I thought some might be interested in this blog piece after a discussion yesterday with Daqua and Cognito in another thread about how we've so often, in the past on the Gate, had to explain why we don't believe that Atlantis could have ever existed on this Earth and that the purpose of Plato's story was something other than recording a historical event.
There are several threads around here which make the case on historical grounds, but this is my take on it as a mythologist.
Mythologists have very good reason for not believing that Atlantis was a real place with real people, but it’s going to take me most of this article to explain why, because it means taking a fresh perspective on the extent of the wisdom of our ancient ancestors’ cosmogonic viewpoint ....and it will be a useful exercise to understand that because modern day science and cosmology is coming full circle and through quantum physics is reaching similar and new conclusions about how the universe came into being and how it is constructed and how we are integral to its very make-up.
Mythologists understand ancient myths to be allegories or metaphors for what we call, today, scientific processes, and a goodly number of these ancient myths ~ of which Plato’s Atlantis as told in his Critias and Timaeus was no exception ~ deal with the way in which our ancestors perceived how the creation of the universe continually takes place. These stories may seem naive to someone trained in Newtonian physics. But as we move into a more quantum way of seeing, we are almost coming full circle again into appreciating the wisdom of our ancestors’ cosmogonic viewpoint.
It’s also helpful to realise that these ancient myths are not set just in one world, but in three worlds. For our ancestors did not live in just one world, or one dimension, as we do today. They lived in the three dimensions, known as the Upper World, the Middle World and the Lower World.
These three dimensions are extra dimensions to this one ~ they exist on a completely different 4D time/space continuum, and in fact, there is no Time there. It was in these extra dimensions that our ancestors set their myths with great panoramic dramas played out over the 4D landscapes of the three worlds which were reflected in this 3D dimension back here by 1) the celestial spheres (the heavens) 2) Middle Earth or Midgard (the Earth plane) and 3) the Underworld or Lower World.
Norse World Tree (Yggsdrasil) ~ showing the three worlds
The Underworld was largely the portal to the 4D extra dimensions through what we call the imagination, although in this case, imagination doesn’t mean ‘make believe’; the imagi-nation is the nation or realm of images accessed through the right hand hemisphere of the brain by shamanic trance. Instead of our thoughts being in words, in the right hemisphere they present themselves as pictures and as is it always said: “A picture speaks a thousand words”, they are very effective way of carrying and transmitting information.
Creation Myths and the Milky Way
All creation myths ~ whether they are the Hebrew Genesis, the Sumerian Enuma Elish, the Edda (Norse), the first cantos of the Srimad Bhagavatham (Indian), the Maya myths and the different (but similar) Egyptian creation myths ~ are set in these three 4D worlds and they ALL start and end with a flood. The flood represents the End of Times and the Beginning of Times.
These so-called creation myths should really be called creation-maintenance-destruction myths (as reflected in triumvirate gods such as Brahma the creator god, Vishnu the maintainer god and Shiva, the god of destruction). This is because the ancients also had a holographic view of the cosmological processes, and so they showed in their stories how the microcosm within the macrocosm was continually birthing, dying and then being reborn again, from the smallest atom to the largest galaxy.
Just as at a birth of a child, when the first sign that the birth is imminent is when the mother’s water ‘breaks’ (the amniotic sac breaking causes its water to flood out), so a flood in mythology signifies creation or “a new life”. However, because creation comes at the end of a previous cosmological cycle, these mythological floods are associated with death as well as birth.
This type of cosmological model is seen in concentric circles with ever-increasing circles going out from the Earth at the centre, to represent how the whole of creation circumambulates around a pole. This is known as the microcosm within the macrocosm model. For instance, the microcosm can be represented by the neutrons, protons and electrons processing around the cell nucleus and the macrocosm can be represented by the planets processing around the sun, and even higher than that. Everything circles or spirals around some sort of nucleus. Even the universe itself forms a spiral.
The Milky Way
Beyond the circle of the sun lies the circle of the Milky Way. In Egyptian mythology, the Milky Way was represented by Hathor, whose original name, Mehturt, meant ‘great flood’. In the Norse myths, the same cosmic cow is known as Audhumbla, and from Audhumbla´s udder floods rivers of milk, which is why we call it the Milky Way.
Milking the cow Hathor, the Milky Way
The Milky Way
Releasing the waters of the firmanent
In ancient myths, it is usually the Hero who releases the waters of the firmanent, or the flood of milk, from the grip of a sea serpent, at the end/beginning of a cycle, so that this birth/death or creation/destruction can take place at the end/beginning of a new Age. So we have a number of storms gods battling serpents such as Zeus and the Typhon, Indra and Vritra, Marduk and Tiammat, and Thor and the Midgard/Serpent or Jörmungandr.
Thor goes fishing for the Midgard Serpent/Jörmungandr
In Norse mythology, this meeting between Thor and Jörmungandr takes place at Ragnorak, which is the name of the Norse Apocalypse or Armageddon, another word for End of an Age. (That Ragnorak comes at the end of a precessional cycle we know from the numbers which are used, but I won’t go into them here as it will mean digressing too much.)
Pillars of Hercules
Next we must deal with the Pillars of Hercules, beyond which, according to Plato, lay the land of Atlantis. There are two pillars of Hercules, and they guard the gate or portal to the other extra dimensions. These two pillars are used as literary device to indicate that the hero (Hercules or Ulysses) has left the everyday world when he goes through them, in the same way today we use the device of: “Long, long, long ago, deep in the mists of the time.” This is a signal to the listener that they will need suspend their judgement because they will be entering another world with different rules. This ‘other world’ is known in mythology as the Underworld.
In the Renaissance, the two pillars were said to bear the legend: Nec plus ultra (also Non plus ultra, “nothing further beyond”), which was the equivalent of “Enter at your peril” for sailors and navigators.
In Dante’s Inferno, we see Ulysses justifying risking his crews’ lives by going through into Nec Plus Ultra or the Pillars of Hercules by insisting that it is the true explorer who dares to venture where others fear to tread in the quest for knowledge. After passing through the Pillars of Hercules, and after a further five months at sea, Ulysses sights the mountain of Purgatory. Purgatory, as we know, is not in this world and therefore we can rationalise that neither are the Pillars of Hercules which Ulysses has to go through to reach Purgatory.
Jason also has to pass through the two pillars of ‘clashing rocks’ (the Symplegades) in his quest for the Golden Fleece, another mythological item.
We see these two Pillars of Hercules again and again in religious iconography, for instance, showing up in the Temple of Sol-Ammon as Boaz and Jachim. We see them at Tyre, Byblus, Paphos, and Telloh. In shrines dedicated to Astarte, they are represented by the two ash trees standing guard either side of the doorway. We can also see them in the Sumerian tale of Adapa as Tammuz and Gishzida who guard the gateway to Heaven.
Tammuz and Gishzida
The original pillars of Hercules once stood in a temple in Tyre, Phoenicia, and were said to contain the Emerald Tablet composed by the Egyptian high priest and alchemist, Thoth, and upon which were written the secrets of the universe, encapsulated in: As above, so below.
So I believe that we are wasting our time looking for the Pillars of Hercules in the sea … any sea, whether the North Sea or the Straits of Gibraltar…. as much as I believe we are wasting our time looking for a real lost land of Atlantis, even though there were surely inundations of huge tracts of land which were submerged following Ice Ages and comets, and then ‘rose’ again when the water again became trapped in glaciers.
But the inundation of Atlantis itself is just another creation-destruction myth, a death-rebirth myth, a tale of the amniotic sac bursting, dying, to release the waters heralding new life, and this process never ends. Atlantis is continually being drowned and rising again in the life-death-rebirth going on around all the time, at every level. Every night, Atlantis goes under and then rises up again. With each daily cycle, the Milky Way seems to move around the Heavens and also throughout the year, it appears to undulate, to go up and down like a serpent, because of the tilt of the Earth. And it is also seen as a continual fertility dance of the male Father god and the female Mother god, who the ancients visualised as simulacra in the Milky Way ~ with their never-ending dance of life, death and rebirth.
The best books for understanding how ancient mythology carried allegories about astronomy are Hamlet’s Mill by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha Von Dechend and The Secret of the Incas by William Sullivan, both of which are available to buy in the Mythology section of Ishtar’s Gate Library.