Some stories are weirder than anything Hollywood screenwriters could dream up. But then, facts are often stranger than fiction. How would you react if you were told that the phallus of the Egyptian god Osiris is possibly located underneath a buried pyramid in the very center of Hollywood—Los Angeles? Doesn’t this sound like something from a movie? Well, it isn’t.
The site where Osiris’ phallus is supposedly buried is known as the Hollywood Cross, which sits on a small hill next to Interstate 101, at Cahuenga. The site is notorious, as the cross can clearly be seen from the 101, especially at night, when it is illuminated and sometimes—depending on visibility—seems to be suspended in mid air.
So, how could a legendary Egyptian artifact ever end up beneath a very natural looking hill in lala-land? It seems absurd, even impossible, as the Ancient Egyptians, according to all historical accounts, never made it to America, let alone the “left coast.” But however illogical it seems, this was the firm conviction of one of the greatest astrologers of the twentieth century, Linda Goodman, who spent a small fortune in trying to prove her point.
Goodman was a New York Times bestselling author, whose books on astrology—including Sun Signs, published in 1968—sold millions. Though a well-known public figure, less known was that her life was defined by two major preoccupations: finding out the fate of her eldest daughter Sally, who had disappeared under mysterious circumstances; and proving the presence of the phallus of Osiris in Hollywood.
The phallus’ purported location was underneath the Hollywood Cross, which may be found on Pilgrimage Drive, in Cahuenga. Cahuenga is the Spanish name for the Tongva village of Kawengna, meaning “place of the mountain”— etymological evidence that the mountain was important to the Native Americans who lived there.
Today, the hill overshadows the Ford amphitheater. But it was the hill’s purported interior that obsessed Goodman. From the early 1970s until her death on October 21, 1995, she believed that there was a subterranean structure underneath the hill, which contained the phallus of Osiris. From 1990s onward, she laid out a considerable sum to have many tests performed using the latest available technology—short of physical digging—to map the hill’s interior. Realizing that no one was going to believe her, or allow her to excavate without virtually concrete proof that something manmade was indeed underneath that hill, she, nevertheless, persisted for the rest of her life in the strange quest for her Holy Grail.
But those who knew Goodman during the 1990s and saw the scientific material she compiled—in futile efforts to rally support—confirm that the surveys unanimously supported her supposition that there was indeed something underneath that hill. Some speak of a buried pyramid, while others mention clear evidence of a manmade structure, or chamber. With each survey, Goodman became more convinced that one of the greatest mythical artifacts—thought to exist only in legend—was, in fact, buried beneath Hollywood.
How did a bestselling author become convinced that such a thing existed? Goodman tells the tale in her book Star Signs. It began on New Year’s Day 1970. While promoting her bestselling Sun Signs, she stayed in room 1217 (later renumbered 1221) of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, then, as now, one of Hollywood’s iconic landmarks. Unexpectedly, a stranger knocked on her door and identified himself as “Nahtan.” He was invited in. During the discussion which followed, he made a number of extraordinary claims; he could, he said, bilocate, walk through walls, and other things. He was, apparently, an initiate of some advanced order, who had lived for more than thirty years in a monastery in India. Anyone not present could be forgiven for concluding that Nahtan was a charlatan, but Goodman was not naïve. Whoever he was, he left a lasting impression on her. Indeed, it would be a life-changing experience for her.
Nahtan also had a clear mission: He instructed Goodman that she should go to the mountains, where she would meet her twin soul. The “Twin Soul” concept is similar to that of “soul mates” but more specific. The definition of twin souls is a pair of souls made from the same soul, halved at the beginning of time, who reunite in the flesh during their time on Earth, to become whole again. It is this specific concept that appears time and again in many myths, including the legend of Isis and Osiris, themselves twin souls. In mythology the concept is often presented as “brother and sister, and lovers.” Indeed, their love story is arguably the greatest ever told. It certainly inspired generations of ancient Egyptians. Goodman, who had worked extensively in applying astrology with this concept, subsequently redoubled her efforts.
What Goodman left out of the published account (in Star Signs) were the details on how Nahtan had provided information on Hollywood Hill, though the published account does include an oblique reference to it. After Nahtan left, Goodman writes how she sat in the suite of the hotel, “by the window that looked out on the small white cross, planted on the far hill behind Grauman’s Chinese Theatre across Hollywood Boulevard.”
Ever after, whenever Goodman came to Los Angeles, she would ask for the same hotel suite, primarily because of the encounter there and because there was a clear, unobstructed view to the Hollywood Cross. Today, the latter is no longer the case, as the Hollywood & Highland Center has blocked the view—though from the viewing platform of that complex, you can see how the Hollywood Cross and the famous Hollywood sign align.
Nahtan told Goodman about a future in which she would meet her twin soul. Isis and Osiris she believed to be the perfect archetypes for twin souls, and she apparently also believed that the Great Pyramid had been built by Osiris, millennia earlier than established history dates it. In her opinion, Khufu merely restored it. She was, of course, neither the first nor the last who believed that the pyramid predated the Dynastic Era of Ancient Egypt. The Egyptian High Priest Manetho produced a King List in which he stated that before the first Dynastic Pharaoh, there were demigods and gods who ruled over Egypt—including Osiris. In fact, for the Ancient Egyptians, Osiris was not considered a mythical figure but a flesh and blood reality.
When Osiris is tricked during a meal, he is killed and his body cut into fourteen parts, which are scattered along the length of the River Nile. Isis goes in search of these pieces, in hope of recovering them all, thus saving Osiris’ soul. Alas, she is unable to find his phallus, which, according to some accounts, was eaten by the fishes that live in the Nile. (This was the reason Egyptian priests were not allowed to eat fish.) She therefore created a phallus from wood and, through magic, was able to conceive the Divine Child, Horus, who would later go on to avenge his father by slaying Seth, Osiris’ brother, who had been responsible for Osiris’ death.
Goodman highlighted December 8 as the date linked with the festival of the maimed Osiris and his resurrection through the intervention of Isis. Today, in the Christian calendar, it marks the feast of the Immaculate Conception. On that day, each year, Goodman would make sure that she was in Los Angeles, so she could trek from her hotel to the Hollywood Cross, often accompanied by a small group who shared her passion.
After Goodman died in 1995, her estate ended up in the hands of Crystal Bush. Bush hired a team to go through Goodman’s boxes. Some researchers were intimately aware that Goodman had documents and test results related to the Hollywood Cross hill, but none were found in Bush’s boxes. Their whereabouts remain unknown. The story of Goodman and the Hollywood Cross is therefore—at present—without hard evidence. It comes, however, from a remarkable and reputable source. And everyone who had seen Goodman’s accumulated evidence believed her investigation should be continued.
The first question, of course, is whether this is all factually possible. For even evidence of a subterranean chamber under a hill does not prove that Osiris’ phallus is inside. But let’s take the problem one step at a time…
When driving around that particular area of Hollywood, specifically around the back streets, it is clear that some of the hills show signs of terracing. Whether ancient or more modern is unclear, but it is largely in line with earthen mounds seen elsewhere in the U.S. and Mexico. It is also known that the area was once sacred to Native Americans, which might explain the terracing, but also begs the question: why did the Native Americans consider it sacred?
As it happens, Goodman was convinced that it was no coincidence that the so-called eighth art—namely cinematography—had blossomed in the shadow of Osiris’ purported missing phallus. It is indeed a matter of record that the Emerald Tablets, and hence Osiris, were seen as inspiring the arts themselves (e.g. The availability of the Corpus Hermeticum in fifteenth century Florence is considered one of the cornerstones of the Renaissance as well as an inspiration for painters like Botticelli, Donatello, etc.).
Osiris and his magical son Horus are also heroes par excellence, and Hollywood is, of course, the best-known and biggest hero factory on Planet Earth. Coincidence? For an astrologer like Linda Goodman, there was no such thing. Coincidence was merely a relationship between two objects which science had not yet fully understood. The reason why Hollywood became what it is, she felt, lay underneath a hill next to the 101.
There are some hints that Goodman might not have been the first interested in this piece of land. Curiously, its summit is the only piece of real estate in LA that is circular in shape. Today, it is in private ownership, though the property immediately surrounding the circle is owned by LA County.
An interesting character in the history of the hill is Christine Wetherill Stevenson. In the 1920s, she purchased land across the street from the Hollywood Bowl and built the Pilgrimage Theater, which became the home of the Pilgrimage Play all about the life of Jesus. Jesus and Osiris share much in common, though, of course, one can’t go too far with this comparison, inasmuch as Jesus is at the cornerstone of every Christian’s faith.
Upon her death in 1922, Stevenson was memorialized with the now famous cross, making the hill into something of a modern-day Golgotha, the hill upon which Jesus was crucified. Originally, the cross was only lit during Easter when the play was performed, but soon, it was lit every night and the Cross became one of Hollywood’s many famous landmarks. Of course, the Passion, with the Last Supper and Jesus’ subsequent death, are clear parallels with the story of Osiris who was murdered during a meal. Equally, the parallels between Mary Magdalene weeping at the cross and Isis weeping over her husband’s body are apparent.
How did—how could—Osiris’ phallus end up in California? For this, we need to accept that the legend of Isis and Osiris could be a true story. As strange as that is for a twenty-first century mindset, the ancient Egyptians themselves made it clear that they believed that their deities were once physical beings who had lived around 20,000 BC. It is also known that the ancient Egyptians of Dynastic times had boats capable of long-distance sailing. There is as yet no hard evidence that they crossed the oceans, though there are some indications of this possibility. In the Grand Canyon in Arizona, there are indications that the ancient Egyptians came here. Possible Egyptian artifacts and caves with Egyptian mummies have been rumored to exist ever since the Canyon was first explored.
Osiris was the Lord of the Underworld. Subterranean chambers and coffins were linked with him; and the possibility that one of the artifacts linked with him was buried in a subterranean structure, seems plausible. A related question might be whether and where the thirteen other artifacts linked with Osiris are buried.
It may be too early to suggest a coherent theory, but there are interesting points to make. The Hopi, a Native American tribe in Arizona, see their place of emergence—the place of creation—in the Grand Canyon. It is therefore a very special place for them. Could it be the same for the ancient Egyptians, who spoke of a Western Isle as the place of their origins? A place from which they came to Egypt…
Some will immediately fill this in as Atlantis, a continent said to exist in the direction of America; and though the Greek philosopher Plato wrote of it, he was relating information that came to him from Egyptian priests… the same priests who believed their deities had lived, thousands of years earlier, on Earth. If Osiris belongs to that period, 20,000 odd years ago, and to a lost civilization, then the possibility that this civilisation sailed to ancient America must be considered. Archaeology is discovering, with every passing day, that human presence on the American continent is far older than previously assumed.
The Hopi also speak about a magical water jar said to create wells and streams even in the most adverse climates. Many of their great houses in Arizona were without running water, yet communities once thrived there. Did water indeed come from some magical water jar? Part of their tradition states that sometimes a jar broke, and hence a representative needed to travel west, to an undefined location on the Pacific Coast, to refashion a magical water jar. Interestingly, such water jars, or baskets, or chests, are in Egyptian culture specifically associated with Osiris. Coincidence? Or another clue that Hollywood Hill might be linked with the mysteries of ancient Egypt.
Hollywood Hill was a private project of Linda Goodman, which came to a halt when she died in 1995. Those who knew her and of her interest remain convinced that Goodman was actually onto something, if only because they had seen the results of her scientific surveys. Alas, when she died, the relevant documents were apparently lost, meaning that the story of the Hollywood Hill became another… legend. Those who knew her hope that some day they can rekindle the project. Since 1995, surveying technology has made gigantic strides;and what seemed impossible to map at that time may now be quite doable. Can we accept that the ancient Egyptian deities were once physically real? And if so, is it possible that, somehow, an ancient Egyptian relic ended up halfway across the world? The whole idea seems to be, at the very least, good material for some imaginative Hollywood scriptwriter.