Living for Centuries?

Should Ancient Tales of Extreme Longevity Be Taken Seriously?

One of the oddest claims made in the Old Testament concerns the age of the patriarchs, the Biblical figures who lived before the Flood and, for awhile, those who lived after it. Ten are listed before the Flood, including Adam, who supposedly lived to the age of 930. His son Seth reached the age of 912, Enosh 905, Cainan 910, Mahalel 899, Jarod 962, and Enoch was said to have been taken alive to Heaven at the age of 365. Methusaleh set the record at 969, followed by Lamech who lived until the age of 770, and Noah to 950. After the Flood, lifespans became shorter, but several men were said to live over 200 years, with Shem dying at age 600. Abraham was said to have reached the age of 175, and Moses 120. It seems an odd story just to have been invented, and the decline in lifespans after the Flood is intriguing.

Similar claims are made concerning the kings in Mesopotamia listed in the ancient Sumerian Kings List, a cuneiform stone tablet. Eight kings before the Flood were said to have reigned from 18,600 years to 36,000. Note that this is just how long they supposedly reigned. If each of them succeeded an equally long-lived father, their age might be twice as long. It seems unlikely that people could live that long, even if they didn’t age at all; the odds are that someone will fall prey to accident, disease, war, or assassination long before even 18,600 years. In addition, all the figures are divisible by 60—and the ancient Mesopotamians used a number system based on 60. So the ages are probably exaggerated and rounded off. Like the post-Flood patriarchs in the Bible, the Sumerian kings after the Flood still reigned for hundreds of years, with the life spans gradually declining.

Of course, the Sumerians and their successors influenced the ancient Israelites. Abraham is claimed to have originated in Sumer, or at least lived there for a time. So it is possible that the whole thing is fictional, but, again, it seems like an odd story just to have been made up. It’s as if people had some vitality that gradually drained out of succeeding generations, especially after the Flood, or as if there were some kind of energy present in prehistoric times that gave people greater health and vitality.

Claims of long-lived individuals are present in other cultures but nothing quite like the accounts of these patriarchs and kings. The Hindus, the Buddhists, and the followers of the Falun Gong cult all have legends of saints whose mystical practices and exercises allowed them to live for centuries, as did the Persians and the Romans. Legendary ancient Vietnamese kings were said to have lived for up to 692 years. In India, there was supposedly at one time an elixir called “amrita” that would prevent aging, and the Greek gods were said to owe their immortality to eating ambrosia and drinking a magical nectar. And Adam and Eve had eaten of the Tree of Life in the Garden.

Many cultures have legends of one or more past golden ages. Could there really have been a time when many people lived for centuries? If so, what gave them their vitality? Could there have been some energy present that is now either lacking or not being directed properly? Most ancient cultures believed in a mysterious vital energy that (in at least some traditions) was the ground of all being and that affected, and was affected by, human consciousness. It has been called chi, ki, qui, prana, kundalini, odic force, vril, etheric force, and orgone. Note that such an energy, filling all of space, bears a strong resemblance to the nineteenth-century concept of a “luminiferous ether,” a mysterious substance that carried the vibrations of light just as ordinary matter carries the vibrations of sound. The famous Michaelson-Morley experiment failed to find evidence of a static luminiferous ether, but a dynamic ether would have been nearly impossible to detect. Einstein’s relativity theory requires a “space-time continuum” that can bend; in later life Einstein himself admitted that his theory required a kind of ether; he just gave it a different name. So this energy may be real. Is it possible that in ancient, even prehistoric times, people knew of this energy and how to control it? Could there have been technologies based on this energy, technologies so different from our own that we cannot even recognize the machines left over from that time (like the pyramids)?

Author and researcher John F. Michell believed that there were civilizations based on this energy, and he wrote of it in The View Over Atlantis and The New View Over Atlantis, a revised and updated version of his original book. He wrote specifically of the time Stonehenge and similar monuments were constructed. I would point out that an older civilization was probably destroyed at the time of the Flood, when the glaciers melted and sea levels rose suddenly. Some of the ancient knowledge would have survived, and people may have been trying to rebuild civilization. Michell described “ley lines,” paths on the Earth’s surface that appear to be straight lines (actually great circle routes on the round Earth’s curved surface). One of these is the Michael Line, extending from Land’s End in Cornwall in the southwest of England, past Michael’s Mount, intersecting with Glastonbury, Avebury, and other sacred sites, many marked by ancient megalithic structures. Michell suggested that standing stones erected by prehistoric people might have been, for the Earth, analogous to acupuncture needles, balancing and directing the energies. The Chinese believed that the qui energy was divided into yang (masculine, solar, and associated by alchemists with the element sulfur) and yin (feminine, earthly, associated with Mercury).

Michell pointed out that, in modern times, cancers sometimes cluster in certain areas and that some people claim to have remedied the problem by driving long, iron spikes into the ground to let yang energy into the Earth to balance the yin, balance being of the utmost importance. The Michael line is but one of many in England, where churches, built on ancient pagan sites, are aligned perfectly. Often modern roads follow ancient Roman roads, which were built along paths constructed by the ancient Britons, on ley lines. Similar alignments can be found all over the world, but they have not been studied and mapped out so thoroughly outside the British Isles. Intriguingly, one of the Mars orbiters has photographed three towers, thousands of feet tall, in a straight line on the surface of Mars. No known or suspected natural process could have raised such structures (or the towers that have been photographed on the Moon, as well). This raises the possibility of ancient civilizations on Mars as well as on Earth having harnessed the chi energy.

Henry Lincoln, another author who has studied ancient alignments, believes people once may have done more than erect stone structures along ley lines. Rennes Le Chateau in France is where the mysterious priest Bérenger Saunière acquired a fortune from an unknown source and used it to construct curious structures in and around the church. Lincoln believes that the very landscape surrounding Rennes Le Chateau was altered in ancient, perhaps prehistoric, times.

Michell pointed out that occultist Wilhelm Reich, who called the energy “orgone,” believed that he could direct it or gather it, and constructed orgone accumulators, chambers surrounded by alternating layers of organic and inorganic material. He suggested that Newgrange, a spectacular ancient ruin in Northern Ireland, has alternating layers of clay (inorganic) and sod (organic) surrounding its internal chamber—perhaps it was an orgone accumulator.

Perhaps in past ages people were concerned not only with the location and alignment of structures but also their shape. Architect Herbert Bangs has written, The Return of Sacred Architecture. In the book’s forward John Anthony West says that, “the sacred architecture of the past is built on certain demonstrable mathematical, harmonic, and geometric principles.” If the chi force is real, as many of us believe, the shape of a building might also focus or direct it in a beneficial or harmful way, thereby affecting human health and longevity. Bangs believes that architects once based structures on “insights into a higher spiritual reality,” and stresses the importance of incorporating golden mean ratios into building designs. And if mind, spirit, and consciousness is the highest level of reality, and matter (mass/energy, space, and time, the observable, measurable, physical universe) is a secondary manifestation, as philosophical idealists believe, any structure that affects human consciousness will affect human health and longevity and much, much more.

Modern architects, however, tend to be materialists; and Bangs is particularly critical of what we think of as modern architecture, which really took shape after WWI as the “international style” with the German Bauhaus school, the French architect “Le Corbusier,” and the American Frank Lloyd Wright. Bangs believes that much modern art is really anti-art, and anti-human, and modern architecture often involves a “systematic rejection of the individual.” Much modern architecture is mere gimmickry (think of the Sydney Opera House). The Chinese system of Feng Shui is a Taoist system for bringing people into harmony with the surrounding environment, primarily through architecture that properly channels the qui energy, taking into account the slope of the land, soil, and vegetation. Fresh air and natural light are needed, and clutter must be avoided. Buildings must be situated and designed to properly balance the energy. It seems obvious that Bang’s ideas and the concept of Feng Shui are compatible with one another.

But not only graphic art and architecture are important to our health and well-being, but also music, which has a direct effect upon our consciousness and, thereby, our physical and mental health and the development of our character. Pythagoras and the Platonists believed that music had to follow certain immutable laws of number and proportion. Today, beautiful music is still being written and produced, but most of the popular music, backed by the large production companies, violates all these ancient laws and, I suspect, is having a damaging effect on our consciousness.

The problem today is a lack of harmony, and this is present even in our calendar. Our present Gregorian calendar was given to us in 1528 by Pope Gregory XIII, replacing the Julian calendar established by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, which replaced the earlier Roman calendar. But our calendar completely ignores natural solar cycles. There are two equinoxes, spring and fall, when the days and nights throughout the world are 12 hours each, and two solstices, winter and summer, the shortest and longest days of the year. These vary only slightly from year to year and change only very slowly over time, with the equinoxes falling on March 20 and September 22 or 23, and the solstices on June 20 and 21 and December 21 or 22. Logically, the last day of the year should be on the Northern Hemisphere (where most people live) winter solstice, and the first day of January and the New Year the day after; the variation is so slight that we would never be more than a day off. Months should begin on the equinoxes.

And if consciousness is the ground of all being and the chi force is real, even our systems of measurement are important. There is reason to believe that there is a sacred order to the universe and that our modern systems, including the metric system, do not follow this order. A researcher named Alexander Thom surveyed some 600 megalithic sites in the British Isles and concluded that the builders had used a “megalithic yard” of 2.72 feet, and a megalithic rod 2.5 megalithic yards long. Other investigators claim to have found these ratios in other ancient sites around the world. Archaeologist Hugh Harleston studied the ruins at Teotihuacan in Mexico and found recurrent ratios of multiples of 108. Note that 216 (twice 108) is the number of degrees the Earth moves in its elliptical orbit around the Sun between inferior conjunctions with Venus, which passes Earth on its inside, faster orbit. The diameter of the Moon is 2,160 miles, or 10 times 216. We know that the precession of the equinoxes takes just under 26,000 years, although there is uncertainty regarding the exact figure. Astrologers since ancient times have used 25,920 years, which divides evenly into 12 astrological ages of 2,160 years each. The number of minutes in a 360 degree circle is 21,600… ten times 2,160. Earth’s equatorial circumference is 25,920 ancient Greek miles. This simply cannot all be coincidence. It is certain that in ancient times people knew the exact size and shape of the Earth, and the distance and size of the Moon, and knew about precession. And these figures seem to show that the universe was built according to a plan, and that we are part of that plan.

Today we are a broken people living in a broken world. We have forgotten our past and are unaware of our own powers and potential. We allow ourselves to be ruled over by madmen who are only too happy to help us forget who and what we really are. Our art and music corrupt our minds; our science, despite its potential for good, has degenerated into a materialist cult, scientism. Our architecture is ugly, and, rather than enhancing the natural energies that might give us greater vitality and longevity, it blocks or distorts them. Yet here and there, among a growing number of us, some of the ancient wisdom survives. It is yet possible that if we survive the current time of great danger (of nuclear war, global tyranny, or social and economic collapse) we may yet rebuild our civilization, perhaps merging a reformed version of modern science with the ancient technology. Perhaps people alive today will still be alive and youthful, healthy, happy, and productive centuries from now.

By William B. Stoecker