Mount Shasta

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In addition to Scott-Elliot, Frederick S. Oliver also contributed to the developing theosophical picture of life in ancient Atlantis. Oliver claimed to have channeled the text of the manuscript for his book A Dweller on Two Planets through a process of automatic writing. A Dweller on Two Planets was published posthumously in 1905 by Oliver's mother. The book purports to be the story of Phylos the Thibetan. According to Oliver's preface, what he calls the 'Amanuensis' Preface,' Oliver received his revelations in the proximity of California's Mount Shasta. There he encountered the psychic presence of Phylos, mostly through spoken voice alone, but sometimes also by sight. A Dweller on Two Planets tells the story of Phylos through multiple incarnations, including a life in the ancient land of Atlantis and upon the planet Venus. According to Phylos,

The glories and marvels of Atlantis the Great were not in vain. Thou and I, reader, lived then, and before then. The glories of those long-dead centuries seen by us have lived enshrined in our souls, and made us much, aye, most, of what we are, influenced our acts, soothed us with their beauty. (87)

Like Blavatsky and Scott-Elliot, Oliver/Phylos asserts that the ancient Atlanteans were sun-worshippers. Worship of the sun should not be taken as some sort of fetishism, however, for the Atlanteans knew that the sun only symbolized the one true god, known as Incal.

Truly, I have said that we believed in Incal, and symbolized him as the Sun-God. But the sun itself was an emblem. To assert that we, despite our enlightenment, adored the orb of day, would be as absurd as to say that the Christians adore the cross of the crucifixion for itself; in both cases it is the attached significance that caused the sun, and causes the cross, to be held in any sort of regard. (88)

Oliver/Phylos also describes an Atlantean air-ship, which he calls a 'vailx.' According to his account, the craft came in four standard lengths: 25 feet, 80 feet, 155 feet, and 355 feet. The vessels were cigar-shaped, tapering to sharp points at either end. Usually there was an open promenade deck at one end of the craft and portholes of crystal in rows along the side, top and floor. He describes a journey aboard one of these craft, noting that the passengers would sit on the open promenade deck, dressed in warm arctic attire, and enjoy the view, some two miles above the surface of the earth. Passengers aboard the great vailxa could communicate with friends and family at great distances through the use of viewing screens. The ships were furnished with libraries, musical instruments, potted plants, and small birds.

Oliver/Phylos also notes that the craft were capable of leaving the air and traveling underwater. A transition from air to water is described in terms reminiscent of 'the flying sub' in Irwin Allen's classic television series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea:

For change we decided to forsake the realms of the air for those of the deep where the shark is king. Like all vailx of the class to which it belonged, ours was constructed for both aerial and submarine service, the plates of the sliding deck and the other movable parts of the hull being capable of very close approximation by means of setscrews and rubber washers. To settle straight down into the ocean would be too much like a landing on terra firma. But being at a height of two miles, more or less, the conductor was directed to gradually reduce the repulsion current, thus diminishing our buoyancy so as to bring us into the water ten miles distant from where the slant commenced. He was further ordered to do this while maintaining a speed which would, though very slow for a vailx, be really swift, that is, he was to cover ten miles in as many minutes. When we struck the water at this rate of progress the shock which the entering needle experienced was sufficiently great to cause its inmates to stagger, and little exclamations were made by the ladies. (175-6)

Despite the intriguing details offered concerning life in Atlantis, readers of A Dweller on Two Planets seemed most interested in Oliver's descriptions of California's Mount Shasta. As an interlude between parts one and two of his book, Oliver includes what he calls 'Seven Shasta Scenes.' These mysterious scenes would prove to be quite influential. In the seventh of these he writes:

What secrets perchance are about us? We do not know as we lie there, our bodies resting, our souls filled with peace, nor do we know until many years are passed out through the back door of time that that tall basalt cliff conceals a doorway. We do not suspect this, nor that a long tunnel stretches away, far into the interior of majestic Shasta. Wholly unthought is it that there lie at the tunnel's far end vast apartments, the home of a mystic brotherhood, whose occult arts hollowed that tunnel and mysterious dwelling: 'Sach' the name is. Are you incredulous as to these things? Go there, or suffer yourself to be taken as I was, once! See, as I saw, not with the vision of flesh, the walls, polished as by jewelers, though excavated as by giants; floors carpeted with long, fleecy gray fabric that looked like fur, but was a mineral product; ledges intersected by the builders, and in their wonderful polish exhibiting veinings of gold, of silver, of green copper ores, and maculations of precious stones. Verily, a mystic temple, made afar from the madding crowd. (248)

In this passage Oliver hints at, rather than describes, a dwelling deep inside Mount Shasta. He calls it 'the home of a mystic brotherhood.' The walls are like polished jewels, the floors are carpeted with a furlike mineral. It is a mystic temple.

Apparently, this enigmatic passage was the inspiration for the Rosicrucian William Spencer Lewis' 1925 article 'Descendants of Lemuria: A Description of an Ancient Cult in California,' published in The Mystic Triangle under the pseudonym 'Selvius.' In this article, Lewis claims that Mount Shasta is the home of the last descendants of the ancient Lemurians, whose village is 'nestled at the foot of a partially extinct volcano.' The village is secluded and protected by an invisible boundary so that only four or five strangers have ever set foot there. Lewis claims that the number of strange experiences reported by visitors to the area is sure evidence of the presence of some mystical force. In particular, he claims that Professor Edgar

Lucin Larkin, director of the Mount Lowe Observatory, had seen the temple of the mystic village while examining the area through his telescope. He also notes that at one time a delegate from the mystic village had visited San Francisco and that tall, white-robed, gray-haired, barefoot saints had been seen on the highways and in the streets throughout the area, occasionally even shopping in local stores, paying for their purchases with gold nuggets. Eyewitnesses have also reported strange boats that sail upon the Pacific Ocean only to fly through the air to the mountain. Lewis'

4 a delegate from the mystic village had visited san francisco . . . tall, white-robed, gray-haired barefoot saints had been seen 5

theory was expounded on in his book Lemuria: The Lost Continent of the Pacific in 1931, written under the name Wishar Spenle Cerve.

Another theosophist influenced by Oliver, and who would contribute to the Mount Shasta mythos, was Guy Warren Ballard, writing under the name of Godfre Ray King. Ballard's Unveiled Mysteries was published in 1934. In this book, Ballard describes his meetings with Saint Germaine, an ascended master, on the slopes of Mount Shasta, and their subsequent journeys into past lives in which they both lived in Mu and Atlantis. Like A Dweller on Two Planets, King describes Venusians as advanced masters and reports that he and Saint Germaine encountered Venusian visitors to earth. Ballard's books proved to be quite influential and led to the beginning of the religious movement known as 'The Ascended Masters' I AM Activity,' which today claims over 300 local groups around the world and was very influential in the teachings of new-age guru Elizabeth Clare Prophet.

Clearly the most mainstream example of the influence of the legend of Mount Shasta's Lemurian brotherhood is found in James Hilton's Lost Horizons. In this novel Hilton describes a mysterious and hidden Tibetan monastery. Though clearly based on the Tibetan Buddhist 'Shambala,' a mystical kingdom hidden in the heights of the Himalayan mountains, Hilton's Shangri La is also related to Oliver's and Lewis' Mount Shasta Lemurians.

John Flinn noted in the San Francisco Chronicle (August 1, 2004) that, when asked by a reporter in 1941 to name the real place most like the fictional Shangri La, Hilton named Weaverville, California. Weaverville is located at the base of Mount Shasta, a gold rush town of the mid-nineteenth century. According to Flinn, Hilton's claim is not as strange as it sounds because Weaverville is the home of the Taoist Joss House, the oldest Chinese temple in the state of California, built in the 1850s. Of course, what Flinn doesn't mention are the occult legends of a Lemurian village in that very area.

A man calling himself 'Peter Mt. Shasta' has seized upon this connection to make explicit claims about the identity of Shangri La and Shambala with Mount Shasta. Peter Mt. Shasta writes:

What is Shambhala? From the beginning of time legends have come down to us of a semi-mythical place in Asia inhabited by a race of highly evolved beings living in peace and harmony and working for the benefit of humanity. Lost Horizons, and the classic movie by the same title, portrayed such an idyllic place called Shangri-La. There, in

14. Ronald Colman relaxes in Shangri La. Was he in Tibet or Northern California? In any event, 'It's astonishing and incredible, but . . . you're still alive, Father Perrault!' From Frank Capra's movie of Lost Horizon (1937). Image courtesy of the Kobal Collection.

a lost world beyond the Himalayas, lived a race of enlightened beings who had so perfected themselves that they ceased to age and lived in youthful, healthy bodies, enjoying the beauty of life to the fullest, radiating love to the rest of the world. (www.mountshastamagazine. com)

Mt. Shasta goes on to claim that it was when visiting the Mount Shasta area that Hilton's vision of Shangri La took shape. Perhaps, he suggests, Hilton perceived something from another time or another dimension when he visited there. Mt. Shasta also notes that Hilton was not the first to experience mystical energies on the mountain. Some have seen white-columned temples resembling the Parthenon on the slopes of the mountain, or been visited while camping on the mountain by tall beings in long robes who spoke of an ancient race who lived on the far side of Mount Shasta, from where they journeyed out into the world on missions of guidance, peace, and healing. Mt. Shasta describes his own experience on the mountain:

Several years ago while meditating one morning, Trungpa Rinpoche appeared to me and took me into the blue sky above Mount Shasta. He pointed toward the Shasta Valley, and with a sweep of his arm that encompassed the area from Mount Shasta to Mount Ashland, said, 'This is the New Shambhala.'

I saw that many people would be coming to the area, drawn by a similar vision. I saw many spiritual centers, temples and retreats, domes, new types of buildings constructed in harmony with nature to house this inflow of seekers that the Masters would invite. And I felt elated to be alive at the time of this Great Awakening, to be a part of the building of the New Shambhala.

It sounds lovely, this Californian Shangri La, nestled at the foot of a great mountain. The Weaverville, California website describes vast tracts of forested land, and claims that 'tucked away among fir and pine forested slopes, wildflowers in season cloak remote dells with splashes of brilliant color. Clear, tumbling waters from tarns and snow packs high up under towering peaks course down through rock walled canyons.' It truly sounds like Shambala, like the land of the ancient Lemurians, like the Garden of Eden. A worthy location to search for evidence of lost worlds.

Or so it seems to me as I am lying on my back on a floor of wet, cold, slippery mud. The ceiling to the cave is too low for walking or crawling and the mud is too slippery to slide along on my belly. When I tried that I

got nowhere. My back to the muddy floor, I lift my feet to the rock ceiling to try and propel myself along. I make no progress. Instead I simply spin in place, counter-clockwise in the mud. In a moment of clarity I see this as a metaphor for the investigation that led me to this cave, an investigation that kept going around in circles and which finally led me into the subterranean depths of lost world theories.

I was first drawn to this location when I encountered an unusual story tucked away in the corners of two or three obscure websites. The story told of several encounters between explorers and members of an unknown but advanced civilization. At least two types of beings had been encountered in or around a cave in northern Arkansas. The first was described as standing seven to eight feet tall with skin of pale blue. The second was a Bigfoot-like creature known to chase explorers from the area by throwing rocks. Having had some experience with rock-throwing Sasquatch, I, of course, had to investigate.

Finding information about the eyewitnesses and the location proved to be quite difficult, however, though I was finally led to an internet chat group, known as the Shaver Mystery Group, whose members seemed to have some information about the story. I never should have told them that I was researching a book, however, especially not one titled Weird Science and Bizarre Beliefs. When I suggested that the title was meant as a tribute to the pulp magazines in which many of the alternative theories I am interested in were discussed, they seemed a little friendlier. Then one of the group challenged the pedigree of the word 'bizarre' as used in reference to esoteric phenomena. Could I name an instance when the term 'bizarre' had been used as a title for one of the magazines in question, he asked.

I first mentioned the current British publication that goes by the name Bizarre, but this proved unacceptable. Too current, too glossy, too ironic.

What about the fetish magazine from the 1940s and 1950s? Pulp enough, he replied, but rather tasteless. It was an 'under-the-counter publication' and a lot closer to pornography than true esoterica.

Bizarre Mystery, Bizarre Fantasy Tales, Bizarre Bazaar, Bizarre Sex and Other Crimes of Passion? These magazines mostly published fiction.

Okay. How about this one? Bizarre. It was published once in 1941 and included a story by H.P. Lovecraft. I know it is a sci-fi magazine, but it is very, very, very obscure and very, very, very pulpy.

That was the key. My interlocutor sent me an image of the cover of the magazine in question. I had passed the test. They would tell me what I wanted to know. I could now continue my quest for the lost world.

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