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.
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**)”.
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.
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 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.
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.
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”
– Sahara, Sep 2016.
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.”