Imagine that you find a small burning lamp hidden deep in an ancient vault. This mysterious lamp, which is in perfect preservation, has burned continuously without fuel for the last 2,000 years. What would you think of your remarkable discovery?
Most likely you would wonder whether the precious lamp that you are holding in your hands is a magical object, a work of God, or perhaps some evil powers.
Could this ancient treasure be proof of highly advanced technology? Did our ancestors discover the secret of eternal light?
“Now the House of Solomon the King was illuminated as by day, for in his wisdom he had made shining pearls which were like unto the sun, the moon and the stars in the roof of his house. ” (From: “The Queen of Sheba and Her Only Son Menyelek”)
Although it might sound amazing, and for some even impossible certain extraordinary findings clearly show that perpetual light was rather common in prehistory.
During the Middle Ages, a number of ever-burning lamps were discovered in ancient tombs and temples. Based on ancient records we learn that these mysterious objects were found all over the world, in India, China, South America, North America, Egypt, Greece, Italy, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, and many other countries.
Unfortunately, looters, vandals, and superstitious diggers who feared that these objects possessed supernatural powers destroyed many of the lamps.
As we all know, the Middle Ages cannot be characterized as a particularly scientific period. It was a dark time for those who persuaded knowledge. Still, curiosity is a part of human nature, and questions were asked.
How were the ancients able to produce lamps, which could burn without fuel for hundreds, and in some cases thousands of years? From whom did our ancestors gain their secret knowledge?
Naturally, the subject of perpetual light became quickly a controversy and the opinions among the authorities were divided.
Some authors rejected the idea of a never-ending flame, despite the evidence they were confronted with. A small group of more open-minded and enlightened persons confirmed the existence of, if not eternal then at least very long-lasting light. Many on the other hand accused the Pagan priests of performing clever tricks.
However, a majority of the “learned” men acknowledged the unusual findings and declared the perpetual lamp to be a work of the devil.
This was a common explanation in the Dark Ages. As soon as something was unknown, of Pagan origin or not in accordance with the rules set by the early Roman Church it was labeled as an invention of the dark forces, the devil, and his demons.
Some speculated that secret Hebrew societies had preserved what in modern days is known as electricity. For example, the occult writer Eliphas Levi relates a curious story in his book “Historie de la Magie”.
He tells of a certain mysterious French rabbi named Jechiele who was an advisor in the thirteenth-century court of Louis IX. Apparently, Jechiele owned a lamp that he used to place in front of his house for everyone to see.
The “dazzling lamp that lightened itself” possessed no oil or wick. When the rabbi was asked about the energy source, he always replied it was a secret. Jechiele, obviously experimented quite a lot with electricity. To protect himself from enemies, he invented a discharge button that sent out an electric current into the iron knocker on his door.
It is written that when Jechiele “touched a nail driven into the wall of his study, a crackling bluish spark immediately leaped forth. Woe to anyone who touched the iron knocker at that moment; he would bend double, scream as if he had been burned, then he would run away as fast as his legs could carry him.”
There were numerous speculations regarding the perpetual lamps’ secret energy source. During the Middle Ages and later many great thinkers tried to solve the problem of how to prepare fuel that renewed itself as quickly as it was consumed. However, none of the conducted experiments was truly successful. It turned out impossible to produce a copy of an ever-burning lamp. The ancients’ technology remained unknown.
The earliest accounts of a divine flame, an eternal light source can be found in various mythological texts. The descriptions of the eternal flame, which was considered a part of the divine fire, are closely connected with the gods. The Greek god Prometheus was punished for giving fire to mankind.
The secret of the eternal flame was regarded as gods’ sole property. The knowledge of the eternal light should not be passed over to humans. Nevertheless, it seems as if some of the alien gods disobeyed and revealed their divine secret to humanity. When humans learned how to produce perpetual light, temples worldwide were equipped with eternal altar flames.
According to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans tradition, a dead person might need some light on his or her road to the Valley of the Shadow. Therefore, before the tomb was sealed it was accustomed to place an ever-burning lamp inside. The lamp served as an offering to the god of the dead and it kept evil spirits away. Its light also offered the deceased the required guidance on the journey to the Underworld.
Hundreds of years later, when vaults were opened excavators found the lamps in perfect condition and still burning.
So far, we have only spoken in general terms about the existence of perpetual light in antiquity. It has been estimated that as many as 170 medieval authors have written about the phenomenal and mysterious ever-burning lamps. Let us now look at some of the remarkable discoveries.
Plutarch wrote of a lamp that burned over the door of a temple to Jupiter Ammon. According to the priests, the lamp remained alight for centuries without any fuel and neither wind nor rain could put it out.
St. Augustine described an Egyptian temple sacred to Venus with a lamp, in which wind and water could not extinguish. He declared it to be the work of the devil.
In 527 A.D., at Edessa, Syria, during the reign of emperor Justinian, soldiers discovered an ever-burning lamp in a niche over a gateway, elaborately enclosed to protect it from the air. According to the inscription, it was lit in 27 A.D. The lamp had burned for 500 years before the soldiers who found it, destroyed it.
In 140, near Rome, a lamp was found burning in the tomb of Pallas, son of King Evander. The lamp, which had been alight for over 2,000 years, could not be extinguished by ordinary methods. It turned out that neither water nor blowing on the flame stopped it from burning. The only way to extinguish the remarkable flame was to drain off the strange liquid contained in the lamp bowl.
In about 1540, during the Papacy of Paul III, a burning lamp was found in a tomb on the Appian Way at Rome. The tomb was believed to belong to Tulliola, the daughter of Cicero. She died in 44 B.C. The lamp that had burned in the sealed vault for 1,550 years was extinguished when exposed to the air. Interesting about this particular discovery is also the unknown transparent liquid in which the deceased was floating. By putting the body in this liquid, the ancients managed to preserve the corpse in such a good condition that it appeared as if death had occurred only a few days ago.
When King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church in 1534, he ordered the dissolution of monasteries in Britain, and many tombs were plundered. In Yorkshire, a burning lamp was discovered in a tomb of Constantius Chlorus, father of the Great Constantine. He died in 300 A.D. which means that the lamp had been burning for more than 1,200 years.
In France, near Grenoble, in the mid-seventeenth century, a young Swiss soldier accidentally stumbled upon the entrance to an ancient tomb. Unfortunately, for the young man, he did not discover the golden treasures that he thought might be hidden inside. Still, his surprise must have been just as big when he was confronted with a burning glass lamp. Du Praz, that was the soldier’s name removed the mysterious lamp from the sealed grave and carried it to a monastery. He showed his remarkable discovery to the astonished monks and the lamp remained at the monastery. It burned for several months until an elderly monk dropped it and it was destroyed.
Certain discoveries indicate that the ancients wanted to preserve their knowledge secret. In his notes to St. Augustine, 1610, Ludovicus Vives writes about a lamp that was found in his father’s time, in 1580 A.D. According to the inscription, the lamp was burning for 1,500 years, however when it was touched it fell into pieces. Obviously, Ludovicus Vives did not share some of St. Augustine’s views. He considered perpetual lamps to be an invention of very wise and skilled men and not the devil.
Were the Rosicrucians familiar with the secrets of eternal light?
It would seem so. When the tomb of Christian Rosenkreuz, alchemist, and founder of the Rosicrucian Order was opened 120 years after his death, a shining lamp was found inside.
Another interesting case worth mentioning occurred in England where a mysterious and most unusual tomb was opened. It was believed that the sepulcher was of a Rosicrucian. A man, who discovered the tomb, noticed a burning lamp hanging from the ceiling, lighting up the underground chamber. As the man took some steps forward, a certain part of the floor moved with his weight. At once, a seated figure in armor started to move. The figure rose to its feet and hit the lamp with some sort of a weapon. The precious lamp was destroyed. The goal had been accomplished; the lamp’s substance remained a secret.
The discoveries I mention in this article are only a small representation of all remarkable findings worldwide. Who knows how many more lamps are still burning hidden in ancient vaults, undiscovered and protected from the outside world.
The ancients were familiar with perpetual light. As Eliphas Levi points out: “it is certain that the Zoroastrian Magi had means of producing and directing electric power unknown to us.”