A mythical island continent said to have existed in the Atlantic
Ocean in ancient times. The earliest mention of Atlantis is
found in Plato’s two dialogues Timaeus and Critias, from which
it emerged as a topic of fascination and speculation over the
centuries. It entered occult perspectives through the writings
of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, cofounder of the Theosophical
Society, in the nineteenth century and has been a topic of popular
speculation in the twentieth century. For many, Atlantis
has replaced the biblical Garden of Eden as a mythical original
home for the human race.
For Plato, Atlantis was a useful myth for conveying several
lessons he wanted to make about government and the nature
of city-states. In the twentieth century it has been integrated
into a myth about overreliance on technology as opposed to
personal spiritual and psychic awareness. Plato described Atlantis
as a large land located beyond the Straits of Gibraltar. It
was a powerful land able to conquer much of the Mediterranean
basin, but at the height of its power it was destroyed by
geologic forces. Plato supposedly learned of Atlantis as a result
of the Athenian lawgiver Solon, who had brought the story to
Greece from Egypt several centuries earlier.
Over time the Atlantis myth grew in proporition, so that by
the Middle Ages, Atlantis had been transformed into a massive
mid-Atlantic continent. Eventually it became one of the destinations
visited by explorers in the European fantastic voyage
literature, the most prominent being Captain Nemo in Jules
Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870).
Interest in Atlantis was revived in 1882 with the publication
of Ignatius Donnelly’s Atlantis, the Antediluvian World. He argued
that Atlantis was the lost origin point of humanity, the
place where the race moved out of barbarism to a civilized state.
For Donnelly, Atlantis explained many of the prominent similarities
between the culture of Egypt and that of Latin America.
He believed that the worldwide myth of the flood was really the
account of Atlantis’s demise.
Blavatsky adopted Donnelly’s ideas and integrated Atlantis
into the theosophical story of the evolution of the human race.
She hypothesized the evolution of humanity through a series
of ‘‘root races.’’ Lemuria, the Pacific equivalent of Atlantis, was
the home of the third root race; Atlantis, of the fourth root
race. Earth is currently populated by the fifth root race. Blavatsky’s
ideas were expanded by such Theosophists as Charles W.
Leadbeater, W. Scott Elliott, and Rudolf Steiner.
In the 1920s the subject of Atlantis was taken up by Scottish
journalist and anthropologist Lewis Spence, who eventually
wrote four books on the subject, beginning with The Problem of
Atlantis (1924). He passed along speculations to psychic Edgar
Cayce (1877–1945), who frequently spoke of Atlantis, primarily
as he described the past lives of his clients. Many were seen as
people who had escaped to such places as Egypt or Peru following
the destruction of the continent.
Cayce pictured Atlantis as a land of high technological
achievement, even by twentieth-century standards. Atlanteans
understood universal forces and had learned to fly, had central
heating, sonar, and television. Central to Atlantean technologies
was a firestone, a large crystal that collected energy from
the stars and then gave off energy to power the technology of
the land. The misuse of the crystal’s power led to the destruction
of Atlantis.
The Association for Research and Enlightenment, an organization
formed to promote and perpetuate Cayce’s work,
gathered his comments about Atlantis and published them in
two books, Atlantis Fact or Fiction (1962) and Edgar Cayce on Atlantis
(1968), which called attention to a Cayce prediction that
a remnant of Atlantis would emerge at the end of the 1960s
near the island of Bimini. No such emergence occurred, but a
number of Cayce’s believers travel to the area in search of underground
remnants of the continent.
Amid the numerous speculations about the location of the
lost continent, one seems to have emerged as the most likely.
In 1969 Greek archaeologist Angelo Galanopoulos released
data he had collected on the island of Thera. Galanopoulos had
discovered an ancient Minoan city, buried in layers of volcanic
ash. It was the center of a once-powerful city-state that was
wiped out suddenly by the volcano. With the exception of its location
in the Mediterranean rather than outside the Straits of
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Atlantis
Gibraltar, it fits most precisely the several descriptions of Atlantis
reported by Plato.
From Cayce the idea of Atlantis was picked up in the New
Age movement. In 1982, Frank Alper, a channel from Arizona,
issued an important channeled work, Exploring Atlantis, in
which he picked up the account in Cayce’s writings about the
crystal on Atlantis. The three-volume work, which purports a
crystal-based culture on the lost continent, became the basis of
the faddish use of crystals by New Agers in the 1980s. In particular,
Alper describes in some detail the techniques of crystal
Alper, Frank. Exploring Atlantis. 3 vols. Farmingdale, N.Y.
Coleman Publishing, 1982.
Cayce, Edgar. Atlantis Fact or Fiction. Virginia Beach, Va.
ARE Press, 1962.
———. Edgar Cayce on Atlantis. New York Paperback Library,
Donnelly, Ignatius. Atlantis The Antediluvian World. New
York Harper’s, 1882.
Ferro, Robert, and Michael Gromley. Atlantis The Autobiography
of a Search. New York Bell Publishing, 1970.
Galanopoulos, A. G., and E. Bacon. Atlantis. London Nelson,
Scott-Elliott, W. The Story of Atlantis. London Theosophical
Publishing House, 1896.
Spence, Lewis. Atlantis in America. London E. Benn, 1925.
———. The Problem of Atlantis. London Rider, 1924.
Steiner, Rudolf. Cosmic Memory Prehistory of Earth and Man.
West Nyack, N.Y. Paperback Library, 1968.

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