Energy, Evolution and Eventually Even Effervescent Elves?

“Each stage of evolutionary history has its characteristic metabolic chemistry. By protecting and promoting mitochondrial respiration we are contributing to our own evolution.”

Ray Peat

Part 1: Mojo and Mitochondria.

sex sex sex

sex sex sex 666

Mitochondria are the organelles responsible for energy production in the cell, it is within the mitochondria where food, in the form of carbohydrates, fats and protein, is oxidised to produce energy. The metabolism of glucose involves a step that happens outside of the mitochondria and without the need for oxygen, glycolysis which converts glucose to pyruvate, pyruvate then enters the mitochondria, where it is converted to acetyl-CoA which then enters the citric acid (Krebs/TCA) cycle where it is oxidised producing carbon dioxide, and water, NADH, enters the electron transport chain and is oxidized to NAD+, in healthy cells there is a high ratio of NAD+ to NADH,  increased NADH is found in multiple diseases including diabetes and cancer. The citric acid cycle is the key pathway that is common to carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. For each molecule of glucose  2 ATP are produced during glycolysis, and around 30 molecules of ATP from the mitochondrial phases, in theory more ATP could be produced but some degree of uncoupling usually occurs. If there is a lack of oxygen or something inhibits mitochondria pyruvate will be fermented to lactate.

Mitochondria in addition to being the site of energy production have other roles, they are involved in hormone production and response, being the site where cholesterol is converted into protective steroid hormones such as pregnenolone, progesterone and DHEA. Mitochondria play roles in cell identity and differentiation. They can vary in size and shape from simple rod and elliptical structures to complex extensive interconnected networks in cells with high energy demands such as muscle cells of the heart and diaphragm. These variations in size, shape and location are all responsive to changes in demands placed on their cells. Their activity is involved in generating a formative field.

The extensive mitochondrial networks result from an increase in mitochondrial fusion, simpler mitochondrial structures from fission processes. A balance between fusion and fission is essential to cell function, imbalances in either direction can cause problems. Generally fission (fragmentation) of mitochondria results in a decrease in oxidative metabolism, increased fission is associated with cell division, dedifferentiation, apoptosis, lowered cytochrome oxidase (a fundamental respiratory enzyme), increased glycolysis, and a range of diseases including diabetes, Huntington’s, and cancer. Fission is increased by high glucose levels, perhaps as it allows for increased glycolysis and pyruvate uptake if sustained it seems likely to encourage the fermentation of pyruvate into lactate. Glucose deprivation enhances mitochondrial fusion.

Images showing mitochondrial networks in neurons from normal mice and mice used to model Huntington's:

Images showing mitochondrial networks in neurons from normal mice and mice used to model Huntington’s (transgenic BACHD): healthy evenly distributed mitochondria along dendritic branches in WT neurons, in BACHD neurons mitochondria are fragmented and rarefied, with deformed dendrites and less branching (Shirendeb et al.2012).

Increased Mitochondrial fusion is associated with increased oxidative respiration, increased cytochrome oxidase, increased cell differentiation and specialisation. Denervation and disuse of tissues increases fission, use increases mitochondrial fusion (Iqbal et al. 2013).

Mitochondrial volume and activity decrease with aging, (Ratel et al. 2008). Mammals have more mitochondria than reptiles as well as more active mitochondria, with these mitochondria taking up a greater volume of their cells, some mammals having a sixfold greater oxidative capacity than reptiles (Else and Hulbert 1981).

Part 2: Accelerated Adaptation.

“A proposed law of aromorphosis: that the retardation of the flow of energy in living systems tends toward a maximum; in animals this would imply a trend toward larger-brained, longer lived and probably warmer animals, having a higher energy charge.”

Ray Peat

Human Accelerated Regions (HARs) are segments of the human genome that are conserved extensively within vertebrate evolution but are strikingly different in humans (even when compared to chimpanzees). They were identified by Katherine Pollard and other researchers, 202 HARs were identified with 49 of them being considered highly significant. They are numbered according to their degree of difference from chimpanzee equivalents, HAR1 being the most different (Pollard et al. 2006). Their striking degree of difference suggests that they have undergone a particularly rapid evolution, suggesting that conventional ideas about evolution as a slow mechanical process may need to be reconsidered.

HAR20 codes for the protein peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma co-activator 1-alpha (PGC-1A), this makes it unusual among the human accelerated regions (HARs) as most of the others are non-coding, they do not encode proteins, non-coding DNA has previously been described as junk DNA, it makes up 98.5% of the human genome.

PGC-1A both induces mitochondrial biogenesis (increasing mitochondrial volume, and creating new mitochondria), and modulates the composition and function of individual mitochondria.

PGC-1A was originally discovered in brown fat cells, brown fat contains more mitochondria than white fat, increased levels of BAT (brown adipose tissue) are found in children. PGC-1A can increase mitochondria in white adipose tissue converting it to brown or beige (intermediate between white and brown). Exposure to cold can increase PGC-1A.

PGC-1A increases mitochondrial mass and oxygen consumption, lowered mitochondrial function is involved in multiple diseases some of these may involve impaired PGC-1A including Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

PGC-1A can be increased by muscular activity especially endurance activity. PGC-1A both causes the conversion of type 2 fast white glycolytic fibres to type 1 slow red oxidative fibres, and is expressed at higher levels by type1 red oxidative fibres with increased mitochondrial density, extensive capillary supply and increased nerve supply (Lin et al. 2002). Type 1 fibres are those fibres that are involved in maintaining body posture as their constant activity requires intense respiratory support, type 2 fibres are capable of exerting more explosive force but they lack the fine motor control of type 1. An increased ratio of type 1 to type 2 fibres is present in humans compared to our primate relatives.

More on muscle and metabolism here:

Muscle, metabolism, mitochondria and metamorphic mutation Magick

PGC-1A increases oxidative metabolism but lowers reactive oxygen species production (ROS) inducing the expression of ROS lowering enzymes (Austin and St. Pierre 2012).

PGC-1A increases UCP1 and mitochondrial uncoupling, uncoupling is an incompletely understood phenomenon where oxidative metabolism and oxygen consumption is uncoupled from ATP production, it is sometimes considered a wasteful process but it appears to be beneficial. One of the main sites of uncoupled respiration is brown fat where it acts to increase heat production, however heat production might not be it’s main function as often a significant amount of respiratory energy (in rats 20-25%) goes into uncoupling (Brand 2000). Uncoupling may also increase longevity, mice with the highest metabolism, most uncoupling had 17% higher oxygen consumption used 30% more energy and lived 36% longer than mice with the lowest metabolism (Speakman et al. 2004). Uncoupled mitochondria produce increased carbon dioxide as a result of their increased oxygen consumption.

Uncoupling is neuroprotective, protecting against excitotoxicity and reducing damage in the cortex by around 50% after traumatic brain injury (Maragos and Korde 2004).

Predictably mammals have more mitochondrial uncoupling than reptiles (Akhmerov 1986).

Uncoupling is associated with increased mitochondrial fusion ( Golic et al. 2014). PGC-1A promotes the expression of Mfn2 a protein involved in mitochondrial fusion.

Uncoupling increases mitochondrial oxygen consumption and lowers ROS, I think this supports the idea that oxidative metabolism is in some sense like a whirlwind, potentially self-intensifying. An increased metabolism coheres the respiratory apparatus, electrons (energy) travels through it without escaping to react inappropriately as might happen when less intense producing ROS. Alternatively the intense metabolism could be likened to a fierce flame burning bright without smoke, a less intense metabolism would be like a faint flame forming filthy fumes.

The increased carbon dioxide produced by uncoupled mitochondria dilate blood vessels assisting in bringing increased blood flow and oxygen, generally acts to protect proteins from oxidation and increase the coherence of the organism (Ray Peat has written extensively on the biology of carbon dioxide, there are a couple of articles on this site also).

The natriuretic peptides released by the heart when it is stretched by increased blood flow act in part by increasing PGC-1A (Engeli et al. 2012).

More on the natriuretic peptides here:

Heart hormones, Inversions and Immortality

Deletion of PGC-1A  results in vascular aging and atherosclerosis as well as decreasing telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), telomere shortening is involved in DNA damage, mitochondrial dysfunction, multiple diseases and general aging. TERT maintains telomere length, telomeres are the regions at the ends of chromosomes that protect the chromosome from deterioration or fusing with neighbouring chromosomes. Telomeres shorten during cell division. PGC-1A increases TERT, restoring telomere length ( Xiong et al. 2015). *BANG* What was that sound? Oh I think that was the final nail in the coffin of the Hayflick limit.

Low PGC-1A appears to be involved in multiple neurodegenerative diseases, including Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and ALS, increasing PGC-1A appears to be protective and therapeutic against neurodegeneration, PGC-1A increases neuronal mitochondrial biogenesis, and nerve tissue like all highly metabolic tissues usually produces high levels of PGC-1A, thought, perception, intelligence and sensitivity are all dependent on energy.

As mentioned earlier most of the human genome consists of noncoding DNA, less than 2% encodes proteins, the majority of the Human Accelerated Regions (HARs) are noncoding DNA which is transcribed into non-coding RNA, clearly the “junk DNA” has purpose.

HAR1 is the most accelerated region, in humans it differs from the chimpanzee equivalent by 18 substitutions. The chimpanzee differs from the chicken equivalent by only 2 out of 118 bases (Pollard et al. 2006).

Human and chimpanzee skulls. Image credit D Roberts.

Human and chimpanzee skulls.
Image credit D Roberts.

In humans the RNA produced from HAR1 assumes a clover leaf like formation, in chimps a simpler hairpin like structure, the chimp and human HAR1 also have differing electro-phoretic mobility (Beniaminov et al. 2008).

Exactly how HAR1 functions is unknown, it is expressed in developing human and primate brains, with its expression pattern matching that of the extracellular matrix glycoprotein Reelin. Both HAR1 and Reelin are expressed primarily by Cajal-Retzius cells during development. HAR1 is also expressed in the testes and ovaries.

Reelin’s primary function appears to be in regulating the development of the cortex of the brain, guiding neuronal cell migration and positioning. Modulating synaptic plasticity and stimulating dendrite development. Decreased Reelin is implicated in schizophrenia, autism, Alzheimer’s, and temporal lobe epilepsy. A total lack of reelin results in the condition of lissencephaly, a smooth brain completely lacking the normal extensive gyrification (the cortical convolutions) of the human brain, resulting in profound cognitive impairment. Lissencephaly often occurs with hypotonia and a lack of unsupported sitting.

As evolution advances and the cortex becomes more complex Reelin expression goes up with human brains expressing the most. In mammals the cortex develops from inside to out producing a multilayer cortex, in reptiles the cortex develops outside to inside producing a single layer cortex (Molnar 2007).

Reelin appears to structure the space for cortical growth, supplementing mice with Reelin enhanced cognitive abilities, synaptic plasticity and dendritic spine density (Rogers et al. 2011). Reelin can also be increased through T3 the active thyroid hormone (Sui et al. 2010).

Reelin’s role as a morphogenic regulator is supported by decreased Reelin expression in cancer, with lowered reelin promoting the migration and invasion of cancer into surrounding tissues (Walter and Goggins 2008). Heme-oxygenase-1 a stress inducible protein responsible for the breakdown of heme, producing carbon monoxide and bile pigments, Carbon monoxide is a respiratory toxin and increased heme-oxygenase damages mitochondria and reduces reelin content of the brain, producing schizophrenia like symptoms, heme-oxygenase is also involved in cancer (Song et al. 2012).

Human Accelerated Regions, especially the top five show a strong bias for adenine and thymine substitution to guanine and cytosine suggestive of a directionality, a similar substitution of adenine and thymine for guanine and cytosine has been found in mitochondrial DNA to correlate with increased longevity (Lehmann et al. 2008).

I think the Human Accelerated Regions are highly suggestive that Lamarck was correct acquired characteristics can be inherited, meaning evolution is not some blind mechanical process that acts upon insensate dead matter, that it is essentially a living sensitive capacity of life. There is evidence that this is the case, Barbara McClintock experimenting with maize plants found that when the plants chromosomal ends (telomeres) were damaged, the cell appeared to be able to sense the damage and bring together the ruptured ends of chromosomes. If only a single (rather than a pair) chromosomal end is damaged repair is made more difficult, McClintock found that the cell would make use of mobile genetic elements that could repair the damage and restructure the genome at various levels. This suggests that the genome is not some inert structure mutating randomly, but capable of at least some degree of sensitivity adapting to challenges in a coherent non-random way (McClintock 1983).

John Cairns studying E.coli that were unable to metabolize lactose, found they were able when grown in media in which lactose was the only source of food to generate the necessary mutation to metabolize the lactose and survive. The rate of evolution was orders of magnitude higher than random chance would allow (Cairns and Foster 1991).

Part 3: Even Effervescent Elves.

“If we optimize the known factors which improve energy production (red light, short-chain and medium-chain saturated fats, and pregnenolone, for example), to the extent that our metabolism resembles that of a ten year old child, I don’t think there is any reason to suppose that we wouldn’t have the regenerative and healing abilities that are common at that age. I suspect that both brain growth and remodeling might proceed indefinitely.”

Ray Peat

I’ve written about the starchild skull previously:

The Starchild Skull a third perspective: Aromorphic Evolution

Alien or Elfin?

Alien or Elfin?

The Starchild may represent an early example of some of the evolutionary potential that is available to humans if we can reorient ourselves to a more sensitive understanding of the nature and possibilities of Life.

X-ray of Starchild Skull

X-ray of Starchild Skull

Our biology (biopsychology) is far more mutable and plastic than the dominant cult of genetic determinism supposes. This has been realised by multiple cultures and subcultures, the various spiritual systems at their core are attempts to promote our highest possibilities. Of course corruption co-option and confusion have occurred over time with some developing into authoritarian control systems that have stifled creativity, imagination and evolution producing sick psychic mono-cultures. Even then the core has usually remained intact.

Elongated skull from Paracas Peru. Brien Foerster has some interesting videos of similar skulls on youtube.

Elongated skull from Paracas Peru. Brien Foerster has some interesting videos of similar skulls on youtube.

The elongated skulls found worldwide may represent attempts to actively shape development, changing brain morphology possibly to emphasise certain capacities, these would have involved use of things such as head binding, perhaps these changes in brain morphology produced accumulated epigenetic modifications allowing for after a few generations some of the skulls which appear to have unusually large cranial volumes. The Starchild appears to have a more balanced morphology, and increased neoteny (youthful qualities), and may have occurred as a result of internal modifications rather than external.

Casts of inside of human skull (left) and starchild skull (right).

Casts of inside of human skull (left) and starchild skull (right). The casts don’t display the degree of gyrification due to the presence of protective layers between brain and skull, dura, arachnoid, subarachnoid space and pia mater.

Inner skull cast side view. Human left. Starchild right.

Inner skull cast side view. Human left. Starchild right. The Starchild appears to have a more developed cortex (Elves get Int and Dex bonuses, yes I played Dungeons and Dragons).

Brain regions. Frontal Lobe: Personality, concentration, planning problem solving, meaning, speech, smell. Parietal Lobe:touch, taste, proprioception, sensory combination and comprehension. Occipital Lobe: vision. Temporal lobe: hearing, facial recognition, emotion, memory. Cerebellum: balance and coordination.

Brain regions.
Frontal Lobe: Personality, concentration, planning problem solving, meaning, speech, smell, imagination.
Parietal Lobe:touch, taste, proprioception, sensory combination and comprehension, imagination.
Occipital Lobe: vision, imagination.
Temporal lobe: hearing, facial recognition, emotion, memory, imagination.
Cerebellum: balance, coordination, imagination.

The Starchild’s large cranial capacity is suggestive of an intense metabolism, as cephalisation (the relative enlargement of the head and the concentration of the nervous system within the head) in animals proceeds so does metabolic rate. The composition and quality of the Starchild’s bone also suggests an intense metabolism, relative to human bone it is thinner but apparently more durable, being woven through and strengthened by protein (collagen?) fibres, it’s increased carbon  content might result from an increased metabolism generating more carbon dioxide, allowing for a change and developmental advance in bone quality. Hypothyroidism (a decreased metabolism) is associated with increased fracture risk and weaker bones. Reptiles have more developed bones than amphibians and mammals still more so resulting not only from metabolic differences, but an increase in the complexity of the forces acting on the bones as a result of increasing nervous system development, mammals generally being more graceful than reptiles.

Cephalisation as an evolutionary trend in animals obviously goes along with increased self-awareness and reflective ability, simpler animals, fish, amphibians, and reptiles, appear to have relatively limited self-awareness, their awareness and energy is focused outwards on basic survival. If function produces structure, then cultivating internal sensitivity, reflective thought, and imagination should assist in developing those structures that support their function.

There are suggestions that conscious awareness can itself intensify metabolism meditators have lower lactate levels suggesting improved oxidative metabolism, denervation increases glycolysis and lactate production,  consciousness here appears like a self-intensifying process.

Clear links exist between mitochondrial energy status and gene expression, there are at least two processes involved in gene expression that are strongly influenced by metabolism acetylation and methylation. Histone acetylation is regulated by availability of acetyl CoA produced in mitochondria, generally acetylation activates and promotes genes and deacetylation represses them.

Methylation generally decreases expression of certain genes, various things that interfere with mitochondrial metabolism increase methylation for example hypoxia and BPA (Nahar et al. 2015). Methylation and hypermethylation of various genes (NADH dehydrogenase, cytochrome oxidase and PGC-1A) involved in promoting metabolism is involved in obesity and diabetes (Barres and Zierath 2011).

It was believed that methylation represented a relatively permanent modification, with demethylation limited to relatively passive processes occurring during DNA replication and embryogenesis, however active demethylation has been found to occur quite commonly. Active demethylation is dependent on the availability of metabolites of the citric acid (Krebs/TCA) cycle (Meng et al. 2014).

Respiratory energy production has increased as evolution has advanced allowing for increasing cephalisation and intelligence, if an organism with an intense metabolic rate suddenly found its metabolism  lowered all the biological structure dependent on that energy production would degrade including the consciousness, gene expression would change, methylation would increase.

If maintaining our current state is dependent on generating a certain level of energy production then perhaps cultivating a higher level of energy production will help to make possible an increase in developmental complexity. Increased rates of DNA synthesis and nucleotide substitution occur in organisms with higher metabolic rates (Martin and Palumbi 1993). An advance to neo-human perhaps even post-mammalian life may be a real possibility.

The story goes that when Bodhidharma arrived at the Shaolin temple he found monks who were too weak to meditate successfully, so he developed a series of postures and movements linked to the breath (these eventually developed into Shaolin kung fu) for the monks to practice to assist in their cultivation. These exercises would have cultivated type 1 muscle fibres and increased the monks PGC-1A expression increasing their vitality.

The monks could then meditate meaningfully, meditation has been found to increase the gyrification (the convolutions and surface area) of the cortex of the brain (Luders et al. 2012). This increase in cortical gyrification seems likely to involve increased expression of HAR1 and Reelin.

It seems somewhat unlikely to be coincidence that yogic practices just happen to involve the activity of two highly significant human accelerated regions.


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Muscle, metabolism, mitochondria, and metamorphic mutation Magick

“Why should you study and practice Magick?

Because you can’t help doing it, and you had better do it well than badly.”

-Aleister Crowley 666

Tantravayanarasana (Peter Parker's pose).

Tantravayanarasana (Peter Parker’s pose). “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

Part 1: Posture and Prana

The use of static postures as exercises is common to both Hatha Yoga and systems such as Qigong and various internal martial arts such as Tai Chi Chuan, these postures are often recommended to be held for extreme lengths of time for example 3 hour headstands and stories of Internal Kung fu masters who would not accept a student unless they could hold a posture such as “embracing the tree” for 2 hours. To people familiar with only typical exercises involving repetitive gross movements, these static practices often seem odd, masochistic, pointless, or even insane. However if we think about the body in greater depth these practices might turn out to be wily and wise.

There are two main types of muscle fibre in the body, type 1 slow contracting fibres heavily reliant on oxidative metabolism, possessing high quantities of mitochondria (the cellular organelles responsible for energy production), these type 1 fibres possess a rich capillary network and are red in colour, these muscle fibres are those which must be active for extended periods of time, maintaining posture or engaged in continuous but hopefully not too strenuous activity. The type 2 fibres, of which there is a further variety of subtypes, are less reliant on oxidative metabolism, making greater use of glycolysis, a less efficient form of energy production that produces less ATP than oxidative metabolism and more lactic acid, they contain fewer mitochondria, these fibres are generally white in colour as they have less blood supply, these fibres contract quickly and powerfully and are used when bursts of explosive power are required. Muscle tissue exhibits a high degree of plasticity,  up regulation and down regulation of the different fibre types occurs in response to use and disuse. Nerve impulse patterns, neuromuscular activity, and mechanical loading play roles in the maintenance and transition of muscle fibre phenotypes. The type, intensity, and duration of changes in any of these factors, can cause muscle fibres to shift their phenotype to respond to the altered demands. Fibre transitions result from multiple changes in gene expression involving up and down regulation of genes involved in producing different myosin types in the fibre types (Pette 2001). After inactivity the slow red (type 1) fibres decrease leaving an increased proportion of fast white (type 2) fibres. Paraplegic subjects develop uniform fast fibre muscle composition within 6-12 months of injury (Polla et al. 2004). Both endurance and resistance exercise can cause the conversion of 2X fibres to 2A fibres, type 2A fibres are better supplied by capillaries and have more mitochondria and greater oxidative metabolism than 2X fibres but the 2A are not as metabolically active as type 1 fibres. From all the available studies it appears much more difficult to increase type 1 fibres than other fibre types, extreme endurance exercise can do it but I think that can be problematic. However I suspect that if exercise such as Yoga posture and qigong standing practice were to be studied it might be found that they increase type 1 fibres. In addition to the long holds used being likely to stimulate type 1 fibres, there are studies which show that stretching appears to signal the conversion of type 2 muscles into type 1 (Goldspink et al. 1991). The muscle in this study was stimulated while in a stretched position , this is similar to the kind of activity in many yoga asanas where muscle must be active while stretched, this is not an eccentric contraction (where a muscle stretches while bearing a load, eg. walking downhill) which can damage mitochondria, but isometric contraction while the muscle is already stretched. The muscle in this study grew rapidly as much as 30% in 4 days. Muscles deprived of stretch will not differentiate into type 1 (Goldspink et al.1992). The slow controlled movements used in Tai Chi and qigong involve rhythmic waves on contraction and subtle stretching and would be expected to stimulate type 1 slow red postural muscle development.

Patterns of activity can reshape the organism, type 1 fibres can become type 2 fibres if subjected to either disuse or if activity patterns change from continuous slower more controlled movement to rapid contraction, these changes involve a decrease in innervation, slow myosin is turned off when contraction speed increases and the fibres become innervated by only single motor neurons.

Physical activity is known to have a trophic effect on the brain, it seems likely that the increased innervation of type 1 fibres would mean that activities that maintain and cultivate these muscle fibre types should have an increased trophic effect on the brain, the more challenging balance and inverted postures of yoga seem especially likely to have such an effect, the slow controlled movements of Tai Chi should function similarly, as should dance, and multiple other activities climbing seems likely to cultivate type 1 fibres and have an increased trophic effect on the brain as the climber actively imagines routes up a rock face.

The postural muscles also seem likely to play a role in the organism’s energy level, in addition to containing more mitochondria than type 2 muscle fibres, type 1 fibres express more of an enzyme that converts T4 into the active thyroid hormone T3, type 2 iodothyronine deiodinase (Marsili et al. 2010). It seems possible that postural habits may be capable of signaling up or down regulated metabolism, if postural muscles are inactive this might lead to increased circulating T4, there is some evidence that increased T4 can suppress metabolism through conversion to reverse T3 suppressing mitochondrial respiration (Goumaz et al.1987).

Diabetics have reduced type 1 fibres and increased proportions of type 2 fibres (Oberbach et al. 2006). Cultivating type 1 fibres through exercise and lifestyle might be therapeutic.

The increased metabolic activity of type 1 fibres is also likely to contribute to softer and more fluid connective tissues, as the increased carbon dioxide, produced from oxidative metabolism, will interact with the amino groups of proteins and glycoproteins that make up the connective tissues altering the way these proteins interact with water leading to a more fluid and flexible body.

As people age they tend to experience muscle loss and become more prone to falls and consequent bone fractures, during aging blood flow and the capillary to fibre ratio decreases, promoting the development of the type 1 postural muscles would seem to be of importance in avoiding the increasing danger of medicalisation with age.

Increased activity of the postural muscles will support structural integrity of the body at multiple levels, blood flow efficiency will be increased, the increased innervation will also make body fat accumulation less likely as denervation can increase lipogenesis (Youngstrom and Bartness 1998).

Continual cultivation of perpetual poise discourages development of such sicknesses as hernias and haemorrhoids.

Part 2 Asana and Attitude

Some see Nature all Ridicule & Deformity, & by these I shall not regulate my proportions; & some scarce see Nature at all. But to the Eyes of the Man of Imagination, Nature is Imagination itself. As a man is, so he sees. As the Eye is formed, such are its Powers.”

-William Blake

In addition to effects on muscle phenotype posture has other subtler effects, different postures involve different patterns of nerve activity which will affect the endocrine organs, including the thyroid a master regulator of metabolism, conscious shifts in posture will change innervation patterns and endocrine function. A study examining the effects of posture on hormone function found that adopting an expansive posture for even a minute or two could lead to elevated testosterone and decreased cortisol (Carney et al. 2010). The same study found that individuals who adopted open expansive postures were more likely to engage in risky behaviour, individuals who adopted collapsed low power postures showed decreased testosterone and elevated cortisol and were more risk averse.

It seems likely that posture can affect every hormone produced, systems such as yoga and qigong all emphasise the importance of the spine, and seek to cultivate strong, flexible spines, they also emphasise keeping the spine straight during meditation, with yoga emphasising postures such as padmasana (lotus) and siddhasana (adepts/perfect) both of which encourage a very straight alignment of the spine, with the back of the neck kept long, this alignment seems likely to encourage production of the youth associated neurosteroids, pregnenolone, progesterone, and dhea. This sort of alignment is intensified during pranayama performed with mulabandha (contraction of the pelvic floor), uddiyana bandha (vacuuming the abdomen in and up under the rib cage), and jalandhara bandha (contraction of the throat with the chin dropping in towards the space between the collar bones).

Krishnamacharya applying jalandhara, uddiyanna, and mula bandhas while in mulabandhasana.

Krishnamacharya applying jalandhara, uddiyanna, and mula bandhas while in mulabandhasana.

Given these effects of posture on biology it should be possible to make therapeutic use of postural play to transform multiple challenges individuals are faced with, even conditions where it is believed an individual has encountered an impassable genetic wall in the developmental unfolding might be capable of change, Down’s syndrome, caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21 might seem like one of these impassable genetic walls, but this attitude seems inherently limiting. Individuals affected by Down’s syndrome generally show some common postural features, including a forward head posture and generally poor muscle tone, if affected individuals could be encouraged into new postural habits some change might be possible. The forward head posture likely alters blood and cerebrospinal fluid flow to the brain inhibiting its full development. Seeing the trophic effects of exercise on the brain as well as the trophic effects of the brain on tissues, there is clearly considerable inertia to overcome in this condition but change may be possible if skillful means are used to encourage new postural patterns, and other supportive therapies are included that focus on optimising metabolism.

Yogis say that organisms practice asana (posture) in the womb or egg to develop themselves.

Yogis say that organisms practice asana (posture) in the womb or egg to develop themselves.

Shifts in postural muscle use over generations seem likely to be a significant factor driving speciation, changes in environment would lead to shifts in how the organism interacts with its environment and moves through its environment. New patterns of muscle activity will change nerve activity reshaping an organism’s consciousness as it actively imagines new ways of relating to its environment. This means that the world we inhabit is inherently dynamic and ever new, attempts to impose the patterns of the past onto the present and future add inertia to the system inhibiting evolution.

Coyote carefully concentrates, cunningly crafting chaotic capers.

Coyote carefully concentrates, cunningly crafting chaotic capers.

Part 3: Diaphragmic Diabolism

Concentration is the root of all the higher abilities in man.”

Bruce Lee

The diaphragm is major postural muscle in humans and has great significance in preserving our highest functioning. The diaphragm is a uniquely mammalian structure, reptiles and amphibians have only a non-muscular membraneus septum separating the lungs from the digestive organs, or in some a pseudo diaphragm. Reptilian lungs have relatively coarse structure, larger air spaces and less surface area than mammalian lungs, amphibian lungs are simpler still, often little more than simple balloon structures, some amphibians lack lungs and breathe through their skin. Mammals have highly lobated alveolar lungs, with very large surface area and high diffusion capacity but low compliance, it is our muscular diaphragm which  enables them to function efficiently through the creation of negative pressure allowing for fine control of ventilation. The structure of our lungs and diaphragm is key to maintaining our intense metabolism. If these structures degrade then systemic degeneration is inevitable unless function can be restored, the organism will be forced to function at a lower energy level, one that is incapable of maintaining the complex structures we have developed over the course of our evolution.



Small mammals (such as shrews and mice) have high metabolisms, the fibre composition of their diaphragm is in some cases uniformly made up of type 1 slow red  oxidative muscle fibres, dense in mitochondria. Large mammals (such as cows) have a proportionally lower metabolism, their diaphragms contain a higher proportion of type 2 fast white glycolytic fibres, with fewer mitochondria.

Small mammals breathe more times per minute than large mammals, these breaths will involve more continual activity of the diaphragm, promoting type 1 slow red fibres. Large mammals breathe more slowly, but these movements are intermittent  and less isometric tension will be maintained through the diaphragm, promoting  type 2 fast white glycolytic fibres (Gautier and Padykula 1966).

Does the metabolic activity of the diaphragm reflect the overall metabolic intensity of the organism? A tendency seen in evolution appears to be a movement to generally finer muscle fibres, amphibians and reptiles tend to have thicker muscle fibres than birds and mammals, type 1 fibres are thinner than type 2 fibres, this suggests that as organisms evolve and raise their energy level they become more finely woven.

Cultivating the function of the diaphragm might be capable of raising our energy level, I have seen a few claims that the diaphragm cannot be exercised but I think the individuals who made these claims have not thought them through sufficiently. In addition to its function in respiration the diaphragm is also a postural muscle one that plays a key role in maintaining our characteristically upright posture, stabilising our body during a range of movements (Hodges et al. 1997). Activities that require complex postural stabilisation; dance, hand balancing and some of the more demanding postures and transitions of yoga should all strengthen and tone the diaphragm.

The traditional pranayama practices of Hatha Yoga will also train and cultivate the diaphragm, the practice of uddiyana bandha combined with kumbhaka (breath retention), will both stretch the diaphragm and tone it through isometric contraction, both of which cultivate type 1 muscle fibres. The type of breathing emphasised in some qigong systems, a very fine, long slow, and super subtle breath, without retentions should also work similarly.

If there are activities that  can cultivate the diaphragm there are likely activities that do the opposite generally unconscious postural habits might lead to the degeneration of some of the diaphragm’s function, if it is not needed then tissue tends to degenerate, fear furniture.

While extreme endurance activity tends to promote type 1 muscle fibres in most skeletal muscles, I think in the diaphragm it might have the opposite effect. Extreme endurance athletes have been found to show increased rates of asthma (Helenius et al. 1997). This might be a result of the increased oxygen demand during exercise leading to increased ventillaton, and larger coarser movements of the diaphragm, resulting in the phenotype of the diaphragm muscle fibres shifting away from the slow red type 1 towards increased fast white type 2 fibres, this would also result in decreased innervation to the diaphragm making it difficult to control breathing at rest, promoting hyperventilation, carbon dioxide loss, decreasing the Bohr effect and so decreasing oxygenation of tissues at rest. If people insist on that sort of endurance exercise then it might be useful to also practice breath control at rest to promote type 1 muscle fibres as well as being attentive to breathing during exercise.

Increased type 1 fibres are found in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), however other pathological alterations to the respiratory system have also occured here, the lungs become inflamed, functional surface decreases, the lungs lose surface area, airspaces enlarge, the lungs swell and the diaphragm becomes chronically shortened, the muscle fibres lose sarcomeres, now the diaphragm can only make small rapid movements, and other muscles of the chest heave in an attempt to overcome the lost function.

Another activity that will lead to a degeneration of diaphragm function is breathing exercise performed badly due to misunderstandings that may have been introduced into traditions over time, I have met a few people who seem to have made their breathing habits worse through breathing exercises, when you practice notice what is happening. People often talk about practicing deep breathing, they mean here breathing with large movements of the diaphragm and other respiratory muscles, exchanging large volumes of air, and massively altering the internal atmosphere of the lungs, carbon dioxide and water vapour are lost, and the highly sensitive membranes of the lungs become damaged and inflamed losing their efficiency. Often these individuals will have been told pranayama is good because it increases the elimination of useless waste products of metabolism such as carbon dioxide, a completely mistaken idea. These usually fairly large respiratory movements, will not support type 1 slow red fibres, and will encourage a less innervated diaphragm, decreasing control of breathing, these sorts of exercise often presented as yoga are really an anti-yoga that lead to degeneration and the lowering of an organism’s energy level, the exact opposite of what pranayama is meant to do.

It is because of these misunderstandings in some of contemporary yoga, that when people ask me about breathing I usually recommend Buteyko, as the importance of carbon dioxide is understood, and the basic reduced breathing exercise of Buteyko will develop the diaphragm to some extent, however I suspect that more complete diaphragmatic development will occur through sensitively applied traditional yoga breathing methods, that incorporate bandhas and kumbhakas, however I may be mistaken (I’m still learning).

PsychicSine Waves. Psyche, from the greek psychein-to breathe. a.rapid coarse breathing, will lead to carbon dioxide loss and decreased Bohr effect. b.

PsychicSine Waves.
Psyche, from the greek psychein-to breathe.
a.rapid coarse breathing, will lead to carbon dioxide loss and decreased Bohr effect.
b.”normal” breathing.
c. coarse deep breathing will lead to carbon dioxide loss and decreased Bohr effect.
d. reduced breathing (Buteyko style).
e. yogic breathing, slow deep with breath retentions.
f. smooth, slow, deep breathing.
c. e. and f. will all move the diaphragm through a wide movement range.
e. andf. will cultivate control and development of the diaphragm. c.may over time lead to decreased control of the diaphragm with less innervation.
These are approximate representations, many more breath variations are possible. Yes I know some of the above are not really sine waves.

The way the diaphragm is used during breathing can effect blood flow dynamics, the use of uddiyanna bandha, seems to increase venous return to the heart, and likely stretches the heart causing the release of the heart hormones (natriuretic peptides) that further raise the organism’s energy level.

A safe focus for breath control is to seek to make your breathing ever finer and subtler, ideally at rest it should be imperceptible, if you were to place a hand directly beneath your nose the breath should not be felt, it should be silent, and the muscular movements should be so slow and subtle that only a sharp eye would notice. Breathe through your nose, when you mouth breathe you enlarge your airways allowing for large shifts in the internal atmosphere of the lungs, losing carbon dioxide and water vapour. The reduced breathing exercises of Buteyko are safe for most people focused on improving health, though I think some practices that make use of larger diaphragmatic movements would complement the practice. The simple “ujayi” breath used in Astanga Vinyasa is also useful, the increased awareness of the breath caused by the gentle contraction at the base of the throat and the resulting Darth Vader type sound bring increased awareness, during more challenging asana and vinyasa the breath will be louder. Sensitivity to the breath can be increased using ear plugs or inactive headphones, allowing you to hear the breath as it travels through the nasal turbinates and refine it further.


Carney DR, Cuddy AJC, and Yapp AJ, (2010), Power posing: brief non-verbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk levels, Psychological Science.

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Goldspink G, Scutt A, Martindale J, Jaenicke T, Turray L, Gerlach GF, (1991), Stretch and force generation induce rapid hypertrophy and myosin isoform gene switching in adult skeletal muscle, Biochemical Society Transactions, 19(2), pp. 368-373).

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Heart Hormones, Inversions, and Immortality

“Marshalling the information needed to optimize our own development runs counter to the program of our technical-scientific culture, which prefers to believe that degeneration is programmed, while emergent evolution is unforeseeable. But, if an optimization project is presented as a way to forestall the “programmed degeneration,” it might succeed in becoming part of the culture.”

-Ray Peat


alpāhāro yadi bhavedaghnirdahati tat-kṣhaṇāt |
adhaḥ-śirāśchordhva-pādaḥ kṣhaṇaṃ syātprathame dine || 81 ||

kṣhaṇāchcha kiṃchidadhikamabhyasechcha dine dine |
valitaṃ palitaṃ chaiva ṣhaṇmāsordhvaṃ na dṝśyate |
yāma-mātraṃ tu yo nityamabhyasetsa tu kālajit || 82 ||


“If he stints his diet, the fire quickly consumes [the body]. On the first day he should stand for a moment on his head, with his feet above.

After six months, the wrinkles and grey hair are not seen. He who practises it daily, for one yama (3 hours), conquers death.”


-from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swatmarama (in reference to the Headstand / Viparita karani Mudra).

Dharma Mittra in headstand

Dharma Mittra in headstand

            So yet again those degenerate Hatha Yogis obsessed by the body and materiality are making outlandish and absurdly inflated claims for their circus tricks, before we saw how they claimed pranayama can cure all disease, now they expect prudent and reasonable human beings to believe that standing on your head will make you immortal, whatever next, yoga can turn you into an Elf?

If you believe in a biology crafted out of the random chance errors of a clockwork horror story “red in tooth and claw” then the claims made by some Hatha Yogis as well as other devils might appear insane, however taking another perspective on biology the picture is very different. In an organismic model where the liquid crystalline structure is generated and supported by the controlled coherent fire of the respiratory whirlwind, where processes are interconnected across all scales, then it might be possible to make creative use of local effects to generate systemic changes which further modify local processes. A range of relatively simple techniques for generating creative constructive adaptation that is capable of overcoming the organism’s assimilated inertia might make themselves available.

I believe that Hatha Yoga is an art that has discovered such creative techniques, and increasingly the evidence exists to make this case.

The Natriuretic peptides are a class of hormones secreted by the heart, while they are named for the observation that they can increase the urinary elimination of sodium they have a range of much more interesting effects. A major stimulus for their release is the stretching of the chambers (atria and ventricles) of the heart (Espiner et al.1995).

There is some evidence that inversions (turning upside down) cause an increased stretch in the chambers of the heart, as might be expected. A study examining the circulatory effects of the head down position showed increases in stroke volume, and cardiac output and a decrease in pulse rate (Wilkins et al. 1950). A study looking specifically at the yoga postures Sirshasana (headstand) and Sarvangasana (shoulderstand) found a significant increase in early left ventricle filling, a shortening of the isovolumetric relaxation time and an increase in heart rate (Minvaleev et al. 1995). If inversions are stretching the hearts chambers then they should be stimulating the release of the Natriuretic peptides, as far as I am aware no studies have looked at this possibility so there is some speculation here.

The Cardiac natriuretic peptides include six hormones stored as three separate prohormones, Atrial Natriuretic peptide (ANP), B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), and C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP). ANP contains: long-acting natriuretic peptide (LANP), vessel dilator, kaliuretic peptide, and ANP (Vesely 2006).

The Natriuretic peptides have a wide range of effects, they have been shown to be anti-inflammatory, ANP reduced the secretion of inflammatory mediators produced in response to bacterial endotoxin /lipopolysaccharide (Kiemer and Vollmar 2001). Both ANP and CNP reduced the expression of COX-2 and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in response to lipolysaccharide (Kiemer et al. 2001). Anti-fibrotic , mice lacking BNP develop multiple fibrotic lesions (Tamura et al. 2000), BNP also appears to inhibit the profibrotic TGF-ß and increased collagen 1 and fibronectin proteins (Kapoun et al. 2004). ANP appears to have a tissue stabilising effect that prevents leakiness, ANP inhibited VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor), protected the integrity of the blood-retinal-barrier of rats, ANP also significantly reduced the damage done by laser injury (being a lab rat sucks) ( Lara-Castillo et al. 2009). ANP has been found to defend the endothelial barrier from histamine induced permeability (Fürst et al. 2008).

These cardiac peptides appear to have some significant anti-cancer activity, in 24 hours, Vessel dilator, LANP, Kaliuretic peptide and ANP decreased the number of human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells in culture by 65%, 47%, 37% and 34% respectively. Vessel dilator completely stopped the growth of human pancreatic adenocarcinomas in mice, further decreasing the size of even palpable large tumors, after 1 week vessel dilator decreased the size by 49%, LANP by 28%, and kaliuretic by 11%, in placebo treated mice the tumor had increased in size by 20 fold.

These hormones also decreased the number of breast adenocarcinoma cells by 60%(vessel dilator), 31%(LANP), 27% (kaliuretic), 40% (ANP). Other cancers; decreased cell numbers of small cell lung cancer, squamous lung cancers, and malignant tumors of the heart (Vesely 2005).

A study examining the effects of CNP on proliferating smooth muscle cells found that CNP induced growth inhibition and promoted re-differentiation into highly differentiated smooth muscle cells rather than the less differentiated proliferative phase, CNP improved healing accelerating re-endotheliazation preventing neointima formation (Doi et al. 2001).

The cardiac peptides also decrease some hormones associated with stress, perhaps most interestingly prolactin (Samson et al. 1998), but also ACTH which contributes to cortisol (a catabolic hormone released by stress) release (Fink et al. 1991). Swatmarama states that headstand can reverse greying of hair, and prolactin has been implicated in hair loss (Foitzik et al. 2006).

These effects of the cardiac peptides, anti-inflammatory, tissue stabilising and anti-cancer suggest that it might be appropriate to view these hormones as in some sense bioenergetic kosmotropes that increase the coherence of the organism, as Energy and structure are interdependent, at every level”* then substances that increase structural coherence should in some way increase energy as an increase in structure should allow for an increase in energy flow which would in-turn allow for structural complexification.

ANP and BNP have been found to induce mitochondriogenesis (making new mitochondria) , and to increase “uncoupled” respiration, that is to increase respiration without producing ATP, instead increasing heat production, and increasing energy expenditure. White adipose tissue appeared to become more like brown fat tissue, brown fat contains more mitochondria than white, and is especially abundant in infants, increased levels and activity of brown fat has been linked to resistance to metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity (Bordicchia et al. 2012). A separate study found that BNP protected against diet induced obesity and insulin resistance and increased muscle mitochondrial content (Miyashita et al. 2009).

With the prevalence of mechanical thinking in biology some people might think that increased metabolism means increased wear and tear on the lumbering bio-robot that is piloted by their consciousness (probably an illusion generated by those selfish genes), if the organism is generated by the metabolic flow of energy, the increased metabolism would be expected to result in increased renewal and rejuvenation. In mice individuals with higher metabolisms and greater mitochondrial uncoupling lived longer (Speakman et al. 2004). Somewhat obviously disuse of a tissue results in atrophy, and mitochondria demonstrate increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) and decreased respiratory enzymes.

Given the evidence for the role of intensified metabolism in evolutionary progress it seems especially difficult to take seriously any attempt to market torpor as a preferable biological state. Mammals have more intense metabolisms than reptiles from 2 to 5 times more, possibly even greater in the case of some humans, mammals also have greater thyroid activity than reptiles (Hulbert and Else 1981). This increased metabolic activity in mammals has required adaptative complexification of the cardiopulmonary system to support it, this is one of the clearest examples of aromorphosis (a raising of the shape making a higher level of function available), an increased metabolism and increased oxygen use required a development and complexification of the Heart and circulatory system, the generation of a four chambered heart made it possible to operate at a higher, more generous energy level. Generally, fish have a two chambered heart, amphibians three chambers, two atria and one ventricle, from here things get a little more complicated as many species of reptile have varying degrees of ventricular septation, meaning that blood flow can complexify and increase in efficiency but not to the degree of birds, and mammals which have four chambered hearts (Jensen et al. 2013).

Morphology of the heart of various animals (Jensen et al. 2013)

Morphology of the heart of various animals (Jensen et al. 2013)

I think the case can be made that the cardiac peptides are sorts of morphogen, substances that are involved in biological structure generation and regulation, which would be dependent on available energy, decreased energy tends to result in a sort of organismic shrinking, and poor circulation, the effects of an energy surplus can be felt after a large meal, a sort of pleasant expansive, metabolic flush, an increase in circulation, pranayama also can produce such an effect, which should result in increased stretch being experienced in the heart. It seems reasonable to suggest the heart as sort of morphogenic regulator.

These Cardiac peptides are higher in the foetal circulation than adults, and the foetal heart expresses higher levels of these hormones than the adult heart. Peaks of ANP and BNP during gestation coincide with significant moments during cardiac morphogenesis (Cameron and Ellmers 2003).

These peptides also appear to play a role in bone remodelling, CNP is a potent stimulator of osteoclast activity demonstrating a role in bone remodelling (Holliday et al. 1995). CNP also stimulates chondrocyte proliferation, cartilage matrix production and long bone growth in foetal rats (Mericq et al. 2000).

If these cardiac peptides are sorts of morphogen then they might be expected to be increased by other signs of increased energy availability, such as increased thyroid activity and steroid hormones this appears to be the case, thyroid hormones T3 and T4 (T3 being more active) and testosterone dose dependently stimulated ANP (Matsubara et al. 1987). ANP at least in some studies stimulates testosterone production (Pereira et al. 2008), I think this points to the possibility of some self-intensifying positive feedback loops at least when energy is available to nurture them. Life appears to desire to be ever more.

“Energy is the only Life…”

*apologies to Ray Peat for totally overusing this quote (the “Energy and structure…”one), and also for the neural architecture I stole, you can’t have it back, and anyway I fear it’s been irreversibly warped by my own context.


Bordicchia M, Liu D, Amri E-Z, Ailhaud G, Dessi-Fulgheri P, Zhang C, Noboyuki T, Sarzani R, Collins S, (2012), Cardiac natriuretic peptides act via p38 MAPK to induce the brown fat thermogenic program in mouse and human adipocytes, J Clin Invest, 122(3), pp 1022-1036.

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Fink G, Dow RC, Casley D, Johnston CI, Lim AT, Copolov DL, Bennie J, Carroll S, Dick H, (1991), Atrial natriuretic peptide is a physiological inhibitor of ACTH release: evidence from immunoneutralization in vivo, J Endocrinol, 131, pp. 9-12.

Foitzik K, Krause K, Conrad F, Nakamura M, Funk W, Paus R, (2006), Human scalp hair follicles are both a target and a source of prolactin which serves as an autocrine and/or paracrine promoter of apoptosis-driven hair follicle regression, American Journal of Pathology, 168(3), pp. 748-756.

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The Starchild Skull: a third perspective, aromorphic evolution?

“He whose face gives no light shall never become a star.”

-William Blake

“Every man and every woman is a star.”

-Aleister Crowley

“The infant represents our evolutionary future.”

-Ray Peat 


Aromorphosis: noun; plural aromorphoses; from Greek airein, to raise; morphosis, shaping.  An advancement in the organization of an organism, without a marked increase in specialisation; an aromorph.

“a morphological and physiological process, one of the main trends in the biological progress of living organisms whereby their organization becomes increasingly complicated in the course of evolution. The term was introduced by A. N. Severtsov, who used the word “aromorphosis” to refer to the most general adaptive changes in organization and functions. Aromorphosis is usually accompanied by an increase in the intensity of the life processes of animals and in the variety of their manifestations (differentiation)…. Aromorphosis enables qualitative jumps that raise the level of organization of a species…. As an example of aromorphosis in the evolution of higher vertebrates Severtsov cites the qualitative jump in the transition from reptilian ancestors to mammals. The four-chambered heart, the alveolar structure of the lungs, diaphragmatic breathing, and other factors raised the level of metabolism in mammals and increased their ability to adapt to changes in living conditions. Bearing young in the mother’s uterus and feeding them milk extended their chances of survival.”

from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979).


The Starchild skull is a strange skull that was found in Mexico, somewhere between the region of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range (elevation: 10,863ft / 3,311 m), and about 100 miles southwest of Chihuahua, the skull appears to be around 900 years old according to radiocarbon dating. The skull exhibits a number of very unusual features leading to claims that it is either alien or a human-alien hybrid, the most notable proponent of the alien/ alien-human hybrid explanation was the late Lloyd Pye, on the other hand the “sceptics” claim the skull is simply a deformed human skull, one that admittedly exhibits a range of unusual features. I’m not convinced either of these two positions is true and would like to suggest a third tentative :) possibility.

First the unusual features of the skull:


The volume of the interior of the skull is 1,600 cubic cm, 200cm3 larger than the average adult’s and 400cm3 larger than an adult of equivalent size.


The orbits of the eyes are oval and unusually shallow.

It appears the skull would have had relatively small cheek bones and small muscles for chewing food as these muscles pass through the zygomatic arches.


The skull lacks frontal sinuses.

The bone is unusually thin, but also appears to be highly durable, exceptionally hard, Lloyd Pye has claimed that the bone was incredibly difficult to cut through and is woven through by odd fibres, yet to be identified.

A mineral analysis of the bone shows significant differences to typical human bone, most notably containing an unusually high amount of carbon and oxygen (carbon dioxide?).

mineral analysis

mineral analysis

Genetic material recovered from the skull appears unusual, mitochondrial DNA from the starchild skull differs from human, generally the maximum number of mtDNA variations between humans is 120. The Starchild Skull has between 800-1,000 differences.

Nuclear DNA, some of the starchild’s nuclear DNA may be different from anything previously found on earth, including a fragment several thousand nucleotides long that could not be matched to any recorded DNA.

There are some issues with the interpretation and presentation of results of genetic testing by the Starchild Project, early tests appeared to show that standard X and Y chromosomes were present, suggesting that the child was a human male or at least had human parents. Mitochondrial DNA also appeared to belong to haplogroup C (a Native American group).

I don’t think the possibly significant genetic differences require extra-terrestrials to explain, given the evidence for non-random directed genetic mutation, it seems possible that a biology that is liquid crystalline and energetically coherent across multiple domains would allow for sudden meaningful and significant adaptive evolutionary jumps especially when conscious organismic intelligence is recognised as fundamental to and inseparable from biology. Organismic bioenergetic coherence would allow for seemingly vast evolutionary jumps with the new organism differing significantly and meaningfully at the genetic level from the parent organism.

The early results also strongly suggest the skull at least has a connection to earth humans.

What I would like to suggest is that the skull is neither deformed nor alien, instead it may be neo/meta-human, an evolutionary stride forwards.


So why do I think this might be the case? Well the skull and some of the reconstructions based on it appear remarkably neotenous, that is it preserves very youthful features, large brain size, large, eyes, relatively small face in comparison to the head size, for more on neoteny as an evolutionary tendency see:

Chapter 4 of Ray Peat’s Generative Energy


Ontogeny anticipates phylogeny: Evolution, meditation, and the brain.



I think the mineral analysis is interesting, if carbon dioxide is as biologically significant as I suspect, acting in some sense as a sort of electrical doping agent increasing the conductivity of proteins, it might be expected that a more evolved and energetic organism might show signs of exposure to higher levels of carbon dioxide.

For more on CO2 see:

Pranayama, Carbon Dioxide, Mitochondria, Coherent Energy Flow, Regeneration and Individuation


Rainbow worms, Electrobiology, Carbon Dioxide and the Streaming Auto Evolving Life Process

As well as Ray Peat’s articles and the Biology of Carbon dioxide video (see resources).

I think some of the unusual qualities of the bone might be explainable by increased trophic activity of the nerves, resulting in a more qualitatively developed bone as a result of increased quality of innervation, denervation of bone results in osteoporotic bone, so it does not seem unreasonable that increased nerve energy might result in a developmental advance in bone quality.

hydrocephalic skull

hydrocephalic skull

I’m not convinced by the explanation that the skull is of cradleboarded hydrocephalic infant, or a child with progeria, the morphology of the skull while unusual appears coherent and the unusual qualities of the bone, if Lloyd Pye has reported them accurately, seem incompatible with either hydrocephalus or progeria. In progeria bones show hypoplasia and dysplasia, yet the starchild bone is reported to be super-humanly tough.

I don’t think it’s necessary to bring extra-terrestrials into the picture to explain the starchild skull, other factors that might be involved include the altitude, leading to increased carbon dioxide retention on the part of both the child and mother, possible yogic / meditative / spiritual practice on the part of the mother resulting in an optimized uterine environment for the developing organism. If the skull is 900 years old this would place it within the Medieval warm period which lasted from AD 950 – 1250, in Europe this was a perid of abundant food as result of the warmer climate and milder winters, this abundance of food and more hospitable climate may have contributed to developments in art and culture that resulted in Gothic architecture, it is possible that these more nurturing conditions allowed for the aromorphic evolution seen in the Starchild skull. Other various and unknown reasons might also be involved, likely requiring a highly permissive environment free from the usual distorting cultural stressors a developing child would encounter, allowing for the child to devote its conscious energies to the realization and expansion of its developmental potentials, allowing for autopoietic evolution.

The suggestion that the starchild’s differences are a result of an autopoietic evolution might seem strange even impossible, but only if you believe in a stupid mechanical model of evolutionary change that depends on random mutations selected out by a blind mechanism “red in tooth and claw”, if it is recognized that evolution is a living organic participatory process that intimately involves conscious intelligence, then the suggestion that the starchild skull might be the result of a conscious organic probing into a new potential biopsychic state seems at least to me natural, and if this sort of evolution is possible for one then it must be possible for others.

Further Reading


A Bone to Pick with the Starchild Skull

The Starchild Project


The child’s toys and the old man’s reasons are the fruits of the two seasons.

“Once we accept that knowledge is tentative, and that we are probably going to improve our knowledge in important ways when we learn more about the world, we are less likely to reject new information that conflicts with our present ideas. The attitude of expectancy will allow us to apply insights gained at one level of generality to other levels. No particular kind of knowledge will have such authority that it will automatically exclude certain possibilities in another field of knowledge.”

Ray Peat


I don’t think enough emphasis can be placed on the quote above from Ray, as we learn and discover more experience deepens and old models whilst accurate in at least some respects may need to be re-evaluated in reference to larger perspectives as they are experienced, attachments to old descriptions and interpretive frameworks may acts as blinders and binders of more vital perspectives that may be immediately available to direct experience if only the mind forged manacles can be cast off.


“When you believe that you have adequate, expert knowledge, a passive, logical, deductive form of mental activity seems appropriate. Deduction always goes from a higher level of generality to a lower level of generality. Mental passivity therefore is likely to be associated with the belief that we have the decisive knowledge already stored in memory. If we believe that we create higher degrees of generality, as appropriate solutions to novel problems, then we are committed to an active mental life. Perception, combined with the discovery and invention of new patterns in the world, will be actively oriented toward the future, while the deductive, merely analytical, manner of thought will be tied to the past.”

Ray Peat


Remaining open to new perspectives encourages a youthful flexible mind, one that experiences the world intimately with a continual sense of wonder.

As we develop our world view must develop with us if our world view remains static it is likely that our possible growth and development is being inhibited.


The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow.”


“As the true method of knowledge is experiment, the true faculty of knowing must be the faculty which experiences.”



“The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could percieve.
And particularly they studied the genius of each city & country, placing it under its mental deity;
Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of & enslav’d the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental deities from their objects: thus began Priesthood;
Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales.
And at length they pronounc’d that the Gods had order’d such things.
Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.”

Generative Energy Episode Five: Energy and Structure (Respiration vs. Fermentation and Coherence vs. Incoherence) — The Danny Roddy Weblog

Generative Energy Episode Five: Energy and Structure (Respiration vs. Fermentation and Coherence vs. Incoherence) — The Danny Roddy Weblog.

Danny Roddy talks with me about respiration from the perspective of Ray Peat and Gilbert Ling, as well as talking about a dynamic liquid crystalline view of biology as found in Mae-Wan Ho’s work.

William Blake and other biopsychic visionaries: Imagination, energy, and alchemy.

“Art is the tree of life. Science is the tree of death.”

 “Energy is the only life, and is from the Body and Reason is the Bound or outward circumference of Energy.”

“Energy is eternal delight.”

“What is the life of Man but Art and Science?”

“The imagination is not a state: it is the human existence itself.”


“Truth can never be told so as to be understood and not be believed.”

-William Blake


The imagination is typically seen as a sort of abstract fuzzy faint voluntary delusion generating faculty, however not all have seen the imagination in such terms, William Blake saw imagination as the defining human quality. Blake appeared to see Life as limitless magickal[666](and what is the imagination if not magical) innovation, imagination as an active conscious expression of living energy.

Blake saw reason and “science”, at least in their reductionist expression, as in opposition to the full expression of humanity, they were for Blake an expression of insanity, and I agree. Whilst psychosis and various forms of schizoid behaviour are typically considered forms of highly irrational behaviour, I think it might be more accurate to view such states as magnifications or intensifications of a particular kind of reasoning, one that has become divorced from intuition, and centred biopsychic perception and instead lost itself in a labyrinth of self-referential reasoning, a fairly common manifestation of this sort of madness is when an individual ceases to trust in their own will and creative choice, and instead attempts to “decode reality” through obsessively interpreting everything around them as sorts of omens or signs, from which to determine appropriate behaviour (usually resulting in highly inappropriate behaviour, often hilariously so, sometimes tragically), seemingly unable to trust in their own guidance systems. I think this is especially common in highly authoritarian cultures, as individuals are consistently taught that appropriate behaviour must come from an authority.


“The man reared under and bound by authority has no knowledge of the natural law of self-regulation; he has no confidence in himself. He is afraid of his sexuality because he has never learned to live naturally. Thus he declines all responsibility for his acts and decisions and demands direction and guidance.”

-Wilhelm Reich


The world for people caught up in such a state becomes both a sort of puzzle to decode, and once “decoded” a set of instructions to follow. Whilst such states are obviously transient, being simply a state of profound confusion, the current psychiatric medical model claims that individuals experiencing such states are “chemically unbalanced” as a result of… “genes”. The victim of this psychiatric bullying is told essentially that they are fundamentally defective, any attempts they might make to understand and deal with the situation themself are essentially useless, they must take the prescribed drugs (typically metabolic toxins), if the victim attempts to question the diagnosis and / or prescription, this is considered further compounding evidence of their “genetic” sickness (the technical terminology is that the patient “lacks insight”), the psychiatrist is after all an authority, and current medical psychiatry clearly understands the nature and infinite nuances of human consciousness (just in case you weren’t sure this is sarcasm). I think this forced drugging of psychiatric patients is a profoundly violent and dehumanising act. The psychiatric prison is a distillation of everything that is wrong with authoritarian culture. Psychiatry like the “war on drugs” appears to be  an attempt to limit free consciousness. Some psychiatrists appear to be playing out narcissistic power fantasies, having zero empathy for their patients/victims, for a “patient” questioning the authority and opinions of these shrinks is generally a bad idea.

The approach to life, outlined in the above description of a psychotic state, has a lot in common with the attitudes of some scientists, for example Rene Descartes appears to have taken such a view, seeing the world as a great machine operating according to fixed laws,

“Descartes had a dream and in this dream an angel appeared to him, this is documented by his own hand, and the angel said to Descartes, “The conquest of nature is to be achieved through measure and number.” And that revelation lay the basis for modern science.”

Within this mechanical world bound by measure and number the human soul interfaces with a mechanical body through the pineal gland alone, this dualism is opposed to Blake’s view, “Man has no Body distinct from his Soul”. Exactly how Blake would have seen Descartes “angel” is unknown, but I think Blake might have seen this “angel” as a representative of Urizen. Descartes was forced into this dualistic conception of body and soul because he viewed life as mechanical, the world was made of lumps of dead matter interacting through clunky mechanism, and at least realized that explaining the subtelties of mental experience through mechanism was no easy task, apparently today some “scientists”, have gone further than Descartes in such mechanical madness suggesting that,

“We are survival machines – robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment.”

-Richard Dawkins: The Selfish Gene

I’m also astonished, that someone can believe something like this, its absurd and explains less than nothing.

Dawkins is apparently unsure of whether animals are conscious, and has stated that consciousness (even human) may be an illusion. Again these insane views can be traced back to Descartes and those like him who denied that animals had souls seeing them as beast-machines, who did not really experience pain, the animals apparent experience of pain, a complex illusion, yelps or screams and attempts to avoid the source of injury, merely mechanistic reflexes emitted by an automaton. Blake found this view monstrous, his views on the “ensoulment” of animals are clear.

“A horse misused upon the road

Calls to heaven for human blood.

Each outcry of the hunted hare

A fibre from the brain does tear.


A skylark wounded in the wing,

A cherubim does cease to sing.

The game-cock clipt and arm’d for fight

Does the rising sun affright.”

-William Blake, Auguries of Innocence.

These “enlightened” scientists believe some fundamentally absurd things, all whilst claiming to be rational, though a very particular sort of rational, one that has chained reality in their own limited conceptions. As a result the “science” that has been engineered by these people is one that is dead, reflecting their own view of life back at them, justifying the moronic cruelties that are perpetrated in the name of “science”, animal experimentation and vivisection, justified because animals aren’t really conscious, just complex survival machines. This dead mechanical view of life and nature driven by random processes leads to our treating nature as lifeless, and in doing so we disrupt, sicken, and distort the web of Life that supports us. There is little evidence to support this mechanical view of life, which exists as an unquestioned dogma of contemporary science, derived to a large extent from “rational” deists like Descartes and Newton who viewed the Cosmos as a complicated clockwork automata created by a distant “divine watch maker.” This obsession with mechanical metaphor has been relatively constant, the absurdity of this view reaching its zenith in atheistic mechanists who believe in a clockwork universe comprised of teeny tiny, discrete, quantized, bits of dead unconscious matter, that some how jumbled together into amino acids that further jumbled together into solutions contained in sacks of water surrounded by oily membranes, these water sacks assembled into multicellular bio-machines, complexifying through a “biological” evolution driven by random mutations selected out by a crude mechanism “red in tooth and claw”, that eventually produced human beings, capable of producing art, music, painting, sculpture, architecture, and dance, this creativity some would have you believe is a product of a consciousness that is an illusory epiphenomenon. Furthermore this all takes place in vast, dead cosmos that was born once upon a time when nothing exploded (the Big Bang?!?), the deistic conception of the universe is bizarre, the reductionist view insane (“the limit test for credulity”), strangely such ideas are treated as reasonable.

“For approximately 500 years [science’s] argument for its pre-eminence was that it could create beautiful toys: aircraft, railroads, global economies, television, spacecraft. But that is a fool’s argument for truth! I mean, that’s after all how a medicine show operates, you know: the juggler is so good, the medicine must be even better! This is not an entirely rational way to proceed.”

-Terrence McKenna


This mechanical view of life is also a very convenient myth, historically (and still today) the pseudo Darwinian mechanical evolutionary model has appealed to ruling classes, seeking justification for their dominance. The genetic determinist paradigm being essentially a rebranding of eugenics. This myth supports the interests of corporatism, leading to vastly wasteful research into profitable disease treatments, not cures, a patient cured is a customer lost.

Evolution of both organisms and the biosphere is absolutely purposeful, and of course purpose requires intelligence, no purpose without mind or intention. To suggest that All that we see around us has come about by blind, random, chance, is well staggeringly stupid, a person does not achieve accomplishment of any sort through random chance, will, directionality is involved, choice, would biology be any different?.

“Passively taking whatever you are given, by history and nature, is entropic; choosing intelligently from possible diets, selecting courses of action, will create pattern and reduce entropy.”

-Ray Peat

To suggest that humans have come about through random chance mutations seems insane, we are purposeful, and all those who have contributed in any way to what human civilisation we have, have consciously lived with purpose.

Purpose is negentropic / Kosmotropic, we see in this world, despite the monstrous stupidity, the ecological disasters and wars wrought by human ignorance, there is order, Kosmos, biological Life.

Further we see evidence that biology both organisms and the biosphere have qualitatively evolved becoming ever more complex, ever more, energetic, ever more conscious and aware.

Adults would be expected to be more individuated than children, however this requires a sort of choice, an exploratory expansion into possibility, the general culture opposes this on multiple levels, the inevitability of distorting trauma seems almost inescapable, learned helplessness is ubiquitous and an individual’s free growth is frustrated through a  toxic culture that blinds people to their own potential. Adults often appear to have suffered a sort of dedifferentiation, the free expression of their own vital creative energy having been hindered by the cultural environment.

To suggest that the Life we see around us has become what it is without purpose seems absurd, an absolute denial of reality, and yet this is the position that is treated as reasonable by mainstream science, praise be to Random Chance!

The mechanical model obviously contributes to the problems of psychiatry, beyond categorising individuals struggling to effectively orient themselves within a deranged antihuman culture as mysteriously “chemically imbalanced” and genetically defective, it also automatically discounts the possibility that some individuals may in fact have more finely tuned sensory capacities, if a person hears things or sees things that others don’t the assumption is that they are crazy, this problem is compounded by the distinct possibility that if someone was to find their sensory abilities very suddenly becoming more refined, and plunged into perceptions they had previously not experienced, their ability to orient themselves to these new perceptions might at first be a little shaky, like a child learning to walk, it seems likely that they might have a few falls as they learn to orient themselves to these new perceptual capacities.


“Indubitably, Magick is one of the subtlest and most difficult of the sciences and arts. There is more opportunity for errors of comprehension, judgement and practice than in any other branch of physics.”

-Aleister Crowley

William Blake claimed to see visions, and hear voices, at times finding these experiences disturbing, he eventually integrated them into his life and was enriched by them. The general consensus of many of his contemporaries was that Blake was charming, though quite mad.

Much of modern science is self-limiting, it has imposed false limits on reality, jumped to conclusions about the nature of Life that are groundless, based only on the dull preconceptions of limited minds that argue noisily for them, genetic determinism and the idea that consciousness is an epiphenomenon arising from electrically firing neurons, are perhaps the most problematic example of this. When people are taught that their identity is determined by genes, and that their consciousness is complicated illusion, that they are inconsequential, an accident adrift in cold dead Cosmos, a passive attitude is encouraged, this attitude renders them easily manageable on large scales, if life is dead mechanistic matter then why seek anything outside of the culturally approved entertainments.

“Reason, or the ratio of all we have already known, is not the same that it shall be when we know more.”

Blake was critical not only of reductionist science but conventional religion, which he saw as Life-denying curse, the body and sensual experience seen as sinful distractions, the material world for the religious was just a dead world created by “Old Nobodaddy aloft”, the idea of God as the distant Grand Architect, was for Blake madness, such an idea could not describe true Divinity but only a half mad demiurge, the limited and limiting, Urizen. These life-denying interpretations of religion have oddly enough formed the basis of the current secular reductionist tendencies in science.

These dualistic conceptions, that propose either a physical world created by a distant sky giant, with a vaporous metaphysical soul interacting with an earthen body through the pineal gland, or a world of dead matter, with consciousness as an illusory epiphenomenon have contributed to the gross stupidities that currently endanger all life on this planet.

If instead we were to imagine that consciousness was the fundamental property of Life, intrinsic to biology, how would this affect our approach to life? If all things that live are conscious surely that means that we share in this experience with them, if “worms and flies and ants are conscious and in the same situation as human beings, the bonds of sympathy and forgiveness are universal.”

I think it is possible that the greatest evidence for a living Kosmos is the sensitivity of the human nervous system, a sensitivity that simply cannot be explained by the mind numbingly stupid explanations of conventional biology reliant on nerves functioning through binary all or nothing signalling, mediated through the actions of mechanical “pumps” installed in fatty membranes. To believe that this model of nerve biology explains the exquisite sensitivity that we experience through our various senses, the vision of the iridescent peacock’s tail, the deeply nuanced sense of hearing that allows for the experience and creation of music, our senses of smell taste, touch and proprioception, to suggest that our living experience is a product of digital nerve function is insane, a denial of vibrant Living reality.

Further if we accept that consciousness is intrinsic to biology, the sensitivity of organisms being convincing evidence that this is so, the question then becomes where did this consciousness come from? Is it possible that matter is consciousness, biology being this matter becoming more conscious / energetic, waking up to its latent potential, exploring its possibilities, evolving itself? It would also follow that the Universe itself is conscious, biological and biophilic.

“The psyche cannot be totally different from matter for how otherwise could it move matter? And matter cannot be alien to the psyche, or else how could matter produce psyche? Psyche and matter exist in the same world and each partakes of the other, otherwise any reciprocal action would be impossible. If research could advance far enough, therefore, we would arrive at an ultimate agreement between physical and psychological concepts.”

-Carl Jung


We don’t know what “matter” ultimately is, the sensitivity demonstrated to be intrinsic to matter by JC Bose, who found that metals subjected to various mechanical, thermal, chemical, and electrical stimuli demonstrated electrical excitatory and fatigue responses similar to living biological material1, suggests that it may be meaningless to attempt to split these concepts, matter and mind.

The evidence for the spontaneous formation of biological life, found by various individuals including Sidney Fox2 and Wilhelm Reich, would suggest that given the right circumstances and stimulus “non-living matter” can somehow learn to reconfigure itself into living forms, suggesting that a primitive consciousness has awoken.

“The dualistic conception of matter as distinct from energy and consciousness is a constrictive illusion put in place by the forces of empire, and the living reality would be freed from the inert husks of the wrongly conceived natural world”.

-Ray Peat.

This could be considered a materialistic proposition, however one that understands that “matter” is something in process, and if so the dream of the Alchemists may be a real  possibility, the “spiritualization” of  “matter”,  making “matter” ever more energetic and ever more consciousness, and with this an increase in the various attributes of consciousness; simplicity, play, purpose, compassion, creativity, insight, and grace. Ever greater freedom, ever more Life.

If consciousness is understood to be the fundamental quality of Life, inseparable from biology, then we are no longer imaged as victims of a genetic lottery adrift in a cold dead universe, but instead active creative participants in the unfolding and expression of both our own psychobiology and that of the living Cosmos that nurtures and supports us.

“The joy of life consists in the exercise of one’s energies, continual growth, constant change, the enjoyment of every new experience. To stop means simply to die. The eternal mistake of mankind is to set up an attainable ideal.”

-Aleister Crowley

Consciousness clearly interacts with biology in a deeply intimate way, anyone who has observed the relationship between breath and psycho-emotional state must have realised this. Multiple studies show that conscious awareness is capable of generating biological changes, increasing the convolutions and surface area of the cerebral cortex, optimizing metabolism, changing brain wave patterns, increasing or decreasing healing, the limits of conscious biopsychic modification are unknown, this is a vast and for the most part unexplored territory, the horizon cannot be seen.

Cracking open the Mundane Shell

Cracking open the Mundane Shell

“We’re supposed to keep evolving, evolution did not end with us growing opposable thumbs.”

-Bill Hicks


“God sleeps in stone, breathes in plants, dreams in animals, and awakens in man.”

-Hindu proverb.


“He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.”

-William Blake

[666] “Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.”

1 Bose found that metals and living tissues (plant and animal) were all benumbed by cold, intoxicated by alcohol, wearied by excessive work, stupified by anaesthetics, excited by electric currents, stung by physical blows and killed by poison. All exhibit essentially the same phenomena of fatigue and depression, together with possibilities of recovery and of exaltation, as well as the possibility of permanent irresponsiveness, death.

2 “Fox put nearly dry amino acids onto hot volcanic rocks, and when he added a little water, the amino acids polymerized spontaneously, and nonrandomly, into peptide chains; when these were put into water, they spontaneously formed microspheres, that looked like, and behaved very much like, bacteria. Fox saw his work as a validation of the principle that nature itself created higher order spontaneously.”  In Fox’s production of the proteinoid microspheres, the ordered growth is a consequence of the properties of the substance in a permissive environment. The order is not imposed from the outside onto passive matter.