Sunday, January 24, 2016
The Lost Continent of Atlantis by Lewis Spence 1920
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Atlantis: a supposed sunken continent, which according to some accounts, occupied most of the area of the present Atlantic Ocean. It is dealt with here because of late years several accounts purporting to come from certain spirit "controls" have been published which give a more or less detailed description of the history, life and manners of its inhabitants, and it is of interest to Theosophists. The question regarding the existence of such a continent is a very vexed one indeed. It appears to have originated at an early date, for Plato in his Timeaus states that the Atlantians overran Europe and were only repulsed by the Greeks. It is stated that the Hindu priesthood believed, and still believe that it once existed; and there are shadowy legends among the American native races which would seem to assist these beliefs. At the same time definite proof is conspicuous by its absence. Brasseur de Bourbourg held that Atlantis was an extension of America which stretched from Central America and Mexico, far into the Atlantic, the Canaries, Madeiras and Azores being the only remnants which were not submerged; and many similar fantastic theories have been advanced. Donnelly undertook to prove the existence of such a continent by modern scientific methods, and located the Atlantis of Plato as an island opposite the entrance to the Mediterranean — a remnant of the lost continent. He thought that Atlantis was the region where men first arose from barbarism to civilisation, and that all the civilised peoples of Europe and America derived their culture thence: that it was indeed the antediluvian world of the Garden of Eden; that the Atlantians founded a colony in Egypt; and that the Phoenician alphabet was the Atlantian alphabet: that not only the Aryan but the Semitic people, and perhaps the "Turanian" races, emerged therefrom: that it perished in a terrible revolution of nature in which the whole island sank into the ocean with nearly all its inhabitants; and that only a few persons escaped to tell the story of the catastrophe, which has survived to our time in the flood and deluge legends of the Old and New worlds. Even some serious scientists have not disdained to examine the question, and it is claimed that ocean deposits show remains of what must have been at one time a land above the ocean. The theory that the Atlantians founded the civilisations of Central America and Mexico has been fully proven to be absurd, as that civilisation is distinctly of an aboriginal nature, and of comparatively late origin. (See Spence. Myths of Mexico and Peru.) The late Dr. Augustus le Plongeon and his wife spent many years in trying to prove that a certain Queen Mo of Yucatan, founded a colony in Egypt; but as they professed to be able to read hieroglyphs that no one else could decipher, and many of which were not hieroglyphs at all but ornamental designs, and as they placed side by side and compared with the Egyptian alphabet a "Mayan" alphabet, which certainly never originated anywhere but in their own ingenuity, we cannot have much faith in their conclusions. We do not learn from Dr. le Plongeon's works by what course of reasoning he came to discover that the name of his heroine was the rather uneuphonious one of Moo, but probably he arrived at it by the same process as that by which he discovered the "Mayan" alphabet. He further assumes that his story is taken up where he ends it by the Manuscript Troano, which is, however, chiefly calendric and not historical. Some years ago a French scientist left a large sum of money for research in connection with the sunken continent of Atlantis, and this has been fully taken advantage of by a certain author, who is pursuing his investigations in a practical manner.
The claims of certain spiritualists and occultists to restore the history of Atlantis are about as successful as those of the pseudo-scientists who have approached the question. They claim to have reconstructed almost the entire history of the island-continent by means of messages from spirit controls, which acquaint us minutely with the polity, life, religion and magical system of the Atlantians; but in the face of scientific knowledge and probability these accounts fail to convince, and are obviously of the nature of imaginative fiction. There is also a certain body of occult tradition concerning Atlantis which may either have originated from oriental sources, or else have come into being in the imaginations of later occultists; and this is to some extent crystallised in the works in question. It would be rash to say that such a continent as Atlantis never existed; but it would be equally foolish to say so dogmatically without a backing of much greater proof than we at present possess on the subject.
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