by Andrew Collins
broke into the alternative publishing arena with his
ground-breaking tome From the Ashes of Angels (1996),
the culmination of five years' work on the Watchers
and Nephilim with the help of his friend and
colleague Richard Ward. Since then he has written four
more books that challenge the way we view the past:
Gods of Eden (1998),
Gateway to Atlantis (2000), Tutankhamun: The Exodus
Conspiracy (2002) and Twenty-First Century Grail (2004).
Andrew lectures worldwide,
and is the organizer of QuestCon, Britain's most popular
annual event on revisionist history, forbidden
archaeology and ancient mysteries. He lives with his
wife Sue in the Essex seaside town of Leigh-on-Sea.
All notes and references
used for this article can be found in the author’s book
From the Ashes of Angels.
New Dawn No. 40 (January-February
Angels are something we associate with beautiful Pre-Raphaelite and
renaissance paintings, carved statues accompanying gothic
architecture and supernatural beings who intervene in our lives at
times of trouble. For the last 2000 years this has been the
stereotypical image fostered by the Christian Church. But what are
angels? Where do they come from, and what have they meant to the
development of organized religion?
Many people see the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old
Testament, as littered with accounts of angels appearing to
righteous patriarchs and visionary prophets. Yet this is simply not
so. There are the three angels who approach Abraham to announce the
birth of a son named Izaac to his wife Sarah as he sits beneath a
tree on the Plain of Mamre. There are the two angels who visit Lot
and his wife at Sodom prior to its destruction. There is the angel
who wrestles all night with Jacob at a place named Penuel, or those
which he sees moving up and down a ladder that stretches between
heaven and earth.
Yet other than these accounts, there are too few examples, and when
angels do appear the narrative is often vague and unclear on what
exactly is going on. For instance, in the case of both Abraham and
Lot the angels in question are described simply as ‘men’, who sit
down to take food like any mortal person.
It was not until post-exilic times - i.e. after the Jews returned
from captivity in Babylon around 450 BC - that angels became an
integral part of the Jewish religion. It was even later, around 200
BC, that they began appearing with frequency in Judaic religious
literature. Works such as the Book of Daniel and the apocryphal
of Tobit contain enigmatic accounts of angelic beings that have
individual names, specific appearances and established hierarchies.
These radiant figures were of non-Judaic origin. All the indications
are that they were aliens, imports from a foreign kingdom, namely
The country we know today as Iran might not at first seem the most
likely source for angels, but it is a fact that the exiled Jews were
heavily exposed to its religious faiths after the Persian king Cyrus
the Great took Babylon in 539 BC. These included not only
Zoroastrianism, after the prophet Zoroaster or Zarathustra, but also
the much older religion of the Magi, the elite priestly caste of
Media in north-west Iran. They believed in a whole pantheon of
supernatural beings called ahuras, or ‘shining ones’, and daevas -
ahuras who had fallen from grace because of their corruption of
Although eventually outlawed by Persia, the influence of the Magi
ran deep within the beliefs, customs and rituals of Zoroastrianism.
Moreover, there can be little doubt that Magianism, from which we
get terms such as magus, magic and magician, helped to establish the
belief among Jews not only of whole hierarchies of angels, but also
of legions of fallen angels - a topic that gains its greatest
inspiration from one work alone -
the Book of Enoch.
The Book of
Compiled in stages somewhere between 165 BC and the start of the
Christian era, this so-called pseudepigraphal (i.e. falsely
attributed) work has as its main theme the story behind the fall of
the angels. Yet not the fall of angels in general, but those which
were originally known as ’îrin (’îr in singular), "those who watch",
or simply ‘watchers’ as the word is rendered in English translation.
The Book of Enoch tells the story of how 200 rebel angels, or
Watchers, decided to transgress the heavenly laws and ‘descend’ on
to the plains and take wives from among mortal kind. The site given
for this event is the summit of Hermon, a mythical location
generally associated with the snowy heights of Mount Hermon in the
Ante-Lebanon range, north of modern-day Palestine (but see below for
the most likely homeland of the Watchers).
The 200 rebels realize the implications of their transgressions, for
they agree to swear an oath to the effect that their leader Shemyaza
would take the blame if the whole ill-fated venture went terribly
After their descent to the lowlands, the Watchers indulge in earthly
delights with their chosen ‘wives’, and through these unions are
born giant offspring named as Nephilim, or Nefilim, a Hebrew word
meaning ‘those who have fallen’, which is rendered in Greek
gigantes, or ‘giants’.
In between taking advantage of our women, the 200 rebel angels spent
their time imparting the heavenly secrets to those who had ears to
listen. One of their number, a leader named Azazel, is said to have
"taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and
breastplates, and made known to them the metals (of the earth) and
the art of working them", indicating that the Watchers brought the
use of metal to mankind. He also instructed them on how they could
make "bracelets" and "ornaments" and showed them how to use
"antimony", a white brittle metal employed in the arts and medicine.
To the women Azazel taught the art of "beautifying" the eyelids, and
the use of "all kinds of costly stones" and "colouring tinctures",
presupposing that the wearing of make-up and jewellery was unknown
before this age. In addition to these crimes, Azazel stood accused
of teaching women how to enjoy sexual pleasure and indulge in
promiscuity - a blasphemy seen as ‘godlessness’ in the eyes of the
Other Watchers stood accused of revealing to mortal kind the
knowledge of more scientific arts, such as astronomy, the knowledge
of the clouds, or meteorology; the "signs of the earth", presumably
geodesy and geography, as well as the "signs", or passage, of the
celestial bodies, such as the sun and moon. Their leader, Shemyaza,
is accredited with having taught "enchantments, and root-cuttings", a
reference to the magical arts shunned upon by most orthodox Jews.
One of their number, Pênêmûe, taught
"the bitter and the sweet", surely a reference to the use of herbs
and spices in foods, while instructing men on the use of "ink and
paper", implying that the Watchers introduced the earliest forms of
writing. Far more disturbing is Kâsdejâ, who is said to have shown
"the children of men all the wicked smitings of spirits and demons,
and the smitings of the embryo in the womb, that it may pass away".
In other words he taught women how to abort babies.
These lines concerning the forbidden sciences handed to humanity by
the rebel Watchers raises the whole fundamental question of why
angels should have possessed any knowledge of such matters in the
first place. Why should they have needed to work with metals, use
charms, incantations and writing; beautify the body; employ the use
of spices, and know now to abort an unborn child? None of these
skills are what one might expect heavenly messengers of God to
possess, not unless they were human in the first place.
In my opinion, this revelation of previously unknown knowledge and
wisdom seems like the actions of a highly advanced race passing on
some of its closely-guarded secrets to a less evolved culture still
striving to understand the basic principles of life.
More disconcerting were the apparent actions of the now fully grown
Nephilim, for it says:
And when men could no longer sustain
them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And
they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and
fish, and to devour one another’s flesh, and drink the blood.
Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones.
By now the cries of desperation from
mankind were being heard loud and clear by the angels, or Watchers,
who had remained loyal to heaven. One by one they are appointed by
God to proceed against the rebel Watchers and their offspring the Nephilim, who are described as "the bastards and the reprobates, and
the children of fornication".
The first leader, Shemyaza, is hung and
bound upside down and his soul banished to become the stars of the
constellation of Orion. The second leader, Azazel, is bound hand and
foot, and cast for eternity into the darkness of a desert referred
to as Dûdâêl.
Upon him are placed "rough and jagged
rocks" and here he shall forever remain until the Day of Judgment
when he will be "cast into the fire" for his sins. For their part in
the corruption of mankind, the rebel Watchers are forced to witness
the slaughter of their own children before being cast into some kind
of heavenly prison, seen as an "abyss of fire".
The patriarch Enoch then enters the picture and, for some
inexplicable reason, is asked to intercede on behalf of the
incarcerated rebels. He attempts to reconcile them with the angels
of heaven, but fails miserably. After this the Book of Enoch relates
how the patriarch is carried by angels over mountains and seas to
the "seven heavens".
Here he sees multitudes of angelic
beings watching stars and other celestial bodies in what appear to
be astronomical observatories. Others tend orchards and gardens that
have more in common with an Israeli kibbutz than an ethereal realm
above the clouds.
Elsewhere in ‘heaven’ is Eden, where God planted a garden for
and Eve before their fall - Enoch being the first mortal to enter
this domain since their expulsion.
Finally, during the life of Enoch’s great-grandson, Noah, the Great
Flood covers the land and destroys all remaining traces of the giant
race. Thus ends the story of the Watchers.
The Sons of
What are we to make of the Book of Enoch? Are its accounts of the
fall of the Watchers and the visits to heaven by the patriarch Enoch
based on any form of historical truth? Scholars would say no. They
believe it to be a purely fictional work inspired by the Book of
Genesis, in particular two enigmatic passages in Chapter 6. The
first, making up Verses 1 and 2, reads as follows:
And it came to pass, when men began
to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born
unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that
they were fair; and they took them wives of all that they chose.
By ‘sons of God’ the text means heavenly
angels, the original Hebrew being bene ha-elohim. In Verse 3 of
Chapter 6 God unexpectedly pronounces that his spirit cannot remain
in men for ever, and that since humanity is a creation of flesh its
life-span will henceforth be shortened to "an hundred and twenty
years". Yet in Verse 4 the tone suddenly reverts to the original
theme of the chapter, for it says:
The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that,
sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they
bare children to them: the same were the mighty men which were of
old, the men of renown.
As the Pentateuch is considered to have been written by Moses the
lawgiver in c.1200 BC, it is assumed that the lines of Genesis 6
influenced the construction of the Book of Enoch, not the other way
round. Despite this obvious assumption on the part of Hebrew
scholars, there is ample evidence to show that much of Genesis was
written after the Jews return from captivity in Babylon during the
mid-fifth century BC.
If this was the case, then there is no
reason why the lines of Genesis 6 could not have been tampered with
around this time. In an attempt to emphasize the immense antiquity
of the Book of Enoch, Hebrew myth has always asserted that it was
originally conveyed to Noah, Enoch’s great grandson, after the Great
Flood, i.e. long before the compilation of Genesis.
This claim of precedence over the
Pentateuch eventually led the Christian theologian St Augustine (AD
354-430) to state that the Book of Enoch was too old (ob nimiam
antiquitatem) to be included in the Canon of Scripture!
Roots of the
There is another enigma contained within the lines of Genesis 6, for
its appears to embody two entirely different traditions.
Look again at the words of Verse 2. They speak of the Sons of God
coming unto the Daughters of Men, while in contrast Verse 4 states
"The Nephilim were in the earth in
those days and also after that when the sons of God came in unto
the daughters of men (author’s emphasis)".
And also after that...
The meaning seemed clear enough: there were two quite separate
traditions entangled here - one concerning the fallen race known to
the early Israelites as the Nephilim (mentioned elsewhere in the
Pentateuch as the progenitors of a race of giants called Anakim),
and the other concerning the bene ha-elohim, the Sons of God,
who are equated directly with
the Watchers in Enochian tradition.
Theologians are aware of this dilemma,
and get around the problem by suggesting that the angels fell from
grace twice - once through pride and then again through lust. It
seems certain that the term Nephilim was the original Hebrew name of
the fallen race, while bene ha-elohim was a much later term -
plausibly from Iran - that entered Genesis 6 long after its original
In spite of the contradictions surrounding Genesis 6, its importance
is clear enough, for it preserved the firm belief among the
ancestors of the Jewish race that at some point in the distant past
a giant race had once ruled the earth.
So if the Watchers and the Nephilim really had inhabited this world,
Who or what were these seemingly physical beings?
they come from?
What did they look like?
Where did they live and
what was their ultimate fate?
The Book of Enoch was a vital source of knowledge with regard to
their former existence, but I needed more - other less tainted
accounts of this apparent race of human beings.
Then came an important break.
The Dead Sea
Hebrew scholars had long noted the similarities between some of the
reactionary teachings in the Book of Enoch and the gospels according
to the Essenes - a fundamental, yet very righteous religious
community spoken of by classical scholars as having existed on the
western shores of the Dead Sea. This connection was strengthened
after 1947 when it was realized that among the Dead Sea Scrolls, now
considered to have been written by the Essenes, were various
fragments of texts belonging to several copies of the Book of Enoch.
Up until this time the only complete
manuscript copies available to the literary world had been various
copies written in the Ethiopian written language of Ge’ez, the first
of which had been brought back to Europe by the Scottish explorer
and known Freemason James Bruce of Kinnaird following his famous
travels in Abyssinia between 1769 and 1772.
Not only did the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm the authenticity of the
Book of Enoch, but they also showed that it had been held in great
esteem by the Essene community at Qumran, who may even have been
behind its original construction sometime after 165 BC.
More importantly, Hebrew scholars also
began to identify various other previously unknown tracts of an
‘Enochian’ flavour among the Dead Sea corpus, and these included
further references to the Watchers and their offspring the Nephilim.
Many of these individual fragments were eventually realized by Dead
Sea scholar J.T. Milik to be extracts from a lost work called
Book of Giants.
Previously this had only been known from isolated references in
religious texts appertaining to the Manichaeans, a heretical gnostic
faith that swept across Europe and Asia, as far as China and Tibet,
from the third century AD onwards.
The Book of Giants continues the story told in the Book of Enoch,
relating how the Nephilim had coped with knowing that their imminent
destruction was due to the improprieties of their Watcher fathers.
Reading this ancient work allows the reader a more compassionate
view of the Nephilim, who come across as innocent bystanders in a
dilemma beyond their personal control.
Visage Like A
Yet aside from this still very fragmentary treatise, other Enochian
texts have surfaced among the Dead Sea Scrolls which in my opinion
are just as important. One of these is the
Testament of Amram.
Amram was the father of the lawgiver Moses, although any biblical
time-frame to this story is irrelevant. What is much more
significant is the appearance of the two Watchers who appear to him
in a dream-vision as he rests in his bed, for as the heavily
reconstructed text reads:
[I saw Watchers] in my vision, the
dream-vision. Two (men) were fighting over me, saying... and
holding a great contest over me. I asked them, ‘Who are you,
that you are thus empo[wered over me?’ They answered me, ‘We]
[have been em]powered and rule over all mankind.’
They said to me, ‘Which of us do
yo[u choose to rule (you)?’ I raised my eyes and looked.] [One]
of them was terr[i]fying in his appearance, [like a s]erpent,
[his] c[loa]k many-coloured yet very dark... [And I looked
again], and... in his appearance, his visage like a viper, and
[wearing...] [exceedingly, and all his eyes...].
The text identifies this last Watcher as
Belial, the Prince of Darkness and King of Evil, while his companion
is revealed as Michael, the Prince of Light, who is also named as
Melchizedek, the King of Righteousness. It is, however, Belial’s
frightful appearance that took my attention, for he is seen as
terrifying to look upon and like a ‘serpent’, the very synonym so
often used when describing both the Watchers and the Nephilim.
If the textual fragment had ended here,
then I would not have known why this synonym had been used by the
Jewish scribe in question. Fortunately, however, the text goes on to
say that the Watcher possessed a visage, or face, "like a viper".
Since he also wears a cloak "many-coloured yet very dark", I had
also to presume that he was anthropomorphic, in other words he
possessed human form.
Visage like a
What could this possibly mean? How many people do you know with a
"visage like a viper"? For over a year I could offer no suitable
solution to this curious metaphor.
Then, by chance, I happened to overhear something on a national
radio station that provided me with a simple, though completely
unexpected answer. In Hollywood, Los Angeles, there is a club called
the Viper Room. It is owned by actor and musician Johnny Depp, and
in October 1993 it hit the headlines when up-coming actor River
Phoenix tragically collapsed and died as he left the club following
a night of over-indulgence. In the media publicity that inevitably
surrounded this drugs-related incident, it emerged that the Viper
Room gained its name many years beforehand when it had been a jazz
haunt of some renown.
Story goes that the musicians would take
the stage and play long hours, prolonging their creativity and
concentration by smoking large amounts of marijuana. Apparently, the
long term effects of this drug abuse, coupled with exceedingly long
periods without food and sleep, would cause their emaciated faces to
appear hollow and gaunt, while their eyes would close up to become
just slits. Through the haze of heavy smoke, the effect was to make
it seem as if the jazz musicians had faces like vipers, hence the
name of the club.
This amusing anecdote sent my mind reeling and enabled me to
construct a mental picture of what a person with a "visage like a
viper" might look like; their faces would appear long and narrow,
with prominent cheekbones, elongated jawbones, thin lips and slanted
eyes like those of many East Asian racial types. Was this the
solution as to why both the Watchers and Nephilim were described as
It seemed as likely a possibility as
any, although it was also feasible that their serpentine connection
related to their accredited magical associations and capabilities,
perhaps even their bodily movements and overall appearance.
Another important reference to the appearance of Watchers comes from
Secrets of the Book of Enoch, also known as
2 Enoch, a
kind of sequel to the original work written in Greek and dating to
the first century AD. The passage refers to the unexpected arrival
of two Watchers as Enoch rests on his bed:
And there appeared to me two men
very tall, such as I have never seen on earth. And their faces
shone like the sun, and their eyes were like burning lamps; and
fire came forth from their lips. Their dress had the appearance
of feathers:... [purple], their wings were brighter than gold;
their hands whiter than snow. They stood at the head of my bed
and called me by my name.
White skin (often ruddied "as red as a
rose"), tall stature and facial radiances "like the sun" all recur
frequently in connection with the appearance of angels and Watchers
in Enochian and Dead Sea literature.
Yet what was this reference to
their dress having "the appearance of feathers"?
Might it relate in some way to
the "cloak" worn by the Watcher named Belial who appears in
the Amram story, which was said to have been "many-coloured
yet very dark", precisely the effect one might expect from a
coat of black feathers, like those belonging to crows or
In spite of the fact that Christian art
has invariably portrayed angels with wings, this tradition goes back
no further than the third or fourth century AD. Before this time
true angels (Cherubim and Seraphim did have multiple sets of wings)
appeared in the likeness of "men", a situation that often prompted
textual translators to add wings on to existing descriptions of
angels. This has almost certainly been the case in the above account
taken from 2 Enoch, which was re-copied many times during the early
years of Christianity.
With this observation in mind, I felt that the statement concerning
the Watchers dress having "the appearance of feathers" was very
revealing indeed. It also seemed like an over-sight on the part of
the scribe who conveyed this story into written form, for having
added wings to the description of the two "men", why bother saying
they wore garments of feathers? Surely this confusion between wings
and feather coats could have been edited to give the Watchers a more
appropriate angelic appearance.
Somehow I knew it was a key to unlocking this strange mystery, for
it suggested that, if the Watchers had indeed been human, then they
may have adorned themselves in garments of this nature as part of
their ceremonial dress. The use of totemic forms, such as animals
and birds, has always been the domain of
the shaman, the spirit
walkers of tribal communities. In many early cultures the soul was
said to have taken the form of a bird to make its flight from this
world to the next, which is why it is often depicted as such in
ancient religious art.
This idea may well have stemmed from the
widely-held belief that astral flight could only be achieved by
using ethereal wings, like those of a bird, something that almost
certainly helped inspire the idea that angels, as messengers of
should be portrayed with wings in Christian iconography.
To enhance this mental link with his or her chosen bird, shamans
would adorn their bodies with a coat of feathers and spend long
periods of time studying its every movement. They would enter its
natural habitat and watch every facet of its life - its method of
flight, its eating habits, its courtship rituals and its actions on
the ground. In doing so they would hope to become as birds
themselves, an alter-personality adopted on a semi-permanent basis.
Totemic shamanism is more-or-less
dependent on the indigenous animals or birds present in the locale
of the culture or tribe, although in principle the purpose has
always been the same - using this mantle to achieve astral flight,
divine illumination, spirit communication and the attainment of
otherworldly knowledge and wisdom.
So could the Watchers and Nephilim have been bird-men?
The answer is almost certainly yes, for in the Dead Sea text
Book of Giants, the Nephilim sons of the fallen angel
Shemyaza, named as ’Ahy? and ’Ohy?, experience dream-visions in
which they visit a world-garden and see 200 trees being felled by
heavenly angels. Not understanding the purpose of this allegory they
put the subject to the Nephilim council who appoint one of their
number, Mahawai, to go on their behalf to consult Enoch, who now
resides in an earthly paradise.
To this end Mahawai then:
[...rose up into the air] like the
whirlwinds, and flew with the help of his hands like [winged]
eagle [...over] the cultivated lands and crossed Solitude, the
great desert, [...]. And he caught sight of Enoch and he called
Enoch explains that the 200 trees
represent the 200 Watchers, while the felling of their trunks
signifies their destruction in a coming conflagration and deluge.
More significant, however, is the means by which Mahawai attains
astral flight, for he is said to have used "his hands like (a)
Elsewhere in the same Enochian text
Mahawai is said to have adopted the guise of a bird to make another
long journey. On this occasion he narrowly escapes being burnt up by
the sun’s heat and is only saved after heeding the celestial voice
of Enoch, who convinces him to turn back and not die prematurely - a
story that has close parallels with Icarus’s fatal flight too near
the sun in Greek mythology.
In addition to this evidence, a variation of this same text equates
Shemyaza’s sons "not (with) the... eagle, but his wings", while in
the same breath the two brothers are described as "in their nest",
statements which prompted the Hebrew scholar J.T. Milik to conclude
that, like Mahawai, they too "could have been bird-men".
This was compelling confirmation that angels were originally a
culture or tribe who practiced a form of bird shamanism, perhaps
associated with a dark carrion bird such as the crow or vulture.
New Dawn No. 41 (March-April 1997)
Since the Enochian and Dead Sea
literature was written by olive-skinned Jews of the post-exilic
period, it is quite clear they were reciting traditions concerning a
completely different race from a completely different climate. So
who were these human angels, and where might they have lived?
Since we now know that the legends of the fall of the angels most
probably originated in Iran, more precisely in the north-western
kingdom of Media (modern-day Azerbaijan), then there is every reason
to associate these traditions with the mountains beyond Media.
This is tentatively confirmed by another
Dead Sea text entitled the Genesis Apocryphon which records that
after his ascent to heaven the patriarch Enoch spent the rest of his
life "among the angels" in "paradise". Although the term "paradise"
is used in some translations of the original text, the actual word
I was therefore quite stunned to find that among the ancient
traditions of the Mandaeans, a Magi-linked religion found mostly
among the Marsh Arabs of Lower Iraq, "Parwan" is a holy mountain
apparently located in the vicinity of Media in northwestern Iran.
Furthermore, both "Parwan" and "Parwain" would appear to derive
their root from the old Median word "Parswana", meaning "rib, side,
frontier", used to describe the peoples and territories beyond the
borders of Media.
These would have included the region of Parsa to its south and, more
significantly, the mountainous region known as Parsua to its west.
Was Enoch therefore believed to have lived "among the angels" in the
harsh mountainous territories beyond the limits of the ancient
kingdom of Media?
In the remote region of Parsua, to the west of
Is this where the Watchers came from?
Is it from
here that they descended on to the plains to take mortal wives and
reveal the forbidden arts and secrets of heaven?
In Iranian tradition the realm of the immortals and the seat of the
mythical godkings of Iran (who like the fallen race of Judaic
tradition were said to have been tall in stature with ivory white
skin and shining countenances), was known as the Airyana Vaejah, the
Iranian Expanse. Traditions fostered by the Magi imply quite clearly
that this ethereal domain was located among the mountains of Media.
All roads appeared to lead to the mountainous region of modern-day
Azerbaijan, which forms the eastern-most flanks of a vast
snow-capped expanse that stretches west to the Taurus mountains of
eastern Anatolia and northern Syria; north to the remote regions of
Russian Armenia; and south-east along the length of the Zagros
mountains, as they gradually descend towards the Persian Gulf and
act as a virtually impenetrable barrier between Iraq and Iran.
This enormous, mostly desolate part of the earth, home in the most
part to wandering nomads, bands of warring rebels, isolated
religious communities and the occasional village, town or city, is
known to the world as Kurdistan - the cultural and political
homeland of the much troubled Kurdish peoples.
Yet according to biblical and apocryphal tradition, it was here also
that the Garden of Eden, the resting place of Noah’s Ark and the
stomping ground of the early patriarchs could be found. It was here
too that I now realized I would have to go in search of the realm of
The Book of Genesis speaks of God establishing a garden "eastwards,
in Eden". Here Adam and Eve became humanity’s first parents before
their eventual fall from grace through the beguiling of the subtle
Serpent of Temptation.
Serpents were not only a primary synonym for
the Watchers and Nephilim, but the Book of Enoch even states which
"Serpent", or Watcher, led our first parents into temptation.
Interestingly enough, the Bundahishn, a holy text of the Zoroastrian
faith, cites Angra Mainyu, the Evil Spirit and father of the daevas,
as assuming this same role, and like the Watchers he too is
described as a serpent with "legs".
So where was Eden? All we know is that it was situated among the
Seven Heavens, a paradisiacal realm with gardens, orchards and
observatories in which the angels and Watchers reside in the Book of
The word ‘Eden’ is translated by Hebrew scholars as meaning
‘pleasure’ or ‘delight’, a reference to the fact that God created
the garden for the pleasure of mankind. This is not, however, its
true origin. The word ‘Eden’ is in fact Akkadian - the proto-Hebrew,
or Semitic, language introduced to Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) by
the people of Agade, or Akkad, a race that seized control of the
ancient kingdom of Sumer during the second half of the third
millennium BC. In their language the word ‘Eden’, or edin, meant a
‘steppe’ or ‘terrace’, as in a raised agricultural terrace.
Turning to the word ‘paradise’, I found that this simply inferred a
‘walled enclosure’, after the Persian root pairi, ‘around’, and
daeza, ‘wall’. It is a late-comer to Judaeo-Christian religious
literature and was only really used after the year 1175 AD.
The English word ‘heaven’, on the other hand, is taken from the
Hebrew ha’shemim, interpreted as meaning ‘the skies’. It can also
refer to ‘high places’, such as lofty settlements. Moreover, the
Hebrew word-root shm can mean ‘heights’, as well as ‘plant’ or
‘vegetation’, implying perhaps that the word ‘heaven’ might be more
accurately translated as a ‘planted highlands’.
This quick round of simple etymology, in my opinion at least,
conjured the image of a walled, agricultural settlement with stepped
terraces placed in a highlands region.
So is this what Eden was - a
‘walled, agricultural settlement’ placed among the mountains of
Had it been tended by angels under the dominion of the
heavenly Watchers as is suggested by the text of the Book of Enoch?
More importantly, where had it been located?
The Rivers of
The Book of Genesis says that from Eden stemmed the headwaters of
the four rivers of paradise. The names of these are given as the
Pishon, Gihon, Hiddekel and Euphrates. Of these four, only the last
can properly be identified by name. The Euphrates flows through
Turkish Kurdistan, Syria and Iraq before emptying into the Persian
The other three were identified by early
biblical scholars respectively with the Ganges of India (although
occasionally the Orontes of northern Syria), the Nile of Africa and
the Tigris of western Asia, which, like its sister river the
Euphrates flows through Iraq and empties into the Persian Gulf. The
first two were chosen as suitable substitutes simply because they
were looked upon by scholars as the mightiest rivers of the
classical world; only the connection between the Hiddekel and the
Tigris made any sort of geographical sense.
In no way could it be said that all four of these rivers rose in the
same geographical region, a problem that was conveniently overlooked
by theologians before the re-discovery of cartography in the
sixteenth century. Other sources, particularly the Armenian Church,
accepted the Euphrates and Tigris as two of the four rivers of
paradise, yet chose to associate the other two, the Pishon and Gihon,
the Greater Zab, which rises in Turkish
Kurdistan and empties into the Tigris, and the Araxes, which rises
in Armenia and empties into the Caspian Sea.
Had the Armenian Church been right to do this? Possibly yes, as they
were the inhabitants of the geographical region in question and may
well have been privy to local traditions unavailable to the outside
Whatever the identities of the four rivers of paradise, Kurdish
tradition places their headwaters in the vicinity of Lake Van, an
enormous inland sea - some 60 miles across and around 35 miles wide
- situated on the border between Turkish Kurdistan and Armenia.
Indeed, legend records that the Garden of Eden now lies ‘at the
bottom of Lake Van’, after it was submerged beneath the waves at the
time of the Great Flood.
Lake Van -
click image for details
Curiously enough, it is the mountain of
Cudi Dag, or Mount Judi,
south of Lake Van that the Moslems as well as the various different
faiths of Kurdish extraction locate the so-called Place of Descent,
the site where Noah’s Ark came to rest after the Great Flood. The
attribution of this very same location with the more familiar Mount
Ararat is a pure Christian invention that has no real basis in early
All this therefore implied that the compilers of the Book of Genesis
placed both the birth-place of humanity, i.e. the Garden of Eden,
and its point of regeneration after the Great Flood in the same
general region of northern Kurdistan, surely a clue to the fact that
the key to the origins of the Watchers lay in this same geographical
area of the map.
There is much more, however, for it is not just the Iranian and
Jewish races that cite Kurdistan as the cradle of civilization. The
mythologies of both the Sumerians, who ruled the various
Mesopotamian city-states from around 3000 BC onwards, and their
eventual conquerors, the Akkadians, placed the homeland of the gods
in this exact same region.
The Akkadians originated as a Semitic,
or proto-Hebrew, race of uncertain origin, and in their religious
literature this heavenly abode is referred to as Kharsag Khurra, the
heavenly mountain. Here the gods, also known as the Anannage, lived
in a paradisiacal realm with gardens, orchards, temples and
irrigated fields that not only resemble the Seven Heavens described
in the Book of Enoch, but is actually referred to on more than one
occasion as edin, the Akkadian for ‘steppe’ or ‘plateau’.
Even further linking Kharsag with the Jewish domain of angels is the
knowledge that the Anannage, like the Enochian Watchers, were
governed by a council of seven. These undoubtedly equate with the
seven archangels of post-exilic Judaism as well as the six so-called
Amesha Spentas, or ‘bounteous spirits’, who with the supreme god
Ahura Mazda, preside over the angelic hierarchies in Iranian
Were the Anannage, the gods and goddesses of Kharsag, simply another
form of the Watchers of Enochian and Dead Sea literature, whose
homeland was a lofty agricultural settlement called Eden or heaven,
located somewhere amid the mountains of Kurdistan?
The Search for
Kharsag is not the only name used by the ancient Mesopotamians to
refer to their place of first beginnings. This cradle of
civilization was also known by the name Dilmun, or Tilmun. Here, it
was said, the god Ea and his wife were placed to institute "a
sinless age of complete happiness". Here too animals lived in peace
and harmony, man had no rival and the god Enlil "in one tongue gave
It is also described as a pure, clean
and "bright" "abode of the immortals" where death, disease and
sorrow are unknown and some mortals have been given "life like a
god", words reminiscent of the Airyana Vaejah, the realm of the
immortals in Iranian myth and legend, and the Eden of Hebraic
Although Dilmun is equated by most scholars with the island of
Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, there is evidence to suggest that a
much earlier mythical Dilmun was located in a mountainous region
beyond the plains of Sumer. But where exactly was it located?
Mesopotamian inscriptions do not say; however, the Zoroastrian Bundahishn text and the
Christian records of Arbela in Iraqi
Kurdistan both refer to a location named Dilam?n as having existed
around the headwaters of the Tigris, south-west of Lake Van - the
very area in which the biblical Eden is said to have been located.
Furthermore, Ea (the Akkadian Enki) was said to have presided over
the concourse of Mesopotamia’s two greatest rivers - the Tigris and
Euphrates - which are shown in depictions as flowing from each of
his shoulders. This would have undoubtedly have meant that the
head-waters, or sources, of these rivers would have been looked upon
as sacred to Ea by the cultures of Mesopotamia’s Fertile Crescent.
More curious is the knowledge that, as in Hebrew and Iranian myth,
there would appear to have been a fall of the gods of Anu, the Anannage. Whilst 300 of their number remained in heaven, some 600
others, under the leadership of Nergal, god of the underworld,
settled among mortal kind. Here they provided mankind with
everything from basic agriculture, to astronomy, land irrigation,
building technology and structured society.
These rebel Anannage lived "in the earth", a reference to an
"underworld" realm connected with the ancient city of Kutha, north
of Babylon. In this "House of Darkness" lived "demons" and
giant blood-sucking vampires who would return to the surface world
after dark to steal the souls of the undead.
Could these infernal beings be a distorted memory of the rebel
Watchers and their monstrous offspring, the Nephilim? Might these
fallen angels have lived in underground cities after their descent
on to the plains?
The Bodies of
Ancient Mesopotamia fathered whole pantheons of devils and demons -
each class having its own appearance, functions and attributes. Some
were beneficial to mankind, while others caused only pain, suffering
and torment in the mortal world.
In the story of the goddess Ishtar’s descent to the underworld,
preserved in Assyrio-Babylonian tradition, the "chiefs" of the
"House of Darkness" were said to have been "like birds covered with
feathers", who "from the days of old ruled the earth, (and) to whom
the gods Anu and Bel have given terrible names".
In one cuneiform tablet written in the
city of Kutha by a scribe "in the temple of Sitlam, in the sanctuary
of Nergal" it describes the incursions into Mesopotamia of a race of
demons, fostered by the gods in some nether region. They are said to
have waged war on an unnamed king for three consecutive years and to
have had the appearance of:
Men with the bodies of birds of
human beings with the faces of ravens,
these the great gods created,
and in the earth the gods created for them a dwelling...
in the midst of the earth they grew up and became great,
increased in number,
Seven kings, brothers of the same family,
six thousand in number were their people.
These "men with the bodies of birds"
were looked upon as "demons". They would appear only once a
storm-cloud had consumed the deserts and would slaughter those whom
they took captive, before returning to some inaccessible region for
There seems every reason to suggest that these fierce "demons" were
not incorporeal spirits at all, but beings of flesh and blood
adorned in cloaks of feathers and bird paraphernalia.
But who were these human demons, and how did they relate to the
development of civilization in Mesopotamia?
The Sumerians were a unique people with their own language and
culture. Nobody knows their true origin or where exactly they may
have obtained the seeds of knowledge that helped establish the
various city-states during the fourth millennium BC. Yet the
Sumerians themselves were quite explicit on this point.
They said their entire culture had been
inherited from the Anannage, the gods of Anu, who had come from an
ancestral homeland in the mountains. To emphasize this point they
used an ideogram of a mountain to denote "the country", i.e. Sumer,
and built seven-tiered ziggurats in honour of these founder gods.
Was it possible therefore that the proposed Watcher culture of
Kurdistan provided the impetus for the rise of western civilization?
Archaeologists have no problem accepting Kurdistan as the cradle of
Near Eastern civilization. Shortly after the recession of the last
Ice Age, c.8500 BC, there emerged in this region some of the
earliest examples of agriculture, animal domestication, baked and
painted pottery, metallurgy and worked obsidian tools and utensils.
Curiously enough, from c.5750 BC onwards
for several hundred years the trade in raw and worked obsidian
throughout Kurdistan seems to have been centered around an extinct
Nemrut Dag on the south-western shores of Lake Van,
the very area in which both the mythical lands of Eden and Dilmun
are likely to have been located.
Kurdistan was undoubtedly the point of origin of the so-called
Neolithic explosion from the ninth millennium BC onwards. Indeed, it
is because of this settled community lifestyle in Kurdistan that the
earliest known form of token bartering developed. This primitive
method of exchange eventually led to the establishment of the first
written alphabet and ideogram system on the Mesopotamian plains
sometime during the fourth millennium BC. It is therefore
understandable that civilization first arose in the Fertile Crescent
during this same age. From here, of course, it quickly spread to
many other regions of the Old World.
In the light of this information it appears that the evolution of
the Middle East seems cut and dry, the actions of a few
sophisticated protoneolithic farming communities located in the
mountains and foothills of Kurdistan being responsible for the
growth of civilized society. Yet what caused this so-called
‘neolithic explosion’, and why on earth did it start in this remote,
and very mountainous, region? Something was missing, for as
Mehrdad R. Izady, a noted scholar of Kurdish cultural history,
The inhabitants of this land went through an unexplained stage of
accelerated technological evolution, prompted by yet uncertain
forces. They rather quickly pulled ahead of their surrounding
communities, the majority of which were also among the most advanced
technological societies in the world, to embark on the
transformation from a low-density, hunter-gatherer economy to a
high-density, food producing economy.
What might these "yet uncertain forces" have been?
Were they the
Watchers, who were said to have provided mankind with the forbidden
arts and sciences of heaven?
If so, was I overlooking important
evidence already unearthed by the spades of palaeontologists and
archaeologists that might support such a wild hypothesis?
Turning to the archaeological reports and transactions on
excavations in Kurdistan, I searched long and hard. What I found
astounded me. For instance, in the late 1950s Ralph and Rose Solecki,
two noted anthropologists, were uncovering the different
occupational levels inside a huge cave overlooking the Greater Zab
river at a site known as Zawi Chemi Shanidar, when they made a
discovery of incredible significance to this debate.
They unearthed a number of goat skulls
placed alongside a collection of wing bones belonging to large
predatory birds. All of the wings had been hacked from the bodies of
the birds in question, while many had still been in articulation
when found. Carbon 14 dating of the organic deposits associated with
these remains indicated a date of 10,870 years (+/-300 years), that
is 8870 BC.
The bird wings were subsequently identified as those of four Gyptaeus barbatus (the bearded vulture), one
Gyps fulvus (the
griffon vulture), seven Haliaetus albicilla (the white-tailed sea
eagle) and one Otis tarda (the great bustard) - only the last of
which is still indigenous to the region. There were also the bones
of four small eagles of indeterminable species. All except for the
great bustard were raptorial birds, while the vultures were quite
obviously eaters of carrion.
The discovery of these severed bird wings had posed obvious problems
for the Soleckis. Why had only certain types of birds been selected
for this purpose, and what exactly had been the role played by these
enormous predatory birds in the minds of those who had placed them
the Shanidar cave?
In an important article entitled ‘Predatory Bird Rituals at Zawi
Chemi Shanidar’, published by the journal Sumer in 1977, Rose Solecki outlined the discovery of the goat skulls and bird remains.
She suggested that the wings had almost certainly been utilized as
part of some kind of ritualistic costume, worn either for personal
decoration or for ceremonial purposes.
She linked them with
shamanism of Catal Huyuk, a protoneolithic community in central
Anatolia (Turkey), which reached its zenith a full 2000 years after
these bird’s wings had been deposited 565 miles away in the Shanidar
Rose Solecki recognized the enormous
significance of these finds, and realized that they constituted firm
evidence for the presence of an important religious cult in the Zawi
Chemi Shanidar area, for as she had concluded in her article:
The Zawi Chemi people must have
endowed these great raptorial birds with special powers, and the
faunal remains we have described for the site must represent
special ritual paraphernalia. Certainly, the remains represent a
concerted effort by a goodly number of people just to hunt down
and capture such a large number of birds and goats...
(Furthermore, that) either the wings
were saved to pluck out the feathers, or that wing fans were
made, or that they were used as part of a costume for a ritual.
One of the murals from a Catal Huyuk shrine... depicts just such
a ritual scene; i.e., a human figure dressed in a vulture
Here was extraordinary evidence for the
existence of vulture shamans in the highlands of Kurdistan c.8870
BC! What’s more, all this was happening just 140 miles south-east of
the suggested location for Eden and Dilmun on Lake Van at a time
when the highland peoples of Kurdistan were changing from primitive
hunter-gatherers to settled protoneolithic communities.
Might these goats skulls and predatory
bird remains have some connection with the "yet uncertain forces"
behind the sudden Neolithic explosion in this region? Remember, I
had already established that the Watchers wore coats of feathers,
plausibly those of the crow or vulture.
My mind reeled with possibilities. What on earth had been going on
in this cave overlooking the Greater Zab, which, of course, has been
cited as one of the four rivers of paradise? Had it been visited by
Watchers, human angels, in the ninth millennium BC? The presence of
the predatory bird remains made complete sense, but what about the
fifteen goat skulls - how might they have fitted into the picture?
A Goat for
The Pentateuch records how each year on the Day of Atonement a goat
would be cast into the wilderness "for Azazel", carrying on its back
the sins of the Jewish people. Moreover, Azazel, one of the two
leaders of the fallen angels, was said to have fostered a race of
demons known as the seirim, or ‘he-goats’.
They are mentioned several times in the
Bible and were worshipped and adored by some Jews. There is even
some indication that women actually copulated with these
goat-demons, for it states in the
Book of Leviticus:
"And they shall no more sacrifice
their sacrifices unto the he-goats (seirim), after whom they go
a whoring", perhaps a distant echo of the way in which the
Watchers had taken wives from among mortal kind.
This clear relationship between the
Watchers and he-goats is so strong that it led Hebrew scholar
Milik to conclude that Azazel "was evidently not a simple he-goat,
but a giant who combined goat-like characteristics with those of
man". In other words, he had been a goat-man - a goat shaman.
So it seemed that not only were the Watchers "bird-men",
shamans indulging in otherworldly practices, but also goat shamans.
It is bizarre to think that this association between Azazel and the
goat was the impetus behind the goat becoming a symbol of the devil,
as well as the reason why the world is so adverse to the inverted
Kurdish scholar Mehrdad Izady also sees the predatory bird remains
the Shanidar cave as evidence of a shamanistic culture whose
memory influenced the development of angel lore. Kurdistan is home
to three wholly indigenous angel-worshipping cults - the most
notorious and enigmatic of these being the Yezidis of Iraqi
Their beliefs centre around a supreme
being named Melek Taus, the ‘peacock angel’, who is venerated in the
form of a strange bird icon known as a sanjaq. These statues, which
sit on a metal column similar to a candlestick, are usually made of
copper or brass. More curious is that the oldest known sanjaqs are
clearly not peacocks at all, showing instead a bulbous avian body
and head with a hooked nose.
Two examples of
sanjaqs, the metal bird icons venerated by the angel-worshipping
Yezidi of Kurdistan. On the left is one
seen by Sir Austen Henry Layard in 1849, and on the right is another
sketched by Mrs. Badger in 1850. Are these strange
icons abstract memories of Kurdistan's protoneolithic vulture
Izady has suggested that the sanjaq
idols are more likely to be representations of a predatory bird like
those apparently venerated by the shamans of Shanidar, in other
words either the vulture, eagle or bustard.
All this was good news, for its helped vindicate the idea of an
advanced culture existing in the mountains of Kurdistan at the point
of inception of the Neolithic revolution. If it was these vulture
shamans who had carried this superior knowledge to the gradually
developing farming communities of the lower foothills, then perhaps
they really were the truth behind the myth of the Watchers who
imparted the heavenly sciences to mankind.
There was, however, no description of
these shamans beyond the appearance of their ceremonial garments.
Did they in any way resemble the tall, white-skinned individuals
with shining countenances and viper-like faces referred to in the Enochian and Dead Sea literature?
Might there also be archaeological
evidence for the former existence of a race bearing at least some of
these distinctive features?
Indeed there is, for at a place called
Jarmo, which overlooks the
Lesser Zab river in Iraqi Kurdistan, archaeologists have uncovered
evidence of an advanced protoneolithic community that thrived from
around 6750 BC for up to 2000 years; indeed, the oldest known
examples of primitive metallurgy have been found at Jarmo. More
interesting is the knowledge that these people were a dab hand at
producing small sculpted images in slightly-baked clay.
Literally thousands of these figurines
have been unearthed from the earliest occupational levels upwards.
Most of them depict animals and birds. Some represent typically
human heads, while others show a female figure, plausibly a
representation of the Mother Goddess.
It almost appeared as if the Jarmo community enjoyed capturing
images of the world around them, in much the same way that we take
photographs today. Yet if this was the case, then how can we explain
the presence among these small figurines of several anthropomorphic
elongated faces, slit eyes and clear ‘lizard’, or more
correctly serpentine features? They are virtually inhuman in
appearance and have more in common with bug-eyed aliens than
abstract human forms.
Seeing pictures of these Jarmo heads sent a shiver down my spine,
for the better examples bore striking similarities to the
description of Watchers in Enochian and Dead Sea literature.
therefore possible that the neolithic people of Jarmo were depicting
in partially abstract form the viper-like faces of the tall
strangers in feather coats who would pay them uninvited visits?
it these strangers who had provided communities like the one at Jarmo with the knowledge of metallurgy as well as the basic
rudiments of agriculture?
We can only speculate, but it is worth pointing out that obsidian
tools found at Jarmo are known to have been fashioned from raw
material obtained from the base of Nemrut Dag on Lake Van.
New Dawn No. 42 (May-June
By 5500 BC the inhabitants of the
Kurdish foothills were beginning to descend in great numbers on to
the plains of Mesopotamia. It was around this date that Eridu (the
biblical Erech), the Fertile Crescent’s first city, was established
with its own temple complex that included an underground ritual
Sometime around 5000 BC saw the arrival on to the northern plains of
Mesopotamia of a new culture who are known today as the Ubaid (after
Tell al’Ubaid, the mound-site where their presence was first
detected during excavations by the eminent Near Eastern
archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley in 1922). They brought with them
their own unique artistic style and funerary practices, including
the habit of placing very strange anthropomorphic figurines in the
graves of the dead.
The statuettes were either male or
female (although predominantly female), with slim, well-proportioned
naked bodies, wide shoulders, and strange reptilian heads that
scholars generally refer to as ‘lizard-like’ in appearance. They
bear long, tapered faces like snouts, with wide, eye-slits - usually
elliptical pellets of clay pinched to form what are known as
‘coffee-bean’ eyes - and a thick, dark plume of bitumen on their
heads to represent a coil of erect hair (similar coils fashioned in
clay appear on some of the heads found at Jarmo). All statuettes
display either female pubic hair or male genitalia.
Each Ubaid figurine has it own unique pose. By far the strangest and
most compelling shows a naked female holding a baby to her left
breast. The infant’s left hand clings on to the breast, and there
can be little doubt that it is suckling milk. It is a very touching
image, although it bears one chilling feature - the child has long
slanted eyes and the head of a reptile.
This is highly significant, for it
suggests that the baby was seen as having been born with these
features. In other words, the ‘lizard-like’ heads of the figurines
are not masks, or symbolic animalistic forms, but abstract images of
an actual race believed by the Ubaid people to have possessed such
In the past these ‘lizard-like’ figurines have been identified by
scholars as representations of the Mother Goddess - a totally
erroneous assumption since some of them are obviously male - while
ancient astronaut theorists such as Erich von Daniken have seen fit
to identity them as images of alien entities. In my opinion, both
explanations attempt to bracket the clay figurines into popular
frameworks that are insufficient to explain their full symbolism.
Furthermore, since most of the examples
found were retrieved from graves, where they were often the only
item of any importance, Sir Leonard Woolley concluded that they
represented "chthonic deities" that is, underworld denizens
connected in some way with the rites of the dead.
In addition to this realization, it seems highly unlikely that they
represent lizard-faced individuals, since lizards are not known to
have had any special place in Near Eastern mythology. Much more
likely is that the heads are those of serpents which are known to
have been associated with Sumerian underworld deities such as
Ningiszida, Lord of the Good Tree.
Since the heads of the Ubaid figurines appear to be styled on the
much earlier examples found at Jarmo in the Kurdish mountains, were
they highly abstract representations of viper-faced Watchers?
That these figurines were found specifically in grave sites suggests
that they were connected with some kind of superstitious practice
involving rites of the dead. What were the Ubaid attempting to
achieve by placing such strange images alongside their deceased
relatives? Were they trying to ensure the safe passage of the soul
into the next world, or were they attempting to protect the corpse
once the burial had taken place?
In later Babylonian tradition there was a true fear that if the dead
were not interred in the correct manner, then their souls would be
taken down into the underworld to become blood-sucking Edimmu.
Is this what the Ubaid feared - that
their departed would be made into vampires if the viper-faced
Watchers were not appeased in the current manner?
Did this include the burial of
figurines bearing abstract features connected with their
distorted memory of the fallen race?
Although no trace of any underworld domain can today be found in
Mesopotamia, chthonic citadels of extreme antiquity do exist in the
Near East. For example, beneath the plains of Cappadocia in eastern
Turkey there are no less than 36 underground cities, the most famous
being the one at Derinkuyu which is estimated to have housed some
20,000 inhabitants. Those cities explored so far penetrate downwards
for anything up to a quarter of a mile.
They have streets, complex tunnel
systems, living quarters and communal rooms and areas. Each one can
be sealed off from the outside world by rolling into place huge
circular doors, while on the surface the only visible sign of their
presence are upright megalithic stones marking the positions of deep
wells that double-up as air shafts to the various levels.
No one knows who built these underworld domains. They are at least
4000 years old, while tentative evidence suggests they were
constructed as early as 9000 BC, when the final thrust of the last
Ice Age was about to bring arctic-style conditions to the Middle
At the same time rains of fire spewed
out of active volcanoes, and when the Ice Age finally receded floods
comparable with the deluge of the Bible wreaked havoc in low-lying
areas. Moreover, Persian myth records that the ancestors of the
Iranian race had escaped the long winter of snow and ice by building
a var, a word denoting an underground city (curiously, the word
means "city" in the Persian language).
The memory of such subterranean worlds are also likely to have been
behind the Judaeo-Christian belief in Gehenna and Hell - the fiery
realm into which the fallen angels were cast as a punishment for
their interference in the affairs of mankind.
In the same general vicinity as the underground cities of Cappadocia
is a virtual lunar landscape made up of thousands of enormous rock
cones whittled into shape by fierce winds over many thousands of
years. Local tradition refers to them as peri bacalari, the
fire chimneys of the Peri - beautiful fallen angels born of Iblis,
the Arab-Persian form of Satan. These ‘fairy chimneys’, as they are
inappropriately referred to in English, are today said to be haunted
by the djinn, spectral relatives of the angels who also once lived
in heaven before their fall.
Many of these ‘fairy chimneys’ were occupied during early Christian
times, while a number of them were actually fashioned into rupestral
or troglodyte churches from the sixth century onwards. The oldest
contain many fascinating images beyond the accepted iconography of
the Early Church.
These include recurring geometric
designs and, in one case a stylized bird-man, which may well reflect
an art-style found in the 8000-year-old vulture shrines at Catal
Huyuk. The close proximity of both this unique ‘Christian’ art and
the site of Catal Huyuk to the underground cities cannot be
overlooked. Remember too that in the story of Ishtar’s descent into
the underworld the goddess encounters beings "like birds covered
with feathers", who "from the days of old ruled the earth".
Is it possible that the dwellers of the underground cities were
indeed the forerunners of those who built the sub-surface citadel of
Catal Huyuk? Might they have been connected with the shamanistic
Watcher culture of the Kurdish highlands, which lay some distance to
the east of Cappadocia?
If so, then where might these strange shamanistic cultures have
Did it simply develop in Turkey and Kurdistan shortly
after the end of the last Ice Age, or had its original ancestors
migrated from some foreign land?
The angel-worshipping cults of
Kurdistan see themselves only as descendents of the patriarch Noah,
the saviour of humanity whose direct family settled in their land.
In contrast, the Kurdish Jews preserve a very curious story
concerning the origins of their gentile neighbours, whom they refer
to as "children of the djinn".
They say that long ago King Solomon
ordered 500 djinn to find him 500 of the most beautiful virgins in
the world. They were not to return until every last one was in their
possession. The djinn had set about their immense task, going to
Europe to seek out the maidens. Finally, after gathering together
the correct number, the djinn were about to return to Jerusalem when
they learnt that Solomon had passed away. In a dilemma, the djinn
decided what to do. Should they return the girls to their rightful
homes in Europe, or should they remain with them?
Because the young virgins had,
"found favor in the eyes of the
jinn, the jinn took them unto themselves as their wives. And
they begot many beautiful children, and those children bore more
children... And that is the way the nation of the Kurds came
In another version of the same story,
100 genies are dispatched by Solomon to search out 100 of the
world’s most beautiful maidens for his personal harem. Having
achieved this quota, Solomon then dies and the 100 genies decide to
settle down with the maidens amid the inaccessible mountains of
Kurdistan. The offspring of these marriages result in the foundation
of the Kurdish race, "who in their elusiveness resemble their genie
forefathers and in their handsomeness their foremothers".
As non-sensical as these legend may seem, they attempt to explain
the inexplicable foreign features of certain Kurdish communities and
point to their origin in the biblical kingdom of Solomon, in other
words modern-day Israel.
The Mandaeans of Lower Iraq are more specific about the origin of
their race. Although their direct ancestors are said to have come
from a mythical location known as the Mountain of the Madai in
Iranian Kurdistan, before that their most distant ancestors
apparently originated in Egypt. Even though this might seem a mere
fantasy on the part of the Mandaeans, it is a fact that their
language contains various words that are undoubtedly of ancient
More importantly, they believe that
after death the soul flies north (i.e. towards the mountains of
Kurdistan) where it enters a mythical domain known as Mataratha, the
place of judgment. Here the intelligences of the neter, the
watch-houses, can be found. The term neter can be used as a
noun in some Near Eastern languages to mean ‘watchers’, the very
name of the first angels given in Enochian and Dead Sea literature,
while in the ancient Egyptian language this same word is used to
define the semi-divine beings who lived in a golden age known as
zep tepi, the First Time.
Was it possible that the Watchers of
Kurdistan were descendents of the neter-gods of Egypt?
Although the Neolithic explosion is known to have begun in the
mountains of Kurdistan sometime around 8500 BC, this was not the
genesis of early agriculture, animal domestication, precision tool
manufacture and structured community lifestyles. There is strong
evidence that they were all present at various sites along the Nile
in southern Egypt and northern Sudan as early as 12,500 BC.
These advanced communities continued to
develop at a steady pace until 10,500 BC, when suddenly they ceased
farming for no obvious reason. Scholars have put this complete and
utter cessation of a sophisticated agricultural-based lifestyle
among the Nilotic peoples down to the extremely high Nile floods
which occurred during this epoch. Yet in my opinion there was
something more behind this extraordinary U-turn on the part of these
It almost seemed as if those who had taught the Nilotic peoples the
rudiments of an agricultural lifestyle had suddenly departed the
scene, leaving their obedient pupils to return to primitive
hunter-gatherer lifestyles more familiar to the age in question. It
is therefore interesting to note that after its apparent
disappearance from Egypt c.10,500 BC, agriculture does not reappear
again until it blossoms in Kurdistan a full 1500 years later.
Is it therefore possible that the
teachers of the Nilotic communities departed Egypt for Kurdistan
sometime between 10,500 and 9000 BC? Who exactly were these
hypothetical agronomists and what made them leave the cultivated
steppes of Paleolithic Egypt for pastures new? More importantly,
were they the ancestors of the Watchers, the human angels of Enochian and Dead Sea tradition?
Hard evidence now emerging from Egypt strongly suggests that
Great Sphinx of Giza was not carved during Pharaonic times, as has
always been believed, but much earlier instead. As has been widely
publicized over the past few years, the geological profile of this
most ancient of monuments suggests that it was fashioned before the
gradual desiccation of the Middle East in the fourth millennium BC.
The intense weathering on its body would
appear to have been induced, not by sand erosion, but by rain
precipitation over the course of many thousands of years. The last
time that rain fell in such profusion was during the period known to
climatologists as the Neolithic sub-pluvial which occurred between
8000 and 5000 BC. This suggests that the Sphinx was carved either
during or before this time.
The Sphinx is quite obviously a lion, the head of which was
re-carved in Pharaonic times to represent a king wearing the nemes-headdress.
Orientated exactly due east, it gazes out towards the point on the
horizon where the sun rises each spring and autumn equinox. Its
function is like that of a time-marker, a minute hand on a clock,
recording the return of the solar orb as it passes through its
Yet it also possesses a less obvious,
though perhaps more important ‘hour’ hand, and this one marks the
minuscule shift in the starry canopy as it turns about its
26,000-year cycle of precession. This visual effect is caused by the
extremely slow wobble of the earth, which might be compared with the
swaying action of a child’s spinning top if revolving at a snail’s
Built in the
Age of Leo
In astronomical terms the phenomenon known as precession causes the
12 zodiacal constellations to shift backwards in line with the
ecliptic, the sun’s path, in a regular sequence. In simple terms,
this means that the stars rising alongside the sun make way for
another constellation every 2160 or so years until all 12 signs have
completed this astronomical merry-go-around.
To ‘read’ precession as a long-term
time-cycle the ancients noted which sign rose with the sun on the
spring equinox, the zero-point of the yearly calendar in many Middle
Eastern cultures. If we look today towards the eastern horizon just
before sun-rise on 21 March we will see the stars of Pisces. When
Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire in 330 BC, the
stars of Aries the ram were seen rising with the equinoctial sun,
and when the Pyramids of Giza were built in c.2500 BC, it was the
stars of Taurus the bull that rose with the sun on the spring
If the Great Sphinx was carved as an equinoctial marker at the same
time the neighbouring Pyramids were constructed in Pharaonic times,
then surely it would make more sense if it was a bull. Making it a
lion hints at a connection with the stars of Leo, suggesting that it
marked an age when the constellation of Leo rose with the
equinoctial sun. The last Age of Leo occurred between 10,970 and
8810 BC, suggesting that the construction date of the Great Sphinx
fell somewhere within this time-frame.
This is not a new idea by any stretch of
the imagination. As far as I am aware, this theory was first put
forward by British astro-mythologist Gerald Massey in 1907. In an
extraordinary work entitled Ancient Egypt - The Light of the World
he boldly concluded that,
"... we may date the Sphinx as a
monument which was reared by these great (Egyptian) builders and
thinkers, who lived so largely out of themselves, some thirteen
thousand years ago (i.e. in the age of Leo, its astronomical
More recent astro-mythological evidence
presented by Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval in their 1996 book
Keeper of Genesis, convincingly demonstrates that the Great Sphinx,
as well as the ground-plan of the Giza plateau as a whole, must date
as early as 10,500 BC, the very time-frame given for the sudden
cessation of proto-agriculture along the Nile.
Since we know that the great stone blocks removed from the sunken
enclosure around the leonine monument at the time of its
construction were used to build the nearby Sphinx and Valley
Temples, then these too must date from the same distant epoch of
All this indicates the presence in Egypt around
10,500 BC of an advanced culture adept in agronomy, engineering,
building technology, as well as astro-mythology and geomythics that
included a profound knowledge of the earth’s 26,000-year
Folklore, legend and the spread of Old World agriculture would
appear to support this view. Yet if this was the case, then what
happened to make this Egyptian Elder culture want to migrate to the
highlands of Kurdistan?
As has already been adequately demonstrated elsewhere (Hapgood, 1958
& 1970; Hancock, 1995; Flem-Ath, 1995), there is ample evidence that
as the last Ice Age came to a close in the eleventh and tenth
millennia BC, the world was shaken by a series of severe climatic
changes and geological upheavals. Volcanoes erupted, earthquakes
shook the ground, floods poured across the landscape and long
periods of darkness blotted out the sun. This led to the destruction
of countless millions of animals and the outright extinction of
dozens of individual species.
Cataclysm legends across the world appear to record these events in
colourful and often symbolic detail.
Egypt’s proposed Elder culture would have been right in the thick of
this global destruction. Certainly it is known that the climatic
changes during this epoch caused wide-spread flooding along the
Nile, the reason scholars have suggested for the cessation of its
It seems likely that these troubled times forced Egypt’s high
culture to fragment and disperse, hence the sudden cessation of
proto-agriculture among the various Nile communities. This
supposition is supported by vivid accounts of fire and flood from
For example, surviving Coptic-Arab texts
speak of the land being devastated both by floods and a great fire
that came from "the constellation of Leo" - a reference not
necessarily to some astronomical boloid coming from this part of the
heavens, but to the time-frame in which these events occurred, in
other words during the Age of Leo.
More telling is the myth of Sekhmet, the lion-headed deity in the
Egyptian pantheon. Because the human race had turned its back on the
ways of the sun-god Ra, or Re, whom it saw as "too old", the fierce
goddess unleashed an all-consuming fire. Her mass genocide would
have resulted in the destruction of humanity had it not been for
Ra’s personal intervention. He sent an intoxicating brew to cover
the earth. Consuming this mixture made Sekhmet drunk so that she
Assuming that Sekhmet’s fierce fire was in some way representative
of an all encompassing conflagration that devastated Egypt,
might the intoxicating brew that covered the earth be a memory of a
subsequent flood that also overwhelmed the land?
If so, then was Sekhmet herself simply an allegorical allusion to the Age of Leo?
The indications are that the lion of Leo came to symbolize the age
of chaos and destruction that surrounded the end of the Ice Age,
perhaps the reason why the Arabs referred to the Great Sphinx as the
"Father of Terrors".
In the story of Sekhmet the survivors of the human race attempt to
escape the goddess’ devastating fire either by climbing a mountain
or by hiding in ‘holes’ like ‘snakes’ or ‘worms’. Similar means of
protection against the cataclysms that raged during the Age of Leo
are found in mythologies around the globe, while the presence of
such stories in Egyptian legend point towards the break-up of the
Elder culture and its subsequent re-establishment in other regions.
Might this have included Cappadocia,
where underground cities would appear to have been built as early as
9000 BC, and the mountains of Kurdistan, where the Watchers may well
have catalyzed the beginning of the Neolithic revolution as early as
The date for this apparent diaspora of the Elder culture towards the
end of the last Ice Age can actually be pinned down with some degree
of accuracy. For instance, a ninth-century Coptic-Arab text known as
Abou Hormeis records that the astronomer-priests of Egypt, having
realized the imminent destruction of their race, conceded that:
"The deluge was to take place when
the heart of the Lion entered into the first minute of the head
The ‘heart of the lion’ was the name
given in classical times to the star Regulus, Leo’s ‘royal star’,
which lies exactly on the ecliptic, the sun’s perceived daily course
across the sky. Since the constellation of Cancer follows Leo only
in the precessional cycle (Leo follows Cancer in the yearly cycle),
then this appears to confirm that this legend preserved, not just
the memory of probable historical events, but also the approximate
date in which they occurred.
At my request, electronics engineer Rodney Hale punched the
astronomical information contained in the Abou Hormeis account into
a computer using a Skyglobe 3.5 programme. He ascertained that the
last time Leo’s ‘royal star’ would have risen and been visible on
the eastern horizon just prior to the equinoctial sunrise, was
around 9220 BC.
When the star Regulus, the ‘heart of the
lion’, no longer rose with the sun on the spring, or vernal,
equinox, this would have been seen by the astronomer-priests of
Egypt as a signal that the Age of Leo had come to an end, and the
age of Cancer was either about to commence, or that it had already
entered its ‘first minute’ of arc across the sky. This information
therefore suggested that it was at this point that the Elder culture
had departed Egypt in anticipation of a major deluge that was about
to over-run their land.
If we now turn to Iranian tradition we find that various Zoroastrian
the Bundahishn, speak of world history beginning
9000 years before the traditionally accepted date for the coming of
its great prophet, Zoroaster, in 588 BC. This gives a date of 9588
BC. It was at this time, so one text states, that the faith’s
dualistic deities, Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu, were born from "the
fire of the air" and "the water of the earth" - cryptic references
once again to fire and flood during the age of Leo.
The twin deities vie for superiority over heaven and earth, a battle
that is only settled when Zoroaster is said to have vanquished the
daeva-worshipping Magi priesthoods during his own life-time. Ever
since this time the ‘Good Spirit’, Ahura Mazda, has ruled supreme.
Did all this imply that the ancestors of the Iranian god-kings had
first inhabited their mythical homeland, known as the Airyana Vaejah,
the Iranian Expanse, around 9585 BC? Give or take a few centuries,
this date was remarkably close to the timeframe in which the
Egyptian Elder culture would appear to have broken up. Since the
Airyana Vaejah is equated with the Kurdish highlands, might this
tradition also record the arrival in the region of those Elders who
went on to establish the proposed Watcher culture?
According to Iranian mythology, the dualistic forces of Ahura Mazda
and Angra Mainyu were born to a supreme being known as Zurvan, who
symbolized ‘infinite time’. In the Roman cult of the god Mithras,
which developed from primary Iranian sources, the concept of
‘infinite time’ was symbolized by a lion-headed deity.
Statues depicting this leonine figure
show the twelve signs of the zodiac on its chest and a snake curling
up over the top of its mane. Although the deity is not identified by
name (although it is occasionally linked with Aeon, a gnostic god of
time), scholars of Mithraism describe it as a kosmokrator, the
controlling intelligence behind the phenomenon of precession.
To find a lion-headed kosmokrator that originated in a tradition
that saw world history as having begun in 9588 BC, during the Age of
Leo, was impossible to ignore. Could it be possible that although
knowledge of the precessional cycle was understood by the Elder
culture of Egypt, later cultures who inherited this tradition failed
to comprehend its mechanics.
So instead of Leo making way for the age
of Cancer, and then Gemini, and then Taurus, the symbol of the lion
became the one and only kosmokrator, or guardian of infinite time,
in much the same way that the Great Sphinx became a precessional
time-marker on the plateau at Giza.
Tragedy of the
Egypt’s Elder culture never made it into the pages of history. The
memory of their apparent descendents, the Watchers of Kurdistan, is
but a hollow victory on their part. Being remembered as beautiful
angels who fell from grace, or as immortal gods and goddesses, or as
lustful demons who corrupted the minds of mankind, hardly befits
their incredible achievements in astronomy, agriculture, geomythics,
building technology and structured society. It was almost certainly
the descendents of the Egyptian Elder culture who paved the way for
the growth of civilization in the Old World.
Yet these individuals did much more than this, for they would also
appear to have left the world an important legacy. It can be traced
in the astro-mythology and geomythics of the Giza plateau as well as
in the universal myths and legends concerning global cataclysms and
precessional data. It transcends all language barriers and can be
‘read’ by all. It is a simple message repeated again and again, like
a recurring SOS Mayday signal, and it suggests that what befell
their race could one day happen again.
For whatever reason, we as a race could
sink into oblivion without trace and be wiped clean from the pages
of history, unless, that is, we wake up from this collective amnesia
we seem to have been experiencing for the past eleven thousand years
and realize that we were never the first.
Free thinkers, mystics and maverick scholars have been telling us
that civilization is much older than science would like us to
believe for the past hundred years or more. Often their books repeat
almost exactly the same evidence time after time.
Piri Reis, Hapgood, Plato and
battery are just some of the buzz-words repeated again and again.
Yet no one other than believers has ever taken these matters
With the re-dating of
the Great Sphinx in particular, there is now
too much evidence to deny that at the end of the last Ice Age a high
culture existed in this world. Where these people came from is
completely unknown. Some might suggest
Atlantis, others will say
they came from the skies, but to be honest we simply do not know.
What is far more important is that we take each step at a time, and
stick to hard facts, in the hope that this time the whole world will
share in these greatest revelations of our time.
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Hancock, Keeper of Genesis, Wm Heinemann, London, 1996
Boyce, Mary, A History of
Zoroastrianism, 1975, 3 vols., E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1989
Charles, R.H., The Book of Enoch
or 1 Enoch, Oxford Univ Press, 1912
Eisenman, R., and M. Wise, The
Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, Element, Shaftesbury, Dorset,
Flem-Ath, Rand and Rose, When
the Sky Fell - In Search of Atlantis, Weidenfeld & Nicolson,
Fix, William R., Pyramid
Odyssey, Jonathan-James Books, Toronto, Ontario, Canada,
the Gods - A Quest for the Beginning and the End, Wm
Heinemann: London, 1995
Hapgood, Professor Charles, The
Path of the Pole, Chilton, New York, 1970
Hapgood, Professor Charles, Maps
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Izady, Mehrdad R., The Kurds - A
Concise Handhook, Crane Russak, London, 1992
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Milik, J.T., The Book of Enoch -
Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4, OUP, 1976
Morfill, W.R., edit and intro R.
Charles, The Book of the Secrets of Enoch, Oxford Univ
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the Mithraic Mysteries - Cosmology and Salvation in the
Ancient World, OUP, 1989