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As early as Palaeolithic times, the stars of Cygnus—the Swan—the ultimate expression of a widespread belief in the bird as a symbol of the soul—were seen as the gateway to heaven. Shamanic journeys, Native American funeral rites, the alignments of prehistoric standing stones, all pointed the way to this sky-world, accessed via the Milky Way or an imagined cosmic axis. Collins traces this astronomic lore back to 15,000 B.C., when Deneb, the brightest star in Cygnus, was the Pole Star. At that time, our Paleolithic ancestors practiced their religious rituals in caves deep in the earth—caves whose bird-imagery art, anthropologists have found, was the creation of shamans under the influence of hallucinogens that let them travel in visions outside this world. Why were gigantic stone formations and circular earthworks constructed over 5000 years-ago in Europe? Why are nearly identical earthworks found in America? What determined how the ancient aligned their sites? What caused the sudden evolutionary leap in humans 30,000 and 17,000 years ago?

THE CYGNUS MYSTERY, Andrew Collins, 52 Minutes. DVD in Box.

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