After tracking the story of Atlantis through history and into the 20th century, I did discover where my particular alien-infused, clairvoyant, crystal-powered, clone-making, reincarnating Atlantis memories originated. Though my story had its own unique features, the story itself came from the famed 20th-century clairvoyant, Edgar Cayce.
However, I first began dreaming and writing about my remembered past life in Atlantis when I was eleven or twelve years old — and at that time, I had not yet read anything by or about Edgar Cayce. So the question became “How did Edgar’s story get implanted into my memories? How did the story of Atlantis get from Edgar to me?”
Raised on a diet of Edgar Cayce
I digress: Back in 2003, while I was still struggling to understand my involvement in the New Age, I found Bob Carroll’s Skeptic’s Dictionary site, and ordered a number of his recommended books on metaphysical topics. Since a great deal of my life in the New Age was focused on alternative health practices and alternative diets, I ordered Mystical Diets: Paranormal, Spiritual, and Occult Nutrition Practices by Jack Raso.
Raso presented a bullet list (pp.75-76) of health advice from Edgar Cayce, and some of it was identical to advice I and my family received from the trance-medium Purcell (for instance, the 80-20 rule of raw-to-cooked foods and alkaline-to-acid foods is Cayce’s idea). I’ve since discovered that pieces of the dietary and lifestyle advice I got from Kan Li and Purcell were Cayce-inspired but not Cayce-attributed. I’m not suggesting plagiarism, because it’s pretty easy for people to lift ideas from others without realizing it — but some of the info Purcell channeled from Kan Li was actually was sourced from Cayce.
And though I hadn’t read any Cayce before I recalled the details of my own past life in Cayce’s version of Atlantis, reincarnation was normal everyday talk in our spiritual group. One of Purcell’s ideas was that our group members had known each other in many shared past lives where we had all worked together to bring about great changes in human consciousness. That’s what we were all doing in Atlantis, and it’s what we did in Egypt at the time of Akhenaton (who banished Egypt’s polytheism in favor of the worship of one god and purportedly paved the way for Jesus). We were also together in Camelot, trying to change things for the better. We got around!
In the late 1970s, before Purcell’s group self-destructed, our present-day spiritual purpose was to raise planetary consciousness before the coming cataclysm (which I wrote about on my other blog: Why did you believe in the end of the world?). Since that prophesied cataclysm didn’t occur, I’m gonna go ahead and say that we achieved our goals (this is a joke!). You’re welcome.
So, in the span of these three posts, I’ve been able to answer my questions about the real story of Atlantis, the roots of the version I grew up with, and the way that version reached my 1o-year-old self in Northern California. Now that the factual history of Atlantis is more clear, it’s time to delve into the mythological content of this amazingly robust and enduring myth of Atlantis.
Myths of purity and the seductions of nostalgia
The original story of Atlantis was a morality tale, an origin myth, and an allegory about purity, ethics, human nature, political structures, power, and the creation and destruction of Utopia.
Since Plato first told the tale of Atlantis in 500 BCE, the facts have changed (0ften startlingly so); however, the central themes of the Atlantean drama — the grand, romantic notions about purity and impurity, the seductions of power and godhood, the limitations of human nature and political stability, and the creation and destruction of a perfect Utopia — these themes ring out in every new iteration of Atlantean mythology.
It seems that somewhere in our deep, lost, antediluvian past, the mythical island of Atlantis held and nurtured essential truths about humanity. On that fabled island, pure goodness and pure power were given to us freely. An entire perfect island nation was created for us, with everything we could ever want or need right there, within easy reach. Atlantis wasn’t merely an Eden, which lasted only until Adam and Eve became aware of the world around them; Atlantis was a fully realized civilization populated with adult, self-aware, politically savvy god-rulers who had everything going for them.
In the Atlantis mythology, every perfect thing was in its perfect place, and yet we god-rulers managed to screw it up — to the extent that Atlantis was not only taken from us, but destroyed, submerged … obliterated.
In each retelling of the Atlantis myth, people seem to be trying to retrieve those pure and perfect things — that paradise, that power, that perfection (or in the case of the Nazis, that fantasy of racial purity), that peace, that Utopia— gifted to us by the gods and then wrenched away because we had so thoroughly let our gods down. Yet in each retelling, each narrator points to very different reasons for the fall of Atlantis.
In Plato’s original tale, the god-rulers of Atlantis — those five sets of identical twin brothers — failed because they forgot they were gods. The ten sons of Poseidon intermarried with mortals and started behaving like self-centered, envious, small-minded humans; ergo, Zeus had to step in and put a stop to that catastrophe by creating one of his own.
The fall of Atlantis was a powerful teaching story in Plato’s time, when the Greeks were essentially creating modern civilization, academia, political science, and the city state. If we want to understand the fears and the longings of the ancient Greeks, we have but to read the original Atlantis myth, since, as George Haight pointed out in his introduction to Francis Bacon’s utopian essays, Essays and New Atlantis, Atlantis is:
“… one of the famous utopias, those accounts of an ideal world in which authors reveal what is wrong in their own” (p. xvi).
In Edgar Cayce’s retelling of the story, everyone on Atlantis was, like him, a clairvoyant. This skill that was so bizarre in Cayce’s lifetime wasn’t unusual on Atlantis; everyone on the island was psychically gifted and spiritually advanced (except for the drone class of subhumans, of course). Atlanteans understood the secret laws of nature and healing; their society was just, egalitarian (okay, maybe not for the drones), and environmentally aware; all of their energy was derived from crystals in a completely non-toxic process; they regularly consulted with highly intelligent extraterrestrials; and their scientists were so advanced that they could solve every problem, cure every illness, and even create life without the need for procreation.
Oh, but you see, this is where the problems began.
The Atlanteans were so advanced, so brilliant, and so psychically adept that they began to think that normal rules didn’t apply to them. Some of their scientists started fooling around and trying to create new species and new life forms. Of course, the priests of Atlantis warned them against this shocking, hubristic blasphemy, but you know how scientists get: they didn’t listen.
And the moral of the Cayce version of the story is that the aliens rocketed away to save themselves as Atlantis and nearly all of its inhabitants were obliterated by a very offended Mother Nature and God.
Edgar Cayce’s version of Atlantis was so rich and wonderful that it became a touchstone in the New Age culture. Clearly, I integrated Edgar’s story into my own memory of my purported Atlantean incarnation, but I certainly wasn’t the only one who did so. Edgar’s version of the Atlantis myth is arguably as important to people in the New Age subculture as Plato’s story was to the early Greeks.
And in the same way that the original story of Atlantis spoke to — and about — the early Greeks, the New Age story of Atlantis tells us about an ideal world in which the New Age authors reveals what is wrong in their own.
The New Age subculture is, among other things, a conflict culture that arose (in the 1830s and the 1840s) in opposition to prevailing majority Christianity. The New Age culture’s early existence was essentially a protest against established religion, against conventional medicine, and later, against the dehumanizing technological advances of the late 1800s (see Washington, 1996).
Edgar Cayce began his clairvoyant healing career in the first decade of the 1900s. He was a gentle man, deeply religious, and a dreamer (he was called The Sleeping Prophet because he performed his readings in a sleep-like trance) who lived through the intensive changes of America’s Industrial Revolution — and his retelling of the Atlantis myth strongly warns us about the dangers of technology, warfare, genetic engineering, social Darwinism, and hubris.
However, Edgar’s story also connects us to a wondrous source of never-ending life, to a God and an overarching nature spirit that will surely save us from our ignorance and foolishness, and to the continual possibility of redemption.
Edgar’s story of Atlantis tells us that there is hope, even after civilizations are destroyed. It tells us that even those of us who lived on Atlantis and caused its destruction through our ignorance will have another chance (in perpetuity, apparently) to make things right. Edgar’s story also tells us that present day trouble has its roots in the past, and that if we study history and work hard to improve ourselves, we just might be able to make things work this time around.
As I look back now at my remembered past life in Atlantis, and at that loopy story of my selfish alien pelvis guest, I can see that my twist on the Atlantean myth incorporated deeply important elements of my own life story. Atlantis was not just an all-purpose Utopia: Atlantis was my Utopia. Hail Atlantis!
Moving forward into a new Utopia
Utopian mythologies are important in every era, as The Fifth Dimension reminds us. Four decades ago, the Age of Aquarius was going to arrive and change humanity forever. That it didn’t arrive has had very little effect on the mythic imagination, as the 2012 prophecies so clearly showed us.
in 2012, the real end of the Mayan calendar (this time for sure!) was prophesied to either bring total catastrophe or an amazing Utopian evolution in human consciousness — of the kind that I and my ever-reincarnating group mates attempted to bring to Atlantis, Egypt, Camelot, and the malls of Southern California.
The details of Utopias like Atlantis morph and change with changing times, but the reality of Utopia is eternal.
Bacon, F. (1942). Essays and New Atlantis. George Haight, ed. New York: Walter J. Black. (Original work published in 1625).
Cavendish, R. (1982). Atlantis. In R. Cavendish (Ed.), Legends of the World. (pp. 262-267). New York: Schocken.
Cayce, E.E. & Cayce, H.L. (1968). Edgar Cayce on Atlantis. New York: Hawthorn.
Donnelly, I. (1949). Atlantis: The Antediluvian World. New York: Gramercy. (Original work published in 1882).
Ellis, R. (1998). Imagining Atlantis. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Feder, K.L. (1998). Lost: One Continent – Reward. In Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology. (pp 177-203). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Ferro, R. & Grumley, M. (1970). Atlantis: The Autobiography of a Search. New York: Bell.
Heffner, A.G. (2002). Atlantis: the Myth. Encyclopedia Mythica. Accessed March 4, 2004 from Encyclopedia Mythica Online: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/a/atlantis.html.
Keyes, B. (ed.). Plato’s The Dialogues of Critias. Accessed June 13, 2011 from The Mysterious and Unexplained. http://www.activemind.com/Mysterious/Topics/Atlantis/critias_page4.html
Keyes, B. (ed.). Plato’s Timaeus. Accessed June 13, 2011 from The Mysterious and Unexplained. http://www.activemind.com/Mysterious/Topics/Atlantis/timaeus_page2.html
Lissner. I. (1962). Atlantis, Fact or Fiction? In The Silent Past: Mysterious and Forgotten Cultures of the World. (pp. 156-164). New York: Putnam.
Manuel, F.E. (Ed.)(1967). Utopias and Utopian Thought. Boston: Beacon Press.
Mavor, J.W. (1969). Voyage to Atlantis. New York: Putnam.
Morse, J.L. (1959). Atlantis. In the Funk & Wagnalls Standard Reference Encyclopedia (Volume 3, p. 767). New York: Standard Reference Works Publishing Company.
Neufeldt, V. (Ed.)(1997). Utopia. In the Webster’s New World Collegiate Dictionary (Third Edition, p. 1470). New York: MacMillan.
Washington, P. (1996). Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon: A History of the Mystics, Mediums, and Misfits Who Brought Spiritualism to America. New York: Schocken.