Atlantis and the Cycles of Time (cont.)
By Joscelyn Godwin
In Blavatsky’s scenario, every root race except the first suffered one or more cataclysms. Continents disappeared, new lands appeared, mountain chains rose. “The face of the Globe was completely changed each time; the survival of the fittest nations and races was secured through timely help; and the unfit ones—the failures—were disposed of by being swept off the Earth. Such sorting and shifting does not happen between sunset and sunrise, as one may think, but requires several thousands of years before the new house is set in order.” (The Secret Doctrine, 1888, vol. 2, pp. 636-37, italics original) The immediate cause of these cataclysms was not outside agency, such as a comet, but changes in the inclination of the earth’s axis (another topic treated at length in Arktos).
As to the dating of these events, Blavatsky was aware that the most advanced scientists of her day allowed an age of the earth of 500 million years. Humanity is virtually coeval with the planet: the first root races appeared in the Primordial and Primary periods, the Lemurians in the Secondary period (age of reptiles), and the Atlanteans in the Tertiary (age of mammals). There is no fossil evidence because early human bodies were not fully materialized. Most of Atlantis was destroyed 850,000 years ago, leaving a fragment that finally vanished as recorded by Plato. As for him, he was an initiate who was forbidden to tell the whole truth about the human past. “Aiming more to instruct as a moralist than as a geographer and ethnologist or historian, the Greek philosopher merged the history of Atlantis, which covered several million years, into one event which he located on one comparatively small island.” (The Secret Doctrine, vol. 2, pp. 760-61)
After Blavatsky’s death in 1891, the Theosophists kept the basic structure of root races while seeking to improve on the details. They tended to move the Atlanteans closer to the present day, so that they could be made responsible for Stonehenge and the Pyramids. One such was Alfred Percy Sinnett, to whom the Mahatmas’ letters had been addressed. After the correspondence ceased, he started his own private circle in which an entranced medium gave out further information. Sinnett’s friend Charles Webster Leadbeater, in contrast, used his own clairvoyance to penetrate the distant past, the astral plane, past lives, etc. The most popular book of occult prehistory, Walter Scott-Elliot’s Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria, derives its Egyptian material from Sinnett’s medium (whom Scott-Elliot married) and the rest from Leadbeater.