The (New) Heretic Issue 6

I’m excited to introduce Issue 6 of the new Heretic Magazine (of which I am the Editor). As usual, its loaded with the best and brightest writers in the alternative history and mystery genre, as well as the remarkable designs of my good friend, the Heretic Creative Director, Mark Foster. It’s simply not to be missed.


Additionally, you should check out our new website. It’s another Mark Foster marvel.

Further, you can watch my Issue 6 video Editorial here.

Thanks for have a look around.  I hope you like it.

Carpe diem,



I am excited to present my updated Hidden Hive of History in Glastonbury – the ancient Beekeepers Island – at the inaugural Beeholdium festival this month.


As you may know, the Hidden Hive of History is my body of research around the veneration of the honeybee.

In my two-part talk I will examine the lost tradition of the most deified god or goddess that has ever existed: the honeybee – the forgotten god of the ancients. The presentation will graphically chronicle a sacred tradition that has existed for over 100 million years. In the process I will illustrate how an awareness of this lost tradition brings new insight into enigmas such as Atlantis, the Sphinx, goddess worship, the Grail, religion, politics, Freemasonry, the Illuminati and, most importantly, our own wellbeing and the preservation of our planet, Earth.

It is going to be a fantastic weekend, with loads of amazing presenters and exhibitors. You can check it all out here (

I hope you can join me.


Oracles of Deception

Oracles of the dead are peculiar places. We have grown accustomed to believing that they were all sacred domiciles, where otherworldly events took place in the presence of the gods. However, at the risk of sounding sacrilegious, I believe that this was not always the case.

I recently travelled to Baia, Italy, and to the famed oracle in Delphi, Greece, to co-present an episode of director Bruce Burgess’s Forbidden History 2 with the United Kingdom radio and television celebrity, Jamie Theakston. What I discovered amazed me.


Exploring an Oracle of the Dead with Jamie.
© Raffaella Lamagna

Oracles were ritual centres, believed to contain portals, through which gods spoke; Delphi, and its famed Temple of Apollo, was one of the most ancient, and perhaps the most famous, in the ancient world. It is likely to have sprung, quite literally, from the sacred groves in and around Mount Parnassus, which surround the spectacular Delphi site.  Although there is little doubt that the sacred oracle at Delphi has its roots in ancient, holistic and honourable prophecy, what it became is quite disappointing, and often overlooked.

Oracles of the Dead

Heading down to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.
© Alexandre Victorino

The oracle’s powers were highly sought after and their prophecies were never doubted or speculated upon. In fact, any inconsistencies between prophecies and events were dismissed as failure to correctly interpret the responses, not an error of the sacred oracle itself. This principle was never questioned.

Those who frequented oracles ranged from ordinary people to kings and queens, warriors and leaders of men. This goes to show that nothing has changed. Famously, the former American President, Ronald Reagan, and many other world rulers consult with psychics about world affairs today, as do many of us when we desire insight into which job should we should choose, which partner is right for us and what our future may hold. Clearly, the questions of humankind are eternal and common among all walks of life and rank and file.

Kings, queens, dignitaries and the affluent were convinced that their exalted status would mean that the gods would speak to them and advise them as to the best course of action regarding government, war or matters of state. They also had the most money to spend, which meant they would receive the best bang for their buck. And so, the problem is that Delphi became a bit of a spectacle; a farce, if you will, not unlike a modern-day fortuneteller – the only difference being that today’s tarot readers (not all, but many) do not need to speak in tongues to deprive us of our cash.

Priestesses like this used a variety of methods to enter a trance like state, where the priest would interpret her utterances in a manner aimed to please the patron. © Andrew Gough

Patrons with the most money were given the best show and everyone, regardless of status, was required to complete a list of questions in advance of their arrival, so that the priest could become familiar with their likes, dislikes and aspirations. Once the patron had arrived, the very priests who later interpreted the oracle utterances of a priestess (who was speaking in tongues and under the influence of hallucinogenic substances) would interview them for hours and even, in some cases, days.

The priests of the temple left nothing to chance and resorted to sending carrier pigeons to faraway lands to learn the fate of events (such as battles won and lost), so that they could appear more accurate in their interpretations of the priestess’s vision. After all, the social media of the day was word of mouth and accurate and entertaining prophecies meant more money from more patrons, and more profit for the priests and residents of the Delphi ritual complex. In short, in the process of becoming the original customer-experience management retreat for the rich and famous, Delphi had become the antithesis of the very principles upon which it had been founded.

However, the oracle of the dead in Baia, Italy, is another matter completely, and worthy of a bit more time and space than can be afforded here. Suffice it to say, it is not every day that one gets to escort a celebrity to hell and back. But that is exactly what I did. You can read all about my descent into hell with Jamie Theakston, and the remarkable adventure we had. It was quite a journey!

*** Please note that this blog, the article it links to, and the Forbidden History Television episode are not meant to discredit mediums, clairvoyants and fortune tellers, but rather the aspects of the discipline, both ancient and modern, that exploit individuals for profit. ***

Trumpeting The Queen Bee

I recently had the pleasure of meeting two fascinating bee experts, Debra Roberts and Filiz Telek. The three of us dined at an unassuming, but superb, little restaurant in Istanbul’s Galata district and, as you might expect, we discussed bees.


The Galata restaurant where we dined. © Andrew Gough

We took turns enthusiastically sharing our stories, and over dessert Debra, who teaches beekeeping, recounted the first time she experienced queen-bee piping, or the name given to the extraordinary noise made by the queen bee during its birth and introduction into the hive.


 Debra preparing to smoke the beehive

I was enthralled, but had to confess that I was only vaguely familiar with the phenomenon. Debra asked me to look into it, for she felt it must have been important to ancient cultures, and was hoping to trace its influence. Later that night she emailed to me an audio recording of the queen-bee piping, and I listened to it intently. I became more mesmerised by the haunting sound with each and every play.

Debra’s recording of the queen bee piping: 


 An adult queen bee

I knew that ancient cultures were aware of at least some of the bee’s idiosyncratic traits. For instance, the Greek philosopher, Aristotle (384–322 BCE), had written about the bee’s waggle dance, and my research suggested that he was not the first to notice, or be influenced by, this ancient form of satellite navigation. But was there evidence that the ancients knew about queen-bee piping and, if so, did they incorporate the unique sound into their customs and rituals in any demonstrable way?

As I listened to the recording with my headphones, I at first thought the queen-bee piping sounded like bagpipes, or other ancient wind instruments, even the didgeridoo. Upon further contemplation, it also reminded me of a trumpet; an instrument, serendipitously enough, that has a long history of being used in ceremonies where ‘royalty’ is introduced, much like when the queen bee introduces herself to the hive and affirms her supremacy with that astonishing sound. I was intrigued.

I spent the next few hours poring through my beekeeping library, and other sources, and although I could not find direct evidence that the ancients mimicked or otherwise paid homage to the sound of the queen bee’s piping, I was surprised at how many ancient musical instruments had been crafted to replicate the sounds of nature – animal noises in particular.

I also came across the musical genre known as ‘drone’, a minimalist style characterised by the use of sustained notes – just like the buzzing sound of a bee. Before becoming popular with experimental artists like the Velvet Underground, Brian Eno and an assortment of German bands (such as Can and Kraftwerk), drone music was accompanied by Byzantine chants, or what is known as drone-singing. Curiously, many musical scholars believe that drone-singing was an attempt to imitate the bagpipe; an instrument that contrary to popular belief, did not originate in Scotland. In fact, a sculpture of bagpipes, over 3,000 years old, has been identified on a Hittite slab at Euyuk in the Middle East, and bagpipes were known about and practised by numerous ancient cultures, including the Egyptians.

Turkey Piping

I came across a variant of ancient instruments, including bagpipes, on a recent trip to Hierapolis, an ancient city situated on hot springs in Phrygia, south-western Anatolia. © Andrew Gough

The fact that ancient Egyptians practised a reeded form of the bagpipe that was later adopted by Rome is interesting, for the Egyptian King was known as the ‘Beekeeper’, held the title ‘He of the Sedge and the Bee’, and featured an image of a bee in his cartouche. Esteemed positions in the Royal Court of the Old and Middle Kingdoms held the title of the ‘Sealer of the Honey’ and ‘Overseer of the Beekeepers’, reflective of the importance of bees, and their by-products, in Egyptian culture. Even the ancient Goddess, Neith, lived in the ‘House of the Bee’, and the equally ancient God, Osiris, was buried in the ‘Mansion of the Bee’, both in Sais, the former delta capital, whose pillar inscriptions spawned the legend of Atlantis.

Additionally, many Egyptian royals included images of beekeeping on the walls of their tombs, such as the Theban Tomb (TT100) of Rekhmire, a noble of the Eighteenth Dynasty, who held the title of High Priest of Heliopolis, Vizier and Prince during the reigns of Thutmosis III and Amenhotep II. There is also the Theban Tomb of Pabasa (TT279), Chief Steward to Nitocris I, Divine Adoratrice of Amun, of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty. However, the most ancient, and perhaps the most notable, is Nyuserre Ini, the sixth King of the Fifth Dynasty, whose Sun Temple and pyramid at Abu Gurab, in Saqqara, illustrates the art of Egyptian beekeeping, fully formed, around 2400 BCE.

Andy at Sun Temple

 Author at the Abu Gurab Sun Temple, on the spot where the relief depicting beekeeping was located before a recent earthquake collapsed it. © Andrew Gough


 A sketch of the beekeeping relief from the Abu Gurab Sun Temple, 2400 BCE

However, the ancient Egyptians also revered the trumpet and two allegedly magical trumpets, one silver and one bronze, were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. Not only do they remain the oldest operative trumpets in the world, they are believed to incite war when played. So, did the bee-loving Egyptians embrace the bagpipe or trumpet, because it reminded them of the queen-bee piping? As much as I would like to believe this was so, I simply could not say.

Tut tuttrumpet

 Tutankhamun’s trumpets

I was also reminded that the sound of bees humming – not a buzzing sound per se, but the explicit sounds of bees – has been recounted by individuals during yoga, near death experiences, apparitions, and even alien-abduction experiences. In Indian mythology the sound of a bee humming was emulated in Vedic chants. Certainly, the sound of the bee seemed significant, but the question remained, what about the sound of the queen-bee piping?

It was approaching 2am, but I carried on and soon dug up a curious reference to bees and piping in the Old Testament:

Isaiah 7:18:  “And it will be in that day that the Lord will make a piping sound for the fly which is in the end of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee which is in the land of Assyria.”

Academia’s explanation for the seemingly perplexing statement is that the fly and the bee refer to the armies of Egypt and Assyria, respectively. While this elucidation is possible, I remained unconvinced, and have my own theories, although they remain a work in progress. Still, for now, I could offer no better explanation, other than to say, it’s an interesting turn of phrase, and I am going to continue to give it some thought.

At first glance I had been unable to confirm Debra’s suspicion that the sound of the queen-bee piping was revered by the ancients, but my investigation has only just begun. And with this sort of thing awareness is the first step towards enlightenment. Time will tell what the bees want me to know.