Lyall Watson was a scientist and author of several books in which he attempted
to find a biological and scientific basis for supernatural phenomena as well as
looked at many, many other different fascinating subjects through the different
lenses of modern science.
He is credited with coining the phrase "hundredth monkey" which is often used to
describe instances of apparently spontaneous and accelerated evolution. He is
best remembered for his book, "Supernature," which topped the best
seller lists for 50 weeks, but he wrote lots of wonderful, inspiring and
Watson is considered a true modern polymath (from the
Greek: πολυμαθής, polymathēs, "having learned much") - that
is: a very knowledgeable person whose expertise spans a
significant number of very different subject areas. (Being
called a polymath puts you in good company; one of the most
famous historical polymaths was Leonardo da Vinci).
Background of Lyall Watson
Lyall Watson was born on
April 12, 1939 in South Africa. He died at the age of 69 on
June 25, 2008.
He had a fond love of nature from early
childhood and learned about the outdoors by spending time with
the local bushmen. By his first day of school, he already knew
over 800 species of birds.
He studied various aspects
of nature in college, including paleontology, and earned
degrees in zoology and botany. He later went on to study
biology, chemistry, anthropology, geology, and ecology. He
obtained a doctorate in ethology.
career included writing books, researching, making nature
documentaries, and being a zookeeper and expedition leader.
He was a private person, but was often in the media
limelight. He became a cult hero in Japan after "Supernature
made him a well-known figure. He dined with the Japanese Royal
Family as well as at Buckingham Palace, but also traveled
under harsh circumstances to places such as the bush and
Lyall Watson made important contributions
to the world through his work conserving whales and
researching wildlife. His books opened minds and made people
aware of the intelligence and potential of all living things.
While his books aren't filled with self help advice, they
have been very popular among self help enthusiasts and New Age
book readers because Watson provides an alternative way of
looking at the world and offers hope humans can become
something greater on an individual and global scale.
Books by Lyall Watson
• "Supernature: A Natural
History of the Supernatural"
was published in 1973 and brought Lyall Watson international acclaim. It became a bestseller,
and very popular among readers of New Age books. Supernature
is the area between natural and supernatural where Watson says
incredible and unexplainable things happen. It is filled with
mysterious stories and examples that include things such as
psychic powers, the power of the mind, circadian rhythms,
astrology, pyramid power, effects of the sun and planets on
earth life, and super powers such as eyeless sight. The book
is thought provoking and has had readers pondering the
mysteries of life and the universe for over three decades.
• "The Biology of Death: A Matter of Life and Death"
published in 1974 and takes a spiritual and scientific look at
death among humans and the plant and animal world. Watson
discusses topics such as when the point of death occurs and
touches on the afterlife and ghosts. Although it doesn't offer
specific self help advice, this book is helpful for people who
fear death as it helps replace the fear with intrigue and hope
that life goes on.
• "Gifts of Unknown Things: A True
Story of Nature, Healing, and Initiation from Indonesia's
was published in 1976 and tells the story of
the people of Nus Tarian in Indonesia. Mystical occurrences
are commonplace and the local people accomplish magical feats,
miraculous phenomena, and psychic healings. Lyall Watson
offers an exciting adventure blended with a scientific
exploration that encourages readers to challenge beliefs about
• "Lifetide: a Biology of the Unconscious"
published in 1979. In this book, Lyall Watson discusses his
experiences with the supernatural as well as scientific
theories of evolution and DNA. He explains that lifetide is
state of the human condition of consciousness and
self-awareness. It is the conflict of genetic destiny with the
collective unconsciousness. He further states that hypnosis,
paranormal events, and dreams give a peak into the collective
unconscious that transcends individual minds.
More and more books are also becoming available as ebooks and
of the World: A Field Guide to the Cetaceans"
was published in
1981 and reflects Watson's love for these creatures. He was
active in whale conservation and even founded a marine park
out of love for them and other sea creatures. This book gives
readers a look at the various types of whales.
"Lightning Bird: The Story of One Man's Journey into Africa's
was published in 1982. This book tells the story of an
Englishman's adventure into the deepest parts of Africa where
he encountered witch doctors and experienced supernatural
events. It provides insight into the human spirit and Stone
Age man. It gives readers a feel for real Africa and explores
the differences between it and modern societies.
"Heaven's Breath: A Natural History of the Wind"
in 1984. It is an account of how wind has affected humans
throughout history and describes various winds around the
world such as the Santa Ana winds and Sirrocco. This book is
an interesting read for nature lovers.
• "Beyond Supernature: A New Natural History of the Supernatural"
published in 1986 and is available also as an ebook. In it,
Watson provides examples from nature that show some sort of
supernatural unifying bond among life forms. He describes how
plants communicate over vast distances and how crowds of
people spontaneously form, act together and then disperse. He
further suggests there is some force that exists, and cannot
be consciously controlled, yet runs through all living things
on earth keeping us connected and in communication.
"The Dreams of Dragons: An Exploration and Celebration of the
Mysteries of Nature"
was published in 1986. In this book, Lyall Watson explains there is truth behind all legends, even
the seemingly impossible ones. He takes readers to prehistoric
times and present-day villages where he explores legends and
phenomenon that defy scientific explanation. Watson leaves
readers with a wonder and appreciation of the natural world.
• "The Water Planet: A Celebration of the Wonder of Water"
was published in 1988 and is an in-depth look at the waters
found on earth and how they shape our world and our lives. The
book is accompanied by beautiful photographs, making this an
enjoyable and educational book for kids and adults.
"The Nature of Things: The Secret Life of Inanimate Objects"
was published in 1990. In this book, Lyall Watson explores the
mysteries of inanimate objects and theorizes that all things
have life in them of some sort. The life could stem from the
earth itself or be acquired from living things that came in
contact with the objects. Watson relates unusual cases such as
bleeding statues and lost wedding rings finding their owners
through impossible means. Watson further suggests this life
can linger in objects as mental fossils that can affect energy
patterns and influence people who come in contact with them.
• "Dark Nature: A Natural History of Evil"
in 1995. In this book, Lyall Watson provides an explanation
for evil and violence in the world that political, religious,
and human nature explanations can't account for. He takes a
scientific look at evil that has biological roots rather than
religious, and doing so shows readers that evil can be
controlled. Using examples of Nazi Germany, corporate greed,
and personal violence, he shows evil does indeed exist but
explains it is an expression of human genes and as such can be
eliminated if humans become more spiritually evolved.
"Warriors, Warthogs, and Wisdom: Growing up in Africa"
published in 1997. It provides an insider's view of growing up
in Africa. The book is accompanied by illustrations throughout
and gives readers a real feel for what it was like to grow up
in the bush and learn about nature from Zulu bushmen. The love Lyall Watson had for Africa and all aspects of nature shines
through in his writing and inspires readers to expand their
appreciation for other life forms on the planet.
"Jacobson's Organ and the Remarkable Nature of Smell"
published in 2000 and is a look at how smell affects our lives
and relationships. The book is about the two tiny organs
inside the human nose that could have properties not fully
realized by scientists. Watson explains these organs are
responsible for detecting pheromones, and play an important
role in emotions, awareness, attraction, and mate selection.
• "Elephantoms: Tracking the Elephant"
was published in
2002 and pays tribute to these majestic animals. Waton
describes elephants as mystical animals and helps readers
understand how they are intelligent, highly emotional, self
aware creatures. He met elephants in the wild as a child
exploring the bush in Africa and continued to have a life long
fascination and love for them. In this book, Watson offers
metaphorical tales and true stories about these creatures that
help readers foster a deeper appreciation and love for them
and other living things.
• "The Whole Hog: Exploring
the Extraordinary Potential of Pigs"
was published in 2004.
This book by Lyall Watson is a celebration of pigs. It
includes trivia, photographs, and illustrations that help
readers understand these creatures better. Watson explains
that pigs are animals most like humans in that they are smart,
friendly, playful, and make combat strategies. He further
explains how pigs are misunderstood and mistreated by society.
This book will appeal to animal lovers of all kinds and will
help readers become more aware of the intelligence present in
other life forms on the planet.
The Legacy of Lyall Watson
Watson's books became so
popular because he wrote from his heart. His love for nature and
animals was evidenced in all his work.
He didn't offer self
help advice, so as such he isn't representative of the self help
authors presented here, but Lyall Watson did open the hearts and
minds of many of his readers and helped them foster compassion, awe,
and love for all of nature's creatures. His books also attracted
those intrigued by the mysteries of life and the paranormal. Through
his books readers could explore supernatural mysteries in the light
of modern science and come to realize life is far more complex and
mystical than previously imagined.
The books of Lyall Watson
have inspired and entertained readers for decades. He was an amazing
man, a cultural icon to some, a hippie guru to others, but through
it all he retained his love, respect, and awe for all creatures on
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