Whilst this book was written some time ago, it still held my attention as I read it. Some of the ideas in it are a little odd and difficult to grasp, as I already have a viewpoint of my own on the subject. There were for me some conflicting concepts and ideas about the subject of the book, but is still a good book to read. If you think this is far from the current BBC TV series Atlantis, don't be surprised as that is - my opinion by the way, no one else's as far as I know - a load of old codswallop. The assumptions made in that drama appear to be based loosely on the TV program it made about the search for Atlantis, coming up with the idea that it was in the Mediterranean Sea... what a lot of something beginning with S. Why would the majority of research and maps available show Atlantis between the coasts of Western Africa and Eastern America?
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This Kindle e-book contains three articles of Theosophical provenance. The first (not mentioned on the cover) is an article about the New Thought movement in the United States, and it's similarities (real or perceived) with Theosophy. The two others are “The Story of Atlantis” and “The Lost Lemuria”, here attributed to both C W Leadbeater and William Scott-Elliot. As far as I understand, the original works were written by the latter, but based on material provided by Leadbeater. “The Story of Atlantis” was first published in 1896, the Lemurian material in 1904. A combined volume was issued in 1925. Leadbeater was the controversial leader of the Theosophical Society Adyar, alongside Annie Besant. He was also “bishop” of the Liberal Catholic Church, used as a front by the Adyar Theosophists. Leadbeater claimed to have advanced powers of clairvoyance, and much of the “information” about Atlantis and Lemuria cited by Scott-Elliot comes from this (extremely unreliable!) source.
“The Story of Atlantis & The Lost Lemuria” gives an extremely peculiar impression. Try and imagine a mix of Robert E Howard and Jules Verne, sprinkled with some Blavatsky and Haeckel. Of course, Howard (who wrote the “Conan” stories after this material had been published) based his fiction to some extent on Theosophical speculations. Scott-Elliot does his best to sound “scientific”, with best results when he discusses Lemuria, since the idea of a sunken continent in the Indian Ocean was originally proposed by scientists unaware of continental drift. However, since most of the material is based on Blavatsky's “The Secret Doctrine” and Leadbeater's Unverified Personal Gnosis, it soon starts resembling the synopsis of a particularly bad science fiction novel.
I admit that “The Lost Lemuria” is entertaining, at least in part, claiming that the Lemurians were ape-like creatures with jelly-like bodies who had domesticated terrestrial plesiosaurs and could move with equal speed both forwards and backwards. The Lemurians were instructed in higher civilization by human-like beings from Venus, who also introduced wheat and the honeybee, both creatures apparently being Venusian in origin. Meanwhile, another class of spiritualized beings, the Lhas, had to incarnate in Lemurian bodies for some kind of karmic reasons.
Atlantis is described in much more “human” terms. Indeed, the Atlanteans *were* humans, the progenitors of most human races, in fact. Interestingly, Leadbeater and Scott-Elliot doesn't describe the advanced Atlanteans as White. Rather, they call them Toltecs! It's interesting to note that this supposedly advanced and spiritual civilization nevertheless had slaves, perhaps African ones. Toltec Atlantis was a class-divided society in other ways, too. Thus, the elite had access to flying machines, while ordinary folk had to rest contended with primitive carts dragged by animals. Only a few students were given a chance at a higher education, most being diverted into menial work. Of course, we are told that everyone was well fed and provided for! One wonders whether Atlantis was really Leadbeater's dream of a rejuvenated British Empire? (In contrast to Besant, Leadbeater had always been conservative.)
I wasn't impressed by “The Story of Atlantis & The Lost Lemuria”. Bizarre booklets like this have given me a much lower view of Theosophy, or at least Adyar Theosophy, than I previously entertained. It's painfully obvious that almost nothing in these texts passes scientific muster, and that Leadbeater quite simply made it all up. Perhaps he was a pathological liar, perhaps he was a delusional man who really believed in his “clairvoyance”. Either way, the most enduring legacy of this work is probably that it gave Howard inspiration to write sword-and-sorcery stories in a lost world all his own…
Very hard going and written in a quite 'old-fashioned' way. I also felt that it was a bit prejudiced in places. Haven't finished it because I can only read a bit at a time. Lots of information that need digesting.
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