About John Anthony West
After a stint in the military, John worked in advertising in New York and started writing works of fiction, concentrating on science fiction. He then moved to the island of Ibiza, living there for nine years, surrounded by the bohemian pre-hippy/intellectual culture that drew together writers, musicians, and philosophers, all discussing alternative viewpoints and interesting ideas. At the time, John was writing fiction and satire, creative work that he enjoyed. It was on Ibiza that John found his canine companions for life in the Ibizan hound dogs which may share a lineage to the pharaoh hounds shown in papyri and tombs, along with bearing a resemblance to the god, Anubis. John is credited with introducing this breed to North America.
Here, on Ibiza, John was introduced to the work of Georges I. Gurdjieff. An Armenian mystic and esoteric teacher. John was struck by the idea that Gurdjieff had found a way to “live elegantly in the midst of a madhouse” and this philosophy and work became a guidepost throughout the rest of his life. West learned that Gurdjieff found answers to his quest for truth in Egypt and following his lead, West embarked on a lifelong love affair with the ancient civilization that thrived there. He visited Egypt repeatedly and created “Magical Egypt Tours”, through which he took scores of travelers, introducing them to the experiential teachings of the temples and pyramids and the sacred science behind the magic.
As West delved deeper in his studies, he began to realize that a correct understanding of ancient Egypt challenged many of the prevailing academic paradigms, not only about Egypt but about the entire development of civilization. He saw growing evidence that Egyptian civilization, and indeed, civilization in general, was far older than was generally accepted in academic circles, an idea supported by the ancient Egyptians themselves and in the writings of Gurdjieff. As John would say Egypt was a “legacy not a development.”
A friend introduced John to the idea of astrology as a real science and his editor encouraged him to write about it, resulting in the book, The Case for Astrology (1970). West often said that he was a “writer by choice and a researcher by default.” While researching astrology in England, a fellow Gurdjieff group member suggested that West go to Watkins Book Shop (the only esoteric bookstore in London at the time) and buy Isha Schwaller de Lubicz’s book, Her-Bak, a suggestion that would change the course of West’s life. John said that “though it was a lousy novel, the picture it painted of Egypt was absolutely fascinating and correlated very clearly and closely to what Gurdjieff said about Egypt…and it kept referring to her husband, R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz.” John began to study Schwaller, who had not been translated into English at the time and spent a year in the British Museum Library with his rudimentary French and an English/French dictionary at his side cutting the pages, translating and interpreting Schwaller’s opus magnum The Temple of Man. John also spent time in France at the home of Lucie Lamy, stepdaughter of Schwaller and fellow symbolist, who worked intimately with Schwaller at the Luxor Temple, discussing this work and the understanding of a symbolist approach to Egypt.
During this time with Lucie Lamy, West began researching and writing The Serpent in the Sky: The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt (1973), in which he brings to life the world of a people for whom higher truth was a living reality and ultimate goal. He presents the ideas of Schwaller and maintains that the mathematics, architecture, astronomy, and mythology of Egypt point to a level of understanding and sophistication that surpassed the Greek civilization which came much later.
All of these experiences, research and understanding became the basis of his comprehensive work on the sites of Egypt: The Traveler’s Key to Ancient Egypt: A Guide to Sacred Places (1985). He takes the reader into the soul and spirit of the ancient Egyptians who built them. This book was republished in 1995 to include updated evidence on rainwater erosion in the Sphinx enclosure and the age of the Sphinx.
In reading Schwaller’s extensive writings, one line in Sacred Science leapt out to West: Schwaller makes the observation that it appeared the Great Sphinx in Giza had been weathered by water, not by sand and wind as had been universally assumed. John’s epiphany came, when he recognized immediately that this would prove the Sphinx was much older than believed and give credence to his own understanding of the high wisdom of this culture and his long lost civilization theory.
As a result of his own research and work on the erosion theory, John contacted Robert M. Schoch, a Yale trained Ph.D geologist and geophysicist, eventually, developing a long term partnership with him. In 1993 West and Schoch produced The Mystery of the Sphinx, narrated by Charlton Heston, which won West a News and Documentary Emmy and a nomination for Best Documentary.
As West became internationally known, many in Egyptology and academia criticized him in print, and John was often and energetically engaged in sparring with the “quackademics”, his word for those in the field of Egyptology interested in protecting the status quo. In Magical Egypt (2000), a documentary series produced by Chance Gardner, West presents evidence for the science behind the amazing monuments of the Egyptians, continuing his challenges to the dating and interpretation of this civilization. Currently, Magical Egypt Series Part Two is under production. It features John Anthony West, Graham Hancock, Robert Bauval, Aaron Cheak, Peter Levenda, Mantak Chia and many more.
West was very interested in the more recent discovery of Gobekli Tepe and called it the “smoking gun”, as it proved other monolithic sites existed in the world prior to what is now considered the pyramid age. Current research and radiocarbon dating indicates the monuments at Gobekli Tepe date back more than 12,000 years and the site for unknown reasons was intentionally buried in 8,000 B.C.
John proposed that we could have a civilization like Egypt’s if enough people came together for a purpose and that purpose was spiritual, aligned with the Divine. John, referencing the well-known aspect of Egyptian understanding – the “weighing of the heart” – once said to friends that his wish was, upon his death, when his heart is being weighed, it would be found to be as light as the feather of Ma’at – meaning that he had spent his life seeking and speaking the truth, fulfilling his true purpose. We believe he succeeded.
Magical Egypt Series Part Two Link
Robert M. Schoch continues dedicated work toward uncovering the mysteries of our ancient past. Link
A dear friend and colleague of West is working on a three volume comprehensive update of JAW’s research, including a section on Gobekli Tepe. It is entitled: John Anthony West: Symbolist View of Egypt by John Anthony West and the companions of Horus. The first volume is expected to come out later in 2022.