Thunderbolts of the Gods

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Too often the words mean, “reviewed by peers who agree with us.” But a lot has changed in recent years.


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THUNDERBOLTS OF THE GODS, by David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill, is the first in a series of volumes presenting a convergence of ancient testimony, high-energy plasma laboratory experiments, and space age discoveries.


The authors contend that large scale electrical phenomena led to a series of global catastrophes in ancient times. These electrical events, though similar in principle to the aurora borealis today, were intensely energetic and often punctuated by devastating instabilities.

Talbott and Thornhill claim that earthshaking upheaval occurred so recently as to have profoundly affected early human cultures. And the two authors suggest that the myths and religions of all ancient peoples memorialized these events.

The study of plasma discharge is a new and exciting development in space age astronomy. Talbott and Thornhill show particular interest in these developments because they see space plasma as a bridge between the ancient and modern worlds. To advance their case, they present side-by-side comparisons of laboratory plasma experiments and globally recurring symbols of the ancient sky. The evidence, they report, shows an ancient obsession with extremely violent electrical discharge formations in the heavens.

At the core of this reconstruction is the unique behavior of plasma. This “fourth state of matter” has been studied for less than a hundred years, and only in the recent decades of the space age have astronomers begun to realize its importance to the understanding of structure in space. Astronomical objects ranging from supernovas and intergalactic filaments to interstellar banks of excited gasses and all of the stars in the heavens are now known to be constituted of plasma-a conductive medium that also permeates the near-vacuum of space. Celestial objects move in and through cells of plasma.

Because the plasma state is defined by the presence of charged particles, electrical and magnetic forces often dominate gravitational forces. Many structures now revealed in space, while defying gravitational equations, are predictable under the laws of plasma behavior observed in the laboratory. From these discoveries, a new approach to the understanding of the physical universe is emerging. This approach is called plasma cosmology.

Through unimaginable labors, millions of our ancestors carved unexplained pictures on stone, numbering in the tens of millions. But what inspired this massive endeavor around the world?


The laboratory experiments make clear that the ancient artists were copying spectacular electrical phenomena in the heavens. Indeed, the global correspondence between laboratory discharge configurations and the pictographs on stone is so detailed that same-scale images from the laboratory and from archaeological investigation can be overlaid with astonishing precision.

By systematically comparing these images to the most prominent mythological themes, the authors reach a revolutionary conclusion. In ancient times, electrical activity produced gigantic and violently metamorphosing formations above the ancient witnesses. According to Talbott and Thornhill, these terrifying apparitions were the true source of the enigmatic celestial serpents, dragons, cosmic mountains, long-tongued demons, and metamorphosing gods, goddesses, and heroes of the ancient world.

Perhaps the authors’ most radical tenet is the role of the Solar System’s planets in these events. For they contend that at least some of the planets moved on different orbits than observed today, appearing as giant spheres extremely close to Earth and anciently celebrated as towering gods. Thus, the demonstrable power of the electric force to override the weak force of gravity is vital to their hypothesis.


From this new vantage point, the pervasive ancient reverence and fear directed toward planets and toward comets as harbingers of destruction finds a new interpretation – a gauntlet thrown down to challenge the stable and predictable solar system of modern theory.

For more than three decades, Talbott and Thornhill have each been major contributors to the study of catastrophe in ancient times. Talbott was publisher of Pensée magazine’s “Immanuel Velikovsky Reconsidered” series in the early seventies, which provoked a surge of international interest in the questions raised by Velikovsky. Talbott then offered his own reconstruction of the past in THE SATURN MYTH (Doubleday, 1980). His hypothesis was also depicted in the 1996 documentary, “Remembering the End of the World.”

Thornhill has delivered numerous presentations on the “electric universe” at symposia and workshops in the United States and abroad. His CD, “The Electric Universe,” was published in 1998. His website at, with its challenge to theoretical assumptions in astronomy and archaeology, has gained increasing popularity.

The authors are now completing a full color layout of volume one, supplemented by substantial portions of two later volumes. With this material in hand, they will begin publishing a series of full color monographs in early summer 2004, representing complementary portions of the three volumes – a comprehensive analysis of global mythology, ancient rock art, and religious symbolism in the light of scientific discovery.


THUNDERBOLTS is the first complete work on the subject available to general readers, though the scientific evidence is now finding its way into specialized journals.