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Exploring Ancient Wisdom

gobekli tepe vulture stone

In the foothills of the Taurus Mountains in Turkey, the prehistoric megaliths of Gobekli Tepe stand as one of history’s greatest mysteries. Strategically built over 11,000 years ago, we find 149 symbols chiseled into the stone towers.

It was thought that humans were first hunter-gatherers, and evolved into neolithic, agricultural societies prior to developing spiritual rituals. However, there is little evidence of people actually living in Gobekli Tepe, and the site appears to be built by pre-literate humans as a place of worship.

Universal Symbols

What is most fascinating at Gobekli Tepe is how the ‘vulture stone’ portrays wavy lines as mountains, believed by the ancients to be the resurrection vehicle of the sun. Ziggurats, mounds and pyramids were artificial mountains used for worship, and as resurrection vehicles for rulers.

We also find a symbol resembling the Egyptian Thoth. This Ibis deity sits in repose under the mountain, holding a round circle, portraying the sun’s underworld journey. There is also a Scorpion symbol, similar to what we find in Ratnagiri in India, dating back to the same period.

The petroglyphs at Ratnagiri show an image of Aquarius and the Pisces fishes. The fish are tethered to a cord, similar to how the ancients perceived the Pisces fishes straddling the celestial equator. We also find the Egyptian Winged Scarab, representing rebirth and protection for one’s underworld journey.

Civilization and it's languages wouldn’t develop for another 6000 years. Considering that most of our modern advances happened within only the last 500 years, what can be said about such a vast amount of time?

6,000 years after Gobekli Tepe was erected, Astrology was thought to have developed in Mesopotamia, and 2000 years later in Greece. Yet, these ideas were given form by pre-literate humans.

At the top of the ‘vulture stone’, we find the shamanic ‘man bags’ carried by Akkadian and Aztec deities in other stone carvings. Called Apkallu, the shamans and magi had inspirational access to the divine messages of the stars.

Literate Humans

Cuneiform tablets from the Mesopotamian valley dating from 2000 BC, describe the Tower of Babel. Like the flood story found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, both predate the Hebrew written record of Genesis.

We might think that this gives less credibility to our ancient ideas, but the development of language may have actually diminished our connection to a more inspired source of wisdom. We may have first carved pictures of what would later be shared through language.

We look for written records of more advanced civilizations and can’t find them. Some believe aliens came to the earth to teach us, but that seems outlandish. It may simply be that this ancient wisdom came to us in dreams.

“In a dream, a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on mortals, as they slumber in their beds. Then their ears are opened.” Book of Job


Over the years, I have studied with Shamans around the world, exploring and translating ancient texts to identify our common ideas. As a dream analyst, I am motivated to understand the root of our ancient ideas and symbols.

I am also familiar with the archetypes behind the planets and constellations of astrology, which inspired many ancient stories. Based on celestial activity, archeologists often date artifacts by analyzing references to astronomical events.

Whether of eastern or western origin, we shared the same sky and therefore, seemed to tell the same story.

The flood, being swallowed by a whale and the fish people who taught mankind are all based on Sumerian ideas about the southeast quadrant of the zodiac, believed to be the Great Sea.

The Square of Pegasus, originally called ‘The Field’ (MUL.IKU), was the starting point to find one’s way through the stars. This may be what is represented in the square bags carried by the Apkallu.

The Field was a symbol of measurement, and similarly, carvings of the square bags carried by the divinities portray both the wisdom carried, and how to measure celestial activity.

In the Mayan world, the planet Venus was Kukulkan, the Feathered Serpent. Venus would dip below the earth for periods as a snake, and rise up above the earth as a bird. In Greece, Venus inspired Persephone’s underworld journey and capture by Hades.

In Judeo-Christian literature, Venus was called Lucifer, Bearer of Light. It was viewed as an ‘imposter’ of the sun because prior to sunrise, or after sunset, Venus was so bright, it appeared as mini sun. As ancient ideas are translated and handed down over centuries, they are blended into new stories.

It is important to note that while astrology began as astronomy to understand seasonal activity, the inspiration that gave shape to the colorful archetypes transcended the idea of rocks moving through space. Something infused the imagination of the ancients as they looked to the heavens for answers.

The same thing happens when we dream. I observe how a dreamer’s psyche is infused with symbols of inspiration, offering clues as if something beyond their own awareness is guiding them.

Reading the Stars

We find stone circles in Britain and Ireland that date back to 3000 BC, pyramids in Egypt from the same period, and we also find pyramids in the Olmec, Maya, Aztec and Inca civilizations. These structures were used to measure what was happening in the sky.

In my book, Decoding the Night Sky, I explore how many of our ancient stories came from the Sumer/Babylonian portrayal of planets moving through the constellations. I also examine the earlier versions of the constellations that became our zodiac signs.

Aries the Farm Worker was based on Dumuzid and Inanna, and a courtship poem about ‘who will plow my field?” Cancer was the Deceptive Digger, a Turtle, prior to becoming associated with a crab. Libra, who straddles the Descendent, was called Ravening Dogs.

Ancient Babylonian astrology offers a clearer picture of the Ascendent and Descendent. While the Ascendant is the Persona, the Descendent is the point in a chart where we meet all that is ‘not me.’ Through Shadow projections and the ‘Other,’ an underworld journey begins.

Dogs played a role in protecting wisdom from the uninitiated, and guided people through the underworld. Libra rules the 7th house of the Descendent, which may be why the constellation was imagined as dogs.

Prior to becoming known as the Scales, these stars were originally the claws of Scorpio. The deep transformation presented by Scorpio and the 8th house begins when we encounter the Self through relationships, symbolized by the 7th house. It is as if Scorpio’s claws pull us into rebirth, as we seem to grow the most through our relationships with others.

The Greek interpretation of astrology, which became mythology, was shaped by Babylonian and Egyptian ideas. There is proof that the Egyptians adopted ideas from Mesopotamia, and the Greek mathematicians and astronomers learned astronomy in Egypt.

Mesopotamian civilizations date to 4000 BC. Abraham, the father of Judeo-Christian-Islamic religions, left Ur in Mesopotamia for Canaan in 2000 BC. This may be why many stories in the bible can be traced to the Epic of Gilgamesh, transcribed in 1600 BC by an Akkadian scribe, although a much older story.

Perhaps by day, the ancients had easier access to what Carl Jung called the collective unconscious. It would make sense since many of our oldest stories are similar.

The collective unconscious is our connection to our ancestral memory. It's symbols are common to all humans and often appear in dreams for people who have no knowledge of mythology.

Right vs Left Brain

Helping clients to interpret dreams, I explain how the dreaming mind has a right brain, imagery driven orientation. We have difficulty remembering our dreams, because we wake up and immediately shift back into the left brain.

Of course, there is no definitive or scientific explanation for how consciousness works, but this model is popular. The left brain is focused on tasks and survival, while the right brain is more holistic, symbolically driven, and creative.

The brain of ancient humans was very different.

Today, scientists are examining new fossil evidence for DNA, which is changing the story of our ancestral beginnings. Mammals, or our placental ancestors seem to have co-existed with dinosaurs, and some lived through the extinction event.

To thrive in such a dangerous environment, mammals lived underground and hunted in the darkness. It may be that the evolution of language was the result of vocal calling for offspring during the night.

From our instinctual and primarily sensory beginnings, the imagination may have developed to make mental pictures of where food was found.

The Bicameral Mind

The imagination developed to allow the complex human brain to evolve, capable of creating fire and to make tools. One theory of the development of consciousness suggests that the left and right hemispheres of ancient humans were bicameral. In other words, the right and left brain were not synchronized as they are today.

Julian Jaynes, a psychology researcher at Princeton and Yale in the 1970’s put forward the idea that consciousness developed with language in his popular book: The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.

Jaynes proposed that early humans did not have a modern sense of consciousness as we understand it today. Instead, he suggests that their minds were bicameral, meaning that the two hemispheres of the brain operated independently. The language center in the left hemisphere developed later and played an important role in the development of consciousness.

In this model, the right hemisphere might issue commands or inspire the left hemisphere, leading individuals to perceive these commands as the voices of gods or ancestors. Today, artists attribute their visions and creativity to the right brain, and dreams too, appear to have a similar right brain orientation.

Contralateral Organization

The right and left hemispheres currently map to opposite sides of the body. For example, the right visual field functions from the occipital lobe on the left. Damage to one hemisphere can sometimes be accommodated by the reorganization of neural networks.

The language center at the left side of the brain is called the Wernicke area. The same area on the right doesn’t seem to have this contralateral mapping. However, Jayne’s ideas were given credibility through experiment.

When stimulating what would be the Wernicke area in the right brain for patients undergoing split brain surgery for epilepsy, they heard voices and music.

According to Jaynes, around 3,000 years ago, the bicameral mind began to break down due to societal changes such as the development of complex societies, increased trade, and technological advancements.

This breakdown led to the emergence of subjective consciousness, where individuals began to internalize and interpret their thoughts as their own rather than as external commands.

Like the Tower of Babel story or the Fall from Eden, language and logic may have disconnected us from what seemed like a divinely-inspired awareness. From innocent witness, we evolved into a more ego-oriented and left-brain dominant type of awareness.

Toddlers and Ancient Humans

We can think of the development of consciousness for early humans as similar to how it develops in toddlers. We may have memories from childhood of our larger-than-life imagination that appeared very real.

Ancient inspiration about deities instructing people to create fire, develop language and culture, and build structures, may have seemed real for them.

The left brain and language, and areas infused with logic and reasoning were not yet dominant. In dreams too, logic and reason abate. The left portion of the brain holds the vocabulary, but even today, we need the right brain to give words meaning and context. We dream in symbols, not words.

Experiments with psilocybin and DMT, the active ingredients in hallucinogens, reveal a drop in alpha waves. This normally happens when we open our eyes, yet, participant’s eyes were closed. This indicates that they were engaging in the sensation of interacting with an external environment.

At the same time, delta and theta waves appear, similar to dreaming. Psychedelics induce dreamlike and subjective experiences, and people generally encounter ego as ugly, selfish or an illusion. Life is witnessed as a game of sorts, where thoughts move like trains that continuously lead us to our reality.

The difference between pre-literate humans and toddlers is that the former weren't forced to learn words, as a symbolic representation that would eventually take the place of actual experience. Their awareness may have been more innocent, unencumbered by downloading a database of conforming ideas.

Psychedelics might reveal the more ancient capabilities of a mind unrestricted by ego’s survival driven and limited focus. Ego pokes its head up like a periscope from its safety area, within an ocean of possibilities. It sees what it wants to see, and only what is needed to feel safe again.

The Dreaming Brain

During the day, ego, as the embodiment of our survival drives, can unwittingly trap us in stagnant thinking. Our fears can lead to self-limiting blockages to our growth.

When we dream, we slip back into the right brain expression of images, symbols and metaphors. Self-limiting ideas are released, while nurturing ideas are introduced and assimilated. Yet, something guides these visions.

The process is completely inspirational, as opposed to being drawn from what is happening with our sensory organs. Actual events or memory can offer the fodder, but the psyche ingeniously creates symbolic metaphors, and hybrids of symbols that can offer clues about a necessary transformation.

The ancients were survival driven like other animals, but at some point, the brain and imagination began to evolve more profoundly. Language facilitated the sharing of ideas and this growth was exponential.

The more we learn, the faster we learn, as is the case with our technology today.

However, it is interesting to note that when Leibniz developed the binary code in the 17th century AD, he was inspired by a more ancient idea: the Yin and Yang lines of the I Ching. This book dates back to 1000 BC from the ancient Taoists in China.

The ‘10,000 things’ that manifest to portray all of life in the I Ching, originate from either an open (Yin) or closed (Yang) line. Leibniz was inspired by how a myriad of outcomes derive from just the placement of two lines.

This became our computer code, consisting of either a zero (0) or one (I). Today, binary code drives everything from electronics, computers and mobile networks.

Dreams use images to portray how we construct our version of reality. I describe the 3 parts of a dream in my book, The Mythology of Sleep where the bizarre or third portion offers clues to overcome a current crisis.

Something beyond the dreamer’s awareness inspires these clues. More importantly, dreams show how consciousness constructs a picture of the outer world through past associations.

We spend almost half of our lives dreaming and exploring ourselves in a self-created landscape that appears real. Whether day or night, it is the same brain creating and gathering evidence of what we witness.

Aboriginal Dreamtime

It may be that the awareness of the ancients was similar to Tjukurpa, the concept of Dreamtime in aboriginal Australia. Dreamtime is a world of creation in continuum of past, present and future that dates back 65,000 years.

Similar to Taoism, the creator is not a noun, but more like a verb. Tjukurpa is unfolding continuously where time and space are multi-dimensional. Shapeshifting allows for the interconnectivity between people and the environment. Taoism too, is a philosophy of removing the boundaries in our awareness.

Dreamtime is not just a creation story, but an inspired and poetic way of existing and interacting in the present. Awareness is more mythical and outside of human agency where they believe “thinking comes from Tjukurpa."

Like Tao, Tjukurpa is the source of all being and everything flows from it. The ‘te’ in Tao te Ching is how Tao flows through all things and is given expression.

The Australian aborigines told stories about the stars too. For example, Kungkarangkalpa Tjukurpa is a story of the Seven Sisters who became the Pleiades. They were pursued by Wati Nyiru, his footprints are both in Orien’s Belt and in the red sands of the desert.

24 Hour Mind

Imagine not waking up into the left brain, but spending the day in the dreaming state. Of course, our bodies are paralyzed when we dream to keep us from acting out on the content. But the innocence of being a witness to inspired ideas that might guide us is similar to the bicameral mind.

The 24-hour mind is a way of opening to our innate creativity. We observe how the same mind is responsible for what we experience during either day and night, and can help us overcome self-limiting ideas.

Working with our dreams allows us to uncover synchronicities that reveal how we create our experiences. Many of my dreamwork clients have reported an uptick in synchronicity – or how the inner and outer world connect.

The Man Bags

The dream experience might reflect remnants of our bicameral mentality in modern humans. This may be why we will never find written records of the wisdom of a lost civilization.

As symbols etched on megaliths, they are left up to interpretation by modern humans. Because scientists and archeologists are not interested in dream symbols, ancient astrology or mythical realities, they may not recognize the ziggurats and underworld Ibis holding the sun on the ‘vulture stone.’

Instead, they see it as a vulture playing with a human skull.

After all, how would it be possible for Egyptian ideas of a later period to have been known to such an ancient culture? In describing Gobekli Tepe as a place to honor wildlife, they ignore the ‘vulture stone’s’ most important symbol at the top: the 3 ‘man bags.’

In dreams, the number 3 is a transcendental symbol, while the number 2 can show duality, or a choice. 3 transcends the either/or option presented by 2. It can represent a ‘new way’ that can emerge by blending the 2. The number 3 is often associated with mystical transcendence and spiritual ideas.

The Maori culture of New Zealand are descendants from Polynesia, including Easter Island. Their DNA shows they originated from East Asia. One of their stories depicts a divinity climbing to the heavens and returning with 3 bags.

One bag represents light as the things known, another is the darkness of things unknown, and the third represents how humans pursue this wisdom.

This is what is also captured in the bags carried by the Apkallu. From Mesopotamia to Asia, and from Egypt to the Americas, the story is the same.

Astrology Today

When astrologers read a birth chart, it appears like a language, where signs, planets and aspects tell a story. Similar to how individual letters will form a sentence, it requires opening and listening to the ‘story of the symbols.’

Like HTML code or heiroglyphics, to most people, the large circle with all of its lines and glyphs never becomes more than nonsensical pictures.

Astrologers are not looking at rocks in space, but the archetypal representation drawn from the client’s time of birth as a figurative mandala. Like dreaming, archetypes infuse the astrologer’s mind with mental images that engage the imagination.

Their knowledge of planetary and astral archetypes comes from thousands of years of handing down this ancient wisdom. From one generation to the next, the story has remained the same. Its longevity speaks to its credibility for those who can read it.

Captured in the ‘man bag’ carvings at Gobekli Tepe, the original story may have been shared during a time when inspiration flowed more freely. This may be why Einstein said:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

He may be the closest thing we have to a modern-day Apkallu or visionary. He saw the universe in his mind in a burst of inspiration while napping. As he dozed off, he had the sensation of falling and imagined himself freefalling in an elevator. He realized that the effects of gravity are indistinguishable from the effects of acceleration, which led to his profound insight into the nature of gravity.

Just as in ancient times, many of our greatest advances came from dreams. This includes the periodic table, the structure of the molecule, the theory of evolution, relativity, analytical geometry, and Bohr’s idea of the atom…to name a few.

Perhaps our ancient ideas transcend the linear way we examine historical records. If our ancient wisdom came from dreams, it would shed light on why these symbols are prevalent across cultures. Additionally, this would explain why our ancient ideas are not synchronized with our understanding of time.

When we dream, the world is timeless.