Source: NASA

Some ancient places might be sacred spaces in which shamanic souls can translate between our physical Earth and the Universe.

What follows is the reaction of shamanic healer, visual artist and author Gonzalo Bénard, to the ancient megalithic site of Dolmen da Orca in central Portugal. 

Classified as a 5,000-year-old tomb by mainstream archaeology, and as a 6,000-year-old telescope by the burgeoning field of archaeoastronomy, this response to the Dolmen da Orca is an astute reminder that ancient sites should not be measured by archaeological-scientific classification and stratification alone.

I am currently in the Sahara desert to write, to read, to feel this cultural energy that I was missing – the people, scents and flavours. I am also here to meet with some old shamans: Berbers and Tuaregs. Yesterday was full moon, the Harvest moon, and there was also the eclipse in Pisces.

It was a weird evening. I felt a bit lost, as if I had lost my direction. I felt dizzy and tired, with body tension resulting in a two-hour headache; so I went for a walk by the medina, right before dinner time. Walking helps a headache to go away since it brings the blood down. I was so confused I had forgotten the eclipse. Walking around the medina, I noticed how people came and went in a very curious way: they too seemed lost. They came and went and turned to the side to come back again, as if constantly unsure of their paths. Everybody seemed as confused as I was, which made me aware, then, that something was going on. It was not just me. I sat down on a terrace and asked for a mint tea. And the darkness descended upon us all. Looking for the moon, which was there when I left home, I could only find darkness; darkness and confusion in everybody’s walking and presence. A cat jumped onto my lap, to jump to the floor, to come back and jump off again. It repeated the jump several times for almost twenty minutes. I became even more tense as I didn’t understand what was going on, especially when a waiter brought me bread, lost and confused, “you didn’t ask for bread, did you?” I laughed so I could spread my laugh to him. I realized, then, that we were all under the effect of the eclipse in Pisces. It is said that Pisces’ are not the best decision-makers or direction-finders, but they’re good at knowing what they don’t want. This is also, astrologically, what this eclipse means; to rid oneself of that sucking one’s energy, but to not make decisions. The moon came up again, and life suddenly went back to normal. My headache disappeared as in a pass of magic. I became lucid again. The mint tea came, and after a while a delicious vegetarian tajine. So I was able to go back to my thoughts, to the ‘now’ awareness. Coming back home, walking the same street, I realized how everything was normal again … More than that: I realized how awkward everything had been before.

When I was walking under the eclipse effect, I felt bodiless. Lighter than the air, as if levitating; as a body of energy, living in a parallel universe; a feeling I had throughout the whole eclipse. Magnetized consciousness. I know that my body was visible yet weightless, irradiating a blue aura; a blue light aura walking, as if I was there but not physically being. I wonder now if the cat felt me not feeling my body, causing him to jump up and down to make sure he had jumped. It’s often that cats and dogs and birds come and sit next to me.

At night, while sitting on the terrace wondering and looking at the full moon in front of my door, this experience of light, of body, of energy, brought two other episodes to mind. One, my own brain death, a few years ago. The three days in which I was only a body of energy, consciousness without physicality. And the other moment, more recently; the experience I went through when I finally found the Dolmen of the Orca.


Self-portrait of the Author ©GBénard

“This was taken during my first shamanic practice after my brain death” says the author, “to bring strength back to myself, using the horn of a bull as a symbol of physical strength.” ©Gonzalo Benard.

“This was taken during my first shamanic practice after my brain death” says the author, “to bring strength back to myself, using the horn of a bull as a symbol of physical strength.” ©GBénard.

The Dolmen of the Orca is a megalithic site located amongst several other dolmens. I was spending the week in a village called Lapa do Lobo* where I went to honour the end of my most recent photography exhibition. I knew that there were several ‘pre-historic’ sites there, but somehow didn’t feel compelled to see them all. I didn’t know which was the one that I wanted, but I knew I wanted a specific one, if that makes sense. This is no information to give the universe if you want it to guide you. When you ask the universe to show you a path, you should be direct and clear. Not confusing. And even less inform the universe of what you don’t want. I spent my first day informing the universe wrongly, as if I was not already aware of this… The result was obvious: I found all the dolmens and monoliths except the one I wanted.

I did enjoy visiting the other dolmens, though. I invited a couple of friends, both of whom are quite conservative, academic thinkers who enjoy searching for physical, historical and archaeological evidence, and are more compelled by the mainstream, less questioning view of history than I am. But regardless of our different approaches to life, we spent our time listening to and learning from each other to find greater awareness, knowledge and understanding in each other’s perspectives.

We first found the Orca of the Outeiro do Rato. Classified as a “pre-historic tomb of 5,500 years,” the megalith is “a polygonal chamber with large corridor surrounded by an elevation (mamoa**)”.

Sign welcoming visitors to the Orca do Outeiro do Rato.

Sign welcoming visitors to the Orca do Outeiro do Rato.

The site is shaped like a spermatozoon as it joins the ovum to form a zygote, with its tail out, forming a corridor. I’ve always wondered why historians and archaeologists keep classifying sites they know little about as “tombs” when they are more likely ritualistic sites connecting heaven and earth in oneness. This site was clearly not for burials, but a place in which people prepared for afterlife; to create awareness, to connect with the universe; to feel connected to one’s own consciousness, and to the greater cosmic consciousness.

Orca Outeiro Rato, taken by the author. ©Gonzalo Benard.

Orca Outeiro Rato, taken by the author. ©GBénard.

© Gonzalo Bénard

© GBénard

We talked a bit, took notes, shared our different points of view, listening and learning from each other’s minds. But I knew that this was not “my” dolmen. We couldn’t find it that day. Our experience here was more archaeologically valuable, since I didn’t even allow myself to feel — just thought. Somehow my shamanic sense was turned off that day.

So my friends and I studied the geodetic alignments of the megaliths at Orca Outeiro Rato. Unfortunately, the results of these measurements are now lost, but we concluded at the end of our day of research that two of the megalithic stones align with sunset on the winter and summer solstices respectively. I urge other inquiring researchers to visit these sites and deduce their geodetic value. There is a host of archaeological and scientific work that can be done at these sites, though none are aims of mine.

The day after my friends were supposed to leave was when I turned on my senses. I decided to listen to my consciousness, and asked my friends to follow me. I freed my anxiety and turned on my senses instead of listening to my rational-scientific mind. I informed the universe through consciousness that I wanted to go there; straight to the Dolmen of the Orca. As my consciousness connected with the cosmic consciousness, the name and the image of it became clear. So the universe guided me, who guided them, to where the Dolmen of the Orca lies.

We arrived and my breath went on hold. I walked around and around it; I needed to feel it before daring of going inside. This dolmen is a circle of small stones around a “mamoa**”, Earth’s man made elevation built to look like a belly of a pregnant woman, or a woman’s nurturing breast.

“The Dolmen of the Orca is majestic in its shape and energy”, says the author, ‘I am here and I will open your channels so you can connect with the universe’, is what it seemed to say.”

“The Dolmen of the Orca is majestic in its shape and energy”, says the author, ‘I am here and I will open your channels so you can connect with the universe’, is what it seemed to say.” ©GBénard.

© Gonzalo Bénard

© GBénard

The entrance through the large corridor is blocked by a slab to avoid curious people entering. I discovered from talking to a man in his thirties in the nearby village, that he and his friends used the site as a disco in their teenage years, blasting sound from their cars outside and smoking joints and drinking beer inside. “It feels good inside, like you don’t even need a joint to have a trip,” he said. “But that was long ago. Maybe the Dolmen is no longer there”.

While I recorded some videos around the Dolmen with the iPad, my friends studied the geodetic alignments of the megaliths. Unfortunately, we have lost the documented results of their studies. But it is significant that this dolmen seemed to align with sunset on the winter and summer solstices again, just like before. I urge an inquiring researcher to test this when possible.

The Dolmen of the Orca seems to align with sunset on the winter solstice.

The Dolmen of the Orca seems to align with sunset on the winter solstice. ©GBénard.

Like the Dolmen of the Outeiro do Rato, this site has a large corridor as if an initiatory path to the cosmic connection. Outside there’s also a sign, with the same description as the other: “pre-historic tomb of 5,500 years. Polygonal chamber with large corridor surrounded by an elevated (mamoa**).” Again, a tomb, they say. A place where no one ever found a single bone. These situations always remind me of the Pyramids of Giza, which they insist were also tombs. Maybe for historians and mainstream archeologists there is no such thing as universe wisdom, and no possibility of there being a former civilisation believing in cosmic wisdom more than we do. But sites like these prove that there must have been a former civilization much more aware of cosmic wisdom than we are. And it is not just the energy inside that bears witness to this, as Graham Hancock describes.

Photograph showing the inside of the Mamoa

Photograph showing the inside of the Mamoa. ©GBénard.

Rational thoughts apart, and while my friends were studying and checking for more information, I couldn’t resist going inside through a hole between two of the slabs supporting the monolithic roof. I jumped. I kneeled with opened arms: somehow my first reaction. The energy of the place inside is incredibly peaceful. It embraces you like a womb. Never a tomb, but a womb of consciousness. I lay on the floor under the monolith, legs outstretched towards the corridor with my body in the direction of the winter solstice, following the direction of the dolmen itself; my head in the centre of the chamber, with my hands covering my navel. I needed to do no more than close my eyes to go into a trip. In a moment, the sun hit my right eye coming through a hole that has a womb/uterus shape. It was around noon. Soon it covered my two eyes, and with eyes shut I felt the physical warmth and “saw” the shape of the planets around the sun through my eyelids. While marvelling in this feeling and vision, undistracted by the surroundings, something happened. I felt light, and became bodiless, like a body of consciousness… And at that moment, an intense column of light travelled across my body via my navel, connecting Earth with the Universe, putting my hands along the side of my body. I still can’t say if the light came from the Earth up, or from the Universe down. The feeling was of abduction, of immateriality, of oneness. Of full connection. As if my own consciousness was now pure light, connecting Earth with Heavens.

Around the Mamoa. ©GBénard.

The light through a hole. ©GBénard.

Some time ago, people in the countryside would ask me to find water in the fields using a tree branch. I always found it funny as I never needed the stick. Whenever I allow my energetic channels to open, I feel an energetic axis of resonance crossing me — when there’s no ego dominating, and no assertion of reason.

My time inside the Dolmen was so intense that I felt the need to leave. I stood up and left through the same hole. Outside, my whole body was shaking from the inside, as if I had had an electric shock. An overwhelming charge. Soon I understood that I was feeling so connected, so deep in peace, so light… that it took me a while to come back to my senses; and reason. I stayed silent for some moments, before realising my friends were there too, looking at me. I didn’t know what to say when they asked if I was feeling alright. So I advised them to go and experience it for themselves. They, too, went and came back in incredible peace. A peace that one may connect with in a cosmic womb. Recharging. As if reborn. Never as dead in a tomb.

Inside the Mamoa ©GBénard.

That afternoon, I ran two shamanic healing sessions. The way I felt after the Dolmen light experience meant I didn’t need to do much; I existed like clear consciousness.

*Lapa do Lobo, the name of the village, can be translated as “Wolf’s Lair”, but the word “lapa” can have different meanings in Portuguese, being one of them “stone slab”, or stone slab shelter. There in the region there’s an old traditional tale about this wolf’s site from which the name came from. (The tale of a wolf who protected a woman at his lair – the woman became catholic saint).

**Mamoa, derives from the ancient Roman “Mammula”, due to its similarity with a woman’s breast (In Portuguese, breast is “mama”). Mamoa is used to describe the man made hill that surrounds and supports the dolmens, usually made by soil and/or small stones.

– Excerpt from book, “MPower the Shaman” 

Gonzalo Bénard

– Sahara, Sep 2016.

[email protected]

book “I, Energy”


Gonzalo Benard is a visual artist whose paintings, drawings and photography have been exhibited over 40 times around the world. He is author of The Sacred Book of G (a private journal written in stream of consciousness) and I, Energy, on consciousness and shamanism.

Born in Lisbon from Spanish and French descendants, Gonzalo soon went to the Himalayas, where he spent 3 years in a Buddhist Monastery school of philosophy and arts, and in the highlands spending time learning and practicing with the shamans from the old Tibetan Bon tradition.

Having been a curious mind from a very young age, and an avid reader of science, sociology and culture, Gonzalo has travelled for 20 years, mainly through Europe, Africa and Asia, discovering other rites and passages of shamanism.

Gonzalo Benard is a natural born healer and shaman, who has practiced transcendental meditation since the age of 13; while in the Himalayas, he took refuge as Bonpo K. Lodro Zangpo, in the ancient Tibetan Bon Shamanic tradition.

Areas for further research:

The Dolmen of the Orca: A 6,000-year-old telescope without a lens?

“The several dolmens and passage mounds in the area combine to form the ‘Circuito Pre-historico Fiais’, a signposted journey through the forest-tracks of Fiais, offering examples of rock-art and other traces of Neolithic life.”

14 thoughts on “The Dolmens”

  1. Noel says:

    Hi Gonzalo, thank you for this beautiful report! Dolmens are sacred places of consciousness-altering magic indeed, but it might be that they are more effective under certain circumstances (set and setting). Just a hypothesis on my side: around Dusk or Dawn, when the Sun rises or sets, magnetic field of Gaia changes, which enhances the (magnetic) effects of the stones (depending on mineral content), also Darkness, Silence, Solitude, Fasting/Entheogens, Meditiation or Drumming, may greatly enhance the experience…all just a hypothesis I need to test one day =) Namaste!

    1. Gonzalo Benard says:

      Hello Noel, thank you for your comment. You are absolutely right, and I plan to go back there next Spring (20th March / equinox) and practice some shamanic meditation at sunrise/sunset, most probably with drumming. Peace, G.

  2. Madeleine says:

    Thank you, Gonzalo, for this description of great interest to me.
    DUL-MIN in Sumerian meant “a cover” and “two”,(electronic Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary, ePSD) so perhaps “cover of the two”, MEN/MIN (dolmen but also menhir) breaks down as ME-EN, “spirit” and “noble” or “end”, which I interpret as the place where the spirit has its end, a point of contact.

    While MIN is given as “two”, MEN is given as “pure” and “crown” on ePSD, but can be broken down into three original symbols which read “basket of the noble spirit”. These are places where the truth of Ma prevails. MA is given as “land” in ePSD but is, of course, the matriarchal, feminine aspect which joins with us through the UM-bilical (UM, Sumerian “rope”)in such places. The symbol for UM appears to show two cords.

    1. Gonzalo Benard says:

      Hello Madeleine, thank you for such an interesting information! I had no idea, and it always make me feel happy when I wake up to some new knowledge. Did you see the planets metamorphosing around the uterus shape opening at the video “light through a hole”?

    2. Gonzalo Benard says:

      Madeleine, since the comments are now closed at your fantastic article “The Rustle of Stones”, I just want to tell you that I loved reading it, both writing and content 🙂 thank you for sharing.

  3. Madeleine says:

    Hello again, Gonzalo, and thank you for your kind comments. Yes, I did see your video and everything you detail here is fascinating, almost as good as first-hand. I have no doubt at all that you are right in seeing this place as a womb.

    Just to take the linguistic angle of it a little further for the pleasure, the Portuguese for umbilical is, as you will know, UMBIGO. This is yet another example of the Sumerian origin to so many of our words. UM is already mentioned. BI and GO are incredibly important but not only in a spiritual context. They are found in the name GO-BE-KILI, given as pot-belly hill in Turkish which does not detract from the name’s umbilical/navel Sumerian origin. There is also Mount BEGO in southern France where the petroglyphs are quite extraordinary, and likely Mont BEIGUA in Italy too.

    On the earthly plane(!), Sumerian BI/BE translates to beer, and I understand that beer-making has indeed been linked to the area of Gobekli Tepe. GO/GU is another word for cord, this time with the sense of a gullet or gully, and the vocal cord (and also the hanging cord, but that’s another story). Context is all important.

    On a more spiritual level, it is quite possible that BI also refers to the matriarchal figure as a bee, and I wonder if there could be a sound like the buzzing of bees in spiritual ascension. For our long-forgotten ancestors, this would have been GU-BI/GO-BE, the cord of the (queen) bee. It would certainly help to explain a lot of ancient imagery; Egyptian, Minoan, Sumerian… There is also BIGU, the Daoist fasting technique – no beer allowed! Just mint tea and vegetarian tajine…I wish!

    1. Gonzalo Benard says:

      Mint tea and vegetarian tajine are much better for the UMBIGO than beer, indeed 😉 Madeleine, I am very interesting in knowing more, I know that you have a book yet to be published, but is there any place on internet where you might have more information, essays, etc? I couldn’t find much googling your name, and would love to read more from you. Or let me know if you do a workshop or give a lecture here in Europe, please.

      1. Madeleine says:

        This is a new venture for me, Gonzalo, and will be my first book. But you don’t need me. Anyone can find how to link words back to the mother of them all. The first and second syllables are the most likely to yield a result. Of course, sometimes it just doesn’t work at all. I was thinking of using MA-DA, the first syllables of my names, as my Sumerian pictographic signature. Unfortunately, this can mean LAND-SIDE and, when opposed to ME-DA which is SPIRIT-SIDE, it signifies hubris. (carried forward into Hindu mythology as mada). But for a signature, it’s very fitting!
        UMmmm GO-BE? When the book does come out, it will be my pleasure to send you a copy.

        1. Gonzalo Benard says:

          Haha you may leave GO-BE alone, if you think of beer belly for my first syllables 😉 my (no)belly is good without it. But the vocal cords might fit me in fact, as my voice has deep low vibration (think of Jeremy Irons’ voice), and lately I have been using it for healing others, and myself when needed, due to its vibration. That would be an honour to read your book, Madeleine, thank you.
          Btw, you have my email address, right?

  4. Olivier says:

    I don’t know why you are so opposed to the idea of those places being tombs because you feel energy like in a womb. For me, but tell me if I am wrong, in all religions there is the constant belief that death is only a transition, between two states or from a level to another level or from an earthly place to another place, so those ideas of burial and womb are very related, to me, those carefully chosen places are especially made for that matter. Help the buried one rebirth according to the belief that was in place at that moment.
    It is just a thought ?

    1. Gonzalo Benard says:

      You’re wrong 😉 (I’m kidding). And you’re also right. Death is as a transition-start as birth, if you put the things this way. In fact, our life – between birth and death – is our earthly-mindful transition. But in all the works that have been done, there has been no presence of human bones or remains, they are clean. Also the energy is different, when it is “death” related. I have been in burial grounds (including Native American Indians) and others in Europe and Asia, and there is a incredible difference of energy on those places. This one is amazingly peaceful, while the energy of the burial sites can be often of disquiet.
      If you notice, and for sure you know Graham Hancock’s work in which he also refers this, there was an incredible knowledge from ancient civilizations towards cosmic wisdom. Not only design/architecture related and geoposition/orientation. I relate them much more with old shamanism for example. You can have experiences as if you’re under ayahuasca, without it. These are wisdom chanels, that triggers you a connection between Earth and Heavens, to give you more knowledge towards higher consciousness. So what I feel, and what makes sense to me, is that these sites are sacred altars, where using shamanic practices (or similar), you can go under a higher level of consciousness, connecting yourself, in oneness, with cosmic consciousness. While here you are only connected with collective consciousness, these sites opens up a higher one, preparing yourself, inducing yourself to a higher state of consciousness. And trust me, consciousness doesn’t need a brain. Consciousness is pure energy full of wisdom.
      Btw, institutional religions are just a form of mind pollution to make you fear your own confused mind 😉

      1. Olivier R says:

        Hahaha, yes, I should have said “cults” or “rituals” instead of “religions” as religions are, as you said, mind pollutions 🙂
        Btw thank you very much for your answser, Gonzalo.
        Well, actually, there are many dolmens where they found skeletons or at least bones that have been dated from the neolithics, or traces of burial ceremonies like burned bones, unused arms, pottery sherds, jewelry and beads. But as we are talking about 6 to 8 thousands of years long period since their buiding, there could be a lot of reasons why they are clean now!
        I guess that the main reason why most of them were found clean is that most of the regions where they were build were colonised by many other civilisations with other rituals, and dolmen and cairns were repurposed. Some of them for rituals (shamanism, druidism, etc.) because of their very powerful energy. Some others for their cairn stones, vilagers using them as easy quarry, leaving only the big stones. Or being simply looted because of the belief there were treasure inside them.
        However, there’s certainly big forces, strong beliefs, and cosmic wisdom, knowledge in place for those ancient civilisations to make them build such huge monuments, with technologies we don’t know what they are yet (only guessing).

        Yes, you can say that those monuments were build before being used as tomb, and you may be right, as what we have and know is pretty sparse, but some relatively new disciplines of archeology (archeoastronomy, archeotanathology, etc.) try to answer those questions with more and more precision.

        But I agree with you about the higher level of consciousness, wisdom and connection that you can reach throught those sites, for having experienced them myself (not quite as the same level as you, though 🙂 ).

  5. Alex Wirthl says:

    Hello Gonzalo

    Thank you for such an interesting article.

    I’ve been a fan of Graham Hancock and Freddy Silva for some time now and I am also very interested in shamanism and plant medicine, so the Universe guided me to you.

    I regularly travel (physically and energetically) and today I was driving around looking at some local Antas close to my mothers home (I am visiting her for Christmas), after reading your article I got even more interested in the Big stones and then I noticed that the Dolmen da Orca must be really close to where I am at the moment.

    I believe in synchronicity (my mother lives 600Km from where I live) so I would be really grateful if you could send me a description on how to find the Dolmen da Orca.

    Sending you much love and light from Travanca de Lagos in Portugal


    1. Gonzalo Benard says:

      Hello Alex,
      Thank you.
      The Dolmen of the Orca is near Lapa do Lobo, Carregal do Sal (on the north side of Mondego, but indeed close to Travanca de Lagos). In Lapa do Lobo you can stay in an amazing guest house called “Casa do Lupo”, as they use to organise visits to all the archeological path, or they will provide you local maps so you can go yourself. But being near, you may not need a place to stay, so you can just go to the Fundaçao Lapa do Lobo and ask them for an archeological map, or more detailed instructions. They are incredible nice there, where I did the exhibition “Doors of Anamnesis”.
      If you go south, another wonderful place you can visit is the Cromlech of Almendres (a megalithic complex), at the entrance of Évora (one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal).
      And since you’re in Portugal, If you come visit the enchanted Sintra let me know.

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