From Chapter 1.
The Atlantis of Our Dreams
In the Atlantis myth itself we are left with a persistent tale that, while widely shared, is seldom taken seriously. Yet, no matter how much it is dismissed by academic authorities as nothing more than a kind of cartoon, its deep effect on our culture is undeniable. And while legitimate debate over the facts may rage, some of us believe that deep in the ocean of humanity’s unconscious are the virtual remains of a lost history that still makes its demands on our thoughts and sensibilities.
The notion of a great lost civilization and our society’s demonstrable amnesia on the subject eventually inspired me to launch a bi-monthly magazine focusing on ancient mysteries, unexplained anomalies, and future science, which I dubbed Atlantis Rising. After 25 years of continuous publication and several spin-off books and videos, in the spring of 2019 we closed our doors. But I continue to believe that the echoes of long forgotten worlds still reverberate and if we could only translate their siren songs we might exorcise some of the strange ghosts that trouble us yet.
Probably no one in the past seventy years is more directly linked with the notion that Earth’s forgotten history has been punctuated by memory-destroying catastrophic events than Immanuael Velikovsky.
When the late Russian/American scientist’s Worlds in Collision was published in 1950 it caused a sensation. His subsequent titles Earth in Upheaval and Ages in Chaos further elaborated his ideas and expanded the controversy. Here was a scientist of considerable authority suggesting, among other things, that Earth and Venus might once have collided, leaving a vast chaotic aftermath that could have done much to explain our peculiar history. For such arguments, Velikovsky was, ever afterward, roundly ridiculed. Surprisingly, though, many of his predictions have now been verified, and some of his critics, including the late Carl Sagan, have since been forced to concede that he might, after all, in some ways, have been on to something.
Velikovsky, a psychoanalyst and associate of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, offered great insight into the psycho/sociological impacts of cataclysmic events. The psychological condition and case history of planet Earth is, he said, one of “amnesia.” The planet, he believed, is in a near-psychotic state, left so by traumatic events of an almost unimaginable magnitude. We must now wonder: have we compulsively closed our eyes to certain painful realities? Have we, moreover, cloaked that intentional blindness with an aura of authority, thus, effectively turning things upside down?
The victim of a near-fatal trauma is driven, apparently by fear, both conscious and unconscious, to exorcise the record of such experiences, lest he be overwhelmed. To fully forget such an experience, though, it turns out, is not such an easy thing. There are heavy consequences. Much more than the record of the trauma can be lost. In fact the very identity--what some would call the soul--can be a casualty.
What is true on an individual level, Velikovsky believed, was also true on a collective level. The process might move more slowly and allow for personal exceptions, but the institutions of society would, in time, come to reflect and to enforce a deep collective subconscious wish that, for the good of all, certain doors stay closed and certain inconvenient, and terrifying, facts stay forgotten.
Along the way the incoherent fragments of a lost identity--the artifacts of forgotten worlds--haunt our dreams. Whispering sadly of a lost state of grace, we spin tragic tales of a “Garden of Eden” from which we have been ejected by some cruel and heartless god. Driven by ancient longings, we have carried on--often blindly--in the attempt to penetrate at last the darkness and to learn the secret of our birth--our origin.
The Mythic Records
Until we uncover something more concrete, some wonder if the guidance we need could be found in our myths, legends, and dreams--also termed the universal unconscious. Could our planet’s tragic history be unraveled from such subjective records?
Giorgio de Santillana, an authority on the history of science at M.I.T., hypothesized in his great work Hamlet's Mill that an advanced scientific knowledge had been encoded into ancient myth and star lore. Clearly written into the mythology of many societies are stories of cataclysmic destruction.
If we accept that mythology may have originated with highly advanced people, then we have to think about what the myths are saying, that a great cataclysm struck the world and destroyed an advanced civilization and a golden age of mankind. And, moreover, the bad cataclysm may be a recurrent feature in the life of the Earth. The messages from many ancient sources, including the Bible, some believe point to a recurrence of such a cataclysm in our lifetime.
When the violent death of an entire civilization has proved too painful to deal with consciously, society has often suppressed the memory--by force of inquisition or academic sanction, depending on your historic period. Nevertheless we are driven by irresistible subconscious forces to reenact the ancient tragedy again and again until the spell is broken and at last we awaken from our coma.