By Mark Andrew.
There are many books out there on the disasters suffered by planet Earth and humankind over the course of thousands of years. Is there anything we can learn about the past to help understand the planet we call home?
Catastrophism and amnesia
First of all… there are two main theories in earth science, one being uniformitarianism (or gradualism) – the idea that slow incremental changes created all the Earth’s geological features – and the other being catastrophism – the theory that the Earth has been shaped by sudden, short-lived, violent events, possibly worldwide in scope1.
An adherent of the latter was the maverick scholar Immanuel Velikovsky (b. 1895, d. 1979). Velikovsky proposed that the Earth has suffered natural catastrophes on a global scale, including during humankind’s recorded history. Somewhat controversially, he was of the view that catastrophes that occurred within the memory of humankind are recorded in the myths, legends and written history of all ancient cultures. Interestingly, Velikovsky proposed the psychoanalytic idea of ‘cultural amnesia’ as a mechanism whereby these literal records came to be regarded as mere myths and legends2.
A related concept – of a ‘species with amnesia’ – is something that the author Graham Hancock has talked about. He concludes that “we have forgotten our roots and our origins” and we start anew every century in a “delusional avoidance of our past”3.
Cycles of catastrophe
So what events might the collective subconscious of humanity be sweeping under the carpet? Could catastrophic events that affected large parts of planet Earth have been regular themes over human history?
In the book The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes, the authors weighed up a range of evidence and came to the following scenario: 41,000 years ago there was a supernova explosion close to the Earth, with the subsequent powerful burst of radiation causing widespread extinctions in Australia and South East Asia. Much of the human race would have perished in these areas, and the radiation led to genetic mutations resulting in larger brain sizes, which in turn fostered art, music and a flowering of creativity.
Some 34,000 years ago, the authors believe that the first shock wave from the supernova buffeted the Earth, and that from 16,000 to 13,000 years ago a ‘debris wave’ arrived, with increased comet and asteroid impacts. They note that 13,000 years ago multiple impacts of cometlike objects hit the Northern Hemisphere – one of the consequences was the formation of the Carolina Bays, as part of a giant dustball comet hit into the ice of Hudson Bay, spattering chunks of ice and debris far and wide. This is very much ‘catastrophism in action’ – celestial events impacting on life on Earth.
This brings us to the notable period of earth history referred to as the Younger Dryas, a return to glacial conditions from around 12,900 to 11,700 years ago. It is not the purpose of this article to dissect what may have happened to cause the Younger Dryas – indeed there may have been several cosmic-induced events in the run up to this glacial reboot. However, the word ‘comet’ often gets a mention, not just by writers such as Graham Hancock – who suggests that a disintegrating comet may have erased an advanced ancient civilisation4 – but also by established scientists, some of whom seem open to the idea of cometary debris impacting the Earth around this time.
Last 10,000 years
You may think that after the Younger Dryas, things would have calmed down for the remaining just over 10,000 years to the present day. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to have been the case. Planet Earth and humanity appeared to have ‘copped it’ on other occasions too, albeit with hundreds or thousands of years in-between.
Some of the other events include:
- The 5200 BC event – a sudden increase in atmospheric dust and a sharp temperature drop are associated with volcanic activity; many Neolithic sites (including Çatalhöyüki in Turkey) were abandoned around this time5.
- The 3200 BC event – a worldwide climate-related shock to early societies, involving flooding, drought and abrupt cooling at higher latitudes, followed in many places by the emergence of organised human civilisation6.
- The 2300 BC event – a devastating event that one author describes as “the most significant in all of man’s history”, as all advanced civilisations at the time were terminated, and did not recover for hundreds of years7.
- The 1600 BC event – the eruption of the Thera volcano in the Mediterranean, although according to author (and tree rings expert) Mike Baillie, whatever happened was global in effect and not just confined to one volcano8.
It should be said that – whilst most of the above-mentioned events featured volcanic eruptions – there is evidence that volcanoes (and earthquakes) can be triggered by cometary activity9. In this way, activity in the skies above – whether that be comets, cometary debris or even errant planetary bodies – could be the prime candidates for the major climatic and environmental changes experienced down on planet Earth.
One researcher – Pierre Lescaudron – has attempted to attribute the major events to specific celestial activities. For example, his theory is that the 3200 BC event was caused by close interactions between Venus (when it was a comet) and the Earth10. He has also identified a possible 3600-year cycle of cometary activity11 – the same length of time noted by Zecharia Sitchin based on his interpretations of ancient Sumerian texts.
Lescaudron reflects that:
“Despite their apparent remoteness, cometary events are very real and might actually be one of the main punctuators of life and death on Earth. Most mass extinctions were triggered by cometary events and, interestingly, they were followed by the appearance of more complex forms of life”12.
The idea that major celestial events cause disaster on Earth, and herald the end of one era and the start of something new, is quite a compelling one, and links with myths and legends that have passed down through the ages. The old world ends, with a major flood, fire or other catastrophic event, and the new world begins.
The author Laura Knight-Jadczyk covers this in her book The Apocalypse – Comets, Asteroids and Cyclical Catastrophes, summarising that “there is a lot of evidence that our planet undergoes cataclysmic bombardment by comets and their fragments a lot more often than most scientists, scholars and the general public think or believe”.
According to Knight-Jadczyk, we are said to be living in the final days of the Iron or Dark Age, the Kali Yuga of Hindu or Vedic culture, and at the end of which Brahma will awaken from his dream and the whole cycle will begin again. She reflects that…
“here we stand, quite possibly at the threshold of a new age”
To experience the dawn of the new world, one must however survive the end of the old world. According to Knight-Jadczyk, the ancient stories of survivors all have one thing in common: “those who could see the signs and knew what was coming, were ready”.
So to conclude, humankind on planet Earth appears to have experienced a whole series of major catastrophes caused by activity in the skies above. But where there is danger, death and destruction, they are invariably followed by creation, new life and new opportunity. As it is said: out of destruction comes life. Thus the cycle of life on Earth continues, and one day the next new world (or new age) will commence.
This article was first published in Hermes Magazine in July 2020 under the title “Out of destruction comes life”; it is being published here with the author’s permission.
- Wikipedia Contributors, 2019
- Wikipedia, 2020
- Lana, 2016
- Hancock, 2019
- Lescaudron, 2019
- Mandelkehr, 2006
- Knight-Jadczyk, 2012
- Lescaudron, 2019
- Lescaudron, 2020
- Lescaudron, 2019
- Lescaudron, 2020
Firestone, R.B., West, A. and Warwick-Smith, S. (2006). The cycle of cosmic catastrophes: flood, fire, and famine in the history of civilization. Rochester, Vt.: Bear & Co.
Hancock, G. (2019). America Before: The Key to Earth’s Lost Civilization – Graham Hancock Official Website. [online] Grahamhancock.com. Available at: https://grahamhancock.com/america-before/ [Accessed 10 July 2020].
Knight-Jadczyk, L. (2012). The Apocalypse : Comets, asteroids, and cyclical catastrophes. Red Pill Press.
Lana (2016). I Want to Believe: Species with Amnesia. [online] Loco Mag. Available at: http://locomag.com/species-with-amnesia/ [Accessed 10 Jul. 2020].
Lescaudron, P. (2019). Volcanoes, Earthquakes And The 3,600 Year Comet Cycle. [online] Sott.net. Available at: https://www.sott.net/article/424968-Volcanoes-Earthquakes-And-The-3600-Year-Comet-Cycle [Accessed 10 Jul. 2020].
Lescaudron, P. (2020). The Seven Destructive Earth Passes of Comet Venus. [online] Sott.net. Available at: https://www.sott.net/article/432498-The-Seven-Destructive-Earth-Passes-of-Comet-Venus# [Accessed 12 Jul. 2020].
Mandelkehr, M.M. (2006). The 2300 BC event. Denver, Colo.: Outskirts Press.
Wikipedia Contributors (2019). Catastrophism. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catastrophism. [Accessed 10 Jul. 2020].
Wikipedia. (2020). Immanuel Velikovsky. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Velikovsky [Accessed 10 Jul. 2020].
www-leland.stanford.edu. (n.d.). Paleoclimate Data Page Lite Version. [online] Available at: http://www-leland.stanford.edu/~meehan/donnelly/paleolt.html [Accessed 11 Jul. 2020].
Mark Andrew has a longstanding interest in most things ancient and mysterious, from Atlantis to the Zoroastrians. He studied environmental sciences at university before working for many years in town and country planning. He lives and works in South West England.