‘Colonel’ James Churchward (1851-1936) was a British engineer and patentholder. However, his most famous invention was ‘the land of Mu‘, an imaginary counterpart of Atlantis, supposedly situated in the Pacific. He wrote six books between 1926 and 1935 to promote this brainchild. The last volume, Books of the Golden Age,was published as recently as 1997, based on material dating back to 1927.
Churchward claimed to have gained his knowledge of Mu from the so-called Naacal Tablets which were translated for him by an Indian priest. Jason Colavito has recently expanded on this matter in a recent blog(i).
Readers might be interested in reading a newspaper report from 1932 in which he claimed the existence of flying machines in ancient India(k). This idea was subsequently adopted by Pauwels & Bergier, copied by Von Däniken and more recently stolen by Hatcher Childress. Colavito has written a valuable piece(l) on the origin and evolution of the story of vimanas in ancient Indian literature and debunking the suggestion that they were some early UFO.
The kindest thing that I can say is that Churchward’s most valuable contribution to literature was A Big Game and Fishing Guide to Northeastern Maine, published in 1898. Two of the many gems offered by Churchward are (1) “Christ’s last words on the cross were in the language of Mu” and (2) “the sun is not a superheated body; it is a cool body but highly magnetic”(b) !!!
Fortunately, geological knowledge today clearly demonstrates that Churchward’s vast island of Mu is as impossible as Donnelly’s Atlantic Atlantis. However, although Churchward also accepted that Atlantis was a mid-Atlantic continent, I am tempted to think that he invented Mu in the Pacific in the hope of emulating Donnelly’s publishing success with Atlantis. A critical review(h) of Churchward’s theories, in French, is available on the Internet.
James Churchward’s younger brother, Albert (1852-1925)(right), was a Masonic writer, who was the author of The Origin and Evolution of the Human Race . It is interesting that this book, now available online(j), makes no reference to Mu or Atlantis.
An extensive paper written by his god-daughter, Joan Griffith, about his life and work is available online(a).
Churchward’s great-grandson, Jack, also has a website(d) dedicated to telling his story. This includes an acceptance(c) that the rank of ‘colonel’ used by his great-grandfather was, on balance, another invention. Jack also admitted(m) the unreliability of James’ translation of the Troano Manuscript, influenced as it was by the earlier seriously flawed attempts by Bishop Diego De Landa (1524-1579), de Bourbourg and LePlongeon.
Mu was first used (invented?) by Brasseur de Bourbourg in 1869 as the name given to a mythical continent that supposedly existed in the Pacific Ocean, according to an incorrect translation of the Codex Troano. At the end of the 19th century this fictional continent was confusingly moved by Augustus le Plongeon into the Atlantic! Subsequently, le Plongeon’s friend ‘Colonel’ James Churchward moved Mu back to the Pacific in a 1931 book, The Lost Continent of Mu, in which he presented it as a kind of Pacific precursor to Atlantis.Churchward claimed that his work is based on inscriptions on the so-called Naacal tablets, which he was allegedly taught to translate by an Indian priest. Churchward is reputed to have devoted 50 years of his life searching for Mu. In 2011 a hoax claim that the Naacal tablets had been rediscovered did nothing but detract further from Churchward’s already dubious reputation (Document 030412).
Churchward was born in England but lived mainly in America. He wrote a book on fly-fishing in Maine and even more incongruously was granted a series of railroad related U.S. patents. Although he liked to be addressed as Colonel no record of his military service has been found. He never identified the monastery where his priestly mentor lived nor has any monastery ever claimed to possess such tablets. Churchward never produced any evidence whatsoever that the tablets existed. His books cannot be treated as credible as they offer nothing but the outpourings of an over fertile imagination. At the time of his death, in California, he had a number of additional books in preparation.
Churchward’s grandson, Jack E. Churchward, now has a website(a) devoted to his writings. It is not generally known that the father of modern Turkey, Kemel Ataturk, had Churchward’s book studied in the hope of confirming links between the Turkish people and ancient civilisations such as the Uighur (recently in the news), Maya and Aztec!
In 1969 the French hydrologist Louis-Claude Vincent (1906-1988) published two volumes on the origins of civilisation which he placed in Mu. This was probably the last major work based on the very questionable output of Churchward.
Later psychics have embellished the already colourful writing of Churchward and pushed the story from fiction to farce.
Strictly speaking Mu should not to be confused with Lemuria, as the former is just an invention of Le Plongeon while the latter word was originally used as a geological term to describe a hypothetical submerged landmass in the Indian Ocean. Nevertheless, the two terms are now frequently used interchangeably. Furthermore, a third name, Pan, has also been used to describe a vast sunken continent in the Pacific.
Brien Foerster, the Canadian-reared writer, claims that the Hawaiian Islands are the remains of Mu(b), whereas Churchward considered them to be just a tiny part of his imaginary landmass.
Jason Colavito, following some hate mail from an over excited Mu ‘believer’, has written an interesting article(c) on the history of Churchward’s lost continent.
Frank Joseph in his most recent offering has some really nonsensical ideas to offer regarding mythical Mu. He claims that 40,000 years ago “sudden sea-level rises triggers migration from Mu around. The Pacific motherlanders settle on a large, fertile island about 380 kilometers due west from the Straits of Gibraltar. There, the newcomers merge with the native Cro-Magnon inhabitants, resulting in a new, hybrid culture – Atlantis.” He offers no evidence to support any of this and fails to explain how his Mu was inundated, but the new Atlantic home was not.
He then jumps forward to 9600 BC and has Mu flooded once again, followed by another wave of migration to Atlantis. Unsurprisingly, offering no evidence and no explanation why these migrants would bypass the more accessible continents of Asia, Africa and America and head for an island in the Atlantic, which would have been effected by the same sea-level rise that inundated Mu!