This is a brief summary of the history:
- Plato's Critias and Timaeus offer slightly contradictory accounts of a war between Athens and the corrupt and enormous island of Atlantis some ten thousand years before. Atlantis, it is revealed, was peopled by people who were the children of the God Poseidon. A disaster overtook the island and it sank beneath the sea, destroying Atlantis and all of its people.
- Atlantis is treated as an allegory by most writers (with a couple of exceptions) until the mid/late 1800s, when it becomes popular again with historians and then with occultists.
- 1882: Ignatius Donnelly writes the first of his two books on Atlantis ("Atlantis: The Antediluvian Age" and "RAGNAROK: The Age of Fire and Gravel"). Donnelly speculates that the Atlanteans were in fact the basis of all civilisations - writing, religion, etc. all were gifts of the Atlanteans. Evidence, says Donelly, is all over the world.
- This is complicated by lemurs. Yes, that's right, the little monkeys with the big eyes. The little ring-tailed guys proved a puzzle for the early Darwinists, as they existed both in Madagascar and around the Indian Ocean. Did they swim? In the 1860s it is posited that there was once a continent in the Indian Ocean, across which the Lemurs went, before it sank. Paul Sclater designates it "Lemuria" and in the 1870s Ernst Haeckel suggested that in the absence of a missing link, maybe this was where humankind first evolved.
- in the 1912 Paul Schliemann (son of Heinrich) produces a map of Atlantis. He later admits it to be a hoax. 1920s: Lewis Spence tries to prove Atlantis exists using available geographical and archaeological data.
So much for the history. By the 1960s, orthodox opinion had shifted from "Atlantis existed", to "Atlantis might have existed", to "Atlantis definitely didn't exist". Notwithstanding the work of people like Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval, that's where orthodox historians (and, FWIW, speaking as a guy with a couple ancient history degrees, I) stand today.
But here comes the interesting part. Donnelly, Sclater and Haeckel inspired a whole host of the then-burgeoning New Religious Movements (such as the Theosophists) to present their own theories about the origins of humanity.
Enter Mme Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, who, in "Isis Unveiled" and the "Secret Doctrine" (1880s) claimed to have been shown the origins of man as written in a mysterious book of palm leaves called the Stanzas of Dzyan.
Mankind was one of seven root races, specifically the fifth. Each root race had seven subraces.
- Gaseous creatures on the planet Mercury,
- Blobby boneless creatures on Earth
- The huge, ungainly apelike inhabitants of Lemuria
- The Atlanteans. Subraces include the Rmoahals, the Tlvatlis, the Olmecs.
- Modern man, divided by Blavatsky into seven groups, each evolved from the previous one, corresponding to modern ethnographic groups (implication: some races are more evovled than others)
According to HPB, Root Races 6 and 7 haven't evolved yet.
Complete works of Mme Blavatsky: http://theosophy.org/BlavatskyWorks.htm
W. Scott-Elliot's "Story of Atlantis" adds a whole new dimension to this, as he writes about the Atlanteans having airships powered by "Vril" (read: POW), apocalyptic doomsday weapons, sorcery, and tons of other stuff. Do a Google for it. It's well worth reading. Great stuff. Apparently, Scott-Elliot got "Vril" from E. Bulwer Lytton's novel "The Coming Race".
Rudolf Steiner's "Cosmic Memory" (1926) talks about the pre-Atlantean Lemurians. Apparently they were hermaphrodites, who floated about in the air (since the air was thicker and the earth wasn't as dense) until the earth densified, at which point they divided into the sexes and started walking around and domesticating dinosaurs and stuff.
James Churchward adds another element into the mix, with his pretty much entirely channelled account of Mu, a third lost continent, this time in the Pacific (1926). Its inhabitants escaped the sanking of Mu and went to Atlantis. According to Churchward, they were tall, blonde and blue-eyed Aryans.
Then there's 1940s US psychic Edgar Cayce, who spoke of Atlantis rising again, declaring that a secret chamber under the Sphinx would be opened revealing all the world's mysteries, and precipitating the rise of Atlantis.
More recently, you have British neopagan Murry Hope, who (she's published seven or eight books on things such as ritual magic in the ancient world, including usable rituals, including two on Atlantis, 1991, 1992) claims to be a reincarnated Atlantean priestess, and who identifies Lemuria and Mu as one and the same place, settling for the Pacific and not the Indian Ocean as its location. She refers to Steiner and Cayce as "reliable mystic". She, like Donnelly and Churchward before her, claim that among the symbols given to mankind with the invention of the first world religion was the four-sided cross, a variation of this being the crooked cross of India.
As in, the one adopted by the Nazis as the swastika, since they believed it to be an Aryan symbol. Put it this way: there's a bunch of blonde blue-eyed supermen who gave civilisation to the savage and racially inferior humans of earth, before settling in Northern Europe. If you're a mad Nazi, you believe that they're the Master Race.
Murry Hope also believes that the original source of the civilisations of Atlantis and Egypt (and of that African tribe that Erich von Daniken liked so much) was the star Sirius B, courtesy of beautiful cat-people, who, in "Egypt: the Sirius Connection", she calls the Ishnaans, although in other books they have different names. She says she's spoken with them through channelling. Her assessment is unprovable, since it's so subjective, so it's difficult to tell whether she's being sirius (you may now laugh. Thank you).
This myth cycle is more popular in the UK and mainland/Eastern Europe than it is over in the US. There really are groups of people in the United Kingdom who claim to be in regular contact with the spirits of the Atlantean priesthood and/or the Ishnaans.
Anyway, here's some of the stuff I'm working from:
A Dweller on Two Planets: http://www.sacred-texts.com/atl/dtp/index.htm
So much for the facts.
What could this have to do with Delta Green? Well, this is where I thought I'd throw it open.
The basic premise, I think, would centre around an organisation which may or may not be a cult, which might appear to be full of harmless cranky and maybe well-meaning New Agers, and whose initiations involves regression and/or instruction from the disembodied spirit of a real or bogus Atlantean, or from the Ishnaans.
1. The first question we have to ask is, in a Delta Green campaign, is it real? While Hyperborea, Lemuria, Mu and Atlantis are all included in the stock Mythos prehistory (CoC v5.6, pp98ff), the details here contradict the ones in the book. Are the visions, the regressions to an ideal age and so on, real, or are they not real? (Even if they are, there's no point in giving statistics for the bestial Lemurians of Steiner and Blavatsky, anyway, because there's no way anyone would meet them - get blown back in time, die instantly in the soupy poisonous air. You might see one, though. Could lose you a bit of SAN).
2. What is the cult doing? What are the goals of the Atlanteans/ bogus Atlanteans/ Ishnaans? Who is really pulling the strings? Are the Ishnaans/Atlanteans a mask of Nyarlathotep? Or Some other Mythos force? Or something else entirely? Even if the Atlanteans are real, whom do they represent? There's the Atlantis Rising thing, which sounds a bit R'Lyeh; meanwhile, according to Lovecraft's Story "Out of the Aeons", Nug and Yeb, Shub-Niggurath and Ghatanothoa were all worshipped on Mu (I quite fancy using Ghatanothoa as a bad guy, myself).
3. It's a very racially charged set of myths (although Hope does her best to distance herself from the race thing, she still talks an awful lot about ethnology). Again, the cult leaders get their ideas from "beyond". Fortean Times had an issue last year with an article about Pagan Russian Nazis. Hmm.
Pagans - being controlled by Master Race Atlantean Ghosts (true story: whenI gave my talk last month, I was accosted at the end by a Russian guy who lectured me about Blavatsky's theory of race, and then said "lots of people are scared of eugenics, but I think it's a really good idea." Scared? Damn straight I was). Russians - GRU SV-8 would take an interest, I'd have thought. Nazis - Karotechia involvement (yeah, they're Slavs and probably untermenschen in the Karotechia's eyes, but it never stopped the SS working with Russians before).
4. You've got a cult of people in the UK (or in, say, France or Germany) who are told by the "source" to steal artefacts, trash archaeological sites (because they "lie" about history) and so on, for reasons they may not fully understand. They are given instructions for the building of devices not seen on Earth for millions of years (if ever), are given access to the lost secrets of Atlantis, for the Vril-powered airships, the doomsday weapons and
the other stuff.
Maybe the recipients of this knowledge believe that these things, given in dreams and visions, will make the world a better place. Would they make the world a better place? I wouldn't bank on it.
Based on material submitted to the DGML by Wood Ingham.