Pyramids and Pyramidology
The large pyramid structures built by the ancient peoples of
Egypt, Peru, and Central America have fascinated scholars and
lay people through the centuries. In the wake of the emergence
of modern Egyptology, they have been the subject of religious
and millennial speculation, and more recently occult speculation.
In spite of the efforts of Egyptologists, who have done
much to discover and describe the building, the structure, and
the purposes of the pyramids, a number of unanswered questions,
such as the unit of measurement used by the pyramid architects,
remain, and provide a basis for broad speculation. The
discovery and spread of public knowledge concerning the pyramids
in the Americas only added fuel to the fires of imagination.
Although the Egyptian pyramids served as tombs for royalty
and the wealthy of society, some pyramids had no clearly
discernible purpose and others had structures that seemed to
have no relation to the primary burial function.
There were some eighty pyramids in Egypt, built under the
reign of the Pharaohs from 3,100 to 332 B.C.E. Egyptian tombs
reflect the early religious ideas about the afterlife. In predynastic
times, the dead were buried in sand pits of an oval or square
shape; in the dynastic era a structure called a mastaba was erected
over the burial place of kings and nobles. This was made of
dried mud bricks and reproduced the house or palace of the
deceased, so that his soul could have a replica of earthly existence.
Eventually stone was used instead of mud bricks, and the
process of development culminated in the Step Pyramid of the
Third Dynasty (ca. 2686–2181 B.C.E.) The familiar squarebased,
triangular-sided pyramid is seen at its best in the Great
Pyramid of Giza, built in the reign of Cheops (or Khufu) of the
Fourth Dynasty, regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the
World. It measures 756 feet square, with a height of 480 feet.
It is made of some 2,300,000 blocks of stone that average 2 12
tons each. The core is of local stone and the outer facing of
limestone, while the granite and limestone blocks are hewn
with a high level of precision.
The pyramid is entered through a shaft on the north side,
where a descending corridor leads to an unfinished chamber
with a blind passage; an ascending corridor leads to what is
called ‘‘the Queen’s Chamber,’’ containing two-dead end
shafts, and eventually to the ‘‘Grand Gallery,’’ 100 feet long
and 30 feet high, and the ‘‘King’s Chamber,’’ containing an
empty sarcophagus. It is thought that it originally contained a
mummy, rifled by tomb robbers who surmounted the granite
plugs, false passages and other precautions of the pyramid
Occult speculations regarding the Great Pyramid have arisen
mainly around its construction, dimensions, and possible
use. It is certainly a remarkable engineering feat, and it has
been suggested that it could have been achieved only by supernormal
techniques, such as levitating the great blocks of stone
by mysterious occult force. However, tomb paintings, tool
marks on stone, and quarry workings suggest more conventional
Ruins found near the pyramid are thought to have been the
barracks for about 4,000 skilled workmen. The heavy work
could have been done by conscripted labor, as depicted on
other tomb paintings. One such painting depicts about 172
men shifting a sixty-ton statue. The stones were probably
moved on sleds and by barges and rafts. Earthen mounds may
have surrounded the pyramid in the course of construction,
with ramps for elevating the stones.
Pyramidology, the attempt to impose metaphysical and cosmological
meaning upon the Great Pyramid, dates back to the
1830s, after Colonel Howard Vyse blasted a way inside and took
measurements. The British mathematician John Taylor and
Scottish astronomer Charles Piazza Smyth claimed that the
pyramid embodied divine revelations and prophecy, calculated
from its measurements, assuming a unit of a ‘‘pyramid inch’’
which was later the Anglo-Saxon inch. After Smyth pyramidology
became the domain of British Israelites (who tried to
prove that contemporary Anglo-Saxons were the descendants
of the fables ten lost tribes of Israel) and various conservative
Christians who looked to the pyramid to verify biblical speculations
concerning the end of the world.
For example, by considering the inch a symbol for a year,
the internal structures of the pyramid are calculated to indicate
the important dates of the world’s past and present history.
This involves identifying the pyramid itself with biblical versions
of history, such as the traditional view that the world was
created about 4,004 B.C.E., duly verified by pyramid measurements,
that also showed that the Second Coming of Christ was
due in 1881. When this prophecy was not fulfilled, pyramidologists
revised their calculations to produce a score of other
It was from Smyth’s calculations that Charles Taze Russell,
founder of International Bible Students Association, the precursor
of what today is known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses,
based his own prophecy of the Second Coming of Christ. The
Edgar brothers, Scottish Bible students produced a massive two
volume work on pyramidology beginning with Russell’s early
However, the majority of pyramidology texts were put to use
by the British Israelites, and the decline of British Israelism
that had followed the dismantling of the British Empire had
manifested in a marked reduction of interest in pyramidology
in the last half of the twentieth century. Among the last noteworthy
attempts at selling pyramidology was one made by the
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Pyramids and Pyramidology
Institute of Pyramidology. Adam Rutherford founded the institute
in London, England, in 1940, and it became an international
body a year later with the launching of Pyramidology Magazine,
with special emphasis on ‘‘Divine Revelation’’ and
prophecies. The Institute for Pyramidology is located at 108
Broad St., Chesham, Bucks. HP5 3ED, England.
Occult speculations on the Great Pyramid have been varied
and somewhat disjuncted. For example, in the 1880s, Ignatius
Donnelly had suggested that the Great Pyramid had been built
by the descendants of the Atlanteans. That idea was picked up
in the 1920s by Manly Palmer Hall who went one to suggest
that they were the focus of the ancient Egyptian wisdom
schools. Edgar Cayce built upon Hall’s speculations.
Through this century, other writers have suggested that the
plan of the Great Pyramid and its internal structures may have
embodied a mystical symbolism of the journey of the soul, as
described in the Egyptian Book of the Dead (Papyrus of Ani). It
is also not unlikely that the north-south orientation of the pyramid
and the nature of its dimensions reveal astronomical and
geometrical knowledge of a high order. It seems clear that the
Egyptians were aware of the mathematical radio of pi.
During the last generation, widespread publicity has been
given to two interesting speculations about pyramids. The first
was proposed by Erich von Däniken who, drawing upon popular
ignorance about the broad findings of Egyptology, suggested
that the pyramids had been built by extraterrestrials.
Through the asking of rhetorical questions, he proposed a system
by which the space visitors used anti-gravity devices to lift
the very heavy block from which the structures were built. He
failed to account for numerous other observations as to why the
pyramids did not embody any modern technology or advanced
architectural discoveries, not even the Roman arch. His speculations
where soon put to rest and remain the property of a
small circle of followers.
Pyramid Energy
The second set of speculations concerning pyramids have
centered upon the possible existence of an unknown energy
concentrated in pyramidical structures. Pyramid energy was rediscovered
in the early 1970s after it was introduced in the popular
best-selling Psychic Discoveries behind the Iron Curtain by
journalists Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder. They described
their experience with a Czech radio engineer, Karl
Drbal, who had taken out a patent on a pyramid razor blade
sharpener. The idea was picked up by New Age writer Lyll Wat
and then a host of others including Peter Toth, Greg Nielsen,
and Pat Flanagan. Through the 1970s, it was a common theme
at psychic and New Age gatherings.
The idea of pyramid energy goes back to the 1920s. As early
as 1928, at Lyons, a 33-year old Frenchman named Georges
Gaillard demonstrated the ability to mummify two mutton
chops by holding them in his hands for a minute. The French
radiesthetist Antoine Bovis reported that meat, eggs and other
organic substances could be mummified by placing them in a
cardboard model of the Great Pyramid, which he claimed accumulated
the same radiations as the King’s chamber of the pyramid.
It was Bovis’s claims which were later picked up by Karl
In 1950, at the Scientific and Technical Congress of Radionics
and Radiesthesia, held in London, England, Noel Macbeth
claimed that a cardboard model pyramid could mummify organic
substances such as an egg and that this energy was connected
with that radiated by the hands of gifted human healers.
Such claims had also been made in Britain during World War
II, when there was a shortage of razor blades.
Through the 1970s into the 1980s, experimentation with
pyramids was one of the prominent New Age fads. For the most
serious, pyramid tents and energy generators are marketed by
Pyramid Products of Glendale, California. Interest in pyramids
faded through the 1970s and exists in the mid 1990s as a mere
shadow of its peak in the 70s.
In spite of all of the claims made for pyramids, from sharpening
razors to the beneficial effects on the health of the persons
sitting in one of the larger models, to date no scientific
study has validated the reality of pyramid energy and the evidence
of its effectiveness remains entirely anecdotal.
Clark, Jerome. ‘‘Life in a Pyramid.’’ Fate 36, no. 6 (June
1983) 38–44.
Davidson, David. The Great Pyramid Its Divine Message. London,
De Camp, L. Sprague. The Ancient Engineers. Garden City,
N.Y. Doubleday, 1960. Reprint, New York Ballantine Books,
Ostrander, Sheila, and Lynn Shroeder. Psychic Discoveries Behind
the Iron Curtain. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Prentice Hall, Inc.,
Smyth, Charles Piazzi. Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid.
London, 1864.
Stewart, Basil. The Mystery of the Great Pyramid Traditions
Concerning It and Its Connection with the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
London, 1929.
Tompkins, Peter. Mysteries of the Mexican Pyramids. New
York Harper & Row, 1976.
———. Secrets of the Great Pyramid. New York Harper &
Row, 1971.
Toth, Max, and Greg Nielsen. Pyramid Power. London Freeway,
1974. Reprint, New York Warner Books, 1976.
Watson, Lyall. Supernature. Garden City, N.Y. Anchor Press,

Previous articlePsychic Detective Bureau
Next articlePsychic Force