Tuesday 8 September 2009

The daemonic genius of John Cowper Powys

Suddenly felt compelled to blog-up an extract from my upcoming Avalonian Aeon where I sing the praises of the astonishing John Cowper Powys.

A Glastonbury Romance by John Cowper Powys has been described by Colin Wilson as, “Possibly the greatest novel of the twentieth century, and one of the great mystical masterpieces of all time.” Along with Gurdjieff, I’d first become aware of Powys in Wilson’s The Occult. As I found out more about him, it became obvious that he was an astonishing blend of Grade A weirdo and mystical creative genius. This kind of combination, so clearly present in Crowley, was always fascinating to me.

Powys described himself as, “a fatally dangerous sort of monster, a satyr-monk, a wicked mystic”. He believed that he “was, or at least would eventually be, a magician; and what is a magician if not one who converts God’s “reality” into his own “reality,” God’s world into his own world, and God’s nature into his own nature?” Many accounts testify that he was possessed of unique charisma. His friend, the writer Louis Wilkinson, spoke of “a beauty of a transfixing power for those who saw and heard him.----full of life, full of beliefs, full of the power to communicate his abundance”, “every gesture --- was extravagantly highly coloured, fantastical, theatrical, maniacal even, but it all made a tremendous mark”. There was a, “vital force of John’s whole identity, and his power of, his genius for breaking all bounds and bonds with it.” “I could and can very well understand anyone thinking of or indeed worshipping him as “god-like.”

He was born in 1872 into a huge and astoundingly talented family. Two of his brothers, Theodore and Llewelyn, were highly regarded authors as well. His father became vicar at Montacute, within visual range of Glastonbury Tor, thus introducing the young John to the Somerset landscape. He was a bit of a slow starter in his literary career. An early long philosophical poem originally entitled The Death of God, later renamed Lucifer, from 1905, seems an interesting statement of heretical intent.

For nearly thirty years, Powys was a public lecturer in the United States. Rather than addressing academic audiences he sought out an interested general public to sound forth on great literature. By all accounts, they were amazing daemonic theatrical performances,“ a sort of focussing, through one single twisting, leaping, shuffling, skipping, bowing, and scraping human figure, of some special comic-tragic vein in the planetary consciousness.” He felt that, “the old Druidic spirit, the spirit of Taliessin of the many incarnations, took possession of me!” The subsequent, “Druidic hypnotism of speech” might produce a, “magic message, from the gods of the old world to the market place of the new ---- something it was, from those far-off “sacred hills,” from Glastonbury Tor, from Cadbury Camp” His later long-term partner Phyllis Playter first saw him at one of these legendary events. He spoke with such intensity on Dostoevsky that two of the audience fainted!

This overflowing life force was a sign of astonishing inner depths. Central to his peculiar psychology, especially in his early years, was a prodigious polymorphous perversity sufficient to provide work for a whole convention of psychoanalysts. He made no attempt to hide this, recording its many forms in an immense Autobiography. “I gave complete rein to so many manias and aberrations that those who knew me best must often have wondered how far in the direction of a really unbalanced mind I was destined to go.”

Powys was a man who happily accepted immense paradoxes in his nature, exploring them for the sake of his art, developing an intense sense of the simultaneity of good and evil in the divine. Sadistic thoughts overwhelmed him but he felt vivisection was the very embodiment of evil, becoming a vegetarian. Beautiful images rapidly distorted into hideous forms. The repulsive was also somehow humorous. His malaise continued until terrifying hallucinations developed. Throughout his life he was plagued by recurring stomach ulcers and bouts of bad health but lived to ninety-one years of age, still writing in his eighties.

He went through a phase of compulsive hand washing, avoiding touching door handles in fear of the pestilence they carried. His whole sense of touch became dangerously warped-out. Contact with anything made of cotton was inordinately distressing. Linen sheets were repulsive. He later made an all-encompassing sensuality his major mode of being, cultivating it as a magical mystical technique, a “ power of rousing a peculiar exultation in yourself as you confront the Inanimate, an exultation which is really a cosmic eroticism”. This usually began with the contemplation of some natural object. Powys felt that, “From every plant and from every stone there emanates a presence”. His apparently separate identity dissolved in stillness so that his awareness seemed to blend with whatever he saw. “I could become inanimate objects. I could feel myself into the lonely identity of a pier-post, of a tree-stump, of a monolith in a stone-circle; and when I did this I looked like this post, this stump, this stone.”

Initially, all things feminine freaked him out. Trees and flowers with female organs were disgusting. The delightful warblings of tweety birds were irredeemably tainted by the possibility of some of the choir being female. A terror of growing breasts developed. In the grip of this mania around sex and femininity, he actually got married. Whenever his thought turned to the fact that children are the result of sexual union he became almost physically ill. Such was his fear of sex with a virgin that his poor wife was forced to endure surgical deflowering to facilitate their physical union. On the basis of some unconvincing reasoning he never mentioned his wife or mother or any other women in his Autobiography. He was indubitably, a sick puppy. A man in this kind of condition would be unlikely to get invited to give a workshop at the Glastonbury Goddess Conference.

And yet this strange crank,“had what was undoubtedly a strong erotic desire to embrace the magical lovliness of the world, just as if that vast mysterious Presence was a feminine being.” He was searching for, “the finding of the “eternal feminine” in Matter itself.” Later in his life, he would pray every day to the ancient goddesses Demeter and Cybele for the sake of the health and well being of his brothers and also for the destitute of London and New York. The legendary dancer Isadora Duncan sent Powys multitudinous red roses and put on a performance for him alone in his flat of which he later said, “It was as though Demeter herself, the mater dolorosa of the ancient earth, rose and danced.” The climax of A Glastonbury Romance would portray a man returning to the embrace of the Great Mother, characterised as the very source of all nourishment and creativity.

The extreme end of the spectrum of his boundary-less power-charged psyche seemed to exist in a semi-magical paranormal zone. On one occasion Powys apparently bilocated. He predicted to a friend that he would somehow appear to him later in the night, after he had physically departed. Hours later he did indeed manifest, clearly recognisable but glowing strangely white. He later refused to discuss how he had accomplished the feat. Colin Wilson speculates that it was because he actually didn’t know. People who angered Powys suffered misfortune so regularly that he adopted a discipline of praying for his enemies in an attempt to restrain this function, which was beyond his conscious control.

He began to withdraw from the lecture circuit to settle down to a period of stunning literary achievement. The tumultuous intensity of his passionately paradoxical inner life provided the dynamism to create a huge corpus of work. His first major novel, Wolf Solent appeared in 1929. The 1932 A Glastonbury Romance has been generally considered to be Powys’ masterpiece. It’s virtues are present in a large number of his later novels, including Weymouth Sands, Maiden Castle, Owen Glendower, Porius, and The Brazen Head (an outrageously strange haunting work for a man in his eighties). His Autobiography has been rated as one of the greatest in the English language. Colin Wilson said that, “The most remarkable thing about these novels is their “nature mysticism” and their incredible vitality; it is clear that he has tapped some subconscious spring and the result is a creative outpouring that has something of the majesty of Niagara Falls”

Glastonbury was a place that Powys considered to be a, “reservoir of world magic”. The overall intention in writing his great novel was to portray, “the effect of a particular legend, a special myth, a unique tradition, from the remotest past in human history, upon a particular spot on the surface of this planet together with its crowd of inhabitants of every age and of every type of character”. The “special myth” is the book’s heroine, the Grail, “ much older than Christianity itself”, for, “ages before any saint or Saviour of our present Faith appeared in Glastonbury --- the earth-goddess had her cauldron of the food of life safely guarded in our Island of the West.” “Its hero is the Life poured into the Grail. Its message is that no one Receptacle of Life and no one Fountain of Life poured into that Receptacle can contain or explain what the world offers us”.

So Powys had decided to make the landscape, history, and mythology of Glastonbury a character in his novel. The different elements cannot be separated. They constitute an elusive something that can interact with a person as strongly as a human character, stirring passion, idealism, madness, asceticism, horror, mysticism and eroticism in all possible combinations. Iain Sinclair has referred to Powys as the grandfather of Psychogeography. This term, originating with the French surrealist anarchists, the Situationists, refers to how geography and environment influences psychology. Initially concerned primarily with cities, the idea expanded to incorporate the whole vast field of potential human interaction with any landscape redolent with myth and history. A truly comprehensive study of place will need to detail not just the latitude and longitude, the geology, and history, but the effects on human consciousness within an environment. There is cartographic mapping and mental mapping. The mindset of an individual may make a considerable difference to how that person experiences a location. A mystic and a moron may find the Taj Mahal to be far from identical in their perceptions. In Glastonbury Romance Powys enters all of these realms with dazzling genius.

The simplest level of the narrative concerns the interplay of two contending forces. Phillip Crow, a powerful industrialist who despises the Glastonbury mythology, tries to effectively take over the town and turn it into a dark satanic mill. At the same time a religious revival is underway, focused by John Geard, a mystical preacher obsessed by the redemptive power of the blood of Christ but with a dark earthy side that hints at the pagan Merlin. He sets up a kind of Grail cult at the Chalice Well. The climax comes when a huge flood washes the works of both men away.

The novel affirms, “an acceptance of our human life in the spirit of absolutely undogmatic ignorance”. To that end, it weaves a huge multi-dimensional organismic tapestry, seen from what Colin Wilson calls the, “Gods-eye point of view”. As Powys stated, “There are no less than six major love affairs, one murder, three births, two deaths, and one raising from the dead” amongst the forty different characters who fill it’s thousand pages. An all-pervading Wordsworthian pantheistic nature mysticism depicts the landscape, weather, trees, animals, insects, ghosts, dreams and thoughts, the events of the past, as equally significant to the actions of it’s human characters, who play out a drama that is more erotic, albeit less explicit, than DH Lawrence, and as rustic and fatalistic as Thomas Hardy, a drama conforming to a deep subtle script of Grail mythology that most of it’s protagonists are unaware of.

The literary critic and great champion of Powys, G Wilson Knight, wrote in his study of him, The Saturnian Quest, that, “We are on a border-line between spirit and matter: we are reminded that sex-lust is really less physical than psychic; and yet psychic imponderables here have body. Thoughts are felt hovering; souls go astral travelling in sleep; past experience lives in present locality; spirits of the dead are active” Mysterious indeterminate external intelligences wryly characterised as the “invisible watchers of the Glastonbury aquarium” observe the whole drama. “The manipulation of this vast concourse of themes and persons, treated simultaneously in width and in depth, is staggering, and the realism attained remarkable.” “The psychological and spiritual insights show a daring and a penetration in comparison with which many great classics fall to the level of escapist fiction. A Glastonbury Romance is less a book than a Bible.”

The whole vast edifice is built on a gnostic heretical conception of the divine, obviously wrought from the paradoxical tensions in his own psyche. Powys states that, “there is no consciousness, whether of demiurge, demon, angel, elf, elemental, planetary spirit, demi-god, wraith, phantasm, sun, moon, earth, or star, which is not composed of both good and evil.” “Both the two great forces pouring forth from the double-natured First Cause possess the energy of sex. One is creative, the other destructive; one is good, the other evil; one loves, the other hates, but through both of them pours forth the magnetic energy that moves and disturbs the lethargy of Matter. Both of them have abysmal levels in their being that transcend all that we at present know of the duality of life and death.”

I was astounded by the brilliance of the novel. It immediately leapt into second place behind James Joyce’s Ulysses in my personal ratings. One of the things that the two novels had in common was their vibrant attitude of life affirmation, even amidst tragedy. Powys gives compassion and dignity to nearly all of his characters. Only a truly ghastly murderer seems entirely evil. With the obvious sense of Powys’ titanic genius, I also wondered why the author wasn’t better known? He may well be the most neglected figure in English literature.

Saturday 5 September 2009

The Grail Epoch: Divine Light Download (from Mysterium Artorius)

Rose window from St Denis Paris.

Here is a lengthy extract from Mysterium Artorius that is central to the mood the book tries to establish. It is good to make use of visuals and music in this format to enhance it.

Twelfth Century Ambiance

A crucial distinction was made by PD Ouspensky in A New Model of the Universe. He wrote of the dynamic interplay between the principles of civilisation and barbarism that weaves its way through history. An unashamed advocate of esotericism, he claimed that, “The beginning of culture comes from the inner circle of humanity, and often it comes by means that are violent. Missionaries of the inner circle civilise savage races sometimes by fire and sword, because there can be no other means but violence to deal with a savage people. Later the principles of civilisation develop and gradually create those forms of man’s spiritual manifestation which are called religion, philosophy, science and art, and also those forms of social life which create for the individual a certain freedom, leisure, security and the possibility of self-manifestation in higher spheres of activity.”


However, “the original forms of civilisation cultivated certain forms of barbarism for the protection of their own existence, their own defence” and, “these forms of barbarism very soon outgrow civilisation. Very soon they begin to see the aim of their existence in themselves. Their strength lies in the fact that they can exist by themselves, without help from outside. Civilisation, on the contrary, having come from outside can only exist and develop by receiving outside help, that is, the help of the esoteric circle. But the evolving forms of barbarism very soon cut off civilisation from its source, and then civilisation, losing confidence in the reason for its separate existence, begins to serve the developed forms of barbarism, in the belief that here lies its aim and destiny.--- Civilisation is, as it were, recast in the mould of barbarism.”

Historians of art and culture refer to a twelfth century Renaissance. This was the period I came to increasingly focus upon, feeling that it manifested with mind-shattering intensity, the processes of which Ouspensky wrote. It was, briefly, a time of incredible openness and expansion when, as far as I was concerned, to use the words of Julius Evola, “suprahistorical reality imposed itself on history”. It wasn’t long though, before a barbaric contraction had occurred and the Middle Ages of popular conception, of the Inquisition and constant terror of the devil and all his works, had set in. This was the backdrop to the Grail era.

St Denis. Photo Yasuhiko Nishigaki.

In the early twelfth century in Paris, a remarkable blend of influences led to far-reaching developments that would later strangely resonate in Glastonbury. It had begun centuries before with the mis-identification of three different figures. An obscure associate of St Paul named Dionysius the Areopagite was mixed up with a neo-platonic Gnostic tinged Christian mystical philosopher now generally known as Pseudo Dionysius. They were in turn falsely linked with the patron Saint of Paris, St Denis. All three became one individual.

A royal abbey named after the saint became the most important in Paris. The bones of saints and kings were gathered together, figures that stretched back into a mythological past. Coronations and state affairs were held there. The tales of Arthur formed a body of literature that came to be known as the Matter of Britain. There was already a Matter of France in existence and it was cultivated at the abbey of St Denis. This was centred on Charlemagne and his knights such as Roland. It served to promote national identity and the image and credibility of the French monarchy.

In 1123, one Abbot Suger took charge of the place. He was a major political figure who had served as prime minister and was closely allied with the monarchy having actually arranged and presided over the marriage of Eleanor of Aquitaine to the future King Louis.

As well as his worldly wisdom Suger was also a mystic, moved by the writings attributed to the saint of Paris. Dionysius is an often under-estimated figure of tremendous importance in the western mystery tradition. He is probably best known for his classification of nine orders or choirs of angels into seraphim and cherubim etc. He praised the virtues of divine names. There are many points of similarity with Qabalistic teachings. He later influenced Renaissance magi who in turn inspired the Golden Dawn. In the twentieth century Rudolf Steiner made much of his angelic hierarchies. Most importantly to Abbot Suger, Dionysius extolled the divine light, God’s holy fire that animates the entire universe. “Lux continua,” continuous light, became Suger’s ultimate metaphor for God. To be purified, illuminated and perfected in divine light seemed the ultimate mysticism.

The abbot wanted to rebuild the existing church in a spectacular manner that would make it the wonder of Europe. It would be constructed to present the teachings of Paris’ patron saint to the world, to lead people to the divine light. Nine chapels in the eastern apse and a further nine in the crypt would call to mind the nine orders of angels. The decoration would evoke the city of the New Jerusalem. By 1133, Suger had assembled an international team of artists and craftsmen, including Arabic glass-makers. The whole style of the building, including the first major appearance of huge coloured stained glass windows in Europe was an event of significant cultural impact.

Suger referred to it as an “opus modernum,” a modern work. In terms of its effects on people’s consciousness, the new multi-media art-form with its synaesthetic blending of space, light, colour, sound, and smell in the interaction of building and ritual would be the LSD of the day. It was very much a case of the shock of the new. The medium was a vital aspect of the message.

This prototype Gothic cathedral was finished in 1144. It’s an irony of cultural history that the term “Gothic” was never used by the people of the time. It arose hundreds of years later in a critical backlash that derided the style as barbaric. The term has endured and its negative connotations dissolved. The dedication ceremony at St Denis was attended by many leading figures of the age, including the royal couple Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine, a multi-national host of bishops, a vast throng of nobility, and the top ecclesiastical superstar of the time, Bernard of Clairvaux.

One extraordinary artefact was a notable centrepiece for the dazzling bejewelled edifice. A sardonyx cup, now considered to have originated in Alexandria during the second to first centuries BC, was incorporated into a gold and silver chalice adorned with gems. It was used to hold wine for Mass and had featured in Eleanor’s coronation. The Suger chalice (now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington) is one of the minor contenders in the cup of Christ relic stakes. What’s interesting here is that such an item, regardless of its true provenance, was a focal point of such a richly realised cosmological vision in stone and glass, the main model for a whole culture that followed. From its beginnings at St. Denis, the new style soon spread all over Europe.

During the first millennium of the Catholic Church the central Mass rite of the Eucharist was not yet finalised. It had evolved from what appears to have been a commemorative meal expressive of group communion and solidarity. At the beginning of the Gothic Grail era, the form of the ceremony was still developing. Many tales were also circulating at the time of the romances of people being sustained solely by the Eucharistic host. It was at the end of the twelfth century that elements such as the elevation of the host and the ringing of bells became commonplace. Performance in the new cathedrals and churches would have seemed intense and dramatic. The mysterious rite was conducted amidst candles and incense by people in striking costumes. Not everyone had believed in transubstantiation, the real presence of Christ, that the Mass wine and wafer was his blood and body. This became official doctrine at the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. It helped enforce papal power throughout Western Europe. Only the officially sanctioned could perform it. Any deviance was heresy and subject to increasingly grim punishment.

In 1141, a mystically inclined nun named Hildegard of Bingen in Germany had an experience when, “a burning light of tremendous brightness coming from heaven poured into my entire mind, like a flame that does not burn but enkindles. It inflamed my entire heart and breast, like the sun that warms an object with its rays.”

This and future visions contained images, voices, and strangely floating written words that formed the basis of a forty year long outpouring of art, theology, prophecy, medicine, and above all, music, that made her one of the wonders of the age, chastiser of corrupt priests, the confidante of common folk and the Holy Roman Emperor.

Hildegard was a very real example of the presence and potency of the experience of divine light that was inspiring the Gothic cathedral building. The fact that she was a woman who managed to make her voice heard and accepted also says something about the spirit of the time.

There has been a considerable revival of interest in Hildegard in recent times. The publication of Theologian Matthew Foxs' epochal masterpiece Original Blessing in 1983 was a significant factor as it featured an extended consideration of her work (and caused Fox to be excommunicated in the process).

High quality recordings of her music in its original form are readily available and a number of modern imaginative soundscapes have been created to accompany it.

Psychedelic Catholic mysticism? Those appreciative of Rudolf Steiner's work may find of interest.

Mother of the World by Nicholas Roerich

The great cathedrals that were appearing all over Europe were primarily dedicated to the Virgin Mary whose cult was massively expanded by their success. Bernard of Clairvaux was a major figure in the initial process. He was another incredible balance of politician and mystic. The Cistercian order of monks had been rescued by him from floundering fortunes and transformed into one of the most dynamic multi-national corporations of the day. Bernard had inaugurated the Second Crusade in 1146 in France, preaching to a football stadium sized crowd that included Louis and Eleanor. A less successful undertaking was a mission to the heretical Cathars.

Chartres cathedral and windows.

Bernard interacted with all of the major game-players of the age. There is correspondence between him and Hildegard. He was primarily a mystic. A childhood experience, difficult to classify today, when he received some drops of milk from a statue of the Virgin Mary, produced a lifelong veneration. The statue in question was one of the enigmatic Black Madonnas. Bernard went on to write a prodigious number of sermons linking the Virgin to material in the Old Testament Song of Songs, a piece full of the erotic and mystical divine feminine, characterised as black. After Suger initiated the Gothic epoch at St Denis, Bernard was a prime mover behind the greatest masterpiece of esoteric architecture that followed soon afterwards. Built on what was once a major Druidic site, Chartres cathedral has spawned a whole industry of interpretation. What’s not in dispute is the central importance of a Black Madonna statue originally displayed in a crypt there.

Joachim of Fiore was an abbot obsessed with potential hidden meanings in the Bible. Sometime between 1190 and 1195 he came to conclusions that would make him the most important of all medieval visionaries, an influence across an astonishingly diverse spectrum right through into the present day. He believed that history was intricately linked to the unfolding of god’s plan for humanity. It was divided into three ages that were presided over by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There had been 42 generations between Adam and Christ, the first age of the Father. He believed that another 42 would complete the era of the Son. The glorious epoch of the Holy Spirit would then descend. As Norman Cohn summarised it in The Pursuit of the Millennium, “If the first age had been one of fear and servitude and the second age one of faith and filial submission, the third age would be one of love, joy and freedom, when the knowledge of God would be revealed directly in the hearts of all men.”

Joachim's three ages.

There was a time of overlap between the ages. Joachim believed that the first stirrings of the age of the Holy Spirit would be clearly felt by 1260. After his death in 1202 assorted false writings were attributed to him. The incredible subsequent history of his ideas need not concern us here. Sufficient to note that the idea of three ages, “entered into the common stock of European social mythology” and some mystics and heretics would come to feel the imminence of the age of the Spirit.

The same spiritual cultural influences and conditions that produced the building of the Gothic cathedrals, the massive expansion of the cult of the Virgin Mary, the debate about the Eucharist, a divine light download in a visionary nun, and led a mystic to believe that the age of the Holy Spirit was about to dawn, were also present in the creation of the Grail literature.

Modern stained glass Grail from Tintagel Hall of Chivalry.

When it comes to the great tales themselves, it can be useful to begin with the perspective of the German medievalist Friedrich Heer. “There can no longer be any doubt that the theme of the great romantic epics --- is initiation, dedication, metamorphosis, and absorption into a higher and fuller life, at once more human and more divine”. Enter the mystery with that attitude and the ambiance of the twelfth century all around one and the journey can be a most fruitful one.

Since writing this post I have gone on to make a video inspired by the same material, featuring music by Hildegard of Bingen so it seems appropriate to add it here.


The section in Mysterium Artorius on Twelfth Century Ambiance took shape between 2000 and 2004 when I was fortunate to have visited Bingen on a number of occasions. This was in the context of journeys to see Mother Meera at her home base in Germany. Some of these were as part of the legendary group trips that set out from Glastonbury and others accompanied by my partner Rachel. It has been stated that Mother Meera is an incarnation of the Divine Mother and therefore, in many respects, comparable to the Catholic concept of the Virgin Mary. This is, of course, an outlandish idea that some may even find offensive. She gives what the Hindus call darshan , when individuals are given a brief touch and glance by her. This is sufficient to enable her to transmit a divine light into one's entire being that works in whatever way is most appropriate.

I can only say that on a personal level Mother Meera represents the most astonishing mystery I have ever come into contact with and has always managed to have a stupendous effect on me. The combination of her spiritual transmission and visits to Bingen and Disiboden (a ruined site that was the location of Hildegard's visions and still retains a potent force)helped me to actually feel rather that just intellectually understand that divine light force, those tongues of fire, that seem to have been so powerfully present during what I have called the Grail era. This is what led to me referring to Meera as a "living Grail" in the dedications in Mysterium Artorius.

Om Namo Bhagavate Mata Meera

The majority of text in this blog post comes from Mysterium Artorius.

Beneath the Pyramids: a historic discovery by Andrew Collins

News report

Andrew Collins has been investigating the evocative mythos concerning a relic of a lost civilisation lying beneath the Giza plateau for twenty-five years. His distinctive slant on what is generally known as the Hall of Records was featured in his 1998 work Gods of Eden.

Much publicity was generated in the nineties by the theories propounded in The Orion Mystery by Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert which suggested that the three Giza pyramids deliberately mapped out the form of the stars of Orion’s belt. This concept has been so widely repeated that many now take its veracity for granted. Bauval contributed an undoubtedly outstanding work, Secret Chamber, examining the history of the Hall of Records myth.

Andrew Collins pivotal Cygnus Mystery proposed an alternative star alignment theory and an epic online debate with Bauval followed on Graham Hancock’s website forum.

By their fruits ye shall know them. Andy’s Cygnus work has led him to discover and investigate a cave system beneath the Giza plateau not previously catalogued by the Giza authorities. In an audacious adventure worthy of Indiana Jones, he and his wife Sue entered some way inside it, discovering indications of human habitation predating the time of the pyramids.

The imminently available Beneath the Pyramids tells the whole incredible tale. Although the glittering gold of Tutankhamen is absent this epic saga really does have the potential to lead to the greatest discoveries in the history of archaeology.

Andy produced a teaser You Tube video of cave footage which he has now removed on the advice of his publishers following the beginning of what may well become a prolonged debate with Giza archaeological supremo Zahi Hawass who is disputing Andy's conclusions.

For detailed regularly updated accounts of this subject visit www.andrewcollins.com