Contemporary interest in Atlantis can be traced back to a self-educated American politician named Ignatius T. T. Donnelly (1831-1901). After serving as the Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota and later as a congressman, Donnelly retired from politics in 1870 after a defeat at the polls. He devoted the rest of his life to writing and research. Among his many theories were the argument that the Pleistocene Ice Age was caused by the collision of the earth with a comet, and the suggestion that it was Sir Francis Bacon who really wrote Shakespeare`s plays. Both of these ideas have become the subjects of popular cult followings and are alive and well today.
Far more important was Donnelly`s interest in Atlantis. More than any other writer, Donnelly converted `Atlantism` into a popular cult through the publication of his influential book, Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (1882). In developing his ideas Donnelly drew upon a short article by L. M. Hosea in The Cincinnati Quarterly (July 1875), "Atlantis: A Statement of the `Atlantic` Theory Respecting Aboriginal Civilization", where the author argued that Mayan and other early civilizations were derived from Atlantis.
We can summarize Donnelly`s development of the Atlantis story as follows: Opposite the mouth of the Mediterranean, in the Atlantic Ocean, there once existed a large island—Atlantis. This was the remnant of a former Atlantic continent. Plato`s description of this island was not imaginary but factual. It was on the island of Atlantis that civilization first emerged. In time a great and mighty Atlantean nation developed, which sent out colonists to the Gulf of Mexico, other parts of the Americas, the Mediterranean, Europe, Africa, and various other parts of the globe. Atlantis was the true Antediluvian (prior to the Biblical Flood) world known in the Bible as the Garden of Eden, in Greek mythology as the Elysian Fields, and by a variety of other names in the legends of ancient peoples. The gods and goddesses of the ancient civilizations were simply folk memories of the mighty deeds of the kings, queens, and heroes of Atlantis.
Donnelly maintained that the mythology of the Egyptians and of ancient Peru represented the original religion of the Atlanteans, which was a form of sun worship. The oldest colony of Atlantis was probably Egypt, where Atlantean civilization was reproduced in an almost pure form. The Atlanteans were responsible for the Bronze Age in Europe as well as the original manufacture of iron. The Phoenician alphabet was derived from the Atlantean alphabet, as was the alphabet of the Mayans.
Both the Aryan and Semitic races originated in Atlantis, Donnelly said, spreading from there throughout the world. Finally, Atlantis perished in a terrible natural disaster which caused the whole island to sink to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Only a few Atlanteans escaped the sudden, tragic destruction of their city on ships and rafts. Those who escaped carried with them both fragments of Atlantean knowledge and the story of the catastrophe, which became the basis of the biblical Flood and other similar legends.
Essentially, all modern Atlantis stories used by occultists draw upon elements of Donnelly`s scheme, updated and adapted for contemporary readers with `scientific` details and stories about flying machines, space travel and aliens.
The Edgar Cayce material provides a number of fascinating glimpses into pivotal epochs of human history. For many individuals, perhaps two of the most notable periods discussed by the Cayce readings are those which deal with the ancient civilizations of Atlantis and Egypt.
Hundreds of readings discuss the lost continent of Atlantis—a civilization, which was one of the most advanced that the world would ever know. According to the readings, records of this society exist to this day in Egypt, the Yucatan, and near Bimini. In fact, the readings considered the Bimini Islands the remnant of a mountain range from this once-massive continent.
From Cayce`s perspective, much of modern-day technology is simply the rediscovering of knowledge and information possessed by the Atlantean culture. Yet, although the Atlanteans were advanced technologically, many of the people lost their sense of purpose by becoming too attached to power and the material world. In time, this once spiritual populace became fractured into two distinct groups: the `Children of the Law of One` and the `Sons of Belial`. Those of the Law of One carried on the spiritual tradition of their ancestors, while the Sons of Belial became engrossed with satisfying their physical appetites and desires. This split would eventually lead to the continent`s downfall and eventual destruction.
Essentially Cayce`s readings state that—by focusing upon materiality and ignoring their true spiritual nature, the Atlanteans brought upon themselves a series of three cataclysms. The first, about 50,000 BC, destroyed their major power source. The second, about 28,500 BC, caused the continent to break into three smaller islands: Poseidia, Og, and Aryan. The third and final destruction—which is the one mentioned by Plato—occurred about 10,500 BC and caused the three islands to sink, forcing those who survived to migrate to other parts of the world.
In fact, prior to the final destruction of Atlantis, many of the Atlanteans migrated to Egypt and were absorbed into a culture that reached its height of glory at about the same time as the third Atlantean cataclysm. Under the direction of a High Priest named Ra Ta, Egypt began to lead the world in social programs aimed at equality, personal transformation, and moral responsibility to others. Eventually, the Egyptian civilization was considered unsurpassed in the scientific history of the world and given credit for introducing the world to writing, medical science, irrigation, architecture, and nationalism.
Cayce stated that records of this once glorious civilization would one day be discovered in Egypt. In addition, the readings suggest that between 1958 and 1998 the world would again be presented with many of the same opportunities and challenges that faced the Atlanteans, eventually requiring humankind to remember its true spiritual nature as we head toward a new millennium of peace and hope.
The Lost Continent: Atlantis