment for the day was to draw a “fantasy castle,” a “dream castle” floating in the clouds with shining towers and magnificent architectural features. The assigned project sent the entire classroom into a tizzy and we started drawing with unbridled enthusiasm. Everyone, that is, except our three new Russian classmates. None of them touched their pencils. They just sat in front of their large, empty sheets of paper. “What’s wrong?” the teacher asked. “Why aren’t you drawing?” The students replied: “What’s a fantasy castle? What does it look like? We’ve never seen one. Since we’ve never seen one, we can’t draw it.” What an extraordinary reaction!
This incident underscores one point: if something has not been seen, then it cannot be invented. Translation: it is impossible to conjure up something out of thin air if the basic elements are missing. Nothing happens without the initial spark of inspiration, without a catalyst. Therefore, mythologies, legends, tales, whatever – which mainstream science today discredits as mere fantasy inventions of our ancestors’ imagination – cannot possibly all be unfounded inventions or mere figments of someone’s imagination. Quite on the contrary! Something had to be there in the first place to act as the catalyst, the basic element that sparked the story. Something happened to our ancestors; they witnessed something that compelled them to tell of these events in their traditions.
I think we’d all have to agree that it is impossible to create, let alone solve, an algebraic equation without knowing the basics of mathematics. It cannot be done. In this scenario, the basic mathematical elements represent the aforementioned initial spark, the catalyst. Everything else follows quite naturally afterwards.
It is said that each legend has a true core. It is this core that represents the base element, the catalyst. Without a base element, or initial inspiration, nothing is possible. Therefore, if something like this happened to my Russian classmates living in the 20th century, then why couldn’t something similar have happened to our ancestors many thousands of years ago? The Ancient Astronaut Theory shows that it has.
We must remind ourselves that when all of these legends and stories first were written down, writing was a fairly new invention. Our ancestors realized very quickly that this new invention was the most powerful tool with which to preserve important knowledge. Is it really logical to think that the first stories and legends put in writing by our ancestors were only figments of their imagination? Of course not! Why?
Our ancestors lived in a time fraught with uncertainty and upheaval. The most important order of the day was raw survival, the gathering of food, finding of shelter. So it is a logical conclusion that the first people empowered with the written word had better things to do than to sit around a fire, get drunk and invent fantasy stories! “What story shall we conjure up tonight so we can painstakingly carve this stuff into stone?” But that is exactly what mainstream science proposes: all ancient stories are made up so that the storytellers could “come to grips” with the world and its surroundings. I consider this type of thinking to be an insult to the intelligence of our ancestors.
I hear the Ancient Astronaut Theory is insulting to our ancestors because it “undermines human ingenuity”. I ask you, who exactly is insulting our ancestors’ intelligence and ingenuity by pompously insisting that the records of our ancestors are “false” or that “they made mistakes in recording some dates” etc. It is most certainly not the Ancient Astronaut Theory.
With the invention of the written word, for the first time in human history, people were able to permanently record the most significant events of their time. Just like we have newspapers and books today, in which we report about things that are important to us, why would it have been any different for our ancestors?
For example, Native Americans still today refer to a train as a “fire horse,” a throwback to a time when they did not have the word “train” in their vocabulary. The same applies to the things and events our ancestors wrote down. They had no way of calling a flying object by the words “aircraft” or “plane,” so they did the next best thing: they described it with objects with which they were most familiar in their everyday lives. Misunderstood technology. So if there are detailed, intricate descriptions of beings that descended from the sky on flying shields or fiery chariots and taught ancient humanity in various academic disciplines in the remote past, then we must start to explore these accounts from another perspective.
What they immortalized at the time was their history! Their lives! They diligently recorded and attempted to circumscribe events that really happened to them (or their ancestors). Little did they know that future “scientists” would relegate their writings into the realm of symbolism and fantasy. That type of pompous attitude shows a great disrespect to our ancestors, not the idea that extraterrestrials showed up here on Earth thousands of years ago.
Five hundred years from now, after establishing permanent bases on the Moon and Mars, humanity will venture out to explore deep space. One of our generation spaceships will eventually arrive at a planet harboring intelligent life. What if the intelligent life we encounter turns out to be technologically primitive? What will we do? Will we just stand back and study them from afar? Yes, maybe for a month or two. But then, after we have studied and mastered their language (as ethnologists do every day), we will make physical contact with them because, well, that’s what we do – we poke and prod at things because we can’t help ourselves. We will interfere with their cultural development. We will guide their technological direction. We will give them a gentle push. We will teach them a few things. We will make them aware of the essentials of science and various academic disciplines.
And many, many generations after our departure, our “ancient” visit will be regarded as myth and fantasy because accounts of our visit in ancient texts will be deemed as “unscientific” by the oh-so-smart scientists of that society (“A long time ago, the gods descended from the sky and taught our forefathers! etc.”). By now that society will also have reached such an “advanced” technological development that it now readies itself to go into deep space. But our physical visit will be regarded as a figment of their ancestors’ imagination and relegated into the realm of quirky mythology because it is “preposterous” to read ancient history as recordings of actual events. Remind you of someone? And thus the cycle begins anew…
One day in the not-too-distant future, we too, will become Ancient Astronauts ourselves on some faraway planet. So why couldn’t this have happened here on Earth, thousands and thousands of years ago? The answer is self-evident, and it’s time we shed our arrogant attitude and opened our minds to what really happened in our cosmic past.