Atlantis, Lemuria and Mu: Were They Real?

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Atlantis is something that almost everyone knows something about, and everybody knows something different. I myself used to study about Atlantis, but never got very “deep” into it simply because there wasn’t that much literature on the subject in the 80’s and 90’s. There was an odd book or TV special here and there, or an occasional reference in a fictional show. I recall something in the Conan cartoon show about him being a descendent of Atlantis (there’s Jason Colavito’s Lovecraft connection as Lovecraft was friends with, and occasionally shared universes with Conan’s creator Robert E. Howard). That was all we had for the most part. As a result, I would have to say that my former belief in the evidence of the ancient astronaut theory was colored more by Atlantis than by aliens. Tangentially related to Atlantis, and basically the same idea, are Mu and Lemuria, both in the Pacific Ocean.

The basic theory I was familiar with is this:  that there was an advanced island civilization who, through pride or misbehavior, angered “the gods” or else caused a mishap with their technology, and sank the continent into the Atlantic Ocean as a result. Other theories blame the Biblical flood which became a suitable alternative after I became a Christian. From these basic details of an island nation sinking, it’s messy as almost everyone has come up with more details to add to the story, and like a bad version of Star Trek, the new details often contradict the old to no one’s benefit.

Though not always directly related to the ancient astronaut theory, the lost continent of Atlantis is at least a cousin due to claims of ancient high technology and lost knowledge, and it certainly features in some of the alienist theories. There’s also the connections to Theosophy and as noted earlier, Lovecraft. Certainly some theories of Atlantis name it as a candidate for an alien garrison and David Hatcher Childress, who appears on Ancient Aliens, has sometimes credited Atlantis for a majority of the world’s ancient temples, odd artifacts, and megalithic structures. He has also claimed that they were a global civilization.

Being that there is this connection to ancient astronauts, a look at Atlantis is in order. Rather than looking at every Atlantis claim that floats by, a good look at the foundation of the theory will show that the lofty spires of Atlantis theory and literature are all built on a sinking foundation of sand. Because if the foundation is weak, nothing else built on it is of any consequence.

Starting with Atlantis, it seems that pretty much the only ancient source mentioning Atlantis is the writings of Plato.

Dr. Heiser shares Plato’s original description of Atlantis and mentions a book by Joscelyn Godwin about a good scholarly look at Atlantis. Here’s the quoted text from Plato:

“For it is related in our records how once upon a time your State stayed the course of a mighty host, which, starting from a distant point in the Atlantic ocean, was insolently advancing to attack the whole of Europe, and Asia to boot. For the ocean there was at that time navigable; for in front of the mouth which you Greeks call, as you say, ‘the pillars of Heracles,’ there lay an island which was larger than Libya and Asia together; and it was possible for the travelers of that time to cross from it to the other islands, and from the islands to the whole of the continent over against them which encompasses that veritable ocean. For all that we have here, lying within the mouth of which we speak, is evidently a haven having a narrow entrance; but that yonder is a real ocean, and the land surrounding it may most rightly be called, in the fullest and truest sense, a continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvelous power, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent (Timaeus 24e–25a, R. G. Bury translation (Loeb Classical Library).”

You can read the translated parts of Plato’s works talking about Atlantis here and here. The key point to take away from Plato’s mention of Atlantis is that many scholars believe that he used it fictitiously. Oddly, many who cite Plato as proof cite the Timaeus and not the Critias, because Critias is where Plato describes not only some sort of stellar phenomena, but also describes Atlantis in great detail, and one would expect the greater description to be used more often to prove the existence of Atlantis. The fact that people lean more on the Timaeus, implies a fiction. But, there are smarter people than me (besides the majority of Plato scholars) who agree Plato uses Atlantis as fiction.

Thomas Kjeller Johnson, author of Plato’s Natural Philosophy A Study of the Timaeus-Critias has this to say:

“Are we as readers supposed to take the Atlantis story as ‘real history’? The dialogue invites us to raise this question but also to reflect on its terms. In this chapter I argue that the story should be seen as ‘history’ only in a special Platonic sense: it is a story which is fabricated about the past in order to reflect a general truth about how ideal citizens would fare in war. The story thereby provides a practical example of how virtue, understood along the lines of the Republic, would prevail in this world even in the most adverse of conditions.

As we have seen, the Timaeus-Critias tells two stories. One is an account of the war between ancient Athens and Atlantis; the other is an account of the creation of the kosmos and everything in it. Critias and Timaeus tell their stories in response to Socrates’ request to be entertained in return for the entertainment he provided yesterday, which was an account of an ideal city very similar to that of the Republic.”

I would urge anyone interested in what exactly Plato’s writings on Atlantis were all about to read that book as well as the original sections about Atlantis here and here, and especially this article which establishes the fiction of Plato’s Atlantis so concretely, that there’s practically no reason anyone needs mention it again.

For the sake of argument though, what if Plato was describing an actual real place? A real place called Atlantis? If he was, we have a few problems.

  • Although Atlantis is said to have sank long ago in Timaeus, the sea (where Atlantis is just beyond the Pillars of Hercules, aka Gibraltar) the sea is said to be impassable due to mud. There doesn’t seem to be any record of this anywhere else and certainly isn’t the case now.
  • The tale that Plato quotes was said to be from a King Solon who learned it from Egypt. If Egypt had knowledge of Atlantis why haven’t any archaeologists found evidence or hieroglyphs of such in Egypt? Archaeologically, Egypt has been pretty well tapped out for a long time. And no, Edgar Cayce’s channeled message about records beneath the Sphinx doesn’t count as such a place has not been discovered. Scholars have a good handle on what Egypt knew in antiquity, and Atlantis wasn’t something they knew about.
    • Speaking of Edgar Cayce’s channeled information, channeling, fabricated ancient texts, and high conjecture seem to be the only proof of Atlantis and its society. Cayce, Helena Blavatsky, David Childress and others rely heavily on messages from spirits, mistranslations, vague speculations, outright lies and made up documents to support their claims. If such a great civilization had existed, one would expect more reliable proof.
  • The Critias gives very exact descriptions of Atlantis, that it was basically an island and that there were alternating concentric rings of land and water. If such a continent, larger than “Libya and Asia put together” in such a unique configuration had sank, it would have been found by now as evidenced by other land formations beneath the waves that will be addressed later. There are no concentric circled formations in the Atlantic Ocean, certainly not the size of two countries put together.
  • Here is a troubling tidbit to those who claim Atlantis was technologically advanced. In both the Timaeus and Critias, there is absolutely no mention of advanced technology. Even if Plato’s Atlantis was real, he does not give them credit for the pyramids (which mentioning Egypt would make sense), nor does he attribute lasers, flying machines or even megalithic structures to them. If a real Atlantis existed and had these, it’s safe to assume they would have been mentioned even in passing.
  • With one exception (actually, a couple more 1 and 2), continents can not be underwater, and really do not sink. Certainly not suddenly And if Atlantis had, it would have been found like these were, especially given its unique configuration.
  • Atlantis is mentioned in an ancient text, like the city of Troy (which was actually discovered), but that doesn’t mean that it’s good proof Atlantis was real.
  • There have been a number of underwater ruins discovered and cited as Atlantis. Ruin, after ruin (update), after non-submerged ruin; and to my great disappointment even Santorini and Bimini Road, long time favorites, have been debunked. Bimini road in the Caribbean, like Japan’s Yonaguni “pyramid,” have been proven to be natural formations.

With only one real source, Plato, in antiquity for Atlantis; numerous problems with the reality of Plato’s Atlantis, and no physical evidence for its existence, why are we still looking? How is it the ancient astronaut crew and pseudo-archaeologists continue to claim it was such a great thing? Why do people believe Atlantis was responsible for the world’s megaliths? Why?

Ignatius Donnelly.

Before exporting Prince to the world, and importing Jesse Ventura as governor, Minnesota boasted a hybrid/proto-Erich von Daniken/Zecharia Sitchin with a pinch of Velikovsky named, Ignatius Donnelly. In addition to being a congressman, Donnelly was also a fringe writer and supporter of various peculiar theories which he expounded on in books like Atlantis: The Antedeluvian World and Ragnarok: The Age of Fire and Gravel. It seems he wrote that Atlantis was not only advanced, but also really the pre-flood world and that it was destroyed by the Biblical flood. His second book blames a comet for the flood and the destruction of society as a whole. (There was also a Jack Van Impe special “Atlantis in the Bible” years ago that played the same tune more or less.)

As mentioned in the above link, Donnelly’s work basically set the stage for many of the works on Atlantis that followed him, but there’s an added “bonus” to consider. It also spawned, or at least perpetuated an awful legacy in the twentieth century.

Unfortunately, Donnelly’s Atlantis also seems to be one of the leading sources for the Aryan race myth that was one of many factors (along with evolution/eugenics, and earlier beliefs) cementing ill-placed feelings of racial superiority. In addition to Blavatsky’s Theosophy, it’s possible the Nazis and other movements were influenced by Donnelly’s writings on Atlantis and an advanced Aryan race lost to time. Here’s what one author had to say:

“The Atlantis myth had a surprising role in 20th century nationalist ideology. Within Germany, Britain and even the United States, theories were developed on the racial significance of the Atlantean myth. Godwin provides a fascinating account of the search for traditional roots which lead some theorists to travel into the haze of prehistory to find cultural justification in imagined civilizations.”

Going back a bit further, the Aryan/Atlantean myth is also believed by some to have shaped early American ideologies (and here for what it’s worth) as far back as Francis Bacon and as such, it’s not a stretch to imagine that it was one factor in justifying the eviction of the Native Americans from the land. Logically, in the eyes of early pro-Atlantean Americans, if the white man was “superior” by their reckoning, and the Natives were “squatting” on “our Atlantean land,” then the genocide of the Native Americans at the hand of white settlers and the American government may well have been wrongly cast as “taking back our land” to reclaim Atlantean/Aryan heritage.

It’s also been speculated that this Aryan myth was the motivation behind Teddy Roosevelt’s “Imperial Cruise” which also seems to have been a factor in Japan’s sense of racial superiority during the twentieth century. “Racial superiority” that resulted in World War II atrocities like the Rape of Nanking, an event that Japan still has not apologized for to this day.

Continuing to give credit to Atlantis (and by proxy, aliens) for the pyramids, temples, mysterious constructs and everything else continues this Aryan racism to a lesser degree by implying that the natives who constructed all of these things were incapable and inferior. If the natives are viewed as such, they become unable to make advanced constructs and a “superior race” (or perceived heir to the Aryans) had to have made them and is obliged to reclaim them. And that is one of the chief problems of the ancient astronaut/Atlantis theory, it essentially says that only aliens and white men were smart and advanced enough to make megaliths, which certainly is not true. With that mindset, anyone who doesn’t fit that ideal is inferior and must be tended to by the “superior” group. White man’s burden in other words.

Traditionally it seems that belief in Atlantis, especially as a progenitor for people groups, has often resulted in genocide and the heirs of Atlantis (ie, white people) are duty bound to revive what was lost. Hardly the hallmark of a “superior” race.

Mu and Lemuria

With Atlantis out of the way due to lack of evidence, several “problems” related to the existence of Plato’s island, and the rotten fruit born of the Aryan/Atlantean myth, Mu and Lemuria are the only candidates left for an Atlantis-type place. Mentioned earlier, Mu and Lemuria are basically the same idea as Atlantis. Island continent. Disaster. Sank into the ocean. Except in the Pacific.

Now to be fair, there are actually four (Sundaland, Mauritia, Zealandia, and the Kerguelen Plateau) submerged continents on this side of the world in the Pacific, but they are not Mu or Lemuria. At least, not quite.

The name Lemuria actually originated with zoologist Phillip Sclater in the late 1800’s to explain why lemurs were found on Madagascar and India but nowhere else. To explain this, he proposed a continent or land mass stretching from India to Madagascar that by then had to have sunk to the ocean floor.

“This was indeed my own opinion when, writing in 1864 upon the mammals of Madagascar,12 I proposed the name Lemuria for that ancient land which formerly must have occupied part of the bed of the Indian Ocean and constituted the home of the lemurine family, now so widely scattered. But I need hardly point out how difficult it is to reconcile this theory with the hypothesis of a former land-connection of Madagascar and the Antilles through Africa, which I have previously adverted to.”

As noted earlier, this was actually sort of true, in that Madagascar and India were connected and they have called the landmass Mauritia. But rather than being a large Lemuria, it’s believed by scientists to have been a small slice of land between India and Madagascar when the two were closer together. The larger Lemuria was just speculation (by a zoologist) in a time when plate tectonic theory hadn’t been fully formed, and after tectonics were realized, Lemuria was discarded. Lemuria certainly is not needed anymore given that Mauritia and current science have explained Sclater’s mystery.

Of course this didn’t stop the New Age and occult from latching onto the idea. Not satisfied with one sunken continent, Helena Blavatsky possibly borrowed from her predecessors, probably Donnelly, and wrote about Lemuria. She seems to have assigned many Atlantean attributes to Lemuria and even seems to have peopled it with white folks. Understandably, more recent critics aren’t all that impressed with her theories.

“According to L. Sprague de Camp, Blavatsky’s concept of Lemuria was influenced by other contemporaneous writers on the theme of Lost Continents, notably Ignatius L. Donnelly, American cult leader Thomas Lake Harris and the French writer Louis Jacolliot.”

It should be noted that any information, but especially archaeological information that Blavatsky revealed to the world should be suspect. Much, if not all of her work derives either from channeling or from “lost texts” available only to her. Sounds familiar… Information gleaned from channeling is either outright fabrication, or involves entities that lie habitually, or at least have a horrendous rate of inaccuracy. As such, information shared by channelers is often incorrect, and rightfully, few take it seriously. Just ask Blossom Goodchild who was stood up by alleged channeled aliens a few years ago on October 14. But really, channeling, Theosophy and such are all another ball of wax, and it is pretty safe to disregard many, if not all of their claims in the area of verifiable truth.

Being that the term Lemuria was coined by a nineteenth century zoologist for an admittedly hypothetical land and with no Lemuria in that area on the ocean floor, Lemuria ought to be discarded entirely. The only proof of the alleged Lemuria society and continent are non-existent ancient texts or channeling, it’s safe to assume that like Atlantis, Lemuria does not exist.

However, there is still Mu. Mu seems to, me anyways, to be pretty interchangeable with Lemuria in many ways, but it sort of has a different origin. This being the case, some of Lemuria will overlap here with Mu.

Mu seems to have originated with the work of abbe Charles Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg, an official for the Catholic church. He is said to have traveled to South America and visited Mayan ruins. Through his experiences there, or even back home in the old world, he came across Mayan hieroglyphs and tried to decipher them. It seems he initially attributed them to Atlantis in the Atlantic, and Mu/Lemuria in the Pacific depending on which source you read. The important thing here is to note that he gave Atlantis credit for the Mayan creations.

Really, Mu seems to have come from Augustus Le Plongeon and James Churchward. Following in the footsteps of Brasseur de Bourbourg, Le Plongeon made an incorrect claim that Egypt derived from the Mayan civilization. He had seemingly come to this conclusion after somehow translating Mayan writings, though he never discovered anything that would help him decode the Mayan language. Although he used the word Mu, or “Moo” it appears that he connected this Mu with Atlantis more than any other place even though there is no evidence of any “super civilization” influencing the Maya and other South Americans.

Whatever the case, serious scholars have never given much credit to Le Plongeon’s theories:

“Augustus Le Plongeon, one of the earliest individuals to investigate extensively the Maya, had been dismissed since the turn of the century by nearly all Mayan scholars as little more than a troublesome eccentric. He had spent considerable time working in Yucatan, but his theory that the Maya founded world civilization never found support in the scholarly community. His extraordinary record of Mayan sites documented by photography, drawings, and plans was all but forgotten.”

And not surprisingly, there’s an occult and possible Theosophy link there too, although the author of the article couldn’t determine exactly how deep those relationships went.

“The search for every trace of Le Plongeon took me to evermore obscure corners. He was a Freemason, and during her last years, Alice had contact with the Theosophical Society founded by Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. In 1890 Alice delivered a lecture titled “The Mayas” to the Blavatsky Lodge of the society.”

That brings us to James Churchward, an associate of Le Plongeon’s. He was the one to move Mu to the Pacific. Here, Jason Colavito breaks down how Churchward referenced an imaginary Naacal tablet as proof for a Pacific continent called Mu (but basically the Theosophical Lemuria). Colavito also explains how Churchward and Blavatsky essentially shared the same basic ideas regarding this imaginary continent. Again, the idea of a “master race” of Aryans shows up on Mu/Lemuria, but:

“Churchward’s emphasis on the superiority of White Aryans and monotheism, it becomes possible to understand his Mu myth as an attempt to strip Theosophy of the Oriental trappings of its Indian mysticism.”

There’s also some more about Churchward as well as “proof” of Mu/Lemuria, most of which seems to have been obtained by channeling either by Cayce or other “psychics,” so beware. I link to it only to show you that rather than relying on verifiable truth, the only evidence has been obtained by dubious methods. Interestingly, the various psychics all cite different date ranges – off by thousands of years – for the destruction of Lemuria. The linked article discusses some of the physical evidence for Mu, which isn’t that convincing.

In any case, if Churchward’s Mu is basically Lemuria, it’s already been proven not to exist above, and even some claiming evidence of Mu more recently, that too has been debunked.

Looking back, all of this started with Plato’s Atlantis. From there, fringe researchers, New Agers, and occultists have all stuck their finger in the pie in naming Atlantis as the source of civilization and the world’s great structures. When that foundation started to crumble, an island in the Pacific was invented. Given the mountain of channeled and lost text evidence, compared to the lack of actual physical evidence for Atlantis and Mu/Lemuria, it’s a safe assumption that none of them actually existed, or else they would have been found.

The only ancient evidence for any of this is Plato, and he used Atlantis fictitiously. All of the advanced aliens, Aryan Atlanteans, or Aryan Mu-Lemurians were all an invention of Donnelly and his intellectual descendents. A lone exception would be Bacon’s New Atlantis, which was an allegory for a utopian society or a blueprint for where he wanted America to go.

When one also considers the claims that the inhabitants of these places were all “advanced white/Aryan” who created the megalithic sites of the natives of the world as “outposts;” and the racist ideologies of Theosophy and genocidal Nazism that also spring from these theories, one has to admit the idea of Atlantis, Mu and Lemuria become less and less attractive.

The ancients didn’t need aliens or Atlanteans to explain who made the world’s mysterious places, and neither do we.


Further Reading:

“Atlantis and the Cycles of Time: Prophecies, Traditions, and Occult Revelations” by Joscelyn Godwin


Dr. Heiser shares Plato’s original description of Atlantis and mentions a book by Joscelyn Godwin about a good scholarly look at Atlantis. Here’s the quoted text from a href=”” target=”_blank”