I, Pilgrim Morgash, didn’t set out to become a spokesperson for an alien civilization or for a secret society of women but that is what I have become. It is not a role that sits comfortably with me so my intention is simple — to share with you the information I have acquired as quickly as I can.
You may love this book or you may hate this book, you may find it insightful, life changing, or plain rubbish. Whatever conclusion you come to is one I have no control over whatsoever. You will think, and feel, what you choose to.
A few months ago.
King’s Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Conference: Women’s Societies in Myths and Legends.
I walked towards the podium with Clifford, a golden retriever, at my side. All eyes focused on me, and within seconds, there was total silence. This was my first public appearance since the shooting.
Two years ago, whilst making a presentation at a Mind and Life conference with the Dalai Lama in America, I was shot in the head. My book, The Bible: Human not Divine, had upset a fundamentalist Christian enough to make him want to kill a fifty-year-old academic woman.
I was fortunate. The trajectory of the bullet and the exceptional medical care I received led to a recovery that many saw as miraculous.
At the podium, I organised my papers, looked up at the audience and smiled. The hall erupted in applause and everyone rose to their feet. I froze for a few seconds. Then, after reassuring Clifford, I walked to the centre of the stage. Pressing my hands together I bowed deeply.
It took a few minutes before silence returned to the hall but, when it did, it was once again complete.
‘Thank you,’ I said. ‘That was very kind of you. It would be a lie to tell you that I wasn’t nervous about speaking in public again but I will not let the actions of one individual change the way I lead my life.’
The audience once more began to clap but I raised a hand to silence them.
‘I appreciate your show of support very, very much. It has been a long road to recovery but I am back... Back in the real world as well as on line.’
This time I could not stop the applause and had to wait until it abated naturally. When it did, I said, ‘Before I start my presentation I would like to introduce you to Clifford.’
There was a roar of ‘Hello Clifford’ to which Clifford responded with a single woof and a lot of tail wagging.
I continued, ‘Clifford is a seizure predicting dog and will bark to warn me if I am about to have a seizure. Should this happen during this presentation I will sit down until it passes.’ I indicated the chair behind me. ‘Nobody needs to do anything — it will be over in seconds. So, let us begin.’
I pointed at the screen behind me and read out the title of the lecture. ‘The Zanskar Scrolls: Women Guardians of the Truth?’ And then I began.
‘Imagine knowing the origins of life.
Imagine being able to explain all the mysteries of life.
Imagine understanding the meaning of your life.
Now, most of us simply do not have a good enough imagination but perhaps we don’t need one.
Recent finds from the Himalayas would suggest that all these answers were already known to our ancestors and that somewhere they still exist.
The Zanskar scrolls, as they are known, are literally a few pages of writing that were found hidden in a protective coating in a river near Padum, the capital of Zanskar. The man who found them opened the package and by doing so sealed their fate.
A literate man he tried to read them but whilst the writing appeared to be Tibetan he found he could not understand the words. He placed them at the back of the family altar intending to show them to one of the monks at the nearby monastery.
A few months later the man died. The scrolls remained hidden behind the altar until, some years later, his granddaughter decided to reorganise the room and found them. By that time, they had become damaged — the exposure to the elements had faded the writing so that most of the words were illegible.
The granddaughter, Chinpa Zangmo, didn’t know what they were but recognised that they were old and may be important so she placed them in her box of precious things. Two years ago, a colleague of mine was visiting Zanskar and stayed with Chinpa’s family. The young girl showed her Western guest her box of treasures and the scrolls were discovered.
Chinpa’s grandmother remembered her husband telling her how he found them in the river. He’d never mentioned them to her again. She thought he’d taken them to the monastery and been told they were just some old prayers or someone’s family history. The Western guest took the scrolls to the local monastery but no one there was able to translate the fragments of text that were still visible.
The scrolls were brought back to the UK and underwent many tests. They were found to be more than 3500 years old. The language was difficult to translate but some fragments were eventually unravelled and agreed upon by the scholars working on them.
The teachings recorded on the scrolls were first hidden millions of years ago — at a time when we thought humanity, as we know it today, did not exist.
The teachings state that humans like us have been around for millions of years. Societies have risen and fallen countless times. Sometimes their demise has been because of humanity’s actions, at other times because of climate or environmental change.
Apparently, the teachings have been preserved across all times and across all lands and probably translated into local languages. The teachings are frequently shared but at least one set is always hidden so that the original teachings are preserved intact. As the Zanskar scrolls appear to be providing background information, researchers believe that they are the first in a sequence of twelve.
The guardians of the teachings have always been women. Never men. Always women. And women who have been organised enough to preserve the teachings across millions of years. In secret.
You could search all that we know today about secret societies and you will find no mention of this society of women. Why? Not because they may not exist but because all the secret societies we know about are run by men for men. And, it would appear, that men are bad at keeping secrets...’
As the laughter faded away, Clifford nudged my legs and barked. I stepped back and sat down. A few seconds later I stroked Clifford’s head, stepped back to the podium and continued.
‘Our current knowledge of myths is limited to the last few thousand years. And most of the myths and legends we now read, and study, have been passed down by men so that we have very little information from the perspective of women.
The story described in the Zanskar scrolls is very unusual because it indicates a history for humans vastly older than any we thought possible. It also indicates a role of supreme importance for women that we never knew existed.
This longer history is, I believe, hinted at in our more familiar myths, religions, and histories. There are many unexplained elements — of beings that do not seem human, of superhuman beings known as Gods and Goddesses, of technologies that we don’t believe were available, and of catastrophic events that led to only small population groups surviving.
Perhaps these are not fiction but fragments of memories from our past — memories that have been interpreted to fit in with whatever the cultural status quo is at any given time.
And, perhaps the only truly secret society has been one of women and, whilst that secrecy may now have been very slightly blown, it is intriguing that none of our secret society historians have ever suspected that such a group exists. Why has there never even been any speculation about this group? Is it just because the writers have been men and simply not able to imagine that women could have a society that was not just secret but incredibly powerful?
If the story hinted at in the Zanskar scrolls turns out to be true then it will mean that the only truly successful secret society has been organised and run by women.
Now let us look at the scrolls themselves.’
The images I displayed showed how fragile and in a state of decay most of the scrolls were.
‘We have six fragments that are still legible enough to be read and these have been examined and translated by a number of scholars in Tibetolgy.
It appears that two fragments came from one document and the others from a different one.
The first two fragments are:
“You shared your home with us,
We thank you.”
“These teachings are the truth.
These teachings are the only truth.”
These are the ones that seem to imply we may be dealing with Visitors from a different planet.’
As I said this, various audience members reacted with disbelief. I raised my hand, ‘Wait,’ I said, ‘you’ll see why that is indicated in a moment.’
Changing the images, I continued. ‘These fragments come from a different document. I am showing them to you in the sequence they appear.
“Many millions of years ago... found hidden valley...
People but not people — taller, thinner with shining light.
The people... met named themselves Visitors. Their home was a different galaxy. Their planet... end of its life.
...chose to let their race die out on our planet... lived for hundreds of years... taught their knowledge to us
...passed teachings to women... charged them with keeping secrets... always women Guardians... only women... share teachings everywhere
...group of women survived many happenings that killed nearly all life on earth... kept teachings safe... twelve always hidden”
Within these fragments, there is a definite implication that a race of beings from a different galaxy lived among us millions of years ago.’
Clifford barked and I sat down.
Less than a minute later I patted Clifford, stood back up and continued. ‘There is also an implication that humans existed millions of years ago. This goes against some religions and many branches of science. So, do we just have fragments of a myth or is it a record of a history we didn’t know about?
I would have said it was a myth but I have recently discovered information that points towards a secret society of women and I cannot help but think they may be descendants of the women mentioned in these scrolls. But, at this stage it is just speculation. All I can do is present what has been found and what we currently know about it.
I can see that some of you are interested and that others of you are immediately dismissive. My own position is one of neither accepting nor dismissing but I am intrigued.’
The audience showed their appreciation with applause but this time it was not as intense and a great deal shorter.
Stella, the conference facilitator, smiled at me as she made her way to the podium.
‘Can I just ask for a show of hands as to how many people wish to ask Pilgrim a question?’
As more than half the audience raised their hands she said, ‘The live stream has also produced a vast number of questions and the conference organisers are of the opinion that we should lay on an extra session just to deal with questions.’ She looked over at me and I nodded my assent.
‘Good. Pilgrim has another lecture this afternoon and we anticipate even more questions so we have moved things around and at four pm we will have a Q & A with Pilgrim in this hall.’
Turning to me, she said, ‘You’ll be joining us for lunch. I know there are lots of people who want to meet you.’
I shook my head, ‘Sorry but I need to walk Clifford so I’ve brought a sandwich with me. I understand there’s a park nearby.’
‘But...’ began Stella and then she looked down at Clifford and up at me. ‘Of course,’ she said.
I got directions from the man on reception and, within minutes, Clifford and I were surrounded by trees and greenery. I sat by the small lake and tried to eat my sandwich while Clifford pottered around exploring unfamiliar smells.
It had been a challenging morning. Just getting from Durham to Newcastle on the train had not been easy and a large city environment was not the best one for a dog — no matter how well trained.
I’d enjoyed delivering the lecture but had loathed having seizures in the middle of it. Embarrassment had replaced exhilaration and now I was beginning to feel exhausted. I’d been nervous about today but had looked forward to it. It was to be the start of returning to my old life as a full-time professor.
Clifford nudged my knees and barked a warning. The seizure passed quickly and I reassured him I was okay. But was I?
Full time teaching, university life, living in the middle of Durham... maybe all these things needed to change. Maybe I needed to find new ways of being rather than being set on returning to my old life.
As odd as it may seem, that was the first time it occurred to me that maybe my life could be, maybe even should be, different.
I forced my attention into the present. My notes were ready for the afternoon’s lecture so Clifford and I had time to walk a little before heading back to the hall.
I pointed at the screen behind me and read the title of the lecture: ‘The 3-60: A Female Secret Society?’’ And then I began.
‘All the histories of secret societies that have been written have only ever focused on men. Women, if they appear at all, in these books are mentioned in passing yet most of the authors claim to have provided comprehensive accounts and world histories. I’ve always felt that something was intrinsically not right about these histories. Surely any truly secret society would not be so easy to discover and write about? Or is it the case that these groups were never that important? Or is it really the case that men are lousy at keeping secrets?
Is it possible that there have been, and maybe still are, secret societies that are women only? Successful secret societies?
Fragments of information are emerging that indicate this may very well be the case. The reason this information is emerging now is quite simply because of the way we can now store, and share, vast amounts of data. In the days before computers you either had to remember something or write it down. Creating books was an expensive process and generally only carried out by publishers. As publishers’ primary interest was in making profits all the detritus of normal everyday life was not recorded in book form.
When recording devices were invented history projects used them to record individual’s stories but, unless transcribed and printed, these were not easily accessible.
Today, digital storage and the internet have changed not just how we keep information but also what information we keep — it is now possible to keep everything regardless of its quality or perceived significance.
It is definitely the case that we are keeping a lot of rubbish. But what appears like rubbish to one person may be treasure to another. It is all a matter of perspective and interest.
I have to confess that secret societies have always bored me. My specialism has been Heroines and Goddesses so secret societies which were always groups of men pursuing a particular interest or theory were of little interest to me. I’m not even sure that I would have been drawn to the Three-Sixty if it hadn’t been for a very personal connection that first brought them to my attention. Let me explain.
My Aunt Meredith was an intrepid explorer. She travelled alone for decades. Sometimes staying in one place for a couple of years to follow an interest or to simply to earn some money. I always admired her sense of adventure and her ability to feel free.
She always had stories to tell of near misses, magic, adventure, and characters larger than life. I don’t know if she ever actually mentioned the Three-Sixty to me, or my parents, but she certainly knew about them. That information was almost lost.
When she died I inherited everything she owned — boxes, crates, trunks, and suitcases full of artefacts, old films, taped interviews, and notebooks recording her travels and detailing her interests. Her death took place many years ago and it wasn’t until after I faced my own mortality that I found the time to look at what she had collected.
Whilst recovering from the shooting, I spent hours over a number of months curled up on a sofa reading Meredith’s accounts of her travels and interests. One of her interests was what she called the Three-Sixty.
She had spent two years in Tibet studying the language, Buddhism and meditation. At a monastery near Lhasa, which she was visiting with her teacher, she was mistaken for a westerner they were expecting.
This, in her words, is what happened:
“It was a most puzzling experience. I was warmly embraced and thanked for bringing the teachings to be checked. I was told I would meet with one of the Three the next day. I nodded and smiled quite sure that I had misunderstood what was being said.
The next morning a most startlingly beautiful young woman approached me, took both of my hands in hers, and apologised for the misunderstanding. I said in faltering Tibetan that the fault must surely be mine because of my limited language skills. We both smiled and continued on with our day.
The following day, my teacher decided that she must visit Lhasa. I was forbidden to travel with her because few foreigners were allowed in Tibet and, whilst we managed to keep me hidden in the rural areas, the capital city posed more challenges. I would do nothing to bring trouble to my teacher and her students so I stayed in the monastery. I was helping in the kitchen when my beautiful nun entered. Everyone fell to their knees and touched their foreheads to the ground. Assuming they were showing respect for a teacher, I did the same.
The nun asked us all to rise and asked for some tea to take outside. The tea was made and the beauty departed. I asked, ‘Is she teacher?’
‘She is one of the Three,’ was the answer.
‘What is this Three?’ I asked my companion at the chopping board.
‘They are leaders of our Three-Sixty.’
I nodded as if I understood. I so desperately wanted to know more but instinct told me to keep quiet for now.
On our journey back to our monastery I asked my teacher, ‘What is the Three-Sixty?’
She laughed, ‘You have been listening to kitchen tales!’
I nodded. That was exactly what I had been doing.
‘They are a secret society of ladies who guard the true teachings,’ she said.
‘Buddha’s teachings?’ I asked
‘No,’ she said, ‘much older.’
‘Do you know these teachings?’
‘Maybe, maybe not, I don’t know,’ she said.
‘You are a Three-Sixty?’ I asked.
‘Yes and no,’ she said and laughed. ‘You already have been told too much so we must not talk about it anymore. Okay?’
Well no it wasn’t okay, but she was my teacher and I had to respect her wishes.”
Meredith’s next entry that mentions the 3-60 is a few months later when she is planning to leave Tibet. She writes, “My only regret is not having been able to find out more about the 3-60. I did try but no one would speak of them any further. Was any of it true? I don’t know.”
Meredith left Tibet and worked in a Hospital in India throughout the Second World War. Afterwards she continued with her travels. Wherever she went she asked women about the 3-60. Virtually all her notebooks end with the line “No info on the 3-60” except for one.
In 1962 she was trekking in Chile. On arriving in La Serena, a town on the southern edge of the Atacama Desert, she slipped, cut and broke her foot. She was forced to stay in the local area but had very little money and was living in a tent. She developed an infection and woke to find herself in a convent being looked after by nuns. Apparently, the couple who ran the camp site had asked them to help.
Meredith was nursed back to health and enjoyed her time with the nuns. Once well enough she began walking each day to build up her strength. On her return to the convent one afternoon she noticed something strange. I’ll let her tell you what she saw in her own words.
“It had been very hot and I’d forgotten my hat. I arrived back at base grumpy and miserable. It was a relief to enter the coolness of the cloister and I just sank to the ground enjoying the shade and the cool earth. On the other side of the wall, two sisters had stopped and were talking about preparing for a trip to check teaching five. One of them was quite animated as this was to be her first assignment.
I was puzzled but honestly still too stressed to care about anything other than being cool. My throat was really dry and I started coughing and making some awful choking noises. The two sisters rushed around to see if I was okay, fetched me some water and insisted on walking me to the infirmary. On the way a door opened in a wall that had no door. I know that sounds insane but it is what I saw. My two companions simply walked me past it.
I went back later in the day but could find no sign of any type of door. I asked the nun who had been excited about her first assignment and she said I had misheard her — she was excited about a trip home to visit her parents and of course there wasn’t a door. She said I had been hallucinating as a result of too much sun and not enough water.
The next day the doctor gave me the all clear to begin my journey again and I left.”
Okay, so no direct mention of the 3-60 but certainly women acting unusually. It could have been a hallucination except that years later an x-ray of Meredith’s foot showed no sign of a break. A misdiagnosis by the first hospital perhaps? No. She had kept her first x-ray and it very clearly showed a broken bone. She noted in her journal:
“I remember them placing herb poultices around my foot and giving me some foul concoctions to drink but a total healing? It hadn’t occurred to me before but, nine years later, as I look back I realise I have not had a single day of illness — not even a headache.
I think I had met members of another 3-60 and these women are very skilled healers. They can also build secret doors and if they have secret doors they must have things to hide.”
Meredith flew back to Chile to visit the convent but it was closed and no one knew where the nuns had gone.
Okay, so just another fragment but definitely a clue. If you are about to dismiss it then ask yourself this — if the story had been about monks and a monastery with hidden doors, assignments and strange healings would you be as quick to dismiss it? It’s interesting isn’t it that we seem quite prepared to accept mystery and intrigue in respect of men but not so much with women.
Just for a moment consider the possibility of a secret society of women that spans the globe — a group of women who have not accepted any of the usual limitations but have forged a path outside of all accepted norms.’
I paused for a few moments and then continued. ‘Okay, so let’s go back to the fragments of evidence and potential clues. This time we are in the UK and not so far from here. The 1990s saw a surge in local history projects recording memories of those who had lived through the Second World War. Time was passing and as people became older, we were in danger of losing first-hand accounts. These stories were recorded on tape and on cassettes. Many were never transcribed until storage of large amounts of data became easier. And, once internet access became widespread these accounts began to find their way online.
I was exploring myths to do with women when I came across a collection of tales linked with Easby Abbey. The abbey, near Richmond in North Yorkshire, now a ruin, dates back to the twelfth century. There had been many reports of ghostly noises coming from the abbey late at night, and dark shadows had been seen moving around the grounds. Standard descriptions of hauntings but one tale of women burying books seemed a little different.
A woman, in her sixties at the time the recording was made, described seeing two women moving mysteriously and hiding books around the abbey. She had been a girl of twelve when she witnessed these apparitions. There were no other accounts of two figures and none relating to women. With a bit of detective work I was able to track down this lady — we’ll call her Jeannie.
Jeannie had lived at a local farm house and used to hide in the abbey grounds with her books to get away from her brothers. She witnessed the two women twice and they were not ghosts. The first time she saw them they were hiding something — she had told the original researcher that it was a book to make the story more believable but her twelve-year old self believed it was a treasure map. She thought the women had found a secret hiding place in one of the stones because it looked like they pushed a cylinder directly into the wall. She had spent hours checking the stones but could find no opening.
Some weeks later she heard voices in the abbey and saw the same two women near the secret hiding place but she couldn’t see if they were hiding something or removing something. Feeling braver this time she approached them and asked them what they were doing. The women seemed unable to answer so Jeannie asked the question she really wanted answering.
“Is it a treasure map?”
One of them had smiled and said, “It might be but not for gold and jewels.”
“What other type of treasures are there?” the young Jeannie had asked.
“Truth,” was the answer she was given by one of the women. Puzzled by the answer and a little uncertain, she could think of nothing else to ask and the women walked back to their car and drove away.
Jeannie had never forgotten the encounter.
Again it’s a fragment but again I ask you — if it had been men hiding cylinders in stone wouldn’t we find it easier to believe?
My last fragment is a story from a seventy-one year old lady called Ruth who was interviewed in 1989 about the blitz in London. Her story was lacking in detail and was not included in the book that followed but all of the tapes from the project were digitised in 2012 and are now accessible online.
Ruth’s voice is quite strong and her story may have been lacking in detail about the blitz but contains some clues regarding the 3-60. Let’s listen.’
I pressed a button on my laptop.
Interviewer: What was the name of the convent?
Ruth: St Bega’s. It was a lovely house. I was very happy there.
Interviewer: Were you a nun?
A long pause.
Ruth: I was a support sister for the Three Sixty. I worked in the kitchen.
Interviewer: Okay. Do you remember the blitz?
Ruth: Oh yes. We were going to move but they, the bad men, found us and we had to stay and then the bombs fell. All the sisters died but I lived because I’d been at the market and gone underground. I fell and broke my leg. I went to live with my brother.
I paused the recording and said. ‘Ruth is asked about what it was like during the bombing but she becomes distressed and the interviewer decides to stop but before he goes he asks her some other questions.’
Interviewer: Thank you Ruth. Before I go would you tell me what the Three Sixty was?
There is the sound of a woman laughing.
Ruth: It’s a secret.
Ruth: A secret society.
Interviewer: A secret society?
Ruth: Yes. Ladies only.
Interviewer: A ladies only secret society? Were you a member?
Ruth: Sort of. A bit in but a bit out. They all died, you know, at the abbey. And because I was only a bit in and the war was happening I couldn’t find the others.
Interviewer: There were other members outside of St Bega’s?
There is a pause.
Ruth: I don’t know.
The sound of crying fills the tape and the recording ends.
I looked out into the audience.
‘There was a convent in London called St Bega’s. And, in 1939 the convent had been in the process of moving to a large country house near Richmond literally a few miles away from Easby Abbey. They didn’t complete the move because, when war was declared, the property was requisitioned by the army.
I so wanted to know more about the 3-60 and who the “bad men” were but Ruth died in 1992 and Paul who interviewed her had no additional information.
It is very tempting to think that the 3-60 is linked with the women guardians mentioned in the Zanskar scrolls but the truth is we don’t know.
It is my hope that, by sharing these fragments and clues, someone listening or reading a transcript of this lecture will also have some fragments of information. Let me know if you have.’
Questions were shouted out, a TV crew had arrived and demanded an interview, and after three seizures in a row I was escorted out of the hall into a quiet room. I sat alone with Clifford.
The reaction in the hall was exactly what I had wanted but everything about the day had been a shock to my system. I did not feel the exhilaration I had expected. I felt numb. I can’t even say I just wanted to go home. At that moment I knew nothing for certain.
By the time the planned Q & A session started, more than one million people had watched one or both of my lectures.
As the first question about the age of humanity was asked, the fire alarm sounded and the building was evacuated. A fault was found within the electrical system and the building was closed for the rest of the day. I promised to try deal with some of the questions on my blog.
I didn’t. When I got home, I turned my phone of and went to bed.
Thousands of emails had filled my inbox overnight. The lecture videos had thousands of comments as did every entry on my blog. As I scrolled through some of them I found the usual ones posting messages that wished I’d died when I’d been shot, that who the hell did I think I was and so on...
My phone had run out of space in its message store and there were a couple of journalists waiting outside my house.
I phoned for a taxi and within the hour Clifford and I were in the quiet of my university office. Not surprisingly a string of seizures took place one after another. To bring them, and myself, under control I sat quietly and placed my attention solely on my breathing until a sense of calm began to spread through me.
I reminded myself that I could experience calm regardless of what was happening outside of myself. I was playing mind games but they worked. I knew I could relax enough to avoid becoming upset each time a seizure happened and sometimes I could reduce the number of seizures. It just wasn’t easy. As Clifford barked indicating yet another seizure was starting there was a knock on my door.
When the seizure passed, I looked up to see a young woman with very short blonde hair dressed completely in black standing in the doorway. I indicated that she could come in and began to explain about the seizures but she already knew about them — she had watched me having seizures on the videos. It was hard work stopping myself from cringing — I really had not anticipated the degree of exposure I’d received.
‘Now, how can I help?’ I asked her.
‘I think it’s me that can help you,’ she said. ‘I’ve got quite a lot of info that indicates the 3-60 did exist, might even exist today.’
I asked her what she had found.
She smiled, ‘It’s actually quite amazing. St. Bega’s was a front for the 3-60. On the outside it was like a Christian convent but within it the 3-60 had their UK headquarters.’
I interrupted her, ‘Before you carry on please tell me your name.’
‘Sally. Sally Elbec.’
‘Okay Sally. Can you tell me how you know these things? Did you find something?’
Sally nodded. ‘Lots. Journals, notebooks, stories, and...’
A knock at the door interrupted her. ‘Sorry Professor but the Chancellor is waiting’, said a young man.
I suggested Sally return later that day which she agreed to do.
I breathed deeply to compose myself so I could survive the meeting with the chancellor without a seizure — a meeting about the publicity that had been triggered by the lectures. The chancellor was not impressed with some of the media attention which was highly critical and sceptical of my theories and the weekend papers would probably continue the coverage.