Yesterday I mentioned how former Blondie bassist Gary Lachman is on a quest to rehabilitate the occult as a viable alternative to “materialism.” In reading this month’s Fortean Times, I discovered that he is not the only musician questing after an alternative to science. An advertisement informs me that South African musician and actor Michael Tellinger has adopted Zecharia Sitchin’s ideas as truth and has a new book called African Temples of the Anunnaki, a follow-up to 2005’s Slave Species of God, which he advertised as the culmination of twenty-five years of study of… wait for it… Zecharia Sitchin.
Tellinger’s ideas are unsupportable even by the loose standards of ancient astronaut idiocy. On the home page for Slave Species, Tellinger asks “Why do all mythologies have the same group of GODS?” I imagine this will come as a bit of shock to the Aztec that their gods are identical to those of China and Greece. Even within the Indo-European family of religions, we are hard pressed to find identical gods; Odin, Frigg, Freya, and Thor do not precisely match the Greek gods; Freya, for example, has aspects the Greeks divided among Aphrodite, Athena, and Persephone. Even two myth systems we today think of as virtually identical—Greece and Rome—have challenging difficulties, not least the startling difference between the bloodthirsty berserker Ares and the beneficent farming warrior Mars.
Again, Tellinger asks: “Why is the FLYING SERPENT the creator god in all mythologies?” Do I even need to say that it is not? Without getting into the question of whether Tellinger means the creator of the universe or just of humanity, it should be easy to think of instances where this is not true: the three Abrahamic monotheistic faiths (God as creator); Babylonian religion (chaos to Tiamat to Marduk); Greek mythology (chaos, with Prometheus making humans); etc. etc. Even among the Aztec, the feathered serpent was not the creator god; that honor went to Ometecuhtli/Omecihuatl, the self-created dual god, progenitor of Quetzalcoatl.
Ungrammatically, he asks “Why has humankind been so obsessed with GOLD since the earliest of time? Why has GOD been so obsessed with GOLD since Genesis?” Tellinger believes that the aliens created humans to mine gold around 250,000 BCE, so I imagine this must be the “earliest of time.” However, archaeology has uncovered no evidence of the use of gold before roughly the third millennium BCE. [Update: I am wrong here; the oldest known gold is from 4600 BCE at Varna; which is what I get for looking up facts in a book published before 2006, when the Varna treasure was dated by radiocarbon testing of associated graves.] (You’ll often read on gold buying websites that in 3100 BCE the Egyptian pharaoh Menes recorded the value of gold, the oldest ever effort to quantify its value, but this dubious fact is derived from much later Greek accounts; no 3100 BCE artifact exists making this claim.) Further, many cultures historically had no interest in gold, including most of prehistoric North America and Australia. Nor is there much evidence for God being obsessed with gold “since Genesis.” In Genesis, the first mention of gold comes at Gen. 2:11-12, where it is listed as one of the fine products of the land around the river Pison, sometimes identified with the Phasis, the river that ran through the land of the Golden Fleece in Greek myth. Otherwise, there is very little about gold in Genesis except for standard listings alongside other forms of wealth like sheep, and nothing about it from God himself.
His new book claims that rough stone circles in South Africa were built to house “Tesla-like technology” designed to carve tunnels to the gold deposits at deep in the earth’s core. (Earth’s natural gold deposits are near the core due to the density of gold; the gold we mine near the surface traveled here by meteor.)
But The Fortean Times also had an honest-to-goodness gem of a thought from Steve Moore in his article “The Real Arthur?” He was speaking of books that attempt to historicize the mythic British king, but in so doing he makes a much broader point that comes very close to my own work establishing how closely “alternative” history is to speculative fiction:
I’d suggest that, rather than writing these books off as nonsense, it might be more useful to regard them as ‘modern romances’. They purport to be factual while having virtually no factual basis; but once again, it’s the narrative that is important, providing as it does a key to ancient mysteries and a discovery of something wonderful. I’d go further and suggest the modern romance label could be applicable across a broad range of fortean topics, from the ‘Holy Blood’ literature to ancient astronauts, crashed saucer retrievals, alien abductions… and so on, once more, ad infinitum. Perhaps it’s not really important whether these notions are ‘true’ or not. Instead, these are narratives that we want to be true, and so they tell us something about ourselves, our desire to escape from mundane reality, and our wish for the wondrous. They are, quite simply, romantic … and that, no doubt, is the greatest part of their appeal.
That is as good a reason as any why Giorgio Tsoukalos, David Hatcher Childress, Scott Wolter, and others describe themselves as the “Real Life Indiana Jones” and continue to embrace ideas long after every objective measure has demonstrated their untruth.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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