The idea that small models of pyramids can preserve food was developed in the 1930s by French hardware store owner and pendulum dowsing author Antoine Bovis. Unverifiable stories persist that Bovis stumbled across a paranormal force while standing inside the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid in Egypt. According to this legend, he saw a garbage can inside the chamber which had been piled with dead animals that had wandered into the structure. Bovis noticed that these small carcasses were not decaying, and inferred that the structure was somehow preserving them.
This popular version is contradicted by an account discovered by Junior Skeptic magazine in which Bovis denies visiting Egypt. In this self-published French-language booklet Bovis off-handedly ascribes the discovery of pyramid power to armchair reasoning and mystical experiments in Europe using a dowsing pendulum:
I have supposed that Egyptians were already very good dowsers and had oriented their pyramid by means of rod and pendulum. Being unable to go there to experiment and verify the radiations of the Keops Pyramid, I have built with cardboard some pyramids that you can see now, and I was astonished when, having built a regular pyramid and oriented it, I found the positive at the East, the negative at the West, and at the North and the South, dual-positive and dual-negative.
Despite the legend, the idea that pyramids could preserve food was not a result of a chance discovery made while standing inside the Great Pyramid, but followed from Bovis’s previous convictions regarding dowsing:
A new supposition: since with the help of our positive 2000° magnetic plates we can mummify small animals, could the pyramid have the same property? I tried, and as you can observe with the small fish and the little piece of meat still hanging, I succeeded totally.
Inspired by Bovis, in 1949 a Czechoslovakian named Karel Drbal applied for a patent on a “Pharaoh’s shaving device”: a model pyramid alleged to maintain the sharpness of razor blades. According to the patent, “The method of maintaining the razor blades and straight razor blades sharp by placing them in the magnetic field in such a way that the sharp edge lies in the direction of the magnetic lines.” Drbal alleged that his device would focus “the earth’s magnetic field,” although he was unclear how this would work or whether it was the device’s shape or materials that exerted the effect.
Drbal’s contention that razors could be sharpened (or have their sharpness maintained) by alignment with the points of the compass or the Earth’s magnetic field was probably not original to him. Junior Skeptic magazine discovered exactly similar claims published decades earlier. In 1933, The Times of London carried letters claiming, “if I oriented my razor blades…N. and S. by the compass…they tend to last considerably longer” and “The idea of keeping razor blades in a magnetic field is not quite new. About the year 1900 I found this out….”
In 1968, paranormal authors Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder visited Czechoslovakia, where they happened across a cardboard pyramid manufactured commercially by Drbal. They met with Drbal, then dedicated a chapter of their popular 1970 book Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain to pyramid power. This book introduced to the English-speaking world both the concept of pyramid power and the apocryphal origin story about Antoine Bovis.
If you would like to make your own scale model of the Cheops Pyramid just click here.