Laird Scranton is the author of a series of books and other writings on ancient cosmology and language. These include articles published in the University of Chicago’s Anthropology News academic journal, Temple University’s Encyclopedia of African Religion and the Encyclopedia Britannica. He is featured in John Anthony West’s Magical Egypt documentary series and in Carmen Boulter’s documentary The Pyramid Code.
He is a frequent guest on a wide range of radio and podcast interview shows including Red Ice Radio in Europe, Art Bell’s Desert at Midnight, and Coast-to-Coast Radio with George Noory.
He is also a frequent presenter at conferences whose focus is on ancient knowledge. These include Walter Cruttenden’s Conference on Precession and Ancient Knowledge (CPAK), the A.R.E.’s Ancient Mysteries Conference, Scotty Roberts and John Ward’s Paradigm Symposium, the Fringe New Jersey Conference, and James Swager's Megalithic Odyssey Symposium, in Marlborough, England.
His books include:
The Science of the Dogon (2006) (Republished edition of Hidden Meanings (2003))
Sacred Symbols of the Dogon (2007)
The Cosmological Origins of Myth and Symbol (2010)
The Velikovsky Heresies (2012)
China's Cosmological Prehistory (2014)
Point of Origin (2015)
The Mystery of Skara Brae (2016)
Decoding Maori Cosmology (due May 2018)
His work is also featured in two books called Forbidden Science (2008) and Lost Secrets of the Gods (2014). He helped co-author Ed Nightingale’s book The Giza Template (2014).
Sokol: Mr. Scranton, in your book "The Velikovsky Heresies" you wrote that based on official assessments of the Velikovsky´s Venus theories, it may seem clear that Velikovsky is wrong, but explore a still-growing list of scientific eventualities that would seem to support his theories. Is that still currently the case?
Laird Scranton: Yes. Just this week the discovery on Mars of large deposits of easily-extracted frozen water was announced – just the latest confirmation of logical consequences Velikovsky inferred from his Venus scenario. The consensus view of astronomers for how planets form, based on what they've learned about exo-solar systems – now aligns pretty precisely with Velikovsky's view – gas giant planets are understood to form during the first 10 million years after star formation, rocky planets in the next 10 million years, largely as a result of collisions.
Sokol: The Dogon, Buddhism and Ancient Egypt – is there a connection? In your book "The Cosmological Origins of Myth and Symbol" you identify signature attributes of a theoretic ancient parent cosmology that encompassed both a plan for the civilized instruction of humanity as well as the conceptual origins of language. Can you tell us more about this?
Laird Scranton: My main field of study is comparative cosmology, which is an effort to learn more about the myths, rituals, concepts, words and symbols of ancient cultures by comparing how different cultures understood the same elements. Those studies have produced a series of books whose geographical focus has ranged from Northwest Africa, to Egypt, India, Tibet and Chiina, ancient Turkey (Gobekli Tepe), Northern Scotland (Orkney Island and Skara Brae), and next to the Maori of New Zealand. What is indicated is a symbolic cosmological tradition that is founded on the principles of the Samkhya philosophy (a companion to Yoga). First evidence of the cosmology is seen in the region of the Fertile Crescent at Gobekli Tepe, with likely direct influences on ancient Egypt at around 10,000 BC. It is carried forward in its archaic form by the matriarchal Sakti Cult. Samkhya is understood to have been foundational to the Vedic, Buddhist and Hindu traditions. I see evidence of secondary influences on ancient Egypt, passed down via India, at Elephantine by around 4000 BC. A third set of influences are reflected on Orkney Island in Northern Scotland at around 3200 BC, followed a century or so later by the appearance of agriculturally-based kingships in Egypt, China, Ireland and Peru by around 3100 BC.
What was originally an oral tradition seems to have rested on a system of phonetics, where each sound was paired with a cosmological concept. These take the form of two-letter pairings in English such that, as examples, Na referred to the concept of the feminine and mothers, Nu to the concept of water or waves, Ma to the concept of perception. In many cultures, these phoneme/concept pairings served as building blocks for words to express more complex concepts. The priestly Dogon culture in Mali prioritizes the preservation of original forms and their well-documented language ( see the Dictionnaire Dogon , compiled by Genevieve Calame-Griaule) provides an excellent starting point for understanding the significance of each phoneme. I have found there to be a predictive relationship between Dogon cosmological words and ancient Egyptian words set forth in Budge's An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary. Many modern Egyptologists hold Budge's dictionary in low regard, however the Dogon language provides a rich body of comparative words that consistently uphold Budge's sense of phonetics and meaning. Moreover, the Dogon priests associate drawings with many of their cosmological words. Some thirty of these drawings take the same shape and meaning as glyphs in Budge's dictionary. When we focus on understanding the form of Egyptian hieroglyphic words that employ these glyphs, it becomes apparent that there is an abiding conceptual component to the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Perhaps the simplest case involves a word for "week", which is written with only two glyphs. The first is the sun glyph (circle with central dot), which can convey the meaning of "a day", and the second is an upside-down U shape which is the Egyptian number 10. Symbolically, the glyphs of the word imply a meaning of "ten days", which is the definition of an ancient Egyptian week. The ancient Chinese hieroglyphic word for week was formulated in the same way and also reflected an observed ten-day week. To my way of thinking, that single comparison implies fundamental commonality between how the two languages were originally formulated.
Sokol: Many people regard hieroglyphics as obsolete and current character scripts as progressive, is it really so? What are the optimal criteria for such an assessment?
Laird Scranton: My experience with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic words is that when we substitute well-justified concepts for the glyphs of a word we produce a sentence whose meaning defines the word. Moreover, there are classes of Egyptian words where such a sentence is followed by one or more unvocalized glyphs, and effectively assign a symbolic meaning to those trailing glyphs. Based on these words we are able to set out likely meanings for hundreds of Egyptian glyphs based on the authority of the Egyptian language itself, with Dogon definitions and drawings as a cross-check. Looked at in this way we can bring a high degree of certainty to the intended meanings of ancient Egyptian words, as well as clarity to related Dogon definitions. To my way of thinking, those highly beneficial and significant features of the language are largely filtered out when we move to character scripts that are phonetically, rather than conceptually, based.
Sokol: Egyptian hieroglyphs were considered more or less decoded. Are there any hidden surprises?
Laird Scranton: Word-to-word translation has the effect of producing correct meanings for words. However, it is easy to see that the generic term "week" conveys a poorer quality of information than a word "week" that specifics "ten days." So from the outset, conceptually-based translation based on the specific glyphs used to write a word offers us nuances of meaning that may largely be lost with word-to-word translation. These days my first impulse when attempting to understand an ancient symbol or concept is to familiarize myself with the glyph form of ancient Egyptian words. Quite often I come away with an understanding of meaning that goes against my original intuition.
The Dogon priests say that their symbolic cosmology describes how a tribal god named Amma created matter. When we compare the Dogon words, descriptions and drawings with comparable ancient Egyptian words – in the context of the more detailed information that is made available to us by the specific glyphs used to write the words – it becomes evident that the Dogon symbolic cosmology is an inherently scientific one. The principle for interpretation in my field of study is that it should begin with clear statements on the part of the cultures involved, so it is the Dogon priests who make the claim for a scientific level of meaning. My job is largely to test the reasonableness of what the cultures flatly claim to be true.
Sokol: You wrote that the Egyptian hieroglyphic words which describe how matter is created are written using glyphs which could be diagrams taken directly from string theory, it´s very shocking! Did you find any other clues of ancient deep knowledge that could also compete with our current science?
Laird Scranton: Of course I have solicited the opinions of knowledgeable physicists about the Dogon symbolic system. Their view is that the system most closely resembles a controversial version of string theory called torsion theory, where it is understood that each point in space/time takes the form of a tiny spinning vortex. Side-by-side comparisons of Dogon descriptions and drawings with corresponding descriptions and diagrams given by popularizers of science, such as Steven Hawking and Brian Greene, demonstrate an intuitive match.
The Dogon do include descriptions and drawings of a deeper set of structures than Hawking and Greene discuss – more basic than the wave-to-atom progression. These are the subject of my recent book Seeking the Primordial, and the upshot is that the processes of creation rest on a handful of straightforward dynamics that recur in parallel at all upward scales of creation. The most essential missing piece rests with Einstein's concept of relativity – that quickness of timeframe changes with increases or decreases in mass, in much the same way that relative water pressure changes with the depth of the water. Matter in its wavelike form is seen as virtually massless, and so must persist within an ultraquick timeframe compared to ours. An act of perception disturbs the wave, accelerates it, imparts mass and slows its timeframe, and so sets off a kind of chain reaction to produce what we see as particles. The suggestion is that gravity reflect differences in timeframe that cause things to move toward the slower timeframe in much the same way that a bouyant object moves toward regions of lower water pressure.
Sokol: Your book "The Mystery of Skara Brae" is very interesting. Do you really equate words of the Faroese language at Skara Brae, a language with no known origin, with important cosmological words from Dogon and ancient Egyptian traditions, finding obvious connections and similarities?
Laird Scranton: The Faroese language is more properly associated with the Faroe Islands, which are situated just to the north and west of Orkney Island. When comparing the words of any two languages, pure coincidence would lead us to expect to find apparent commonality in, say, one in a thousand words. In my book The Mystery of Skara Brae, I discuss on-going parallels between words of the Faroese language and cosmological words of the cultures I have been pursuing. The sheer number of common examples precludes the possibility that this could be merely due to coincidence. Meanwhile, we can also demonstrate commonality of architectural forms and a series of megalithic sites (the earliest known in the UK) that reflect a kind of alphabet of stages of cosmological creation. This at a time when a recent BBC documentary about Orkney has concluded that significant things were taking place on the island during Neolithic times. We have perhaps a half-dozen circumstances that tie via DNA and/or specific ritual to the era of 6000 BC in the same region of the Fertile Crescent that the Sakti Cult seemingly originated. So yes, especially in the absence of any consensus theory about who the Neolithic people of Orkney were or where they originated, all signs seem to point to the same tradition that I've been pursuing.
Sokol: Are you working on new book? If this is not a secret, what is the topic?
Laird Scranton: I currently have a book Decoding Maori Cosmology in process with my publisher Inner Traditions. That book served as a kind of obstacle to publishing the material I mentioned that relates to the fundamental dynamics of material creation, so I ended up self-publishing Seeking the Primordial through Amazon's Create Space service in October 2017. I'm presently working on a manuscript that's tentatively titled The Plan of the Ancient Cosmology, where I hope to discuss the likely intentions behind various instructional elements of the esoteric cosmology.
Sokol: Thank you for the interview, I wish many successes and we look forward to your next books!
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