Theosophy is defined by Britannica as an “occult movement originating in the 19th century with roots that can be traced to ancient Gnosticism and Neoplatonism. The term theosophy, derived from the Greek theos (‘god’) and sophia (‘wisdom’), is generally understood to mean ‘divine wisdom’.”
The movement was co-founded in 1875 by Helena Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott and William Quan Judge, but is probably best known through the writings of Blavatsky, who has been denounced as a fraudster and plagiarist.
Theosophy offers a range of odd beliefs regarding Atlantis(a) including the idea that it sank in portions in a series of earthquakes that began 800,000 years ago before the last island of Atlantis, Poseidonis, sank in 9564 BC.
William R. Fix (1941- ) graduated from Canada’s Simon Fraser University with degrees in Behavioural Science, History and Philosophy. Although he is not a creationist, Fix is opposed to the theory of evolution and has produced his own account of man’s origins in his 1984 book, The Bone Peddlers.
His earlier book, Pyramid Odyssey, presents a case for reappraising the history of civilisation demanded by the existence of structures such as the Great Pyramid and the story of Atlantis as related by Plato. He, rather conventionally, places Atlantis in the Atlantic based on his interpretation of Plato’s text combined with the rather dubious corroboration of Edgar Cayce. He continued his pyramid studies in his next book, Star Maps, moving on to the subject of reincarnation, from the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians to the ideas of Cayce and Rudolf Steiner’.
Most interesting for me were Fix’s comments on the Ibn Ben Zara Map (p.161) which is claimed to reflect Europe at the end of the Ice Age and his observations on the orientation of the Temple at Karnak (p.267) which may suggest a greater than accepted antiquity for “the sources of Egyptian civilisation.”
*Ivan Petricevic refers to the Ben Zara Map in similar terms(b) – “ Created in 1487, the map displays remnants of glaciers in Britain, but also extremely detailed depictions of islands in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. Today, these islands still exist, but due to rising water levels, these are now underwater.”*
Jean-Pierre Lacroix has written a paper arguing that the location of the temples at Karnak and Thebes are a physical representation of the constellation of Aries(a).
Alexandre Saint-Yves d’Alveydre (1842 – 1909) was a French occultist, who placed the destruction of Atlantis around 12,000 BC and attributed the building of the Sphinx to Atlantean refugees.
His belief regarding the age of the Sphinx inspired one of his followers, R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, to develop his ideas further.
Eckart Kahlhofer (1936- ) is a German entertainer(a) and Atlantis researcher who has recently added his support to the concept of Atlantis in North-West Europe echoing some of the ideas of Jürgen Spanuth. He identifies the invasions of the Sea Peoples with that of the Atlanteans during the 12th century BC. Like Spanuth he also equates orichalcum with amber. Among his more creative ideas is to identify the Shardana as coming from Sweden and similarly argues that the Philistines came from northwest Europe.
Additionally, he contends that the elephants referred to by Plato were in fact deer, claiming that a scribal error resulted in the Greek word elaphos (deer) being transcribed as elephas (elephant).
He strongly rejects the commonly accepted interpretation of Caphtor, contending that the term refers to the ‘pillar of heaven’ in the North Sea holding up the sky and personified by Atlas.(See: Archive 2809)
Publication of his book, Atlantis in the Third Millennium, was imminent and due to have been available in English and German. However, he has now published an ebook with the title of Mit Atlantis–die andere Dimension (Atlantis: The Other Dimension) in German.
In October 2013 Kahlhofer published an English translation of a sample of his work. His latest work Der Atlantis Codex is now available as a free pdf file(b).
(b) http://www.atlantisreport.com/index-en.htm (English & German)
Professor Heinz Kaminski (1921-2002) was a German chemical engineer and space researcher. He also had an interest in Atlantis and expressed his ideas in a couple of books that located Plato’s island in the Atlantic . Unfortunately, he included as ’sources’, Cayce and Steiner, abandoning any possible claim of scientific objectivity. Kaminski spoke of ‘spiritual science’ and thought that the Atlantis mystery could only be solved through faith. His books have had some scathing reviews by German commentators.
In his Von Stonehenge nach Atlantis Kaminski proposed the existence of a megalithic grid in Europe which ran from Stonehenge across Europe with an east-west and north-south orientation, sometimes referred to as the Stonehenge/Wormbach System(a).
Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. He was reared a Christian and even taught Sunday school. He considered becoming a minister, but a lack of both education and funds prevented him from taking this course. The story goes that at the age of around 20, Cayce (pronounced KC) lost his voice and through self-hypnosis cured himself. He eventually found that he could cure others while in a trance and eventually his fame spread to such an extent that he was reported in the New York Times of 9th October 1910.
In due course Cayce’s trances were producing prophetic utterances or ‘readings’, that produced ideas totally at variance with his Christian upbringing, such as reincarnation and contact with the dead. During his lifetime over 14,000 ‘readings’ were recorded. In 1931 the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) was founded by Cayce to manage a depository of his ‘readings’.
Towards the end of 1944, Cayce became very ill and on New Year’s Day, 1945 he ‘prophesised’ that he would be miraculously healed of his illness. He died three days later. Arguably, an even more disappointing prognostication was his claim that Jesus Christ would come again in 1998. The Cayce Petroleum Company was another failure in the 1920’s when Cayce and his associates unsuccessfully searched for the ‘Mother Pool’ of oil in Texas based on some of his ‘readings’.
Robert Bauval in his Secret Chamber reveals that Cayce seemed to have had a photographic memory and worked for up to fifteen years in a bookstore where, no doubt, he had access to the works of Donnelly, Steiner, Blavatsky and others[p158]. The terminology employed by those writers is frequently used by Cayce in his ‘output’! His Reading 364-1(e) reveals quite clearly that he was acquainted with theosophical literature as well as other works of fiction such as A Dweller on Two Planets.*It is, therefore, a clear possibility that this familiarity may have influenced his sub-conscious and his later prognostications.*
A number of these ‘readings’ related to Atlantis and have been published in a separate volume, Edgar Cayce on Atlantis. He is most famously known for his claim that Atlantis would rise again in 1968 or 1969. Dr. Mason Valentine discovered the so-called Bimini Road. A suggestion that this underwater feature had been known to members of A.R.E., years before its ‘discovery’, has been made by Picknett & Prince in The Stargate Conspiracy.
John Gribbin, the British science writer has imaginatively suggested[1029.91] that “if Cayce was indeed perceiving the future during his psychic trance, what he ‘received’ was a distorted version of the newspaper accounts of this story, which he duly reported in his own words in 1940.” On a more scientific note Gribbin explains (p.93) that “we can say beyond that Atlantis will not rise again from the Atlantic floor – there is no continental crust there to rise”.
K. Paul Johnson has written Edgar Cayce in Context, a well-balanced book that investigates in detail Cayce and his prognostications. In 1922 Cayce gave a lecture to the Birmingham Theosophical Society. Johnson relates how one Arthur Lammers, a theosophist, stayed with Cayce in 1923, during which sojourn, it appears that Theosophy was extensively discussed. Around the same time Cayce was developing a friendship with one Morton Blumenthal, also an ardent theosophist. Coincidentally, it was in 1923 that some of Cayce’s ‘readings’ began to display great similarities with some of the views expressed in Madame Blavatsky’s ‘revelations’. A further interesting fact is that Alexander Strath-Gordon met Edgar Cayce on a number of occasions in the 1920’s prompting speculation that he may have ‘influenced’ some of Cayce’s Atlantis readings, an idea that must be considered a possibility.
Cayce added that the Atlanteans discovered electricity and also had ships and aircraft powered by a mysterious form of energy crystal. He tells us that these flying machines were made of elephant skins! (Reading 364-6)(f) and that they could also travel through water!
With all this technology at their disposal it is incredible that they could have lost a war with anyone, particularly the relatively primitive Athenians. The 17th century fictional work of Sir Francis Bacon, The New Atlantis, contains many references to advanced technology not realised until the last century. An encounter with this widely available work could easily have coloured any ‘readings’ while in a trance. Therefore, it would appear that there is sufficient evidence to suggest the possibity of ‘contamination’ of Cayce’s subconscious to throw doubt on the possible value of any of his ’readings’, without impugning the honesty of Edgar Cayce himself. Since the much-quoted prophecy of ‘Atlantis rising’ in the late ‘60’s is quite possibly the result of such contamination, it cannot be considered as evidence of anything. The Bimini Road itself is still the subject of controversy.
Cayce was also wrong regarding other historical details(d), such as the date of the biblical Exodus, which he declared to be 5500 BC (reading 470-22)(g), an error of about 4,000 years!
William B. Stoecker has written an article, which is highly critical of Cayce’s work(b). Nevertheless, it must be conceded that in one respect Cayce did offer one remarkable suggestion which claims that the Atlantean survivors fled to a number of locations (i) The Pyrenees – Home to the Basques (ii) Morocco – Berber country (iii) Egypt and (iv) North America – forming the Iroquois Nation. Coincidentally, the Berbers, Basques and Iroquois all share a specific DNA type(a).
Unfortunately, Plato is hardly mentioned at all by Cayce except for a brief reference to “the few lines given by Plato.” (Reading 364-1)(g).
*(g) See: Archive 2913*
Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was a follower of Madame Blavatsky and rose to become head of the German Theosophists. However, in 1913, he developed his own brand of Theosophy, which he called Anthroposophy. This movement was based on the idea that the human intellect has the ability to contact spirit worlds. He designed and built a temple, the Goetheanum, for his burgeoning movement. The Goetheanum was burned down by people assumed to have been Nazis.
Steiner, who was born in Austria, was a keen supporter of the pan-German cause and consorted with known racists, although he was not overtly racist himself. However, Waldorf schools initially founded by Steiner in the 1920’s are still operating today in the United States and Europe and are still dogged by accusations of racism(b). A colouring book designed for young Waldorf pupils, based on Steiner’s writings, can be viewed online(a). It includes Atlantean flying machines and power sources. His strange cosmology included a flat Earth and his medical advice was equally weird(d).
Steiner, with the aid of ‘spirit guides’, has offered some bizarre descriptions of Atlantis, which he claimed gradually sank in the Atlantic in 7227 BC.
A large amount of Steiner’s work is now available in the pdf format(c).
*(a) http://www.openwaldorf.com/atlantis.pdf (offline Feb.2018)*
Sceptics regarding the existence of Atlantis have been around since the time of Plato. The first such critic was assumed to be Aristotle, a pupil of Plato’s, who apparently denounced the Atlantis tale as an invention. However, this presumed scepticism of Aristotle’s has now been seriously challenged by Thorwald C. Franke in a 2012 book, Aristotle and Atlantis specifically dealing with the subject. Nevertheless, Aristotle does record the existence a large island in the Atlantic known to the Phoenicians as Antilia, inadvertently supporting Plato’s story(i).
Franke has recently outlined the extensive support for the existence of Atlantis from the earliest times in his recent German language book. He has followed that with a YouTube video(j) in which he relates how scepticism became more extensive in the 19th century.
Many modern commentators believe that in the interests of dramatic effect Plato heavily embellished the core truth underlying the story, namely that of an ancient submerged civilisation.
However, when we consider modern sceptics we find that they have been provided with unlimited ammunition by the poor scholarship of many Atlantis supporters and the outright ravings of the likes of Blavatsky, Steiner, Cayce, and a profusion of other authors, who claim to have channelled information regarding Atlantis.
Edwin Ramage, in his essay on Atlantis, makes the interesting comment that “believers tend to overshadow the sceptics for the simple reason that a positive theory, whether it is simple or elaborate, tends to be more attractive and to make better reading than any attempt at refutation, no matter how well taken it may be.” This is probably akin to referenda questions being framed by governments in a manner that favours a Yes vote that will provide the outcome that they want. This is because most people prefer to say Yes rather than No.
However, if the Atlantis narrative has any truth in it, the legitimate criticisms of sceptics must be given due consideration. One such sceptic is Paul Jordan who has produced a highly critical work on the subject. Jason Colavito is another vocal non-believer and has written a considerable amount on the subject(d). A number of other websites(b)(c)(e) can also be recommended.
I recently came across a sceptic review of Atlantis theories by Justin Spring which I thought contained some novel views and although I totally disagree with his conclusions, I feel it should be given a reading(g).
While I expect that few sceptics will be reading this entry, I would recommend to anyone a paper by Karla Mclaren, a former New Age ‘believer’ who developed into a sceptic(f).
A 2015 survey by Chapman University of California was repeated in 2016, which suggested that nearly 40% of American believe that an advanced prehistoric civilisation, such as Atlantis, existed, causing consternation among sceptics(h). Why they found it so depressing is hard to understand, since popular belief is no guarantee that it is supported by reality. After all, it was once commonly thought that the sun revolved around the earth!
There are times when I regret that I have not had a university education and then along comes a qualified academic who manages to remove any such feeling. One of those is Seth Stein, a professor at Northwestern University, who specialises in plate tectonics, who was reported in early 2018(k) to have proposed that “one of the strongest reasons to dispel Atlantis as a true ancient civilization is the fact that we haven’t found it.” This asinine comment shows a total abandonment of critical thinking, because he seems to think that because something has not been found, proves that it does not exist. For example, before Heinrich Schliemann, Troy did exist, but had yet to be located. Professor Stein’s stupid statement is also built on a flawed understanding of what Plato said or more correctly, did not say. Plato never described Atlantis as a continent, as assumed by Stein and it can be reasonably argued that our Atlantic Ocean where he sought Atlantis was not the Atlantic ‘Sea’ referred to by Plato. I suggest that Stein sticks to earth sciences and leave Atlantis to others.
*(f) http://www.csicop.org/si/show/bridging_the_chasm_between_two_cultures/(link broken April 2019) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20180605101330/http://www.csicop.org/si/show/bridging_the_chasm_between_two_cultures/*
(i) Strabo, II, 102 and XII, 598. Cf. Proclus In Timaeum 61a (Diehl I, p. 197).
Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky(1831-1891) was nothing but another charlatan in a long line of fraudsters who have tried to exploit the story of Atlantis. However, she and her ilk are frequently quoted as ‘authorities’ on the subject. Consequently I felt obliged to give some of her history in order to bring some perspective into her rather dubious credentials.
Blavatsky was born in Ekaterinoslav, now known as Dnepropetrovsk in the Ukraine. She had a colourful life including a stint as a circus bareback rider to being a professional pianist. She was born in the Ukraine and married a Russian military man, who was a provincial governor. After a brief period she left him and embarked on extensive travels in the East, during which she claims to have spent seven years studying in Tibet. Eventually, she ended up in New York and became a co-founder of the Theosophical Society. Theosophy is an occult philosophical religious system allegedly based on ancient Hindu writings. She claimed to have had direct contact with two dead Tibetan Mahatmas. In 1877, Blavatsky published a huge, two-volume book called Isis Unveiled. It contained ONE page on Atlantis in which she presented her views regarding Atlantis. She claimed that the people of Atlantis were the “fourth race” on Earth. She said they were a super-human people who lived long before human beings. According to Blavatsky, the era of Atlantis lasted for eight to ten million years, and the cataclysms that caused its main continental formations to sink happened as much as four to five million years ago. She believed Atlanteans had amazing psychic powers. However, they were corrupted by a great dragon king, Thevetat, and turned into wicked magicians who started a war that destroyed Atlantis.
In 1884, following accusations by the Indian press that she was promoting a deception, the London Society for Psychical Research carried out an investigation and the following year declared that Blavatsky was a fraud.
In her next book, The Secret Doctrine, published after her death, Blavatsky tells much more about her Atlantis. In that book she comments on an ancient text that she claims to have been written in Atlantis. She tells how the survivors of Atlantis settled in Egypt and built the pyramids about 100 thousand years ago. A far cry from the conventionally accepted, though sometimes disputed, date of around 2600 BC for their construction. In 1893, W.E. Coleman made a study(c)(e)of her books and concluded that they were the result of a remarkable act of plagiarism. Isis Unveiledwas calculated to contain at least 2,000 passages copied without credit. A core of around 100 books were used which in turn quoted with references to a further 1,400 works. By the time Secret Doctrinewas being ‘assembled’ Ignatius Donnelly’s first book had been published and was also subjected to Blavatsky’s style of literary cannibalism.
Theosophy spawned a number of breakaway groups and has inspired quite a number on the lunatic fringeof Atlantis writers. Anthroposophy, a concoction of Rudolf Steiner, was one of these. Blavatsky has done nothing to advance the study of the Atlantis mystery, instead with her deceit; she only muddied the waters further. Since Atlantis had disappeared through flooding, it was possible to write almost anything about it, without any real danger of being definitively refuted. It is rather like libelling the dead; they can’t come back to prove you wrong. To-day Blavatsky is often referred to as “the grandmother of the New Age movement”.
For further information you can view a website(a) devoted to Blavatsky. A further site(b) outlines in some detail the level of plagiarism that she engaged in.
In 2013 Gary Lachman, the musician and occult writer, published a book attempting to rehabilitate Blavatsky and followed up with an article in the June edition of Fortean Times of the same year promoting the book. Jason Colavito has written a review(d) of the FT article. Colavito has also debunked(f) the claim that Blavatsky had discovered the theory of relativity before Einstein, an idea put forward by her grand-nephew Boris de Zirkoff (1902-1981).
(e) http://williamblystone.com/real-origin-theosophy-isis-unveiled-secret-doctrine/ (offline Dec.2015)
Atlantology as a distinct field of study is accepted by most to have begun with the works of Ignatius Donnelly, however flawed many of his ideas may have been. Since Donnelly, it has developed into a very complex multidisciplinary subject. Students of the topic are known today as Atlantologists although an earlier designation was Atlantists, a term now used to describe supporters of political and economic co-operation between the USA and western Europe. The inventive Zia Abbas prefers to use the term ‘Atlantisology’!
N. Zhirov, the leading Russian Atlantologist, has offered the following formal definition of the subject: “It may be regarded as a department of the biogeography of the modern, Quaternary period (Anthropogen) of the Earth’s geological history, a department chronologically relating to the period of the emergence of intelligent man, a period directly preceding our historical epoch beginning with the last glaciation.” He believed that Atlantis was primarily a geological problem that could only be resolved through a study of the geological history of the Atlantic Ocean.
A less cumbersome definition might be “the study of all aspects of Plato’s references to Atlantis”
A forum dealing with Atlantology(a) and suggested parameters for its study may be found interesting by readers. I personally disagree with a number of the headings proposed for inclusion, such as ‘Rudolf Steiner’, ‘Ireland & Tara’ and ‘Shangri-la’, as I consider them unrelated to Plato’s Atlantis.
Over the years that I have spent compiling Atlantipedia it became clear that different theories became ‘fashionable’ from time to time, because of new discoveries, the opinions of prominent individuals or as a consequence of heavily publicised books. The 15th century saw Gutenberg develop the printing press in 1436 and the first complete works of Plato, translated by Marsilio Ficino were published in 1484, so when Columbus discovered the New World in 1492, there were many who speculatively identified the Americas as Plato’s Atlantis. This idea persisted until the end of the 19th century*and even today some think it a possibility.*
More specifically, when the monumental structures of the Maya and Incas were gradually revealed to Europeans, once again a link with Atlantis was proposed for South America and still has some support today.
However the most popular and enduring theory is that Atlantis had been situated in the Atlantic Ocean, with the Azores as the prime candidate. It received a boost in support with the discovery of the Mid Atlantic Ridge in the 19th century and was used by Ignatius Donnelly in the formulation of his Atlantis theory.
In 1872, the elements of the Minoan Hypothesis began to appear when Louis Figuier was first to link Atlantis with the 2nd millennium eruption of Thera. Today, this idea is probably the most accepted, apart from the Atlantic location.
There are many other theories regarding Atlantis, some more exotic than others, but, in my opinion, none that match all the criteria that can be gleaned from Plato’s account, although their authors would disagree.