Pyramid power refers to the supposed paranormal properties of the ancient Egyptian pyramids and objects of similar shape. With this power, model pyramids are imagined to preserve foods, sharpen or maintain the sharpness of razor blades, improve health (some people report having been "so energized that they could not cope with the dynamo effects they experienced"), function "as a thought-form incubator," trigger sexual urges, and cause other dramatic effects.
A French hardware-store owner and pendulum-dowsing author, Antoine Bovis, developed the idea that small models of pyramids can preserve food in the 1930s. Unverifiable stories persist that Bovis stumbled across a paranormal force while standing inside the King's Chamber of the Great Pyramid in Egypt. According to this legend, he saw a garbage can inside the chamber which had been piled with dead animals that had wandered into the structure. Bovis noticed that these small carcasses were not decaying, and inferred that the structure somehow preserved them.
Contradicting this popular version, an account discovered by Junior Skeptic magazine has Bovis denying visiting Egypt. In this self-published French-language booklet Bovis off-handedly ascribes the discovery of pyramid power to armchair reasoning and to experiments in Europe using a dowsing pendulum:
I have supposed that Egyptians were already very good dowsers and had oriented their pyramid by means of rod and pendulum. Being unable to go there to experiment and verify the radiations of the Keops Pyramid, I have built with cardboard some pyramids that you can see now, and I was astonished when, having built a regular pyramid and oriented it, I found the positive at the East, the negative at the West, and at the North and the South, dual-positive and dual-negative.
Despite the legend, the idea that pyramids could preserve food was not a result of a chance discovery made while standing inside the Great Pyramid, but followed from Bovis's previous convictions regarding dowsing:
A new supposition: since with the help of our positive 2000° magnetic plates we can mummify small animals, could the pyramid have the same property? I tried, and as you can observe with the small fish and the little piece of meat still hanging, I succeeded totally.
In 1949, inspired by Bovis, a Czechoslovakian named Karel Drbal applied for a patent on a "Pharaoh's shaving device": a model pyramid alleged to maintain the sharpness of razor blades. According to the patent (#91,304), "The method of maintaining the razor blades and straight razor blades sharp by placing them in the magnetic field in such a way that the sharp edge lies in the direction of the magnetic lines." Drbal alleged that his device would focus "the earth's magnetic field", although he did not make it clear how this would work, or whether the device's shape or materials exerted the effect.
Drbal's contention that razors could be sharpened (or have their sharpness maintained) by alignment with the points of the compass or the Earth's magnetic field was probably not original to him. Junior Skeptic magazine discovered exactly similar claims published decades earlier. In 1933, The Times of London carried letters claiming, "if I oriented my razor blades…N. and S. by the compass…they tend to last considerably longer" and "The idea of keeping razor blades in a magnetic field is not quite new. About the year 1900 I found this out…."
In 1968, paranormal authors Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder visited Czechoslovakia, where they happened across a cardboard pyramid manufactured commercially by Drbal. They met with Drbal, then dedicated a chapter of their popular 1970 book Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain to pyramid power. This book introduced to the English-speaking world both the concept of pyramid power and the apocryphal origin story about Antoine Bovis.
Origin of the term
Debate continues over who coined the term "pyramid power". Author Max Toth has claimed he coined the phrase, as has Patrick Flanagan. In the 1970s, both authors released books entitled Pyramid Power. This led to a lawsuit by Flanagan against Toth, according to Toth.
However, the term "pyramid power" in the context of its current usage first appeared in print in Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder's 1970 book Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain. Ostrander and Schroeder claim that "Czechoslovakian researchers" coined the term in the 1960s.
It is common in New Age magazines to see advertisements for open metal-poled pyramids large enough to meditate under. The New Age group Share International, founded by Benjamin Creme, practices a form of meditation called Transmission Meditation in which they meditate under an open metal-poled tetrahedron; they believe that by doing so, they are tuning into cosmic energy radiating from a cosmic entity known as Maitreya.
Influenced by Erich von Däniken’s claims that Egyptian mummies had been preserved by some process unknown to science, pyramid power became quite a craze in the world of pseudoscience for a brief time in the mid-1970s. The idea was that the pyramidal shape itself was magical and filled with a mysterious energy and power... Pyramid power claims have actually been tested. Alter (1973) and Simmons (1973) showed that pyramid-shaped containers were no more effective than any other shape at preserving organic matter (flowers or meat) placed in them. Nor did putting dull razor blades in a pyramid-shaped holder restore them to sharpness, contrary to a frequent claim of pyramid power promoters.
In 2005, an episode of MythBusters was aired on the Discovery Channel in which a basic test of pyramid power was performed, using pyramids built to the specifications found in pyramid power claims, such as using the location of the King's Chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza. Several scenarios were tested: food rotting, a flower rotting, and a razor blade going dull. With control protocols in place, there was no significant difference between items in pyramids and items outside.
- Bovis, Antoine. "Excerpt from Exposé de M.A. Bovis au Congrès International de Radiotellerie à Nice". (Nice: Bovis, c. 1935). Translation by Jean-Paul Buquet. Skeptic.com. Retrieved November 24, 2008.
- Drbal, Karel. Patenti Spis c. 91304. (Prague: 1959).
- Toth, Max, and Greg Nielson. Pyramid Power. (New York: Warner Destiny, 1976). 165.
- Toth, Max, and Greg Nielson. Pyramid Power. (New York: Warner Destiny, 1976). 177.
- De Mattia, Joan Ann. “Enjoying the Fruits of Pyramid Energy.” Pyramid Power, edited by Max Toth and Greg Nielson. (New York: Warner Destiny, 1976). 198.
- Drbal, Karel. "The Struggle for the Pyramid Patent." Pyramid Power, edited by Max Toth and Greg Nielson. (New York: Warner Destiny, 1976). 143.
- Loxton, Daniel. "Junior Skeptic #23: Pyramid Power". (Altadena: Skeptics Society, 2006). 81–83
- Laigaard, Jens. "excerpt from Chapter Eight of Pyramideenergien – kritisk undersøgelse". (1999). Translation by Daniel Loxton and Jens Laigaard. Skeptic.com. Retrieved November 24, 2008.
- Ostrander, Sheila, and Lynn Schroeder. Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain. (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1970). 340.
- Loxton, Daniel. "Junior Skeptic #23: Pyramid Power". (Altadena: Skeptics Society, 2006). 83
- Bovis, Antoine. "Exposé de M.A. Bovis au Congrès International de Radiotellerie à Nice" (PDF). (Nice: Bovis, c. 1935.) PDF scan of original hosted at Skeptic.com.
- Drbal, Karel. “The Struggle for the Pyramid Patent.” Pyramid Power, edited by Max Toth and Greg Nielson. (New York: Warner Destiny, 1976). 141.
- Drbal, Karel. "Patenti Spis c. 91304. (Prague: 1959).". English translation hosted at www.amasci.com. Retrieved November 2008.
- Loxton, Daniel. "Junior Skeptic #23: Pyramid Power". (Altadena: Skeptics Society, 2006). 88.
- Loxton, Daniel. "Junior Skeptic #23: Pyramid Power". (Altadena: Skeptics Society, 2006). 82.
- Coleridge, Gilbert. Letter. The Times. 7 Oct. 1933.
- Grange, William D’Oyly. Letter. The Times. 19 Oct. 1933.
- Ostrander, Sheila, and Lynn Schroeder. Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain. (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1970). 339-340.
- Ostrander, Sheila, and Lynn Schroeder. Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain. (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1970). 342.
- Loxton, Daniel. "A Conversation with Max Toth". Skeptic.com. Retrieved 1 December 2008.
- Toth, Max, and Greg Nielson. Pyramid Power. (New York: Warner Destiny, 1976).
- Flanagan, Patrick. Pyramid Power (Santa Monica: Pyramid Power – V, Inc, 1975).
- Ostrander, Sheila, and Lynn Schroeder. Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain. (New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1970). 339-348.
- page 431
- Pyramid House website
- (Satellite via Google)
- (Summerhill Winery Pyramid Story)
- Linse, Pat. (2002). Pyramids: The Mystery of Their Origins. In Michael Shermer. The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience. ABC-CLIO. pp. 397-412. ISBN 1-57607-654-7 "If pyramid power really existed it would be wonderful indeed... But no scientific tests to date have managed to detect it."
- Neher, Andrew. (2011). Paranormal and Transcendental Experience: A Psychological Examination. Dover Publications. pp. 262-264. ISBN 0-486-26167-0 "There is no satisfactory evidence to support the theory of pyramid power. Although the pyramids are impressive structures, their particular construction—their shape and geographical orientation—does not seem to be capable of altering fundamental physical processes."
- Hines, Terence. (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. p. 306. ISBN 1-57392-979-4
- Alter, A. (1973). The Pyramid and Food Dehydration. New Horizons 1: 92-94.
- Simmons, D. (1973). Experiments on the Alleged Sharpening of Razor Blades and the Preservation of Flowers by Pyramids. New Horizons 1: 95-101.