“On the mountainside Anzu and Ninurta met … Clouds of death rained down, an arrow flashed lightning. Whizzed the battle force roared between them.“

Anzu Epic, tablet 2,

in S. Dalley,

Myths from Mesopotamia

(Oxford - New York, 1989), p. 21.

If Anthony Peratt’s conclusions are correct, then only a few thousand years ago the terrestrial sky was ablaze with electrical activity.


The ramifications of this possibility will directly affect our understanding of cultural roots. What was the impact of the recorded events on the first civilizations? What was the relationship to the origins of world mythology, to the birth of the early religions, or to monumental construction in ancient times?

The relatively sudden appearance of the rock art themes discussed in the previous chapter interrupted a well-documented earlier phase in the evolution of artistic expression. In the remote Paleolithic epoch, we see remarkable human skill in representing the natural world. Many observers have marveled at the realism of primitive depictions on the walls of caves in Europe and elsewhere, showing antelope and bison and other animal and plant forms, with great attention to natural detail. Many of the most impressive examples are conventionally dated around twenty to thirty thousand years ago.

Later, however, in close connection to the beginnings of civilization, we observe an explosion of human energy devoted to the utterly fantastic: cosmic serpents and drag­ons, winged bulls in the sky, mountains, towers, and stair­ways reaching to the center of heaven, “sun” disks with heaven-spanning wings, cosmic “ships” sailing about the sky. In fact, most researchers have grown so used to these preposterous images that only rarely do they pause to notice the enigma. How did it happen that human consciousness shifted from artistic accuracy and natural representation in the more “primitive” (Paleolithic) stage, to such bold “defiance of nature” in a later (Neolithic) stage? From any conventional vantage point, a collapse of artistic “skill” also occurred.

But now, there is reason to believe that rock art can illuminate a critical turn in human history. Before the work of Peratt, the petroglyphs appeared to be little more than “stick figures” with prepos­terous attributes, all easily dismissed as random “hallucination” or “doodling.” Peratt’s work assures us that the basic forms have a direct explanation in plasma science.

UPPER: Paleolithic cave painting of a horse, France. LOWER: Images such as these carved on stone in the southwest­ern U.S., accent the enigma: the task of chiseling such images required an immense investment of human time and energy, yet the forms appear to be little more than doodling. Plasma physics will tell us otherwise, however.

There is also a provable connection to the evolution of mythical archetypes. Archaic rock art depictions came first, but were followed by an outpouring of conceptual elaborations, as ancient artists gave imaginative expression to the celestial forms and events that inspired the myth-making epoch. Both the rock artists and the myth-makers had true perils on their minds. The rock artists recorded and the myth-makers interpreted electrical events in the sky, as plasma discharge sequences moved through discrete phases, some of celestial beauty, others intensely violent and terrifying.

Our world was once a vastly different place—that is the message written on stone and concealed within the archetypes of world mythology. As for the myths, it is only necessary that we see past the imaginative expressions to the events behind them. What were the events that provoked an explosion of human imagination prior to the rise of civilization? All of the archetypes are, in fact, extraordinary. Not one answers to familiar events in our sky today.

The Dragon, the Hero, and the Thunderbolt

As if speaking with a single voice, ancient cultures declare that fantastic beasts once roamed the heavens and the gods went to war. In the story’s most common form, the upheaval began when a great serpent or dragon attacked the world, bringing darkness and universal devastation. A legendary warrior then set out to engage the monster in direct combat. The battle raged amid earthquake, fire, wind, and falling stone, and it appeared that all would be lost. Then the hero’s magical weapon, fashioned by gods or divine assistants, flew between the combatants, turning the tide of battle and vanquishing the monster.

From this encounter, the ancestral warrior earned his title as "hero." He defeated chaos and saved the world from catastrophe. But how did the divine weapon accomplish this feat? The storytellers’ own words and symbols, when traced to root meanings, make clear that the hero’s weapon was no ordinary sword, arrow, or club. It was a thunderbolt—and not the familiar lightning of a regional storm, but a bolt of cosmic dimensions. Though this original identity may not be apparent in many of the later versions of the story, it can be confirmed through cross-cultural comparison, with closest attention to the memory’s more archaic forms. When the great civilizations of the ancient world arose, the dragon, the hero, and the cosmic thunderbolt already dominated human consciousness.

"Hercules Battling Achelous," the Louvre, Paris, France.

The Great Serpent Typhon
Greek poets, historians, and philosophers often spoke of the great dragon Typhon or Typhoeus whose attack nearly destroyed the world.

Greek vase painting depicts Zeus’ conquest of Typhon.

Our oldest source for the Typhon story is Hesiod, whose account is tentatively dated to the eighth century B.C. In his Theogony, "The Origins of the Gods," Hesiod sets the stage against a backdrop of cosmic turmoil in the formative phase of earth history. Typhon was the child of Gaea and Tartaros, conceived after Zeus had driven from heaven the former rulers of the sky, the Titans. At birth, the monster sprouted a hundred snake heads spitting .re and venom, their whistles, roars and bellows, and every sort of horrible sound shaking heaven to its foundations.


Without the intervention of Zeus, the poet says, the great dragon would have become the master of gods and of mortals. To meet the monster, Zeus rose with a clap of thunder. Then "the earth groaned beneath him, and the heat and blaze from both of them were on the dark-faced sea, from the thunder and lightning of Zeus and from the flame of the monster, from his blazing bolts and from the scorch and breath of his stormwinds."

The power of Zeus lay in his lightning-weapons:

…Seizing his weapons, thunder, lightning, and the glowering thunderbolt,

he made a leap from Olympos, and struck, setting fire to all
those wonderful heads set about on the dreaded monster. Then, when
Zeus had put him down with his strokes, Typhon crashed crippled,
and the gigantic earth groaned beneath him, and the flame from the
great lord so thunder-smitten ran out… and a great part of the gigantic

earth burned in the wonderful wind of his heat… and melted in the
flash of the blazing fire.

Over the centuries scholars have wondered what natural experience could have provoked tales of an earth-threatening event in which the agent of destruction is a serpent or dragon. Was the story a fabulous echo of ancestral confrontations, when early races strug­gled to subdue creatures of the desert or swamp? Or did the story capture, in the archaic language of myth, a traumatic event—perhaps an eruption from a nearby volcano, or a hurricane or tornado? Some have suggested that the Greek memory of Typhon points to a particularly frightful comet approaching the earth. The ancient Roman scholar Pliny mentions the appearance of a "terrible comet" or a "ball of fire" during the reign of a legendary Egyptian king named Typhon.

But these naturalistic speculations take the ancient stories one at a time, in isolation, and too frequently disregard the parallels within and between cultures. Hesiod’s version offers many clues that can be followed backward to the earlier religions of the Mediterranean, the Near East, and beyond. By this line of investigation, we see how the cosmic serpents and dragons of archetypal mythol­ogy were progressively diminished and localized through regional storytelling.

Typhon as three-headed monster with entwined serpent-tails.


The hero’s combat with the chaos-serpent or dragon is a global theme of the ancient cultures, and a failure to recognize this fact will doom any attempt to comprehend the Typhon story. A ludicrous monster alien to all natural experience today, but given cos­mic proportions, is indigenous to all cultures’ mythologies. The creature is a flaming, bearded, feathered, or long-haired serpent, often embellished with multiple heads and mouths, whose writhing form appears in the sky as chaos and darkness overtake the world. The power and consistency of the images persist across millennia of human history, and the collective memory cannot be rationalized away. What was the dragon? Who was the hero? And what was the cosmic thunderbolt, the weapon that left the monster, in the poets’ words, "thunderstruck," or "lightning-scarred"?

Chaos and the Primeval Rebellion
In ancient Egypt, the serpent Apep was the archenemy of the creator Ra, and his plotting against Ra produced a tempest in the heavens. Harking back to these events, numerous Egyptian rites commemorated the victory of Ra over Apep. At the temple of Ra in Heliopolis the priests ritually trod underfoot images of Apep to represent his defeat at the hands of the supreme god. At the temple of Edfu, a series of reliefs depict the warrior Horus and his followers vanquishing Apep or his counterpart Set, cutting to pieces the monster’s companions, the "fiends of darkness." According to W. M. Muller, the spear or harpoon of Horus was a metaphor for the thunderbolt.

"…Lightning is the spear of Horus, and thunder the voice of his wounded antagonist, roaring in his pain."

It is worth noting as well that the Greeks translated Set as Typhon.

Hindu vajra, the cosmic thunderbolt.

In Hindu legends the great warrior Indra, the most revered god of the Vedas, employed lightning in his combat with the monstrous Vritra or Ahi—a giant serpent who had swallowed both the cosmic "waters" and the sun, leaving the world in darkness and despair.

  • "Indra, whose hand wielded thunder, rent piecemeal Ahi who barred up the waters…"

  • "Loud roared the mighty hero’s bolt of thunder, when he, the friend of man, burnt up the monster."

  • "Moreover, when thou first wast born, o Indra, thou struckest terror into all the people. Thou, Maghavan, rentest with thy bolt the dragon who lay against the water floods of heaven."

The Hebrews, too, preserved an enduring memory of Yahweh’s battle against a dragon of the deep, marked by lightning on a cosmic scale.

"The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook."

Here the adversary was alternately named Rahab, Leviathan, Tannin, or Behemothdragon-like forms representing both the waters of chaos and the rebellion of the "evil land" vanquished by Yahweh in primeval times.

The battle is echoed in Job 26:

The pillars of heaven shook and were astounded at his roar. By his
power he stilled the sea, and by his understanding he smote Rahab
…By his wind the heavens were made fair, his hand pierced the twisting

serpent… Lo, these are but the outskirts of his ways; and how
small a whisper do we hear of him… But the thunder of his power
who can understand?"

The Hebrew accounts reflect a connection to early Canaanite traditions in which the lightning-wielding god Baal defeated the monster Lotan.

Marduk and the Resplendent Dragon

When the Babylonians, the world’s first astronomers, looked back to the age of the gods, they spoke incessantly of disaster. In their Akitu festival, a prototype of ancient New Year’s celebrations, the astronomer priests recounted the events of a former time, when the dragon Tiamat assaulted the world and it appeared that heaven itself would fall into chaos. The "resplendent dragon" spawned a horde of dark powers with "irresistible weapons"—"monster serpents, sharp-toothed, with fang unsparing," their bodies filled with poison for blood.

"Fierce dragons she has draped with terror, crowned with flame and made like gods … so that whoever looks upon them shall perish with fear."

This was not a disaster on a local scale, but a universal disaster—a catastrophe so great that the gods themselves were immobilized by fear, and even Anu, the sovereign of the sky, fled the scene in terror.

Marduk’s dragon with serpent head, leonine front feet, avian hind feet, and scorpion’s tail. Though distinguished from Tiamat, neither can it be entirely separated from Tiamat.

Babylonian cylinder seals depicted the subdued dragon as the vehicle or carrier of the god,

a common theme in the ancient world.


The protagonist in this narrative is the god Marduk. When all else had failed, it was Marduk who rose to confront Tiamat and her companions. The god took possession of his "matchless weapons" and:

In front of him he set the lightning,
With a blazing flame he filled his body.

In the Babylonian cylinder seals above, the thunderbolt of Marduk appears as an arrow launched against Tiamat.

The “trident” form of the arrow/thunderbolt is a mystery yet to resolved by specialists.

Mounted on his storm-chariot and turbaned with a "fearsome halo," the god set his course toward the raging Tiamat. On the approach of Marduk, the dragon-goddess was "like one possessed; she took leave of her senses. In fury Tiamat cried out aloud…"

Then joined issue Tiamat and Marduk, wisest of gods,
They swayed in single combat, locked in battle.
The lord spread out his net to enfold her,
The Evil Wind, which followed behind, he let loose in her face.
When Tiamat opened her mouth to consume him,
He drove in the Evil Wind that she close not her lips.
As the fierce winds charged her belly,
Her body was distended and her mouth was wide open.
He released the arrow, it tore her belly,
It cut through her insides, splitting the heart.
Having thus subdued her, he extinguished her life.
He cast down her carcass to stand upon it.
After he had slain Tiamat, the leader,
Her band was shattered, her troupe broken up.

In this way Marduk vanquished the dragon and her brood. Upon his victory the god established a new cosmic order, the body of the dragon providing the raw material for a great city of the gods.

In their annual Akitu festival the Babylonians reenacted both Tiamat’s attack and the god Marduk’s subjugation of the monster. Commemorative rites such as these were, in fact, the model for ancient New Years celebrations throughout the Near East, with numerous counterparts amongst ancient cultures the world over, all harking back to the primeval destruction and renewal of the world.

The Myth of the Divine Thunderbolt
A thunderstorm can be a terrifying event. The lightning .ash and thunderclap may indeed awaken a primal fear, perhaps instilling a newfound empathy for the mythmakers of antiquity. In the presence of a thunderstorm, was it not natural for our ancestors to envisage lightning-beasts roaring in the heavens or celestial armies hurling lightning-spears across the sky?


Common suppositions have prevented investigators from exam­ining the underlying patterns of lightning symbolism. Cross-cultural comparison reveals numerous global images of lightning in ancient times, but these are a far cry from the phenomena we expe­rience today. The lightning of the gods altered the order of the heavens and changed planetary history.

Statue of the god Marduk with his dragon.

The Babylonian seven-headed dragon, a familiar but enigmatic theme in ancient times.

Ancient chroniclers employed a wide range of natural and man­made symbols to describe the cosmic "thunderbolt." The breadth of images will make no sense until we find a new vantage point, one permitting us to discern the archetype, the original form that pre­ceded the symbols and gave them their mythological context. Terrestrial lightning was but one of many hieroglyphs used to describe the celebrated weapon of gods and heroes.


Here the distinction between archetype and symbol becomes crucial. Viewed in isolation from the archetype, the symbol presents blatant contradictions; when illuminated by the archetype, it acquires integrity.

The symbol can then be seen in reference to something once visible in the sky, but no longer present. From this new vantage point, the investigator can subject the implied human experience to rational and scientific tests.

To confront the symbols under discussion is to meet the deepest fear of humanity, the Doomsday anxiety, the expectation that a prior world-threatening disaster will occur again. Doomsday arrived suddenly and without mercy, and across the millennia the memory of catastrophe haunted every culture on earth.


The historic impact of the memory is, in fact, evidence for the events implied by cross-cultural testimony. As remarked by the Greek poet Sophocles, the thunderbolt of Zeus always meant disaster: the terrifying bolt "never shoots forth for nothing, nor without catastrophe."

To offset this anxiety, each tribe or nation cherished its own account of the ancestral warrior, the bearer of lightning and thunder and the victor in the primeval contest. The combat story, told in thousands of variations, gave the early cultures their celestial models for war and defense.


Through ritual and symbolic imitation, cultures sought magical protection against chaos. Thus, the narratives, symbols, pictures, hymns, rites, and commemorative monuments offer countless clues as to the nature of the upheaval and the magical “weapons” featured at the most critical juncture.


What were the thunderbolts of the gods?

To illustrate the scale of the enigma, we list below seven of the most common lightning themes recurring from one culture to another—images too specific, too peculiar, and too widespread to be rationalized as mere exaggerations or make believe.


The symbols direct our attention to natural phenomena far more powerful and more terrifying than anything occurring in our own time:

  • Motif #1: Hero’s Weapon. Lightning takes the form of a frightful sword, arrow, axe, flail or other weapon in the hands of a great warrior or divine messenger—a god whose identity merges with the lightning-weapon itself. Surprisingly, the same "weapon" turns up as an instrument of healing or resurrection as well.

  • Motif #2: Winged Thunderbolt/Winged Disk. Lightning appears as a radiant disk or sphere in the sky, with heaven-spanning wings. It is a great "thunderbird," or it is launched from the wings of such a bird, or bursts forth as a .ash of .re from its eye.

  • Motif #3: Axis Mundi. Lighting streaks along the world axis, acquiring the form of a towering column that is said to have "separated heaven and earth" in primeval times. This same pillar is the hero’s staff, rod, or scepter, and through metamorphosis it passes into other, more complex forms as well.

  • Motif #4: Lightning Wheel and Flower. Lightning "blossoms" as radiating, symmetrical streamers—the petals of a luminous flower, the aweinspiring "glory" of a great star, or the spokes of a cosmic wheel turning in the heavens.

  • Motif #5: Whirling Thunderbolt. Lightning spirals into ser­pentine coils or winds upward in a helical motion around a central, axial column. It whirls across the heavens as a celestial tornado, whirlwind, or whirlpool, sometimes graphically recorded as a whorl, swastika, or triskeleon.

  • Motif #6: Caduceus. Lightning manifests as entwined ser­pents, ribbons, or .laments whirling upward along a central axis or column. Two entwined .laments signify the lightning-form taken by cosmic twins.

  • Motif #7: Thunderstones. Lightning arrives with falling stones or boulders. Typically, the falling rocks are flung by warring gods who also brandish, or are, the divine thunderbolt.

How did such images of the "thunderbolt" take root around the world? Though the global images have almost nothing in common with lightning today, the cross-cultural patterns are remarkably consistent. Hence, a solution to the mystery must be possible.

Greek coins shown on this and following page depict the thunderbolt of Zeus with many variation Yet certain patterns stand out, a none seem to suggest the famil form of lightning today.

Thunderbolt as Divine Weapon in Primeval Times
Though we cannot pause here to elaborate all of the themes noted above, each will find comprehensive treatment in these monographs.

As for the first motif on our list—the legendary hero’s weapon—most mythologists assume that the association with "lightning" is a secondary principle, not a general rule. Our contention, however, is that virtually all forms of the hero’s weapon belong to the thunderbolt motif. A unified explanation of the magical sword, arrow, spear, club, or axe is possible, even in instances where the explicit "lightning" identity was lost over time. At the heart of the theme lie the natural formations taken by plasma discharge.

In the course of our analysis we intend to show that the essence of the divine thunderbolt was etheric—it was wind, water, and fire. It was a whirlwind or tornado, a whirling flame, a devastating flood, even a comet. If it was also a celestial serpent or winged monster, that was because the plasma discharge formations appearing above the ancient witnesses readily inspired such fabulous interpretations.

It is the earlier images that illuminate the later fragments and elaborations of the thunderbolt motif. In the Babylonian narrative above, the arrow released by Marduk is the god’s thunderbolt. Elsewhere, the god’s bolt appears as a lance, a weapon by which the god himself was represented in Babylonian iconography. One of the texts also explains that the firebrands kindled as part of the festivi­ties represented the god’s lightning-arrows.

On the face of it, the symbolism may seem perfectly natural in reference to familiar lightning. But enigmatic nuances of the thunderbolt stand out in both the Babylonian written narratives and the ritual reenactments of the event. Marduk’s weapon appears to overlap with the image of a whirling "cyclone" called abubu and rendered pictographically as a mace or club—images that make little sense in themselves but will take on increasing clarity in the course of our investigation.

The dragon of Marduk carries the symbol of his vanquisher—the lightning-weapon—on his back.

Similar images occur in Sumerian accounts of the great warrior Ninurta’s victory over the monstrous “bird” Anzu who, like Typhon, had sought to usurp the powers of heaven. On the mountainside Anzu and Ninurta met …Clouds of death rained down, an arrow flashed lightning. Whizzed the battle force roared between them. By his victory, Ninurta became the “strong warrior who slays with his weapon,” his lightning arrow or dart having pierced the heart of the monster. So too, the Assyrian “storm god” Adad (Phoenician and Hebrew Hadad), an alter ego of Marduk, is shown wielding thunderbolts as arrows or spears, though elsewhere he carries a lightning mace (right).


The great Assyrian warrior Ashur launched arrows from his bow as lightning, in the very fashion of the Babylonian Marduk. As noted by Mircea Eliade, the Hebrew Yahweh "displayed his power by means of storms; thunder is his voice and lightning is called Yahweh’s ‘fire,’ or his ‘arrows." The connection is deeply embedded in the language. The Hebrew baraq, ‘lightning,’ is also used in the sense of ‘flashing arrow-head.”


Similarly, the feared "sword of God," according to Louis Ginzberg, is the flashing light-ning. Various Christian traditions appear to have adapted the idea to later images of God's struggle with the "devil." In the legends of Armenian Christians, for example, "the lightning is often a sword, arrow or fiery whip which the Lord is hurling at the devil, who is fleeing, and who naturally and gradually has taken the place of the ancient dragon." Few scholars have found any of this to be enigmatic. The fundamental idea may seem so natural that most translators of ancient texts give little attention to the unique attributes and associations of the thunderbolt.


One fact relating to the evolution of world mythology is frequently overlooked, however: the setting of later stories progressively changed as the gods were brought down to earth. In the course of Egyptian history, for example, both the creator Ra and his regent Horus, whose original domain was undeniably celestial, came to be remembered as terrestrial kings. In later time, when Greek and Roman poets, philosophers, and naturalists sought to gather knowledge from far flung cultures, Egyptian priests would relate to them many stories of the gods, declaring that the events had occurred in their own city in the time of the "ancestors."

As a bridge between the more archaic world and the fragmented and diluted myths of later times, Greek accounts offer many clues as to the evolution of thunderbolt symbolism. In the hands of the sovereign Zeus, the nature of the divine weapon is clear. The poet Pindar speaks of Zeus "whose spear is lightning," while Aristophanes invokes lighting as "the immortal fiery spear of Zeus." In the words of Nonnus, Zeus is "the javelin-thrower of the thunderbolt." "The spear he shook [in the battle with Typhon] was lightning." "Do thou in battle lift thy lightning-flash, Olympus’ luminous spear."

Assyrian “storm god” Adad holds in his hand a mace, a form taken by the lightning of the gods.

The connection is transparent in the Greek keraunós, “thunderbolt,” most commonly used for Zeus’ weapon and said to stem from a Proto-Indo-European root *ker-.

The same root appears to lie behind the Sanskrit _áru-, ‘arrow’ and the Gothic haírus, ‘sword.’ As in other cultures, the Greek thunderbolt also
found frequent expression as an arrow. The most familiar representations of the "eagle" of Zeus (as, of course, the eagle of the Latin Jupiter) depict the god’s lightning as arrows held in the talons of the bird—a representation well preserved into modern times by the symbol of the eagle and its lightning-arrows on the U.S. one dollar bill. Many authorities thus acknowledge that the lightning of the gods found expression as an arrow in plastic art of Greece, Italy, and Sicily.

But as we descend to secondary gods and regional heroes, the connection of weapon and thunderbolt becomes more ambiguous. The Homeric Hymn to Pythian Apollo describes the god’s confrontation with the chaos serpent Python, whom the chroniclers identified alternately as a form of the dragon Typhon or as the nurse of Typhon. Significantly, we do not find in the poet’s words any explicit acknowledgment that it was a lightning-weapon that brought down the serpent. The Homeric and other accounts refer to the invincible "arrow" launched by Apollo, causing the monster to shudder violently and to give up its life in a torrent of blood. But was this "arrow" just an arrow, or did it really mean the thunderbolt which, in the earlier Near Eastern accounts, took the form of an arrow?

Many authorities have, in fact, recognized that the arrows or swords of Apollo cannot be separated from the language of the thunderbolt. Apollo bore the epithet chrysáoros or chrysáor—meaning “of the Golden Sword” (áor)—and here the lightning connection shines through: according to the distinguished authority, W. H. Roscher, the Golden Sword is a Greek hieroglyph for the thunderbolt. Indeed, Zeus himself, the most famous wielder of the thunderbolt, was Chrysaoreús or Chrysaórios, "He of the Golden Sword."

Zeus launching his thunderbolt, from a Greek vase painting.

The eagle on he U.S. one dollar bill holds in its talons an olive branch and a sheaf of arrows, the latter tracing to classical images of the eagle of Zeus (Latin Jupiter) with its lightning-arrows.

The two paintings above, both depicting Apollo’s defeat of Python, accent the ambiguity as to the mythic setting.

The painting on the left, by J. M. W, Turner, suggests a terrestrial occurrence,

while the painting by Eugène Delacroix on the right has preserved many nuances of the original celestial context.


Cross cultural comparison makes clear that the hero’s connection to the "thunderbolts of the gods" was no accident. We are not dealing simply with a poetic metaphor for ordinary lightning. Rather, ordinary lightning served as a metaphor for something once seen in the sky, but alien to ordinary experience. Lightning thus stands alongside other metaphors (arrow, sword, whirlwind, comet, etc.), all pointing to extraordinary experience. The archetypal identity of the warrior-hero’s weapon can be brought to light only by finding the root forms expressed in a wide array of symbols.

Scene on a Greek coin illustrates Apollo’s confrontation with the ser­pent Python.

What occurred in the case of Apollo is underscored by many parallels in the language and symbolism of legendary heroes. By following this evolutionary tendency across the centuries, we observe how the poets and historians placed the stories on a landscape familiar to them, as the thunderbolt became a sword, spear, hammer or club of a celebrated warrior, now a “great man” who continued to battle chaos monsters, but no longer in the heavens. The celestial warrior lost his cosmic attributes to become the best of heroes, the esteemed ancestor of the tribe or nation telling the story. Once reduced to human dimensions, the hero could no longer hold onto his original weapon, a weapon claimed to have shaken and for­ever changed both heaven and earth.

The evolution of the myth presented an enigma. How would later poets and historians, after localizing the stories, describe the cosmic weapon with which, in the more archaic tales, the warrior­god vanquished heaven-spanning serpents, dragons, and chaos monsters?

Of course, mythologists will not normally think of the sword of Perseus, or the club of Heracles—much less the healing "staff" of Hermes—as symbols of the cosmic "thunderbolt." World mythology presents such figures by the thousands, and in virtually all of these instances the original identity of the magical weapon has slipped into the background. Yet only rarely could it be hidden entirely. In most cases, the localized weapon still retained glimpses of the original: it was a "gift" from gods or goddesses, could strike like lighting, or was constructed from "flashing" gold or some indestructible material, or possessed magical powers tracing to an age of gods or semi-divine ancestors.

Nevertheless, what we usually see is just a shadow of the cosmic thunderbolt so vividly described in early Near Eastern narratives of primeval order and chaos. The “shadow,” however, is sufficient to establish the original identity of thunderbolt and hero’s weapon in other bodies of myth.

In the Grail cycle of myths, lightning receives the name Lanceor, or "Golden Lance," an archaic name of Lancelot. Lightning is also linked to the sword Excalibur, which Geoffrey of Monmouth called Caliburn, from the Welsh Caledvwich, Irish Caladbolg: old names for the lightning.’

The most famous Celtic hero, Cúchulainn, victor over chaos powers, held a weapon granted him by the lightning god Bolga, "the inventor of the missile spear." By acquiring this weapon, "Cúchulainn was greatly strengthened in battle." Gaé Bolga is translated as “Bolga’s spear” or “a harpoon-like javelin.” Sometimes referred to as a “lightning weapon,” it had its origin in the Otherworld where it was forged by the divine smith. Its lightning stroke was always fatal.

Perseus, the hero who slew the monstrous Medusa, was celebrated in later times as a constellation. The scene here is from the masterful work painted on the ceiling fresco of the Villa Farnese in Caprarola, Italy.

In the form of a sword, the lighting weapon bestowed upon Fergus, one of the two sons of Fionn, offered a great advantage in warfare, enabling him (like so many mythic heroes) to single-handedly slay hundreds on the battle field. "This sword was named In Caladbolg, a two-handed lightning sword."

Sagittarius. From Hyginus, Poetica astronomica (1485 edition).

Again and again, Germanic tribes placed a lightning weapon in the hands of their celebrated heroes. The diverse mythic forms of the thunderbolt, according to H. Bächtold-Stäubli, include "the glowing missiles; as such they are present in all stages of human cultural history, from the rough stone and club of primitive times through the hammer, axe, and spear, to the golden sword wielded by the Hero."

Gertrude Jobes, a diligent investigator of symbolic themes, affirms that, among the Altaic Tatars, lightning was the "arrow of a mighty hero." A common Slavic name for the weapon of the celestial warrior Perun is strela, "arrow." The lightning of the Finnish Ukko appears as "fire arrows" or "copper arrows." Similarly, the Finnish warrior-hero Jumala, is said to have "wielded thunderbolts in the shape of jagged lightning-spears."

In several parts of Italy saetta or arrow is the name for the lightning. In Slavonia the “thunderstone” is called strelica (i. e., arrow), on Swedish soil in some places åskpil (thunder-arrow), in Mecklenburg dunnerpil, etc.

The same language appears in the British Isles. Irish saign_n, “lightning,” is derived from saigit, “arrow,” and both this word and seah, “thunderbolt,” in Breton dialects are based on Latin sagitta, “arrow.” Thus our familiar images of Sagittarius, the divine "Archer" of constellation symbolism, clearly belong to an ancient tradition equating the hero’s arrow and the divine thunderbolt. Less known is the much smaller constellation Sagitta, "the Arrow," close to the center of the Milky Way. Here the constellation symbol, according to Eratosthenes, harked back to "the arrow shot by Apollo against the Cyclops, who forged the lightning with which Zeus had cut off the life of his son Asclepius."

Among the Tibetans and Mongols lightning is seen as the arrow of a dragon-riding god, and thunder as the voice of the dragon. So too, the warrior Raiden, in Japanese myth, wielded "fire-arrows"—acknowledged to be lightning—in his battle against the chaos power, Raiju, the "Thunder-beast."

Among the Zulu tribes of Africa, lightning takes the form of a dazzling spear hurled through the air. The African Gikuyu say that God clears his path with a weapon, often described as a sword, and identified as the lightning. And amongst the ancient Egyptians, such divine weapons as the spear, harpoon, and .ail, employed in the warrior Horus’ battles against chaos, have been identified with the thunderbolt.

Numerous equations of hero’s weapon and thunderbolts occur in the Americas as well. An Iroquois account tells of a warrior Hé-no’s whose thunderbolt vanquished a chaos monster:

Hé-no’s name means ‘thunder.’ A monstrous serpent dwelt under the village, and made his annual repast upon the bodies of the dead which were buried by its side … he went forth once a year, and poisoned the waters of the Niagara, and also of the Cayuga creek, whereby the pestilence was created … Hé-no discharged upon the monster a terrific thunderbolt which inflicted a mortal wound.

Essentially the same notions prevailed throughout the Americas. The Navaho say that, long ago, the arrows that defeated the devouring powers of chaos were the lightning. Zuni tradition identifies the lighting as "as the arrows of celestial Archers."

In a field at Cerne Abbas, England, the Celtic hero god Dagda is inscribed in chalk. Wielding a giant club, the figure is almost 220 feet tall.

The Pawnee and their neighbors recall the great warrior, named Black Lightning Arrow. Thus, Von del Chamberlain, who ranks among the most informed authorities on Plains Indian mythology, tells us that "the flint-tipped arrows of the Indian correspond to the lightning arrows shot to earth by higher powers …Pueblo Indian designs also show the lightning, tipped with arrow-heads."

Thunderbolt as Club, Hammer, and Axe
The warrior and his thunder-weapon find explicit illustration in the Germanic Thor, whose name is given to a day of the week— Donnerstag, the day of Thunder, our Thursday. He was the strongest of men and of gods, the victor over giants, dragons and a host of dark or destructive powers. Thor was the "Hurler" (Vingnir) and his weapon was the thunderbolt, with which the great warrior himself seems to have been inseparably identified. "The god is, etymologically, thunder, and his hammer, Mjöllnir (Crusher), represents lightning."

As we should expect, it was Thor who vanquished the terrible serpent Midgard or Jormungand ("wolf-serpent"), seen thrashing about in the sky while the world reeled under the catastrophe of Ragnarok, the rain of fire and gravel. In confronting the monster, Thor hurled his great stone hammer or mallet Mjöllnir, fashioned by dwarves in much the same way that the Cyplopes fashioned the thunderbolt of Zeus. The power of the blow was sufficient to send Midgard plummeting into the sea.

Again, both the symbolic associations and the linguistic roots bear out the overlapping identities of hero, hero’s weapon, and lightning. It is generally recognized that Thor’s "lightning weapon" was originally an independent warrior-god. Amulets dated to the tenth century and presenting the lightning-weapon in human-like form, sometimes show the lightning god’s beard taking the place of the hammer head.

Numerous authorities including Jacob Grimm assures us that the hammer of Thor means the "crushing thunderbolt." Grimm also compares the Teutonic Mjölnir with Slavic molnija, "lightning."

Norse warrior god Thor, wielder of the thunderbolt in battle.

In fact, the widespread linguistic relationship of the stone hammer­head to lightning is now well-established. Welsh mellt, Church Slavonic mluniji, Serbo-Croatian munja, Russian molnija and Old Prussian mealde, all meaning "lightning," are derived from the same root. So too, the Old Norse myln, "fire," and especially Latvian milna, are invoked as the "hammer" of the warrior Perkun and acknowledged to be the lightning. Scholars such as Christopher Blinkenberg who have investigated the general theme. Find that the identification warrior’s “hammer” with lightning is so pervasive as to constitute a bedrock principle.

Also of interest here is the Hindu vajra, the illustrious thunderbolt of the warrior Indra, called a "whizzing club" in the sacred texts of the Rig Veda. Such images of the lighting-weapon invariably lead us backward to the lightning-mace held in the hands of the Near Eastern storm gods noted above.

To these symbols of the divine thunderbolt we must add the axe wielded by gods and heroes—a subject already well explored in scholarly studies.


As noted by B Schmidt, the word for the thunderbolt in modern Greek tales of modern tales of primordial warfare in the heavens is astropeléki, the "sky axe," though perhaps ‘star axe or stellar axe’ comes closer. This is the very term which, to this day, native populations use for Neolithic stone fragments and implements that, when recovered, are venerated as the lightning weapons of the gods.

Authorities who have examined the symbolism of the lightning­axe trace it back to Minoan civilization and farther back to Babylonian cosmology. But the lightning-axe is not limited to a particular region of the world. It appears as the weapon of the Aztec Tlaloc, the Maya Chac, and numerous legendary warriors of African mythology, finding equally vivid expression in the South Pacific and throughout eastern and southeastern Asia.

The Club of Heracles

Of all the ancient Greek heroes, none achieved greater popularity than the club-wielding warrior Heracles (Roman Hercules), whose far-famed “Twelve Labors,” together with many other adventures, compressed diverse tribal lore into the ordeals of a single hero.

The vase painting on the following page depicts Heracles’ defeat of the giant sea serpent Triton. Such exploits typified the biography of the hero, with its variations on a single underlying theme, all harking back to the mythic warrior’s contests with chaos monsters.

Heracles’ own relationship to the thunderbolt may not be obvious, but neither was it forgotten. As seen on the previous page, a Greek coin depicts Heracles standing with a club in his right hand. In the field behind him is the thunderbolt of Zeus. Just as the spear of the celebrated warrior Achilles retained the connection to the thunderbolt of Zeus, the poet Hesiod describes Heracles leaping into battle "like the lightning of his father Zeus.”

In this scene on a Greek coin, Hera­cles wears a lion skin over his left arm while his right hand rests on a club; in the field to the left, a thunderbolt.

Heracles vanquishes the sea­dragon Triton.

In view of Heracles’ acknowledged links to Thor and Indra, it would make no sense to ignore the cross-cultural implication, that Heracles’ giant-slaying club is a Greek variant of the lightning weapon carried by heroes around the world. Of course, most specialists in Greek literature and religion give little attention to cross-cultural comparison. But the lightning-clubs of other heroes globally can hardly be ignored. Even the Dinka of Sudan honored a great ancestor-god Deng, whose club was the thunderbolt.


Cosmic Thunderbolt and Plasma Discharge

The mythic traditions reviewed above pose a question vital to our investigation. What is the cosmic thunderbolt’s connection to the plasma discharge forms documented in the laboratory and found in rock art by Anthony Peratt?


The evidence suggests that before the monumental civilizations arose, intense electrical activity in the sky was the overriding concern of humanity.

The events that inspired the myth-making epoch, with its pervasive themes of order and chaos, also provoked a mas­sive collective response within all of the emerging civilizations.


Both the natural events and the commemorate symbols they inspired bear a direct relationship to the vast pictographic record carved on stone, pointing back to a time when all of humanity wit­nessed prodigious plasma formations in the heavens.

The illustration on page 30 shows the Sumerian Ninurta wielding the thunderbolt in his battle with the monster Anzu. For our purpose here, the key is the form of Ninurta’s thunderbolt (right).


We present alongside this image a three-dimensional representation of the corresponding discharge form suggested by the archaic symbol. It is a variation on the “hourglass” configuration discussed in Chapter One. We offer this idealized configuration to emphasize that, in the plasma interpretation of the thunderbolt, the two outer “prongs” belong to the same transparent, cylindrical current sheet.


The “warped” look of the cylindrical component of the “hourglass” configuration can be compared to many variations in archaic rock art.

LEFT: Thunderbolt in the hands of Ninurta, as he battled the monster Anzu.

RIGHT: Idealization of a bi-polar plasma discharge formation, illustrating the three-dimensional structure accounting for the Babylonian image.

ABOVE: Recurring Greek images of the thunderbolt of Zeus.


Of all the ancient cultures it seems that the Greeks preserved the most voluminous artistic renderings of the thunderbolt. It is instructive, therefore, to compare the core Greek images to similar variations in laboratory discharge configurations.

The current flow in an axial dis­charge column typically conforms to this illustration of entwined Birkeland Currents.

The examples above represent several common thunderbolt forms in Greek art. But it is the three dimensional nuances of the plasma discharge interpretation that enable us to see past the limita­tions of the ancient media and to envision the energetic patterns represented. The Greek themes then fall into place.

In art and literature, the Greek thunderbolt repeatedly shows a central “corkscrew” column, answering to Birkeland Currents entwined around a central axis (illustration on the left). In Greek representations this corkscrew column persists through many variations of the thunderbolts, just as it does in similar laboratory discharge configurations.

As the entwined currents in a linear discharge become more tightly bound they may appear as a single glowing column, a principle evident in many Greek illustrations. Indeed, the Greek examples leave no doubt that this axial column is the thunderbolt as sword, spear, missile, or arrow (examples below).

From any conventional vantage point, the Greek thunderbolt images can only appear to be disconnected from all natural experience. A hallmark of the Greek images is the role of symmetry, both along the axis and to the left and right of the axis—not a feature of familiar lightning, but a feature remarkably consistent with the patterns of plasma discharge.

 Greek thunderbolt as sword, spear, missile, or arrow.


Greek artists repeatedly show the twisted column sending forth the sepals or leaves of a “lotus”-blossom, these evolving into sym­metrically displayed, outstretched horns or wings. Hence, the general accord with plasma discharge configurations is all the more telling (example on right).

Typically, the Greek images depict either the lotus-form or its evolution into horns or wings in bi-polar pairs—much like many rock art images associated with the hour-glass form (the “squatter man,” etc.). Greek examples of the thunderbolts are dominated by patterns of bi-polarity, often with perfect symmetry. But the artists also employed frequent variations between the upward-and down-ward-pointing components, while only rarely varying the symmetry to the left and right of the axis. We have already noted similar variations in the vertical components of the hour-glass or “squatter man” in worldwide rock art. (See discussion of bi-polar symmetry in Chapter One.)

Laboratory discharge photograph published by Anthony Peratt.

The laboratory counterpart of form above-right, was published by Anthony Peratt in his first article on plasma discharge in relation to ancient rock art. The idealized form of the discharge, given for the purpose of illustrating three-dimensional structure and plasma dynamics, is formation (A) below. In this “brandy glass” formation, the upper termination of the axial discharge column appears as a central spike enclosed within “horns” or outstretched “wings.”

The illustrations above interpret the Greek thunderbolt images as plasma discharge,

emphasizing the three dimensional contribution of current sheets and cylinders.


This later image of the Greek thun­derbolt integrates key design ele­ments from the more archaic designs, retaining the principles of bipolar symmetry and symmetry to the left and right of the axis. The parterres are entirely alien to those of a terrestrial lightning bolt.

Plasma discharge generates magnetic fields that, in turn, influence the discharge structure and evolution. Current filaments and sheets can attract each other at larger distances but repel at shorter distances, leading to various forms of equilibrium, all contributing to the non-random or “organized” look of the configurations.

The forms noted here graphically idealize the plasma discharge formations implied by the Greek images. Along the axial column, “pinching” of the entwined Birkeland Currents by the induced magnetic fields will typically produce a spheroid, which then begins to flatten into a disk. As the disk expands, its edges will begin bending upward or downward to form a “saucepan” or “bowl” shape. It is this spheroid-to-disk and disk-to-cylinder evolution that gives rise to the “brandy glass” forms (A) and (B) above.

A discharge column can produce multiple disks or toruses stacked along the column Where conditions foster bi-polar symmetry, it is not uncommon for one disk above the pinch point to bend upwards while the disk forming beneath the pinch bends down­wards, creating the hour-glass form discussed in Chapter One. In high energy discharge an entire stack of disks or toruses may be bent in either direction, a form also noted in Chapter One.

It is important to see the discharge configuration in its three-dimensional aspects. An observer walking around the configuration would continue to see essentially the same form. And while the configuration displays three prongs (a “trident” form), the central column, composed of bound currents, is of a fundamentally different dynamic than the two “horns” of the right and left, which belong to a single rotating (cylindrical) current sheet.

In the second illustrated configuration (B), the spheroid-in-formation of (A) has begun to flatten into a disk, and the central column of the discharge has extended farther upward into the “brandy glass” form of the current sheet.

In image (C) the disk in the discharge column has moved upward and its edges have folded upward as well, to influence—and be influenced by—the magnetic fields configuring the upper “horns.” The “horns” have become more angular, a common occurrence in the evolution of Peratt Instabilities.

Image (D) illustrates the interaction of embedded cylindrical currents held in equilibrium (attraction and repulsion) parallel to the discharge axis. This “pitchfork” appearance answers to the Greek form (6) and to the laboratory discharge configuration given on the right.

Laboratory discharge, in artificial color, illustrates the “pitchfork’ configuration, constituted of cylindrical current sheets in a plasma pinch.

In image (E) the cylinders of (D) are magnetically pinched at their base to form embedded conical cylinders. This is the basis for the discharge interpretation of the Greek form (7).

All of these configurations have one attribute in common. Turn them on their axes, and they would continue to present essentially the same form. The distinctive appearance is due to the luminosity of excited particles along the observer’s lines of sight. In the cylindrical components, for example, the greatest brightness occurs on the limbs, where the line of sight passes through the largest volume of excited particles, whereas the more transparent or darker regions are those where the line of sight passes through the lowest volume (the portion of the cylinder perpendicular to the viewer).

Analogs in Space
It is not in the laboratory alone that we observe the unique features of plasma discharge discussed here. The same formations can now be seen in space, though most astronomers remain unaware that electrified plasma generates these observed forms. Of course, the electrical interpretation of the nebulas noted here is not the commonly accepted view among astronomers. Thus, as new tele­scopes further our ability to see deeply into space, a continuing stream of surprises seems certain.

The Hourglass Nebula offers a useful demonstration of the dis­charge configuration under discussion.

The “hourglass” discharge configuration has one of its more obvious counterparts in the Hourglass Nebula on the left, and astronomers concede that it is forcing a reconsideration of the physics of nebula formation. According to Raghvendra Sahai, an astronomer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California,

"What we thought we understood of planetary nebulae we no longer do. Something different and dramatic is going on."

Astrophysicists offer various guesses as to how a belt of “gas and dust” might form around the equator of a dying star. They imagine that a stellarwind”—exploding in all directions—is somehow “constricted” to create bipolar jets. In some discussions of late, they even use the term "pinch," but in contexts that are more gravi­tational and mechanical than electrical. No mention is made of the far simpler plasma discharge pinch, because that requires a source of electrical energy external to the star. Yet in plasma laboratory experiments, the observed effect is commonplace—not just the pinch but all of the features of "hourglass" formations now seen in space.

A similar mystery is posed by the Butterfly Nebula (or M2-9), and higher resolution Hubble Telescope images have only underscored the unanswered questions. Inside the "hourglass" of both the Hourglass and Butterfly nebulas is a second hourglass form.

"It’s very hard to see how you get it," Sahai states. But again, glowing coaxial cylinders and cones are not a surprise to experts in plasma discharge phenomena. Responding to the surprising details of the Hubble image, Lars Christensen of the European Space Agency states:

"It’s a big mystery to us all—how a round star like our own sun can create this effect, which is so symmetrical. It’s amazing."

Hubble Telescope image of the The Butterfly Nebula, one of the most striking examples of a bipo­lar formation in space, with colli­mated jets and embedded cylinders extending distances greater than the diameter of our

This image produced by the Very Large Telescope, focused on the pinch point at the hourglass “neck” of the Butterfly Nebula. It shows a toroidal band of dusty plasma occluding the star at the center of a high energy discharge. A torus of this sort, whether visible or not, is predicted by the science of plasma discharge.

Struggling to comprehend things never anticipated by prior theoretical models, astronomers have resorted to improbable guesses based on gravitational and mechanical, non electric forces with no reference to the electrical circuits necessary to generate the observed magnetic fields. Some imagine a binary star system with two stars in extremely close proximity exchanging mass. Matter drawn from one of the stars, they suppose, generates a giant disk around the other. Then,

“the high-speed wind from one of the stars rams into the surrounding disk, which serves as a nozzle. The wind is deflected in a perpendicular direction and forms the pair of jets seen in the nebula’s image.”

This scenario, using a “jet engineas its analogy, lacks any plausible mechanism to generate the high-speed wind in the first place. Moreover, the claimed “wind” should generate highly visible effects on the disk, causing it to quickly dissipate. Both the “hour­glass” and “pitchfork” components of the nebula are, in fact, replicable in high-energy electric discharges. Illuminated by direct experimental evidence, the Butterfly Nebula can be seen as a “thunderbolt” form in space, with powerful electromagnetic forces maintaining its integrity across trillions of miles. That is not the way a mere cloud of electrically neutral “gas and dust” will behave in the vacuum of space!



ABOVE LEFT: Ant Nebula.
ABOVE RIGHT: the “exploding” star Eta Carinae.I

Bi-polar formations of this type, arising from the plasma pinch, are also well illustrated by the Ant Nebula (above left). Seen in the constellation Norma, its outflow speeds—3.5 million km/hour,— surpass those of any other known object of its type. Though similar in appearance to the Butterfly Nebula. Its outflow pattern resembles that of the bizarre, “unstable” star Eta Carinae (above right).

The lobes of Eta Carinae are as wide as our solar system and are observed to be expanding in opposite directions away from a central bright disk at speeds in excess of 1 million km/h (600,000 mph). Many astronomers now accept that the odd shape is due to the star’s intense magnetic field channeling plasma. But still the electric source of magnetic fields receives no mention. To explain 3 million degree temperatures and x-rays from gas more than a light-year from the central star, they resort to purely mechanical "shock waves," a concept that is completely unnecessary in an electric universe.


As long ago as 1968 Dr Charles Bruce of the UK Electrical Research Association identified planetary nebulae as bipolar electrical discharges from a central star.

The “planetary nebula” NGC 2346, revealing the telltale hour-glass form.

The nebula of Eta Carinae certainly belongs in that category. If the nebula is a plasma heated by electric currents feeding into star of Eta Carinae then, just as with our own sun, the highest "temperatures" are encountered beyond the star. That is why there is relatively little radiation from the star at the center. Most of the electrical power focused on the hapless star is being intercepted by gas and dust in the nebula and radiated energetically into space.


Thus, Dr. Fred Seward of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics expressed great surprise at what he saw:

"I expected to see a strong point source with a little diffuse emission cloud around it. Instead we see just the opposite— a bright cloud of diffuse emission, and much less radiation from the center.”

The Bug Nebula, spanning about one third of a light year, but retaining the hourglass form of the plasma pinch. The light of the star is rich in ultraviolet, one of the signatures of electric dis­charge.

A higher resolution Hubble Telescope image of the Bug Nebula.

Though a lot is happening close to the highly energetic pinch point, the hourglass form can be discerned in relation to the pinch, and stands in a predictable relationship to the “pitchfork” configuration of cylindrical current sheets. These are by no means the only “hourglass” formations exhibited by nebula. In the Bug Nebula above, for example, many indications of electrical activity are evident. The central star is hidden by a dark dust torus. And the shapes within the nebula mimic the twisted filaments, spirals and pillars typical of electrical discharge in plasmas.

In this investigation, converging paths of inquiry demand a reconsideration of popular beliefs in the sciences and social sciences. We can no longer view the history of human consciousness—or the history of our planet—through the lens of twentieth century cosmology.

The myths and symbols of antiquity will have a central place in this reconsideration. Though presented in the language of myth and symbol, ancient accounts of the warrior, the dragon, and cosmic combat are filled with images of electricity. The "thunderbolts of the gods" defy every effort to understand them as references to familiar lightning. They spiral and whirl and entwine. They blossom as a flower, or stand as a great pillar supporting the sky. Their forms are not the forms of regional lightning, but of plasma discharge in plasma laboratory experiments.

The ancient “lightning gods,” such as the Greek Zeus or Apollo, move about as fierce and towering forms in the heavens. In their appearance, these gods answer to no recognizable entity or force of nature, and the chroniclers’ descriptions will tempt us to regard the myth-makers themselves as relentless liars. But a much different understanding of ancient accounts is possible, if we grant to the original witnesses a certain integrity. We do not need to regard their testimony as "scientifically accurate." We need only acknowledge that the core themes of mythology may have originated in extraordinary natural events, for which ancient races had no cultural preparation.

If this was the case, the stories are a form of historic testimony in the only languages that were available to the eyewitnesses themselves. It then becomes clear that around the world many different hieroglyphs and symbols actually described identical celestial phenomena. This discovery, in turn, requires that we follow the logical rules for dealing with converging testimony. How do we uncover the forgotten events now hidden behind the symbols they inspired?

As discoveries in plasma science continue, we can be assured that our comparative analysis of ancient sources need not take place in isolation from other fields of evidence. The testimony of ancient witnesses will find many corollaries in laboratory research and in new vistas in space.