Silbury Hill – By G. Lloyd Helm
Scott Godfrey, American amateur archeologist and student of earth mysteries, had saved his money for years to be able to afford to visit the English stone circles and barrows identified with the mysterious past. He knew all the current thought on Stonehenge and the other stone circles and mounds but for some reason he could not take any of them completely to heart. They weren’t romantic enough to suit him and now as he and his wife Liz walked over each site he knew that the cold archeological analysis was, if not completely wrong, at least not rooted deeply enough in the human psyche. As he and Liz visited site after site he could feel the electricity of them. It was a prickling along his skin that caused his fair complexion to flush, and that prickling seemed to grow with each site he visited. To stand viewing Stonehenge caused his heart to beat faster and his breath to become shorter, but the place that caused the prickling on his skin to buzz like an electric current was Silbury Hill. There was something about the conical but flat topped mound of chalk and earth that caused his subconscious mind to tick over with such fervor that it leaked over into his conscious mind. Some as yet unidentifiable connection with the historical stream of the collective unconscious was made.
Liz Godfrey was an eminently practical woman who could not have cared less about earth mysteries, but she loved Scott so she listened to him gush about Ley lines and Chalk Horses and wood henges and stone circles; but when they reached Avebury and tramped out in the rain to look at Silbury Hill, which she thought of as the biggest mole hill she had ever seen, she let Scott know that she had had about all the earth mysteries she could stand for one day.
“Can we go back to the inn, Scotty? I’m cold and wet and tired and I think I’m coming down with something.”
Scott, still caught up in the mystical experience of Silbury Hill said, “I am trying to understand what it is about this place that feels so special. It is like there is some essential truth here. Why did they build this symmetrical hill? It is like they were-I don’t know. I don’t understand.”
“For god sakes, Scotty! Who cares?”
Scott, feeling hurt at the attack, said, “I care. I want to know why.”
“OK, if it will get us back to a hot toddy at the inn I’ll tell you why they built it.”
“Oh sure,” he answered. “Make fun of me.”
Now Liz was glaring at him. “Fine. Stay here. I am heading back. Good bye.”
“No, wait Liz. I’m sorry. I’ll come too and you can tell me why you think they built the hill.”
“Maybe I will and maybe I won’t,” she said turning and trudging back up the path.
“Ah, come on, Liz. Don’t make me beg. Just tell me!”
Liz shook her head in disgust and said, “They built this mole hill to attract fools and flying saucers.”
Sköt, dressed in a decorated skin hunting shirt and breeches, his long dirty blond hair clubbed back in a pony tail, watched the last god-bringer lift from the plain into the sky, and knew it was a bad thing. The god-bringers became blurred and disappeared with a sound like thunder and the people looked to Sköt for reassurance. He tried to radiate confidence, but he knew the departure of the gods was a bad thing for the people. Tout, the god-who-spoke for the other gods, said that the sacrifices the people had made- animals, alive and dead, plants, even living humans captured in raids-had pleased the gods greatly, but that the time for their return to Uthgar had come. Sköt begged them not to go but the gods did what the gods did no matter what. Now, as he stood looking at the burned circles with dotted indentations around the circumference which the god-bringers left on the ground, he shook his head in dismay.
When the gods first appeared the people had been terrified. The thunder and lightning of their appearance, and the smoking heat of the god-bringers when they appeared on the plain had caused many to die of fear. Even Sköt, magician, shaman, and brave leader of the people, had been afraid, but when Tout, the god-who-spoke, came from one of the still smoking god-bringers Sköt knew he must go forth or the people would never again trust him; he had gone to the shinning being, flint tipped spear in hand, and challenged the god with a loud voice. Rather than smite him with lightning Tout spoke to him and all the people stood in awe.
The gods had been good. They had rewarded the peoples’ devotion and sacrifice in ways that could hardly be numbered. They had shown the people the sacred stones whose passions for one another sent forth hot sparks when the stones kissed. The stones rewarded the people for bringing them each to each by setting tinder afire much more quickly than the old spinning dowel method.
The gods had also taught the people how to marry the red-green stone with the purple-grey stone by means of god given fire to form metal to be made into knives, spear points, and scrapers more durable and sharp than the flaked flint points. So many things the gods had given, and now they were gone.
“What can we do, Sköt?” the tribal elders asked, desperation in their voices. “When the gods dwelt with us all others envied us and no others dared to attack us, but with the gods gone those others will think we are deserted and weak. What can we do?”
Back at the Knight’s Head Pub next to St. George’s Inn they sat, Scott sipping at an English Bitter Beer and glaring silently at his wife and Liz sipping at a hot gin with lemon. She had resolutely kept silent during the whole walk back with Scott following and berating her for making fun of him.
After a while Scott’s huff began to lose some of its steam and he began to see the humor of the situation. It was one of the reasons he loved his wife. She could always manage to puncture his pomposity and he was man enough to be able to laugh at himself.
“OK, you win,” he said. “I was being stupid. And, it was a clever idea. Fools and flying Saucers. That’s really funny.”
Liz smiled but the smile went away pretty fast when he said, “Its not really such a stupid idea anyhow.”
Now she became suspicious. He might be setting her up somehow to pay her back for making fun of him.
Scott caught the look of suspicion and said, “No, I’m serious. Why couldn’t it be a cargo cult?”
“They call them airplane cults too.”
“Sure. Just like in New Guinea after World War II. I think there are still some Airplane worshipers back in the jungle now, even though it has been a long time since the war. I think I read about some anthropologist stumbling across one not long ago.”
Liz, now interested in spite of her suspicions said, “I still don’t understand.”
Scott shrugged and took a pull at his pint, then said, “During the war airplanes would fly over the jungles of New Guinea and some of the other Micronesian islands and sometimes they would drop things in parachutes. The stuff was supposed to go to re-supply guerillas on the ground fighting the Japanese, but sometimes the drops went awry or the planes crashed and the stuff fell into the hands of some of the really primitive peoples back in the jungle. The natives thought the airplanes were great birds sent by the gods to drop gifts to the people and some bright witchdoctor said, ‘Hey, I betcha if we clear out some of the jungle and make something that looks like the great birds of the gods they will drop more gifts or even land and bring us their great magic.’ So they did. After the war anthropologists on some of the primitive islands and in the outback of New Guinea found a lot of these ‘temple clearings’ with ‘airplanes’ and ‘cargo’ made out of sticks and vines and mud and stuff. So that’s what Silbury Hill and Stonehenge and all this other stuff is. They are all primitive models of flying saucers. A stone-age cargo cult.”
“That would mean there had to have been space men flitting around here back before the first of the mounds and such were built, right?”
Scott shrugged as if to say, of course.
“That is the dumbest damn thing I ever heard of!” Liz said and sipped at her hot gin and lemon. “Airplane Cults!”
Scott grinned and winked at his wife.
Sköt considered the matter for many days with the elders growing more and more anxious and afraid. At last Sköt, who had spoken with the gods, called the elders to his stone hut.
“I have considered the matter,” he said. “We will show the gods our devotion by building them temples which look like the god-bringers. The gods will see these god-bringers and think some of their numbers have returned and so will return to meet them.”
There was grumbling at the plan. Many thought it foolish to think the gods could be taken in by anything the people might build, but Sköt was “he-who-spoke-with-the-gods,” and therefore must be given some credence. Over the following days Sköt spoke as though the return of the gods was imminent when the temples were completed, and the people, who wanted desperately to believe in the return, threw themselves into the work.