Geoff Stray, Author of the Month for March 2010
The Tortuguero Prophecy Unravelled (cont.)
By Geoff Stray
This Norse mythology was, of course, the basis for Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, (as Vincent Bridges has pointed out), which was set at the end of the third age. The nine ringwraiths, or Nazgûl were nine kings who were corrupted by the nine rings of power, and were immortal in the "realm of shadows". The fourth age began with the passing of the One Ring that binds the nine, following a battle between good and evil, and this was the start of the age of men. A similar battle will occur at each junction of the ages, and we are now approaching the end of the fourth age. Another fictional manifestation of the underworld and nine was a film called The Ninth Gate, starring Johnny Depp, in which he has to locate all three copies of a 17th century book called The Nine Gates to the Kingdom of Shadows. The book contains nine engravings that decipher as parts of a ritual to raise the devil, but only three engravings from each book are the genuine ones, and these are all signed by Lucifer.
In Siberian shamanism, there is an overworld, middleworld and underworld that are all explored by the shamans. It is said that the overworld has nine "coats" or levels, that they call "God's bodies".  In the first Days of February, the Clear Tent ritual was held, which lasted for nine days. One of the two last shamans of "Taimir nganasans", Ivan Gornok, described the experience to A.A. Popov, a Soviet ethnographer. During the ritual, the shaman travels through all three worlds, and in the underworld, visits the Lake of the Nine Grandads, in which are nine hills with "horns". These are the bellies of nine brothers who are sleeping. The shaman has to travel down one of the horns (penises), thus emerging in the next coat of the lower world, where he finds nine tents where nine women sit. One of these is the "belly tent", and when inside, they find the woman has nine daughters, who will feed the visitors. This fractal repetition is reminiscent of a Russian nested doll.
In the Sierra Nevada, in Columbia, the Kogi people have survived isolated from the rest of the world for many generations. Their creation myth says that the Mother - Aluna - created a cosmos or womb with nine levels, which are the nine daughters. Eight of the nine worlds were infertile - Earth was the only fertile world. Daughter Earth was fertilized by Serankua - one of nine sons. The communal sanctuary is a hut called the Kankurua, which has a nine-level roof structure, in which they can access the nine worlds and the nine states of consciousness. The shamans of the Kogi are called Mamas, and they are chosen at birth and spend their first nine years in total darkness, learning to travel in Aluna, which is comparable to the astral realm of western esoteric systems.
SHAMBHALA AND THE KALACHAKRA PROPHECY
In Tibetan Buddhism, there are traditionally said to be six Bardos, or "transitional states" that are experienced between death and rebirth. However, they can apply to any transitional experience in life. These six states of consciousness are Birth, Dreams, Meditation, Death, Clear-light Experience and Transmigration. The Clear-light Experience Bardo starts with profound peace and awareness, but can include karmically-created terrifying hallucinations including meetings with 42 peaceful and 58 wrathful deities. Those who are not spiritually prepared (by meditation, and reading the Bardo Thodol, or Tibetan Book of the Dead, with its exercises), could end up transmigrating into a "less than desirable incarnation". In the Dzogchen teaching of the Nyingma school of Vajrayana Buddhism, it is said that there are nine Bardos - the three extra ones are Vision, Movement, and Instantaneous Ordinariness. The nine Bardos are connected with the nine Yanas, or paths of Buddhism, and are symbolised in the "nine-pronged dorje and drilbu" - ceremonial tools representing compassion and wisdom. Remember that when Bolon Yokte returns at the end of the 13th Baktun, the Chilam Balam indicated, "After Death will be the subject of his discourse."
There is a mythological hidden kingdom in Tibet called Shambhala. Many have searched in vain for this land of Paradise. Edwin Bernbaum's book, The Way to Shambhala is probably the best overall guide, and he says that there were 2 dynasties of kings of Shambhala - the eighth king of the first dynasty founded a new dynasty of which he was the first of 25 kings that would each rule for 100 years. The Kalachakra prophecy says there would be a total of 32 kings between the time of Buddha's death and the coming of the Golden Age, which will last at least 1,000 years, when there will be no more toil or conflict, and the human lifespan will expand to 1,800 years. Some lamas say that this king - Rudra Cakrin, (the Hindu name is Kalki) is now ruling, since there are disputes over the date of Buddha's death.
A map of the kingdom of Shambhala, with the eight outer and the ninth inner region separated by mountain ranges.
Shambala is shaped like an eight-petalled lotus flower. There are eight regions surrounding a ninth. Each of the eight regions has 12 principalities, but in the centre of the heart of the lotus is the Central Palace, which has nine levels. This is also referred to as Mount Meru, the axis mundi. Shambhala is said to be the Heart Chakra of the world, and the heart chakra or Anahata is usually depicted as a 12-petalled flower, but sometimes it has eight (there is an extra chakra in Tibetan Tantra called the Hrit chakra, that is just below the Anahata, and it has eight petals). There are several guidebooks to finding Shambhala, but Bernbaum says  these have a symbolic meaning:
"In other words, we can read the guidebooks to Shambhala as instructions to taking an inner journey from the familiar world of the surface consciousness through the wilds of the subconscious to the superconsciousness. From this point of view, the deities, demons, mountains, rivers and deserts described by the texts, symbolise the various contents of the unconscious that we have to face and master - or make use of - on the way to awakening the innermost mind. These contents include a number of inner obstacles or psychological blocks of two general kinds. Some come from repressed parts of the surface consciousness: They include hidden fears, desires, illusions, and habits that keep us confined to our usual state of limited awareness. Others have their source in elements of the deeper levels of the mind that act as barriers to keep the superconscious from being overrun by the impure and chaotic contents of the subconscious."
According to Victoria LePage,  the eight outer regions of the kingdom of Shambhala represent eight states of consciousness, accompanied by pain and conflict that lead to the ninth, the "radiant mind of enlightenment". In Kundalini Yoga, it is said that when Kundlini (the evolutionary serpent-like energy that is dormant in the base chakra of un-awakened people), ascends the subtle channel of the spine (the sushumna) and reaches the Anahata chakra, then the soul awakens. Now recall that the Hopi say at the next Emergence, consciousness will reverse its direction, back from solar plexus to heart.
Rudra Cakrin will ride out and "kill the barbarians", ending the age of discord, and inaugurating the Golden Age, when Shambhala will become visible. Bernbaum says that the killing of barbarians refers to "a decisive inner conflict that results in the emergence or awakening of the innermost mind". So, the Kalachakra prophecy seems to be saying that we are on the verge of a Golden Age, and just before it emerges, people will confront their own inner demons and shadow material, clearing out the closets as a necessary preparation for life in an idealized world. The inference is also there, that realms that were previously invisible become accessible to our senses.
The Shambhala concept is rooted in the pre-Buddhist shamanic tradition of Tibet, known as Bön. The Bön equivalent of Shambala was called Olmolungring and was also a completely pure and spiritual land (usually depicted as a square with many rectangular regions, but in the centre are eight regions surrounding a central square region). At the centre was a nine-levelled mountain called Yungdrung Gutsek, and each level symbolised the nine stages of Bön that lead to enlightenment. Olmolungring was not a physical place and could not be reached before enlightenment was achieved. However, some scholars have identified the Mount Kailash area as Olmolungring - it has an obvious layered look, due to the weathering of the geological strata.
HEAVEN, HELL AND PURGATORY
In Christian tradition, there are nine choirs of angels around the throne of God: Seraphim; Cherubim; Dominions; Thrones; Principles; Potentates; Virtues; Archangels and Angels. Twenty-four centuries ago, Plato conceived of nine spheres around the Earth, that were the "ethereal spheres" of the moon, the sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, then the sphere of the fixed stars, then the sphere of the zodiac. In the second century AD, Ptolemy used the same scheme, but with the sun's sphere moved to a place between Venus and Mars. The Kabbalistic Tree of Life showed nine sephiroth or spheres above the Earth, or Malkuth. The spheres are connected by 22 paths that are related to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the 22 trumps of the Tarot deck, and the 22 chapters of the Book of Revelation. The trumps refer to the trumpets of Revelation that announce the arrival of Judgement Day, depicted on trump number twenty.
The nine spheres of Ptolemy and Plato compared with Dante's nine spheres, sevenfold (really ninfold) Purgatory and nine circles of Hell. This drawing by Cactani was not done until 1855 - over 500 years later - Hell has too many circles.