Kate Farrell (author of Story Power) returns to California’s local history and the many legends of Mt. Shasta.
Mount Shasta, the beautiful volcano, has graced the Northern California skyline for centuries. With its luminous glow at sunset, the amazing formation of rare clouds that shroud the mountain, and its prominence in the landscape, there is no wonder that legend and myth have revolved around this mountain for just as long.
In my opinion, the most intriguing of the Mount Shasta mysteries, is that of the lost civilization of the Lemurians. This is a story that I have heard many times: a whole civilization of people, from the lost continent of Lemuria, built a self-sustainable empire inside California’s fifth highest peak.
There are many aspects of the legend. Some versions tell of the Lemurians having the capability of time travel and connections with aliens. Some tell of the vast cavernous tunnels inside the mountain, full of gold and precious gems.
In other tales, hikers in the area are contacted by tall, spiritual beings who appear out of nowhere and disappear in just the same manner. Other tales simply mention the presence of colored orbs and lights in the landscape.
I wanted to know the origin of the tales of Lemurian civilization and what I found in the research was very interesting.
On a fair-weather day in 1883, 17-year-old Frederick Spencer Oliver from Yreka, California, was mapping his family’s property line at the base of Mt. Shasta. As described later to his mother Mary, he began writing uncontrollably with the pen and paper he held in his hand. The mysterious writings detailed that he was the subject chosen to be the amanuensis [scribe] for Phylos the Thibetan, and he would transcribe the book, A Dweller on Two Planets.
Oliver took dictations from Phylos the Thibetan, for about three years, and the writings were eventually published by his mother in 1905, six years after Oliver’s death. A Dweller on Two Planets is a first person account of the Atlantean culture, a culture that had reached a high level of technological and scientific advancement. In the book, Phylos the Thibetan gives a detailed personal history of the lost continent of Atlantis, effects of karma, and the cataclysmic destruction of Poseid, Queen of the Waves.
Enter Edgar Lucian Larkin, who was an astronomer at the Mt. Lowe Observatory, outside of Los Angeles, as well as a writer. As a teenager Larkin developed a deep interest in the idea of lost continents after reading Plato, and well into adulthood never doubted Plato’s account of Atlantis. Larkin came across Oliver’s book and was quite impressed by it, so much so that he referenced Oliver’s writings in an article for the San Francisco Examiner in 1913.
The article, titled “The Atlantides,” addressed the question, “Is there any truth in the legend of the lost continent of Atlantis?”
Twelve years later, an author called only Selvius stated in his article in The Rosicrucians Mystic Triangle, “Descendants of Lemuria: A Description of an Ancient Cult in America,” that Larkin had published an account of Lemurian sightings on Mt. Shasta and that he had apparently seen the Lemurians by telescope while at the Mt. Lowe Observatory. Interestingly enough, no such account by Larkin has ever been located.
However, it has been theorized that Larkin’s mention of Atlanteans and Lemurians, the location of Mt. Shasta, and references to Frederick Spencer Oliver, as well as mentioning temples of gold and countless gems (also paraphrased from A Dweller on Two Planets) may be the sources of the information that Selvius misinterpreted. It appears that Selvius conjured sightings in his own mind and perpetuated the legend of the Lemurians living at Mt. Shasta.
There have been many more authors who have written on the subject. In 1931, Harvey Spencer Lewis, using the pseudonym Wishar Spenle Cerve, wrote a book published by the Rosicrucians about the hidden Lemurians of Mount Shasta. Later William C. Miesse of the College of the Siskiyous described Lewis’ book as “responsible for the legend’s widespread popularity.”
A local Redding man by the name of Abraham Joseph Mansfield wrote about the folklore in 1976 with his book The King of the Lemurians, the account of a friend who was said they were approached by a Lemurian while hiking on Mt. Shasta in 1931.
So, there it is, a brief history of the tale of the Lemurian civilization. It’s truly no surprise that the beauty and majesty of our beloved Mt. Shasta inspires so many interesting stories, no matter how strange they may be.
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