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The Photon Belt (also called the Photon Band, Photon Ring, Manasic Ring, or Golden Nebula) is a spiritual belief, largely linked to some parts of the New Age Movement. It postulates that a belt or ring of photons is going to envelop the Earth, causing a cataclysm and/or initiating a spiritual transition, with the time period leading up to "the Shift" referred to as "The Quickening." The concept of the Photon Belt also ties into various phenomena including belief in extraterrestrial intelligence and 2012 millenarianism.
The core of the Photon Belt beliefs is that there is an immense belt of photons orbiting around the Pleiades. According to some New Age beliefs, Earth will pass through this belt of photons, resulting either in humanity's elevation to a higher plane of existence, the end of the world, or both. Authors Virginia Essene (born 1928) and Sheldon Nidle write that the Photon Belt represents a temporary window for spiritual transition during which time humans can reach a higher level of existence, which they term the "galactic" level.
German engineer and esotericist Paul Otto Hesse (died December 30, 1958) described his beliefs about the Photon Belt and its impact on humanity and planet Earth in his book Der Jüngste Tag (First Edition, 1950) (English:'The Last Day','Doomsday','Judgement Day'). This book was dictated to him by "the Word". Citing Mark 13:32, he says no one can know exactly when we will enter the photon belt.
Samael Aun Weor, who adopted the idea in the late 1970s, refers to the Photon Belt as "Alcyone's rings" (or "the rings of Alcyone"). Weor claims that "Alcyone is the principal sun of the Pleiades and in its orbit gravitate seven suns, our sun being the seventh which circles Alcyone." According to Weor, Alcyone has rings made of "radiation" caused by the "splitting of the electron." Weor refers to this "radiation" as "manasic" (from the Sanskrit term for the mind, manas), and indicates that "it in some way relates to [the distinction between] the inferior manas (lower mind or lower self) and the superior manas (higher mind or Higher Self)." Weor purports that "the electrons in Alcyone's rings release a type of unknown energy".
A number of predictions have been made as to the date of Earth's collision with the Photon Belt. So far, no observable effects attributable to the photon belt have been seen on those dates. Dates so far given have included 1992, 1997 and 2011.
While the concept of the Photon Belt is a part of New Age philosophy, some parts of the story can be analyzed scientifically. There is no scientific evidence for the existence of any sort of "photon belt."
- A photon is a boson--one of the elementary particles that carry the four forces of physics--in this case, the force that produces light, i.e., the electromagnetic force. To the extent that such a thing as a "photon belt" is physically possible, it would require the gravitational pull of a black hole, with light rays being bent around the black hole near the event horizon, forming a photon sphere. Barring interaction with gravity or matter, photons otherwise always travel in straight lines.
- Alcyone is a star in the Pleiades cluster, some 440 light-years away. The core of the Pleiades cluster is approximately 8 light-years across. The Sun, and with it the Earth, is moving away from Alcyone.
- Virginia Essene and Sheldon Nidle - You are Becoming a Galactic Human (Santa Clara, CA: Spiritual Education Endeavors Publishing Company, 1994) (ISBN 0937147087).
- Der Jüngste Tag (The Last Day) (Bietigheim/Württemberg: Turm-Verlag, 5th Edition, 1995) (ISBN 3799902392) by Paul Otto Hesse - Referenced in: Die Transformation der Materie by Edwin Zimmerli (English translation)
- M. Kahir, Nahe an 2000 Jahre. Gegenwart und Zukunft in prophetischer Schau. Turm-Verlag Bietigheim/Württ, 6. Aufl. 1981, pp. 309-318.
- Is the earth about to enter the Photon Belt, causing the end of life as we know it?, The Straight Dope, September 13, 1996
- NASA article about visual distortions near a black hole