Competing the ‘golden tablets’ of the (Mormon) Angel Moroni and Madame Blavatsky’s “Stanza’s of Dzyan” the English occultist James Churward announced fifteen thousand year old golden tablets describing the God/King empire of Mu, 1926. It was William Churward however who in a 3,800-word letter titled "Relics of an Extinct Race!" lamented to the Brooklyn Times in 1890, that while everyone knew Atlantis and that even children could chart its location, "who can offhand draw the lines of Lemuria? It is just as much a continent as the famed Atlantis, but who knows its former place upon the globe?"
Like the Churwards, it is usually accepted that also Ignatius Donnelly who briefly mentioned ‘Lemuria’ in his 1882 book about Atlantis, was indeed inspired by occultist H.P. Blavatsky's 1880 essay, "A Land of Mystery," in which she wrote of "an immense submerged Pacific continent," attested to by "the most ancient traditions of various and widely-separated peoples-legends in India, in ancient Greece, Madagascar, Sumatra, Java, and all the principle isles of Polynesia, as well as those of both Americas"
One aspect to occult cartographies of loss of Lemuria is the insistence that they are based on maps which had been actually produced on the drowned continent itself, and which had, since its submergence, been preserved in secret archives that the occultist painstakingly recovers through acts of astral clairvoyance and telepathy. This claim is first advanced in 1896, when the English Theosophist Scott-Elliot published his The Story of Atlantis, which included four maps of the world for a period ranging from 1,000.000 years ago to 9,654 B.C. The foreword to the monograph by the Anglo-Indian Theosophist Alfred P. Sinnett noted proudly that Scott-Elliot had had access to "some maps and other records physically preserved from the remote periods concerned," and hence "historical research by means of astral clairvoyance is not impeded by having to deal with periods removed from our own by hundreds of thousands of years.
Scott Elliot himself, observing that his book had been based on occult records to which he had been privy, insisted that "it has been the great privilege of the writer to be allowed to obtain copies-more or less complete-of four of these [maps]. All four represent Atlantis and the surrounding lands at different epochs of their history."
A few years later, when he published his The Lost Lemuria with Two Maps Showing Distribution of Land Areas at Different Periods in 1904, Scott-Elliot again reiterated, as in his earlier monograph on Atlantis, that he had obtained the two maps that were included in this work from occult records that he had been "privileged to obtain."
But Lemuria's relationship to Atlantis, with which it is frequently twinned, varies in post-Theosophical occultism. In the psychic visions of Edgar Cayce (1877-1945), arguably the most famous of American occultists of the first half of the twentieth century, Lemuria is a Pacific continent that disappeared "in a series of cataclysms lasting 200,000 years," before the emergence of an Atlantean civilization. For New Ageist Michael Baran as well, Lemuria preceded Atlantis by a few centuries; its "loftier" inhabitants had a tense relationship with Atlanteans. The Biblical fratricidal confrontation between Abel and Cain "represents the ancient power struggle between Atlantis and Lemuria".. In David Manley's fictional Aros of Atlantis, Lemurians and Atlanteans destroy themselves in a catastrophic "thermonuclear war" in 23,638 B.C.. The coupling of Lemuria and Atlantis is another reason for the former's visibility in American occultism, in which Atlantis has always had an important place. This coupling is, of course, a modern innovation, since Plato's Atlantis story had no place for Lemuria.
It was however the Theosophical movement of the 1880’s, in which Lemuria is transformed from the paleogeographer's lost continent, uninhabited by humanity, into the submerged home of the "Third Root-Race," progenitors to Man. Recasted as a drowned Pacific Paradise in the 1920’s, and finally its New Age reincarnation from the 1950s as a lost utopian world of wisdom and well-being.
Thomas L. Harris and John Newbrough, had also written about vanished place worlds in their own occult histories of mankind. Thus, lost continents were clearly in the spiritualist and occult air when Blavatsky arrived in the United States in 1873
But Blavatsky (assisted by Colonel Olcott) in her 1877 compilation of occult literature “Isis Unveiled” stated that "the garden of Eden as a locality is no myth at all." Instead, it could be located in the "great lost continent" situated south of Asia, extending from India to Tasmania. This lost continent, named Lemuria, "a dream of scientists," is perhaps the same as Atlantis. "If the hypothesis now so much doubted, and positively denied by some learned authors who regard it as a joke of Plato's, is ever verified, then, perhaps, will the scientists believe that the description of the god inhabited continent was not altogether fable."
This recuperation of Atlantis by resorting to the paleoscientist's Lemuria is crucial to Theosophical place making over the next decade, as a result of which Plato's lost land becomes the birthplace of humanity, the home of the Fourth Root-Race from which the majority of Earth's more advanced peoples today are descended. While paleoscientists conveniently used drowned continents to account for connections between geographically separated flora, fauna, and human races, Blavatsky resorted to them to solve the puzzle of avowed similarities in civilizations in different parts of the worlds that her contemporaries typically explained by turning to theories of diffusion. She also incorporated lost places like Lemuria and Atlantis into a cyclical scheme of cultural evolution.
In Blavatsky's 1888, The Secret Doctrine, the foundational narrative for modern occultism, claimed to be a commentary on the "Archaic Records" contained in the Stanzas of Dzyan, written in the Atlantean language Senzar. As if to replace the notion Blavasky still proclaimed in Isis Unveiled that the ‘secret doctrine’ is “the jewish Kaballah. One even could wonder if the Dzyan is an ironic wordplay on a pseudo-Tibetan sounding “Zion”.
Regardless of Blavatsky's insistence on the Atlantean authorship of her visions, a wide range of contemporary writers clearly inspired her ideas on Lemuria. Blavatsky herself quotes at length from the French writings of Louis Jacolliot, whose own labors of loss around a submerged Pacific continent (that he insisted he learned of from Sanskrit and Polynesian legends) came to her attention just as Isis Unveiled was going to press. Neither Donnelly nor Jacolliot, however, linked Lemuria to Atlantis, as it is in Blavatskian Theosophy. A religious movement as Theosophy is, with the loss of faith and belief in an age of advancing materialism, the speculations about lost continents in the earth's past came in handy. In these vanished paleoworlds, ancient beings who, rather than the ignominious simians of the paleoscientists, were the real ancestors of humanity. The memory of which has been left as traces in lost and secret records the recovery of lost ancient wisdom-a philosophia perennis, that only the Theosophist can access through occult means.
Recently in the UK, Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval (via divination and numerology) archeological conspiracy. In their follow-up book “Talisman” (published in Italy the UK. USA, and Russia) Hancock/Bauval use the occult Tarot cards designed by H.P. Blavatsky’s forunner, Eliphas Levi (Abbe Constant) to support their right wing Zionist-Masonic conspiracy theory.
But it is with Blavatsky that Lemuria of paleoscientific place making is appropriated and put to the diametrically opposed purpose of vigorously challenging the history of Earth and humankind that was then being reconstructed by Lyellian geologists and Darwinian evolutionists, especially the latter's avowed insistence that man had evolved from ape.
In its place, the Theosophist offered an alternate genealogy for Man, through the medium of apocryphal Mahatmas far outside the reach of the material world of the geologist, the natural historian, or the ethnologist:
"Every unprejudiced person would prefer to believe that Primeval Humanity had at first an Ethereal-or, if so preferred, a huge filamentoid, jelly-like Form, evolved by Gods or natural `Forces,' which grew, condensed throughout millions of ages, and became gigantic in its physical impulse and tendency, until it settled into the huge, physical form of the Fourth Race Man-rather than believe him created of the dust of the Earth (literally), or from some unknown anthropoid ancestor."
In this process, Blavatsky also challenged the Creation myth of orthodox Judeo-Christianity whose hallowed Adamic ancestor is replaced by the giant Lemurians of the Third Root-Race and their successors, the Atlanteans where the ‘Arian race’ came from. So she boasts: “Occult Sciences claim less and give more, at all events, than either Darwinian Anthropology or Biblical Theology."
In this, as in other regards, there is remarkable consensus among the Theosophists on the place of Lemuria in the history of Earth and of man.
As Blavatsky wrote, "Lemuria is half the creation of Modern Science, and has therefore to be believed in." Theosophists are also agreed that Lemuria was a Mesozoic (or "Secondary") continent which flourished from the end of the Permian until its eventual disappearance, after a series of cataclysmic events, sometime in the Eocene .
In contrast to the paleoscientist who shies away from giving his fabulous imagination full rein in this matter, alternative archeologist like recently Hancock and Bauval, are willing to use occult technologies of (card)"reading" and "seeing" to fantasize. Or mediumistic as in the following example from W. Scott-Elliot's much-quoted The Lost Lemuria.
The Lemurian man lived in the age of Reptiles and Pine Forests. The amphibious monsters and the gigantic tree-ferns of the Permian age still flourished in the warm damp climates. Plesiosauri and Icthyosauri swarmed in the tepid marshes of the Mesolithic epoch, but, with the drying up of many of the inland seas, the Dinosauria-the monstrous land reptiles -gradualy- became the dominant type, while the Pterodactyls-the Saurians which developed bat-like wings-not only crawled on the earth, but flew through the air. The smallest of these latter were about the size of a sparrow; the largest. however, with a breadth of wing of more than sixteen feet, exceeding the largest of our living birds of today. . . . [So] it is written in the stanzas of the archaic Book of Dzyan.
As occult place making gathers momentum over the course of the century, other such fantasies of Lemuria's landscape follow. Although they lack the intimacy of the ancestral homeland of the Tamil devotee in Sri Lanka.
In Theosophy's place making, Lemuria was peopled by the Third Root-Race, itself a successor to two others, an unnamed First Root-Race which had flourished on a continent called "The Imperishable Sacred Land," and the Second Root-Race of Hyperborea, a "bona fide" continent of the North Pole. In contrast to the First Root-Race and to the Hyperboreans, the Lemurians were not form-less, speech-less, sight less, or sex-less. Indeed, in the course of his evolution through seven stages (or "sub races"), the Lemurian progressively developed a material body, began to walk erect, started to use his vision (with the help of a Third Eye), learned to speak (albeit in monosyllables), and, most importantly, took to sexual reproduction after millions of years of asexual procreation. This was a defining moment-about halfway through the Lemurian cycle, 18 million years ago precisely, when the fourth of the Lemurian subraces evolved-for this is when Man attains humanity, by receiving "the gift of the mind."
Blavatsky’s followers were quick to step into the breach and offer fabulous penportraits. Thus, Scott-Elliot's Lemurian of the fifth sub race was gigantic, somewhere between twelve and fifteen feet. His skin was very dark, being of a yellowish brown colour. He had a long lower jaw, a strangely flattened face, eyes small but piercing and set curiously far apart, so that he could see sideways as well as in front, while the eye at the back of the head on which part of the head no hair, of course, grew-enabled him to see in that direction also. He had no forehead, but there seemed to be a roll of flesh where it should have been. The head sloped backwards and upwards in a rather curious way. The arms and legs (especially the former) were longer in proportion than ours, and could not be perfectly straightened either at elbows or knees; the hands and feet were enormous, and the heels projected backwards in an ungainly way. The figure was draped in a loose robe of skin, something like the rhinoceros hide, but more scaly, probably the skin of some animals of which we now know only through its fossil remains. Round his head, on which the hair was quite short, was twisted another piece of skin to which were attached tassels of bright red, blue and other colours. In his left hand he held a sharpened staff, which was doubtless used for defence or attack. It was about the height of his own body, viz., twelve to fifteen feet. In his right hand was twisted the end of a long rope made of some sort of creeping plant, by which he led a huge and hideous reptile, somewhat resembling the Plesiosaurus. The Lemurians actually domesticated these creatures, and trained them to employ their strength in hunting other animals. The appearance of this man gave an unpleasant sensation, but he was not entirely uncivilised." This profile of the Lemurian was partly modeled, like Haeckel's and Keane's, on the Theosophist's fantasies of the black man who was declared his "degenerate" descendant. But it was also based on Blavatsky's contrary insistence that the Archaic Records speak of "towering giants of godly strength and beauty."" Even at his most developed, the Lemurian of the seventh subrace retained "the projecting lower jaw, the thick heavy lips, the flattened face, and the uncanny looking eyes," although he "had by this time developed something which might be called a forehead, while the curious projection of the heel had been considerably reduced.
It is Lemurians of the seventh sub-race who (along with their immediate predecessors of the sixth sub-race) developed "an important and long-lasting civilisation," under the benevolent guidance of divine elders from Venus called the Lhas, "the highly evolved humanity of some system of evolution which had run its course at a period in the infinitely far-off past. These Lemurians were still barely human, "on the verge of attaining true manhood," but nonetheless, with divine supervision, they learned to use fire as well as the art of spinning and weaving. While they had no dogma or institutionalized religion, they followed simple codes of conduct and moral precepts, and worshipped "a Supreme Being whose symbol was represented as the Sun .”
Indeed, in the Theosophical vision of human history, the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India, and Mesoamerica, so painstakingly being uncovered by classicists, archaeologists, and historians through their study of material remains, were but survivals of far earlier "higher lost cultures" which flourished not "on any of our present continents, but on an earth with a different division of land and water-when the Sahara was fertile soil, India an island, Central Asia a tremendous sea, when landbridges the size of continents connected Asia with Australia and Europe with America. The submerged continents and landbridges of paleogeography thus provide the setting for Theosophy's lost civilizations of humanity, enabling it to write longue duree histories of mankind that extended far back into Earth's deep time which had been emptied of human achievement by the disenchanted material sciences. All the same, although Theosophy presents Lemurians of the seventh sub-race as "civilized," they are still not credited with the origins of all of human civilization; that privilege is reserved for the Atlanteans who followed in their wake. Nonetheless, this original Theosophical innovation of putting Lemurians on a road out of bestial savagery is useful for succeeding occult labors in which Lemuria is recast not just as the cradle of man, but also the birthplace of all human civilization and high culture, as we will shortly see.
About 700,000 years before the Eocene, Lemuria began to break apart. Its catastrophic destruction was precipitated by an outburst of volcanic fire, not unlike that caused by the eruption of the Krakatoa in 1883 or of Mount Pelee in 1902 that impressed contemporary Theosophists, as it clearly did so many others. Earthquakes soon followed, and Lemuria progressively fragmented and subsided, "leaving only such fragments as Australia and Madgascar behind, as traces of its story, with Easter Island, submerged and reuplifted.
Even while this was coming to pass, an elect group of Lemurians had been led away to a spur of the submerging continent located at "latitude 7 degrees north and longitude 5 degrees west, which a reference to any modern atlas will show to lie on the Ashanti coast of today." It was there, out of the ashes of the Lemurian continent and the seed of its dying inhabitants, that the Fourth Root Race was born on the new continent of Atlantis.
The yoking of Lemuria's fate to Atlantis's fortune is another key Theosophical innovation that sets its apart from the place-making of the paleoscientists-and is yet another reason for the continuing popularity of Sclater's vanished continent in the occult imaginary. For the Theosophist, Atlantis had long existed, from the very origins of Lemuria, as a province of that continent. And yet, unlike Lemuria, "the dream of the scientists," Atlantis did not have science's blessing, and not least of the Theosophist's missions is to rehabilitate this mystical land which was responsible for nurturing the "veritable and complete human races the Fourth and the Fifth."" Accordingly, Blavatsky complained in 1888, "Atlantis is denied, when not confused with Lemuria and other departed Continents, because, perhaps, Lemuria is half the creation of Modern Science, and has, therefore, to be believed in; while Plato's Atlantis is regarded by most of the Scientists as a dream. Similarly, Scott-Elliot noted in 1904, "Although the lost continent of Atlantis has so far received scant recognition from the world of science, the general consensus of opinion has for long pointed to the existence, at some prehistoric time, of a vast southern continent to which the name of Lemuria has been assigned."
This, too, accounts for Lemuria's significance in Theosophical placemaking, for it enables the conversion of the "dream" of Atlantis into a hard "scientific" fact: The Atlantic Portion of Lemuria was the geological basis of what is generally known as Atlantis, but which must be regarded rather as a development of the Atlantic prolongation of Lemuria than as an entirely new mass of land upheaved to meet the special requirements of the Fourth Root-Race. Just as in the case of Race evolution, so in that of the shifting and re-shifting of Continental masses, no hard and fast line can be drawn as to where a new order ends and another begins. Continuity in natural processes is never broken. Thus the Fourth-Race Atlanteans were developed from a nucleus of Northern Lemurian Third-Race Men, centered, roughly speaking, toward a point of land in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. Lemuria and Atlantis have more than an umbilical connection; they are also envisioned as the homelands of the two Root-Races of the future, the Sixth and the Seventh.
This, too, emerged in the fertile place-making of Blavatsky, whose Mahatma letters included Master Koot Hoomi's prediction that "when they reappear again, the last seventh Sub-race of the sixth RootRace of present mankind will be flourishing on `Lemuria' and `Atlantis' both of which will have reappeared also (their reappearance following immediately the disappearance of the present isles and continents), and very few seas and great waters will be found then on our globe, waters as well as land appearing and disappearing and shifting periodically and each in turn.”
Years later, Annie Besant (1847-1933) and Charles W. Leadbeater (1847-1934) put it a little differently when they wrote that in the twentyeight century America-the home of the Fifth Root-Race-would be shattered into pieces by earthquakes and volcanic outbursts (just as Lemuria had been, way back in the Eocene). At that time, a new continent would emerge in the Pacific to serve as the brand new home of the more evolved Sixth Root-Race. "Gradually will that new continent be upheaved, with many a wild outburst of volcanic energy, and the land that was once Lemuria will arise from its age-long sleep, and lie again beneath the sun rays of our earthly day. As we will see, this prediction proves to be enormously productive for New Age labors of loss around Lemuria as the future utopian world of wisdom and well-being that would provide salvation for a materialist mankind that had had lost its unity with spirit.
Of course this last sentence plus more than that could just as well derive from Ian Lawton's Genesis Unveiled (2003), written with the help of Michael Brass. Both authors concluded that the evidence for anomalous modern human remains dating back many millions of years, as presented by Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson in their 1993 work Forbidden Archaeology, is flawed. But next go on to incorporate Blavatsky’s (invented) version of reincarnation..(1)
Also Annie Besant similar to Blavatsky goes on described the formation of Lemuria, she did so in terms that were quite explicitly geological-and that borrowed from the contemporary language of paleogeography and its fantasies of subsiding and erupting land formations.
But notwithstanding arguments (and evidence) submerged continents and drowned landbridges were frequently invoked in paleo-scientific place-making in the later half of the nineteenth century, as were catastrophic explanations for their loss. The routines of planetary life-the convulsions of nature and the great earth movements-that the paleo-sciences were painstakingly discovering, are seamlessly incorporated into an esoteric vision of the cosmos, so much so that the Theosophist even boldly declared, "We have a sufficient block of geological knowledge already in our possession to fortify the cosmogony of the esoteric doctrine.”
All the same, occult place-making is different because of the use to which contemporary geological truths are put. So, where the paleo-scientist finds Lemuria necessary to account for the geography of terrestrial life-forms, and for the geography of early man, the Theosophist turns to the lost continent to spatialize the journey of Spirit and to narrate the geography of Being also variously referred to as "the Pilgrim" or the "Human Monad"-as it travels through earth's history. Needing as they did both millions of years as well as a stable planetary surface to spatialize their alternative evolutionary narrative, the Theosophists found former continents like Lemuria (and Hyperborea and Atlantis) necessary for "the work of building a serviceable physical body."
But all this could happen only with some important changes. For one, for the paleo-scientist Lemuria was an Indian Ocean continent, although as Sclater had suggested in his christening act, it could have extended into the Atlantic as well. The Theosophist as well imagines Lemuria as an Atlantic landmass, for this facilitated the key mission to recuperate Atlantis which scientists might deny, but which occult records verified, as a province of the continent confirmed by paleogeography to have actually existed. But more often than not, Blavatsky and her followers were inclined to refer to Lemuria as a Pacific continent, even while acknowledging that it extended across the Indian and Atlantic oceans. This geographical shift may reflect the American location of many of the early Theosophists, as well as the growing American readership of their occult writings, even as it enables the Pacific adventures of Lemuria in the twentieth century.
Second, for the paleogeographers, Lemuria was just one among the many landbridges or continental masses that spanned the Mesozoic oceans, and there was no attempt to suggest that it was the most important. Theosophists, however, constructed a spatial hierarchy of continents to parallel their racial hierarchy. For more than 200 million years, through the course of the Mesozoic, Lemuria was the only continent that existed on the face of the earth, although in its early years, remnants of Hyperborea were still around; in Lemuria's later years, even while it was subsiding, fragments of Atlantis began to congeal. And there was no disagreement (as among paleoscientists) over Lemuria's continental status. As I document later, the English Theosophist Scott-Elliott even drew maps to graphically illustrate its continental proportions.
Finally, in Theosophical place-making, although Lemuria does eventually disappear as a result of catastrophic geological events, these are identified-drawing upon the riveting contemporary examples of the eruptions of Krakatau and Mount Pelee-as volcanic outbursts and earthquakes, rather than as subsidence or oceanic floods. And in contrast to the paleo-sciences, where it is never heard from again after its disappearance sometime in the late Mesozoic or early Tertiary-until, of course, Sclater's labors of loss rediscover it-Lemuria does resurface in the Pacific to stage the further evolution of the human spirit as it manifests itself in the Sixth Root-Race.
Like the ethnologist, the Theosophist, too, deems Lemuria to have been the birthplace of mankind, "the cradle of the Race in which human intelligence appeared. 1163 Here, the figure of Ernst Haeckel looms large in Theosophy's place-making, and indeed, Blavatsky saved some of her choicest vitriol for the German biologist who had dared to go one step further than even Darwin and had identified the Lemurian as the missing link between ape and man. So, she disavows Haeckel's appropriation of Sclater's Lemuria:
By a curious coincidence, when selecting a familiar name for the continent on which the first Androgynes, the Third Root-Race, separated, the writer [referring to herself] chose, on geographical considerations, that of "Lemuria," invented by Mr. P. L. Sclater. It was only later that, on reading Haeckel's Pedigree of Man, it was found that the German "Animalist" had chosen the name for his late continent. He traces, properly enough, the centre of human evolution to Lemuria, but with a slight scientific variation. Speaking of it as that "cradle of mankind," he pictures the gradual transformation of the anthropoid mammal into the primeval savage.
Like the ethnologist, the Theosophist, too, deems Lemuria to have been the birthplace of mankind, "the cradle of the Race in which human intelligence appeared. Here, the figure of Ernst Haeckel looms large in Theosophy's place-making, and indeed, Blavatsky saved some of her choicest vitriol for the German biologist who had dared to go one step further than even Darwin and had identified the Lemurian as the missing link between ape and man. So, she disavows Haeckel's appropriation of Sclater's Lemuria: By a curious coincidence, when selecting a familiar name for the continent on which the first Androgynes, the Third Root-Race, separated, the writer [referring to herself] chose, on geographical considerations, that of "Lemuria," invented by Mr. P. L. Sclater. It was only later that, on reading Haeckel's Pedigree of Man, it was found that the German "Animalist" had chosen the name for his late continent. He traces, properly enough, the centre of human evolution to Lemuria, but with a slight scientific variation. Speaking of it as that "cradle of mankind," he pictures the gradual transformation of the anthropoid mammal into the primeval savage!!”
For Blavatsky and her Theosophical followers, although Haeckel had been right in identifying Lemuria as the cradle of mankind-in fact, beating them to the punch in this regard, their disavowals notwithstanding-he had clearly gotten the story of human evolution completely wrong, as all materialistic science was wont to do, by tracing it all the way back to a speck of protoplasm. "As to the idea that Haeckel's Moneron-a pinch of salt!has solved the problem of the origin of life; it is simply absurd. Further, they noted that while the German materialist was "correct enough in his surmise that Lemuria was the cradle of the human race as it now exists, but it was not out of Anthropoid apes that mankind developed. This was the part of Haeckel's evolutionary labors of loss that Theosophists found most abhorrent. Like so many of their Victorian contemporaries, they were victims of what the paleontologist William King Gregory calls "pithecophobia, or the dread of apes-especially the dread of apes as relatives or ancestors."
In the Theosophical evolutionary narrative with which Blavatsky and her followers boldly coped with Darwinianism, apes only appear millions of years after the speaking human being. Their anatomical resemblance with man, of which material science made so much, was a consequence of the "sin of the mindless," namely, intercourse between beasts and the Lemurian in his fifth sub-race phase (after he had discovered sex). So anxious was Blavatsky in establishing a distance between the ape and the human that her Lemuria did not even include Africa within its borders: "Eastern Africa, by the bye, was not even in existence when the third race flourished.”
This in itself is also revealing of another reason why Lemuria assumed significance for Theosophy in the late nineteenth century. Because it had been identified by the paleo-scientist, albeit tentatively and speculatively, as the possible cradle of mankind, it is yet another site on which to wage the battle against Darwinian evolutionary science, especially as this was being currently propagated by enthusiasts like Haeckel. Hence the Theosophical insistence that Lemuria had indeed been the cradle of man, but that man had descended from Spirit rather than from a mere animal. The logic of Theosophy's elaborate cosmic evolutionary history of seven successive continental formations on and through which Spirit worked its biography is one that was shaped by the need to counter Darwinian evolution .
Or as Alfred P. Sinnett insisted as early as 1883, "The evolution of man is not a process carried out on this planet alone. It is a result to which many worlds in different conditions of material and spiritual development have contributed. Thus, the Darwinian theory of evolution had only discovered a portion, "unhappily but a small portion-of the vast natural truth. But occultists know how to explain evolution without degrading the highest principles of man."'
Evolutionary science could look in vain for the missing link between ape and man because "that link which unites man with his real ancestry is searched for on the objective plane and in the material world of forms, whereas it is safely hidden from the microscope and the dissecting knife." All things, especially Man, "had their origin in Spirit-evolution having originally begun from above and proceeded downward, instead of the reverse, as taught in the Darwinian theory. "
Indeed, as Peter Washington astutely observes, Blavatsky "transform [ed] evolution from a limited sociobiological theory into an explanation of everything from atoms to angels. Instead of opposing religion with the facts as presented by Victorian science, she attempt[ed] to subsume those facts into a grand synthesis that makes religious wisdom not the enemy of scientific knowledge but its final goal." In other words, Blavatsky and her fellow Theosophists sought to end the monstrosity of a world without god that evolutionary science had ushered in.
While Haeckel was roundly condemned for his fatal materialist mistake of singling out a simian ancestor for man and for degrading humanity by tracing the sacrality of life to a speck of protoplasm, there was one important area of agreement. As I earlier noted, the German biologist had suggested that the Hottentots, the Caffres, the Negroes, and the Papuans were the closest living representatives of his Ape-Man, and he had even fantasized about what his Lemurian would have looked like on this basis. This meets with Blavatsky's rare approval: "Professor Haeckel must also have dreamt a dream and seen for once a true vision !
Speaking through the voice of Master Koot Homi, Blavatsky had earlier intoned, in the Mahatma letters, "Behold, the relics of that once great nation [Lemuria] in some of the flat headed aborigines of your Australia.
But it was not just Australians who had a Lemurian connection. In Annie Besant's place-making from a few rears later, "the aboriginal Australians and Tasmanians, now well-nigh extinct, belong to the seventh Lemurian sub-race; the Malays and Papuans have descended from a cross between this sub race and the Atlanteans; and the Hottentots form another remnant. The Dravidians of southern India are a mixture of the seventh sub race with the second Atlantean sub-race. ”Where a real black race is found, such as the negro, Lemurian descent is strongly marked.”
Theosophy generates a complex geography of human races in which all the black peoples of the world are either Lemurians or their degenerate descendants, while the most advanced peoples of today-white Caucasians-are members of the fifth Root-Race, far removed from them.''' In the Theosophical evolutionism, as Spirit-or Monad or Pilgrim-works its way through the history of the earth, it "is compelled to incarnate in, or rather contact, every race". As it marches across the history of the earth, Spirit manifests itself in the form of the various Root-Races and sub-races which it successively sheds as it surges upward toward our present Fifth Race, the most perfect so far. Those who get left behind-referred to variously as "sluggards" and "failures"-are destined to stagnate. Arguably, this enchanted evolutionary vision is much more racist and hierarchical than that espoused by many a contemporary disenchanted materialist, for millions of years separate the white Anglo-Saxon from the black aborigine whose origins are ascribed to "the racial decay" that besets the seventh subrace in the closing years of Lemuria's life on earth. Further, rather than emerging from the more perfected forms of the Fourth Root-Race on Atlantis, as the majority of northern humanity do, the blacks of the world "fallen, degraded semblance, of humanity"-are deemed to be descendants of a "root-race" that was ultimately transcended by other, superior forms. Lemuria is handy in this regard as well, allowing the Theosophist to not only place the lower, degraded specimens of humanity in a different time, but also to isolate them further from the more evolved races by tracing their origins to a totally different continental configuration."
Perhaps the most famous of Blavatsky's European followers was Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) who, prior to his formal espousal of Anthroposophy, wrote extensively of Lemuria.
Steiner's labors of loss around Sclater's vanished continent were based on the so-called "Akashic Records," "Records of the Ether," which are "as much an undeniable reality as mountains and rivers are for the physical eye.
Given the occult premise of the essential unity of lost ancient wisdom, the Akashic Records reveal Lemuria's storz- to be remarkably similar to that found in Blavatsky's Archaic Records. All the same, given his Anthroposophical inclinations, Steiner also traced back to the Lemurian period the development of will power, as well as the powers of clairvoyant imagination which later either atrophied or utterly disappeared in man. Lemurian women, in particular, played a key role in the development of man's spiritual and psychic powers.
Anthroposophy, therefore, sought to rekindle those powers which once mankind had possessed-way back in Lemurian and Atlantean times-but which are now lost. Even after Steiner turned his back on Theosophy, preferring to systematize his own brand of occultism that was more firmly rooted in Christian esotericism rather than Oriental mysticism, the place-making labors of his "science of the invisible" continue to be faithful to Blavatsky's vision. His Cosmic History: Prehistory of Earth and Man (1923) repeats most of the occult assertions of Blavatsky.
Another offshoot of Theosophy which continued to be indebted to Blavatskian labors of loss was the Rosicrucian Fellowship, founded in 1907 in southern California by Max Heindel (1865-1919)
In Heindel's The Rosicrucian Cosmo-conception, Theosophy is leavened with mystical Christianity, and Lemurians are cast in an Adamic role, although Lemuria itself does not appear to have been an idyllic Garden of Eden, its landscape being hot, fierce, and cataclysmic. The Lemurian inhabitant of this primeval planet was a mystical creature, a "born magician," who felt himself a "descendant of the Gods.”
Max Heindel also claimed ‘clairvoyant vision’ but just like Rudolf Steiner re-wrote Blavatsky, Max Heindel in turn had simple written an English version of Steiner’s redaction in German. Thus like Like Blavatskian Theosophists, Heindel, too, claimed that "the greater part of the Lemurians were animal-like and the forms inhabited by them have degenerated into the savages and anthropoids of the present day."
' When Lemuria had played its part in the cosmic evolution of mankind, it was destroyed by volcanic cataclysms, and "in its stead rose the Atlantean continent, where the Atlantic Ocean now is."
Heindel's narrative ends with a telling prediction, appropriate for the American context in which it was published: "From the last of the seven races of the Aryan Epoch, and from the people of the United States will descend the last of all the Races in this scheme of evolution, which will run its course in the beginning of the Sixth Epoch."
Also Alice Bailey (1880-1949), a pioneer of the New Age Movement who started her occult career around 1915 in the Theosophical Society before peeling off to form her own Arcane Society in 1923, embraces the Blavatskian place-making vision of successive lost continents which serve as the homelands of successive races. While some aspects of her occultism depart from standard Theosophy, her Lemuria retains its status as the home of the Third Race, predecessor to Atlantis, and as the former continent where Spirit on its journey through Earth first.
In an essay published in the London-based Geographical Magazine in 1957, "The Peaks of Lemuria," Sir Hilary Blood, formerly of the Ceylon Civil Service and later Governor and Commander in-Chief of the British colony of Mauritius between 1949 and 1954, wrote:
It is said that they are the unsubmerged hills of a sunken continent-all that remains above the water-line of the Peaks of Lemuria. Most of them are uninhabited, unexplored, and undeveloped, visions of tropical beauty, pockethandkerchief paradises, protected in their unspoiled loveliness by the sweep of the ocean, known to bird and fish but not to man, inviolate save by sun and storm, existing for the glory of God who cannot but look with pleasure on these gems of his creation..
These ‘remnants of the former Lemuria’, were also the subject of a 1961 monograph published soon after by Oxford University Press called" Limuria: The Lesser Dependencies of Mauritius. (This book, meant as a general introduction to British colonial possessions in the western Indian Ocean, similarly invoked Lemuria to convey a sense of the remoteness of these islands from contemporary human civilization, as well as the uniqueness of their floral and faunal life.
Also Richard Edlis has published a book called Peaks of Limuria: The Story of Diego Garcia (1993), in which the author-who had been Commissioner for the British Indian Ocean Territory (consisting of the Chagos archipelago of fifty or so islands of which Diego Garcia is the largest) from 1988 to 1991-notes that the islands under his stewardship "comprise all that remains above sea-level of huge underwater mountains of volcanic origin which rear dramatically from the ocean bed 10,000 feet or more below.
The romantic appellation for these islands is the Peaks of Limuria. This "Indian Ocean Atlantis," he suggests, is "a paradise largely untouched by human hand." This is what makes the presence of a large U.S. naval base in Diego Garcia so threatening. Hoping that the Chagos archipelago would soon be designated "an international environmental reservation with proper protection from the impact of human short-sightedness and greed, Edlis concludes, "otherwise, it might be better if Diego Garcia and its fellow Peaks of Limuria were to slip once more under the waters of the Indian Ocean."
Transformed thus through such off-modern writings into an untouched Indian Ocean paradise, Sclater's ancestral habitat of the endangered lemur today stands on the verge of being appropriated into the regimes of global tourism that seek to promote the remote islands that might be its remnants as a haven for those moderns seeking to get away from it all for a while. It is only fitting that I give the last word to a new place-maker to join the ranks, the publicist for a hotel that calls itself "Lemuria," located in Seychelles, who tells prospective visitors in words that uncannily resonate with a century and more of the variegated labors of loss around this vanished land carried out across the globe:
Lemuria, the inspiration for the name of the hotel, was according to legend a lost continent similar to Atlantis. Geographers looked at the Indian Ocean and saw a line of small islands stretching from the neighbourhood of western India through Seychelles to Cosmoledo and east to the Chagos. They guessed that these islands traced the outline of a drowned continent and called it Lemuria. Almost unwittingly, they uncovered elements of truth.... If there is such a thing as a lost paradise, it is Seychelles. Lemuria is a living legend and it is fitting that its name should be preserved by one of the finest hotels in the world, in arguably the most beautiful hotel site, where paradise may be rediscovered."
But the earliest to do so are esotericists (occultists) on either side of the Atlantic from the late 1870s. Occult Lemuria, enduring to this day in the metropole, are of a piece with modern esotericism's fascination with secret, hidden, buried, and astral places where the unsundered unity of matter and spirit might still be found in these times which are imagined as so utterly removed from god. The occult business is about re-divinizing such a world, and Lemuria is useful for this project because science itself had revealed its paleo-existence even while voiding it of spirit.
Lemuria becomes one of the sites where the battle against Darwinian evolution is waged by Theosophy as it is transformed from Sclater's lemur habitat into a staging ground for demonstrating that man did not evolve from matter-or even more ignominiously, from the anthropoid ape-but from spirit as it manifested itself in the Third Root-Race. Beyond the late nineteenth-century Theosophical moment, Lemuria's place in occultism changes as its American practitioners recast it as a drowned Pacific paradise whose enlightened survivors may still be found secreted away in the hidden reaches of California, and as its New Age exponents transform it into an astral abode of lost wisdom and well-being which holds out a beacon of hope for a disenchanted mankind. Although Lemuria itself might not have a singular identity, nor do Lemurians, occult labors of loss are united by the singular concern with re-divinizing an Earth that had become atheized through the runaway triumph of a positivist materialist science that had reduced god's creation to matter, and matter alone.
This project would be launched from secret archives stored in lost continents like Lemuria, to which only the occultist has access through her clairvoyant powers and her ability to commune with vanished racial memories. Esotericism's ancient penchant for the hidden and the secret finds a new perch on submerged continents and drowned landbridges revealed by modernity's own prized earth sciences.
Post-Theosophical occultists like Wishar S. Cerve also make effective use of the sequential strategy in their cartographic labors of loss. His Lost Lemuria, published in 1931, included three maps, arranged sequentially, for a period ranging from 200,000 years ago, when the continent was at its greatest extent, to about 50,000 years ago, when it began to finally submerge). Using a partial grid (of only meridians but not latitudes), Cerve's maps first show Lemuria as a worldwide continent, extending across the Pacific and Indian Oceans about 200,000 years ago. It then progressively becomes a Pacific continent about 82,000 years ago as its connections with what is today Asia and Africa break .. And a third illustrates the world around 50,000 years ago, the continent is illustrated as "submerged Lemuria."
Importantly, where Lemuria had formerly stood in the middle of the Pacific without any contact with the Americas in the second, now parts of North America, especially California, are incorporated into the eastern edge of the submerging continent. As the continent finally disappears 15,000-12,000 years ago, only California remains above water, leading the author to insist: `By studying the maps in this book ... one will see that the western portion of the United States is a remnant of the submerged continent of Lemuria. Here we have the oldest of living things, the oldest of cultivated soil, and the more numerous relics of the human race which had reached a higher state of cultural development and civilization than any other races of man. "A few years later, when the American occultists of the Lemurian Fellowship began publishing their maps of the former continent, once again, California and other parts of the west coast of North America are shown as part of Lemuria's eastern seaboard."
Post-Theosophical occultists are also concerned with graphically illustrating their place-making contention that Lemuria was the original Paradise, the Garden of Eden where Man had first appeared and then dispersed to populate the rest of the world. James Churchward, in his multivolume documentation of the trials and tribulations of Mu, included a number of maps in which "the motherland" is shown at its greatest extent as a continent that dominates the Pacific, incorporating within its borders presentday Easter Island, the Marquesas, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, Hawaii, and the Ladrones. Other maps show the dispersal of various races and populations out of Mu, with arrows pointing to the directions in which they were headed to settle the entire world. The occultist claim that Lemuria was inhabited by the first humans also finds expression in the maps that accompanied the many publications of the Lemurian Fellowship. These are almost the only occult maps that graphically illustrate a familiarity with the continent's topography, as mountains, rivers, and the twelve river valleys where the principal clans that constituted the Mukulian Civilization, "mankind's first and greatest," were settled. The maps of the Lemurian Fellowship are unusual.
But in the vast majority of occult maps Lemuria appears as terra incognita, unknown and uninhabited, even though the published place-talk in which they come embedded suggests otherwise.
Occult cartographies of loss, especially in their post-Theosophical phase, are primarily concerned with illustrating the vanished worlds of the Pacific Ocean rather than those of the entire world. Further, in contrast to the paleoscientists' maps, these occult maps are generally Lemuria-centric. Lemuria is frequently the only paleocontinent of any consequence (although occasionally Atlantis shows up as well, vying for the reader's attention). This helps its occult placemakers to graphically illustrate one of their principal contentions, that Lemuria was the home of the world's first civilization, the motherland of all motherlands.
That occultists are victims of the modern imperative to include maps in their publications is part of the conflicted intimacy between their labors of loss and the physical sciences. This compels them to adopt many of the protocols of scientific cartography in creating their own maps, as well as leads them to use modern atlases and maps to bolster their fabulous place-making that putatively derives its inspiration from astral clairvoyance and telepathic readings of racial memories.
Nevertheless, their implication in science and in scientific cartography has meant that they ultimately fail to represent Lemuria as Paradise, their enchanted intentions in this regard notwithstanding. There is very little in the appearance of these maps, in the iconography that they adopt, or in their symbolic makeup that would suggest that Lemuria is the lost Pacific Eden of the occultists' place-talk. As Alessandro Scafi, among others, has observed, there was a rich tradition of mapping the Earthly Paradise or the Garden of Eden in the premodern cartographic practices of Europe, until about the sixteenth century. This tradition, however, fades into oblivion with the rise of secular and scientific cartography, with its realist preoccupation with mapping the world impersonally, homogeneously, disenchantedly. Scafi thus observes that the disappearance of the Earthly Paradise from world maps "points to the shift from medieval to modern thinking, from a holistic to a fragmented view of reality, from a mapping which sought to penetrate the mystery of the whole universe beyond human boundaries to a mapping which is constrained strictly within the frameworks of analytical thought and Euclidean geometry, and from cosmography to geography.