THE JOHN MICHELL
John Michell was a
best-selling author and world authority on the mysteries of existence.
March 2001 and August 2002, John wrote a series of articles on a
esoteric subjects for Jonathan's website and the Daily Mirror newspaper
in the UK.
It was a
thrill to have John writing for us about unexplained phenomena. I have
admirer of his work since I was a teenager. I hope you enjoy his
June 21, 2001
What happens when
This is a mystery
everyone has a personal interest.
when they are young, think that nothing happens. You die. The body
and that's it.
But not everyone
that way. In ancient times they believed that the soul is immortal. It
the body, is rewarded or punished for the way it has lived, and is then
as a new creature, human or animal.
Evidence of this
in the prehistoric monuments of Britain,
and most other lands. Like the pyramids, they were clearly designed in
connection with the cycle of death and rebirth. It is as if their
something we have now forgotten. In some parts of the world that
still preserved. In Tibet
it is used by the priests to discover the reincarnations of their lamas.
One reason why the
accepted reincarnation is the 'near-death experience' (NDE). It often
that someone on the verge of death is revived and tells what it was
pass into the other world. The usual pattern is that you leave the body
look down upon it from above. You are then impelled to enter a dark
the end of it there is a beautiful warm light. As you approach it you
in a feeling of love and forgiveness. Then the doctor starts you heart
you are back in the body again.
about this experience is that, when you return to life, you are usually
better person - more spiritual and tolerant. An American psychologist,
Ring, who specialises in NDE studies, gives a typical example: a young
died "apparently" in an accident. She had always been discontented in
never succeeding in anything. As her soul entered the tunnel, she was
angry. But on entering the light, her attitude fell away. She was
hospital, and after that she saw the goodness in the world and
view of the
NDE is that it is caused by lack of oxygen and other chemical effects
bring on hallucinations. But why are these 'hallucinations' much the
all ages and among all kinds of people?
The NDE was first
American researcher. Raymond Moody. His 1975 book Life After Life made
respectable subject and brought to light many cases. A Gallup Poll of
revealed that some eight million adult Americans claimed to have had a
life-long atheist, admitted to having a NDE. He went into the tunnel
approaching the light when he came back to life. This almost gave him a
spiritual outlook. But later he concluded that there was a rational,
explanation for his NDE.
June 28, 2001
Many of the
mysteries are kept hidden. The general public is not supposed to know
them, so they are not mentioned in school books or college courses. One
interesting subjects that has long been suppressed is the mystery of
According to the
authorities, the famous plays and poems of Shakespeare were written by
from Stratford-on-Avon called Will Shaksper. That is what they say, but
an unlikely story and there is no proof of it. Scholars over many
have researched the life of Shaksper, looking for some connection with
writings of Shakespeare. But the more they discover, the more apparent
becomes that William of Stratford and the author of Shakespeare's Works
two completely different people.
person who wrote Shakespeare was a universal genius. He must have been
educated in classical culture, in European languages and literature, in
scientific and many other studies. He understood the way of courts and
governments "as to the manner born". His mind and style were
aristocratic, and so were his sympathies. That is why many socialists,
beginning with Tolstoy, have disliked Shakespeare and his attitude
Will Shaksper was
not a bit
like that. His parents were illiterate and so was his own daughter.
nothing to show that William himself could read and write. It is not
that he ever went to school. No one mentioned him personally during his
and when he died there were no obituaries. Legal documents of the time
as a small-time property-dealer and moneylender, involved for a time
gangsters in London's
If you really
this low-life hustler was the glorious Shakespeare, you are in good
All the professors believe it or so they have to pretend. But, they
this is the only case in literature where there is no connection
life of a supposed author and the Works that bear his name.
For those who
and also like mysteries, this is an ideal subject. But if you are young
still subject to teachers, you should not mention it to them. It only
has long been the favourite alternative 'Shakespeare'. The greatest
his time, he wanted to combine all knowledge to create a rational
Lord Chancellor, legal adviser to Queen Elizabeth, he knew the secrets
state, and he also manipulated the world of literature. He was a wily
could easily have inserted his own writings into the theatre under the
pseudonym, Shakespeare. But he had no great reputation as a poet. He
was a cold
a bachelor, said to have been a lover of boys. Could he really have
passionate, lyrical, country-loving Shakespeare? Perhaps. But there are
alternatives. I have summed them up in a book which is meant to lead
July 5, 2001
The quest for lost
One of my
mysteries is the story of the lost gold mine. It is not just one story
many versions, and it is told in every mining district around the
Typically it is
young man in the mountains, prospecting for minerals. For months he
nothing until, one day, resting in a cave, he notices specks of gold in
rocks. He takes samples and, having marked the spot, goes quickly to
have them assayed. It proves to be extremely valuable ore. He only has
the site and his fortune is made. But when he gets back to the
mountains he is
confused. He had forgotten the trails and landmarks, and he never finds
back to his gold mine.
thinks he must
have fallen asleep in the cave and dreamt it all. For many years he
growing old and dying alone in the wilderness.
These stories are
but some of them are certainly true. The earth is full of lost or
treasures, awaiting lucky finders. A few years ago, in Hoxne, Suffolk,
a farmer lost a hammer in one of his
fields. His friend with a metal detector offered to find it for him.
uncovered a wonderful hoard of precious objects. It was the elegant
of a rich family at the end of the Roman period. They had packed it
in a chest, buried it and never reclaimed it. There is no clue as to
happened to them.
Because it was
hidden, the hoard was declared 'treasure trove'. The British
took the objects, and the two finders shared its cash value in
I can think of no
thrill than discovering something old and precious, like the Hoxne
must be the happiest, most painless way of becoming rich. Many people
about it, and there are famous cases of treasures revealed through
There is something
mystical about this subject. Gold is called the king of metals, not
because it is pretty but because of the power it has over us. The story
lost gold mine illustrates this. One glimpse of gold, and people are
for life. It is an attractive story because it is about a quest. That
a reflection of one's own spiritual life. As alchemists knew, gold is
symbol of what they are looking for, not the thing itself.
A Druid's golden
Local folklore may
the sites of ancient treasures. Near the Hurler stone circles on a
is Rillaton barrow, a prehistoric earth mound. Local tradition says
once lived its guardian. He would offer refreshment to travellers from
magical golden cup. One day the cup was snatched from him, but the man
it fell over a precipice. When the barrow was excavated a beautiful
was found. It was presented to King George V and is now one of the
lines across Britain
You have probably
heard about leys or 'leylines'. They are long,
straight lines across country, thought to have been laid out in
times. Stretches of them are sometimes visible as old roads, trackways
district boundaries. But they mostly appear as lines of ancient, sacred
This is an easy
subject to research - at least, to start with.
Take the Ordnance Survey map of your area (the 1 inch to 1 mile scale,
metricated as 1: 50,000). Note the ancient places and landmarks upon
see how they line up together. Among them are old stones and
notable rocks and hilltops. Also included are old churches, abbeys and
That is because the early Christians built churches on the sacred sites
took over from the Druids. In that way they preserved an ancient
mystery - a
pattern of aligned sites, covering the entire country, and beyond it.
patterns are found throughout the world.
The trouble is
that, once you start finding lines of sites across
the map, you see more and more. Finally your map is so full of lines
get confused. Some lines are probably significant; others will occur by
If they are genuine leys, each point in line should be visible from the
Also, the distances between them will be in regular units of measure.
were basically the foot and the mile as used today.
An example of a
measured line is from Stonehenge
to the centre of Old Sarum, Wiltshire. This distance is six miles.
enormous earth walls of Old Sarum stood the cathedral. In the 13th
was relocated in Salisbury
. The site chosen was exactly two miles further south on the same line.
said to have been discovered by divination.
One of the
mysteries of leys is that they sometimes run along
traditional paths of spirits, phantoms and the souls of the dead.
they define boundaries or provide the line for Roman roads. Stretches
directed towards the sun or a star rising on a certain day. It is a
that leads you into many others. I have been studying and writing about
over 35 years, and am only just beginning to see some light. New
are being made. One day the mystery will be solved. This will give a
picture of prehistoric Britain,
very different from the officially-held view today.
of ley hunting
The man who
discovered leys and gave them their name was Alfred
Watkins, a baker and brewer of Hereford.
He became aware of them by insight while travelling about his native
His book of 1925, The Old Straight Track, is a classic. Others include
the Landscape by N. Pennick & P. Devereux. The most recent is
Sullivan's Ley Lines (Piatkus).
book on this and other mysteries of ancient science
is The New View Over Atlantis.
and the power of music.
In fairy stories
you read about enchantments. There are evil
enchantments, as when a witch turns you into a frog and you have to
find a true
love to release you. And you also hear about enchanted realms, where
is perfect and beautiful.
This is not just
in fairy tales. The histories of all peoples tell
of a Golden Age, a time of peaceful order and happiness. Each
the same as the one before it. Freely, without compulsion, they
old customs, and they respected the different ways of their neighbours.
What was the
secret behind these enchanted countries? How were
they governed, and how did they remain uncorrupted over thousands of
The secret, beyond
any doubt, was music. Nowadays we listen to any
music that comes along. Some of it is good-spirited, even noble. And
some of it
is ugly and vicious. That is why we are so diverse today, everyone
a different drummer.
In the Golden Age
they ruled by music. The Druid priests and, in
early Christian times, the Celtic monks kept up a perpetual chant. It
forever, day and night. It was in tune with the seasons of the year,
and it was
echoed in the songs that country people sang at festivals. Music set
in society and kept the whole nation in harmony.
Music has many
other powers. It soothes the distressed soul,
inspires lovers and makes soldiers brave in battle. One of its
is to make work easier. Labourers who sing together can lift or move
that would otherwise be too heavy. That is how the huge stone statues
of Easter Island
were moved from their quarries and set
An Arab tradition
says that the Egyptian pyramids were built
magically. The stones were levitated by music and mystical spells. The
of Thebes in ancient
were also built in that way.
Two brothers are said to have founded the city. One of them was
worked hard at raising the stones. The other brother was a musician. He
certain notes on his lyre, and the stones settled into place of their
Some of the stones
moved by the ancients are so huge that modern
engineers have no idea how they did it. At Locmariaquer on the south
coast of Brittany
there is a
stone over 60 feet tall, weighing 340 tons. For five thousand years or
stood upright. Then, probably in the seventeenth century, it fell and
into four pieces. It is made of quartz granite, which is not a local
occurs naturally 50 miles away. How did they transport and erect this
â€œBy unknown means.â€ says the guidebook.
your way out of trouble.
It was reported
last month that a pilot, flying over the north
Pacific, had trouble with his engine and had to ditch his plane in the
With three passengers he boarded a life-raft, and prayed earnestly for
Hours later they were found and saved by a Russian cargo vessel.
The pilot, Mike
Smith, was pleased by the answer to his prayers.
Natural enough. But he was not religious and the experience did not
him. â€œIt almost made me a believerâ€, he said. I think that was quite
of him. It could have been the prayers that saved him. Or it could have
luck, or the fact that he kept calm in a tight situation.
investigated the power of prayer, but with
different results. Francis Galton, the great Victorian man of science,
believe in it at all. He pointed out that missionary ships are just as
to be wrecked as pirates and slave-traders. And he proved by statistics
kings, who are prayed for by their subjects, die younger than other
while bishops generally have shorter lives than lawyers. When
clergymen, he asked them a tricky question. If there is any use in
do you put lightning conductors on your churches?
have been more positive. An American
researcher, Franklin Loehr, planted seeds from the same packet in two
boxes. Both were tended in the same way, but the seedlings he prayed
quicker and stronger than the others. That is an experiment anyone can
there is a catch in it. The history of science shows that experiments
likely to give the result you wanted in the first place. Galton was
prayer because he was an atheist, whereas Loehr was a reverend preacher.
experience - my own and others - I have no doubt
that prayers and rituals can have an effect upon nature. Traditional
magic is an example. Some years ago, during a long summer drought, a
Indians living in the Midlands,
one of their rain-makers. During his ritual it began raining.
But is it always
wise to interfere with nature? Your prayers may
well be answered, but not in the way you wanted, and then there is
can do about it. There are many cases where a priest has prayed for
it has immediately come, but in such torrents that he and the
Some gardeners are
said to have 'green fingers'. Their plants
always do better than other people's. An explanation for this is given
Secret Life of Plants' by Peter Tompkins and Chris Bird. It shows that
respond to the human mind. Prayers for their health, even from far
improve their growth rate. If you are not religious, concentrating your
thoughts upon them works just as well. This is the book that influenced
Charles and made him an organic gardener.
light on a lost treasure
Last month I wrote
about finding lost treasures. One example was
the great hoard of ancient, precious objects which was dug out of a
Hoxne, a village in Suffolk.
Strangely enough in that same village, a few years earlier, another
was discovered. Strangest of all is the way in which it came to light.
Hoxne is famous
for its association with St Edmund. In the ninth
century he was made King of East Anglia. But he was not the right man
job. The country was being terrorised by Danish invaders. They raped
as they pleased, and no-one dared stand up to them. Edmund was only a
religious and book-loving rather than warlike. But he raised an army
on the Danes. They easily defeated him and chased him across the
When he got to
Hoxne he took refuge under a bridge. A wedding
party was going across it to the church. The bride saw the glinting of
golden spurs and cried out. She was heard by the Danes and Edmund was
They tied him to a tree nearby and shot him to death with arrows. Then
off his head and threw it into some bushes.
happened. A ray of light from the sky lit up a
certain spot. Edmund's followers went there, and found the head being
by a wolf. On that spot they built a chapel. Pilgrims came to it from
the country, attracted by the healing powers of the royal 'virgin
Edmund was made patron saint of England
- until the Normans
brought in St George.
If you go to Hoxne
today you can see the site of the oak tree
where he was shot. It fell down in 1848, and deep inside it was found
the Danes' arrowheads. Nearby is the bridge where Edmund was taken. To
day, no bride on her way to church will ever cross it. The only thing
was the chapel on the spot where his head was found. Even the site had
A Hoxne woman,
Margaret Carey Evans, determined to find it. She
studied maps and documents, and then came the moment of revelation. She
strange light from the sky, beaming down on a spot near the village.
help of archaeologists she investigated the site, and they uncovered
foundations of the long-lost chapel. Margaret was over 90 at the time,
had found her treasure and she completed her life's work with a little
wolf came too
Thirty years after
his burial at Hoxne, St Edmund's remains were
carried to the town now called Bury St Edmunds. The wolf that found the
said to have followed the procession. The relics were placed within a
jewelled shrine and an abbey was built around them.
Suppose you have a
house for sale and no one wants to buy it. It
is perfectly sound, but people are put off by it. They seem to find it
depressing. There is always a good reason for that, and once you know
is you can put things right. One way to do it is through 'feng-shui',
mystical science of old China.
It is not a
science in the modern sense, because it is based on
spirit. As everyone knows, certain places have a calm, pleasant
where you feel at peace. And at other spots you feel restless and
You could say that at one place the spirits of nature are comfortable,
another they act like demons. That is how the old Chinese saw it. In
their houses, they placed and designed them so as to attract good
the luck they bring. That is what feng-shui is all about.
Most famous of all
feng-shui structures is the Great
Wall of China. Begun in about 300 AD, it is over
1,500 miles long.
Its practical use was to keep out the warlike tribes in the north. But
purpose was magical. Within the wall, the whole country was laid out
beautiful park. At the same time, it was prosperous and densely
this was the work of feng-shui experts employed by the state. The
built the wall was to keep out the 'sha' or dangerous spirits that come
the north. Within it they created an earthly paradise.
I wish we could do
things like that these days. But we no longer
see from a spiritual point of view. That is why we put up with so much
around us. Feng-shui is now used only for individual benefit - to bring
and happiness to houses, families and firms. Big companies, especially
East, often use feng-shui experts to design their offices. About ten
feng.shui was made fashionable in Britain
by interior decorators. It
became a fad. There are some good feng-shui experts around today. And
many charlatans. It is best, in the end, to do it for yourself First,
beauty and the abode of peaceful spirits. Then look at you own
That is when you begin to see why your house is not selling, or why it
attracting visitors. Then you can start doing something about it. And
moment you start, the atmosphere changes.
The death of
kung-fu star, Bruce Lee, was blamed on his neglect of
feng-shui. The house he lived in was always unlucky, so he called in an
to put things right. A feng-shui device was placed on the roof to
bad luck. It fell down in a storm, and Lee forgot to replace it. Soon
came his sudden death.
Catherine and her gifts to women
If you would like
a husband - or even a change of husbands, one
way of going about it is to visit St Catherine. The best time to do it
her feast day, November 25. There are several places where she is said
answer prayers on that day. Mostly they are old chapels, set upon low,
hills. You go up to them, wish for whatever sort of man you want, and
and see what happens. The most famous of these places is Abbotsbury, a
old village in Dorset,
on the south coast. The
chapel is on a hill overlooking the sea. It is made entirely of stone
timbers. That is because it also served as a lighthouse and had a fire
of it. Below the hill is the ancient swannery, where hundreds of swans
They are the sacred birds of St Catherine and are looked after by a
St Catherine was a
fourth-century Christian lady of Alexandria
She was a king's daughter,
rich, beautiful and learned. She was also a virgin, and very obstinate.
emperor Maxentius tried to convert her to his pagan religion, but she
listen. He sent 50 senior philosophers to persuade her, but she argued
round to her point of view. Maxentius had them all executed. Then he
making love to Catherine. He offered to make her his queen, but she
at him. That was when he lost his temper and sentenced her to death by
A dreadful instrument was prepared. It consisted of four wheels, set
sharp spikes. It was designed to tear people apart. Catherine was
placed on it.
But as the wheels began turning, a miracle happened. The wheels fell
the spikes flew among the spectators. In desperation, Maxentius
Catherine with a sword.
The story goes
that her head and body were carried by angels to Mount Sinai. The bones are still
preserved in the
monastery there, but her head has been taken to Rome.
There is an
earlier version of this story. Its original heroine
was Hypatia, a pagan lady who was martyred by Christians. But, whether
she was a real person, I still adore St Catherine, the patron saint of
philosophers. I am not in need of a wife, but I still go to her shrine
of St Catherine
Abbotsbury is one
of several St Catherine sites in Dorset.
There is a lovely one near the old abbey at
Milton Abbas It was once a popular resort for unmarried women. At Guildford a ruined chapel of St
Catherine stands on a
pilgrims' path above the river Wye. Nearby, on a lonely hill, is the
sister-church of St Martha. The city of Bath
is dedicated to St Catherine. Her little church is in a secluded valley
east of the city.
from the Apes
Are we really
descended from apes? That is what we are taught at
school. But it is still only a theory . No-one has ever proved it. Many
are suspicious of that theory, and I am one of them - in good company
Fred Hoyle and other distinguished scientists.
(1809-82) invented the theory of evolution. But he
admitted that he could not prove it. He hoped that evidence for it
found in the future. Yet studies of rocks and fossils have never
evidence. There are no 'missing links' , between different species.
In 1912, the bones
and teeth of an 'ape-man' were dug up at
Piltdown in Sussex.
For 40 years they were shown in text-books as evidence that Darwin
was right. But 'Piltdown man' turned
out to be an evolutionists' fraud. An early evolutionist was Lord
eighteenth-century Scottish judge. He had heard from travellers about
orang-utangs in Asia
- that they used
walking-sticks and could be taught to play notes on a pipe. Monboddo
that apes were human beings in the wild state. If properly brought up
educated, he thought, they would be at home in human society.
He believed that
babies are often born with tails, but midwives
quietly remove them.
fundamentalists - who believe that every word in the
Bible is literally true - tell a different story. They rely upon
it says that God created the world in six days. He began with heaven
and then he made plants and animals. Finally he created us, "in his own
Which side are you
on, the Creationists' or the Evolutionists'? I
often hear that question, but I never give a straight answer to it.
because I do not know how life began, or how we first appeared on
earth. It is
a complete mystery. One thing we do know is that our bodies belong to
earth and are similar to those of other animals. But mentally and
we are quite different. We are the only creatures who can read and
articles like this one. And we are the only creatures capable of
this earth and everything in it. That is why it is important to
consider who we
are and where we came from. Are we beasts and killers by nature? Or are
souls, fallen into bad habits but still capable of redemption?
search for ape men
expeditions in search of the 'missing link' concentrate
upon the earth's wild places. A British team, led by Dr Myra Shackley,
Outer Mongolia, looking for 'almas'
- primitive mountain folk. The Mongolians know them but avoid contact.
expedition found footprints and other evidence, but could not capture
photograph an alma.
That is what usually happens in these cases. So is there really a
link' creature, hiding out in the wilderness? Or is it all just rumour
Welsh were there.
The ancient Druids
used to teach everything in rhymes. That was a
good idea, because you remember even the silliest rhymes you learnt as
A useful one that we learnt at school is, 'In fourteen hundred and
ninety two, Columbus
sailed the ocean
blue' . That is how I know the date he discovered America.
But this all turned out to
be nonsense. It was not Columbus who discovered America.
Many sailors had crossed
before him. The existence of America
known as early as the fourth century BC, when Plato mentioned it. There
records of Arab and African navigators reaching it. Relics of these
their coins and inscriptions - are stored (or hidden away) in American
Also recorded are visits by Norsemen and Celtic monks. The history of
Brendan the Navigator in the sixth century tells of his trans-Atlantic
and how he and his followers left Ireland
to settle in the New World.
Most famous of the
old Atlantic seamen is Prince Madoc of Wales.
In 1170 he sailed from Lundy
in the Bristol Channel to Mobile Bay, Alabama. A
monument there records
his landing and that he "left behind, with the Indians, the Welsh
language". Madoc's voyage opened an extraordinary chapter in American
history. His Alabama
colony was so successful
that the Mandan
and other Indian nations learnt Welsh and adopted it as their
language - like Latin. That is how the Celtic preachers after Columbus
communicated with the Indians they
were trying to convert. Often it saved their lives. Francis Lewis, who
the Declaration of Independence, was spared by his Indian captors after
spoke to them in Welsh. In 1685 the Rev Morgan Jones was sentenced to
Tuscarora Indians for his aggressive preachings. Allowed to say a last
he addressed his Maker in Welsh. The Indians recognised the language
so pleased that they invited Mr Jones to stay on and entertain them
sermons. It seemed possible at one time that Welsh would become the
language of America.
A modern view is
that the first Americans came from northern Asia
across the Arctic ice. But can you believe that any
more than the Columbus
myth? And why do the Americans always want to be seen as immigrants? No
knows where the Garden of Eden was, or where the human race began. It
just as easily have been in America
as anywhere else.
Scots were there too.
and monks were living in the New World before Columbus
sailed. In 1398
Clair, prince of Orkney, founded colonies in Nova
His story, and his mystical links with the Knights Templar and
in two books by Andrew Sinclair, 'The Sword & the Grail' and
of the Grail. They shed interesting new light upon the hidden histories
away by eagles
'avian abduction' was in the news recently. A
three-year-old girl was playing on a beach in New Hampshire,
when an American bald eagle
swooped down and grabbed her with its talons. Her father chased the
and she escaped unharmed.
She was a lucky
girl. Some children have been carried off by
eagles, and then dropped from heights or eaten. But in some cases they
lived to tell the story. In 1977 MarIon Lowe, a boy of ten, was
giant condors outside his home in Illinois.
His parents and neighbours saw one of the birds carry him into the air.
dropped him when they yelled and waved. He was not hurt but so shocked
hair grew white.
eagles was once quite common in Scotland
the Isles. The Nicholson family of Shetland are descended from a girl
who, as a
baby, was carried by a sea eagle to its nest on the island
It was under a ledge in a steep cliff-face. A boy, Robert Nicholson,
lowered to it on a swinging rope. He took the girl from among the
later married her.
suspicious of these stories. They claim that no
bird can lift more than its own weight. A golden eagle weighing 8lb
could just about carry off a new-born baby. But even a 12lb condor
take an older child. Yet in every part of the world, from ancient to
times, there are records of children being snatched by eagles.
things happen, you can only explain them as magic
- or the work of spirits. In all the old tales of avian abductions,
who survived the journey through the air were mentally altered. Often
became the shaman or wise person in their society. A Persian boy,
an eagle's nest, went on to become Shah.
I see a connection
between the eagle-and-child story and the modern
phenomenon of 'alien abductions'. Both involve magical flight, and in
cases the victims return in a different state of mind. Sometimes they
insane. So, if you take a baby to a country that has eagles, you should
leave it alone in the open. But if a bird carries it away, and you
from the nest, it may grow up to be even more brilliant or more mad
sign of the Eagle and Child
Several old pubs
are called The Eagle and Child. Their sign is an
eagle standing over a swaddled baby. This is the crest of the Stanley
family. As Earls of Derby they once
ruled as kings in the Isle of Man. The source of their greatness was
'eagle ancestor'. He was abducted as a baby and lived in an eyrie with
little eagles. But he was wise enough not to join them in flying
is how he survived to found a dynasty.