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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Night Inside the Great Pyramid

Anyone reading this who enjoys browsing around second-hand bookshops will know the satisfaction that comes with making a real find – especially when that find turns out to be a snap at the [1]price. That’s how it felt for me when in a second-hand bookstore in Rotterdam I discovered a [2]1936 edition of Paul Brunton’s A Search in Secret Egypt. Now, I already have on my bookshelf a dog-eared paperback [3]edition of this book from the early sixties, but the original hardcover edition, with its photographs by the author, was a prize indeed.

Brunton’s book is rich in vivid descriptions, both of the country and its monuments and also of his varied experiences, which include practicing the art of snake charming with Egyptian cobras. But the book’s main claim to fame rests principally with the chapter in which he describes his night spent in the King’s Chamber in the heart of the Great Pyramid of Giza; the first person to report on this since Napoleon tried the same experiment while on his Egyptian campaign in 1798 (below) – and apparently emerged the next morning from the interior gloom ashen-faced, silent, and refusing to answer questions about what he had experienced.

As far as I know, nobody has been allowed to repeat this experience since Brunton – although today’s [4]police guards stationed at the edifice are apparently not above a little palm-greasing. Locked at dusk inside the Pyramid at his own request by the obliging guards, the author resolves ‘To sit, awake and alert, for twelve hours in the King's Chamber, while the slow darkness moved across the African world'.

In the increasing cold and the all-pervading shadows of the granite-lined King's Chamber (above), the author reports a series of harrowing encounters with a virtual parade of frightening phantasms and ‘monstrous elemental creations’, after which he undergoes an initiatory experience under the guidance of apparently more benign beings. Brunton’s book as a whole convinces me that he was a man of sincerity and integrity. Indeed, he was clearly someone of a contemplative nature who valued his own personal spirituality. So what are we to make of the author’s encounter with these ancient ghosts? I personally am convinced that he certainly had some kind of an experience. But perhaps the nature of that experience was other than it seemed.

Almost by chance, on a [5]website unconnected with paranormal issues, I came across a description of the Great Pyramid that appeared to offer a possible explanation. It seems that the long galleries that run inside the Pyramid, from deep beneath its base up to the King’s Chamber (highlighted, above), act as resonators that keep the ‘background sound’ of the Pyramid vibrating at a steady 6 hertz, which is well below the audible threshold of human hearing. In other words: the Great Pyramid is virtually awash with inaudible [6]infrasound.

Infrasound is strange stuff. The naturally-occurring presence of infrasound (the signal, above) in an environment can induce in the human mind a strong sense of being in the company of an unseen (and usually threatening) 'presence' and provoke inexplicable feelings of deep unease - even outright fear. It has been detected deep underground in the stations and tunnels of subways, and at locations which have been described as ‘haunted’ – and it even has been utilized in film soundtracks as a subliminal audio signal deliberately to provoke feelings of disquiet in an audience. If you saw it in a theatre, do you remember that feeling of dread when in Jurassic Park the unseen T. rex was approaching in the dark? You were being subjected to infrasound.

This understanding of infrasound and its effects has only come long after Brunton’s day. Does it explain his experience (and indeed, whatever it was that evidently rattled Napoleon in the same circumstances) as a trick of the mind? It might. Settling down for the night in the granite-lined Chamber, Brunton describes experiencing an 'undefinable feeling of uneasiness' - which exactly fits the effects of exposure to infrasound. Sensed ghostly presences, both in ‘haunted’ houses and inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, might be no more than these mischievous low-frequency sound waves messing with our minds. The setting itself – a ‘creepy’ old house at night, or the cold and echoing gloom of the Pyramid’s interior – does the rest. But trust me: when you are actually in the situation and these things are coming straight at you, all the reassuring science goes straight out the window!

[1] The current eBay price is around €45. I bought my copy for €8!

[2] Paul Brunton: A Search in Secret Egypt. Pub. Rider, 1936.

[3] Paul Brunton: A Search in Secret Egypt. Pub. Arrow, 1962.

[4] Graham Hancock: Fingerprints of the Gods. The author describes bribing the guards to allow him to make a dangerous night ascent to the Pyramid’s summit (left, in the background). Anyone who actually believes that the Great Pyramid was ‘just’ a pharaoh’s tomb, as orthodox archaeology insists, can be helped out of their dream by reading this book. John Michell’s The View Over Atlantis is also recommended for the same reason, as is John Anthony West’s Serpent in the Sky. All three titles are now classics in their field.

[5] By the author Christopher Dunn.

[6] The audible threshold for human hearing is above 20 hertz, so any sound wave below 20 hertz is in the infrasound wave spectrum. The presence of infrasound in the Great Pyramid begs the question as to whether the infrasound there is a natural phenomenon – a side effect caused by the internal tunnels and chambers – or whether the architecture was deliberately contrived to generate the sub-audio effects. Having read the above three books, I would be totally unsurprised if it was the latter. The Great Pyramid is the most remarkable structure ever built, and as it is entirely possible that its purpose was at least in part for some sort of initiatory rituals, then these would only be enhanced by the presence of the infrasound phenomenon. 

The top image is adapted from a period postcard in my collection dating from the 1930's. The image of the interior of the King's Chamber is adapted from a photo at CultureFocus. The 'ghost lights' in this photo are my own enhancement to suggest the atmosphere which Brunton experienced.

Thanks to T.M. Harte at M.E.S.A. for reviewing the infrasound aspects of this post for me.

A well-reasoned appraisal of the infrasound phenomenon in relation to alleged paranormal activity can be found at Shaun Underwood's Infrasound, from which the image of the infrasound signal has been adapted. This author also mentions that infrasound can cause visual hallucinations, and can be generated by such natural phenomena as thunderstorms. The feelings of apprehension which many experience during a thunderstorm (even when in a safe situation) could be due to the infrasound phenomenon.


  1. And we meet - yet again M'El

  2. What a pleasure to see you here, M'El! Of course you are welcome here anytime!

  3. we made it here, because we are dreaming here!
    ascending upwards...x


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