The Cosmic Serpent
by Jeremy Narby
Silver Chalice E-zine ~ Book Review

The book, The Cosmic Serpent is a fascinating journey through the shamanic realms, into scientific facts.

Jeremy Narby is a trained anthropologist, accustomed to the study of "primitive" societies. Yet one day he made an unprecedented and daring leap...

He imagined believing what other cultures told him.

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Until Narby, it was always assumed that these primitives were hallucinating or imagining or merely claiming to experience the visions they saw while on their shamanic journeys.

Indeed, to suggest otherwise was to risk a career.

But Narby wondered. . .

If it weren't real, how is it that unconnected cultures around the world spoke of so many constants in the shamanic realm? Another telling question -- how is it that many shamans share an accurate knowledge of things they couldn't know, like certain astronomical facts about the galaxy?

Having decided to accord these learned women and men with the respect to at least consider the truth of their claims, The Cosmic Serpent sets out to take the shamans' claims at face value and answer the question:

Is there something in science that could correspond with what the shamans describe?

Another Great New-Sciences Book:

The Sense of Being Stared At And Other Unexplained Powers of the Human Mind


What Is The Shamanic Cosmic Serpent?

Thus begins a journey that changes Narby's life, as well as his career. Virtually guaranteeing his ostracism from the scientific community, he felt he was on to something, and - like any good scientist - was too insatiably curious to let it go.

Narby devoted himself to an open-minded comparison of shamanic claims with scientific facts. After listening closely to the shamans and through personal use of their hallucinogenic drugs in shamanic process, Narby's The Cosmic Serpent reaches some startling and intriguing conclusions:

The shamanic realm seems to be valid.

As valid and as real as our own genes.

In fact, the information source the shamans may be tapping could be the massive knowledge library we call DNA.


What He Found Out . . .

The Cosmic Serpent details Narby's journey into shamanic reality, and shares the profound implications of these discoveries.

All in plain English, so anyone can understand the concepts.

And what Narby found shakes the very core principles of Western science.

What fascinates me most about this book is that Narby wasn't limited to simply exploring the shamanic realm, but in drawing the startling connections between shamanic perspectives and the discoveries made by cutting-edge science.

This gives The Cosmic Serpent a depth and significance that is missing in many shamanic texts.

My only complaint: there were a number of areas where he only touched on the surface of intriguing ideas. It was a bit like a cliffhanger. . . left me frustrated and wanting to know more.


Some of the Highlights

  • The physiological reasons why tobacco is so prized by the spirits.

  • DNA as the origin of the Cosmic/Rainbow serpent, shamanic ladder, and cosmic twins myths around the world

  • What your eye really sees when it looks at this page (or anything else).

  • Another look at how evolution works (Move over, Darwin).

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Excerpts from The Cosmic Serpent


In a mere handful of soil, there are approximately ten billion bacteria and one million fungi. This means that there is more order, and information, in a handful of earth than there is on the surfaces of all the other known planets combined. P. 110

How can one explain these similarities [of symbols found in various cultures] with a concept other than chance -- which is more an absence of concept than anything?

Why insist on taking reality apart, but never try putting it back together again? P. 160

74% of the modern pharmocopoeia’s plant-based remedies were first discovered by “traditional” societies; to this day, less than 2% of all plant species have been fully tested in laboratories, and the great majority of the remaining 98% are in tropical forests … P. 38

... There is nothing one can say [about the hallucinatory origin of the botanical expertise of Amazonian people] without contradicting two fundamental principles of Western knowledge.

First, hallucinations cannot be the source of real information, because to consider them as such is the definition of psychosis. …

Second, plants do not communicate like human beings. P. 42


Some Fun DNA Facts from the Cosmic Serpent

A thread of DNA is much smaller than the visible light humans perceive. Even the most powerful optical microscopes cannot reveal it, because DNA is approximately 120 times narrower than the smallest wavelength of visible light. P. 87

The average human being is made up of 100 thousand billion [1014] cells, according to some estimates. This means that there are approximately 125 billion miles of DNA in a human body -- corresponding to 70 round-trips between Saturn and the Sun.

You could travel your entire life in a Boeing 747 flying at top speed and you would not even cover one hundredth of this distance.

Your personal DNA is long enough to wrap around the earth 5 million times. P. 88

…The two ribbons of the DNA double helix wrap around each other 600 million times inside each human cell. P. 107

Some biologists describe DNA as an “ancient high biotechnology,” containing “over a hundred trillion times as much information by volume as our most sophisticated information storage devices.” P. 103

.… In each human cell, there is the equivalent of “the information contained in one thousand five hundred encyclopedia volumes -- in other words, the equivalent of a bookcase about 10 yards long and 2 yards high. P. 109

-- The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge . Jeremy Narby. 1999, Tarcher, # ISBN-10: 0874779642; ISBN-13: 978-0874779646.

(All bold text, my emphasis.)

Rating for The Cosmic Serpent: 4 Stars

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With Bright Blessings,

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