The Theosophical Forum – November 1938

SCIENCE AND RESEARCH — C. J. Ryan

Antiquity of Civilization in England

"We are at last, and only just in time, taking measures to preserve and protect the extraordinary stone monuments erected by our far-distant ancestors which serve to demonstrate their high degree of civilization and, perhaps, their knowledge of laws of nature of which we are now ignorant in spite of our scientific advances in the last few centuries. Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, is now a National Monument, and far away in the South Seas, the Australian government has extended its protection to the so-called "Little Stonehenge" a similar but smaller structure, and other megalithic monuments, on the Triobrand Islands, west of Papua. Chile has declared Easter Island a National Park, and other nations are taking measures to protect their irreplaceable monuments of unknown antiquity.

The exact age of Stonehenge has long been a subject of bitter controversy, but recent excavations and researches indicate that it was probably erected somewhat less than two thousand years b. c. About twenty miles north of Stonehenge stands the far greater and more magnificent prehistoric monument at Avebury. Unfortunately, it has suffered far more from vandalism, but it is now being carefully excavated and restored. Within the enormous outer circle of stones two smaller circles were formerly enclosed and two avenues of gigantic monoliths led away from it. Dr. Stukely, the famous "antiquarian," wrote in 1772, when Avebury was still in moderate preservation, that it as far exceeded Stonehenge in grandeur as a cathedral does a parish church.

The desecration of this marvelous temple, the largest of its kind in Europe, began in the Roman period and continued with increasing ferocity till the 18th century at least. Of the 300 enormous stones originally present only 16 were standing when the archaeologists began their work about five years ago. The rest had either been broken into small pieces and carried away or buried in deep holes, covered with soil and ploughed over! The buried stones are now being disinterred, repaired where broken, and set up again. They vary in height from 4 ft. 6 in., to 18 feet, and when all is finished about 120 of the original monoliths will be in their places and concrete markers will indicate the positions of the destroyed ones.

Studies of bones, pottery, and snail shells, discovered near the sockets of the stones of the Great Circle at Avebury, have satisfied the archaeologists that it is older than Stonehenge, dating from about 1900 b. c. or rather later. Some think it belonged to a period in which Egyptian influences penetrated Britain.

Students of The Secret Doctrine will recollect that it says that some of the British megalithic monuments are enormously ancient and that initiate priests traveled from Egypt in early predynastic days to England, by dry land across what is now the British Channel, to supervise the building of "menhirs and dolmens, of colossal zodiacs in stone," etc. According to the most reliable researches as reported by Dr. F. E. Zeuner, Lecturer on Geology at Freiburg University (Discovery, 1933) the Channel began to sink about 8000 years ago, the tremendous scour produced by the invasion of the sea quickly cutting back the hills on both sides until the present chalk cliffs were formed. Land communication between the British Isles and Egypt would have been easy before that date, and it is well established that as far back as fourteen thousand years ago parts at least of Lower Egypt were inhabited by an advanced race, the Badarian culture, capable of making excellent pottery and fine linen — not savages by any means.

Of course there is a considerable interval between 1900 b. c, the probable date of Avebury, and, say, 6000 b. c. and the question naturally arises: Is there any authentic information to indicate the existence of Great Circles older than Avebury? Till now, this could not be conclusively answered, but the recent excavations have brought to light the most remarkable fact that the Great Circle of Avebury cuts right across the site of an older and rather smaller one! How many thousands of years this outmoded one may have existed is not known, but its discovery confirms H. P. Blavatsky's claim of far greater antiquity for such monuments than the archaeologists were willing to admit in her time. Possibly it will also help to support the recent claim that an enormous Zodiac, about 4,000 years old, and many miles in diameter, can be traced in the terrain surrounding the ancient mystical and sacred Avalon, now Glastonbury, about forty miles from Stonehenge.

Evolution not Mechanistic

Three years ago we quoted the opinion of Dr. Frank R. Lillie, president of the National Academy of Sciences at Washington, that a living organism is not a mere congeries of physico-chemical reactions but is entirely unexplained by the "scientific method." Speaking at the June meeting of the American Association for the advancement of Science at Ottawa, Dr. Lillie went still farther, claiming that biologists can no longer accept the mechanistic view that life arose from crawling things in the sea up to man and the higher animals by physical and chemical causes, and that evolutionary theory is still in its infancy so far as explaining first causes is concerned. Living things possess creative activity and depart from mechanical routine, unlike physico-chemical analogies. These ideas are a striking sign of the times, especially as the assembled scientists accepted them without protest, though of course many of the "die-hards" still hold to the old-fashioned view that physics and chemistry explain life and consciousness.

High Temperatures in the Stratosphere

Until lately there was every reason to believe that the warmest part of our atmosphere was that which is nearest to the surface of the earth. In proportion to the increase in distance from the surface the temperature was supposed to decline steadily until the intense cold of outer space was reached. For several years, however, researchers have found increasing evidence that after a certain distance of increasing cold — not less than 18 miles the atmosphere gradually becomes much hotter than it is at the surface of the earth, attaining a temperature of not less than 200 degrees and probably many times that temperature before it again cools down to extreme lows. This utterly unexpected discovery — apparently contrary to the "laws of nature" as formerly understood before the new atomic theories were presented — is specially interesting to students of Theosophy because the existence of this super-heated shell or layer of atmosphere high above the earth was definitely mentioned by the Mahatma K. H. in a letter to a correspondent written more than fifty years ago and published in 1923 in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett. No scientist dreamed of such a possibility until quite recently. Such facts as these, recorded long before the revolutionary changes in modern physics, are unanswerable evidence for H. P. Blavatsky's bona fides and the profound knowledge of her Adept Teachers.

In view of the above, we draw special attention to the latest corroboration of the superheated region above the earth, just reported by Dr. B. Gutenberg of the California Institute of Technology, to the American Geophysical Union. He is one of the leaders in this research, and the matter is so important for students of Theosophy that we do not apologize for a lengthy quotation from the Los Angeles Times, April, 28, 1937:

Washington, April 27 (AP) — Echoes from explosions of the Navy's big guns show the presence of a superheated layer of air in the atmosphere, Dr. B. Gutenberg of the California Institute of Technology declared today. . . . he said that with a new sound-detecting instrument the reverberations of guns fired at sea off the California coast had been heard and measured over a distance of about 100 miles. . . . It picked up direct sound waves from the guns and in addition picked up secondary waves which were "too late for normal sound waves on an average of about one and one-half minutes"; Dr. Gutenberg said.

He described these secondary sound waves as unquestionably reverberations from the stratosphere, echoed by a layer of superheated air. In this case, the heated air acted like the walls of a cave or a building in which distinct echoes are heard, he said. Dr. Gutenberg said that these results "leave no doubt" about the echo layer in the stratosphere. He added that "in all probability the temperature increases in the stratosphere with increasing height, beginning at a layer about eighteen miles above the earth's surface " At higher levels the temperature continued to increase above the temperatures measured on the earth, Dr. Gutenberg declared, until it eventually merges into the intense cold of interstellar space.

Prevision of Earthquakes by Animals

In The Theosophical Path for October, 1934, this subject was considered and many examples were given. It was mentioned that a Japanese scientist claimed that the sluggish catfish, when kept in tanks, showed unusual activity before a coming earthquake, the longest time being about six hours in advance. Dr. Felix V. Santos, zoologist of the University of the Philippines, confirmed this in July, 1937, reporting that in advance of local shocks the catfish, "lowliest and laziest of fish, in the zoological laboratory manifest amazing excitement. Three of seven catfish kept there, before a recent shock was noted, jumped out of the tank and were found dead on the floor." The seismologists do not deny that animals, especially parrots, cats, dogs, and sometimes horses, show uneasiness for hours and even days before serious earthquakes, but they have given no serious study to the problem. Why? Is it possible that they subconsciously feel that it might open avenues of thought about obscure psychological forces in nature which are still regarded as unauthorised? The common "explanation" that faint sounds produced by minute earth movements, inaudible to us, excite animals to frenzy is absurdly weak, and does not cover the fact that human beings have felt great uneasiness hours before an earthquake without being able to give the slightest reason for their sense of impending danger. The writer knows personally a very striking case that occurred at Point Loma.

Analogy in Astronomy

Nowhere is the great natural law of analogy — one of the foundation stones in Theosophical philosophy — seen more clearly than in the heavens. The same general plan is repeated from small to great, allowing for the necessary modifications arising from special conditions. Everything is in more or less circular motion. The satellites, the planets, and the sun rotate on a central axis; the satellites revolve round their primaries, the planets round the sun; many suns revolve round other and greater suns; and even our great Galaxy of billions of suns is turning round a center whose secret is not yet revealed. Our Galaxy itself is believed to be moving amid the myriads of others like it. In this connexion a new discovery of considerable interest has just been made at Harvard Observatory.

Within the confines of our Galaxy numerous relatively compact groups of stars exist, like swarms of bees. Some contain hundreds of stars, others tens of thousands and even more. In a large telescope some of these groups are absolutely breath-taking in their magnificence. Though they are isolated in space like islands their component stars are relatively near each other, though their actual distance apart is measured in "astronomical" yard-sticks.

The new discovery proves that the analogy mentioned above extends even to these "clusters," as the groups are technically called. A comparatively small cluster in Auriga has been found to be revolving round a neighboring cluster of much greater size! Instead, however, of its journey round the primary cluster taking about a month, as in the case of our moon and the earth, it requires about sixty million years. As the detection of such an apparently slow motion is extremely difficult, it may be a long time before other similar systems are found. An interesting problem now faces us: is our sun a member of a cluster of other solar systems revolving round some unknown but immensely powerful gravitational center? Perhaps we may find a clew to this puzzle in the Theosophical teachings?


The Theosophical Forum

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