Göbekli Tepe’s Shamanic Birthing Temple

Barbara Hand Clow © 2014

This article was written for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Felicitas D. Goodman, the anthropologist who realized that postures depicted globally in ancient figurines and art are ritual instructions for accessing specific shamanic states of consciousness. This monumental discovery in 1977 inspired the recovery of a rich, ancestral shamanic system, an expanding library of ancient wisdom centered at the Cuyamungue Institute (Santa Fe, NM), which was founded and directed by Dr. Goodman.

The eminent pre-historian Andrew Collins has just released a book of extreme importance for our posture research—Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods. Our experiments with more than 80 ritual body postures used by humans to access shamanic states for at least 36,000 years should be investigated by anyone who wants to thin the veil obscuring the Göbekli Tepe shamanic cultists. I am really excited about Andrew’s brilliant analysis of Göbekli Tepe because it resonates deeply with Dr. Goodman’s discoveries and my writing. I studied with Dr. Goodman for thirteen years before she died in 2005, and we became colleagues because she was deeply moved by my exploration of past cataclysms in Catastrophobia (2001). She would be very excited by Andrew’s book. We feel her presence at the Institute because her shamanic ways continue here, especially in our kiva. Many thousands of ecstatic trance students have assumed postures with fifteen minutes of rattling to enter the Alternate Reality, the world of the spirits. In a similar way, the shamans of Göbekli Tepe are present in the sacred circles of tall beings whispering secrets to visitors like Andrew Collins. In honor of the 100th anniversary of Dr. Goodman’s birth in Transylvania, I propose the existence of an ecstatic trance posture at Göbekli Tepe.

Klaus Schmidt, who has so far excavated four out of the twenty or so anticipated carved and incised circles of T-shaped stones, says they were used for rituals; they were sanctuaries. Geophysical surveys have detected many more circles, yet only about five percent have been excavated. Nearly all researchers believe these circles were sacred space. Schmidt, an archeologist with the German

Archeological Institute and the University of Heidelberg, began his excavation in 1995. The public began hearing about this amazing site around 2000. Local inhabitants of the bleak plateau at the southern limits of the Anti-Taurus Mountains 8 miles northeast of Şanlıurfa, Turkey, refer to the “tell” or hill covering the site as Göbekli Tepe, which means “Hill of the Navel” in Turkish, or some say “Potbelly.” This name going way back in time is local ancestral memory that suggests pregnancy. The oldest carbon dates at the site are Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPNA) going back to 9500-8500 BCE, which really got my attention.

Catastrophobia describes a series of cataclysms 13,000 to 11,500 years ago during the Younger Dryas, a mini ice age that ended abruptly 11,500 years ago. Scientific analysis of this period, in particular by science historian, D.S. Allan, and Oxford-based geologist and anthropologist, J. B. Delair, describes a cosmic disaster 11,500 years ago that disarranged the solar system and severely impacted Earth. (1) This trauma changed human consciousness, and hunter-gatherers learned to farm. Those who survived during a few thousand years more of dramatic climate change and rising seas were a multi-traumatized species afflicted with what I call catastrophobia—extreme fear of starvation and chaos. This word is catching on now that paleoanthropologists have completed an accurate picture of global migrations and settling during the last 100,000 years. (2) Ironically, at first the word didn’t get much attention because the book was released when the World Trade Towers crumbled to the ground in September 2001. Regardless, evidence for the cataclysms followed by a human cultural regression has been building since the 1950s, when Immanuel Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collision sold millions of copies ripping open repressed memory. (3) Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings by the cartographer Charles Hapgood inspired the eminent new-paradigm writer Graham Hancock to explore these mysterious mariners. Hancock describes a seafaring global culture that lived before 12,000 years ago on the continental shelves now inundated by rising seas. (4) This new paradigm captivated the public mind, so my publisher asked me to update Catastrophobia. This clarifying picture of the past is magnificent support for our discoveries of the postures used by shamanic cultures for 50,000 years.

The 2011 edition of Catastrophobia titled Awakening the Planetary Mind: Beyond the Trauma of the Past to a New Era of Creativity has a whole new audience. Bored by old-paradigm Darwinian archeology that claims the human species has always advanced, young researchers hear me when I say we are a very damaged species because we were almost destroyed. Seeking what really happened to us so recently, they paint and pierce their bodies like hunter-gatherers at the end of the last ice age! Meanwhile, the recovery of our real story makes us realize people did survive radical climate changes, information that young people know they may need. Well, Göbekli Tepe goes right back to these great changes, so it is a gateway that can help us imagine who we were before we regressed. I think cosmic contact was severed 11,500 years ago. The recovery of the advanced astronomical knowledge of our ancestors is piercing the pain of human separation from the universe. Andrew Collins said to me in a recent email that he “probably didn’t fully understand the term catastrophobia until I started to piece together the motives behind the construction of Göbekli Tepe some 12,000 years ago. Then suddenly it all made sense! God, those people must have lived in fear, and without psychologists in those days, it was a matter that could only be rectified by shamans, which is exactly what I think happened.” (5)

I’ve been thinking about the evocative circles filled with great humanoid beings for ten years. Göbekli Tepe appears to be a temple built by the survivors of the great cataclysm, a truly monumental achievement considering their probable state of mind and the amount of work to construct it. Archeologists estimate up to 500 individuals were needed to extract each pillar from nearby quarries and erect them, and there are thought to be around 200 large pillars in total at the site. (6) Also I wondered whether the pillar of the humanoid figure with long oddly bent arms and long fingers reaching into their groins (Figure One: Pillar 18/Enclosure D) was a posture. When I was mentoring Marianne Carroll in 2011, she wondered the same thing, and we’ve been exploring it since. (7)

Back to 1999, I was struck by exactly the same hand position on the Nevali Çori pillar, a nearby ancient cultic site. My illustrator drew this pillar for Catastrophobia from a photo taken at Nevalı Çori by Andrew Collins. (8) I chose it to awaken ancient memory in my readers, since this beautiful place was about to be inundated by a dam. Considering the hand positions—oddly bent elbow and long fingers clutched under the belly that appears to be pregnant—anybody who knows our postures would immediately think “Birthing Posture!” Goodman says, “the pivotal, the most significant, rituals of the hunter gatherers and later of the horticulturalists, who created these figurines, centered around the celebration of birth.” She also said way back in 1990, “Some of these figures [Birthing Posture] are quite large and may well have marked the sacred places where such important rites were celebrated.” (9)

The same hand and arm positions exist on the torsos of the Easter Island heads (Moai) statues that are relatively the same height (15 feet) as the Göbekli Tepe humanoids. In 2010, when archeologists dug down below the heads, they were resting on bodies with the same odd hand position. (10) When I saw the first photos of these unburied torsos, I was astonished to see they closely match the size, arm, and hand positions of the Nevalı Çori and Göbekli Tepe pillars!

These widely separated tall humanoids in the Birthing Posture suggest that a global shamanic culture used this posture. Goodman catalogued Bear Posture figurines that are found in virtually all pre-historic sites on both continents going back to 8,000 years ago, the sure sign of an originating culture thousands of years earlier. (11)Were survivors using the Birthing Posture for procreation, even to enhance their DNA? Think of how precious each child would have been! Andrew Collins came up with the same idea from a completely different perspective, a synchronicity that makes me think we are identifying the essential shamanic practices of post-cataclysmic cultures. Let’s look at what Collins has discovered.

Collins uses archeo-astronomy (dating the alignments of ancient sites by precession of the equinoxes) to investigate the activities of the Göbekli cultists. Seeking the originating culture of this advanced site, he goes farther back to 17,000 years ago, before human culture regressed. He was the ideal researcher to do this because of his earlier studies of regional archeology in From the Ashes of Angels, and of late Paleolithic archeology in The Cygnus Mystery. (12) In The Cygnus Mystery, Collins posits our ancestors believed life (DNA) originated in the heavens, specifically in the region of the Cygnus constellation. This is because Paleolithic sites, such as Lascaux Cave, many megalithic sites, and the Giza Plateau pyramids all have symbolism and orientations to Cygnus because its brightest star, Deneb, was the Pole Star for a few thousand years starting 18,500 years ago. Also, cosmic rays from Cygnus X-3 have impacted human evolution to be discussed in a moment. Gazing out past the Pole Star’s location by precession, many ancient cultures believed this part of the sky was a birthing region, a place of human origin. This region of the sky was sacred to the ancient Egyptians, and to the Maya as Xibalba, the great dark rift of the Milky Way. Finding these specific cosmic orientations in widely separate cultures suggests the existence of a pre-cataclysmic sky religion practiced by advanced astronomers.

Let’s consider recent astronomy: Cygnus X-3 is a unique “microblazer” that spews to Earth a broad spectrum of frequencies from radio waves to gamma rays and even cosmic rays. In fact, Cygnus X-3 is one of the only accepted sources for high-energy gamma rays and cosmic rays reaching the earth. Moreover, a “growing number of scientists are considering that cosmic rays might have played a role in human evolution (my italics) causing either mutations in DNA, or even the deletion of DNA sequences . . .” Did these ancient cultures use the Birthing Posture to enhance their DNA? A US think tank went public in 2005 with its conviction that a binary system (Cygnus X-3) producing powerful jets of cosmic rays triggered a rapid acceleration in human evolution during the last ice age. (13) You will need to study The Cygnus Mystery to consider this astonishing possibility. For my purposes in this short paper, in 2006 Collins presented clear evidence that this region of the sky inspired global cultic beliefs 17,000 years ago. With more consideration of the influence of Cygnus, Collins thinks the survivors at Göbekli were multi-traumatized, yet they still managed to build this sacred temple to record their knowledge of human cosmic contact with our place of origin in the heavens. And, they carved beautiful examples of the Birthing Posture to save their precious knowledge of procreation. There’s more: Pillar 18 in Enclosure D (Figure-1b) at Göbekli targets Cygnus.

Collins says, ”The Solutreans are the key to the emergence of high culture across Central and Western Europe during the Upper Paleolithic Age.” He wonders if they were the ancestors of the people of Göbekli Tepe. (14) The Solutreans lived 25,000-16,500 years ago; they made way for the Magdalenians around 16,500-11,500 years ago; and then a mysterious culture called the Swiderians appeared around 12,900 years ago. Collins describes the Swiderians as a power elite that survived the cataclysm and harnessed other stunned survivors to construct Göbekli Tepe. (15) He offers fascinating detail on these three early shamanic cultures, people that I believe used postures while in trance. Art has been found depicting astral flight in the form of a bird; for example, in the Lascaux Shaft Scene, the source of our Lascaux Cave Posture for flight. Years ago when I was following Collins’s astonishing explorations of pre-cataclysmic cultures, I remember wishing he knew about our discoveries at Cuyamungue during shamanic flight! When I experienced the Lascaux Cave posture back in 1992 with Felicitas rattling, I zoomed through a pyramid right into the Egyptian world of the sky! New paradigm prehistory has advanced sufficiently to add our posture research to Collins’s hypothesis regarding cosmic shamanic travel at Göbekli. Even Klaus Schmidt said he “assumes shamanic practices, and suggests that the T-shaped pillars represent human forms, perhaps ancestors.” (16)

The Birthing Posture is oriented to Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation of Cygnus, the celestial bird. This suggests the Swiderians retained the Solutrean sky religion orientation to Deneb, the Pole Star 18,500 years ago. They put this posture in a key spot, exactly what survivors would do to salvage ancient knowledge, and there is much more: “Soul holes” are drilled holes in pillars where souls of the deceased can leave, unborn souls can enter, and where shamans can exit to travel in the sky. (17) There is a soul hole right in front of the Birthing Posture pillar where a person could look through to watch Deneb setting on the horizon each night. This region of the sky marks the opening of the dark rift of the Milky Way near where the ecliptic crosses the Milky Way. This also is the zone of direct access for modern humans to the Galactic Center in the ninth dimension according to my alchemical research. (18) More recent sacred cultures, such as the Vedic, Maya, and Native American all had sacred traditions aimed at this part of the sky, which suggests this orientation goes back to the Paleolithic. Collins says the “Göbekli Tepe builders adhered to much earlier Paleolithic traditions regarding the location of the sky world that reached back to the time when Deneb was the Pole Star, ca. 16,500-14,500 BC.” (19) He describes Göbekli Tepe’s Vulture Stone Pillar as a star map that depicts “the stars of Scorpius at the base of the Milky Way’s Great Rift, to its final destination in the region of the Cygnus constellation at the top of the Great Rift” with Cygnus depicted as a bird with spread wings. (20) What is the reason for this orientation? Collins thinks the incised lines around the hole in a stone in the north wall of Göbekli Tepe’s Enclosure D depict the open legs of a female, with the hole being her vulva located where the Milky Way’s Dark Rift begins. (21)

Collins notes this depiction of this region of the sky 11,500 years ago is similar to the Maya Cosmic tree, the symbol of the Milky Way that has a Scorpion biting its base. Mithraic altars from the Roman Empire have exactly the same symbolism in almost every Mithraeum—ritual caves with altars that depict the constellations on the ecliptic over Perseus slaying the bull with a scorpion biting his testicles. (22) Collins relates the hole in the stone in the north wall to a remarkable T-shaped, long-headed figure—the Kilisik Statue—found near Göbekli Tepe that derives from the same period. (23) The Kilisik statue has the same distinctive arm position of the Birthing Posture as well as a vulva hole! Anyone from the Institute would immediately recognize the Kilisik statue as the Birthing Posture, and she even has a depiction of what is probably a fetus above the hole. This is very exciting for the Institute, since it drives the dating for the Birthing Posture back to at least 11,000 years ago! And this is a very significant mini-statue because it is 31 inches tall even though the bottom is broken off. (24) She was probably around 60 inches tall, the height of the average female in the region. Put it on the Institute record: The Kilisik Statue depicts the Birthing Posture with a hole for her vulva and her fetus ready to arrive!

Collins wonders about the significantly placed holed stone, “So if the abstract female form seen on the holed stone in Enclosure D symbolizes the Cosmic Mother, is the purpose of the synchronization between star and stone to indicate she is about to give birth?” (25) Of course it does, since Pillar 18, the Birthing Posture, is right behind the holed stone and both are aimed at Deneb. These artifacts were dedicated to procreation, survival, and maintaining contact with the birthing zone in the Galaxy. I can easily visualize shamans gathered in the circle, assuming the Birthing Posture, and travelling into the Alternate Reality to contact the soul that was coming in. Possibly the birthing mother was also in the temple? Collins says Enclosure D’s holed stones are confirmation “of the site’s role as a place where the rites of birth, death, and rebirth were celebrated both in its carved art and within the architectural design of its larger enclosures, which formed symbolic wombs complete with twin souls and axes mundi.” (26) Assuming people in the region were struggling with depopulation, they would have used the Birthing Posture, since it activates the nervous system to birth and celebrate new arrivals.

The ancient global cache of postures was nearly lost until Dr. Goodman rediscovered it with students in 1977. As the result of her remarkable vision and dedicated research, we can see easily that ancient figurines and statues, such as the pillars of Nevalı Çori, Göbekli Tepe, and the Moai of Easter Island are ritual instructions. Judging by the enormous effort made to create Göbekli 11,500 years ago, they felt they had to save their knowledge. Mysteriously, they filled in the complex with huge amounts of fill 10,000 years ago, which is the reason we can study it in pristine condition. We can see the part of the sky they focused on, and we can be sure this central pillar is the Birthing Posture. A shamanic culture 11,500 years ago knew that the great swan Cygnus in the sky is the source of cosmic particles that evolve our DNA! The Birthing Posture suggests this great temple was built for the survival of our species after the great cataclysm 11,500 years ago. Perhaps, since we can still assume the postures now, we can use the Lascaux Cave Posture to fly through Cygnus into the Galactic Center, the ultimate human cosmic initiation.

When I studied with Felicitas more than twenty years ago, I was dismayed by the lack of attention given to her monumental discovery of a shamanic technique used by humans to contact other worlds since the Middle Paleolithic. Regardless, students of ecstatic trance are daily assuming postures for flight, journeys down into the lower world, healing, metamorphosis, divination, and more. Now that some researchers are open to the idea of shamanic practices at Göbekli Tepe, I hope the cold silence from most anthropologists to Goodman’s discovery in 1977 is coming to an end. This wall of silence almost always greets new ideas from innovators like Dr. Goodman, Andrew Collins, and myself. New sound is shattering the walls of Jericho, and a new pre-historical paradigm is being born. Paleoarcheologists have finally recovered the great story of our long journey since the end of the last ice age. In synchronicity, the ancient cache of instructions telling us how to position our bodies in trance—Ecstatic Trance—is recovering cosmic intelligence within each person in trance. On this 100th anniversary of her birth, Felicitas Goodman would be happy to hear we are celebrating in 2014 her role in the new pre-historical paradigm.


Figure-1 a) Göbekli Tepe circle ©DAIDeutsches Archäologisches Institut
b) Pillar 18/Enclosure D at Göbekli Tepe

Figure-2 Nevalı Çori

Figure-3 Birthing Postures practiced at the Cuyamungue Institute. a) Vera Cruz, Mexico, 1000 AD b) Negev, Palestine, 6,000 BCE c) sub-Saharan Africa, nearly modern d) Olmec, 1200 BCE.

Figure-4 Easter Island Moai.

Figure 5 Kilisik Statue, NEO-LITHICS, 1/01, p 9. [Hauptman, 2000]




  1. Allan, D.S. and J.B Delair. Catalcysm! Compelling Evidence of a Cosmic Catalcym in 9500 B.C. Santa Fe: Bear & company, 1997.
  2. Stanford, Dennis J., and Bruce A. Bradley. Across Atlantic Ice: The Origins of America’s Clovis Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.
  3. Vellikovsy, Immanuel, Worlds in Collision. New York: Doubleday, 1950.
  4. Hapgood, Charles. Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings: Evidence of Advanced Civilization in the Ice Age. London: Turnstone Books, 1966. Hancock, Graham. Fingerprints of the Gods: Evidence of Earth’s Lost Civilization. New York: Crown Publishers, 1995. Hancock, Underworld; the Mysterious Origins of Civilization. New York, Crown Publishers, 2002.
  5. Email from Andrew Collins on May 19, 2014.
  6. Collins, Andrew. Göbekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, Rochester, VT: Bear & Company, 2014, 49. Wikipedia, “Göbekli Tepe.”
  7. Marianne Carroll, New Moon ceremony for November 25, 2011, when she selected the Birthing Posture. Marianne’s assistance for collecting and inserting the figures for this article is most appreciated.
  8. Clow, Barbara Hand. Catastrophobia: The Truth Behind Earth Changes. Santa Fe, Bear & Company, 2001, 135. (page 152 in Awakening the Planetary Mind, 2011).
  9. Goodman, Felicitas, D. Where The Spirits Ride the Wind: Trance Journeys and Other Ecstatic Experiences. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1990, 101.
  10. www.eisp.org
  11. Where the Spirits Ride the Wind, 107.
  12. Collins, Andrew. From the Ashes of Angels: The Forbidden Legacy of a Forgotten Race. London: Signet, 1966, and The Cygnus Mystery: Unlocking the Ancient Secret of Life’s Origins in the Cosmos, London: Watkins, 2006.
  13. Collins, Andrew, “Cosmic Rays and Cygnus X-3.” New Dawn Magazine, March/April, 2010.
  14. Collins, Göbekli Tepe, 177.
  15. Ibid. 215-21.
  16. Wikipedia: “Göbekli Tepe.”
  17. Collins, Göbekli Tepe. 105-8.
  18. Clow, Barbara Hand. Alchemy of Nine Dimensions; The 2011/12 Prophecies and Nine Dimensions of Consciousness. Charlottesville, Va.: Hampton Roads, 2010.
  19. Collins, Göbekli Tepe. 94.
  20. Ibid., 102.
  21. Collins, Göbekli Tepe. 106.
  22. Ulansey, David. The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  23. Ibid. 106-8.
  24. NEO-LITHICS 1/01, Marc Verhoeven “Person or Penis? Interpreting a ‘New’ PPNB Anthropomorphic Statue from the Taurus Foothills.” Pages 8-9.
  25. Göbekli Tepe. 108.
  26. Ibid. 111.